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  • The Album Leaf @ La Boîte

    1 Mar 2010, 4:31

    The last time I saw The Album Leaf perform, a little over seven years ago at China Teatern in Stockholm, Jimmy LaValle had the honor of opening for the otherworldly Sigur Rós. Unknown to me up until a few days before the concert and overshadowed by the excellence of the headliners, he didn't make the strongest impression in the live setting then, but nevertheless went on to provide the soundtrack for many of my college cram sessions, either with his old band Tristeza or with this, his long-lived solo project. Later during that tour, he performed at La Riviera here in Madrid, his last appearance in the city before Friday's concert at La Boîte, a far smaller and more intimate venue, much better suited to the band's ambient brand of indie rock.

    To the disappointment of many, Belgian indietronica act The Go Find will not join The Album Leaf's European tour until Wednesday's show in Milan, leaving the Iberian dates of the tour without an opening act. Instead, Jimmy had to rely on his four-man live band to vitalize the audience. The four provided a welcome addition to The Album Leaf's minimal 2003 live incarnation, most of the time adding chorus, guitar, bass, drums and violin to his electric piano and vocals, but also making use of a large array of additional keyboard instruments. This left the the ample two-level stage almost filled to capacity, a state reflected by the venue itself, almost at its limit of 300. And for once, I managed to make a solid contribution in bringing six friends along.

    The generous 18-song set started out with the first half of his new album A Chorus of Storytellers played in sequence, an album from which we would hear ten songs in total, all but the abstract Summer Fog. While I still prefer his 2001 instrumental album One Day I'll Be on Time, this most recent full-length is definitely growing on me. The ominous opening Perro reminded me of both Moving Mountains' Aphelion and the chant-like vocals of the amazing San Solomon by Balmorhea, the protagonists of October's much-anticipated highlight. Blank Pages continued in the somewhat gloomy tone for a few minutes before erupting in a cloud of IDM-infused sparkles - and I was already sold. As in his recordings, Jimmy uses his voice rather sparsely during concerts, for which I am often grateful, since it doesn't quite match the quality of his music. Yet, the repeated chorus of Falling From the Sun is a brilliant example of a song that perfectly fits his voice and is properly enhanced by it. The wonderful Stand Still then wrapped up the first part of the performance, after which Jimmy with mixed success tried to fill an involuntarily long break with banter. Announcing to my delight that some older songs would follow, he continued to lead the band into The MP and Another Day, two of my favorite songs of his.


    Photo courtesy of [musicazul]

    The Album Leaf tends to lull me into a daze with its groove-oriented instrumental rock, something experienced by most during the hour-and-a-half-long set. A holiday-inspired lighting system, consisting of a set of short rods of multi-colored lamps, as well as some rather interesting video projections did their part in keeping the crowd alert, but I found myself particularly thankful for the songs accompanied by intricate electronic beats, such as The Outer Banks. Standing out were also songs like Until the Last, where the full strength of the live band was employed.

    After the customary pretend exit, the visually complemented single Always For You from 2006's Into The Blue Again drew the biggest applause of the evening. Red-Eye and Tied Knots completed the encore, leaving me without my two absolute favorites Story Board and Asleep, but too content to really be disappointed - after all, one can't expect to hear many songs from a nine-year-old album. Instead, I headed out with a smile on my face, carrying a nice hand-printed tour poster, eagerly anticipating my third time seeing Jimmy live.

    Setlist:
    01. Perro
    02. Blank Pages
    03. There Is a Wind
    04. Within Dreams
    05. Falling From the Sun
    06. Stand Still
    07. The MP
    08. Another Day
    09. Twentytwofourteen
    10. The Outer Banks
    11. Shine
    12. Until the Last
    13. We Are
    14. Almost There
    15. Wherever I Go
    --
    16. Always For You
    17. Red-Eye
    18. Tied Knots
  • Balmorhea @ Siroco

    17 Oct 2009, 13:39

    Last Sunday, in a mist of cigar smoke and Cava, I left the city I have called home for the better part of the last seven years: Gothenburg, a place once described by a foreign friend of mine as "a veritable chateau of the music landscape". Madrid, my new habitat, may not be able to claim local artistic excellence in the genres revered by both me and said friend, but can nevertheless boast an extremely vivid music scene. Interesting concerts abound, as expected in a major Western city, filling my calendar for the fall to the brim.

    As a warm-up for my most anticipated concert since visiting London in May, I took the opportunity to attend my first Fikasound event. Usually devoted to Swedish indie pop, the Madrid-based promotion company used Thursday's concert at El Sol to showcase two acts from neighboring countries: Danish duo Monkey Cup Dress and, most importantly, Norwegian Rockettothesky, whose wonderful song Grizzly Man had already made a strong impression. And well, despite a confused and very late starting time, recurring sound problems, and a near-empty albeit charming venue, the concert turned out rather well.

