Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Popheaval's Best of 2013: #10-1

Alright, I think it's about time to list the remaining half of my Best of 2013 listing. If you haven't seen the first half (#20-11) yet, you can find it over here. But now, let's get on with it - here's my top ten of 2013!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Xmas (Says My Blog Message)

Hooray, we've almost tackled year 2013 already and it's finally Christmas time! It's that time of the year when you're allowed to just kick back and relax, spend quality time with your nearest and dearest until the point of frustration and feast like all you want for Christmas is type 2 diabetes.

Christmas-themed movies tend to be rather drenched in romance and larger-than-life love stories so unless you have that special someone to hold on to while lounging about in front of the telly, you might feel that certain aching feeling deep within your chest and no, I'm not talking about cholesterol. Then again, you might also have experienced a holiday season heartbreak which would help you identify with Wham's ever-so-popular "Last Christmas". Indeed, pop music has given us a plethora of modern Christmas songs to bob our heads (or channel our disappointment) to, but while these songs are nowadays part of the whole "Christmas experience", they are the same bloody songs year after year after year. And you do grow weary of them, don't you. ("All I Want For Christmas" is never going to get old, though.)

So should you be looking for a new song to add to your Christmas pop canon, here's Canadian electro-poppers Dragonette with their 2012 single "Merry Xmas (Says Your Text Message)". Thematically it follows in the vein of "Last Christmas": one year ago, the storyteller was totally shagging someone but after being treated in a shitty way, now wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire. (That's obviously not the actual lyrics.) "Last December I remember when / you said you wanna give me everything / Now I look forward to / celebrate New Year without you". And singer Martina Sorbara's lyrics give you one example of how to deal with it: "Merry Xmas says your text message / But you're late by a  day or two / so mine says thanks a lot and fuck you"

So there you have it. Fuck them and enjoy the magic of Christmas time! Remember to watch a lot of movies such as Love Actually and eat excessive amounts of chocolate. There's never too much chocolate. Hang out with your family and friends, and make sure there's always at least one board game on the table being played. Remember to relax, take it easy and make the most of it the way that pleases you the most!

Merry Christmas everybody!

P.S. The second half of my Best of 2013 list will follow... shortly.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Popheaval's Best of 2013: #20-11.

The end of the year is drawing near and you know what that means - best of lists! Yay, amirite? (Also, this is my 100th blog post! This calls for celebration.) And no music blogger would be credible without one of their own so... here's mine. It certainly wasn't an easy task to try and narrow down the best songs of a whole year into a set amount, let alone rank them. I was considering all these different kinds of brackets to do the job for me but ultimately ended up with an unbribable scoreboard (THAT TOOK AGES TO FILL). And of course I forgot to save it and then accidentally deleted the whole thing, having to do it all over again...

Phew, it sure took some time. And innumerable replays of songs. The face-offs were tough, but here's the final results. Lists like this are obviously highly subjective since they are merely a matter of personal taste (I didn't give two fucks about chart positions or commercial success). I have also probably missed a myriad of excellent songs - I've spent the whole past year discovering amazing songs from 2012 that I had totally overlooked in my last year's list. Furthermore, in order to prevent the list from becoming too monotonous and consisting of multiple songs from same artists/albums, I chose to use only one song/main artist.

There will also be another post on special mentions, but here's the first part of my final list with the final order - are you ready?

Here we go!

Friday, 13 December 2013

One For The Weekend: 'Passionate Ones' by We Are Legends feat. Artymove

Do you guys still remember Artymove, the Swedish indie pop band that I once briefly wrote about? I found out about them when they were opening up for the marvellous electropop group Dragonette last December and was instantly captivated by their material. Well, if you liked their music, good news: they've got a new song out! Kind of. Actually it's the latest tune by the Gothenburg-based electronic music duo We Are Legends but it does feature Artymove frontwoman Mathilda Lindgren in the vocals. It's a catchy house track with a strong '90s feel to it that instantly grew on me, so I was thinking it would make a lovely addition to your weekend playlist. You're welcome!

