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Friday, April 13, 2007


You don’t even have to be a regular visitor to this site to know how much I worship Swedish band The Ark. I honestly think their music, style, performance, everything is as close to perfection as you can get. I was very lucky this year to be in Stockholm to buy their new album, Prayer For The Weekend, in person. I’ve been listening to it nonstop since, and I think I’m finally ready to give a review. I’m going to rate each song on a scale of ten, but keep in mind that even a low rated Ark song is 100 times better than any track by other bands.

The album is a brilliant mix of the various styles the band has perfected over the year. There are the more dance influenced State Of The Ark style tracks alongside theatrical glam pop that hearkens back to their earlier releases. All in all, I’d say that Prayer is also their most diverse album yet. It really is a masterwork. Ola is at the top of his game lyrically. Just reading the cd booklet is a joy in itself. But, as usual, it's the bombastic, life-affirming music that speaks the loudest.

1. Prayer For The Weekend
Beginning with a Like A Prayer style build-up and then dropping a sickeningly great bassline, this is the dance track of the album. It’s also one of the simplest melodically, but there are some fantastic flourishes and surprises during the verses, including a wicked sax solo. 8/10

2. The Worrying Kind
Pure unadulterated glam rock in the style of such greats as Abba’s Waterloo and T.Rex’s Bang A Gong. You all should know this one already. Though it doesn’t quite sound like anything else on the record, it’s got an infectious big sound and a killer pop melody to match. 9/10

3. Absolutely No Decorum
Out of all of the songs on Prayer, Decorum has got the most classic Ark style. Think Calleth You, Cometh I but even more over the top. Opening with what sounds like a heavenly choir, this first single doesn’t let up all the way through. 10/10

4. Little Dysfunk You
Beginning with a spare synth beat, this quickly turns into an absolute masterpiece. One of my favorite tracks, for sure.. Lyrically, production wise, and vocally. The buildup to the chorus (and the chorus itself) is one of the best things I have ever heard. Seriously. It doesn’t get any better than this. 10/10

5. New Pollution
Or does it? Probably the most straight ahead rock song on the album, this is also fighting to be my favorite track on the album. Borrowing from The Who’s Tommy for part of the lyrics/melody, New Pollution also has one of the most flawless choruses I’ve ever heard. Perfection, all the way through. 10/10

6. Thorazine Corazon
This is the one everyone’s gonna hate. It’s not my favorite song the band’s ever done, mostly because the style is such a shift (it’s like a synth samba??) and the vocals sound a bit iffy on the verses. It is definitely catchy, though, and beginning to grow on me. 6/10

7. I Pathologize
Another great rocker, with an outstanding guitar solo towards the end. I don’t have a lot to say about this one, except that I love it very very much, especially the chorus. 8/10

8. Death To The Martyrs
They’ve got a choir of boys singing “you sorry ass” in the chorus!! How much better does it get than that? Lyrically, this story-song is very interesting. It is the glammiest song on the record for sure… completely over the top. My favorite part is when the choir really comes in towards the end. The whole thing’s pretty silly, but it may also be one of the best songs of the band’s career. And, yes, he does say “cunt” towards the end. Get over it. 10/10

9. All I Want Is You
The Worrying Kind’s partner, for sure. This one hearkens back to the 70’s glam pop sound as well, though it’s not quite as successful. Is it possible for a song to be too catchy? I like this, but it is a bit of a throwaway. 7/10

10. Gimme Love To Give
Another completely over-the-top Freddie Mercury type track here. It sounds like a hymn, but in Ark style. It starts a little slow, but soon the choir comes in and the whole thing turns quite irresistible. It may annoy some, as it’s a different step for the band (church rock?), but it’s also pretty hard to deny. Ola sounds great here, too. 8/10

11. Uriel
A lot has been written about this song already. Apparently Ola wrote it when he was a teenager, and it definitely has that same Racing With The Rabbits EP sound to it. Actually, this track reminds me most of This Sad Bouquet from their debut. Very understated and sweeping. I was expecting it to build up to more than it did, but it’s still a really beautiful, sorrowful ballad. 8/10

