Author Archives: zeek88

Wir sind Helden

wir-sind-helden-2010-07-02Wir sind Helden (We are Heroes) is a pop/rock band from Berlin. Lead by singer Judith Holofernes, and musicians Pola Roy, Mark Tavassol, and Jean-Michel Tourette, the group was formed in 2000. The band broke out onto the German music scene with their first single, “Guten Tag”, which got significant airplay on MTV Europe. Their first album, Die Reklamation peaked #2 on the German charts. laut.de gave it five out of five points calling it “the perfect soundtrack for an urban summer”.

The band’s second album, Von Hier An Blind (2005), enjoyed the most success, peaking number 1 in Germany and Austria, and being certified platinum x2 in Germany. The album was so popular that they rerecorded several of it’s songs in English, French, and Japanese. he entire artwork (cover, booklet, etc.) for the album as well as for the singles was designed by Berlin illustrator Vanessa Karr. It was modeled after parts from the comic book Tintin in Tibet (1960) by Belgian artist Hergé who died in 1983. Notably, the video for the album’s title single “Von hier an blind” is in the same style. The album was also released in a Limited Edition, which included an additional DVD with a documentary, interviews with the band members about each of the album’s songs, and a game where one can switch the band’s instruments on a performance of “Nur ein Wort”.

Two more albums followed, Soundso (2007and Bring mich nach Hause (2010), charting at #2 and #1 respectively on German charts. The band announced in April this year that they are going on an indefinite hiatus, saying reasons were the distance between band members’ home cities, the demands of their respective family lives, “signs of wear,” and the feeling of an “ever-more-impossible-seeming undertaking”

I’ve been listening to their discography all day, and have been thoroughly enjoying it. A lot of their songs remind me of older Euro-pop, almost in the ABBA tradition, so of course I adore it. The tunes are catchy and fun. Learning of the bands hiatus makes me sad that I will not be able to enjoy new Wir sind Helden! C’est la vie!

Check out their website: Wir sind Helden

 

Advertisements

Worm is Green

Worm+Is+GreenI love Iceland. They really do have the best music, I don’t know how they do it. Worm is Green was started by Arni Asgeirsson in his basement in his hometown of Akranes. He soon enlisted longtime friends to help with his electronica project, and the result was this magic. I’ve read that these friends are always focused on their passion project, even one time in Asgeirsson’s grandfather’s jewelry shop, where the Icelandic stones became the source of inspiration: he recorded them rubbing together and it became a beat.

The bands first album, Automagic, released in 2002, has been critically praised throughout Europe, and it’s easy to see why. The album is very haunting, from the ethereal vocals of Gudridur Ringsted, to the amazing rhythm sections, the album has a totally chill vibe, it has that incredible ability to paint landscapes that seems to be common in so much Icelandic music. And it has these incredible electronic beats, which somehow enhance the ambient quality of the music. One can easily get lost in it. They have released to other albums that I know of to date: Push Play (2005), and Glow (2009), of which I only have the previous.

Sadly I couldn’t find much more about them anywhere, but they do have a website, so check it out: Worm Is Green


The Tellers

The Tellers are a Belgian rock band. The band was started in 2005 by Ben Baillieux-Beynon (lead singer, guitarist). And through the years the lineup has been pretty unsteady, from just Baillieux-Beyon, to having 2-4 members. Currently I believe the band is a 4-piece group, with Fabrice Detry on bass, Cesar Laloux on drums, and Joos Houwen on guitar. They have had two albums to date, their first being Hands Full of Ink. This is the only album I have heard. The album peaked #7 on the Belgian charts and the group has enjoyed fame in their home country. They’ve also enjoyed success in Germany, the Netherlands, and, thanks recently to a part in a Canon commercial, France. The album has an alternative/Indie folk rock style that is very European. It’s definitely a good listen. The album has a good vibe. I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on their more recent album!

You can check out their myspace (excuse me, my_____) page here: The Tellers


Russian Hip-hop Medly

Because I can’t seem to find much information for many of these Russian hip-hop artists (and R&B artists), I’ve decided to simply make a nice sampling of their videos. Enjoy.

