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Posts Tagged ‘Frida Hyvonen’

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Terribly Dark

Review of Frida Hyvönen’s The The Soul

Photo By KnotanKnotanArtists lose record deals; it happens all the time. But when it happens to an international artist and rather than find a new deal, they disappear off your radar entirely, well that’s just a shame. Swedish singer-songwriter Frida Hyvönen was represented by Secretly Canadian for her first two albums, 2005’s Until Death Comes and 2008’s Silence Is Wild, but after that they parted ways and as such, the release of her third pop album To The Soul back in April escaped my notice completely.

Which is a shame, because I quite liked both of Hyvönen’s other releases (the above ‘pop’ distinction is necessary because her two albums under the Frida Hyvönen gives you: marque are soundtracks for a poodle-inspired dance recital and photographic exhibition and outside the scope of my experience). Death was a more skeletal affair, built largely around Hyvönen’s voice, piano, and idiosyncratic worldview, but when she toured behind it in Spring 2007, it was perfectly suited for her to perform solo, showcasing both her musical talents and genuinely eccentric personality. Silence, in comparison, filled out her sound with both bigger pop numbers and more pointedly personal compositions and I’m genuinely disappointed that she didn’t come back on tour with it – I would have loved to hear “London!” and “Dirty Dancing” live.

That disappointment pales to having to not hearing the follow-up until some four months after it was released not just because I couldn’t find a copy, but because I didn’t even know it existed. To The Soul continues the trajectory marked by the previous two data points in Hyvönen’s discography, taking her songwriting into sonically and emotionally richer territory while she’s arguably never been in finer voice. There’s more variety between her jaunty pop and sweeping ballads, as she swaps piano for synth textures on the New Wave-y “Terribly Dark” and enlists orchestral assistance on the dramatic “In Every Crowd”. Most striking about Soul is how the sort of material which was presented as grandiose pop on Silence has evolved to become almost theatrical in scale; it’s no stretch to imagine “Saying Goodbye” or “Gold” as a show-stopper in a Broadway production, and it’s not just in the presentation – the songs are just that big. The only bigger shame than the fact that the album is only available in North America via iTunes is that people probably don’t even know that much. So if you’re any kind of Hyvönen fan, know that To The Soul is out there and that it’s worth the hunt.

PSL has a video session with Hyvönen. Yes, it’s in Swedish.

Video: Frida Hyvönen – “Terribly Dark”

Pitchfork has details on Pale Fire, the finally-confirmed new record from El Perro Del Mar Pale Fire. It’s out November 13, a new single is available to stream, and tour dates are apparently forthcoming. Huzzah.

Stream: El Perro Del Mar – “Walk On By”

For Folk’s Sake talks to Anna Ternheim about her new record The Night Visitor.

The Alternate Side has a session with Niki & The Dove, with whom DIY caught a word with at Reading & Leeds Festival. They play the slightly smaller Drake Underground on October 2.

Jens Lekman talks to MTV, Playground, and The Sydney Morning Herald about his glorious new album I Know What Love Isn’t, out September 4 and arguably his best record yet. Yes, better than those other ones you love so much. Don’t believe me? The Quietus is streaming the whole thing right now. He plays The Phoenix on October 4. And if you need a refresher as to why all of Lekman’s records are so good, Paste has compiled a list of his best lyrical turns of phrase.

MP3: Jens Lekman – “Erica America”
Stream: Jens Lekman / I Know What Love Isn’t

NPR has a World Cafe session with The Tallest Man On Earth.

The Hives have released a new video from Lex Hives.

Video: The Hives – “Wait A Minute”

Denmark’s Choir Of Young Believers will be at The Drake on October 22 supporting Daughter. Their latest Rhine Gold came out back in March. Full tour dates at BrooklynVegan.

MP3: Choir Of Young Believers – “Sedated”
MP3: Choir Of Young Believers – “Patricia’s Thirst”
MP3: Choir Of Young Believers – “Nye Nummber Et”

Danish disco outfit The Asteroids Galaxy Tour return to a North American orbit for a show at The Danforth Music Hall on November 5, tickets $20. Their second album Out Of Frequency came out back in January.

MP3: The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – “Major”
MP3: The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – “Around The Bend”

DIY has a video session with Of Monsters & Men, and DigitalSpy, The Bay Bridged, Tone Deaf, and The Guardian have interviews.

German ambient-electronic duo Mouse On Mars will be at Lee’s Palace on October 19 in support of their new EP Wow, even though it’s not out until November 2. Tickets for that are $15.

Video: Mouse On Mars – “They Know Your Name”

Daytrotter has a session with The Jezabels, in town at The Mod Club on October 24.

The Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone talk to Nick Cave about writing and scoring the film Lawless.

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

All Eyes On You

Veronica Falls, Brilliant Colors and Hands & Teeth at The Garrison in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangJust so we’re clear, I am not stalking Veronica Falls. It’s pure coincidence that I’ve seen the London-based band three times in the past year in three different countries – America, Canada, and Iceland – on two different continents. Really. Okay, it’s not as though I was running into them on the street while they were playing – their self-titled debut was one of my favourites of last year (and barely missed my year-end list) so when the opportunity to see them live has presented itself, I’ve taken it. And when a fourth chance came around as it did on Tuesday night at The Garrison, I also took that.

It also gave me the opportunity to see what local outfit Hands & Teeth were about, what with them garnering a fair bit of attention hereabouts for their just released their debut full-length Hunting Season. That the five-piece were talented and had no shortage of ideas was unquestionable but like many young bands with a surplus of talent and ideas, it felt like they hadn’t quite figured out how to manage it all. Their sound was a solid balance of pop and prog but came across as busy as it was catchy. Having four capable lead vocalists made for some exquisite harmonies but also made their overall personality hard to pin down. Similarly, the instrument swapping seemed showy and unnecessary; rather than trying so hard to demonstrate that they’re good, they’d be better off simply being good. Because despite all this, they clearly were.

No one should have had to be told that San Francisco’s Brilliant Colors were Veronica Falls’ labelmates on Slumberland; the quartet rather embodied the label’s aesthetic of scrappy, lo-fi American ’80s indie pop with a dash of New Zealand/Flying Nun thrown in for good measure. They had to fight through an inordinate number of sound issues for such a simple, straight-ahead band (two guitars, bass, drums, one vocal) but eventually got sorted enough to get through their set, which had decent energy if not a lot of charisma and included a cover of The Who’s “So Sad About Us” as well as material from their latest Again & Again. As familiar-sounding as their material was, it wasn’t the most memorable but if you had that vintage of indie pop in your veins, there was no way it wouldn’t resonate at least a little.

It was nice to considerably more people out to see Veronica Falls this time out than that gathered in the basement at Parts & Labour last October – even with it being Valentine’s Day – and the band were dressed for the occasion with guitarist/vocalists Roxanne Clifford and James Hoare and drummer Patrick Doyle all done up in matching red-and-white striped shirts; bassist Marion Herbain might have had the same on under her sweater, I couldn’t tell. Not that any of that really mattered, it was just a fun detail. What did matter was that they came to play, powering through their set of darkly-hued, C86-vintage pop with punk rock efficiency – the dozen-song set, which included a few new tunes, plus one-song encore of undetermined cover was over in just 35 minutes.

As with past performances, Doyle again reaffirmed his position as the band’s secret weapon keeping super-tight time with his stripped-down, mostly cymbal-less kit, all while contributing backing vocals but unlike past performances, Clifford and Hoare weren’t as tight as they typically were. It was actually a bit funny to hear their vocals completely out of sync for the opening verse of “Wedding Day”, though they got it together once Doyle came in with the beat – we’ll blame that on persistent stage sound issues. So while technically less than perfect, the band still seemed to have a good time – Clifford was dancier onstage than I’d seen her – and no one was complaining; we’ll still call it a pretty good Valentine’s Day.

Vice and The Montreal Mirror have interviews with Veronica Falls.

Photos: Veronica Falls, Brilliant Colors, Hands & Teeth @ The Garrison – February 14, 2012
MP3: Veronica Falls – “Come On Over”
MP3: Veronica Falls – “Found Love In A Graveyard”
MP3: Brilliant Colors – “How Much Younger”
MP3: Brilliant Colors – “Value Lines”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Bad Feeling”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Come On Over”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Beachy Head”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Found Love In A Graveyard”
Video: Brilliant Colors – “‘Round Your Way”
Video: Brilliant Colors – “How Much Younger”
Video: Brilliant Colors – “Hey Dan”
Video: Brilliant Colors – “Highly Evolved”
Video: Brilliant Colors – “English Cities”
Stream: Hands & Teeth / Hunting Season

Blood Orange has put out a new video from Coastal Grooves.

Video: Blood Orange – “Forget It”

Also with a new video is Laura Marling, this one the closing song from last year’s A Creature I Don’t Know.

Video: Laura Marling – “All My Rage”

I don’t know what Mulberry is, but they deserve props for getting Summer Camp and Big Deal to record videos of them covering Fleetwood Mac and The Jesus & Mary Chain, respectively, for some Valentine’s Day campaign.

