Thursday, May 21, 2015

Annie Woodward: The Drifter

Born in Sweden to a Scandinavian mother and an American father, Annie Woodward began singing and playing the guitar a year ago. Her debut full-length 'Two Faces on a Clown' was released in March of this year. Like all of the twelve songs, the excellent opening track "The Drifter" was written and recorded while traveling around the U.S. for the better part of 2014.

Woodward has two shows scheduled for this month and next month: May 30 she has a gig at a to-be-announced location in Rome as part of the ongoing Sofar concert series. June 6 she will be performing at this year's Musikkfest in Oslo where she is currently based, playing with a full band in addition to writing and directing theatre.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

First Aid Kit: America + Stay Gold

Last week Swedish duo First Aid Kit did a superb cover version of Paul Simon's timeless song "America" on the David Letterman Show to great applause. In their native Stockholm in 2012 they performed the same tune at the Polar Music Prize award show with the composer himself sitting in the front row (next to his wife, fellow singer-songwriter Edie Brickell.) The whole thing must surely have been an almost surreal experience for Klara (born 1993) and Johanna (born 1990), but the Söderberg sisters handled it with grace and maturity beyond their years.

Their latest video, accompanying the excellent title track from their third full-length 'Stay Gold', was published last year, the same year the album was released.

An extensive European and North American summer tour kicks off on June 11 in Bergen, Norway; most of the dates are festival gigs, including Isle of Wight June 14, Roskilde July 4, Newport Folkfest July 26, and Central Park Summer Stage July 27, to mention a few of the prominent ones. As is usual for their live shows, Johanna (vocals/synth) and Klara (vocals/guitar) will be joined by Melvin Duffy (pedal steel guitar) and Scott Simpson (drums).

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Patrick Watson: Places You Will Go

Canadian band Patrick Watson has a new full-length entitled 'Love Songs for Robots' coming out May 12 and last week the Montreal quartet published a simple, fun video for the excellent album track "Places You Will Go"; it was directed by Clyde Henry Productions.

The guys are currently on tour in Europe, but return to North America May 23 for a string of shows, starting in Toronto. Several summer festivals in Canada and the UK have also been scheduled in July and August.

NOTE: As often happens, there is a discrepancy between the list of concerts announced on Facebook and on Songkick, so make sure to check both links.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hey Elbow: Ruth + Martin

The eleven-track debut full-length 'Every Other' by Swedish trio Hey Elbow dropped last month. So far they have nine European shows scheduled including a June 30 performance at the Roskilde Festival. (NOTE: the full gig list was announced on April 30 on Facebook.)

The two videos accompanying the stellar tracks "Ruth" and "Martin" compliment the playful sound masterfully created by members Julia Ringdal (vocals/guitar), Ellen Petersson (horns/electronics) and Liam Amner (drums) in their mad scientist lab in their hometown of Malmö.

"Ruth" was directed by Freja Andersson; "Martin" by Elvira Varghans and Maja Li Härdelin.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Seinabo Sey: Pistols At Dawn + Hard Time + Younger

Since 2013 the word has been slowly but steadily getting out beyond Scandinavia about artist Seinabo Sey. Raised in Gambia as well as Sweden and now based in Stockholm, she was blessed with a stunning, rich, and highly distinctive voice. Top this with exceptional soundscapes created by her fellow Swede, acclaimed producer Magnus Lidehäll as well as very strong material written or co-written by Sey herself and you have a triple threat that rivals the best in the business, including her biggest musical influences Erykah Badu, Lalah Hathaway, and Lauryn Hill.

Two stellar EPs have been released so far. Named after her Swedish mother and her late Gambian musician-singer father, the six-track 'Madeleine' (2014) and the four-track 'Maudo' (2015) offer up outstanding genre bending songs that immediately commands the listener's attention and stay with you long after the last note has faded.

This month and next month Sey returns to the UK and the U.S.; about a dozen shows are scheduled. She will will also be performing at a few festivals in the UK and in continental Europe this season. First up however is a headliner gig May 13 in Frankfurt.

The gorgeous videos accompanying the three sublime tracks "Pistols at Dawn", "Hard Time" and "Younger" wisely feature the charismatic Sey herself; all three are composed of stirring imagery that fully compliment her powerful vocals. The three clips were directed by Christian Larson (Sweden), Casper Balslev (Denmark) and Gustav Johansson (Sweden), respectively.

An excellent interview with Sey was published in Swedish magazine Nöjesguiden in March; it was conducted by its editor-in-chief Amat Levin. (NOTE: Though far from perfect, the various instant translation services available on the web will provide non-Swedish readers a better-than-nothing alternative.)  (her first EP)   (both EPs, iTunes Denmark)