Friday, 28 November 2014

Congratulations Finland!

Boy, have I got news for you! I'm proud to tell that Finland has, as the last of the Nordics, finally approved same-sex marriage! History has truly just been made and another step towards equality taken. The vote was a close one (105 to 92) and represents the first citizens' initiative to receive the Parliament's approval since 2012 when the system was implemented. This is without doubt a triumph for equality in Finland and allows the otherwise highly egalitarian country to catch up with its fellow Nordics, all of which have already recognised same-sex marriage.

Earlier this morning, a giant rainbow flag was projected at the parliament building as a statement by three radio presenters to mark the significant vote:

The same-sex marriage, promoted by the Tahdon2013 ("I do 2013") campaign, had previously achieved a huge movement throughout the country (a citizens' initiative requires at least 50,000 signatures in order to make it through to the Parliament; this one gathered more than triple the amount of that) so big celebrations can be expected. And in order to commemorate this historical event, the Song of the Week is the LGBT-themed anthem "Girls" by Swedish indie-pop singer Beatrice Eli. Enjoy!

Phew, this truly is an important day for an equal Finland. This might even call for a drink or two. Have a good and an egalitarian weekend, y'all!

(Images by and Ilta-Sanomat)

Monday, 10 November 2014

Marina and the Diamonds share new album tracklist

BOOM! Marina Diamandis, better known as Marina and the Diamonds, has shared the tracklist to her forthcoming 3rd studio album Froot. Not much is really revealed (except for the fact that, like on her previous LPs, there seems to be no collaborations) but it's a nice teaser anyway! She seems to be really into one-word song titles at the moment by the look of it. The tracklist is as follows:

"I'm A Ruin"
"Can't Pin Me Down"
"Better Than That"

Or if you prefer the information in a more visually appealing form, here's the pic Marina shared on Facebook:

It would appear that the whole album is inspired by the same retro-esque rainbow-coloured disco delirium as the visuals for the lyric video of "Froot", the title track. (Whether this is the back cover for the album or not was not confirmed.) I don't think a release date has been announced either. Well, at least we've got the amazing "Froot" - previously featured as the Song of the Week - to ease our wait!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Popheaval's back!

Hello again, guys!

As you might've or might've not noticed, the blog's been on a bit of a hiatus ever since I moved back to Finland. My motivation had gone missing for a while but after some creative recharging, I'm back again and it's been great to see that the blog's had a lot of readers even though I've been absent myself. A lot has happened meanwhile. Nicki Minaj has dominated the internet with her huge hit single "Anaconda" which immediately garnered a memetic status due to its single artwork...

...its raunchy video...

...and its Sir Mix-A-Lot sample:

Personally I think that the Anaconda memes are the best thing to come out of the song. Although the fact that I actually have a friend named Michael who, if I'm not mistaken, used to ride motorcycles always make me smile. Don't know about that tower part, though.

Elsewhere, Nicki Minaj (and Ariana Grande) collaborator Jessie J has tried to inch towards making their hit song "Bang Bang" her own solo effort by first ditching Nicki's...

...and then Ariana's vocals from the track. But nobody gave a shit, and rightfully so. Didn't she hear what Nicki said: "It's me, Jessie and Ari / If they test me they sorry". Tsk tsk.

What else. Katy Perry's rumoured to be roaring at the next year's Super Bowl Halftime Show, and Madonna's forthcoming album still remains a mystery. One thing seems to be sure, though: while there's a list of artists who are rumoured/confirmed to be collaborating with Her Madgesty, hipster musician Ariel Pink is certainly not one of them - not anymore, at least. After criticising Madonna's musical output since her debut album (even dissing her iconic masterpiece Ray of Light!!) Madonna's manager responded with the following:

Bitch please, Ray of Light is everything! (Here's a review of it, by the way.)

In other news, there's a also some really interesting new songs out there by some of the many artists previously featured in the blog. The British electronica duo AlunaGeorge, for instance, have released a new track called "Supernatural", presumably the lead single of the follow-up to the duo's 2013 LP Body Music. It's a fresh-sounding, retro-esqe house track that plays in the vein of their distinctive deep house sound with some new elements added into the mix. Unfortunately, it's only a 1-and-a-half minute teaser but gives a promising sampler of their future music nonetheless:

Another new lead single is "Froot" by Marina And The Diamonds. The disco-influenced anthem is super catchy and, thank goodness, its accessibility doesn't come at the cost of being almost aggressively ironic, which was a problem with her second album Electra Heart. Combining dance floor appeal with her typical theatrical approach, the track shares its title with the album which I'm definitely looking forward to. The lyrics compare the singer to a fruit, waiting to be picked by her "one true love" and ready for "Living la dolce vita". It's probably just a coincidence, but the opening line "I've seen seasons come and go / From winter sun to summer snow" reminds me a lot of a similar line taken from Naomi Pilgrim's sensational debut single "No Gun": "Seasons will come and go / Summer sun will turn to snow"

And speaking of Naomi Pilgrim, she too has a new song out! It bears the title "It's All Good", and is a more uptempo number compared to her three-track EP and the aforementioned debut song "No Gun". It's yet another great tune from her - come on, how come she hasn't landed a recording contract for a full-length LP release already? And if she has, I hope the album's on its way - I can't have enough of her music!

