Jens Lekman

Miracle Fortress -     Five Roses
#5

Miracle Fortress
Five Roses

Montreal, Canada
Secret City / Rough Trade

Based out of Montreal, Graham Van Pelt has created the closest thing anyone has come to a Beach Boys record of the new millenium. Mixing layers upon layers of guitars with catchy melodies, the similarities never end as he even has a voice similar to Brian Wilson. But there’s nothing unoriginal about it, because he picked one of the hardest pop artists of the 20th century to copy, so coming close is a pretty great feat. On top of that, he’s not trying to top the Beatles, so he did it all without having a nervous breakdown.

The     Clientele - God Save The Clientele
#4

The Clientele
God Save The Clientele

London, England
Merge / The Track and Field Organization

The Clientele’s first full-length release Suburban Light (a compilation of singles and compilation tracks) is perfect. Released in 2000, any unknowing listener would have to assume that it was recorded in 1966. That being said, their first two albums were unsuccessful attempts to re-create the soft, romantic mood of the earliest work. Not to say they were bad, they just showed no growth from a creative band with much potential. Their last release, God Save the Clientele, has the band expanding their sound, which has something to do with the addition of Mel Draisey on keyboards and strings, giving the band a much fuller, less subdued sound which dominated prior releases.

Lucky Soul - The     Great Unwanted
#3

Lucky Soul
The Great Unwanted

Greenwich, England
Ruffa Lane

The Pipettes are good, but Lucky Soul are great. Where the former had great singles and an album which didn’t quite live up to them, Lucky Soul have created one of the most consistently enjoyable albums of the year. Like the Pipettes, Lucky Soul rock the 60s girl group sound familiar to fans of the Shangri-Las and Lesley Gore. Just like those songs from days passed, although the songs have upbeat drums, strings, and horns, they are all tales of lost love and heartbreak, everyone’s favourite topics.

The Tough     Alliance - A New Chance
#2

The Tough Alliance
A New Chance

Gothenburg, Sweden
Sincerely Yours / Summer Lovers

Sweden is taking over the pop world. I like almost everything I hear from Sweden, and one of the best examples is The Tough Alliance’s new album A New Chance. It’s definitely a retro-sounding album that takes its cues from 80s new wave and 90s dance, but don’t let that fool you, because this album is unlike much you’ve heard.

Jens     Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
#1

Jens Lekman
Night Falls Over Kortedala

Gothenburg, Sweden
Secretly Canadian / Service

Oh Jens. His songs are great, and although all of the albums are dubbed “collections of recordings” spanning several years, all of the songs on his newest release Night Falls Over Kortedala play perfectly as an album. His charming wit and somewhat bizarre/cute romanticism find a home among consistently perfect melodies and lush arrangements. This album is Tigermilk good.

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— , January 17, 2008    4 Comments

Maybe it’s just me, but I thought that music and violence don’t really correlate. Both are a release, music being a far more creative and constructive form than violence. Sure, there have been instances of violence in pop music: Pete Townsend annihilating his guitar on stage, Sid Vicious spitting on his audience, Joy Division rejecting their skinhead fans, mosh pits in American hardcore concerts of the early 80s, et cetera. But it’s like Dee Snider said, it’s better to throw your fists in the air than in someone else’s face.

The last place I would ever think to see violence glorified (or accusations of violence being glorified) is in a retro-minded pop group from Sweden. This is the buzz on The Tough Alliance: they carry baseball bats and swing them a lot. But despite my pacifist ways, I just don’t care. The songs are good. Most likely it’s just an exaggeration of a clever stage prop, and either way they live in Sweden, which is a long ways away. It sounds like a hilarious live show, especially once you hear what they sound like. With definite new wave influences, I would say the closest sound is Wham!. That’s right! George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. So if you’re like me and have a new wave guilty pleasures playlist on your iTunes, then blast it loud and proud. “Too-Ry-Aye!”…”Hush hush, eye to eye!”…”I wanted to be with you alone…”

Tough Alliance – First Class Riot

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— , November 28, 2007    2 Comments