plastic d'amour ~ debut (siesta records, 2002)

alberto and blanca, from madrid, form the plastic of love. he is a well known architect and also writes songs for other bands of siesta catalogue such as las escarlatinas, cristina georgina and bel divioleta; she is a (very pretty) journalist and in plastic d'amour she takes care of the lyrics.
they make fresh pop music with influences from 60's french pop (most of the songs are sang in french) but i should say that their music wanders through various directions. this is their first album and it's bucholic, calm and relaxing. they have two more albums 'olivia' and 'nicolás'.
here the songs are more based on slow guitars, dreamy piano and jangly bass with few effects and the subsequent works are filled with more heavier guitars.
emotional, melodically rich and bouncy tunes without being obvious is what they do best. add to that nostalgia and fragility and you'll be right in the center of their world, slowly floating above green fields full of yellow flowers.

01. la ficelle
02. the funny thing
03. petits suicides
04. dimanches
05. sirenes
06. charol

buy it

canapé ep

puntapié ~ canapé ep (independent, 2006)

i wasn't sure about what i was going to post today but after i read that puntapié is no more i had to tell you about them.
two boys from valencia (again, valencia!) that in 2 years recorded playfull homemade electropop/technopop with naive-funny-cute lyrics in spanish. in fact, it seems that spanish bands have a natural ability of writing clever lyrics talking about robots, and being in love with a robot or your tv set, sometimes with another human being and about having babies. and even when writing about being in love with another person they're don't use the obvious metaphors and situations.
this is their only release. 5 songs with uplifting beats, claps, keyboards hooks and sometimes flirtations with acid music. all of them are true hits with addictive lyrics and awesome melodies that can (should!) burn the dancefloors around the world.
puntapié about puntapié: "...chocolate in the face, sticky sillyness and apologies to heterosexuality in high heels are our trademark..."

01. quiero estar contigo
02. enamorado de mi tv
03. amor amargo
04. mi novia es un robot
05. tener un bebé

distant drummings

the brilliant mistakes ~ distant drummings (aunt mimi's records, 2008)

you don't need a great knowledge to distinguish good pop songs. specially when it comes in form of consistent guitar hooks, playfullness and unpretentious (yet thoughtful) sincere lyrics. well, that's the case of the brilliant mistakes.
hailing from nyc, this trio makes music since 1994 and since then play rock songs with classic pop melodies and a beautiful work combining a wide range of instruments that goes from vintage keyboards, hammond b3 organs, wurlitzer, pedal steel guitar to banjo, strings, horns and timbales...
their sound is a mix of country, americana and folkpop with the best 60's sunshine pop. among their influences are the beatles, kinks, beach boys, aimee mann, harry nilsson,simon and garfunkel...
delightful tracks sometimes happy, sometimes bittersweet. always catchy. the album was recorded in the heart of manhattan but it will take you to small towns where time seems to pass slowly and the days are always full of sun and blue skies.

01. the day i found my hands
02. monday morning (sky above you)
03. becoming
04. good year for a change
05. the circles not broken
06. water falling down
07. the words
08. time in the night
09. let's pretend
10. wake up your heart

buy it

live at monokrom, kalmar

gentle touch ~ live at monokrom, kalmar (bootleg, 2005)

this is a very special post. it's an unreleased mini-show recorded in gentle touch's hometown. it was recorded at monokrom, a youth center with recording studios, music classes, café, rehearsal rooms...
gentle touch is a swedish band that plays melancholic songs with straight beats, melodic guitars and a strong 80's synthpop mood... so that's exactly what you'll find here.
they have an ep (gentle touch ep, 2006) and a full lenght album (in memory of savannah, 2008) released by songs i wish i had written.
i couldn't find any information about this bootleg so, if the dates are right, it was one of their first recordings. 'fascination' is a song that, later, would be part of the ep... here the guitars are heavier and the song faster.
there's also three never released songs: intrumental and shoegazy 'streak2m'; 'last dance' and 'our capital', both (almost) ballads with beautiful keyboards and strong beats.
and finally two really awesome covers: 'words' by low and 'the winner takes it all' by abba. i risk to say that they are the highlights because they brilliantly give their personality to the songs.
an intimate recording that will make fans of gentle touch happy and even emotional and a great way to know their music, in case you don't know it yet.
for those days when you get into a time machine and go to any given saturday with gray skies in the 80's.

ps: 'the winner takes it all' was actually taken from another bootleg recorded live at stagnelius, also in kalmar. don't know what stagnelius is (a bar? a club? a school?) so, if someone from sweden knows, please let me (us) know.

01. streak2m
02. last dance
03. our capital
04. words (low cover)
05. fascination
06. the winner takes it all (abba cover)


fantastic smile

individual ~ fantastic smile (junk records, 2008)

after 3 demos, individual released their first full lenght album making addictive indiepoprock inspired by classics. they are from valencia in spain but the last thing you'll find are spanish influences: their references are mainly british and american groups... belle and sebastian, hefner, the wedding present and r.e.m. might be among them.
the album is intense as a whole. uplifting. with songs that require less beauty and more freedom when it comes to dance. and you'll find a catchy chorus in every song.
the two guitars create a very interesting work in all tracks because there's a non-stop, rich (in melody and rhythm), sometimes psychedelic dialogue between them.
individual is another great example that the scene in valencia is one of the most prolific and to pay attention in spain. sometimes jangly. sometimes pure indie rock. most of the times danceable. always catchy and up.

