Saturday, December 29, 2007

Howling Bells

Juanita Stein performs lead vocals and rhythm guitar for the Australian indie-rock band Howling Bells, which decided to make London their home.

On 17 August 2006, Howling Bells lead guitarist related to CD Times how the band's popularity had increased since they began touring in the UK. Early on, the band would see fifteen to thirty people at their shows. Now we’re on our third tour and we're selling most of the venues...—Joel Stein

During the songwriting process, ideas have been presented, deconstructed and then reconstructed with bionic limbs by Joel and bassist Brendan Picchio.

Juanita's the main songwriter, but the process is different every time. She'll usually come up with a song or lyrics, and then the band will tear it apart. We build it. Brendan and I have written a lot of riffs, and sometimes we'll go into the rehearsal room and a song will come out of those riffs.—Joel Stein

In an interview with The Electric Newspaper, Juanita Stein described the earthy studio where HB's self-titled debut album was recorded:

The studio wasn't this ridiculously lavish gold and marble room with room for an orchestra; it was old, and small, and earthy, with stones on the wall. Ken was unbelievably down to earth, and very gentle and very warm, and so for us it was a very earthy experience.

Note: Ken Nelson is known for his work with Coldplay.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Knife

For popular bands, one track can spark that initial music media buzz. For the Swedish brother-sister duo, , that song was . José González - another Swedish artist - then stripped the song down to a indie-folk chassis, revealing its essential beauty, which can be heard on his debut album Veneer.

The Knife's latest album, , takes the creative synergy of the two musical architects to the next floor. The fourth track, We Share Our Mother's Health, sounds like Earth's electronic music paradigm is pitch shifting. While 's voice is shifted downward - well into masculinity - in the last verse, as she sings:
Say you like it
Say you need it
When you don't...
On a planet with a population of misshapen humanoids, the song's vibe would sweep across the landscape like the compression wave of a sonic plague.

video @ youtube (heartbeats, the knife)
profile @ myspace
mp3 @ (we share our mother's health, the knife)
video @ youtube (handy man - the knife)
video @ youtube (like a pen - the knife)
video @ youtube (neverland - the knife)
video @ youtube (rock classics - the knife)
video @ youtube (heartbeats[cover] - jose gonzalez)
video @ youtube (heartbeats[cover] dabin, daniela andrade)
video @ youtube (heartbeats cover, audiotree)
video @ youtube (heartbeats cover, ellie goulding [acoustic])
video @ youtube (heartbeats cover, count [acoustic])
video @ youtube (heartbeats cover, charlie simpson [acoustic])
video @ youtube (heartbeats cover, anna scouten [banjo])
video @ youtube (heartbeats cover, alex cornell [acoustic])
video @ youtube (heartbeats cover, lustina [a capella])
video @ youtube (heartbeats cover, broken boat [acoustic])
video @ youtube (heartbeats cover, jhameel [acoustic])
video @ youtube (heartbeats cover, signe & hvetter [acoustic])
video @ youtube (heartbeats cover, les babettes [acoustic/a capella])

stream @

feed @

discography @

interview @
interview @

reviews @

home page @
home page @
home page @

label @

encyclopedia @ wikipedia

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


The Swedish all-girl group, , released their nine-track baroque-pop album titled in 2006. Their songwriting encompasses a collaborative process between all four band members equally, by which pieces are fitted together during band practices. This musical symbiosis between Rebecka Kristiansson, Emelie Molin, Anna Tomlin and Victoria Skoglund has developed into rich chamber-pop soundscapes.

Essences of their Swedish influences can be heard, including instrumental works by Once We Were and Scraps of Tape. But Audrey has taken their sound deeper than standard rock instrumentals.

The appropriately somber is the A-side and opening track. After some instrumental buildup, the lead vocal begins the first verse with Björk-like innocence. Abstract lyrics enhance the song's veiled vibe by leaving the meaning esoteric while, at the same time, allowing the imagery to float to the surface.

During the following track, Views, a repeating cello riff carries the rhythm, shadowing the lead vocal. The balance between strings and drums exemplifies the genuine beauty of the genre.

profile @ myspace

mp3 @ (mecklenburg - audrey)
mp3 @ (views - audrey)

video @ youtube

feed @

discography @ amazon

interview @

review @
review @
review @
review @
review @
review @

home page @

label @

encyclopedia @

Monday, December 24, 2007

Dear Euphoria

Stockholm-based singer-songwriter Elina Johansson named her project Dear Euphoria(derived from a affectionate nickname from her past).

