Tag Archives: indie pop

New Album Love: Get Some “Wounded Rhymes”

Hey music fans. Remember that new album review I’ve been promising for a week? Here is the place, now is the hour. Swedish chanteuse Lykke Li has a second album that has been in stores (and online) for two weeks and a day, so chances are if you’re already a fan you’ve got this gem in your collection. If not, oh my dear reader, you are in for a treat.

I still remember when I purchased Lykke Li’s first album, Youth Novels. Downloading entire albums was still relatively new to me, as I always preferred the feel of the CD in my hand: I enjoy flipping through the album’s booklet eagerly while listening to each track, unsure of what is to come. I still prefer purchasing a physical album to add another notch to my music library, but seeing as how cheaper costs allow me to download twice as many albums as physically buying them, well, it’s really a no-brainer for a music devotee. A-hem. I digress.

It was late at night, and I just happened upon Lykke’s debut album via random searches, as magically happens every so often. I was struck by the purity of her voice, and the simple but lovely rhythms that balanced it out. To me she sounded like a wintry Alice in Wonderland, not lost but coolly exploring her surroundings. It sounded like music made by a young girl for other young girls, and even though I have not considered myself “young” for some time, I found myself thoroughly enjoying her exploration of what it’s like to be a young lady setting out in the world. Even with the youthful overtones of the album, there was an unabashed feeling that this gal is 100% sure of herself, of who she is and what she’s here to do.

After that came her stunning and heartbreaking contribution to the New Moon soundtrack, which is aching and emotionally raw. Despite being listed among some very popular musical heavy-hitters, Lykke held her own on what is arguably the most memorable song on the entire soundtrack.

And now we finally get her gorgeous second full-length album: Wounded Rhymes. This album starts out with the banging of drums, followed swiftly by a playful electronic swooping reminiscent of doo-wop. The overall effect produces a sexy noisy fuzziness not unlike Jesus and Mary Chain or The Raveonettes along with instruments not unheard of on a Rusted Root album. The first song alone proves that Lykke has grown up quite a bit since her softly innocent debut; Alice has been through the looking-glass and back, and she has some new tricks to show off. This entire album is more primitive and powerful than the one before. These are no longer the songs of a young girl, but those of a woman embracing her power, sexuality, and maturity deliciously. Check out the fantastic video for her single “Get Some” below, with a chorus so catchy you won’t be able to stop yourself from singing it. Be warned, though: this song, and this singer, take no prisoners.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

For the record, I did indeed purchase the physical CD of this album. And it was worth every penny.

 

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Free Music and the Power of the Internet

The internet really is a marvel, isn’t it? So many of us use it on a daily basis that it can be easily taken for granted (until it breaks down or we go on vacation to lands unknown; that’s when we usually cry with relief once we’re “reconnected”). One of the first things that I was excited to explore was meeting new people, so for my first few years of being constantly online I participated in a lot of internet chat rooms and message boards. However, long after that aspect lost its glitter, utilizing the internet to find rare and obscure music has remained a constant source of happiness for these Hot Pink Headphones.

I still vividly recall my first ever internet purchase: it was done on our (now ancient) Mac computer in the attic of the house where I grew up. This was back in the days when “getting online” meant basically scrolling through lines of words with very few graphics and no colour save for green. I don’t even remember search engines, so how I managed to find any website is a mystery. However, some way, somehow, I found a mail order store online that sold the soundtrack to the Canadian 90s vampire show Forever Knight. I didn’t even know that such an album existed (I had certainly never seen it in a brick and mortar store) and it was my absolute favourite show at that time. So I filled out the form, borrowing my parents’ credit card, hit “send,” then sat back to wait, hoping and praying that I wasn’t just ripped off. In a couple of weeks it finally arrived, o frabjous day, callooh, callay! I was ecstatic, and I thought, “It can’t get any better than this.”