01. think to smile
02. we can do it
03. kind, not fantastic
04. attention guys
05. kerouak
06. the hell is yours
07. the glow
08. go waste
09. 100%
10. meanwhile
11. honestly feel


tuesday morning huricane

jupiter makes me scream ~ tuesday morning huricane ep (bump foot records, 2008)

this is an ep that was in my computer for some time and last night i listened to it and i found quite moving. it's a mix of electronic, piano and guitars... all instrumental. actually it goes from a track with programmed beats and beautiful piano ('alinai'), pass through all electronic tracks (including the new wave-ish 'sunshine radio') and ends with a beautiful ambient song. there's also reminiscences of post-rock experimentation throughout the album.
the five tracks are extremely melodic and emotional.
by the way, this is a lithuanian project created by musician Karolis Burzinskas, also member of projects like kafka and the boys cult.
the label that released the ep is very interesting: based in japan and divided into bump, dedicated to uptempo and beat oriented music and foot, more relaxing and laid back. jupiter makes me scream belongs to the foot part. and jupiter works with photographer aurimas sapolas so you'll also find a folder with his photographs.
feeling introspective? here's a good way to spend 15 minutes... (or 30 minutes because you'll probably hear it twice in a row).

01. alinai
02. picture
03. routine
04. sunshine radio
05. this girl


johan hedberg ~ 5-spårs ep (labrador records, 2007)

johan is one half of suburban kids with biblical names, an essential act to understand swedish music scene, and this 5-tracks ep was made during his downtime from the duo.
here you'll find straight to the point pop songs made with beats, horns, cut and paste samples and the baritone voice of johan.
all began when he bought a new computer... he decided to take on a new approach: while in suburban kids there's a lot of re-recording and editing here on his solo project he would just make music with "fast production and no turning back".of course you'll find the sounds from skwbn but there's more lo-fi synths...
the whole album is sang in swedish but from this line "hurra for hritag fest och ol" (‘hooray for friday and for beer’)* we can securely say that hedberg still has a way with words.
twelve minutes of positivity and summery vibes!
* thanks ro!

01. nygubbe4
02. var dig själv
03. norrtälje
04. grammisgalan
05. galeria

buy it

rocks and tears

kelly slusher ~ rocks and tears (elefant records, 2002)

kelly lives in portland, oregon and this is her debut album. nine melancholic pop tracks filled with sweetness and dreamy, ethereal moods.
she got into music playing bass in a band called crash and britany but she wasn't happy because the sound was too noisy and her voice too delicate. what she really wanted was to sing her own songs with electronic beats.
so in rocks and tears (recorded in 2000 by dustin ruske from rocketship) she plays her beloved guitar, a beatbox and a delay pedal effect turning her voice into fragile cotton clouds going through your ears. gorgeous layering of harmonies from this diy lady.
great moments in 'untrue' as if new order were a incredibly shy girl; 'i need you' with dustin ruske singing with kelly; and '55 dollars'.

01. untrue
02. i'm the devil in the neighbourhood
03. sing that song
04. i need you
05. knee deep
06. movie
07. one more thing
08. i was wondering
09. 55 dollars

buy it


cruiser ~ happyrobots:smilingpeople (kfm records, 2008)

an "electronic scottish pop unit" formed by two girls, two boys and a genious producer. this is their second release after the acclaimed (specially in usa) northern electric.
the previous release was downtempo and folkish but this time they come with an album with stronger beats and louder guitars with clear flirtations with shoegaze. nintendo sounds and guitars that sound like bagpipes turn the whole thing even more interesting in contrast with the simple (sometimes hypnotic) lyrics.
collaborations vary from peel session veterans persil, japanese singer mayuto and minnesota's tiger, tiger. two tracks were also used in michael baumgarten's movie 'last call before sunset'.
tracks like the hypnotic 'skyflowers' and the popish 'stay here instead' are true gems... the future is represented with 'retrogamer' and its vocals recorded with vocoder.
this is french and european electro making love with c86.