And then there's the incredible MØ who's released a collaboration called "No More" with the Swedish pop singer Elliphant, taken from the latter's latest EP of the same name. The synth-laden pop single is accompanied with a music video where the two are dressed up in Adidas tracksuits and light-up sneakers while sporting Geisha hairdos. The clip sees them embarking on a night out, getting wasted in a cab and dancing in a parking lot. Fun, erm, interesting fact: at 3:08 you can see Elliphant actually peeing on the street.

Well, there's some of my picks from the past weeks. Stay tuned, now that the blog's back on track again!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Röyksopp & Robyn get eerie on their 'Monument' music video

Following the releases of "Do It Again" and "Sayit", Röyksopp & Robyn have released a third single taken from their collaborative EP Do It Again (a review can be found here). The single in question is the incredible opening track "Monument", and a music video was shot as well. Directed by previous Robyn collaborator Max Vitali, the nearly seven-minute clip is a futuristic, surreal visual adaptation of the gloominess of the song, seamlessly matching its stylistic minimalism. It features the trio lying on a glowing white platform with two dancers performing an eerie routine, floating in space and finally being overshadowed by a giant upside-down pyramid. Rather than narrating a story, the music video seeks to convey an emotion and, in my opinion, does it quite stunningly. Check it out below:

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

New music videos from Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey

More has happened in the world of music videos.

First of all, here's the new clip for Katy Perry's latest single "This Is How We Do", taken from her fairly good pop record Prism. I'm still unimpressed by her choice for the next single (come on, why not give "International Smile" a chance? It's one of the best songs on the album!) but the music video is a very typical Katy Perry video. It's fun, with heaps of completely unrelated stuff - whatever is the connection between ping pong or basket ball players, watermelon fans, animated desserts and the retro aesthetics of the clip is completely beyond me. But maybe it's indeed 'just' a Katy Perry pop video and should be taken as such, so instead of troubling our heads about any deeper meanings, let's just enjoy the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink clip, rich with colours, De Stijl references, twerking ice cream cones and even a Mariah Carey impersonator.

Then there's also, of course, the ever so dramatic Lana Del Rey and the music video for her new single "Ultraviolence". The grainy clip looks as if it was filmed with an old iPhone and is like the audiovisual equivalent of an Instagram filter but I suppose that's intentional. There's lots of close-ups of her infamous lips - sometimes wrapping around her lover's fingers, sometimes a piece of a tangerine - while she wanders around in a garden, wearing a wedding dress. Well, you'd expect much more from her, but then again it's very Lana-esque anyway. Although to that extent that she's starting to resemble a parody of herself. But maybe that's just me.

Two new Madonna demos have leaked

Well, new as in 'previously unreleased'. As a matter of fact, the demos date back all the way to Madonna's Erotica sessions in the early '90s so nope, they've got nothing to do with her forthcoming, currently untitled 13th studio album. But now that I've got your attention, why won't you check them out? Sometimes outtakes are outtakes for a reason - the first one, "You Are The One", is a bit of a throwaway - but "Shame" is actually a pretty good tune that would've made a proper Madonna classic, had it been released. (Die-hard fans of her Madgesty may recognise the song titles from "the Rain tapes", a collection of demos from the Erotica era.)

Friday, 1 August 2014

Review: 'Pig Safari' by CC33

I mostly do music blogging just for my own amusement, as there's not that many actual perks to it. Unlike those who blog about food or fashion or whatever, you don't really get that much material profit out of it - you have to be pretty well-known in order to receive exclusive invitations or free concert tickets or stuff like that. However, every once in a while I do get e-mails with free music downloads etc. in them, and some months ago I even got my first promo CD in the mail so that's always pretty nice. The CD in question was called Pig Safari by the Finnish electro-rock outfit CC33.

You might recognise the band as it has been featured on my blog before, first in the Song of the Week section, then in my blog post about Finnish indie music. Generally, as you might've noticed by now, i don't tend to write about Finnish music that often (despite being a Finn myself) but there's always the occasional exceptions to that rule that are just too interesting to ignore. The Jyväskylä-based group CC33 is one of those.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Dragonette are (kind of) back with a new song!