    But the highlight of the week was undoubtedly to be the performance by Texan neo-classical post-rock band Balmorhea. I planned to see them at 2008's Preview Festival in Gothenburg, but due to poor tour management, their appearance was cancelled shortly before the show. To my disappointment, the event's promoter also failed to deliver on his promise to bring them to Sweden in the spring instead. But the long wait surely made Friday's concert even more special.

    Arriving a little late, I unfortunately missed the opening act, which was supposed to be local ambient/IDM solo project The Folding and the Point - who I will try to catch later this fall instead - but had been replaced by the indie rock band Meryll, formed by the headliners' sound engineer. My venue of choice for a Balmorhea concert would probably be an old theatre with excellent acoustics, or better yet one of the limitless open-air variety. The cramped, smoky basement of Siroco, however, offered no such ambiance or charm. Supposedly with a total capacity of 350, the two-floor venue held barely 100 madrileños when Balmorhea took the stage at 11pm, but considering the crampedness and temperature, I wouldn't want the attendance for a concert there to be much higher. Still, what the audience lacked in strength of numbers, we more than made up for in enthusiasm.

    Each equipped with an acoustic guitar, Rob Lowe and Michael Muller lead off with the twinkles of Elegy, a song that just like Dream Of Thaw, The Summer and Windansea reminds me of The Album Leaf's Story Board, one of my favorite pieces of instrumental music. Their string trio composed of violin, cello and bass then joined in to introduce the next song, the fantastic San Solomon. This track, which both opens and closes their incredible 2008 sophomore album Rivers Arms, defines Balmorhea to me like no other with its soaring piano lines and elemental vocals. And to my relief and pleasure, it was no less amazing in the live setting. Following this masterpiece was no easy task, but a worthy challenge for Night In The Draw, my favorite song from their new album All Is Wild, All Is Silent. In its glory, it also made apparent the habit of Rob and Michael to alternate on piano, acoustic guitar, banjo and electric guitar throughout the set.

    Michael then paused to talk about how much they enjoyed having a looser schedule for this Madrid visit than for their last in April, now allowing them time to get to know the city a little. Unfortunately though, Rob was suffering from a cold, something he said was common for him during tours when I spoke to him briefly after the show. On a side note, I could mention that I found his stage manner with the electric guitar oddly reminiscent of that of Claes Strängberg, front-man for Swedish ambient indie rock band Immanu El who I hope to see present their new album Moen here in Madrid in February.

    Following the wonderful Coahuila and a somewhat somber new track titled Night Squall, Balmorhea then gave us an electrifying rendition of Settler with two crescendos that drew massive applause from all in attendance. As Michael then informed us, it was apparently an unusual way for them to do it: "we like to play a version of that song with no claps, but we thought: Madrid, we have to clap!". Continuing to focus on new material, they proceeded with Harm and Boon, during parts of which their drummer to my amusement acted like Pinocchio on speed. Truth, with its majestic finale, was announced as the last song, but after resounding praise, the band returned to play us one last piece, a second new song, Bowsprit, from their new album to be released at the end of February. And judging from the samples I heard last night, it will be just as good as we have come to expect.

    To show my appreciation before heading out, I bought their last two albums and a nice-looking t-shirt, duly thanked the band for the great performance and wished them a continued good tour.

    Setlist:
    01. Elegy
    02. San Solomon
    03. Night In The Draw
    04. Coahuila
    05. Night Squall
    06. Settler
    07. Harm and Boon
    08. Truth
    --
    09. Bowsprit
  • Friends, Planets and Silence

    19 May 2009, 1:30

    I recently realized, when one of my best friends moved to London, that I could now go see my favorite bands without too much effort. And my March trip for This Town Needs Guns and Emilíana Torrini definitely left me wanting more. Looking for an appropriate time for a repeat appearance, I came upon adjacent dates for Kyte - the Leicester-based post-rock band who released 2008's best album - and Johnny Foreigner - my most recent favorite in the UK math pop scene. And coincidentally, Swedish screamo outfit Suis La Lune were to give one of their rare performances - the first one in a major Swedish city since 2006, I believe - in Stockholm the next day. It was all too good to miss! And I couldn't have scripted it better, each night proving more memorable than the one before.

    This extended weekend of musical indulgence got an early start with Wednesday's Goo Nite club at the Buffalo Bar in Islington. A Last.fm event recommendation, it featured three British post-rock acts, all previously unknown to me. So only catching half of The FM Flash's set and having to leave before Worriedaboutsatan didn't bother me, since I was mostly interested in Kontakte and their wonderful new song The Ocean Between You and Me. Fortunately, they let it round off their agreeable seven-song set, giving me what I had come for, although perhaps not a lot more.

    The following evening, I revisited the London suburb Kingston-upon-Thames and McClusky's, the fairly large venue where Banquet Records' club New Slang holds fort. Missing (or rather skipping) Youves, I arrived midway through Super Tennis' set. Playing noisy math pop with appropriate amounts of shouts and yelps, they reminded me a bit of the hyper-energetic Algernon Cadwallader. I managed to catch a few gems, including both songs from their Pushinsky / Billy Ocean split single. The music was really good, but I think their wonderful live dynamic alone would have made the set enjoyable.