01. input
02. it's all good baby
03. a gentle press (feat. tiger, tiger)
04. skyflowers
05. you+me+ever (feat. persil)
06. sunshine warrior
07. reboot
08. hikari to iro (feat. mayuko)
09. retrogamer
10. happy robots
11. stay here instead
12. a key that hurts


silence and wisdom

deux filles~ silence and wisdom (papier mache records, 1982)

this is quite an interesting band and album. an obscure french duo formed by catastrophic tragedies, gemini forque and claudine coule met during a holiday pilgrimage to lourdes, in france. while they were there, claudine's mother died of a lung disease and gemini mother got killed in a car accident that put her father on a wheelchair.
they went through this terrible moments together and making music. after two critically acclaimed albums and shows around europe, they disappeared in north africa in 1984 while visiting algiers, where gemini lived til the age of five. a series of theories have been around since then: some say they were murdered, other say that it was a planned disappearance. the only clue they left was a enygmatic letter saying that they were heading to india on a spiritual quest.
this would be a terribly sad story if it wasn't made up. deux filles is simon fisher turner, former child star/teen idol and future soundtrack composer and colin lloyd tucker. they were members of the the but in 1981 they left the group to go into a diferent musical direction. for the album cover, they posed as drags and even performed a few times live dressed as women without the audience realizing that the duo of tragic french girls were guys from south london.
this is their first release on their label 'papier mache'. it is filled with watery piano, ghostly vocals (but most of the songs are instrumental), synths, processed guitars and minimal percussion post-eno ambient music. the songs range from rhytmic exercises to calm piano meditations.
sometimes ambient pop. sometimes experimental and folky. enigmatic. strange. hauting. dreamy as cocteau twins and playful as brian eno.

01. the letter
02. l'intrigue
03. drinking at a stream
04. oakwood green
05. children of clay
06. sur la plage
07. her masters voice
08. the draw in room
09. she slides
10. fleurs doll
11. mortuary
12. the city sleeps
13. birds
14. silence and wisdom
15. festival

fashion street

davey strange ~ fashion street (cloudberry records, 2007)

this is one of my favourite releases of one of my favourite labels (thank you, roque!). you may be aware that, being a cloudberry release, it has only 3 tracks. but it's solid, heartfelt and addictive.
you may not know davey but maybe you know his other project, strange idols.
his music is based on guitars and reverbs reminiscent of felt.
he says that his influences are peter gabriel, the the, the psychedelic furs, david bowie, blur, daft punk...
it's incredible the way he uses the guitars to create uplifting melodies with diferent patterns and layers of hooks and warm accords. the first two songs 'fashion street' and 'ode' sound like a tribute to his neighbourhood in london.
'let's go disco dancing' is one my favorite songs ever... i'm not overreacting. it is such a simple song with lovely and naive lyrics! and it's extremely synesthesic as if you were - while listening to the song - watching moving images of a love story being reproduced in the sky (a night sky maybe, full of stars). it starts really calm with some guitar distortion and it goes in a progression with the addition of more guitars and the distortions/reverbs getting louder,stronger and longer. and by the middle of the song a female backing vocal starts punctuating the song with 'na na's'... a classic love song/ballad with invitations to dance like a baby girl... in the eiffel tower... in the twilight time... in the afternoon...

01. fashion street
02. ode
03. let's go disco dancing


call and response

sunny intervals
~ call and response (weepop! records, 2007)

sunny intervals is the full-of-sunshine solo project of andy from pocketbooks . call and response is his first ep and its 5 songs are a happy/poppy combination of (quoting andy):
"...just me, a piano, a guitar and a 1980s keyboard with a nice hammond sound and a drum programmer. the keyboard is falling apart now and i'll be completely lost when it finally collapses. the guitar is nearly as ancient. well, it's at least twelve years old anyway. i think only the piano is a product of this century."
call and response is a lo-fi ep recorded in the basement or the living room... who knows... the melodies are contagiating and you'll feelit after the first second of the first song 'let the city run away with us' with its twinkly keyboards and warming melodies. the structure of the songs are quite similar with that of pocketbooks with ups and downs, slower parts and then faster. and in just 5 songs you'll go from a walk through london nightlife, travel adventures, holidays, 60's revolutionaries to comic books figures.

01. let the city run away with us
02. weekenders
03. sunset on parliament hill
04. sixty seconds to fall in love
05. lights out over killburn


our town

pololeo ~ our town (shelflife, 2002)

oh, pololeo... so hard to find informations about you. what i know is that they're a duo - i love duos - formed by husband and wife patrick carney and denise grollmus. while making a research to make this post more reliable i discovered that they're in a band called churchbuilder where denise takes care of backing vocals and synths and patrick guitars and backing vocals.
our town is a short ep released on shelflife and is... well... very urban as the name may suggest. all the five tracks have less than three minutes and each has a name of a road, avenue or street.
the sound is a mix of synths, beats and soft guitars. by the way, the guitars fit very well with denise sweet voice. the songs belong to a place filled with naivety and melancholy in a city full of balloons and strong colors.
it's a great ep because you can sense the playfulness and ludicity of diferent sounds permeating the songs to create a quite enjoyable ten minutes or so...
great for walkings around your town playing with soap bubbles.

