Jens Lekman – WWJD Mixtape [Gothenburg, SE]

Pop

No, this isn’t some Christian attempt to be hip and spread the word of god via collected songs. “WWJD” actually stands for “What Would Jens Do?” As he explains on the soundcloud page:

While travelling through midwest America some time ago I stopped at a gasstation and bought a WWJD bracelet for $1.99 and insisted that it stood for ‘What Would Jens Do?’. I would look at it when I felt indecisive, think about what Jens really would do and then do the opposite of that. I thought that would be a good way to find some new paths in life, and to get away from the paths I kept taking that didn’t lead me anywhere good.

 Sure, maybe that’s a little quirkier than might seem possible, but this is coming from a guy who sang about flirting with a deaf girl in sign language, so let’s call it just the right amount of odd. Which makes it all the clearer that, rather than simply sharing stand alone outtakes (“WWJD” is the first track, “What’s That Perfume That You Wear?” comes in at 15:25, and “I Remember” finishes the mixtape up at 26:25) from his album currently in the works, he has woven them throughout this excellent mixtape that slides effortlessly from one track to the other. Old songs and new sit next to each other and never feel out of place or even of a different time. And while discovering the sorts of tracks that Jens enjoys is delight enough, to get a glimpse of the caliber of his new material is at is the sweetest treat of all. It’s the emotionally insightful, hilariously self-deprecating, and beautifully lovelorn take on pop that he’s so well-known for: strings and beats and that grand tenor of a voice removed from time and place. So enjoy this endlessly enjoyable mix, where all the songs “are stations on a longer journey, where loops and smaller fragments, ideas for songs and favourite songs by others swoosh by outside the window. Feel free to open that window and feel the breeze in your hair.”

Night Falls Over Kortedala is one of my favorite albums of all time, highly recommend a spin, also, enjoy the one picture on Jens’ instagram of him holding an adorable kitty.

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Hello Saferide – I Was Jesus [Stockholm, SE]

Twee / Indie / Pop

hellosaferide

Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ghandi are the go-to choices for the somehow always relevant “if you could meet one historical figure…” question, and understandably so. They did great things in their lifetimes. Swedish pop project, Hello Saferide‘s lead single, I Was Jesus, from upcoming September (3rd) release, The Fox, the Hunter and Hello Saferide (out via Razzia Records) poses the question what would have happened if these infamous examples of peace and progress came back as women? And despite a sugary musical backdrop and vocals that put your favorite sweet to shame, the answer isn’t very easy to swallow. Whether it’s suddenly not being believed in after performing miracles, being praised for the weight loss from a hunger strike, or just simply being too wiped out to exist, Annika Norlin’s portrayal of the patriarchy takes it to extremes but never feels exaggerated, and is endlessly amusing. Most impressively is that it comes across with humor and poise over a strolling, mid-tempo beat and pleasant synth tones and plucking guitars. This is how I prefer my strong feminist declarations: served over a piece of pop perfection.

Pre-order the album here and explore her back catalogue here!

Vampire Weekend – Step (Sylvstr x Ernst Remix) [Paris, FR]

Indie Rock / Instrumental / Electronic / Remixes

Modern Vampires of the City hands down my favourite album last year, winning a well-deserved Grammy. Step my favourite track off the album. Vampire Weekend definitely on top of all the indie rockers. Ezra Koenig possibly my biggest music man crush. (hush Xavier you’re safe.) SO yes, you can imagine the mentality I had diving into this remix. Scorn, that’s what. Snarling at the arrogance of even daring to alter such an incredible track. But that mentality sure faded away fast. Because, WOW. I would never dare say it lived to the original, but I’d say it’s paying decent homage. The Parisian electronic duo sure have drizzled some sweet piano sequences over the sugar coating that is Vampire Weekend.
For all the fans out there, trust me this one’s a goodie!

Get more mixes at their soundcloud here, it’s quite the treasure trove.

 

Johnny Lloyd – Pilgrims [London, UK]

Dream Pop / Shoegaze / Alternative Rock

We don’t have much to go on when it comes to London based act Johnny Lloyd. We’ve got his facebook and twitter page but that’s about as far as it goes. What we do know, is that he’s currently on tour playing through UK, Germany, and France. With only two tracks on his soundcloud to go on, it’s remarkable how well he’s demonstrated his ability to go far. It’s gonna be a lot easier letting the music speak for itself. Nostalgia is impeccably cued at the 2.33 mark, just wait for it.

*edit* Johnny’s just coming off the success as previous lead guitar/vocalist of Camden based four piece alternative rock band Tribes that split in 2013. Given it’s quite a different sound but HOW DID WE NOT SEE THIS.

Almost can’t help but say  “Remember when music used to be good?”

If you’re hooked and in Europe currently, get tickets to catch him here.

 

Kawehi – Fake Plastic Trees (Radiohead) [Lawrence, US]

Alternative Rock / Electronic / Synth / Downtempo / Covers

Completely grooving to her own music, Kawehi’s cover of Fake Plastic Trees puts a new beat on Radiohead’s song. Same equally mellow anxious vibe that hits the moment she starts to sing though.

If you want to see her do more amazing things with a loop pedal, here she is singing Nirvana, and for a powerful and profound original entirely completed with her own voice, that would be here where she sings about Neda’s death in 2009 in the Iranian democracy movement.

Follow her on youtube, fb, or check out her latest kickstarter project (that’s already finished but still just as awesome).