    Like I mistakenly thought would be the case with This Town Needs Guns, I think New Slang is one of the best places in the world to see Johnny Foreigner, who sort of seem to be the house band there, making their sixth or seventh appearance. And the band seemed to be almost as excited as the crowd, blazing out of the gate with their new single Feels Like Summer, which also provides the name for their current tour. Singer/guitarist Alexei Berrow's energy is undeniable, and was proven beyond all doubt by the flood of sweat he managed to generate during the first few songs alone, but bassist Kelly Southern and drummer Junior Elvis weren't far behind.

    The band then went on to play us a a whole bunch of new songs, a few older ones, and four from their awesome debut album Waited Up 'Til It Was Light - the ones best received by the crowd, including me. Bounding back on stage following our extended closing applause, they claimed that the show would be the only one on the tour at which they would be called back for an encore, so they made the most of it, choosing to play my favorite song of theirs (just ahead of Salt, Peppa and Spinderella): Our Bipolar Friends. Needless to say, I was thrilled, and enjoyed every last minute of it thoroughly.

    On a side note, as part of a longer feature on UK music webzine Drowned In Sound, Kelly recorded a brief video clip, where she had us yell: "Hello, Drowned in Sound! JoFo had fun!". It was included in part 3 of their '09 tour diary, and I think I am that blurry figure in the middle of the third row at 2:39.

    Setlist: (from Kelly's paper version)
    01. Feels Like Summer
    02. Yes! You Talk Too Fast
    03. Camp Kelly Calm
    04. Kingston Called, They Want Their Lost Youth Back
    05. Eyes Wide Terrified
    06. Choose Yr Side And Shut Up!
    07. I'llchoosemysideandshutup, Alright
    08. Salt, Peppa and Spinderella
    09. Criminals
    10. Suicide Pact, Yeh?
    11. The Coast Was Always Clear
    ---
    12. Our Bipolar Friends

    On Friday, I took the opportunity to visit my friend Fredrik at Last.HQ, where he just wrapped up his thesis project. We also stopped by the local pub, The Marie Lloyd, where members of the Last.fm team usually go after work at the end of the week, and I got to chat a bit with Matt and Tim, two other staffers, before it was time to head off towards Barden's Boudoir in Stoke Newington and the main event of my London visit.

    Breathy vocals were definitely the theme of the evening, yet again hosted by Goo Nite, featuring not only Kyte's Nick Moon but also singer/songwriter William Fitzsimmons. But while the vocal style isn't too surprising for Kyte's choir-boy-like frontman, when the savagely bearded American opens his mouth, I couldn't help but find it both amazing and mildly amusing. After speaking with William a little after his set, I can't really say that he is one of the oddest people I have ever met, as his offical bio claims. Sure, the beard is indeed odd and he has an interesting background, but he is really very nice and outgoing in that typically American way.

    As he is one of the artists I have listened to the most in the last six months, I was delighted when I found out that he would be opening for Kyte. And he seemed to be in as good a mood as I was, talking a lot between songs, joking good-heartedly about various politically incorrect topics such as supporter violence and child abuse. And who could really blame him for being high-spirited: at several points during his set, I had to look around in disbelief at the amount of applause the fairly small crowd was generating.

    He played a rather short but diverse set, including two songs from last year's The Sparrow And The Crow, two from 2006's Goodnight, one from 2005's Until When We Are Ghosts, and an Iron & Wine cover. This last pick surprised me a little until I stumbled upon his profile here at Last.fm. To shed some light on his lyrics, he introduced Funeral Dress as being "about missing somebody after they're no longer here" and Just Not Each Other as being "about hope". Me, I really hope I get to see William play again soon, and with him mentioning a possible Scandinavian visit on his upcoming European summer festival tour, I might not have to wait very long.

    Setlist:
    01. It's Not True
    02. Everything Has Changed
    03. Faded From the Winter (by Iron & Wine)
    04. Funeral Dress
    05. Just Not Each Other
    06. If You Would Come Back Home

    Next on the bill was Vessels, yet another British post-rock band. Backed by cinematic projections of canyons and skies, they put on a very impressive show. Especially captivating were two piano-driven tracks: the ambient/electronic Yuki, followed by the energizing Two Words and a Gesture. Almost as good was Altered Beast, the somber opening track from their lone album White Fields And Open Devices. I was quite content with their performance, but Vessels also left me pleased that the lineup order differed from the one shown on the poster - they would have been a tough act for William Fitzsimmons to follow.