01. malvern rd.
02. rhodes ave.
03. crosby rd.
04. glendale rd.
05. aqueduct st.

on botany

ferns ~ on botany (fruit records, 2007)

relax. you're about to hear a calm, loving, whispery album that will keep you quite amused, impressed, in love... if you're an indiepop kid you'll be in a zen state.
so ferns is this band that comes from malaysia and they, in fact, have the elements that most of the indiepop/twee bands from asia have... but wait a minute, it's more than that:
gentle, with no fear on using shimmering guitars; extremely melodic with twists in almost every song ranging from slow crying guitars to rough hooks.
the vocals are always whispery and it is an album about love and heartbreaking with sometimes brilliant lyrics like in 'dear derelict': "of all that was fair nothing remains/ all our conviction made fiction/ and we're to blame/ curse out their names/ merchants and pirates the same/ we ain't no better/but we'll enjoy our fame"; or in 'when we die': "and when we die/ do all our hopes survive?/ will all the fires in the sky/ extinguish with our dreams alive?"
ferns is lullaby with cristaline guitars and whispers in your ear. refined melancholia to those with forever hungry hearts. this is a mature and extremely consistent debut album for sleepless nights and walks with no clear direction.

01. this sweet refrain
02. disaster strikes again
03. wistful thinking
04. the western front
05. dear derelict
06. love in a handful of beans
07. i won't forget
08. citadel
09. death of a lifetimes
10. when we die

here's 'this sweet refrain' video by fairuz sulaiman:



kite ~ kite ep (progress productions, 2008)

among the best things sweden can make to us are the electronic/synthpop duos. le sport, tillmanns, gentle touch... (i could go on).
kite arrived to be among these groups and it all started when christian (from yvonne and strip music) invited nicklas stenemo (from the mo and melody club) to put some vocals in his songs.
kite makes music to sing along and dance... nicklas' voice is rough and powerfull; quite diferent from the whispery, smoky vocals that synthpop duos use to make. their sound is like a retro new wave mixed with electro.
'ways to dance' and 'say it ain't so' are upbeat synthpop to the dancefloors, the last with a strong erasure-esque structure.
'my girl and i' is a quirky ballad and 'learn to like it' is also a slower but powerfull tune.
dance with kite but most of all enjoy the (almost) screaming vocals to sing along to the top of your lungs.

01. ways to dance
02. my girl and i
03. say it ain't so
04. learn to like it

'ways to dance' video:

buy it

the lawlessness of the ruling classes

andreas mattsson ~ the lawlessness of the ruling class (hybris, 2006)

if this blog were here back in 2006 mr. mattsson debut album would definitely be in my 'best albums of the year' list... it's emotional most of the times, terribly sad for moments and beautiful from the begining until the end. andreas mattsson has a unique songwriting skill and is a master when creating pop tunes. but first things first:
andreas was a member of popsicle, one of the best swedish bands in the 90's and is, nowadays, a member of vanessa and the o's with vanessa contenay-quinones, niclas frisk from atomic swing and jame iha, former guitarist of the smashing pumpkins; he also had a big roll on the last album from hello saferide playing a variety of instruments and will be performing live with her.
this release contains 11 tracks going from ballads full of orchestrations to electronic upbeats to voice and guitar sadness. what makes this album so amazing is the attention given to every detail, specially when it comes to create melodies and the use made of each instrument. each one has its own tempo, its own distinct notes... and when together, they go so well, form such a unique atmosphere that hits you straight in the heart.
'you're never lonely when the band plays' is one of the highlights with its lush orchestrations and hearfelt melodies;
'through the evening, through the snow' is a more conventional pop tune;
the saddest song is 'it's easier to handle all your friends than to keep just one love alive' and you'll feel andreas power because, using just his voice and acoustic guitar, he'll make you cry like there's no tomorrow;
'so old, it's new' is the dancy song of the album with its flertations with electronic uplifting beats, great to dance a little...

01. Four majors
02. Down on the corner
03. It's easier to handle all your friends than to keep just one love alive
04. Where the wave breaks
05. Metal sky
06. You're never lonely when the band
07. Through the evening, through the snow
08. Summer of speed
09. I guess I should feel something
10. So old it's new
11. Every record, every book

here's the video for 'so old, it's new':

buy it

love yourself

thunder power ~ love yourself (slumber party records, 2008)

a few days ago i received an email from matt, one of the six members of thunder power saying that if i liked indie pop i would probably like his band.
i downloaded the record- ep actually - but i forgot it among the infinite number of folders on my desktop. now, trying to organize it a little, i found/remembered that the ep was there and that i hadn't listen to it yet... so i'm listening to it right now and i have to tell you: it's beautiful... it's full of delicate instrumentations and guitar lines... and it's making me dance...
kacynna (beautiful name) is the leading female vocal and her voice is unique and smoky. ocasionally matt joins her to a boy/girl singing.
among the instruments i really like the vintage keyboard that permeates the songs. the melodies are really consistent and well crafted.
it's indiepop with blue skies, melodies with sunshine and kick ass twee!

ps: the cover artwork is beautiful!