Mix’a-M

Макс Лоренс

Амира

Бьянка

Баста

T9

 


Airat

My Friday night continuation of the journey into Russian hip-hop has yielded more great finds. Sadly, Russian hip-hop has numbered among my more difficult genres to collect info and music from! Luckily I have found several artists with free tracks on last.fm, and have relied on the magic of Youtube. One of many tonight is Airat. As I said, you can get some of his tracks on last.fm, though only few. Luckily, he also has a website which has a lot of his videos on them: Airat. You can also listen to a lot of his music on the site! Either way, if you share my love of Eastern European hip-hop, Airat is another great artist to explore!

 


Ar. Qure

Tonight I ended up deep into Swedish pop music, and found some amazing stuff (which I’m sure I”ll post eventually!) But somehow this night ended up with Russian R&B, which turned Russian hip-hop. I’m glad it did (you know I love my Eastern European hip-hop!). One artist I found is Ar. Qure. I cannot seem to find any information on him anywhere and this is making me sad. Apparently he’s had several albums. From what I’ve heard I quite enjoy him, and hope I can find more soon! The only reason I’ve heard anything is because his last.fm page has free downloads right now. So do yourself a favour and give a listen: Ar. Qure It’s too bad there’s only 5 tracks and no information on the artist!

At least I was able to find a couple of videos!


Trentemøller

Trentemøller is a Danish electronic music producer. He is perhaps best known for his remixes, which consist of mostly fellow Scandinavian artists, including Robyn, The Knife, and Röyksopp among many others. His BBC Essential Mix won “Essential Mix of the Year” in 2006 by listeners. Two studio albums have been released to date, The Last Resort, in 2006, and Into the Great Wide Yonder, in 2010. I’ve only heard the previous so far. It has an incredibly chill vibe. You can really lose yourself in it. The album was released in October 2006 and peaked at #5 on the Danish charts. It was also certified platinum in 2009, something quite rare for an electronic album. Trentemøller has released many more compilation/remix albums than actual studio albums, the first of these, The Trentemøller Chronicles, probably being one of the best known. It is a two-disc compilation, the first being a mix session, and the second containing full-length remixes.

Having heard The Last Resort, I intend to seek out many of these remixes, and I absolutely have to get The Trentemøller Chronicles on vinyl. You can find a lot more information and see a lot more media on his website: Trentemøller


Alphabeat

I was sitting here looking for some music to listen to while I work, and I saw Alphabeat in my music folder. Completely forgot what they sounded like, and I’ve rediscovered some wonderful Europop! Alphabeat is a Danish pop band from Silkeborg. The band has 5 members, fronted by lead vocalists Stine Bramsen and Anders SG. The bands self-titled debut album, Alphabeat, was released in Denmark in March 2007, peaking at number two on the Danish Albums Chart and reaching platinum status in five months of release. The band’s success in their domestic market attracted the attention of several major labels from larger markets abroad and Alphabeat was eventually signed to EMI’s Charisma Records label in the United Kingdom. Their debut UK single, “Fantastic 6”, was released in November 2007, followed by the international release of Alphabeat, retitled This Is Alphabeat, the following year. It peaked at number ten on the UK Albums Chart and was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry. In 2009 Alphabeat won an EBBA Award. (Every year the European Border Breakers Awards (EBBA) recognize the success of ten emerging artists or groups who reached audiences outside their own countries with their first internationally released album in the past year.)

The group’s second album, The Beat, (retitled The Beat Is… for international release) was released in Denmark in 2009. The band said they wanted to get away from the pop sound of their first album and move towards a sound more like popular 90s dance groups like Snap! (and how I looooove 90s dance!!!) While the album was certified platinum and peaked #5 on the Danish charts, its reviews were mixed elsewhere, some saying the loss of the bubblegum euro-pop sound that made them so popular in the first place was replaced by a sound too inconsistent and shallow, although many say the album was better than could be expected from this departure. I’m not intimately enough acquainted with both albums to say, but I enjoy it. The title track “The Spell” is definitely awesome. The rest has some great euro-dance sounds and I think they synth and vocal styles are a great example of shameless euro-dance. What more could I ask for?