For more recent Artymove collaborations, check out the following track: this one's a more experimental but an equally fascinating tune with the Tokyo-based producer Jeannie. Gosh, I love these both. New music sure is always exciting!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Robyn and Röyksopp announce a joint tour, work on new material


The Swedish queen of 21st century electropop Robyn and the Norwegian electronic music wizards Röyksopp are going to embark on a tour. Together. Yes. And no, that's not all - they're even working on new music together, as confirmed by Robin on her Twitter account:

Okay, how marvellous is that. Only three concert dates have been revealed so far - they're playing the Northside Festival in Aarhus, Denmark; the Latitude Festival in Suffolk, UK and the Øyafestivalen in Oslo, Norway - but there's more dates to be announced. I'm so hyped up already: I've seen both artists perform the anthemic "The Girl And The Robot" live but now there is a possibility to actually see them share the stage during the song? Also, it's been quite a while since we've heard anything of Robyn so it's great to get her back. And it seems that Robyn + Röyksopp is a match made in heaven - just listen to their previous collaborations "The Girl And The Robot" and "None Of Dem". They're cordially invited to blow my mind with new stuff anytime.

And this is how incredible the three sound live. Brace yourselves!

Monday, 9 December 2013

The most bizarre music news of the year: 'Home Alone'-star Macaulay Culkin has started a pizza-related Velvet Underground cover band.

Um, yeah. The Velvet Underground was a massively influential alternative rock band in the '60s/'70s who served as an inspiration for whole generations of new musicians, ranging from the likes of David Bowie, Patti Smith and Roxy Music to Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Nirvana. Among others. Their debut album only sold 30,000 copies but it was once famously said by English music pioneer Brian Eno that "everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band." And now you can add Macaulay Culkin of Home Alone fame to the list.

Culkin, who once struggled with a serious drug addiction has now apparently found inspiration in the New York-spawned experimental rock band whose lyrics were not at all unfamiliar with the destructive hedonism of the infamous "drugs, sex & rock n' roll" lifestyle. So he started a Velvet Underground / Lou Reed tribute band, with a twist. A pizza twist. Indeed, the pizzafied song titles appearing on their demo tape include "Papa John Says" ("Stephanie Says"), "I'm Waiting For Delivery Man" ("I'm Waiting For The Man"), "Take a Bite of the Wild Slice" ("Take A Walk On The Wild Side") and "All The Pizza Parties" ("All Tomorrow's Parties"). You can't really blame them for being unimaginative! Oh, and the name of the band? The Pizza Underground. 

Is it any good? Oh god no. But it's still kind of hilarious in a strangest of ways so don't take it too seriously - you can listen to the tape below!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Happy Independence Day, Finland!

The Maiden of Finland is a grand old lady now, turning 96 and all! Incidentally, this is my 96th blog post. How coincidental (and not at all deliberate) is that! Now, the chances are if you're from outside of Finland, you don't know much about the Finnish Independence Day (and why should you, come to that). Unlike in the States, for example, where their respective Independence Day is celebrated with spectacular fireworks and other festive things and where a majority of my readers come from, in Finland the day is a rather solemn one. Being a national holiday, people tend to stay home and spend time with their families and friends, lighting blue and white candles, perhaps having a festive dinner together and watching TV.

One reason for the solemnity and the lack of merry festivities is probably the fact that while Finland did get its independency in peaceful circumstances, the country has had to defend that independency on many occasions, and defending it has often been costly. Finland's participation in World War II is a prime example. There's actually a black-and-white movie called The Unknown Soldier (1955), that's based on a novel of the same name, that tells the story of the Continuation War between Finland and the then-existing Soviet Union, and the movie is a traditional must-see for Finns every Independence Day. The movie, perhaps due to its significance in the canon of the Finnish myth, is in fact the most-viewed Finnish film of all time.

