Blog Update

I realise it’s been two weeks since I last published a blog post. The good news is that I have a lot more music to write about. The bad news is that I started this blog during Christmas break, conveniently forgetting that being a law student leaves me with little time to do much else!

Check back soon, I definitely have many more artists to feature!

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Artist Alert: Tokio Hotel

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Apparently, Tokio Hotel have been around for ages. Well, eight years to be more precise, but they released their first English language album Scream only in 2005. For those who (like me) are still clueless about them, Tokio Hotel are a four-piece band from Magdeburg, Germany, who make some kickass music.

I first discovered them literally half an hour ago when I searched YouTube for Mad World and came across a Tokio Hotel video for the song. I don’t think that actually is a Tokio Hotel cover – the voice in the linked video sounded suspiciously like Gary Jules – but it made me watch some of their videos, and I am an instant fan! The band members range in age from 19 to 21 and are so talented that they perfectly exemplify why I started this blog.

You can listen to Monsoon, Ready Set Go, and By Your Side. For those who are feeling a little more adventurous, watch the original By Your Side in German – An Deiner Seite. And if anyone knows how I can get the album in India, please let me know!

Must Hear: Do What You Like – Passenger

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The opening chords of Passenger’s Do What You Like anticipate a fun and not-so-serious song about love, life and all the other usual things that pop bands sing about. Refreshingly, the song is a scathing “love song” about a man who finally realises that the woman he worships treats him like dirt. It’s the perfect song for anyone who’s needed the courage to say “[insert expletive of choice here] you!” to someone who completely deserves it.

 The frenetic music and Mike Rosenberg’s unique voice make Do What You Like the antithesis of what a pop song should be, all while subscribing to the aforesaid characteristics of a pop song – a conflicting combination with remarkable results. In Rosenberg’s own words, Passenger’s songs “share a certain quirkiness…it’s about story-telling – creating characters and sending them off on a journey”. In this case, I wasn’t only enjoying the character’s story, I was cheering him on! 

Artist Alert: Brazilian Girls

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Don’t let the name Brazilian girls fool you – they’re a three-piece electronic pop/dance band from New York City and only one of them is a girl. Sabina Sciubba, Didi Gutman and Aaron Johnston debuted in 2003 playing gigs across the city and found an immediate loyal fan following (former bassist Jesse Murphy has since left the band to purse a solo project). 2005 saw the release of their self-titled debut album, which has been followed by two equally successful releases.

Their sound is an irresistible combination of instruments such as drums, synths,  and even the tabla, among others, accompanying Sciubba’s vocals – that may be in either Italian, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese or English – and can most easily be described as unadulterated and uncensored fun (play attention to some of their lyrics to understand what I mean!). Their latest album New York City was also recently nominated for Best Electronic Album at the 51st Grammy Awards to be held in February 2009.

Watch the videos for two of my favourite Brazilian Girls songs, Don’t Stop and Good Times.

Artist Alert: Nouvelle Vague

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The thought of listening to an entire album (or three) of covers may not be very appealing, but Nouvelle Vague put an original spin on some classics as well as lesser known music by artists such as Blondie, The Clash, Peggy Lee and Depeche Mode. Nouvelle Vague is the brainchild of French musicians Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux who metamorphose British New Wave into Bossa Nova genius.

Recording a cover – let alone multiple albums of covers – can pose several complications, the least of which is sounding unoriginal and severely unimaginative. Nouvelle Vague escape that pitfall by utilising a strategy that works wonderfully – female vocalists who have never heard the original songs, thereby ensuring that they bring their own personality to each ‘new’ tune.

My personal favourite song is Ever Fall In Love from their 2006 album Bande à Part, which is a cover of a 1978 Buzzcocks song. Visit their website to hear some songs from their first two albums, or watch a live performance at KCRW.