Check out their website: Alphabeat


2PM

Well things have been busy, busy, as I am now living in my favourite city: Montréal! While meandering around my new neighbourhood, I was really in the mood for some K-pop boy band goodness, and I rediscovered 2PM on my iPod. 2PM originally started out as an 11-piece boy band, One Day, but later was split into two separate groups: 2AM and 2PM. 2PM debuted with their single “10 Out of 10” (10점 만점에 10점) on 4 September 2008. Later that year a controversy regarding Jaebeom, the groups oldest member and leader, emerged. On 4 September 2009, articles surfaced on the internet regarding Jaebeom’s posts from 2005 on his personal Myspace account, in which he expressed his dislike for Korea while still a trainee for JYP Entertainment. Jaebeom issued an apology regarding this matter. Although some demanded that Jaebeom should be forced out of 2PM, JYP Entertainment CEO Park Jin-young stated on 7 September lent the singer a vote of confidence, suggesting that he would remain in the group. But the next day Jaebeom announced on his official fancafe that he would leave the group and return to the United States for a while to calm the situation. He planned to return to school and improve his understanding of music. At the same time, he apologized to his fellow band members for not being a good leader and older brother for them. He also promised to come as a better person.  Park Jin-young confirmed that 2PM would continue on as a six-member group.

In late November 2009, after two weeks of promotional activities for their second album, 1:59PM, 2PM earned their first #1 on a TV music show (KBS Music Bank’s “K-Chart”) since the album’s release, with “Heartbeat”, which went on to take #1 on the K-Chart for three more weeks. In addition, “Heartbeat” achieved the “Mutizen” song award Triple Crown on SBS Inkigayo by being the #1 song the Inkigayo “Take 7” chart for three weeks, the maximum amount of time for which a nominated song is eligible to win. On 30 December 2009, at Korean Broadcasting System (KBS)’s end of the year Music Festival, “Again & Again” was recognized as “Song of the Year”.

In May 2011, 2PM released their Japanese debut-single, “Take Off.” The song was featured as an ending song in the Blue Exorcist anime series. Due to considerable online pre-orders of the limited version A, regular version and limited version B of the single, “Take Off” ranked from No. 1 to 3, respectively, on the pre-order chart of Tower Records Japan. It also reached Number 1 in the USEN’s J-Pop Chart. 2PM was the first Korean band to top that chart. 2PM’s first Japanese concert tour, known as the “2PM 1st Japan Tour 2011 Take Off,” began in Sapporo on May 6 and ended a week later in Tokyo.

The band is just another great example of K-pop! I think my favourite track of their’s is “Again and Again”, which has many great remixes. The band’s sound is fun, their tunes are dance-y and catchy. Check out their website (in Korean!) : 2PM


Азис

Азис (Azis) is  a Bulgarian artist, who is best known for his flamboyant personality and non-traditional gender personification. I was looking on Youtube for other songs by some of my favourite Eurovision artists from the past couple of years and I saw a video of Azis in the related sidebar, at first I thought he was a woman and when I watched the video I suddenly found myself watching more and more and more! As my friend Monique put it, “well he just thinks he’s sex on legs!”. Azis’ music is of the chalga (folk-pop) style, and while I believe he mostly sings in Bulgarian the melismas of his vocals and music style has an aesthetic much akin to many Arabic artists.

In October 2006, Azis married his husband Niki Kitaetsa, though their marriage is not legally recognized given the laws of Bulgaria. =( In August 2007, Azis became a father to a daughter conceived via artificial insemination. Her name is Raya and her mother is Azis’ life-long friend Gala. At the end of November 2007, controversy erupted when Boiko Borisov, then-mayor of Sofia, elected to take down billboards with pictures of Azis kissing his husband. Both men were shirtless in the campaign. A wave of removing the posters from other Bulgarian cities followed. Although Borisov said the reason behind his decision was that the posters were too graphic, media said that much more explicit advertising could be found all over Sofia without being taken down. The Bulgarian LGBT social movement Gemini and the director of TV2 said that the same-sex nature of the ad, as opposed to its racy content, was what led to its removal by an order of the mayor.

Despite these controversies, Azis is widely successful in Bulgaria. In the 2006 TV programme Velikite Balgari (the Bulgarian version of the 2002 Greatest Britons from BBC), Azis was elected as the 21st greatest Bulgarian of all time (and was in fact the second ranking “living person” on the list, after football player Hristo Stoichkov, who was 12th overall). He has released 10 albums since 1999, of which I have only been able to get a hold of 2006’s Дива (Diva). He has also released several DVDs. Even more impressive is his list of awards, 20 Annual Awards, including 6 years of Best Singer, 7 for Best Stage or Best Media Presence, and 3 Best Albums!

Azis has collaborated with many artists in Bulgaria and is featured in numerous videos. He just seems like fun! I wish I could get more of his music!