The Canadian pop outfit Dragonette are some of the best electropop musicians out there, and now they've got a new single coming out! Releasing new music for the first time since their cover of Neutral Milk Hotel's "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" last January, the trio have collaborated with Dutch DJ Mike Mago on a brand new house track called "Outlines". The song is already available on Soundcloud and YouTube, and it's properly out on August 15.

Ever since Disclosure broke through internationally (their AlunaGeorge collaboration "White Noise" was ranked the 2nd best song of 2013 on Popheaval's 'Best Of' list), you could really start hearing the influence of their deep house vibes in other music as well. "Outlines" has some elements of that same music style, while Basement Jaxx's recent(ish) single "Unicorn" felt equally Disclosure-inspired. Not that it'd be a bad thing at all. So, one does wonder: is the UK garage/deep house sound making its way to the mainstream consciousness again?

Anyway, in case you're interested, there's also a lyric video for the song (since they're clearly a 'thing' these days). Here you go:

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

New music videos from Basement Jaxx, Lily Allen, Katy Perry

Twerking might've exploded in the mainstream in the aftermath of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke's questionable 2013 VMA performance, but Basement Jaxx have been playing with the phenomenon for some time already - the duo's 2009 album Scars even featured a song titled "Twerk". Not that it'd make twerking any less cringeworthy, though. Anyhow, this bootylicious dance style now makes an appearance in the new music video for their latest single "Never Say Never", taken from their forthcoming LP Junto. The tongue-in-cheek clip features the "Twerk-bot", a high-tech robot designed to save the humanity by inspiring mankind to dance again. Or something along those lines. It's got everything you need: wi-fi, bluetooth, USB connection for charging your devices etc. It's compatible with iTunes and even comes with self-lubricating buttocks that are machine-washable and perfectly suitable for... wait a minute.

Then there's Lily Allen who has a new single on the way from her new album Sheezus, and this time it's "As Long As I Got You". A music video was uploaded on YouTube a couple of days ago, and it's essentially a tribute to the Glastonbury Festival, where she performed this year for the first time in five years. It incorporates bits and pieces from the festival, such as Allen dancing and singing to the song backstage and clips of her Glasto performance. It's quite fun and summery and all but also feels more like a festival trailer than a proper music video.

Also, is it just me or is she going through singles like there's no tomorrow? After "Hard Out Here", "Air Balloon", "Our Time", and "URL Badman", this is already the fifth Sheezus single. (In addition, the title track "Sheezus" was also treated with a promotional video, though it wasn't released as a single.) Hell, it's less than a month since the previous one! Yet, with the exception of the past controversy around "Hard Out Here", none have succeeded in making a major impact, with the latest two even failing to enter the top 40 on her home turf. Lily Allen's comeback hasn't really gone that smoothly, now has it.

Meanwhile, Katy Perry's apparently about to release a new single as well. And the song in question is...

*drum roll*

"This Is How We Do". Well damn. Perry's latest album Prism was a pretty good pop album (I gave it a four out of five) and it features a bunch of tracks that'd make great singles. She seems to have confirmed that "Legendary Lovers" would be released as one, while "International Smile" would make a most infectious uptempo summer hit. And still, she chose "This Is How We Do" that sounds like a Kesha throwaway and is certainly not the best the album has to offer. Sometimes I do question decisions that musicians make. On the other hand, "Dark Horse" - another Prism tune I couldn't stand - turned out to become a surprisingly massive hit so maybe she knows better... Nevertheless, here's the lyric video for the song:

Monday, 21 July 2014

Here's the powerful music video for Röyksopp & Robyn's 'Do It Again'

Röyksopp & Robyn's bittersweet party anthem "Do It Again", taken from their new EP of the same name (here's a review!), now has a music video to it. Rather than serving as a literal visual interpretation of the song lyrics, the intense clip embraces the chaos and destruction of the more metaphoric sense of the lyrical content. Said Robyn: "This is a song that needs visuals to balance the hysteria, the manic energy". And boy, do they deliver. There's no straightforward explanation regarding the narrative, but it seems to deal with a range of gloomy themes such as desperation, violence, and loss. Not necessarily quite what you'd anticipate from the music video of the most dance floor friendly number of their latest record but that's Röyksopp & Robyn for ya - expect the unexpected. Check out the amazing, if a bit depressing video below:

(And for a live performance of "Do It Again" and another of their newer songs, "Monument", head over here!)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Last four Siouxsie and the Banshees reissues coming September 15