All in all, that adds up to an easy A. I'll be talking about this one for a long time to come, so you best buy it NOW!!
Vanity Blvd - Share My Pain

"You're so dead wrong"

In addition to having a great name, this group of Swedish women really rock out. Think a less poppy version of Sahara Hotnights, but still with really catchy songs. The influence is definitely 80's hair metal and groups like Heart at their heaviest. Share My Pain is a great track, regardless of the genre. It's got one of those great shout along choruses that should find its way into your head almost effortlessly. I'm always impressed when a band on an indie label can make music that sounds so big and polished.

Vanity Blvd - Share My Pain (mp3) (zshare)

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Download more for free here)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I listened to the new Ark album today for the first time. Expect me to go on and on about it for the next few weeks, but my internet access is a bit limited as I'm travelling in Sweden. Still, a whopper of a review is on its way shortly.
Frida Hyvönen - See How I Came Into Town

"a little less sorrow than I see in your cut and paste faces"

Although this song is probably the furthest you could go from the kind of music that I usually post on this site, I am still utterly in love with it. Swedish singer Frida Hyvönen has been accused by many of being quite boring, and on most of her album tracks she actually is. But, this single is a revelation. Haunting and mysterious, listening to it is like diving into a beautifully written story. The best part by far is the muted choir of voices that echo the chorus... Hyvönen multiplied by twenty? I can't quite tell. If you like Antony & The Johnsons this'll be your cup of tea as well.

Frida Hyvönen - See How I Came Into Town (mp3) (zshare)

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the album here)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Hellacopters - Carry Me Home

"Into the fires unknown"

I can't believe that I haven't written about The Hellacopters yet. They are far more "rock and roll" than the groups that I usually post, but they are Swedish, so that guarantees that they write amazing songs. And, actually, they are an amazing, straight-ahead rock band. The riffs on Carry Me Home alone make it worth your while, and it's also got an amazingly catchy melody. Their stuff has a very classic sound, far from the droll that groups like Nickelback and Daughtry seem to think qualifies as rock music. They've been around for awhile in Sweden and are very popular, enough that they've been able to release some stuff in the States as well. This is one of my favorite singles of theirs, though if you like this song be sure to check out their entire catalog.

The Hellacopters - Carry Me Home (mp3) (zshare)

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the hits album here)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Honeydrips - (Lack Of) Love Will Tear Us Apart

"Oh baby, please open your heart"

Although a bit more downtempo than a lot of the stuff that I post, I am totally in love with this song. Like fellow favs Lucky Soul, this band borrows some vintage elements and contemporizes them. I can't quite put my finger on what about this track sounds "old fashioned" to me, but it definitely has a classic vibe to it. The Honeydrips is the work of Mikael Carlsson, a fantastic songwriter from Göteborg, Sweden and this song features Hanna (whoever that is!) on vocals. And, although the vocals are very smooth and pretty, the best part of this song is when the spoken male part comes in.

The Honeydrips - (Lack Of) Love Will Tear Us Apart (mp3) (zshare)

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the album here)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hello Operator - 55 Regrets

"It's all a systematic game that we left behind"

Canada's Hello Operator were one of my ten bands to watch in 2007. Every song I've heard from them is absolutely brilliant, and this new(ish) one, 55 Regrets, follows suit. Hello Operator borrows heavily from The Cars' sound, replacing the angular rhythms of many of their contemporaries with a poppier, more radio friendly sound. It is the perfect kind of music for the summertime. The band has also put some newer songs from (I assume) their upcoming debut album on their myspace page. Listen and love.

Hello Operator - 55 Regrets (mp3) (zshare)

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the EP here)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Briefest Of Updates

I am in England now... jet lagged and stumbling about like an idiot. Look for regular posts to resume tomorrow most likely joined with some more anecdotal stuff if I get around to it.