The Line Of Best Fit Radio

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Shutting Up Shop

The Line Of Best Fit as you know and love is closing down.....

And re-opening at a new address with a brand new look.

Myself and a fellow blogger have decided to combine our efforts into one site called remarkably - The Line Of Best Fit which can be found here:

so update your bookmarks etc...

We have big plans for it and hopefully we'll be able to carry them off.

We've got interviews coming up with the Duke Spirit about their new album (a bit of an exclusive that) and The Maccabees talk influences and live on the road, plus there's a chat with the Swedish sensation known as Loney, Dear.

Anyway, please come over and visit us. We'll be nice, I promise.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Q&A with Loney, Dear

The moment I heard Loney, Dear back in September of last year I was completely smitten. They were on tour with fellow Swedish band Peter, Bjorn & John and had popped in to do a live session for the Gideon Coe show on BBC6 music. I rarely listen to the station, in fact I can probably count the times on one hand that I've tuned in so I guess it might have been fate? The song I heard was The City, The Airport from last years Sologne - it had me hooked instantly, and, by the power of the Internet a day later I had the album. By the end of the week I'd discovered not only was Loney, Dear in fact a one man band, recording all of his music solely at his home studio but had, in fact self released four albums in three years! Burning CD-R's and selling them through his website he had slowly built an army of loyal fans. It wasn't until Sub Pop discovered him at last years SXSW festival in Austin, Tx that things really took off. Offering to release his fourth album Loney, Noir; it finally hit the streets on February 6th. Its mix of tender confessional lyrics subtly backed with layer upon layer of instrumentals has been met with open arms by fans and critics alike. The man behind the music Emil Svanängen graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me on a rare day off from a busy touring schedule. Here's what he had to say.

Hi Emil, as we are doing this interview by email - where are you right now?

I'm in Solna, Stockholm my last Friday off til summer!

Can you tell me a little bit of background history. When did you first realise you wanted to make music?

I have always wanted to record multitrack, as long as i can remember. Started off first as a kid with two cassette decks, moving on to midisynths, or some kind of built-in-2-track sequencers. Made some music on my Atari 1040, wrote folk songs for two acoustic nylon guitars a bit later. Finally I got a computer 4-5 years ago and everything started.

Where did the name Loney, Dear come from?

The feeling of staying home Friday night building a career instead of being out.

Loney, Noir has been released to fantastic reviews and you seem to be the new darling of the music press. 2007 is shaping up to be a pretty great year for you. How are you enjoying your new found success so far?

I am so glad for hearing that, its hard for me to understand how things are going, but I'm very happy with the reviews, especially since i originally released the album in august 2005 (05:00 13th august in the morning) and only my friends and a couple of fans noticed it. So, I am so happy for getting it out on a broader scale.

But! There is a bit too much touring and I don't have time for making new music. This has been a problem and has made me grieve sometimes. I hope to make some music during the year. I have a couple of songs ready for the next album Dear John, and some of them are very good. Hoping to finish it sometime.

The songs on Loney, Noir are the most consistent of your career so far. Did you have the songs ready before you started recording or was the whole thing a work in progress?

It was a work in progress. Started working on it right after the album Sologne was finished, so I didn't have anything old to rely on. (But Carrying A Stone is a pretty old song)

A lot of your songs start from a simple acoustic guitar backing and slowly build and build into multi layered symphonies. Do you intend for the songs to sound this way or do you just have way too much fun in the studio!?

I love seamless transitions in the changes. Never really liked when things are too obvious and I try to hide the parts to not be easily heard.

Is commercial success important to you? Or are you just happy to put records out?

Yes it is. It makes things a bit easier. But, everything is for the best of the music, I'm not interested in the commerce itself, just want to make the best home for the music. You know, I record the music quite simple, so its something else. Don't know so much about the industry, and don't want to know too much either.

You've been described in the press as Sweden's answer to Bright Eyes. Do you see any similarities there?

No not really, do you?

There is a thriving indie music community in Sweden at the moment, most notably in Stockholm. Is everyone supportive of each other or is the scene very competitive?

Impossible for me to say. The things lying far away from what you're doing is easy to encourage.

All four of your albums have been recorded at your home studio. Do you think you will ever consider recording an album with your full band in a professional studio with a producer in tow?