Four years ago, Siouxsie and the Banshees' label Universal pulled the plug on the band's album reissue campaign midway, meaning that their last four albums were left without remastered editions. Their previous albums from 1978's The Scream to 1986's Tinderbox were all treated with reissues, with the former even getting a deluxe 2CD release with a bunch of demos and live versions. Said Severin:
“Universal have decided not to release any more single disc remasters. As the final four albums don’t have enough extras to warrant the double disc ‘deluxe’ treatment, they have halted our programme four albums short. They have given us the opportunity to license the last four (Peepshow, Glass, Super, Rapture) to another label. We are looking into this.” (source)
Since then, however, things have changed. First there was the reissue of the group's debut single "Hong Kong Garden" earlier this year, and Severin wrote that it wouldn't be a one-off thing, revealing that "Once we start — we will be putting things out on a regular basis. Universal have a 3 year plan proposed". Someone over at Universal must've really taken a liking to the band! Proceeding with the remaster campaign must also be easier now that the feud between Siouxsie and Severin is finally over, as well:

Then, five days ago, Severin teased the fans with a game of hangman over at the band's Facebook fan group:

After the fans succeeded in guessing the correct letters, the mysterious sentence turned out to spell "FINAL/FOUR/DUE/FIFTEENTH/SEPTEMBER". In other words, the Banshees' last remaining albums Through The Looking Glass (1987), Peepshow (1988), Superstition (1991), and The Rapture (1995) will finally get their reissues in no more two months! Brilliant news!

There's been no news regarding the extras yet, though Severin did confirm on Facebook that all the reissues will have additional material. As the Banshees rarely made demos in advance, it's unlikely that there will be any entirely unreleased songs in the mix, save for Through The Looking Glass: considering it's an album consisting entirely of cover versions, there might be some unreleased covers that never saw the light of day. But we'll see. Their 1987 stand-alone single "Song from the Edge of the World" has become quite the rarity because it was never released in a digital format in its original version - it was omitted from their 1992 singles collection Twice Upon A Time, included on another compilation album only in a remixed version, and resurfaced on the remastered Tinderbox in an unreleased version that featured guitars by John Valentine Carruthers rather than Jon Klein, who played on the single release of the song - so it might also make an appearance among the extras.

The band has often made it very clear they have a strong aversion to remixes so none are to be expected as extras. I'd predict most of the extra material to be live performances - especially with Superstition, their 1991 KROQ Acoustic Christmas performance would be a highly appreciated gem, should it exist as a professional recording. Out of the 11-song setlist, two tracks have actually been released already: "Swimming Horses" and a cover of "All Tomorrow's Parties" by The Velvet Underground both appeared as B-sides to the band's 1994 single "O Baby". The Rapture might feature initial versions of the album tracks that predate John Cale's involvement in the production work. A live concert from the Peepshow tour has already appeared on the band's "At The BBC" box set, so I have no clue of possible extras there.

Well, two months (and five days) to go! Meanwhile, why don't you check out my reviews of the four albums in question while you're waiting?

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Playlist: Gloomy Sunday

Exactly one week ago, a major change occurred in my life: I left Denmark and moved back to Finland where I'm originally from, which marked an end of an era for me. Needless to say, the last weeks were filled with endless goodbyes and farewells, which is always kind of emotionally draining. There's so much I already miss, so many places, so many people. Changes in life are inevitable: every hello is a beginning of a goodbye. Still, that doesn't mean that it's all over - the things you miss are still there, and it's the end only if you let it be so. I for one won't. 

But that doesn't remove the longing, of course. And considering music is a most remarkable form of therapy, what better way to cope with these feelings than a suitable playlist? Therefore, let us wallow in our sadness for a bit with a 20-track playlist titled 'Gloomy Sunday', consisting of some of my favourite melancholic songs. It's got everything from older classics such as Joni Mitchell and Lou Reed to more modern crooners like Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey. It's got blues rock and indie pop. It's got wistfulness and sorrow, but also a glimpse of hope so don't despair. So, if your Sunday (or any other weekday, come to that) is gloomy, look no further - this is a playlist for you!

Watch Röyksopp & Robyn's performances on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Röyksopp & Robyn have been touring Europe and the States with a series of gigs to promote their collaborative 'mini-album' Do It Again (for a review, head over here), and one of their appearances was on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Two live recordings from that show have since made their way to Youtube; these songs include the title track "Do It Again" and the fantastic opening number "Monument". Check out the performances below - mullets, platform shoes and Scandinavian synths galore!