Another and a considerably more lighthearted must-see is the 'Castle Ball', where the president hosts a big reception at the Presidential Palace for 2,000 people, including the parliament, previous presidents and prime ministers, generals, diplomats and distinguished celebrities such as actors, musicians and athletes, among others. Highlights include collectively judging all the women's dresses from your own sofa (seriously, the next day the papers publish like, extensive articles on the subject) and watching the presidential couple begin the first dance, traditionally a waltz danced to "The Blue Danube" by Johann Strauss II. Some of the afterparties are also televised so you even get a chance to snigger at tipsy celebs.

But enough of culture and history, this is a music blog, right? And considering I'm a Finn myself so you'd probably expect me to use the opportunity to promote some Finnish music, but I won't do that, tempting as it is - wouldn't that be just a tad too easy? Instead, I'll leave you with the following song. It's not Finnish, even though the name of the song is indeed "Finland", but it's actually by the English musician/producer YILA who makes up 50% of the exciting jazzy glitch-pop duo Aloosh. The song appears on his unfinished and officially unreleased album (that can still be listened to and downloaded for free on his Soundcloud page). For some reason, whenever I'm feeling a bit homesick, it is this song that I turn to for instant relief. I don't know the story behind the song but to me, the song captures the country and its spirit in a wonderful way and, might I say, better than many Finnish acts do.

So there you go. I like my country like I like my music - independent. All you Finns and Finland-minded, hyvää itsenäisyyspäivää!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Now even Lana Del Rey announces a new album?

Seriously, I'm naming this week the official 'New Album Announcement Week': first Band of Skulls, then , and now even Lana Del Rey has said words about a forthcoming album. Well, to be honest, the only thing she did reveal was the album title Ultraviolence but that's more than nothing at all and hey, at least it's now confirmed that the Tropico film project will not be marking an end to her music career, but rather just serve as an end of an era. This was obviously suggested by the various leaked demos, too, but it's always nice to have something concrete to hold on to.

The album title was revealed by Lana herself at the premier of her short film Tropico, where she said the following words: "I really just wanted us all to be together so I could try and visually close out my chapter before I release the new record 'Ultraviolence'". Check out the Instagram video below for evidence! Furthermore, according to Twitter user Lana Del Rey News, she also confirmed the album title in a Youtube comment of which the user shared the following screen capture:

The term 'ultraviolence' - meaning excessive, unjustified violence - comes from the 1962 dystopia classic A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. Perhaps the new record will be a concept album of some sort? Who knows, there's only so much you can predict from an album title alone. But there you have it: more's on the way!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

MØ announces debut album

The Danish up-and-coming pop songstress - whom I had the pleasure of seeing perform last week - has revealed new details about her forthcoming debut album! As you can see from the picture above, uploaded yesterday by MØ herself on her Facebook page, the album will be called No Mythologies To Follow and it will be out on the 24th of February. We now have a tracklist as well, and it is as follows:

"Fire Rides"
"Never Wanna Know"
"Red in the Grey"
"Don't Wanna Dance"
"Waste of Time"
"Dust Is Gone"
"XXX 88 (feat. Diplo)"
"Walk This Way"
"Slow Love"
"No Mythologies to Follow"
"Dummy Head
"The Sea"
"Gone and Found"
"Fire Rides (Night Version)"
"Dust Is Gone (Night Version)"
"Slow Love (Night Version)"
"The Sea (Night Version)"

Phew. As you might suspect, that'll be the tracklist of the deluxe edition - the "ordinary" version will be shorter, omitting the last eight tracks. It sounds plausible with the four alternative 'Night Version' thingies but to leave the title track off the album? Now that is a rather curious thing to do. Oh, and you can pre-order the Deluxe edition here while the regular one can be found here. You're welcome.