    Not only faced with that challenge, but also with living up to my extremely high expectations, Kyte started preparing for their moment in the limelight. Talking to their bassist Ben before the show, I voiced my desire to hear my three favorite Kyte songs: Planet, Boundaries and The Air Of Sunset. Disappointingly, he said they were only planning to perform one of the three (Boundaries), but then added that I may well be able to convince them to play one of the others, as they try not to stick too rigidly to predetermined setlists. I quickly decided to root for Planet, using the time before the show to better the odds, also requesting it from the remaining three band members. I also spoke a bit with Robert, founder of the record label Erased Tapes, proud home of not only Kyte but among others also Ólafur Arnalds, Codes in the Clouds and The British Expeditionary Force.

    Once Kyte guitarist/programmer Tom Lowe let the opening notes of Boundaries ring out, I was torn between the joy of hearing one of my absolute favorite songs played and the urge to check my phone - I have been using its wonderful intro as my ringtone for about six months now. The next aural treats offered were the synthesizer-heavy Secular Ventures, and the middle duo Bridges in the Sky and Solsbury Hill from the Two Sparks, Two Stars EP released late last year. No songs from their new album Science For The Living - which has yet to be released outside Japan - were played. But as this was the first time I saw the band live, I really didn't mind at all that they focused on older material, positive that I will get several more chances to hear them play songs like Designed For Damage and No-One Is Angry Just Afraid. For them to play my before-mentioned favorite The Air Of Sunset, which for some inexplicable reason is still unreleased, or the wonderful Carnival of Spies from their debut EP Switch Motion To The Sky, I will probably have to request them specifically. But that night, I was very grateful for them to fulfill my request for Planet. They apparently hadn't played it in quite a while - confusing me, since it is one of their most popular songs - but it still sounded great. From there, I just drifted euphorically through the two set-closers Ghosts and These Tales Of Our Stay, both solid tracks from their first album. Before heading out, I bought some nice mementos from the drummer Scott, in the form of a CD and a t-shirt that the whole band then signed. Round two of my London concert series was a thundering success!

    Setlist:
    01. Boundaries
    02. Secular Ventures
    03. Solsbury Hill
    04. Bridges in the Sky
    05. Planet
    06. Ghosts
    07. These Tales Of Our Stay

    Already feeling pretty content with my little mini-festival, I arrived at Smedjan in Stockholm after my flight back to Sweden. But being a little sleep-deprived, I couldn't quite appreciate the second opening act Pesanteur who played their very first concert ever. Their friends seemed to like it though, and appeared to give their last song, a cover of Indian Summer's Angry Son, extra credit for nostalgia.

    Suis La Lune then took the stage to do their sound check, and it was when Henning played a riff from American Football's Stay Home that I suddenly realized what a treat I was in for. Since I had only seen one screamo band perform previously - the even more post-rock-inspired Belgian The Black Heart Rebellion at Underjorden in Gothenburg - I wasn't really sure what to expect, but the energy that Suis exuded soon permeated the room completely, bringing me out of my daze. The immediacy and urgency of their performance had me awestruck and gasping for air, not only because of the cramped and poorly ventilated venue. The enormous intensity added another dimension to every single one of their songs, perhaps most noticeably to the older ones, which suffer a bit from poor recording quality.

    I can't claim to be disappointed with the song picks, since I got a whole bunch of my favorites, including My Mind Is A Birdcage, Utter Silence Is Fragile, and three out of four songs on their recent stellar EP Heir. But at their yet-to-be-booked first Gothenburg show ever in the hopefully not-so-distant future, I would love to also get to hear the title track from their debut album: Quiet, Pull the Strings!, and my absolute favorite Suis song: Fingers. Voice. Heart. Shake. Shake. Shake.

    For some reason, I thought they would have a hard time recreating their intricate dynamics in the live setting, but I couldn't have been more wrong. For a band that only plays live sporadically (although the members tour a fair amount with their respective side projects, such as Mixtapes & Cellmates and Björn Kleinhenz) and claimed to rarely have time to practice (due to being geographically dispersed, I suppose), they are an astoundingly potent live act. The only evidence of their lack of rehearsals was the recurring debates about what song to play next, but that just added to the intimacy of the show. The band also displayed a genuinely positive attitude, Henning showing his appreciation for the organizers and the other bands, which he also requested us to support. Kalle, on his part, brought to our attention the demise of the Gothenburg-based distro Release The Bats (although the label will live on).

    Suis La Lune don't get anywhere near the amount of attention they deserve. But after that night, they are in my book undoubtedly Sweden's best live band (topping the amazing Immanu El), and one of the best I have ever had the pleasure of seeing play. It felt like everybody there knew that we were experiencing something unusually authentic. That, and the exhilaration I felt afterwards, reminded me of last summer's Sigur Rós concert in Slottsskogen and of why I go to so much trouble to see concerts such as this one.

    Setlist:
    01. With Wings of Feathers and Glue
    02. September Gave Us Awkwardness, October Gave Me Nothing
    03. Utter Silence Is Fragile
    04. This Heart Easily Tears (video)
    05. A Letter - A Void
    06. Can't Believe I Spelled It Out For You
    07. Let the Bastards Come
    08. (Untitled new song) (video)
    09. Parts of Emily
    10. My Mind Is A Birdcage
  • James Yuill @ Parken

    9 May 2009, 16:16

    Last weekend, Familjen's show at Gamle Port drew a huge crowd. And I think a lot of them missed out last night, when Londonian folktronica singer/songwriter James Yuill came to town.