Video: Summer Camp – “Everywhere”
Video: Big Deal – “Sometimes Always”

Artrocker reports that The Futureheads’ next album will be completely a capella, entitled Rant and out April 2. It will consist of instrument-less reworkings of some of their songs and covers of others; I’m particularly keen to hear their cover of Richard Thompson’s “Beeswing”. But for now, we will have to settle for this stream of their new version of “Robot”.

Stream: The Futureheads – “Robot” (a capella)

The Cribs – now Johnny Marr-less again – have completed their fifth album and will release In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull on May 8. A download of the first single is up for grabs courtesy of Spin and they’ll be at Lee’s Palace on April 11 as part of a North American tour, tickets $17.50 in advance.

MP3: The Cribs – “Chi-Town”

Norwegian electro disco virtuoso Lindstrøm has made a date at Wrongbar for May 26, tickets $15 in advance.

MP3: Lindstrøm – “De Javu”

The Line Of Best Fit reports that Swedish songstress Frida Hyvönen has a new album entitled To The Soul coming out on April 18 and the first single is available to stream.

Stream: Frida Hyvönen – “Terribly Dark”

NYC Taper has one of the shows from Björk’s New York residency available to download. A-yup.

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Scandinavian Blonde

Review of Frida Hyvonen's Silence Is Wild

Photo By KnotanKnotanWith her 2005 (2006 in North America) debut Until Death Comes, Swedish songstress Frida Hyvonen established herself as a distinctive new voice, capable of veering from stark confessionals to demented whimsy at the drop of a hat. I base this as much on my recollections of her deliciously entertaining March 2007 performance at the Mod Club as I do from whatever impression the album itself made because, well, I no longer seem to have a copy of the album around to refer to.

But I do have the follow-up, Silence Is Wild, and it does reaffirm those impressions. This time out, she chooses to frame her compositions in richer and at points, more theatrical trappings which suit her quite well – better, in my estimation, than the simpler presentation of the debut. The focal point is still her voice – huge yet fragile – and piano, but the grander arrangements lift everything up and offer a broader emotional and musical range that Death simply didn’t have.

Considering my favourite tracks from the album – “Dirty Dancing” and “London” – are also the biggest, I obviously like this change in tact for Hyvonen. The vivid imagery of her lyrics combined with the exuberance of their delivery strike just the right chord in me, and offer a stronger contrast to the smaller, more intimate moments of the album. But even with what some may consider to be a more conventional musical approach, Hyvonen’s innate eccentricity still shines through and sets her apart.

Ms Hyvonen did some solo dates on the east coast in October, so I don’t know if there’s any further North American touring in the cards. But if so I do hope there’s a band involved, even though it’s probably cost-prohibitive. As charming and engaging as she was in the solo context last time, I couldn’t imagine a lot of the new material being done proper justice without all the proper sonic accouterments.

Hyvonen picks her favourite song of the year for Line Of Best fit, gives Aquarium Drunkard a guided tour of her hometown of Flarken and subjects to herself to an interview at RCRDLBL, where you can also download an MP3 of “Birds” from the new album. And check out a live performance of “Dirty Dancing” at PSL.

MP3: Frida Hyvonen – “The Enemy Within”
MySpace: Frida Hyvonen

Clash talks to Lykke Li about her really big 2008. She’s at the Phoenix on February 6.

The video for the first single from A Camp’s forthcoming Colonia is now up. The album is out February 2.

Video: A Camp – “Stronger Than Jesus”

If you were one of those bummed about the cancellation of Noah & The Whale’s North American tour, maybe this Basement Tapes session with the band, recorded their last time through the continent and featuring downloadable live tracks, will ease the pain a bit.

MP3: Noah & The Whale – “5 Years Time” (Basement Tapes session)

The Courier-Mail discusses the art of songwriting with Mountain Goat John Darnielle.

LAist interviews John Dragonetti of The Submarines. They’re at the Drake Underground on February 15 and The Morning Benders have been added as co-headliners on the whole tour.

New York City’s Virgins have a date at the El Mocambo on February 5, tickets $12.50.

MP3: The Virgins – “Rich Girls”
Video: The Virgins – “Rich Girls”

Dose.ca, The Montreal Gazette and The McGill Tribune spend time with Stars, gearing up for a three-night stand at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre December 11 through 13.

Gentleman Reg, who is opening up the middle of those Stars shows (the 12th) as well as playing his own gig at the Drake Underground tonight, will release his new album Jet Black on February 24.

Le Blogotheque takes away a show with Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s.

Prefix talks to Mark Lanegan about working with Isobel Campbell.

JAM interviews Richard Thompson.