Something We Heard Before

Pale Honey has a sound that I can only describe as Joan Jett by way of Swedish electro-pop. Which sounds like ten pure helpings of ridiculous, but I submit that that combination is definitively awesome – why would you possibly say no? Of course you wouldn’t so wrap your ears around this.

Pale Honey are a Swedish alt. rock duo with a crunchy, ‘take no shit’ attitude. This lil’ track is relatively simple, but it’s full of spunk and grit – from the drawn out vocals to the collection of percussive and electronic elements riding in the background, it’s a sure fire good time!

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Sometimes, you get a little “POW!” from music; a spark that kicks you in the keister, runs up your spine and starts tap dancing in your head. Or, to put it in far less stupid terms, sometimes music just makes you go “Oooo, that’s pretty sweet!”. So with any lucky, here is some rad Swedish electro-pop that’ll hopefully give you that reaction!

There’s a big ol’ mix of crazy, punchy drumming contrasted with soothing electronic drones and wrapped up with some wild vocal work that kind of gives this tune a bit of a modern jazz feel. Something about that mix of craziness and relaxation is certainly zapping me in the keister right now!

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Time for some Cher! Now now, don’t be so quick to judge! Yes, Cher does not butter everyone’s crumpets (my crumpets remain quite unbuttered), but she writes catchy pop and there is nothing wrong with that at all.

I personally never liked Believe: something about the liberal use of auto-tune really got my gristle during its heyday, so I wasn’t expecting much when my friend Laura linked me to this cover. But here’s the thing: I have not been able to stop listening to this. It’s a beautifully stripped down, acoustic version of the song with incredibly sweet vocals. It’s an unbelievable transformation from it’s dance-pop origins to something that is genuinely heartfelt. It’s just… wow. Just listen to it already!

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Rap is thoroughly underrepresented here on either/or, but there’s a very good reason for that: I am thoroughly uncool. Were I enrolled in an American high school in the 90s, I would be the guy hanging from the flagpole by his underwear. Of course, nowadays it’s a totally different story, considering I run a very successful music blog and I- oh, blast!

Here’s a tune from the Minneapolis outfit, Atmosphere, that almost takes a leaf out of the book of doo-wop before launching into a kick-ass beat and rap. Great rhymes with a smooth beat and tune – I can definitely get behind stuff like this! I can feel myself getting cooler already…

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Jazz is always a bit hit and miss: sometimes, all that funky syncopation comes together and makes something that is completely unlistenable. Why would you want that? Because jazz! Now, dear reader, you are obviously aware that this post won’t be an example of that, and that the first part of this post was a delightful repartee designed to introduce something that contrasts with it.

And behold! It does! Lori Cullen brings a slightly folkish, slightly gyspy-ish twist to the ol’ jazz formula with this relaxed but paced (and quirky) tune. Simple instrumentation blends nicely with Lori’s breathy vocals to give it all a hint of overarching mystery… perhaps, the mystery of what the three is? Ok, there’s no real mystery as it’s about a couple and a baby, but work with me here!

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I think I’m starting to come around on the 80s. Something about it always seemed monumentally tacky to me, particularly with music. However, between listening to more of the Split Enz back catalogue and getting deep into Stranger Things and it’s superb, synth-based score, I’ve come to realise that I have much to be thankful for of the period. My bad, 80s! Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that…

Now, this is obviously a modern tune, but it certainly has its roots in the ethereal synth drone of the 80s. Beautifully dreamy and poignant, but completely lacking the tackiness. You have floored me, Selfoss!

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Ah, how I do love some summer cruising music: reminds me of all those long, relaxing road trips along idyllic beaches with close friends… that I have never taken in my life. Oh well! Let’s call it an aspirational dive into the memory bank then, shall we?

Here is a wonderful track that very much reminds me of the output of Triptides, only a tad bit more hi-fi. That added boost of hi-fidelity techno-wizardry has, thankfully, done nothing to dull the simultaneously soothing and peppy tone that immediately harks back to all those days lost to the summer haze (now THAT’S poetry!). It’s what I imagine the Beach Boys might’ve been like if they removed all that natty earnestness from their music.

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Do you have problems with being the most gosh diggidy darndest coolest person you could be? Do most of your coolness inadequacies stem from the fact you use words like ‘gosh diggidy darndest’? Then you are in luck, my soon to be hip friend!

Monophonics are a band not out of Canada, for once: they hark a little more south in the musically-rich San Francisco Bay Area where they collude to create a cool collection of catchy… tunes (I ran out of positive c words). This is some effortlessly hip funk that feels like an entirely genuine slice of the 70s: bold, emotive and incredibly slick.

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This popped up in my inbox a while ago and I immediately made a note to post about it. I then proceeded to… not post anything for months? I dunno, I don’t really have a good excuse! Thankfully, time has not dulled how much I all am up in its delicious jam.

I am not one to like radically reimagined versions of classic tunes (sorry Lorde, it just ain’t baking my cookies), but something about this one stuck: it’s remarkably simple, but quite powerful, owing to STACEY’s bittersweet vocals. It’s very far removed from the perkiness of the Foundations original, but it’s pretty danged interesting how the lyrics take on a completely different intent in this version!

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I do an awful lot of scoffing at them kids these days when it’s implied that the 90s are retro. Mainly because the 90s were only, what, 10, nearly 20, years ago… oh, dangit! Ok, yeah, I now know what the generation above me felt when we said the 80s were totally retro…

My meaningless ruminations on age are, obviously, related to the fine music I bring you today: an Americana-tinged throwback to the days of the Smashing Pumpkins and a gentler strand of alternative rock. Wailing, distorted guitars, two-part harmonies and a bass line you could set your clock to. Granted, it’s 2016 now and these guys are Canadian, but it’s a wonderful sound straight out of the era of my childhood.

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