    I discovered James only two weeks ago, through a recommendation on AbsolutePunk. I immediately recognized his name, remembering that he had a local show coming up shortly, so even though the attached song didn't really appeal to me on first listen, I was interested enough to decide to try one of his albums. And Turning Down Water For Air definitely proved my initial reaction wrong.

    The comparison of Yuill to The Postal Service is widely used, but I find it a little misleading, at least when it is exemplified with a beat-driven track like No Pins Allowed. Still, when introducing his music to my Swedish friends, I have actually been describing it as a mixture of the Gibbard/Tamborello collaboration and the afore-mentioned Swedish electronica act. But I really hold Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly as the band among those I listen to that most reminds me of him.

    When I took the opportunity to talk to James before the show, he told me a bit about his influences. When recording his first album, he listened a lot to the Beastie Boys and Radiohead. But after that, he got into Daft Punk and a bunch of artists on Warp, which was what drew him towards electronica. He also mentioned Justice as an inspiration, but only after the release of his second album.

    The task of inspiring us before Yuill's set, or at least warming us up a bit, had been given to a Danish band called Giana Factory, consisting of three (kind of cute) girls. I was surprised to find that they only have a handful of listeners here on Last.fm, since they had a high-profile opening spot for Glasvegas two months ago. Based on the few song fragments I had heard on their MySpace page, my expectations were rather low, but the band proved to be a pretty strong live act, apparently making a big impression on James.

    The venue, Parken, was recently reconstructed and rebranded. Backed by a deal with dominant Gothenburg promoter PK Musik, they are trying to establish themselves as one of the premier indie concert venues in town. But after this, my first visit, I am a little confused, thinking they would stand out more from the other Avenue clubs - the interior design being rather lush and a little too neat for a rock club. But in any case, with bookings such as this one and the one on May 25, I will hardly be able to stay away.

    James had told me that his live show emphasizes the electronic elements of his music, and indeed it did. Like in the video for No Pins Allowed, he wields a sizable array of electronics in addition to his acoustic guitar. After an instrumental intro, he dove straight into No Pins Allowed, setting the bar pretty high. But when he followed it with two of my other favorites from Turning Down Water For Air - She Said in Jest and Over the Hills - the show was already a hit, as far as I was concerned. Both songs were a little dancier live than their album versions are, which helped to energize the crowd. Before slowing things down a bit with How Could I Lose, The Ghost, and an entirely acoustic version of This Sweet Love, he played a very promising new song with the working title What To Do When You're On Your Own. While the quality was high throughout the set, I do think he is right in adding beats to most of the tracks, since that is really what makes him stand out from other singer/songwriters. And in the live setting, they make it pretty difficult for the audience to stand still. To round off the set, I got a nice big surprise as he gave us the Fire Reversion of No Surprise, probably the strongest of those of his remixes that I have heard. In response to resounding applause and calls for an encore, he then got back up on stage to throw some more beats our way - an appropriate ending to an awesome show.

    Setlist:
    01. (Untitled instrumental)
    02. No Pins Allowed
    03. She Said in Jest
    04. Over the Hills
    05. Left Handed Girl
    06. What To Do When You're On Your Own
    07. How Could I Lose
    08. The Ghost
    09. This Sweet Love
    10. No Surprise (Fire Reversion)
    --
    11. (Untitled instrumental)

    During our conversation, I mentioned my visit to London next week, upon which he told me that he is actually playing there on Thursday. (That event was missing from the Last.fm calendar though, which is why I didn't know of it.) Still, I think I'll stick to my original plan and head down to McClusky's in Kingston, where I saw This Town Needs Guns and Colour put on a great show in March, since Thursday's edition of the club New Slang boasts my recent discovery Johnny Foreigner, who I really can't wait to see live. And anyway, I plan to see James play again soon enough, when on July 2 he performs at the Arvika Festival.
  • Tiger Lou @ Brew House

    13 Nov 2008, 1:11

    It is safe to say that Tiger Lou lives up to the motto of his new album A Partial Print: the more you give, the less you have to carry (which was apparently provided by an avid fan of all things Swedish). Rasmus Kellerman and his band never fail to give their audience a memorable experience, although tonight, they appeared to be holding back a bit.

    Opening the night at the Brew House, Gothenburg's newly established counterpart to Stockholm's Fryshuset as a reasonably-sized all-ages venue, was the female duo Lowood. Accompanied by borrowed Tiger Lou drummer Pontus Levahn and keyboardist Kicki Halmos, singer/guitarist Therese Johansson showed considerable promise. The one track I had heard before, the MySpace-posted Close To Violence, sounded really good, but it wasn't the only one. Still, I would probably have preferred them going for an even more mellow sound.