While the high-energetic dance anthem "Do It Again" gets the crowd going (obviously), the same can't be said about "Monument", which is a shame as in my opinion, it's the best track from the EP (along with "Do It Again"). The eight-minute rendition of the ethereal synthpop number just doesn't seem to translate  well live. Well, I guess that's the case with most atmospheric compositions - they're not even meant to get the people jumping up and down in a state of uncontrollable euphoria. Still, it's a captivating clip so you should definitely watch it. Also, take a look at how ruthlessly the mic stand has its fifteen minutes of fame stolen by an overenthusiastic roadie at 3:06. Poor little thing.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Check out the music video to Lily Allen's 'URL Badman'

So, Lily Allen's latest single from her Sheezus album is "URL Badman", her take on internet trolls and self-important bloggers. "I don't troll, I make statements", she mockingly sings, before designating her storytelling character "a broadband champion, a URL badman", thus confronting the negative online feedback she got from the music blogosphere in the aftermath of the "Hard Out Here" clip. The dubstep-lite tune is now accompanied with a music video where she's dancing amidst these "keyboard warriors" who suddenly turn all glitchy, like corrupted files, before stretching into rainbow-coloured smudges. That would be you, haters.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Madonna teases new material - let us speculate

The Queen of Pop has really taken a liking to Instagram lately, and now she's even using the social media platform as the first place to share the news with her fans. News such as new music. Apparently, there's a new song on the way called "Messiah", the sheet music of which she shared on her Instagram earlier today.

Using the hashtag #messiah, the Girl Gone Wild hitmaker also shared a brief clip of some theatrical string arrangements being recorded for the song in question. Interesting.

So what do we know about her forthcoming album, then? Well, not much. What we do know, however, is that she's been working with a bunch of different people judging by the photos she's uploaded. These people include Disclosure, Diplo, AviciiNatalia Kills, and renown hat enthusiast Pharrell Williams. There's going to be a lot of collaborators, that is to say.

And then there's also the rumour of a Katy Perry collaboration. The two previously teamed up for a V magazine photoshoot, as seen below...

...and eager fans began speculating instantly of a possible musical collaboration between the two, as well. Around the same time, Billboard teased its readers with a mysterious snippet of an untitled nu-disco tuned by an unnamed 'shape-shifting dance legend'. Together with Madonna's frequent use of the hashtag #unapologeticbitch and Perry mashing up Madge's classic hit "Vogue" with her own tune "International Smile" on her latest tour, many joined the dots, assuming this tune to be the rumoured Madonna/Katy Perry track. Unfortunately for the fans, this groovy Daft Punk-esque song turned out to be the latest single of Dutch DJ Sander Kleinenberg, titled "We-R-Superstars". The music video for the song does feature a lot of funny dogs, though, so you might as well take a look at it anyway.

So, the internet is awash with rumours that ought to be taken with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, there are some things that have garnered my attention, such as the hashtags Madonna has been using often, namely #unapologeticbitch and #rebelheart. Perhaps one or the other is the upcoming album title, considering how much she's been adding them to her pictures lately. (Although, Rebel Heart sounds like something that Lorde or no, wait, Avril Lavigne would use. Not a 55-year-old pop icon.) And while the Katy Perry collaboration is still nothing more than a rumour, Madonna's confirmed to have been in the studio with the rest of the aforementioned musicians, and in addition to "Messiah", there's another song title that has been revealed: Diplo has stated that he has recorded a handful of songs with Madonna, and one of them is titled "Bitch, I'm Madonna". Hmm, I sense some shade about to be thrown.

Now, someone cynical might say that Madonna's just trying to latch onto younger, more 'hip' artists in order to regain her relevance as a pop pioneer and sure, there might be some truth in that. Still, I hope she's not just trying to ride on the coattails of her successors, outsourcing her latest reinvention. While her previous album MDNA wasn't nearly as bad as some made it out to be, it lacked consistency because there were way too many people involved as songwriters and producers. Because of that, I hope she's not going to make the same mistake again and that there's going to be an executive producer of some kind in order to create a unified soundscape for the album - something that MDNA lacked.

There's indeed very little we know of Madonna's future album. Perhaps she's just pulling a Beyoncé and releasing the album as a nearly complete surprise (we do know she's working on one, though). I'd expect an album release in late 2014 (Oct/Nov) or early 2015 (Jan/Feb), with the lead single being dropped without a warning, mainly promoted with vague social media hype and ubiquitous hashtags. But we'll see.


Madonna has now also shared (a part of) the lyrics to "Messiah", and they are as follows:

Hmm. Is Madonna going all dark and mysterious again? Whether the rest of the album follows the apparent spiritual theme of "Messiah" remains to be seen but at least this tune seems to be quite a dramatic one. Furthermore, in addition to #rebelheart and #unapologeticbitch, the hashtag #livingforlove has started to appear more and more in Madonna's Instagram pictures as well. Could it also be a possible album title? Who knows.


We might even have the possible single artwork at our hands now:

I have a hunch the lead single might be dropping quite soon.

