Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Listening to: Love Is All, "A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night"

It's been a while since I've posted any music recommendations here. That's because, first of all, well, who cares? -- but it's mainly because I just haven't come across anything new that I really, really love lately. During times like this it's my habit to fall back upon my reserves of 60s international pop and old Bollywood soundtracks to get me through. But clearly this tactic had run its course this time around, as the last couple of days have seen Gene Pitney's "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" playing on a constant loop in my head (which, for some reason, happens to me more than I'd like to admit).

Fortunately, A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night, the sophomore album from Gothenburg, Sweden's Love is All came along just in time, bearing enough aggressive infectiousness to eliminate any earworm that preceded it with extreme prejudice. The band combines an angsty, post-punk attack with a penchant for writing terse, manic pop songs with big shouty choruses. Singer Josephine Olausson is a high-strung, new wave yelper in the style of X-Ray Spex's Poly Styrene (a comparison that the band's incorporation of saxophone into their jagged, guitar-driven arrangements renders easy to make), but I can also think of other, less retro associations, as well. For instance, she also at times reminds me of The Knife's Karin Dreijer, though only if Dreijer, rather than being backed by icy electronics, was fronting a bunch of boys who sounded like they were trying to reduce their guitars to so many piles of bloody sawdust. A more obvious comparison would be Manda Rin of the late, lamented Bis -- which is probably not that surprising, given that Olausson and other key players in Love Is All have roots in 90s indie pop as former members of Girlfriendo.

Anyway, for a limited time, Other Music is offering a free download of the band's track "Wishing Well" to all and sundry. It's a great bit of fuzzed-out, frantic, race-to-the-finish-line bubblegum with a dourly amusing lyrical hook: "I threw my money in the wishing well/But nothing got better, only slightly wet." Ha!

If you'd like to sample the song in full, here's an impromptu video that the band shot for it while lounging around on some beach in Italy -- a circumstance that would make me hate them if their album wasn't so damn good.

In other music-related musings, I was saddened to learn last month of the breakup of The Long Blondes following their guitarist, Dorian Cox, suffering a debilitating stroke last August. They were a truly great band who, with two excellent albums under their belts, were just beginning to show the world what they could do. If you haven't checked them out yet, you owe it to yourself.

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