I might work with a producer sometime if I hear someone I like. I cannot think of any modern classic album I love being recorded live in a studio. I don't like the sound of bands on recordings. But playing live on stage is a completely different game, the band is essential there.

Since putting out Year Of River Fontana and the subsequent albums you have applied a DIY ethic to your work. Burning CD-R's and printing off artwork etc. Now that you are signed to Sub Pop is it nice to sit back and let others do all the work!?

Yes! I'm not finished with the two first yet, and have to fold and burn them still!

On the printed sleeves for your CD-R's it lists another album yet to be released "Dear John". Is this record finished or still a work in progress and, what can we expect from it?

In the middle of it. Have too little time!

Sologne was released last year through Something In Construction. Are there any plans to release River Fontana & Citadel Band commercially?

Yes. When there is time.

How did the CSS remix of "The City, The Airport" come about? Have you met the band or was it just organised through Sub Pop.

We were talking bout The City and remixes, and I said id like CSS to make it, didn't hear anything about it until I heard the song. Good one.

You sang on "This Boy" from I'm From Barcelona's current album. Any other plans to collaborate any other artists in the future. Perhaps a duet with Jens Lekman or El Perro Del Mar? That would be rather special.

I really like what they do, but I'm not sure they feel the same about my music.

"Now, Let It Go" from The Year Of River Fontana is a personal favourite of mine. Can you tell me a little bit of how that song came about?

Oh nice to hear, which version? The one with the modem sound? I'm glad you like it, interesting to get response on the old songs. I've been working on redressing them now when I guess its gonna reach a wider audience. I've gotten to learn so much since then and i felt it was a good thing to do to renew them a bit. [The album Year Of River Fontana was originally released in 2003, but remixed and re-recorded in 2006 and re-released as River Fontana Redux]

About the song.. I read an article a long time ago about a song I had never heard. The writer was raving about the bassline, the bassline! And I got inspired. A good friend told me "let nothing let you down" and I stole it.

Was the sound of a modem firing on the track recorded by accident? Strangely, it adds to the atmosphere of the track.

Ok there it was. No it was intentional, felt it was a great sound. It felt a little to much like a Swedish schlager from the 90's song "World wide web" by Nick Borgen, some kind of Internet romanticism, and I got tired of it. I guess I'll have to put it back now!

Name one song from your past four records that you are proudest of as a songwriter. Where the words, music and the way it has been recorded are, in your opinion, to complete perfection.

In With The Arms from Sologne. The recording in combination with the growing of the live version makes it a great song.

Ignorant Boy from Citadel Band for being such a strange song.

When you're writing - what comes first. The music or the lyrics?

Music comes first, but I'm trying more and more to write everything in the same moment.

Loney, Noir opener Sinister In A State Of Hope is such a beautifully arranged song, both vocally and musically. Can you tell me a little about the history of that track.

I thought I wasn't gonna make any more songs, still think so, and sat a bit sad in an apartment too close to a road, so I could record there. Came up with the chords and started to make a little melody. Don't remember when the words came up, but I think it kind of grew for a while.

Can you tell how you went about choosing members for your backing band? Were they all originally friends or did you audition for parts?

Malin [Ståhlerg, Tambourine & vocals] just joined one gig to get free entrance and then it turned out so good. Ola [Huntgren, Drums] jumped in when the first drummer resigned. Trumpeter Emils advice. I met Samuel [Stark, Keyboards] at a concert for our old folk school, and really liked his playing. I wanted to play with David [Lindvall, Bass] for a long time and when bassist Oskar [Schönning] took a timeout I asked him to play. Ola had ideas to bring the hornplayers Emil [Strandberg], Thomas [Backman] and Nils [Berg]. Oscar [Svenningsson, Guitar] is the one I've played with for the longest time.

If you could choose only one, what would be your all time favourite album?

My inner picture of "Dear John"

What new music are you currently listening to?

JS Bach. Not so new.

What is your take on illegal downloading. Do you think it helps or hinders artists?

Don't know. Its not possible to stop it so you better like it. I think it can be good. But you must remember the western society is built on the principle of owning. I don't feel that way though, if people want to support what I'm doing I'm only happy. On the other side, what is the difference between a patent and a song? Dunno.

What band would be your dream act to open for on a major tour?