Needless to say, at present I use the internet to find new music on a near daily basis. It’s staggering to think that in my lifetime I went from no internet to sending emails into the void in the hopes of receiving a package in the mail to downloading entire albums in less than five minutes. And there is even a great deal of 100% legally free music to be found online, which is something I never would have anticipated in my wildest dreams! Today’s post was in fact inspired by a new Bat For Lashes cover of Depeche Mode’s “Strangelove,” which at the time of this writing, is available to download absolutely free on Facebook. Just go to the Facebook page for Gucci, click on “Gucci Guilty,” and presto, free song! It’s quite good, too, especially if you are already a fan of either (that goes double if, like me, you’re already a fan of both). In honor of free music everywhere, I’m posting three of my favourite free internet finds of the past year. Happy hunting!

1.) Pogo – Expialidocious

When it comes to free, awesome music, one name springs to mind: Pogo. If you’ve already heard his phenomenal song “Upular,” then you know who he is and what he does. In case you’re uninitiated, Pogo is an Australian DJ who is best known for taking sounds from films and stringing them together to form amazing electronic songs. This entire entry could just be a love note to him, because his music truly touches my heart. I don’t know if it’s because the films that he chooses are almost all favourites of mine (Harry Potter, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Hook, Alice In Wonderland, A Little Princess, Up, The Secret Garden) or if it’s just the way that he blends melodies together, but I can’t get enough of him and his brilliant work. When a friend of mine first turned me onto his work last year, most of his catalog was available to download for free from his website.

Today you can still download them there, but in the manner of Radiohead and free music lovers everywhere, he has a “name your own price” function by some of his better known mp3s (while others are still just free). For my money, this is as good as free (or almost free) music gets. The video that I’m sharing in this entry is probably my absolute favourite of his (which is saying a lot, as picking just one is nearly impossible). The building of the beats mixed with the sweet voice of Karen Dotrice creates a sort of magic that instantly transports me to childhood, and the accompanying video always makes me want to dance along the rooftops with Bert and Mary Poppins.

2.) The Ruby Suns – Closet Astrologer

Love it or hate it, Amazon.com is an online force to be reckoned with. When it comes to free music, it far surpasses iTunes in sheer numbers alone. True, there is a lot of chaff amidst the wheat, but when you find something worthwhile it almost seems too good to be true. That was how I felt when I downloaded Digital Bang: The 2010 Sub Pop Sampler For Amazon. The whole album is completely free, and it’s filled to the brim with some really excellent tracks by great artists such as Beach House, Dum Dum Girls, and Cocorosie. But my favourite track was from a band completely new to me: The Ruby Suns. This New Zealand band makes music with a hazy kind of ease, like falling into a soft pillow of a dream that you don’t want to wake up from. I’m certain that the intention of releasing this sampler album was to introduce people to these bands and lead them to future purchases, and let me tell you, that technique worked like wildfire. I did indeed go on to purchase the entire Ruby Suns album Fight Softly, and I have officially added them to my “bands to watch” list. So take that, greedy music executives who try to stop free music from being given away! Have a little faith in music fans, because like all true addicts, we never stop at just one good song.

3.) Cut Copy – Need You Now

Though I dismissed them earlier, once in a while iTunes does let a winner slip out every so often as their “Free Single Of The Week.” This song, which was featured a few weeks ago, is just that: crisp Australian electropop that brings to mind New Order without encroaching on their sacred territory. And this is the second song by Cut Copy which has been the FSotW! (Hmm, what is it about Aussies and Kiwis that makes them so generous with their excellent music?) While this song is unfortunately no longer a free download on iTunes, I would definitely categorize it as music worth the money. It’s peppy without becoming too cloying, hopeful and mellow at the same time; a perfect song for twirling around to on a dance floor or in your bedroom. As for the conglomerate known as iTunes, releasing songs like this one shows that there are gems to be found in all corners of the web if you just cast your ‘net far and frequently enough.

 

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