01. take a hike
02. casanova
03. your pantry
04. imaginary rules
05. lucky to be alive

here's the (lovely) video to (lovely) 'take a hike', directed by lindsay trapnell:

buy it (cd)
buy it (mp3)

thames valley leather club and other stories

always ~ thames valley leathe club and other stories (èl records, 1988/ cherrie red, 2004)

always is kevin wright, he's british and released one of the best pop/twee albums of the 80's.
i got to know him because in 2004 the album was released again by cherry red (back in 1988 was published on the mythical èl records). he did the album by himself and just had a guest appearance of a (misterious) female backing vocal in a few tracks.
always made wonderfully incoprehensible fantasy pop. a perfect combination of jangly hooks and keyboards with thin sound of the arrangements that served as influence for a whole generation of independent musicians like the cardigans, belle and sebastian, st. etienne and the japanese shibuya scene.
the best moments of the album can be found in tracks like 'london times' (with its greeeat solo),
'w.c. fields' with amazing guitar arrangements and 'morning heights'.
to finish this post, a great definition given by the magazine melody maker right after the album was released in 1988:
"it's my theory that kevin's trying to take the triviality of pop to such an extreme that it actually means something."

01. the turf accountant's dreams
02. my honeymoon hell
03. thames valley leather club
04. amateur detection
05. love and death in metroland
06. window without a view
07. london times
08. mistery disappearance
09. metroland
10. the arcade
11. wc fields
12. park row
13. dreams of leaving
14. morning heights
15. heaven
16. the flying display

buy it

elephant people

the married monk ~ elephant people (ici d'ailleurs, 2008)

i really like the french indie rock scene. well, not that i'm an expert when it comes to know many bands and music contexts from france... i like it because even though there isn't many inovative acts there's a sense of melody that's particular to them. ( i don't know if i made myself clear) i mean, you know when a band comes from france.
today's post is about the married monk, a band that's quite inovative and that has been around since 1993 and made quite a lot of things: a pop album, another full of ballads, another with rock'n'roll songs. they also collaborated with yann tiersen that wanted to do something diferent of what he used to do. they toured together and recorded an album called all is calm in 1999...
at a first listening someone may say that they are an indiepop band but, as you can hear in 'elephant people', there's a lot of surprises waiting...
i'd say that elephant people is a soundtrack album. they go from rock songs to orchestrated, jazzy tunes, saxophone solos and upbeat electronics. it's quite an experience because after the first tracks, when you get the sense of the album, you don't know what to expect next.
half of the songs are accompanied by christian quermalet (sometimes breathy, sometimes hauting) voice speaking. there's also instrumental songs like the beautiful and slow 'conversation piece'. and there's three or four tracks with christian showing his singing skills. 'elephant people' is a great song with awesome guitar hooks.
the married monks are, with no doubt, a band that's not worried about labels and because of that their music is quite atypical as you can see, listening to a full of contrasts and multicolored album.

01. spiel
02. merricks meditations
03. introducing prodigies
04. brother j
05. me and me
06. clementines song
07. double doom
08. conversation piece
09. hail 2 the hound man
10. delphines angels
11. elephant people
12. pretty lads
13. clementines words

buy it

here's a video from a sideshow opera where the married monk played some songs from elephant people. the conception is from renaud cojo. the characters you see are from the cover of the album. no, i haven't uploaded the wrong cover art, it's because the cd comes with 8 cardboard photos of diferent circus-esque characters.

lingering regret/ hell knows i'm in love

hammarin & robin ~ lingering regret/ hell knows i'm in love (mad for it, 2008)

this is a special post because there's not only music for you... there's also an interview. for this first interview i spoke with hammarin, the nice guy behind the voice of the swedish act hammarin & robin. hope you enjoy...
first we'll talk about the duo's release:
this is pop music in its purest state with beautiful arrangements, uplifting melodies and witty, clever lyrics that could've been very well written by someone as honest as morrissey. hammarin's voice is powerfull and dramatic. (unfortunately this release has only two songs).
so there's 'lingering regret'... a funny/sad song with hammarin screaming 'does the world need another lover?'. i really got hooked by this song because it is so honest... its lyrics are among the best i've heard in some time.
'hell knows i'm in love' is a love song that i think that's perfect to the dancefloor with everyone jumping and singing to the top of their lungs. it's more atmospheric than 'lingering regret' with some airy sounds and the awesome line "heaven knows i'm in love but i'm afraid hell knows as well".
both are brilliant magical pop songs with inspiring lyrics! great when you're feeling down and want to go out with your head held high; to clean the house; dinner parties; picnic in the park with your best friends.

01. lingering regret
02. hell knows i'm in love


(photo by nina torsede)

here's the interview with hammarin and after that hammarin & robin videos!

Q: this was how I got to know you: “… hammarin would be this guy putting on a club in örebro. a lot of people did it, nobody did it the way he did. they didn’t even come close. he ran around dressed up in a costume telling everyone about the club and about his band performing at that club (which quite naturally was the pretext for doing the club in the first place). his band at the time was pointing in seventeen directions, all at the same time(…) hammarin was so loveable, so honest and so pure in his belief in pop music you’d still be swept away, completely knocked out just by the mere power of it…” you might recognize it: it’s a review by joakim Johansson presenting you on mad for it website… the quote may be too long but I think that’s a great story and a lovely way to get to know your work. how this passion for pop music began?
A: i didn’t listen to pop music until i was around 20 actually. before that I hardly bought any records or looked for new interesting bands at all. i was a huge fan of u2 during that time and I guess that’s where my musical endeavor began. there was one song in particular that set me ablaze; u2’s cover of “unchained melody”. i had this searing fire inside of me, and it wasn’t until i heard bono screaming the words ‘i need your love’ on top of massive guitars and lots of reverb that i realized what I had to do; i simply had to become a singer.