Do stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Check out Basement Jaxx's new single 'Never Say Never'

Just a couple of days ago, Basement Jaxx shared another track from their forthcoming seventh LP Junto. This one's called "Never Say Never" and features London-based singer/producer ETML on vocals. It's a nice and unmistakably Jaxx-y tune for sure but to call it one of their most memorable tunes to date would be a reach. It feels a bit lacking to me, especially considering it's a single release. I'd even go on to describe it as a less cheerful, more forgettable "Feelings Gone" but maybe that's just me. Usually the Basement Jaxx singles just tend to be more anthemic or earworm-y. Maybe it'll take a few listens first, though, so I will give it some time anyway. That's not to say that it's a bad tune as such - do check it out for yourself!

Interestingly enough, they released this single before even filming a music video for the previous one, "Unicorn". (I don't think the visual created by Hungarian video artist Tomek Ducki really counts as one, even if it features an animated twerking unicorn.)

Furthermore, the Mark Knight remix of "Never Say Never" has also created quite some buzz over at Beatport, even peaking at #1 in the House 100 chart of the site.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Review: 'Do It Again' EP by Röyksopp & Robyn

After Röyksopp and Robyn announced that they'd be touring together and recording new material, I could imagine hordes of fans of quality pop music went absolutely bonkers. I for one did. The duo had collaborated twice before, with amazing results: both "The Girl and the Robot" and "None of Dem" were brilliant slices of glacial, bewitching Scandinavian pop. Expectations were building up.

Only to be further stirred by the lead single (and title track of the EP) "Do It Again" that premiered two months ago. It's every bit as anthemic as you'd expect from a collaboration between these two, with a simple but driving beat and accessible sing-along lyrics. And the bridge amps up the song on yet another level. While an infectious dance floor filler, there's actually some definite darkness to it - the lyrics describe an unhealthy relationship which the storyteller finds herself unable to resist and is helplessly drawn to, like a moth to a flame: "Don't care what they say, it hurts so good / I don't wanna stop, I know I should / But let's do it again, one more time".

Review: 'No Mythologies To Follow' by MØ

If you've been following my blog lately, you've probably figured out that I like the Danish indie pop songstress MØ quite a bit. So, it's about time I took a proper look at her debut LP No Mythologies To Follow. Without further ado, let's get down to it!

The original version of the album comprises twelve tracks, while the deluxe edition (which is the one available on Spotify) features four bonus tunes plus four alternative versions of the new album tracks, one remix, and her Spice Girls cover "Say You'll Be There". With even the ordinary version clocking at 44 minutes, the deluxe edition is clearly quite the package.

Before the album came out, I was concerned with one particular fact: out of the 12 tracks on the initial version of the album, six ("Pilgrim", "Waste of Time", "Never Wanna Know", "XXX 88", "Glass", "Maiden") had been already released in advance in one format or another, four as (then) stand-alone singles. Now, they're all killer tunes for sure, but with the album relying so heavily on 'older' (=previously heard) material, the new stuff has to be extremely good to be on a par. So, the first time I put the record on, I was really nervous - how will the record fare as an entity?

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Playlist: Summer jams!

We've just passed the summer solstice which means that this is as long as our (unfortunately much less than 500) days of summer get. I hope you celebrated it well, with bonfires, sunbathing, beer and buddies, whatever the way that most pleases you. And since it is the midsummer now, what would be a better way to commemorate that than a playlist full of delightful summer jams, eh? So, no matter whether you celebrate St. John's, San Juan, Sankt Hans or juhannus, here's a compilation of 21 summery tunes to brighten up your days! Remember to enjoy it now, it's only going to be downhill from here...

Friday, 20 June 2014

Listen to Popheaval's picks from the Finnish indie scene

As you might have noticed, I don't often feature Finnish music in this blog despite being a Finn myself. That's not to say that there weren't good music coming from the country, it's just that I barely follow the scene over there (especially now that I'm not even living there at the moment). However, every once in a while I bump into bands and artists that I like, usually through the wondrous world of social media. Here are some of my recent discoveries from the Finnish indie (= Findie? Yes, this blog is all about portmanteaus...) scene.

First we have Forwardman, the music project of Helsinki-based Sakari Viittala. He's got an album coming out later this year, and the lead single was released one month ago. The Britrock-esque single, titled "Twenty-Six", is accompanied by a music video that features twenty-six different scenes, shot in various different locations. Good luck trying to spot all the different cities seen in the clip! And if you like the song, he's also got an EP out on iTunes so do check it out as well.

Heading north, next we've got A-M from Oulu. Behind the stage name is singer-songwriter Aapo-Matti Puhakka, who makes music that is a beautiful mixture of mellow alternative rock and Finnish melancholy. He's got a double single "Count To Ten" / "Rainy Day" out, and a debut album due for release this autumn. The latter song is especially amazing and a personal favourite of mine. (As a matter of fact, you might have heard it before in this blog, too.)

Pretty promising stuff, huh?