I don't know, is it fun to open up for a huge band, or is the audience not listening. I would say Of Montreal. Can we start 10th of March please?

What are you passionate about in life, apart from music?

Love, life, death. The last as a contrast, not as a goal. No, I'd say near and dear ones.

Any plans to come back to the UK this year?

Sure yes. I heard something bout middle of April.

Loney, Dear will be on a US tour with Of Montreal in March. Dates are:

03/10/2007 New York,NY - Irving Plaza
03/11/2007 Boston, MA - Avalon Ballroom
03/16/2007 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
03/17/2007 Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theatre
03/18/2007 Chicago, IL - Schubas Tavern (Headlining show)
03/19/2007 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom
03/20/2007 Newport, KY - Southgate House
03/21/2007 Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge
03/22/2007 Asheville, NC - Grey Eagle Tavern
03/23/2007 Columbia, SC - Headliners @ Banana Joes
03/29/2007 Gainesville, FL - Abbey Road
03/30/2007 Miami, FL -Studio A
03/31/2007 Orlando, FL - The Club at Firestone
04/01/2007 Jacksonville Beach, FL - Freebird Live
04/02/2007 Tallahassee, FL - The Moon

[mp3] Loney, Dear - I Am John [via Sub Pop]


Loney, Dear - In With The Arms

Official Site
Sub Pop
Photos by Kathryn Yu (website)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Wilco confirm ATP 2007 appearence

News just in. Wilco have today confirmed that they will be appearing at this years All Tomorrows Parties Festival which will take place between May 18th - 20th at Butlins Holiday Centre in Minehead, Somerset. This is a major draw for the festival whose line-up is already mouth wateringly fantastic with acts such as Modest Mouse, Explosions In The Sky, Patti Smith & Yo La Tengo confirmed to play. Limited tickets are still available from here.

The full line up, at present looks something like this.


The fact that Wilco are appearing hopefully indicates the band are due to do a few UK dates in and around May. Dates in Europe have already been confirmed so its only a matter of time. More news on this as I get it.

For more info on the ATP festival, visit the official site:

A great article was printed in the Guardian today about Denton, Texas and the astonishing amount of talent thats emerging from there at the moment: led by Midlake who, in April are set to play their biggest headline shows in the UK so far.

Melody makers

Deep in Texas lies a town where everyone is a musician. So what's its secret? Jude Rogers tours Denton with its hottest property, Midlake, and takes in a gig - or six

Why the hell d'ya wanna go to Denton?" The taxi driver is incredulous. "There's nothin' there - nothin'!" We head north-east up Route 35, a cloggy artery of Texas full of listless malls and high-rises, Sack'n'Saves and Sud Things, aiming for a small, strange city in the state's north-eastern corner, miles away from Dallas and Houston, the state's corporate lungs. For Denton, like Nashville, Memphis, Seattle or Portland before it, is fast becoming an American musical heartland where something is happening.

The big buzz around Denton today is all about Midlake. Their second album, The Trials of Van Occupanther, came out in the UK last June, graced the upper rungs of many end-of-year polls, and is currently shifting 1,000 copies a week in the US - the same number of records the Arcade Fire were selling when the hype about them started to heat up. It's one of those records you feel like you've known for ever; a dreamy concoction of Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and The Yardbirds, mixing together 1970s MOR, harmonies dripping with honey, and lyrics about young brides, stonecutters and mountaineers. It's music that seems to have emerged fully formed from another time and another place.

Which is fitting, says Simon Raymonde, former Cocteau Twin and boss of British label, Bella Union, who has signed five Denton bands since 2000. "Denton is a very curious place. It's a place where music, for some reason, is the lifeblood of these people, their main form of expression." He should know. The cult band Lift to Experience were his first signing, their only album, The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, being a concept LP about the end of the world with Texas as the promised land. Punky blues band Jetscreamer and the experimental Mandarin followed, before Midlake inked their initials in 2005. New signing Robert Gomez, a soft, wistful singer-songwriter and a friend of the Midlake boys, joined the label's ranks late last year.

"Denton's a little like how Brighton used to be," Raymonde says. "Everyone knows everyone's business, but not in an intrusive way. Perhaps because Texas is so huge, there's a real sense of small-town togetherness within this huge expanse of land. And, for some reason, everyone I keep getting recommendations about from there is talented, gracious and good company."