Q: how did you and robin got together?
A: robin and i go back a long time. we grew up in the same town; kumla, sweden. a small place which was known to outsiders only for having sweden’s most famous prison located just a few hundred meters from where i lived. i guess it’s inevitable that two young boys who shared the same interests in music would eventually team up. we first met at a local talent show and since then we’ve been the best of friends.

Q: before the hammarin & robin project what you were up to?
A: during my late teens and early twenties i had several bands where i wrote the music and was lead singer. i nowadays consider all of these projects as practice though, since i really didn’t have the talent, nor the skills to pull it off. robin however has always been a great producer and has released several tracks on various dance/club-labels. he was involved in all my bands, trying to save my lousy productions and help me out. but it wasn’t until early 2008 that i finally caught up with him and we could start cooperating on the same level.

Q: influences in music? movies? cartoons? fashion? writers?
A: anything that’s passionate or comical really. there are a lot of references to pop culture in everything we do, so i encourage anyone who listens to us to find them!

Q: last year hammarin & robin released a wonderful 2-track single(?) ep(?) on ‘mad for it’. is that your discography so far? how the label got to know you and invited to release something?
A: yes, the 2-track single is the only thing we’ve released so far. but there’s a bonus track for the single and a remix of “lingering regret” too, though not released. the story about how mad for it found us is already out there. just read the press release for the first single on! ;)

Q: i have to say that i really like your songwriting because is wise and playful at the same time… for example: ‘heaven knows I’m in love but I’m afraid hell knows as well…’. and particularly this part of ‘lingering regret’ is amazing: "unless i construct a time machine come back in time to young hammarin... god was trying to make somebody out of me but i just couldn't leave the path of apathy".. what makes you want to write music? and what you had in mind writing ‘lingering regret’ specifically?
A:why i write music is a mystery even to me. the thing is; i haven’t always been able to sing and i still don’t master any instrument. on top of that i’m a real quitter. if I’m not good at something at my first attempt I usually put it away, cursing and swearing ‘never again’. but when it comes to music i simply haven’t been able to quit. I wrote “lingering regret” about a year ago during a time when i questioned my entire life. i had spent most of my time studying, trying to save bad relationships and going from one part time job to another, but in the back of my head was this dream i just had to realize and now it seemed like it was too late. it’s really ironic that a song about failure and broken dreams ends up as the first hit song!

Q: new songs in a near future? what are your plans for 2009?
A: 2009 will be packed full of h&r stuff. right now we’re working on an epP that will be the first of a trilogy called “superlove” and an album is also on the way. i’m happy to tell you that there’s a huge array of songs just waiting to get produced so we are relieved of the stress of writing new pieces to complete our future releases.

Q: name three songs you’d like to make a cover and why.
A: i have actually been asked by fans and friends to do some covers so i’ll name two of those and finally a choice of my own:
“jefferson airplane - somebody to love” (in the style of jim carrey of course!)
“david bowie – heroes” (robin’s favourite!)
“daniel johnston – peek a boo” (‘you can listen to these songs, have a good time and walk away. But for me it’s not that easy. i have to live these songs forever’)

Q: the perfect place/time of the year to listen to your songs is…
A: that depends on the songs. but i think most of the songs i’ve written are made for times when you need a kick. so turn up that volume!

Q: and finally, recommend something that you’ve been listening lately.
A: “billy ocean – red light spells danger”, and also check out den harrow’s live performance of “a taste of love” on the legendary 80’s tv-show discoring. you’ll find it on youtube!

here's the video for 'hell know i'm in love'

and a live performance for 'lingering regret'


the ocean blue ~ cerulean (reprise records, 1991)

the ocean blue is a band from pennsylvania (but they sound like they're from liverpool) that makes music since the end of the 80's... they make a mellow, refined new wave sound with beautiful synths and catchy (oh-so-catchy) guitar hooks.
cerulean is their second album and probably my favorite... filled with atmospheric, introspective songs that are tuneful without being sugary and with consistency from the first 'til the last track.
some lyrics are a bit naive but the melody is so good that you end up paying attention to the details of composition and the diferent intrumentations. on the other hand, songs like 'cerulean', 'when life was easy', 'ballerina out of control' and 'questions of travel' are fine poetry!
my favorite tracks are 'cerulean' with its awesome guitar hooks; 'when life was easy', of of the saddest songs i've ever heard and 'questions of travel' with its beautiful mid tempo guitars and relaxing melody.
melancholy and autumn for your heart!