Elina Johansson has been compared to Tori Amos for coalescing balladic piano with falsetto, and to Björk for her Scandanavian-tinged vocals. But the comparisons list does not stop there—a fact that indicates the versatile strength of her musical talent.

For Everything Of Worth is Elina Johansson's limited self-released 2005 debut album. This year, that album was remastered, renamed Dear Euphoria and re-released in October by Stereo Test Kit—including four new songs. Then, early next year, fans should be on the lookout for DE's next album.

For Dear Euphoria's latest release, Sven Johansson contributed guitars, percussion and vocals, while Stefan Stenberg plays double bass.

Elina Johansson prefers an unrefined tone to her recordings because of how overproduced recordings can remove the sonic patina that characterizes genuineness. In an interview with Absolut Music(blog), she explained, Money buys you time, freedom and opportunities but not passion...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Club 8

Swedish indie-pop is made up of melodist and multi-instrumentalist - who also runs Labrador Records.

The best pop tracks from Sweden stand out for their melodies. In an interview with Lunapark6, Angergård expressed how the band strived to make every note, every little sound, as emotional as possible. Not to be confused with Emo, rather, melodies that resonate with the heart - similar to how tuned strings resonate with wood. Komstedt's melodies target that area where all of our smiles and tears come from.

is the A-side off their 2007 Labrador release of . Which serves as a prime example of the melody-driven vibe that the band took the time to develop at Summersound Studios.

Angergård noted that 80s-era UK bands were influential, including The Smiths, The Orchids and The Field Mice. Also, in the studio, he played all of the musical instruments except the trombone and the brass.

profile @ myspace

mp3 @ (whatever you want - club 8)
mp3 @ (heaven - club 8)

video @ youtube (hope for winter - club 8)
video @ youtube (i guess i was wrong - club 8)
video @ youtube (love in december - club 8)
video @ youtube (missing you - club 8)
video @ youtube (saturday night engine - club 8)
video @ youtube (she lives by the water - club 8)
video @ youtube (we're simple minds without motion - club 8)
video @ youtube (whatever you want - club 8)
video @ youtube (you and me - club 8)

feed @

discography @ amazon

review @ (the boy who couldn't stop dreaming)
review @ (whatever you want)

interview @ (johan angergård)
interview @ (karolina komstedt)

home page @

label @

encyclopedia @ wikipedia

Friday, December 21, 2007

Chasing Dorotea

The Swedish band, Chasing Dorotea, released its debut album in 2002 on Summersound Records(which later merged with Labrador Records). Band-leader singer-songwriter Christopher Sander, wrote a new-old song titled Champagne, which represents a joint effort with Elin Almered and Janina Frank. Sander weaves a tapestry of mixed metaphors and haunting electronic elements.

but little sister don't go jumpin off a bridge
fill your hole with poetry, and close the wound with a stitch

The Anchor Song - from Chasing Dorotea's 2002 debut album—illustrates the bond between a loving couple through innocent metaphors, sung by Sander and Swedish actress Tuva Novotny side-by-side. The completely unassuming sweetness of the song charms to the marrow.

there is an ocean in your eyes
deeper than the dark-blue sea

A few more titles from the coming CD's growing discography are Old Man & the Ladybug, Homka FM and Compassion.

Christopher Sander's songwriting has been compared to the style of Mark Kozelek. Dorotea in the band's name is a dyslexic version of the name Teodora(or Theodora).

Monday, December 17, 2007

Aaron Acosta

In an exclusive interview, talks about technical aspects of sound design, soundscapes, career ambitions and mentors.

Your previous album is titled Frequency, Amplitude & Time. How do these three terms relate to sound design? How does each affect how we interpret our surroundings in a unique way?

[aaron acosta]
These are the elements that comprise our interpretation of sound. Pitch is how we perceive frequency, amplitude and volume; all sound events happen in time or a duration. I try to manipulate these elements to change the perception of the sound event. For instance, in the CD, songs like Water Study Song, I take a short sound event, like water dripping, and manipulate the frequency, amplitude and time of the event. So hearing a sound that was originally 3 seconds expanded to 60 seconds, increasing and decreasing the pitch. This allows the listener to discover interesting aspects of the sound.

According to the Wikipedia, sound design can be understood as the manipulation of audio elements to achieve a desired effect. Is such a desired effect typically a specific emotional response? When you are developing sounds in a track, are you targeting emotions and imagery?

