Category Archives: Alternative

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


Jem

Jem is a Welsh singer-songwriter whose first album, Finally Woken, had a lot of amazing songs in the trip-hop genre. A friend of mine bought the album when it first came out and we listened to it for the first time together. I remember immediately loving it. I recently rediscovered Jem and was just asking if she had ever released a second album, which I just discovered she had in 2008. “They”, and “Come On Closer” are definitely my two favourite tracks on the album. I also love “Just A Ride” which I had totally forgotten was a Jem song until I released to the album only a couple of days ago.

I also forgot how diverse Finally Woken is. The first several tracks are darker, more electronic/trip-hop, but as the album progresses we get more acoustical sounding/”folktronica”. I just listened to her second album, Down to Earth, for the first time the other night. I need to give it another listen for sure, but it had some great tracks. Nothing compares to the singles from the first album though. It seemed much lighter, although there were some tracks which were more like her earlier style.

A lot of Jem’s music has been in all sorts of media, which is why some of the songs I had forgotten were hers until relistening to the albums. Her music has been featured on numerous T.V.  show such as Damages, The O.C., Desperate Housewives, Wonderfalls, 90210, Six Feet Under, Crossing Jordan, Grey’s Anatomy, Medium, and “Wish I” was used as the theme tune to the ITV show, Celebrity Love Island. According to her website: Jem is working on a new album that is supposed to be released the summer of this year (and it already being August this weekend, should be soon!) Fun fact: Jem (along with Guy Sigsworth) wrote the song “Nothing Fails” which was eventually reworked for Madonna’s American Life album! (Madonna is my all time, absolute, hands-down, favourite artist of all time!!!)


Disintegration

The Cure’s Disintegration is another on my list of absolute top-5 favourite albums. I cannot even begin to express the profound affect this album has had on me. I remember one time I told one of my best friends Kelsey that she needed to hear this album. I put it on in her kitchen (we were eating something) and the CD player was on repeat. The next thing I knew we had gone through the album 3 and a half times. We didn’t speak to each other, we didn’t move. While I have a lot of CDs that I absolutely loooove, Disintigration is the only one to have such an affect on me physically. If ever I listen to this in the car (as I was today) I seem to get to my destination without really remember all of the journey. I just become completely absorbed in the music. It sounds completely stupid but I feel like I feel feelings I didn’t know I had when I listen to this album!!! (I feel so angsty!)


I don’t know exactly what it is. The music itself creates a very unique sound world, filled with vibrant sounds from the 80s and just perfect percussion. Robert Smith’s voice is incredibly haunting and trance inducing. And it may sound a little ridiculous but sometimes when I listen to Disintegration I feel like I never want to hear another album aside from it.

It was the 8th studio album of The Cure, and the band’s best selling to date. It marked a return for the group to a gloomy gothic rock they had established earlier on in the decade. The album was number 326 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (although for me it is much higher!!!)

Wikipedia describes the music on the album perfectly: “Disintegration is epitomised by a significant usage of synthesizers and keyboards, slow, “droning” guitar progressions and Smith’s introspective vocals. “Plainsong”, the album’s opener, “set the mood for Disintegration perfectly,” according to journalist Jeff Apter, by “unravelling ever so slowly in a shower of synths and guitars, before Smith steps up to the mic, uttering snatches of lyrics (‘I’m so cold’) as if he were reading from something as sacred as the Dead Sea Scroll.” Smith felt the song was a perfect opener for the record, describing it as “very lush, very orchestral”. The album’s third track, “Closedown”, contains layers of keyboard texture complemented with a slow, gloomy guitar line. The track was written by Smith as a means to list his physical and artistic shortcomings. Despite the dark mood present throughout Disintegration, “Lovesong” was an upbeat track that became a hit in the United States. Ned Raggett of Allmusic noted the difference from other songs: “the Simon Gallup/ Boris Williams rhythm section create a tight, serviceable dance groove, while Smith and Porl Thompson add further guitar fills and filigrees as well, adding just enough extra bite to the song. Smith himself delivers the lyric softly, with gentle passion.”

The lyrics are incredible, the music is other worldly and I just can’t describe how into this album I get as I’m listening to it. I love every second of this album and songs like “Pictures of You”, “Lovesong”, and “Disintigration” are just unreal.

And who doesn’t adore “Friday I’m In Love”? It comes on almost every night on the radio when I go to sleep and I get so happy everytime I hear it. I was in Bed Bath & Beyond a few weeks ago with two of my best friends when it came on the radio and we were all like, “wow, I really love this song.”


dEUS

dEUS is a rock band from Belgium. The band’s lineup has been somewhat unstable since their formation in 1991, but the current members include Tom Barman (1991-present), Klaas Janszoons (1991 – present), Stéphane Misseghers (2002 – present), Alan Gevaert (2002 – present), and Mauro Pawlowski (2002 – present). They have released 6 studio albums, but the one I am most familiar with is their fifth, Vantage Point, released in 2008. It is the first of their albums to retain the lineup of a previous album, and also the first of their albums to be recorded in their own studio at Borgerhout. Vantage Point was certified platinum and reached #1 on the Belgian charts.