01. breezing blue
02. cerulean
03. marigold
04. a separate reality
05. mercury
06. questions of travel
07. when life was easy
08. the planetarium scene
09. falling through the ice
10. ballerina out of control
11. hurricane amore
12. i've sung one too many songs for a crowd that didn't wanted to hear

buy it


the sound of arrows ~ danger! (labrador, 2008)

this is one of the latest releases from labrador and contains, probably, the catchiest song of 2008. oskar gullstrand and stefan storm are really young boys that just passed their 20s coming from - as said by some people - one of the most boring towns in sweden: gävle.
they really got serious into making music when, in 2006, they decided to make a christmas song using a child chorus audio from a video they found on youtube. the song never made it for the christmas because when it was finished it was around june of 2007.
but the time spent creating their christmas song was extremely positive because they discovered how the sound of arrows would sound. after that they started making experimentations with samplers, harps, strings and the rest can be known by listening this awesome heavenly-pop-synth-eletro-9-track-gem...
they say that their music is from pop heaven. and in fact, with 'danger!' you'll dance like you were flying towards the bluest sky and singing to the top of your lungs 'maybe you're in danger and you don't even know it. the world is a dangerous place but you won't admit it'.
songs like 'winding road' and 'a very sad song' sound more intimate, calm and with an ethereal mood, resembling acts from the balearic movement like air france and boat club.
there's also 4 remixes for 'danger!'... highlights to the pet shop boy-esque remix by mr pedro and the cute acoustic by ice cream shout.

01. intro
02. danger!
03. a very sad song
04. winding roads
05. danger! (cotton crew remix)
06. danger! (mr pedro remix)
07. danger! (panache remix)
08. danger! (ice cream shout version)
09. outro

soon, the sound of arrows will be releasing its second album... here's an official video/preview of the (also) addictive 'm.a.g.i.c':

buy it

the bleak end starts here

mitch & murray ~ the bleak end starts here (regular beat recording co., 2007)

mitch & murray is a quite recent discover... they're from dudley, in a region known as black country somewhere in the uk. the region got this name because back in the 19th century it was intensely industrialised and the air pollution was extremely high.
this is their debut work and has slow burning, lo-fi alternative country with some red house painters melodies and some similarity with iron & wine. the songs are economical in arrangements with simple/gentle guitar lines and brushed beats.
the lyrics are mostly about "domestic dramas" as stated in their myspace profile. and you can almost get what this 4 boys (well, 3 boys and a girl) are when suddenly you here in a song 'my inhibitions won't allow me to dance'.
this is a great album to immerse yourself in... specially if you're introverted.

01. love will treat you like a dog
02. sleepy trails
03. three o'clock moments
04. health and wellness
05. even the good times are bad
06. god made the stars also
07. surviving desire
08. see thomas howl
09. rabbit chaser


you win again, gravity!

vitesse ~ you win again, gravity! (parasol records/hidden agenda, 1999)

i think i'll never forget the day i first heard vitesse... it was a rainy winter day, which means a perfect day for vitesse sound. they're music moved me so deep that after a week i had listen more than 700 times their songs and they got to #1 in my account. i tend to say that if i were music, i'd definitely sound like vitesse.
vitesse is an american duo formed by hewson chen on vocals, guitars and keyboards and joshua klein on bass and keyboards. they first got together at university of chicago, back in 1997 for a collaboration on a study for they're class of music composition. after 36 hours they had what would be their first lp: a certain hostility.
so this is really bedroom music... their biggest influence is british synthpop from the 80's. but vitesse sounds way more delicate, melancholic and melodic. they tend to sound less electronic, giving more attention to the melodies and a wide range of sounds to create beautiful and unique pop synthscapes.
chen's voice is also a great feature... it's mellow and so lazy that some people say that he seemed to be bored as hell when recorded the songs. i disagree and actually think that this languidness is perfect for their music and lyrics because brings a sense of confort and warmth.
in a certain hostility you'll find a very competent cover from cheap trick's 'southern girls' and one of my favorite vitesse's song 'car crash' that opens beautifully the album.
'the human element' is also a great song with its rhytmated drums and awesome combination keyboard+guitars and chen's singing 'ta ta ta ta ta ta' behind the lyrics... just wonderful.
vitesse goes very well with dark weekend afternoons when you have nothing to do and just wanna spend your time watching life goes by by the window.

01. car crash
02. the stars don't shine as bright as street lights
03. the saddest day
04. a fine young age
05. the selfish nature of your eyes
06. southern girls
07. the human element
08. spun right around
09. a day's education
10. greener than the everglades
11. before today
12. faded and covered with dust

ps: in 2002 the band quietly broke up. according to their label's website, what was last known of the pair is the following: “…Hewson currently lives in Nashville where he attends Vanderbilt University’s Law School. Josh is settled in Chicago where he writes extensively for the entertainment section of a very funny weekly paper. Don’t expect any live dates soon.”

caught the breeze

boat club ~ caught the breeze (luxury records, 2007)

some time ago i made a post talking about citytlights... well, now i'm gonna talk about two guys who were in the band and now play under the name boat club.
so far they've released a mini album called caught the breeze. it's the best example of balearic music (well, to me at least): airy, uplifting, warm, ethereal, crystalline...
the songs are filled with layers of noises, keyboards, mid-tempo beats and awesome (awesome!!!) crystal guitar hooks.
the lyrics are also pretty good, always evoking a certain warmth and reminiscenses from a melancholic summer. for instance, you'll get yourself singing over and over "i loose my mind for warmer climes(...) cause you, you can't fake the sunshine" and then humming the guitar that follows this verse in 'warmer climes'.
another catchy chorus can be heard in 'always away', a more melancholic song with andreas singing that "you're always away on rainy days" with his soft, cool voice.
boat club is music that comes from the ocean...