And so this bears out. The weekend before they embark on their first American tour, Midlake have planned a full itinerary that shows their town at its best. Admittedly, this isn't difficult to arrange: most of Denton's hangouts sit around or just off its central square, a quiet, tranquil place overwhelmed by the recently restored Denton County courthouse, "the kind of building you imagine horses and carts and civil-war cavalry swarming around", says the band's soft-faced, bearded guitarist Eric Pulido. A few doors down from two shops selling chain mail and ceremonial swords squats a sprawling second-hand store, Recycled, where books and records are browsed by bookish young locals. Its local-band section boasts CDs from breaking acts like Centro-matic, long-loved local concerns like Brave Combo, and local oddities like Mulched Losenge and Sleezus Fist, as well as Bowling For Soup and Deep Blue Something.

"But it still looks like it's a building in the wild west, doesn't it?" laughs drummer McKenzie Smith, as we leave with our purchases. The venues nearby, from the outside, also look dusty and genteel, like relics from another century.

But at night they're transformed, full to the brim with people ready to party. Our Friday evening is a hazy spin through The Secret Headquarters - a reconfigured office space with a beer keg in the corner and a deer skull on the wall - and Hailey's, a sizeable venue on the other side of the road named after the proprietor's daughter, where Midlake played their first gig in 2000. We watch Night Game Cult, a performance-art duo in military fatigues and black face paint in the first; and Grass Fight, a Joy Division-influenced three-piece in the second. They couldn't be more different. "But that's how it works here," Pulido says. "Everyone's always eager to see and hear whatever's going on."

Perhaps this is because Denton is, essentially, a town brimming with music students. Midlake all studied jazz musicianship at the University of North Texas Music College, which has its home here. It boasts seven buildings, 300 practice rooms, eight performance halls and more than 100 ensembles; its alumni include classical soloists, as well as Meat Loaf, Don Henley and Norah Jones, who used to go out with Robert Gomez's room-mate. Given that Jones has taken time out of her multi-million-selling schedule to preside over a campaign to save Fry Street, a university area that hosts a music festival every April, the city's warmth and influence, even for ex-students, is pervasive.

Eric Nichelsen, Midlake's apple-cheeked pianist, expands upon this as we all drive round the campus. None of Midlake are from Denton, it transpires, but apart from Nichelsen, born in Louisiana, they're all from other Texan towns such as Houston and San Antonio. "People come here to study, and then they stay. It's a nice town, cheap, and with enough musicians to keep things going." He smiles. "Even musicians like us who didn't finish our degrees." Only Tim Smith, Midlake's quiet singer and songwriter, got his honours. "I still could finish my degree if I wanted to," Nichelsen continues, "but I got disillusioned. We all did. But it doesn't matter... there are so many people like us. Denton's a town of pretty happy music school dropouts."

We stop off briefly at the old Midlake house, a plantation-style bungalow shared, until recently, by some of the band. Here they recorded 2004's Bamnan and Slivercork, and created the highly glossed studio sheen of Van Occupanther - which some critics thought was the work of Fleetwood Mac's Lindsay Buckingham. Then we pick up Robert Gomez, all curly mop and gangly limbs, still recovering from a 2am jazz set the previous night, one of his many musical projects.

As Gomez whips up a mean guacamole, Paul Alexander, Midlake's flinty-eyed bassist, drinks a beer and talks about the band's jazz backgrounds. "To play jazz properly, you've got to immerse yourself in it. I used to listen to jazz two or three times a day, and for hours. Now I listen to it two or three times a year." So what happened? "Studying jazz just becomes pointless after a while. Nothing really extraordinary, to me anyway, has been made in jazz since the 70s, and realising that became a huge point of frustration."

When Midlake started, they were also hugely keen to play music which really affected people. "And sadly," Alexander says, "not a lot of people listen to jazz in that way." In the band's early days, they got into progressive pop musicians like Björk and Radiohead, artists who experiment, while still remaining accessible.

And then came the sucker punch: the friends fell in love with 70s soft rock. Jethro Tull and America LPs fill the band members' record racks, sleeves of albums like Neil Young's Harvest and Jethro Tull's Heavy Horses are tacked to the walls, and in Eric Pulido's car, an early Bee Gees compilation is permanently on play. Have they softened, perhaps, with age? "No, I don't think so," says Tim Smith. "How we play and produce is still very important to us. We're all concerned about the arrangements, and the musical balance." Smith is also a fan of grand Romantic composers such as Tchaikovsky and Wagner, with whom these bands, he suggests, share an emotional resonance. "Music like that just gets me. It's music that stays with you."