Uncle Tan, a Tampere-based electronic musician, is a discovery I made through Twitter. I went over to his Soundcloud page and one particular tune garnered my attention. The song, called "The Cave", is an instrumental electronic pop-rocker that recalls some of the better stuff that emerged from the '90s alternative rock scene, such as Garbage. Hell, the production is so top-notch, it wouldn't sound out of place on Madonna's iconic 1998 album Ray of Light!

CC33 is a band that has been featured in the blog before, when their song "Miracle Jackson" was the Song of the Week a while ago. I've got a review of their debut album Pig Safari in the making, though you'll still have to wait a bit for it, as I've been pretty occupied with other things lately. Anyway, here's another track from the album, and this one's called "I Used To Be A Teenage Amorphis Fan". This lovely, tranquil tune could almost pass for a Moby track from the early noughties. (But why, oh why is it so short...?) 

And lastly, there's Siinai. This interesting kraut-rock outfit makes conceptual electronic albums. First they had one called "Olympic Games" (pretty self-explanatory, right?), and now they're back with a concept album about... supermarkets. Yes, you've read right. The ambient album, also titled Supermarket is a collection of instrumental compositions about the experience of going through a supermarket, with song titles such as "Jonotus / Queue", "Smiling Cashier" and "Exit". Pretty ambitious, I guess. Anyway, here's "Shopping Trance" from the album: it's a pulsating track that hypnotises with its apparent monotony - a bit like how you'd do your groceries in an almost trance-like state, following your usual routine, just like all the people around you, making the act of shopping feel both fascinating and creepy at the same time.

So, there were some of my picks from the Finnish alternative music scene. Enjoy!

New music videos from Lana Del Rey, MØ, Jon Hopkins

There's some new music videos I'd like to share with you guys so let's get on with it!

First of all, we've got Lana Del Rey with her (apparently) latest single "Shades of Cool", one of my favourites from her new album Ultraviolence (expect a review in the near future). Musically it - along with the rest of the LP - represents a slightly more minimal direction for her, but the video is every bit as Lana-esque than anything we've seen before: there's smoking and dancing in slow-motion, there's an older man as her love interest, there's rows of palm trees, there's driving in a fancy convertible and yes, there's even the good ol' Stars and Stripes. Much American, such Lana, so wow. We're hardly speaking of a proper reinvention here but oh well, the song's quite amazing nonetheless.

Then there's the incredible Danish indie pop sensation MØ with her latest single "Walk This Way", taken from her 2014 debut album No Mythologies To Follow. I've still yet to review it but spoiler alert: it's good. Directed as a collaboration with the i-D magazine, the music video is a high school-themed romp and portrays MØ as a bubblegum-chewing queen bee of her high school athlete posse. The clip also takes MØ's trademark ponytail to a whole new level.

I've been totally obsessed with this singer ever since I saw her live last year, and it's starting to look like she's just about to break through internationally, too - she's been touring the States, getting a lot of media attention and even appearing on national TV! Check out her performances of "Pilgrim" and "Don't Wanna Dance" on Jimmy Kimmel Live!:

Mark my words, she's going to be huge. Such a promising talent, and she puts on an amazing, batshit crazy show, too!

And lastly, we've got Jon Hopkins with a new version of his amazing tune We Disappear from his latest album Immunity. Featuring the soulful vocals of Lulu James, it's an interesting take on the song. Her gorgeous voice complements the song beautifully, but in my opinion, the track's original, instrumental version was hypnotic and captivating in ways that this one isn't. Perhaps that's the magic of instrumental music: it allows the listener to project more of their own interpretation and imagination onto the composition. Still, the new version is stunning in its own way, and the combination of James's organic, classical vocals and Hopkins's futuristic glitch-hop arrangements make a fascinating juxtaposition.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Listen to a Brazilian version of Basement Jaxx's 'Mermaid of Salinas'

In order to commemorate the 2014 FIFA World Cup - currently being held in Brazil - Basement Jaxx have released an alternative version of one of their latest tracks, "Mermaid of Salinas", taken from their forthcoming seventh studio album Junto. Now sung in Portuguese by singer Nina Miranda, this take bears the title "Sereia de Bahia" and is accompanied by a typically wacky music video (as you'd expect from the duo), directed by Spanish director Alan Masferrer. Check it out below and, you now, give me your shimmy shimmy!

(The true star of the clip is obviously the middle-aged, mildly chubby, mildly sunburnt tourist guy.)

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Siouxsie Sunday: 'Mantaray' by Siouxsie

(Alright, I know I promised to write this two weeks ago but things happen. Anyhow, here it is now - let's get on with it!)