[aaron acosta]
I originally did my musical works by accident really. I was trying to get my sound design chops up for film and theatre. I concentrated on things that were evocative of imagery, but open to interpretation. The kind of sound that has a space saved for an image. I like to think of it like some of the listening exercises we had in my classes in college. Being in a dark room and listening to compositions like this, you explore imagery that is half yours and half the composers. I love hearing about the imagery that people who are more creative than I am come up with when they listen to my sounds. I like the idea of using sounds that free people from having to think about tunes or traditional composition. Because this is unconstrained by an obvious song structure, it allows the listener to create emotions and imagery freely.

Are there any movies that you would have liked to design the soundscapes for? Are there any movies or novels that helped inspire sound designs? Do you first have a story in mind before you sit down to begin working on each design?

[aaron acosta]
So many great movies! I love the Tim Burton films. I really like animation. For a sound designer and composer, you have free range in a way. You are unconstrained by reality, and get to participate in creating reality for the project. Lots of fun. City of Lost Children is one of my favourites. I would do the sound for that just for fun. I love the imagery, it is very inspiring. I love horror movies. As a genre, horror has sound that directly effects the audience. As far as reading, I am not into novels as much as books. I read really heavy stuff, recently, I have been reading several Taoist works and some books on quantum physics. I don't pretend to understand it, but it does give me inspiration. I kind of say, what would this concept I don't understand sound like? That is where a lot of my work starts. Sometimes I try to communicate an experience of an environment, like Carlsbad and Cave from Wave were inspired by Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. I wanted to convey how I felt in that space. Others are about street corners, a snowy field, the ocean.

These days, popular video games can outsell blockbuster movies. The Halo 3 soundtrack contains a total of 32 tracks - a nice sized project for a sound designer. And that entire soundtrack is filled with great epic soundscapes. Are video game projects just as desirable to you as movie soundtrack projects?

[aaron acosta]
For me video games are a little bit more desirable than film! I play video games and love the idea of a being immersed in the story, landscape and emotions of the piece. Video games give you goals that create vested interest in the story and the survival of your character. The time you spend on these games in many cases is the same amount of time you would spend reading a novel, but with a good game you get to experience and participate in the novel. You get wrapped up in the mythology of the world that the designers have created. This is very fertile ground for any sound designer and composer. Games I like to play are the Final Fantasy series, Fatal Frame, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Siren. Sound plays a major part in these. Of course with modern technology, these experiences are every bit as satisfying as a major motion picture, in fact I feel more so.

Brian Eno is known as the father of ambient music, but he was also a record producer, music theorist, etc. What other hats might you be wearing in the future?

[aaron acosta]
Right now, I have been giving a lot of thought to installation art. Taking something else from the Eno play book. I would love the opportunity to use my lighting design and set design skills to create a sound design installation that will allow the audience to experience my projects fully. Right now, I have to get off my ass and develop some drawings so I can beg for money and studio space to do that. Something I have never done, but have a great interest in. I would also love to collaborate in such projects. I am also getting my bachelors of education, so in the future, teaching is something I would love to do.

Have you worked with anyone who has helped shape or develop your sound? Have any particular sound designers influenced your work?

[aaron acosta]
So many. In my degree at the College of Santa Fe, I got to work with great teachers that shaped not only the way I work, but the way I look at life. David Dunn and Steven Miller from the contemporary music program at the College of Santa Fe opened me up to electro acoustic music. I could not have developed my first works without them. David Stout at the College of Santa Fe film department was always there for me and developed what I think film sound could and should be. I also find his art installations inspiring. Jim Lyden, and Clark Duncan from the theatre department at CSF allowed me to explore sound design in theatre, and make a ton of mistakes. And in general, I think every director i work with, every project I collaborate on shapes my work and how I see the world a little bit. That's why I love this work. Every project is a chance to change your perception, and learn about people.

You also compose electroacoustic tracks - a genre that does not have a clear cut definition. What elements do you use in such compositions that might characterize them as ?

[aaron acosta]
Well, I learned that there were two major camps, the Pierre Schaeffer, Musique concrète camp that takes recorded environmental sounds and juxtaposes them to come up with a composition, and the German Electronic Music that involves purely electronic synthesis of sounds. Modern electroacoustic music is a mix of both of these. I think people who work in this type of music are driven more by sound and our reaction to it. This means you do not feel constrained by song structure, 12 tone equal temperament, or standard music notation. Elecroacoustic music uses electronics to create and/or manipulate sounds in a purely evocative way. Right now the CBC is playing a piece about circuit bending. It is another example of finding sounds and compositions in unusual places. Right now, I think electroacoustic can either be a term that excludes popular music, but is slowly starting to infect it.

