Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

La Fouine

La Fouine is a French rapper I stumbled upon in my recent quest for expanding my French hip-hop collection. He released his first album, Bourré au sonin 2005. His second album, Aller-Retour, was released in 2007. I haven’t been able to get a hold of the first, but I do have Aller-Retour,  and it is a great album. One of my favourite tracks on the album, “Tombé Pour Elle” features Amel Bent, who is my absolute favourite French artist! =) La Fouine also released Mes Repères in 2009 and his newest album, La Fouine vs. Laouni, in 2011. This latest album was inspired by his dual personalities: the first one La Fouine, character he created for “entertaining people; La Fouine is very cunning, materialistic, bad boy and so vulgar … it’s not really me”. The second one Laouni (his real name) is about things he lived in his youth; here his rap is sincere and moving. The week of album’s release, more than 25,621 copies were sold in France, A major feat for a hip hop artist. He has also his own label “Banlieue Sale Music” and his own clothing line called “Street Swagg”.

 

Between albums, La Fouine has released 5 mixtapes, which I think are my favourites. I have listened to both volumes of Capitale du Crime which were released after Aller-Retour and La Fouine vs. Laouni respectively. The mixtapes have some absolutely amazing collaborations with other great artists, and the styles are so wonderfully varied. It’s a true smörgåsbord for the ears!  I wish I knew more about him but check out his music and watch some of his videos! (He actually has a ton!)

And of course check out his website: La Fouine

 

 


ZE:A

One of my best friends, Kelsey, was over recently and asked if I had some Asian music we could listen to. Sadly I realized I was greatly lacking in my J- and K-pop! I was immediately on a hunt to expand my music library and I started with K-pop. How did I not have this music in abundance? One of my biggest guilty pleasures is 90’s boy-bands: N*Sync, Backstreet Boys, 5ive, L.F.O., 98 Degrees, and, my favourite, O-Town; and K-pop is littered with magnificent boy-bands! One of my favourite finds thus far has been ZE:A (formerly known as Children of Empire), a 9-member boy-band from South Korea. The group came out in 2010 and has released many singles and mini-albums (common in Asian countries) and have so far released one full album, Lovability, in 2011, which had many songs from their singles and mini-albums as well as some new ones.

The group has also released several mini-albums and singles in Japanese, and have also released several live DVDs which I would love to get my hands on! One thing I’ve always loved about foreign music is how artists are rarely limited to one language. Many artists in in non-English speaking countries frequently switch between their native language and English, and often in the same song. I love this! The most free dual-language music seems to come from Asia, particularly Korea and most notably Japan. It’s so amazing how seamlessly it can flow and how much it can enhance a fun song!

I was unable to find any official websites that were in English and I am definitely lost in Korean, but here is there official English Youtube channel: ZE:A


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!!!)


Bass Down Low

So I’m at the gym the other night, when this song comes on. Even though its been out for a while yet, I haven’t heard it (I only listen to the radio at night when I sleep and its on an “alternative” station) and my friend Tervel remarks that even though he hates this song, it would probably be amazing with some serious bass. So I come home, find this video and crank my sub-woofer. All I can say is this song and this video is soooo stank. It has definitely become my stank jam. That being the said, I hope anyone who sees this video is inspired to develop their stank selves. ‘Cause this is real. 


Flying Steps

I am still completely blown away by my first Eurovision experience; not only were the competing songs amazing, but so were many of the acts used to fill the time while the votes were being counted. Flying Steps filled that space during the second semi-finals and it was something completely different. They were formed in 1993 by Kadir Memis and Vartan Bassal, and the group has 9 members. They have taken first place in at least 10 major break dancing competitions between 1994 and 2008. They are widely considered one of the most successful urban dance groups in the world.

Their performance during this year’s Eurovision was nothing shy of fantastic. Their choreography was to all classical music, starting with one of my absolute favourite preludes from Das Wohltemperierte Clavier, Buch I: the prelude in C minor – accompanied by solo harpsichord. They continued to dance to some incredible remixes of Bach, including excerpts from the famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor.  I love classical music, and it has been such a huge part of my life, but one thing I hate about being in classical music academia is the narrow mindedness. I have always thought that classical music lends itself so well to modern expression that I think one of my all time favourite genres or styles of music is what I call “classical-fusion” – a perfect example being this remixed Bach (many more artists of this genre will surely be posted soon!).