The plates and bottles empty, the fun starts again: Gomez taking a convoy to see local band Tre Orsi, a Fugazi-like trio recently returned from a European tour, at the Secret Headquarters, passing round earplugs like a professional for the feedback. Then it's Dan's Bar, just off the square, to see Wayne "the Train" Hancock playing hillbilly swing - a rollicking sort of country full of double-bass fingerpicks and lap steel virtuosity. Younger audience members whoop alongside chain-smoking grandmas and old fellers in cowboy hats. And although this is the sort of Texan music you'd conjure up in cliche, there's no irony present in the younger listeners' enjoyment. The joy is for all.

The night ends in the early hours, at a house show, for much-loved local band, The Baptist Generals. Cars are double-parked all down the highway, and the house is wall-to-wall with fans. In the corner loll the two musical legends of Denton - Paul Slevens, from Ten Hands, a rock band (much loved by REM) who split up in 1995, and Lift to Experience's Andy Young. "It's fucking crazy here tonight," slurs Young, helping himself to someone else's beer. "It's been fucking crazy here for ages." But has it always been this way? "Uh-uh. But in the last few years it's all gone like this." He gestures at the rammed room with his hands, his voice buried in the noise of the hordes.

Soon after, the Baptist Generals play a moving, sweaty, acoustic set. A drunk teenager keeps shouting "Denton's the shit!" and cops with flashlights eventually arrive to break up the chaos. By 2.30am, Gomez is tired, but reflective, as we slowly ride home.

"There's only one thing," he says, "that you need to know about Denton. People come here because they're compelled to make music, not because they're compelled to make it." By "making it" he means fame and commercial success. We pass the silver university dome, that symbol of so much of the city's potential and potency, and head back up the freeway.

Pictures - Jason Upshaw

Midlake w/Robert Gomez
Sunday 8 April – Liverpool, Academy
Monday 9 April – Glasgow, Oran Mor
Tuesday 10 April – Sheffield, Plug
Wednesday 11 April – London, Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Thursday 12 April – Brighton, Concorde2
Friday 13 April – Oxford, Zodiac

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lavender Diamond debut gets May release

My introduction to Lavender Diamond was literally only a couple of weeks ago whilst they were supporting The Decemberists on their UK tour. I was instantly captivated by them. The band are a perfect mix of classic folk and genius like pop hooks along with the undeniably kooky personality of front woman Becky Stark it would be a slight understatement to say I was instantly smitten these guys. So far the only thing commercially available is a 4 track EP "The Cavalry Of Light" which was released on Rough Trade on January 30th of this year. However, the debut album "Imagine Our Love" is released on May 7th, and, after hearing if for the first time this morning can honestly say will be worth the wait.

For anyone wanting to know a little more about the group, heres a little bit of history:

While living in Providence, Rhode Island, Stark began performing as Lavender Diamond in a play that she and a friend wrote, created and toured with called Bird Songs of the Bauharoque, inspired by the work of artist Paul Laffoley. A self-produced CD of Stark's songs accompanied the tour in a hand-sewn, silkscreened sleeve. Lavender Diamond grew into a four-piece band after Stark relocated to Los Angeles. They self-released a four-song EP and have performed at L.A.'s ArthurFest, at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, and at the CMJ New Music Seminar in New York City. In 2006 Lavender Diamond signed to Rough Trade Records in Europe, and Matador Records in the U.S.

Listen to possibly the best pop song you'll hear all year right now. Download the magnificent "Open Your Heart" below.

[MP3] Lavender Diamond - Open Your Heart

The Art Of Kissing Properly

Stylus magazine hit the nail on the head last year when describing moi Caprice's third album The Art Of Kissing Properly as “soundtrack music”. It can literally turn a dull dreary walk into work into a cinematic experience, to transport you to another place. Jesus, if a song like "The Town & The City" can make Ipswich feel like Paris then it must be good huh? For those of you, like myself new to the dramatic synth pop of moi Caprice please allow myself to give you a quick recap of their career thus far. (with a little help from the internet).

