Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Subtle Changes

While offering an almost textbook example of classic indie pop done Swedish-style, Sambassadeur’s self-titled debut failed to really grab me. With its jangly guitars, sweet and wispy girl-boy vocals and melodies you could bob your head to it certainly had the right ingredients but for some reason it came off just a little weak for my tastes.

But with their sophomore album Migration, released in Sweden last year and officially out in North America as of this week, they’ve managed to tweak something – or maybe everything – just right because I was hooked from the first listen – the new songs have an extra oomph that makes them irresistable. From the glorious strings on “Subtle Changes” through the unabashedly ’80s danciness of “Final Say”, Migration manages to be both extroverted and demure at the same time, evidencing the wonderful stoicism that’s a hallmark of great Swedish pop and I find it goes great with the glitzier clothes. Does anyone else pick up on that or is it just me? Maybe it’s the accents.

Though the album has got US distribution, there’s no plans for any sort of Stateside touring. Labrador needs to put together some sort of traveling caravan with all their best acts and put them on a Summer tour. Call it the “Swedish Bikini Team” if they must. They’re doing it in Asia. But seriously. Come visit.

MP3: Sambassadeur – “Subtle Changes”
MP3: Sambassadeur – “Kate”
MP3: Sambassadeur – “New Moon”
MP3: Sambassadeur – “Between The Lines”
Video: Sambassadeur – “New Moon”
MySpace: Sambassadeur

And I can’t think about Swedish pop without checking in on The Radio Dept and… there’s nothing going on. They even made a blog post saying as much. The new album “is still TBA” and a gig scheduled for Thailand was cancelled. That’s all. Or course, that’s a torrent of news compared to their countrymen in Douglas Heart, who haven’t checked in in almost two years. Sigh.

The Cardigans are releasing a best-of compilation creatively titled The Best Of The Cardigans – it’s out January 30 in Sweden and March 18 in North America. The Swedish version is worth seeking out as it comes with a second disc containing two dozen b-sides and rarities. This will probably be it from Cardi-land for the next while as Nina Persson is working on a new A Camp album, hopefully out sooner rather than later this year.

eye features Ra Ra Riot, in town on Saturday night at the El Mocambo – the contest for passes to said show ends tonight at midnight.

Black Mountain-eer Steven McBean gives Ukula a song-by-song annotation of their latest In The Future, which was just released this week. The Georgia Straight also has a feature. You know, I’d never have thought they would really be my thing but I am actually quite digging the record. They’re at Lee’s Palace on March 4.

In town that same night is Steve Earle, though at the somewhat fancier Massey Hall. He’s just released the first official video from Washington Square Serenade.

Video: Steve Earle – “City Of Immigrants”

File this one under destiny – Sonic Boom, playing the Silver Dollar under the Spectrum name February 2, will also be doing an in-store the following day at… Sonic Boom, the store for which he is the namesake. That gets underway at 5PM and will be a proper band performance. Pitchfork has details on his plans for this year, including full tour dates and an EP slated to come out this Spring followed by a full-length later in ’08.

Spin invites Nicole Atkins to their offices – which between you and me look more like a college student’s loft – and gets a video of her performing “War-Torn”, acoustic-like. She’s at Lee’s Palace on February 17.

Billboard has details on Portishead’s first album in over a decade. Third will be out in the UK on April 14, North American release details still forthcoming.

By : Frank Yang at 8:31 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Gary Campbell says:

    Thanks for all the Swedish news. I agree that the first Sambassadeur full-length was missing something. A few individual songs were sensational, but as a record it fails to hold together. (I enjoy listening to it, but I never think to put it on.)

    Contrast that with Pet Grief by The Radio Dept. which pretty much never leaves my CD player.

  2. John Conway says:

    Hey Frank, I know you a big American Music Club fan, chech this out…


  3. Brett says:

    I’m loving the Sambassadeur. Thanks for intrducing me to them.