Flying Steps‘ website.


LaFee

Christina Klein is better known by her stage name: LaFee. She is a German singer/songwriter who is pretty big in German-speaking countries. She has released 4 albums to date, three in German and one English album in 2008. In 2009 her fourth studio album, Ring Frei was released in Germany, peaking at #6 on the German charts, and #5 on the Austrian. It’s a great album for sure. The first couple of tracks have music that sounds like dark German heavy-rock/symphonic metal, and it’s supa-awesome. Something about it is so Germanic! I love the percussion throughout the album and the guitars are also amazing. The title track and single, Ring Frei is probably my favourite track on the album. Angst is a softer symphonic ballade kind of song.

The whole album has some really great instrumentation. Tracks like Nur Das Eine have wonderful piano parts and others like Angst have great string parts all mixed with a heavy rock percussion and guitars. This is another album I constantly finding myself totally rocking out to in the car. I don’t even know how to begin to explain the music so watch some videos and listen!

And of course you can check out her website: LaFee aber es ist auf Deutsch!


Frankmusik

Frankmusik is an electro-pop musician from Britain. Frankmusik started out as a beat-boxer under the name Mr. Mouth. He released his first EP Frankisum in 2007. In January and February of 2009 he was the support act for Keane on their Perfect Symmetry tour in the UK, and in June he was the opening act for Pet Shop Boys in London, Manchester, and Liverpool. His first album, Complete Me was released in August 2009 and had several  singles including: 3 Little Words (an amazing track!), Confusion Girl, and Better Off As Two which is my favourite track on the album. The album peaked at 13 on the UK pop charts.

The music on the album is unabashedly electro-pop and I love it! Its catchy, dance-ready, and just fun! Frankmusik has also remixed many popular artists’ songs, like Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse, Pet Shop Boys, and Alphabeats. I definitely recommend Frankmusik to anyone who likes Euro-Electro-pop! Check out his website: Frankmusik

And the video for 3 Little Words is great! Love the light up piano dancing! Woot woot!


The Kooks – Naïve

The Kooks are an indie-pop band from Brighton, East Sussex in the UK. The band describes themselves as “pop” and their music is primarily influenced by the 1960s British Invasion movement and post-punk revival of the new millennium. They have experimented in several genres including rock, Britpop, pop, reggae, and ska, at times being described as “a less severe Arctic Monkeys”. One thing is for certain, their songs are catchy as hell and Naïve is my absolute favourite! Naïve is off their debut album Inside In/Inside Out, which was released in in 2006 and went quadruple platinum in the UK, as well as 2x platinum in Ireland and platinum in Australia. One of four singles from the album, Naïve is their most successful single to date. I wish I was more familiar with the album itself and more of their music, but I haven’t had a chance to get a good listen, but Naïve is a must-hear if you don’t know it!

The Kooks

I think this is just an amazing song. I listen to it in the car all the time and completely rock out. The lyrics and melody are simple but incredibly catchy. I think it’s so well written the way the music builds each verse/chorus. The percussion entrance gets me every time and the deliverance of the lyrics is just perfect. Lily Allen also did a cover of the song on the Jo Whiley Show which is pretty fantastic.


The Gotan Project

I absolutely love tango music, I find it amazingly sexy, and trip-hop is probably my favourite genre ever, so when the two are fused together as perfectly as done by The Gotan Project, I am in ecstasy. Based in Paris, the project consists of Phillipe Cohen Solal (from France), Eduardo Makaroff (Argentina), and Christoph H. Müller (Switzerland). The band formed in 1999 and their first album, Le Revancha de Tango is still one of my favourites (although I am not terribly familiar with the latest few). The music is a brilliant synthesis of traditional tango elements with elements of samples, beats, and breaks. It has a chill vibe all the while something about it just seethes sensuality. Many of the vocals have that early-radio/vinyl kind of quality, giving it a haunting sound that brings me into a dark world of smoke-filled tango halls in Buenos Aires. There are amazing moments of bandoneón, piano, and strings throughout the album, and there are remixes and sampling of many beautiful traditional tangos, all with an incredible trip-hop life to them. Santa María (del Buen Ayre) is among my favourite tracks on the album. Be sure to check out their website and other albums!

The Gotan Project