Danish 4 piece band moi Caprice rose to underground fame in the late nineties when they entered the top slot on the Alternative Chart with the song The Sun & the Silence as the first unsigned band ever. A few years would pass before the band released their first actual single, Daisies, and despite it being a slightly awkward ballad, the song turned into a minor hit in Denmark, and with 7 consecutive weeks in the top slot of the Alternative Chart is was the biggest hit on the chart in 2002.

The band ended the year with a nomination for best new band of the year at the Danish Radio Awards. The next single, Artboy Meets Artgirl, proved moi Caprice one of the finest art rock bands in the country, and paved the way for their 2003 full-length debut, Once Upon a Time in the North, which was widely praised by the critics. After an extensive tour moi Caprice released their second album, You Cant Say No Forever, in early 2005. Again the reviews were amazing, some claiming it a true masterpiece. Both To the Lighthouse and My Girl You Blush turned into hits, on both the Alternative and the mainstream charts. In early 2006 moi Caprice was nominated for the grand prize of the Radio Awards. moi Caprice has been widely acknowledged for their skillful song writing, their apt ear for the pop tune in a dark melancholic musical setting, their highly intelligent lyrics in an original style that is in arguably the sound of no one but themselves.

All clued up now? Excellent. So the bands third full length was released last year on Glorious Records and for the first half at least is a pretty solid record. It mixes perfectly crafted love lorn lyrics with lush synths and breathy atmospherics with Phil Spector-esque drums thrown in for good measure. Think what the Pet Shop Boys would sound like if they spent a fortnight in Europe making beautiful music with Camera Obscura and you'd be headed in the right direction. It starts off strong with the title track followed by "The Town & The City" and "For Once In Your Life Try To Fight For Something You Believe In", the latter sounding somewhat like a distant relative to The Flaming Lips'' "Do You Realize?". It is an album, I've found, best played in small portions. After a while things to start to get a little samey, almost as if the band have put all their best ideas into the first four or five songs and then repeated the formula for the remainder of the record. When its good though, its absolutely breathtaking and certainly worthy of investigation.

The band are yet to confirm any UK dates as of yet but are heading over to Canada and the States next month for a quick tour, most notably for the SXSW festival. Dates are as follows:

8 March - Silver Dollar Room. Toronto
10 March - Canadian Music Week. Toronto
12 March - Union Hall. New York
13 March - Pianos. New York
15 March - Uncle Flirty's. Austin, Texas
16 March - SXSW. Austin, Texas
17 March - Tiswas, The Annex. New York

[MP3] moi Caprice - The Town & The City

For more info visit the bands myspace page @

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Wilco Reveal Sky Blue Sky Tracklisting

Now this is exciting. Finally some solid news on the new Wilco album.

Pitchfork reports:
On May 15, Nonesuch will give birth to a new ghost: Sky Blue Sky, Wilco's latest album. As expected, it contains the songs "Side With the Seeds", "What Light", "Shake It Off", "Impossible Germany", "Please Be Patient With Me", "On and On and On", and "Walken", which have been floating around the internet for awhile.

Wilco were just announced as one of the acts playing Bonnaroo this year, and they have a few dates in Australia scheduled in April. But other than that, their schedule is wiiide open. Autumn Defense, John Stirrat and Pat Sansone's other band, however, are on the road until late March. So we probably shouldn't expect much live Wilco action before then.

Sky Blue Sky tracklist:

01 Either Way
02 You Are My Face
03 Impossible Germany
04 Sky Blue Sky
05 Side With the Seeds
06 Shake It Off
07 Please Be Patient With Me
08 Hate It Here
09 Leave Me (Like You Found Me)
10 Walken
11 What Light
12 On and On and On

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Review: Blackstrap - Steal My Horses And Run

I swear they must be putting something in the water in Sweden. Sure, the past decade has seen the country produce a number of successful indie bands - The Cardigans, The Wannadies & The Hives being the most successful internationally - but never has there been a rush like this.