The album has indie-, alternative-, and experimental-rock qualities to it. It is pretty chill. “Oh Your God” is an interesting track with incredible percussion and guitar parts and great vocals. It’s one of the more edgy tracks on the album. Vantage Point had 4 singles: “The Architecht”, “Eternal Woman”, “Slow”, and “When She Comes Down”.

I have their entire discography, but so far I have only really gotten acquainted with Vantage Point. I have high hopes for their earlier material and will definitely post more when I finally get a chance to take it all in!

Their website is pretty badass: dEUS


Barcelona

Barcelona is a band from Seattle. The band released their first album Absolutes independently in 2007 on their own label NBD Music. In 2008 they were signed to Universal Record. Absolutes was remixed and re-released with 4 new tracks in April 2009. Barcelona’s sound is piano-based rock. People often relate them to bands like Coldplay, though I think they are much better. I heard about this album through a friend and immediately fell in love. The majority of the album is pretty mellow, and many of the songs have incredibly simple but absolutely stunning harmonies.

By far my favourite track on the album is “First Floor People”. The opening chords are so hauntingly beautiful. This song really just puts me in this zone, and I find myself listening to it over and over again. It is melancholy, with a touch of hope. The vocals come in first with just the piano, and after the first verse, a light percussion comes in and this slowly builds intensity. Soon it is just the voice and piano again, only to have a similar re-entry of the soft percussion. Suddenly, the song picks up and the percussion is much heavier, and a wave of guitar and other instruments and melodies emerge, creating an intense wall of sound that is moving and powerful. I always get completely engulfed in the sound. The song ends with the music dropping to just the opening chords in the piano again, and the full circle effect is beautifully done.


Jagged Little Pill

There are certain albums that have a profound effect on one’s life, and for me Jagged Little Pill is one. Alanis’ American debut is in my Top 5 Albums list (a list with no particular order, soon to be told in full), and continues to be a staple of any social listening among my friends and I. Whenever I talk about Jagged Little Pill, the only word I can use to describe it is “perfect”. The music, the lyrics, and expression are all divine. From the very beginning the album is fueled by an intense resentment and frustration, which is very relatable to many. You Oughta Know is revered among my peers and the great expression of angst and the video a huge piece of nostalgia. Hand In My Pocket sings my life story – but then doesn’t it tell everybody’s? Jagged Little Pill is intensely personal and lyric writing by Alanis is just incredible. “I’m sad but I’m laughing/ I’m brave but I’m chicken shit.” – Hand in My Pocket really sings the dualities of life. “It’s like meeting the man of my dreams, and then meeting his beautiful wife”: Ironic – though often criticized for being a series of more unfortunate events than truly ironic (ironically enough) – is another favourite of anyone I have ever listened to the album with. Another thing I find incredible about Jagged Little Pill and Alanis in general is the phrasing of her lyrics. Nobody else could stretch out syllables to the contours or rhythms Alanis is able to without sounding ridiculous or unnatural, but somehow Alanis has a truly unique phrasing when it comes to the delivery of her lyrical content. I really believe that this is an album that should be committed to memory by all.

A little about Jagged Little Pill: the album is Alanis’ third album, although it is the first to be released internationally. It also scored Alanis 6 singles: You Oughta Know, Ironic, You Learn, Hand in My Pocket, Head Over Feet, and All I Really Want; and the album spent 12 non-consecutive weeks at number 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts. It was ranked one of the top selling albums of the 90s, and has now been certified Diamond. In October 2002, Rolling Stone ranked it number 31 on its Women In Rock – The 50 Essential Albums list, and in 2003 the magazine ranked it number 327 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album also holds a title in The Definitive 200 Albums list, in which it is placed at number 26. It held 1st position on the Australian, Belgian, Dutch, Finnish, New Zealand, and UK albums charts.

Just for fun: What is Alanis’ other hand doing?: Sporcle!


Alina Orlova

Alina is a newer find of mine from Lithuania. I am really enjoying her 2008 debut album: Laukinis šuo dingo. The album has been described as a collection of short piano-ballads, and indeed the piano is prominent and the songs are mostly 3 minutes – several under 2! Yet I don’t mind their brevity: I feel like she has something to say and manages to do it without feeling the need to repeat a chorus a thousand times or superfluously add bridges. And yet I am amazed that the 16 tracks can all be of such quality. Orlova’s voice is unique, and has an older-world sound to it. Music critics write: ” Orlova has a high-trilling voice and a unique line in exhilaratingly dark, Baltic folk pop”. The album also makes use of great instruments such as accordion and glockenspiel, as well as dark strings on many tracks. Many songs are haunting (Paskutinio Mamuto daina) and others have a dancing drive to them – Žeme, sukis greitai has great percussion behind it.  I am actually listening to this album for the first time at this moment and every track is a new pleasant surprise of unique phrasing, dark expressivity and instrumentation. I feel like I’ll be burning this album immediately!

(This is not an actual video but you can at least hear on of my favourite tracks, Vaiduokliai):