The 60x60 project organizes an annual event - a concert featuring 60 tracks by 60 electroacoustic artists. You have been contributing compositions to 60x60 since the project's inception in 2003. How has 60x60 affected the development of your craft?

[aaron acosta]
60x60 is such a great idea. It is amazing to think of the cross section that participate in it. I also love the time limit! It forces you to choose your words carefully. Every year since 2003, I think, this year i have nothing I can submit, but then something strikes me and i am able to create something. I have also been getting inspiration from the shorter pieces to expand upon them and create longer ones. I cant say how much i love the idea of the project. Listening to the cds is like spending 60 seconds in another composers head. It is a great opportunity. Recently, collaborations with video and dance artist is exactly what i love. I love the idea of other artists work being influenced by mine and would like to see more of it in the future. I love to see other's interpretation of their experience of my work.

cd @ cdbaby (wave - aaron acosta)
cd @ cdbaby (frequency, amplitude and time - aaron acosta)

profile @ myspace
home page @ aaronacosta

mp3 @ aaronacosta (carlsbad)
mp3 @ aaronacosta (deception)
mp3 @ aaronacosta (far)
mp3 @ aaronacosta (wave134)

mp3 @ aaronacosta (traffic)
mp3 @ aaronacosta (fire study song)
mp3 @ aaronacosta (beat 61203)
mp3 @ aaronacosta (ddd3)
mp3 @ aaronacosta (medical)
mp3 @ aaronacosta (earth study song)
mp3 @ aaronacosta (nebulous)

review @

Friday, December 14, 2007

Jim Protector

The fuzzy lo-fi title track from the 2004 EP, Jim Protector's guide to self-pity, is the song that put the four-piece band on their national music map. On that track, lead vocals are not washed out by jangly guitar rhythms, as they tend to be in shoegaze tracks. And their melodic guitar phrases do not dissolve into feedback. While the third track off their latest project, French, features a synthified Daft Punk-ish lead vocal.

Since their 2001 liftoff in Horten, Norway, Jim Protector had only recorded EPs and tracks for compilation albums. At some point, having relocated the band to historic Trondheim—a city well-known for its pervasive music scene—their recording studio was then erected in a refurbished work shed inside an abandoned smelting plant.

This year, Jim Protector's first full-album, Shields Down was forged, and released during the summer. The band was assisted in their studio by The Posies guitarist Ken Stringfellow, who also contributed vocals, keyboards and mixing assistance for the album's title track.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Red hoodies and oversized sunglasses donned by Bergen-based Datarock betoken one of their primary influences - Devo. Wrote for Luck by Happy Mondays presents evidence of another influence, while their song title Fa Fa Fa seems an obvious tribute to Psycho Killer by Talking Heads. These Norwegian rockers wear their influentials on their sleeves.

Datarock's jumpy antics onstage may be misleading; there is a method to their madness. Perhaps their palpable camp effect reflects how absurd and superficial today's heavily commercialized middle-class cultural vibe has become.

Performing at the Crawdaddy music venue in Dublin, lead vocalist Fredrik Saroea asked the audience, "where did E.T. go after he left planet Earth? He took a night flight to Uranus." Another track - Computer Camp Love - is a danceable parody of Summer Nights from the Grease soundtrack.

The album's lead track - Bulldozer - expresses the two-wheeled affinity of the band's two frontmen Fredrik Saroea and Ketil Mosnes.
BMX (is) better than sex
BMX (is) better than sex

profile @ myspace

mp3 @ digitalwell (fa fa fa - datarock)
mp3 @ digitalwell (i used to dance with my daddy - datarock)
mp3 @ digitalwell (kexp)
mp3 @ rhythmcartel (computer camp love - datarock)
mp3 @ canyouseethesunset (princess - datarock)
mp3 @ nettwerk (see what i care - datarock)
mp3 @ fileden (the new song - datarock)

video @ youtube (bulldozer - datarock)
video @ youtube (computer camp love - datarock)
video @ youtube (fa fa fa - datarock)
video @ youtube (i used to dance with my daddy - datarock)
video @ youtube (new song - datarock)
video @ youtube (night flight to uranus - datarock)
video @ youtube (princess - datarock)
video @ youtube (sex me up - datarock)

stream @ virb

feed @ hypem

discography @ amazon

interview @ montrealmirror

review @ pitchforkmedia
review aversion
review @ bbc
review @ laweekly
review @ nme
review @ musicomh
review @ nytimes
review @ popmatters

home page @ datarockmusic

images @ flickr

encyclopedia @ wikipedia

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dick Prall

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Dick Prall is an Iowa transplant who released the rootsy pop album Weightless, which characterizes the well-crafted songwriting of his musical influences.