    As recently announced, the first set of Tiger Lou shows in support of A Partial Print showcase the album in its ordered entirety. I always find such endeavors intriguing, but this "essential challenge" seemed at times to be an overwhelming one for the band, struggling to enthuse the crowd with so many somber new tracks. Particularly, Coalitions and Odessa fell a little short of the mark, but most disappointing was the rendition of the lead single Crushed By A Crowd. As the most accessible track on the album, I thought it would be an easy sell in the live setting, but it started out too slow and never really found its footing. On the other hand, The Less You Have To Carry, An Atlas Of Those Our Own, and Trails Of Spit excelled beyond the recordings with the added intensity and dynamics.

    After a brief intermission, we were led down memory lane as the band offered us two songs each from the first two Tiger Lou albums: the title track and Nixon from 2005's The Loyal, as well as The war between us and The wake/hooray hooray from 2004's Is my head still on?. This last song was the highlight of the evening for me, since it is one of my favorites of Rasmus' songs (although I prefer the Araki version), and also in part because it was the sole surprise of the set, seeing as reviews of previous shows had revealed the three other encore picks.

    Upon his promised return in Spring, I hope the Tiger and his friends will up the brightness and the catchiness a bit, giving us songs like Sell out, When I Was A Kid and All I have. In any case, I will be there, curious to hear which songs from A Partial Print make the setlist of that tour.

    All in all, although I am partial to Tiger Lou's earlier material - most recently having discovered the unreleased album from his pre-solo career band Music By Em - this was a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting concert, breathing some more life into A Partial Print, an album that I suppose will continue to grow.

    Setlist:
    01. The More You Give
    02. The Less You Have To Carry
    03. So Demure
    04. Trust Falls
    05. An Atlas Of Those Our Own
    06. Odessa
    07. Trails Of Spit
    08. Coalitions
    09. Crushed By A Crowd
    10. A Partial Print
    --
    11. Nixon
    12. The wake/hooray hooray
    13. The loyal
    14. The war between us
  • M83 @ Pustervik

    12 Oct 2008, 23:49

    My record-breaking fourth visit to Pustervik for a concert in less than three weeks lived up to its promise. Both Bon Iver and The Deer Tracks won me over (A Silver Mt. Zion not so much), but neither came close to rivalling French electronic savant M83.

    To warm us up for Anthony Gonzalez and his crew, Swedish/Danish electropop diva As in Rebekkamaria put on an odd indian-themed show filled with high-pitched wailing and kitten photos. With the kind of stage manners you would expect from a mainstream pop, schlager or dance artist, she wasn't able to convey much of her energy to the crowd, but since the poorly ventilated venue was fortunately already filled to capacity, we really didn't need warming up. Still, her beeing so out-of-place made me even more disappointed that the concert promoters hadn't booked a Swedish band more akin to tonight's headliners, such as The Bridal Shop or The Morning Paper, as I encouraged them to.

    From the very first minute of their set, M83 created intensely beautiful soundscapes, while hardly spending any time gazing at shoes. The songs from the recently released eighties-inspired album Saturdays = Youth held up well, as did the heavier tracks from 2005's Before the Dawn Heals Us.

    Compared to when I saw him three years ago at Scala in London, Anthony had an - as far as I could tell - entirely new set of collaborators, including a female vocalist, which I don't believe he had then. The plexiglass-caged hard-hitting drummer impressed with his fervor and accuracy, and really gave the band an edge, as live drummers often do for electronic acts.

    With an impressively strong setlist composed of equal parts new and old material, I doubt M83 made anyone disappointed. Somewhat surprisingly though, the highlight of the set for me was not Teen Angst - quite possibly my all-time favorite electronic song - but rather the lone encore number Couleurs, which was clearly given that spot for good reason.

    The belated announcement of this Gothenburg show could have meant back-to-back M83 concerts for me, but I decided against it, a decision tonight's experience almost made me regret.

    Setlist: (reasonably accurate)
    01. Run Into Flowers
    02. *
    03. Moonchild
    04. Kim & Jessie
    05. We Own the Sky
    06. ???
    07. Graveyard Girl
    08. ???
    09. Teen Angst
    10. Highway of Endless Dreams
    11. Don't Save Us From the Flames
    12. Skin of the Night
    13. Car Chase Terror
    --
    14. Couleurs
  • Sigur Rós @ Slottsskogen

    9 Ago 2008, 10:54

    I don't care if it rains, it couldn't dampen this experience. But I can't let anything, so for once my ears must be left unprotected. This is the best concert I've ever been to.
    Those were my thoughts, only a few songs into Sigur Rós' set at the Way Out West festival. Words can't explain the euphoria I felt during that single hour tonight, when time nearly slowed to a halt, for in all it's imposed brevity, the concert seemed endless. From the moment Jónsi, Kjarri, Goggi and Orri stepped on stage and offered the opening notes of Svefn-g-englar, the smile never left my face. At times, I was even unable to contain myself, laughing out loud with inexpressible joy, surrendering to the song of my inner lunatic.