Last year saw a load of fabulous Swedish indie pop releases from I'm From Barcelona, Jens Lekman, Surburban Kids With Biblical Names, Loney, Dear and Peter, Bjorn & John to name just a handful. All these albums were greeted with vast critical acclaim with Pitchfork scoring the Jens Lekman album "Oh You're So Silent Jens" a whopping 8.5/10 and Bella Union label boss Simon Raymonde claiming Loney, Dear's "Sologne" to be "one of the most incredible albums i own, it will seriously make your life better". An album that slipped under the radar though was "Steal My Horses And Run" the sophomore album from Stockholm 4-piece Blackstrap. Released at the tail end of 2006 to rave reviews in Sweden, Germany & Holland and receiving a fair amount of radio play on US indie stations, it has pretty much gone unnoticed here in the UK.

Lets hope that will change soon because this is an album to fall in love with, to cherish and to tell all you're friends about. The easiest way to describe the sound of these guys is to mention their influences; Jesus & Mary Chain, Spiritualized, Joy Division & Primal Scream. Its blissfully fucked up rock n roll drenched in fuzzed out guitars and atmospheric shared lead vocals from Jonatan Westh and Maria Lindén.

The opener "Winning Speech" sounds like a harder, better, faster, stronger version of "Medication" from Primal Scream's Vanishing Point. Its a perfect blueprint for whats to follow, and just as the final chord rings out you're smacked around the face with the juggernaut of a track that is "Rough Parade", an obvious choice for a single and a sure fire hit at festivals this summer with its call and response boy girl vocal in the same vein as The Ravonettes but with a more poppy sheen to it. Things continue at full throttle with "Lay Down Low", this track has a great vocal by Westh, his Swedish drawl fits perfectly with the pounding rhythm section. Things slow down a little with "The Far Gone" and "The Open Road", a real gem of a track, this would fit perfectly on the Lost In Translation soundtrack, a hypnotic drone of guitars and vocals which leads onto possibly the strongest moment "The Bitter, The Sweet", even though it draws comparisons to early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, it has more bite, more attitude. The only acoustic track on the album is the dark and brooding "Still Lost", swathes of background noise combined with acoustic guitar and a haunting vocal by Lindén lead the song, its not until a pounding floor tom draws the song to a close is in its final minute.

Weighing in at just under 50 minutes there really isn't a weak moment on these 13 songs. If you're a fan of the twisted rock n roll that The Duke Spirit or Howling Bells produce then I strongly urge you to check it out. An overlooked classic that hopefully will be heard by many more sets of ears this year.

The album will get a UK release later this year but for now you can buy the CD for €16 which works out at about £10 from

For more info on the band visit: [official site] [myspace]
sallyforth records [label]

Blackstrap - Winning Speech & Lay Down Low

Blackstrap - Rough Parade

Blackstrap - The Bitter, The Sweet

Monday, February 12, 2007

New LCD Soundsystem video

Rejoice! James Murphy returns next month with new album "Sound Of Silver". Could it be the album of the year? To help you decide watch the new video for new single "North American Scum".

LCD Soundsystem - North American Scum

Stream and download new Kings Of Leon

Hear a brand new track from the forthcoming third album "Because Of The Times" from Kings Of Leon. Released on April 2nd (3rd in the UK). Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams, Ray Lamontagne) is back behind the mixing desk having produced the bands two previous albums.

The new release is promised to be an eclectic mix, “I think people tend to expect a certain sound from us,” says Kings of Leon’s drummer Nathan Followill, “but on this record, we tried to throw them for a loop.” Frontman Caleb adds “We took the limitations off of ourselves.” “We went into the studio with an open mind, thinking let’s do whatever it takes to get these songs to the next level. Because we really have a lot of music inside of us and a lot of different places we can go.”

You can download a track from the album right here. It certainly is a different direction for the band who have admitted to rush releasing Aha-Shake Heartbreak. Judging by this track we're in for a mighty return.

Stream the track below - or hit the download button.

Kings Of Leon - On Call

The band are in the UK for a whistle stop tour at the end of February and are back for more once the album hits the shelves in April. Dates are:

22 Feb
Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone
23 Feb
Norwich UEA, Norwich
24 Feb
Engine Shed, Lincoln
26 Feb
Astoria, London

14 Apr - Oasis, Swindon
15 Apr - Pavilions, Plymouth
18 Apr - Hammersmith Apollo, London
19 Apr - Academy, Birmingham
20 Apr - Apollo, Manchester
22 Apr - Academy, Newcastle
23 Apr - Dome, Doncaster
24 Apr - Academy, Glasgow