Among his major influences are The Beatles, Buddy Holly, Elvis Costello, and Paul Westerberg; all represent memorable singer-songwriters. But he informed Up Next that Quentin Duarte(a former co-writer) was a primary influence in how he encouraged Prall to learn guitar, and write his own songs. While Prall also admired Buddy Holly for how the prolific artist refused to allow anyone else to write or produce his own music.

Duarte wrote that he "felt the emotional social political lyrical statement (the message of the music) was more important..."

After the original Dick Prall Band broke up in Iowa, he became a father, moved to Chicago, and continued to write songs and tour under the pseudonym of Starch Martins, which he eventually dropped for his real name: Dick Prall - solo artist.

profile @ myspace

mp3 @ dickprall (halfway to hollywood - dick prall)
mp3 @ dickprall (the cornflakes song - dick prall)
mp3 @ dickprall (b&w - dick prall)
mp3 @ thelocaltourist (grand marquee - dick prall)
mp3 @ obscuresound (saturday's changed- dick prall)
mp3 @ obscuresound (copperhead town - dick prall)
mp3 @ obscuresound (maybe you're a heart - dick prall)

video @ youtube (copperhead town - dick prall)
video @ youtube (steve levy show)

stream @ nme (full album)

feed @ hypem

interview @ waycoolmusic
interview @ upnextmusic

review @ superstarcastic
review @ eomentertainment
review @ musicbox-online

home page @ dickprall

label @ thenadas

images @ flickr

Friday, December 7, 2007

Basia Bulat

The true vocal quality of London-based baroque-pop singer-songwriter Basia Bulat is a cross between Leslie Feist, and Chan Marshall having a chamber-pop moment.

The A-side on her debut album Oh, My Darling is I Was a Daughter.

In the triple-meter track Little Waltz, out of heartfelt regret, the singer expresses her plea through a euphemism: stay for a while while our leaves are still green, please The singer's romance is prefigured by imagery of a dance floor, and love by the dance itself. Slowly twirling within a genre of pop dressed in orchestral satin, Little Waltz is an A-side. Also, the track was used in a Volkswagon Eos commercial.

Basia Bulat plays acoustic guitar and autoharp; she fleshes out her sound with a half-dozen musicians who provide ukulele, violin, viola, cello, piano and percussion. The band's sound can be described as a fusion of folk and baroque pop.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Airiel [Battle of Sealand]

For 10 years Chicago-based Airiel has preserved the tradition of building walls of jangly square wave fuzz, like bands that helped define shoegazing, namely, Jesus and Mary Chain, Moose, Ride, Chapterhouse, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins and Pale Saints. The band's latest full-album The Battle of Sealand revives the early 90s—accounting for a genre that glorified droning melodic phrases.

HM Fort Roughs appears as an elevated rectangular platform atop two oversized concrete pillars; located in the North Sea, some 10km off the coast of Suffolk, England. Originally a World War II installation, later ennobled by the title Principality of Sealand—a micronation represented by flag, coat of arms, and self-proclaimed royal family, among other things. As the smallest country in the world, the tower's historical account includes an eviction attempt by the Royal Navy, a pirate radio broadcasting court case, a takeover by squatters and a firearms case. Currently, the owners of Sealand are making arrangements for a transferral of custodianship, since a principality can not be sold. Prince Michael of Sealand was quoted by the The Times:

We have owned the island for 40 years now and my father is 85.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Foundry Field Recordings

Columbia-based four-piece The Foundry Field Recordings released their latest album Prompts/Miscues in October 2006. And their track titled Holding the Pilots/Holding the Facts was included in KEXP Seattle's Music That Matters 27 podcast.

In November 2006, Columbia Daily Tribune staff reporter Mary T. Nguyen went on the road with FFR to New York City.

In March 2007, Emergency Umbrella released a three-track exclusive digital-only EP through Emergency Umbrella.

In May, FFR endured their late night recording session at the Daytrotter studio.

In June, FFR released Fallout Shelters—the five-track limited edition companion EP to Prompts/Miscues—which included the three-tracks from the Emergency Umbrella release, and a cover of the song Caribou.

The extended balladic piano intro of Transistor Kids sketches a sad apocalyptic soundscape, then shifts to moderate rock:

so you killed off the last transistor kid
and you can't figure out what you did
Shoegaze guitars enter when the chorus returns, until the final stage of the sonic build-up is completely taken over by fuzzy guitar—delivering a strong current of shoegaze-pop amplification, to finish the EP.

Copyright © 2016 Indiessance