    I had astronomical expectations for this concert, but they were by far exceeded, and even literally matched as confetti repeatedly lit up the night sky over Gothenburg. It was the third time I had the pleasure of seeing these extraordinarily talented Icelanders play, but an altogether new experience. The first occasion was almost ruined by my naivety in not bringing ear plugs, thinking the band's music too mellow to rise to ear-harming volumes. On the second, I was better prepared and enjoyed it fully. But tonight, the performance took place outside the confines of a concert hall, instead gracing the great forest hall of my park, Slottsskogen. And the music really took the opportunity to grow. For me, finally getting to move freely at a Sigur Rós concert was pure relief, the first two songs from the band's playful new album providing the perfect soundtrack. Still, the stand-out tracks of the set are easy to pick out: every single one. From the soaring heights of Við spilum endalaust, to the rhythmic splendor of Sæglópur, and the blistering inferno of Untitled VIII, the intensity was just overwhelming.

    Sigur Rós are otherworldly, in the best possible way. And tonight, for me, they rose to a new level. I hope their fairytale will continue for a long time to come, and that they may even defy time and continue playing endlessly.

    Setlist:
    01. Svefn-g-englar
    02. Við spilum endalaust
    03. Hoppípolla
    04. Með Blóðnasir
    05. Festival
    06. Sæglópur
    07. Inní mér syngur vitleysingur
    08. Hafsól
    09. Gobbledigook
    --
    10. Untitled VIII (Popplagið)
  • A script for showing lyrics on track pages (reworked)

    21 Jul 2008, 14:20

    Three months ago, I wrote a script that added song lyrics to Last.fm track pages, using lyrics from LyricWiki. I have now rewritten it to work with the new version of Last.fm.

    For consistency with the rest of the site, the controls for collapsing and moving the lyrics panel have been moved to a drop-down menu. With that improvement, the script now produces a panel on track pages that looks as such:


    As previously mentioned, the script relies on the GreaseMonkey extension for the Firefox browser. With those requirements met, you can install the script from Userscripts.org, where it is hosted.

    Please leave any comments in the thread for that purpose in the Greasemonkeys group.
  • Arvikafestivalen 2008: Black Is The New Red

    7 Jul 2008, 22:14

    Even before front-woman Ninja and the rest of The Go! Team entered the Apollo stage, the 17th edition of the Arvika Festival was a success as far as I was concerned. It was the evening of the festival's third day, me with my most anticipated concert ahead of me. And as I'm sure they never do, the Team didn't disappoint. I actually got to see them as late as August, at the inaugural Way Out West, and got a near-perfect concert experience for being in a festival setting, largely because of my absolutely optimal mood. So, understandably, I didn't expect Saturday's performance to top that. And they did have me starting from a much lower level of excitement, although this time around, the crowd was a bit bigger, and the crowd response definitely better than in Gothenburg. Still, the only complaint I could possibly raise is that my favorite track, the bouncy brass-driven The Wrath of Marcie, was played way too early on, but seeing this unique travelling party on stage is shear joy, the opening notes of each and every song giving a rush of adrenaline.

    Setlist:
    01. The Power Is On
    02. The Wrath of Marcie
    03. Fake ID
    04. Grip Like A Vice
    05. A Version Of Myself
    06. Junior Kickstart
    07. Bottle Rocket
    08. Everyone's a V.I.P. to Someone
    09. Flashlight Fight
    10. Ladyflash
    11. Huddle Formation
    12. Titanic Vandalism
    13. Doing It Right
    14. Keys To The City


    But Ninja wasn't the first at the festival to impress me with irresistible charisma, a man named Saul Williams was. While I don't find his brand of heavy underground hip-hop particularly appealing in recorded form, he is a positively outstanding performer. His three intriguing-looking stagemates also did their part to ensure maximum entertainment value. I don't think missing the first half of the concert mattered much, it rather made sure I got just the right dose of Saul. While The Go! Team rocking my socks off was a given, Saul doing so was really the biggest surprise of the whole festival.

    With The Go! Team delayed by around 20 minutes, I had to hurry over to the Andromeda stage, the one owned the night before by mr. Williams, to catch British shoe-gazer Maps. Missing a significant chunk of that set annoyed me though, after being drawn in by his debut album We Can Create during the previous two weeks, and also since the concert was just as good as I hoped. James Chapman does exactly what I like electronic acts to do, transforming his music into something organic for the live performance, most importantly adding a proper drummer. And an extraordinary drummer he was too, I luckily managed to snag a drum stick as a memento. But it was nice seeing James so pleased to be there. So was I, and I hope to see him play again soon.

    Because of arriving a little late on the first day, I unfortunately only had time to catch a glimpse of post-rockers Efterklang on my way to Kate Nash. Making her the priority was obvious, since I felt satisfied with the Danes' wonderful show in March. My fascination with Kate had already begun to wane though, and I didn't quite get as much out of the show as I had expected. Still, hearing most of her poppy debut Made of Bricks, including my favorites Foundations, Mouthwash, and Merry Happy, was a real treat.

