Friday, January 7th, 2011
jj mixes, tapes, kills
Malin Bernalt>Swedish outfit jj had an interesting 2010. At year’s start, the mysterious duo was one of the more hotly tipped acts around, their mysterious, r&b-inflected/narcotic-influenced dream-pop scoring them a support slot for The xx’s first headlining North American tour and a Stateside release for their debut album No. 2 as well as its imminent follow-up, No. 3.
It all started to go wrong when they rolled into SxSW, though, when it was discovered that their live shows were perplexing, awkward affairs with Elin Kastlander singing overtop pre-recorded backing tracks while co-conspirator Joakim Benon just stood there. Not exactly the sort of impression that bands usually want to make in Austin in March, but jj seemed to come into things with an approach that was either performance art, contempt or both. The subsequent shows with The xx proved their indifferent approach to live performance wasn’t a fluke and after No. 3 failed to garner the sort of rave reviews its predecessor did – though to my ears it sounded similar enough that the backlash was puzzling – the buzz surrounding them seemed to dissipate significantly.
After being left along through much of the Fall, jj returned in the tail end of the year and they came bearing gifts. First in November, a free two-track digital single entitled Let Them and then on Christmas eve, a full-length mixtape entitled Kills, also available gratis. This wasn’t a TDK SA90 of their favourite tracks for your stocking – the kind of mix tape I’m familiar with – but one of the hip-hop variety wherein the band sample, remixe and otherwise jam out overtop a variety of other peoples’ tunes. If I were better versed with contemporary hip-hop I might better appreciate whatever alchemy they work on Kills but even without knowing my Kanye from my Jay-Z, it’s an entertaining listen thanks to Kastlander’s beguiling vocals.
Some acts just aren’t meant for the stage – as long as they keep making interesting music and giving it away, I think we can forgive them that.
Under The Radar reports that next Tuesday, Danish art-rockers Mew will give their career-spanning compilation Eggs Are Funny a North American release. In addition to their greatest hits, there’s one new track which you can hear over at Soundcloud.
Fanfarlo’s contribution to the latest Twilight soundtrack has yielded a video. They’re currently writing album number two. Patience.
Video: Fanfarlo – “Atlas”
The first MP3 from Mogwai’s forthcoming Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will was made available via email widget back in November, but now it’s up for grabs for even the email-submitting-averse. Their new album is out February 15 and is better than you think it will be, no matter how good you think it will be. They’re at the Phoenix on April 26.
MP3: Mogwai – “Pano Rano”
Stereogum solicits a status report on PJ Harvey’s next record Let England Shake, though considering the first single “The Words That Maketh The Murder” will be out on January 17 and the album is due in a little over a month on February 15, the only status that should be getting reports is, “It’s done. Leave me alone”.
Pitchfork introduces you to Jonny, made up of Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake and Euros Childs, formerly of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. Their debut self-titled album will be out April 12 but in the meantime, there’s a video and a free EP of non-album tracks to get you acclimated.
The terrible interface of the Folio magazine online edition is worth enduring to read the interview about the Britpop era with former Sleeper frontwoman and eternal crush object Louise Wener by Summer Camp chanteuse Elizabeth Sankey. Picking up a copy of Wener’s autobiography Different For Girls when I’m in the UK this Summer is on my to-do list.