2007 marked an unusual year for Siouxsie Sioux - for the first time during her nearly 30-year career, she was going solo. The album, titled Mantaray, wasn't actually the first project she had done under solo moniker, though: three years prior, she had embarked on the Dreamshow tour (with her then-partner and one half of The Creatures, Budgie) where she performed songs from both of the bands she had fronted, The Creatures and The Banshees. A DVD of the show was released afterwards, topping the UK music DVD charts upon its release. The duo of Siouxsie and Budgie also included several songs from their previous (and unfortunately, last) Creatures studio album Hái! (accompanied by Leonard Eto, who played on the album) and billing the tour as a Siouxsie tour was most likely merely a way to incorporate Banshees songs into the setlist.

This time, however, she's really going solo, as in 2007 she announced that she and Budgie had divorced. The subsequent absence of Budgie on the record is a major change - this was the first Siouxsie album since 1979's Join Hands that doesn't feature his work. Siouxsie had previously done amazing records in both of her groups with thriving artistic chemistry, so how does she fare solo?

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Watch the new Band of Skulls music video

The amazing English indie rockers Band of Skulls have released another music video from their latest album Himalayan. Following the previously released "Asleep At The Wheel" and "Nightmares", this is the third single taken from the LP, and features the group's distinctive rock sound, rich in catchy guitar riffs and complete with a typically flawless vocal performance by vocalists Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson.

The clip itself tells a story of a female stripper, and as usual with music videos shot in reverse, comes with an unexpected twist in the end. Such simple but effective storytelling. (Oh, and if you're into music videos with strippers and plot twists in them, why don't you check out the one filmed for Porcelain Raft's "The Way Out".)

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Lily Allen shares a bunch of unreleased demos

After releasing her latest studio album Sheezus a bit more than a month ago - a review is on its way... sometime soon-ish - the London-based pop princess Lily Allen has now shared five previously unreleased demos ("just for LOLS", she says), presumably outtakes from the Sheezus album sessions. Personally, I wasn't that impressed with the record as whole, and to be honest, these demos are miles better than the some of the more auto-tune-obsessed numbers of the album. Five demos can be listened to on Allen's Soundcloud page, though apparently, there were originally six more demos that have since been taken down. Go figure.

Anyway, here are the five demos:

Seriously, what were they thinking when leaving these out of the album? They are amazing! "My Town", an infectious but bittersweet uptempo number, sounds like it could've easily appeared on her 2009 album It's Not Me, It's You, and the brilliant "I Don't Mind Babe" is a classic retro-inspired Lily Allen pop song with her trademark snarky lyrics: "Here's your coat, love / There's the door" and "I don't mind babe / Who the fuck are you?" are prime examples.

"I Was Born In The 80s" is a peculiar reggae-meets-dancehall hybrid, while on "Age of Beige" Allen's giving quite frank opinions regarding the quality of the music they're playing on the radio these days: "I turn on the radio, I can't believe what I'm hearing / Maybe I'm past it but this sounds like bullshit to me". "Stop Right There" is the slowest one out of the bunch, being a beautiful ballad with dreamy arrangements.

No but really, why these tracks never made the cut is beyond me. Instead, we got stuff like *shivers* "L8 CMMR" and "Sheezus". Okay, they're not that bad, but the album would be still so much better with tracks like these demos. Way better. Maybe they'll appear on a future deluxe edition of the album or something. And if not, well, make sure to check them out above before they too are taken down! This is the Lily Allen we were waiting for.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Listen to new Lana Del Rey songs

A handful of brand new Lana Del Rey songs from her forthcoming album Ultraviolence have made their way to YouTube. Following the release of the lead single "West Coast" and the album tracklist, here's three more tracks: they're titled "Shades of Cool", "Ultraviolence" and "Brooklyn Baby". The songs represent a new, slightly toned down sound for the 'internet era torch singer' - the album seems to be stripped from the super-orchestrated soundscape of the Born To Die era. Yet, the fragile melancholy heard on the songs is distinctively Lana-esque, so the new direction feels like a natural evolution from her past music. The more minimal musical backdrop also gives her more space to experiment with subtlety both as a songwriter and a performer.

While I've never been the biggest Lana fan, I do usually find her music enjoyable, and that is the case with her new songs as well. I'm really happy that she toned down the instrumentation a bit - while Born To Die was a fine record, another LP like that would've been too much of an oversaturation of that type of sound. Anyway, here's the new material:

A personal favourite of mine is "Shades of Cool" but they're all very pretty tunes! Although, the piano of "Ultraviolence" sounds a bit too aggressive to blend in with the otherwise soft mix. It's almost demo-like in that sense so I hope it's not the final version.

And here's the music video for the ominous "West Coast" in case you missed it:

Lana has also shared an alternative cover to the album, exclusive to Urban Outfitters:

As you can see, it's a picture of her knee.