    For various reasons, I wound up skipping or missing most of the Swedish acts I was interested in: Ass, El Perro del Mar, Lykke Li, and The Mary Onettes, but I did manage to see Firefox AK. She really didn't win me over, but it was nice seeing her husband Rasmus (Tiger Lou) make a guest appearance, as promised.

    As to the historical perspective, I happened to be walking by the main stage early on Saturday when the Swedish pop punk heroes De lyckliga kompisarna played their classic När Kristoffer spelar flipperspel, and I just couldn't resist joining in on the fun. I also saw a little bit of the legendary synth-pop act S.P.O.C.K. celebrating their twentieth anniversary as a band by making their ninth appearance at Arvika, thereby undeniably cementing their position as festival mascots.

    I've realized that arena-sized shows really aren't for me, but I still wanted to see headliners Kent and Interpol play the main stage. While the former impressed with their great visuals and sound, seemingly keeping many in the audience spellbound, the latter did nothing for me. I thought I should give Interpol the benefit of the doubt, mainly because I like their Swedish counterparts, but they failed to evoke any reaction, mostly because they trudged along at the same pace through their entired set. The very last band I wanted to see was Death Cab for Cutie, but while they did put on the strongest performance of the three headliners I saw, they hardly excelled, and didn't really inspire me to explore their discography further.

    I guess the acts I danced to at the indoor venue designed for that purpose - MSTRKRFT, Danger, Surkin, and Anna - also deserve to be mentioned, although I can't say either of them left a particularly strong impression.

    All in all, though, this festival experience was hi-fi in most aspects compared to my previous ones, most fundamentally with regard to living arrangements and weather. It was also the first time I really found the right balance between concerts and everything else that demands attention. Remembering some of the theme songs in our camp - My (Fucking) Deer Hunter, Leave Home, Killing in the Name Of, and most importantly, Doin' the omoralisk schlagerfestival - I look back at a wonderful first visit to the Arvika Festival, and I can definitely see myself going back.
  • Jeniferever @ Reginateatern

    10 Jun 2008, 12:47

    My first time seeing Jeniferever play turned out to be the most anticlimactic concert experience I have ever had. And while I can hardly call the evening a disappointment, my lasting impression was of bewilderment.

    When the show was announced, only a week prior, I already had plans to head north for National Day weekend, and being 90 km from Uppsala, compared to my usual 450, I couldn't help but go. Devised as a release party for their new EP Nangijala, the show promised to be something out of the ordinary. And the Regina Theatre is indeed an unusually cosy and ambient venue for a concert of this variety. Unfortunately though, the mood was soon dampened as singer Kristofer Jönson informed us that the record had been pressed in the wrong color - apparently not looking like it should - so its release had been postponed. Partly for that reason, I suspect, the merchandise they did bring was never even unpacked, so I'll have to wait until the next time I see them to buy Choose a Bright Morning and a t-shirt. Hopefully that will be in only a few months time, but the band was reluctant to make any promises about visiting Gothenburg in the near future.


    Jeniferever's hour-long set consisted mainly of unreleased songs, including the centerpiece of the evening, Nangijala, and its B-side When Our Hands Clasped (not included in the setlist, or perhaps under a different name). Another three or four new tracks were played that will most likely appear on the band's as-yet-untitled sophomore album to be released in fall. Since I hadn't seen the band previously, I was of course hoping to hear more songs from their 2006 album, but I guess it only serves me right for discovering them so late.

    The new tracks demonstrated a darker and slightly heavier sound with more complex rhythms, where Kristofer's whispering and panting was often transformed into outright bellowing. And although I have found the most appeal in their brighter material, the new direction is interesting and I look forward to hearing the finished recording.


    Before the show, just when the band had finished their soundcheck, I had snuck up to the stage to photograph the setlist. Not wanting to ruin the surprise, I didn't read it, but I couldn't help but glimpse a horizontal divider towards the bottom of the sheet, followed by two additional lines of text. So when Kristofer announced their final song of the evening, I - like most experienced concert-goers would - assumed that it wouldn't be. As the applause after the final song faded, I continued clapping at a steady pace for a few seconds, listening for someone to chime in with me, or a different rhythm for me to chime in with, but to no avail. Before I realized what was happening, the lights came on and people started getting up out of their seats. I had just been cheated out of the band's two last songs: From Across the Sea and You Only Move Twice.

    Still, seeing Jeniferever play my two favorite songs, The Sound of Beating Wings and Alvik, at a charming venue in their (and my) hometown was all but magical, and I will definitely take any chance I get to see them again.

    Setlist:
    01. Hawaii
    02. The Sound of Beating Wings
    03. Köpenhamn
    04. Alvik
    05. A Ghost In the Corner of Your Eye
    06. Concrete and Glass
    07. Nangijala
    08. Alaska