Another thing you might notice about the tracklist is that it includes many songs we've heard before: her debut single "Pilgrim" makes an appearance, and so do two other singles "Waste of Time" and "Glass" plus one half of the Bikini Daze EP ("XXX 88" and "Never Wanna Know"). That is to say, almost half of the 'normal' version of the album (5 tracks out of 12) will be songs that we've already heard before. That is not a negative thing per se, but the new songs must really be good enough to not be overshadowed by the older ones (well, "older" as in "released earlier this year"). I'm sure they will be brilliant, though, and I believe I did in fact hear a couple of the unreleased songs at the gig.

Anyway, what a promising week for exciting album news! First Band of Skulls, now MØ! And it's only Wednesday today...

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

So, here's the new M.I.A. track.

After releasing her fourth LP Matangi a bit more than one month ago, M.I.A. announced that she would release a new song that will apparently serve as a Spotify-exclusive bonus track for the album. This morning she tweeted about the song, and it's available on Spotify now. Turns out it wasn't an entirely new track per se, as it rehashes elements - most notably, the lyrics - from the reggae-trap-hybrid "Double Bubble Trouble" (an album track from Matangi). It's called "Trouble Again" so the sample is kind of hinted in the song title. It's still more than just a slightly altered remake, though, so it provides her fans with something new to listen to. Would it have been better had it been a straightforward (and trap-less) reggae adaptation of the original song? Yes. But does it feel cheap? Thankfully no: it is different enough to stand on its own. And after all, it was stated to be 'just' an exclusive bonus song anyway so clearly it wasn't going to be a "Bad Girls pt. 2" or anything. Oh well. Here's the track, it's worth checking out nonetheless so go ahead:

In other news, another Matangi track "Y.A.L.A." was apparently released as a single, and a music video was subsequently filmed. The trippy, drenched-in-colour clip contains some flashing images, but as long as you're not prone to seizures or overly high on mushrooms, here you go:

Monday, 2 December 2013

Band of Skulls announce new album, release lead single

Good news for all you fans of actually good indie rock music - the incredible Band of Skulls revealed new details about their forthcoming album last night. The album will be called Himalayan and what you see above is the artwork of the album, probably by bassist/vocalist Emma Richardson like their previous album covers. The LP will be out March 31st next year but they did also upload one of the new tracks on Youtube. The song, likely the lead single of the album, is called "Asleep At The Wheel" and it's good. It sounds distinctively like Band of Skulls and has a nice progressive rock feel to it. Definitely worth checking out!

And there's even more: the band even released a tracklist for the new album on their Instagram page. How great is that! And to save you from unnecessary clicks and seconds of waiting - it is a hectic world we're living in - here's the tracklist:

"Asleep At The Wheel"
"Hoochie Coochie"
"Cold Sweat"
"Brothers And Sisters"
"I Guess I Know You Fairly Well"
"You Are All That I'm Not"
"I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead One Dying"
"Heaven's Key"
"Get Yourself Together"

At least the first song of the 12-track album sounds amazing so I'm very much looking forward to it! Well, only four months to go, then...

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Siouxsie Sunday: 'The Thorn' EP by Siouxsie and the Banshees

After recording 1984's Hyæna album with Robert Smith of The Cure in the guitars, it was only a matter of time before Smith would focus on his own band again, effectively ending his tenure as a Banshee guitarist. Siouxsie herself has often brought up the band's unfortunate luck with their guitarists - they just kept losing them, one after another. The next guitar-wielding Banshee, John Valentine Carruthers was actually the band's sixth one in only eight years.

After Carruthers joined the group, they decided not to write a new album straight away, but to record an EP consisting of revamped versions of their older songs. On the one hand, the Banshees - whose core now firmly consisted of the holy trinity of Siouxsie, Severin and Budgie - wanted to use the EP as Carruthers' induction to the band, and on the other hand, experiment with string arrangements and re-record some older songs that had evolved into new versions on tour.