01. all the time
02. warmer climes
03. always away
04. nowhere
05. memories
06. spanish castles

buy it (mail order)
buy it (mp3 shop)


the windmills ~ sunlight (matinée recordings, 2001)

the windmills started making music in 1984 but after a long break/split they reunite in 1998 to make the essex music scene brighter.
they make melodic jangly pop tunes that could've been written during the 80's by bands like the orange juice and east village. the 10-track album is filled with minor pop classics that'll most likely remain unknown by the masses.
when i first heard the windmills i thought that they were a band from the 80's because brought me the feeling i had when i listened to heartfelt guitar music of that era... (ok, i was just a kid back then but i already had my imagination and (most important) feelings).
roy thirlwall writes great songs about heartbreaking and people reaching for each other... as perfectly wrote dave heaton on erasing clouds: "...[the lyrics] they're not sad for the sake of being so; they're real, showing people for the lovable messes that they are". and roy's deep and expressive voice really makes you believe in every word he says/sings.
it's hard to name the highlights because the whole album is flawless... well, the only thing is that some songs could be longer, like the beautiful ballad 'taxi fare'.
the songs with keyboards are awesome as well, bringing a more airy and dreampopish atmosphere like in morrissey-esque ' when it was winter'.
this is definitely the album for sunday mornings.

01. unkiss
02. pounds, shillings and pence
03. taxi fare
04. when it was winter
05. she's so hard
06. boxing glove
07. cloud five
08. be groovy or leave
09. untouch
10. drug autumn

matinée's info page


carrie ~ 1981 (static discos, 2008)

carrie's music is a blend of indietronica and acoustic-folk. but, of course, it's not only that because she goes from the postal service to tha radio dept in the same song. she comes from guadalajara, mexico, her real name is laura becerra and 1981 is her second album.
her music takes the beats, clicks and synths from a more cerebral and aseptic eletronic music and mixes with warming guitars and warming breathy vocals resembling hope sandoval. all very sensitive and also haunting. actually the album is like walking inside an empty house full of rooms and old furniture covered by sheets... maybe with a few (harmless) ghosts wandering around (you can hear theremin (?) ghosts in 'instrumental').
'road season' could've been soundtrack in a david lynch movie.
'feeding little dogs' is one of the highlights. its beats and keyboards wall may get stuck in your heart (i mean head) for some time with its catchy chorus.
'japanese coffee' is the most acoustic (with only guitar and a high pitched synth (more ghosts?)) and as delicate as chinese porcelain.

01. take one
02. feeding little dogs
03. stumble
04. the wrong way
05. road season
06. japanese coffee
07. 1981
08. instrumental
09. srta. cometa

buy it

a careless lifestyle

tillmanns ~ a careless lifestyle (fraction discs, 2007)

tillmanns comes from the prolific music scene of gothenburg and is formed by andreas and björn (well, it seems that now the duo had become a trio with the addition of a bass player).
they make music with undeniable new wave influences. and their sound also makes me think about bands like the cure, joy division and french dark wave act asylum party.
actually the combination is quite odd but works pretty well: on one side you have a darker new wave on keyboards and anders' hollow voice, and on the other pulsating life affirming melodies and winding guitar hooks.
speaking of guitar hooks there are incredible (contagious and vicious) moments like 'hypnosis' and 'twist' that'll most likely have you dancing.
the album has the atmosphere of an old vinyl from the early 80's that was found in the basement.

01. heavy rotation
02. background
03. hypnosis
04. cold hands
05. instrumental
06. opening
07. new place
08. sketching
09. twist (radio edit)
10. time

buy it

soft focus

oppressed by the line ~ soft focus (drifting falling, 2008)

oppressed by the line is the project of jon thompson, an american musician from a small town in texas now living in london. he makes touching tunes blending shoegaze, electronica, melancholic crystal guitars and amazing textures. among his influences are the magnetic fields, the cure, ride and vitesse...
'soft focus' is his second album and is full of delicate (yet powerfull) sounds.
in songs like the opening track 'condensation', 'don't bestow the lesser things' and 'solitude' we also hear the (moving) vocals and feel that jon's creativity can also be applied to his vocal skills and the ability to create another layer to his music. 'i can't remember the sound' and 'shattering glass houses' are the most shoegazy tracks filled with layers of electronica merging with walls of (beautifully played) guitars.
at moments - specially in the beautiful 'the stars are sleeping' it feels like you're inside a cave full of stalactites and stalagmites... actually most of the time, and the feeling is very conforting. melancholic, sad for moments but most of all conforting.

01. condensation
02. sorry i never wrote you back
03. don’t bestow the lesser things
04. the stars are sleeping
05. solitude
06. i can’t remember the sound
07. static images and soft whispers
08. thousands of miles and an ocean away
09. shattering glass houses
10. magnetic north

buy it