Recorded in New Orleans with fellow Swede, producer Tobias Fröberg, Theresa Andersson’s album Hummingbird, Go! (2008) delivers a distinctive Swedish pop sound alongside a soulful southern vibe. Well-crafted retro-pop number “Birds Fly Away” showcases Theresa’s multi-instrumental skills as she uses everything from the looping vocals, violin, catchy hand claps to the funky drum sample of Smokey Johnson. DIY to the extreme, in her song “The Waltz” Theresa actually plays water-filled soda pop bottles in her kitchen.
Whether digging country roots or rocking guitars, these hearty rascals from Greenwich, NY produce incredibly appealing tight rhythms, choral elation and rollicking stomp. Eastbound Jesus has a vibe I cherish at bluegrass festivals: kids running freely, families sharing meals, camping areas for jamming all night, and tents for free lessons. People are real and their good nature is alive. Thoroughly uplifting, Holy Smokes instills a sense of everything being alright even if you’re far from it. Songs reveal boyhood girl troubles, the workingman’s plight, and helpful lore with a refreshing dash of revolt. Open your windows and doors; feel sun-fueled air kite stymie issues. Hang laundry, clean dishes – dance, sing, paint! Let pieces puzzle together as you lead where life takes you.
Currently living and working in London, Irish singer-songwriter and a self-taught guitarist Wallis Bird has travelled the world and began her career in Germany, where she formed a band with her musician friends. Wallis approaches her music with bold honesty and integrity as she moves beyond the female singer-songwriter stereotypes with her style ranging from grunge folk to buoyant and lively pop. Original and fresh enough to appeal to a wide variety of listeners, “Counting To Sleep” brings to mind the strength and openness of Ani DiFranco.
With her little piano-folk melodies, gently played acoustic guitars and well thought out lyrics, Scottish songstress Kat Flint embodies the essential aspects of contemporary folk music. The lyrical notes, vibrant freshness and catchy multi-layered vocal lines of “Go Stripes Faster” instantly captured my heart, while addictive hand-claps and kazoo-playing of “Anticlimax” showcase the quirkier side of her songwriting skills. Stylistically comparable to numerous folk-oriented artists, Kat brings emotion and a distinctive quality to every song she crafts.
The Bamboos are probably the finest funk band of the era. Sometimes infused with serious female vocal talent like Alice Russell, but often rocking a solid instrumental groove that needs no adornment, they got you covered; whether you’re a dancer or a head-nodder. Australian-based but signed to the UK’s Tru-Thoughts: their new single is firey hot. True story: this track has had my mom dancing daily since she heard it! Feel this.
A hook you cannot refuse. The Bamboos – On The Sly
The Staves, a trio of English sisters, by the charm of their vocal harmonies, could be easily mistaken for the Southern sirens in O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000). The three sisters’ acoustic vocal folk unites melancholic English folk, uplifting West Coast pop, and Southern blues. “Icarus”, taken from Mexico EP (2011), features delicate guitar, soaring vocal harmonies and heart-warming songwriting. The Staves will be releasing their debut album in October 2012.
Observing a healthy balance between pop appeal and experimentation, the German duo Booka Shade concoct unusual blends of modern 4/4 sketches and timeless listening titles. They emerged as an electro-house outfit, but their latest CD, Movements, takes a more measured, deliberate approach to electronic music, reminiscient of Sasha’s excellent work on Airdrawndagger. My fave from their new LP, “Body Language”, has this round bass from the keyboard dials intermingling with a surgical precision with a guitar sounding like its strings are wet bamboo. A remixed cut of the track won the last “Ibiza Track of the Season” award. “Mandarine Girl” features heavier synth chordal progressions posed against a four-to-the-floor bass beat. Considered musical taste with mass-appeal sensibility.
Referring to her own style as laid back electro-blues, actively performing, DJ-ing and remixing, Melbourne-born Justine Electra reflects the surreal electronic adventures of Berlin’s underground scene, techno clubs and squat parties. Using a bunch of loops and samples, Justine incorporates her experimental attempts with a doze of subtle bitterness in her standout track “Killalady”. Repeated sound effects, bluegrass harmonica riff and the trippy lyrics of “Blues & Reds” is another example of her eccentric mix of musical oddities.
French chanteuse Mina Tindle, a.k.a. Pauline de Lassus, delivers breezy cool songs. Following the line of bright and clever indie-pop from the likes of Feist, Mina crafts little pieces of pop perfection. Her style ranges from acoustic folk ballads to buoyant piano-driven pop, while she moves effortlessly between English and French lyrics. “To Carry Many Small Things” is driven by an upbeat, toy-piano arrangements that brings to mind French superstar Camille. “I Command”, from the new album Parades (2014), is a true pop gem.
More straight fire comes from France (It’s not blog house this time). The boys Cuizi Cuiz (last year’s Aurgasmic Adventure), Tacteel, Teki Latex and DJ Orgasmic are all striking out on their own, while still collaborating on some real heavy beats.