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!

Radiator Hospital – Please Thrill Me [Philadelphia, US]

Lo-fi / Indie / Pop

radiator hospital

As soon as I heard the doo-wop infected opener of most recent album, the aptly titled Something Wild, I knew that this band was going to be something fun. The friendly voice of Sam Cook-Parrott, the catch pop/punk-ish hooks, and general good vibes of it all–this Philadelphia outfit is simple and fun music with an emotional heft to it that hits without knocking you to the ground. Quietly releasing 6 track from TOTAL REQUEST, a split with Chicago friend Kyle Kaos, the tracks themselves are anything but quiet. Lo-fi, fuzzy goodness abound, the set ends with a straightforward acoustic piece Please Thrill Me about liking someone a lot. It’s cutesy in the most adorable way and doesn’t try to be anything other than an attempt to capture the excitement of a crush. A perfect addition to that mixtape for that special someone this upcoming Valentine’s Day. In the song, Sam exclaims over and over that he doesn’t want to slow down, and I can only hope that he never does, both in term of this project’s output and or feeling as strongly as this song makes me do.

Keep up with Sam on his WordPress or on Facebook, and maybe throw some bucks his way for TOTAL REQUEST (though it’s available for free!).

Mistletunes!

Indie / Rock / Dream / Pop / Electronic / Folk / Hip-Hop / Funk / Soul / Christmas

It’s been almost 2 months since our last post, I’d like to throw in a few excuses about hectic internet, busy agendas etc.etc. but we made it in time for Christmas. So, forgiveness and all that!

Remember that party you went to/threw that played Michael Bublé’s entire Christmas album on repeat? Given the Bubs can be incredibly charismatic and his cover of All I Want For Christmas Is You has arguably outdone if not completely recreated the original, it still doesn’t deserve multiple appearances in one night. And those were the good ones, because I’m sure we’ve all been to child-friendly parties where try-hard parents attempt to impress their children by being hip and streaming Justin Bieber’s Underneath The Mistletoe which is all good fun until Busta Rhymes’s rendition of Drummer Boy comes on. Yeah, pa rum pa pum poo.

They were most definitely cruising with the right tunes. 

Putting the Biebz and Bubs aside, Christmas is generally a season filled with good food, good thoughts, good company, and terrible music. So if you’ve got a party to host tonight or are just looking for some festive tunes to accompany your long drives to relatives without dampening your cheer, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve taken the liberty of creating a massive playlist comprehensive as ever of all the good Christmas covers you’ll ever find (don’t quote me on this) and a few originals covering every all sorts of genres, so that there’ll be a little festive spirit of everybody.

Okay they’re all pretty good but everyone gets sick of too much Christmas cheer because we’re all secretly little grinches on the inside. So I’ve bolded my favorites! ^^

Here’s the tracklist:

Emancipator – First Snow
My Morning Jacket – Xmas Time is Here Again
Civil Wars – I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Zee Avi – No Christmas for Me
Local Natives – We Come Back
The Walkmen – Christmas Party
Train – Shake Up Christmas
Carousel – Christmas Time With You
Blitzen Trapper – Christmas Is Coming Soon
Remington 60 – Here Comes Christmas
Mac Miller & Ariana Grande – Baby It’s Cold Outside
The Ramones – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)
The Shins – Wonderful Christmastime
Fun. – Sleighride
Dog Is Dead – Christmas Wrapping (The Waitresses Cover)
She & Him – Christmas Waltz
Belle & Sebastian – Are You Coming Over For Christmas?
Work Drugs – Never Gonna Be Alone on Christmas
Eliza and the Bear – It Gets Cold
The xx – Last Christmas (Live on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge)
Nick Santino (from A Rocket To The Moon) – Blue Christmas (Elvis Presley Cover)
Julian Casablancas – I Wish It Was Christmas Today
Low – Just Like Christmas
Atlas Sound – Artificial Snow (Notown Version)
Sufjan Stevens – Sister Winter (Broke For Free Remix)
Kanye West – Christmas In Harlem
Jean Tonique – Funky Christmas
The Kinks – Father Christmas
Death Cab For Cutie – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Blink 182 – I Won’t Be Home For Christmas
The Eels – Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas
Best Coast & Wavves – Got Something For You
The Killers – Christmas in L.A ft. Dawes
Beachhouse – I Do Not Care For The Winter Sun
Sufjan Stevens – Christmas Unicorn
Mazzy Star – Flowers In December
Low – Taking Down The Tree
Highasakite – Snow Don’t Fall
Emancipator – Soon It’ll Be Cold Enough To Build Fires

Not sure if this is entirely legal but as a Christmas present I’ve also thrown up the entire playlist on dropbox here with tons of other bonus tracks that were uanvailable on soundcloud so plunder at will.

Merry Christmas y’all! I promise we’ll be back and much more present in 2014!
But again, you know what they say about New Year resolutions 😉

Dowsing – Meant to Shred [Chicago, US]

Emo / Pop / Rock

dowsingEmo is often stereotyped as being a way for sad boys to cry about their break-ups in public with a crowd screaming along to validate their feelings and is quite often accurate. That said, the genre doesn’t always take emotions as seriously as the name and stigma suggests. Illinoisian band Dowsing are particularly known for their willingness to ride on the goofy side, with their debut titled It’s Still Pretty Terrible which features the track Gengar! Gengar! Gengar! (and if that Pokemon reference doesn’t make you at least smirk, then I’m sorry your childhood was so bleak and empty). Meant to Shred, fourth track off of this year’s I Don’t Even Care Anymore (released by Count Your Lucky Stars Records) pops out clearly from the album with its shiny, pop hooks of pure gold and buoyant gang vocals. The topic is still a break-up note “meant to shred” at the newly single narrator’s dignity, keeping their face aimed sullenly at the ground, so it’s still very much “emo,” but when sad jams feel this good–that’s just a whole other level of music altogether.

Check out the band’s catalog here, or similar music on the CYLS’ bandcamp here.