Cold Mailman have members of The Spectacle and Beyond the Fences, both of which have made appearances on this blog. “great”, you’re thinking, “another hard-hitting punk rock mammoth from Norway!” but you’re wrong. Cold Mailman are more easily compared to Kråkesølv and IHAB, also posted on this blog, and also from Bodø, Norway. unlike those two bands Cold Mailman have English lyrics, and so you may find them more easy to relate to if you’re not Norwegian. another band that you may or may not know, that are actually a fairly good comparison, are Lukestar – another band who Cold Mailman members used to play in. but before this name-dropping extravaganza gets entirely out of hand, let’s return to Cold Mailman themselves. playing guitar-rooted indie pop in 2011 (well, this album is from 2010, but OK) is a dangerous affair. in the ’80s and ’90s you were trying your best not to sound like every one else of your contemporaries, but nowadays you have to be wary of not only your contemporaries, but also the legacy of twee, shoegaze and straight up indie pop has built over the years. so Cold Mailman are a brave band. and, thankfully, they’re not only a brave band, but also a very good band. a brave Norwegian band who have figured out how to not sound exactly like The Smiths or Club 8 or [insert all other English '80s indie pop bands and all Swedish '90s twee bands here]. let me just go ahead and boldly declare right away: this album is FUCKING AMAZING. the opening track sets the standard. a dreamy and droning masterpiece that culminates in the almost pathetically self-loathing “beyond the sea / somebody’s laughing at the dice I rolled”, before spending a minute just soaring out of the ocean and into the sky, away, out of sight, out of mind before the next track, the stark contrast “Pull Yourself Together and Fall in Love With Me”, a track that is so different from the former, that it’s almost scary that these pieces fit so ingeniously together. still dreamy, still somewhat pathetic lyrics, but an upbeat pop song, with a much richer sound. and this is the main formula employed by Cold Mailman throughout this album. melodic and twinkly guitars, soft centred bass, upbeat but subdued drums, mesmerising and relaxed (male) vocals – sometimes vocal harmonies – sometimes female and male vocal harmonies. Cold Mailman are soft and relaxed at all times. even when nervously faltering into a noisy crash, like on “Fatal Conversation”. Relax is generally classifiable as twee (or just call it indie pop if you are one of those who hates the “twee” name with a fiery passion), but sometimes it makes an expanded journey to other soundscapes; e.g. oldies pop (“Salva Me”), droning (“What Now, Muhammed?”) and bluesy rock (“Back in Your Bed”). and though never quite recovering from how perfect the first two tracks really are, Relax is a truly inspiring album nonetheless, packed with high quality songs, performed with a believable dedication and love. soft and relaxed, but often overwhelmingly gorgeous. check this out.
archive for the ‘pop’ category
while recognising the greatness of Kråkesølv’s magnificent début Trådnøsting, there were certain drawbacks to it. the flatness of the mixing being the biggest one, and the prettiness being the second. but I understand now that my expectations were probably quite off. and I’m proven further wrong in my expectations for them to deliver as a jangly emo mess. with Bomtur Til Jorda (which translates to “Wasted Journey to Earth”, or something like that), Kråkesølv takes another step away from anything punk, and firmly plants their feet in the realm of radio-friendly and poppy indie rock. while I can’t pretend my musical leanings aren’t towards the messier side of things, I can still appreciate what Kråkesølv are doing here. the lyrical style Kråkesølv have always relied on is still dominant; part poetic, part stumbling over their feet in Norwegian. musically it’s fairly crisp and on point radio pop, with some minor hints at something more noisy, best illustrated on the riveting “Nordavind Mot Kalde Kinn” (“Northern Wind Against Cold Cheeks”), a track released prior to the album itself. apropos, I find it somewhat unfortunate that they released that very track prior to the album, due to it being a lot rawer than either of the other tracks, fuelling my ill-placed expectations, resulting in a somewhat disappointed first listen. thankfully, the songs grew. a lot. when I came to accept this album for what it was – a clear departure from their punk leanings, and a giant step towards radio pop – I found enjoyment in it. but it’s probably not coincidental that the songs that stand out in my opinion are the rawer and the more experimental ones, like the before-mentioned “Nordavind Mot Kalde Kinn”, as well as “Mannekeng” (“Male Model”) and “(Uten Tittel)” (“(Untitled)”). actually, this album is near perfect from the sweeping noisy mess at the end of “Romskipet Revideres” (“Revising the Space Ship”) through the absolutely gorgeous instrumental genius at the end of “(Uten Tittel)” (i.e. from the end of track 4 up to and including track 7). before and after this there are some great songs, no doubt about it, but that part of the album is infinitely superior and would be a brilliant effort on its own. sometimes me and my misled expectations kind of wish it were.
you guys remember that incredible emo band Vulture Culture, right? well, apparently they recorded their record in the basement of Dustin Dopsa. and apparently, he’s in the Toronto-based pop band Final Thought… and apparently they are strong believers in free music! what do you know, heh. so anyway, this is Final Thought. a Canadian pop band that’s somewhere between Angels & Airwaves, Fall Out Boy, 3OH!3 and Taking Back Sunday. now I only really like two of those bands (guess which ones!), but this mix works pretty great. it ends up being catchy vocal hooks over gentle guitar riffs, pleasant synth blip blops, soft bass lines, and upbeat drumming; a fairly generic and stereotypical pop rock sound. but Final Thought have some magic up their sleeves, and aren’t afraid to occasionally flash it, in order to stand out in a crowd – something they actually accomplish quite well. in such an otherwise stagnant and boring genre, it’s important to contribute with something fresh and genuine, and I feel like Final Thought do just that. with a little tongue in cheek lyrics and that good old trick of making really good tunes, this is a pop band that’s worth listening to. pay attention to these guys, because they might just be “the next big thing”. (and remember where you heard them first! ;) they will do everything they can to wrap you around their finger, so give them a chance! and tell all your friends to give them a chance as well. (did u c whut i did thur??? you’ll see once you get the track titles. it’s really “clever” and whatsitcalled “funny”.) download this!
I know rather little about this band, save for the fact that they’ve supposedly been harvesting some really positive attention in the scene over the last year, resulting in them being played on the radio. I also know that they are indie and that this album is for free download. and it’s really good. with vocals that at times are strikingly similar to Wesley in Boris Smile or Brandon Flowers of The Killers, and music that isn’t too far off The Killers either – I See Horses make you feel good with musical references to the ’80s, and bands such as U2 (their good songs) and Simple Minds, but with a very modern and relevant twist, like The Killers and Keane. but both the vocals and the music isn’t in any way stuck in a one way traffic lane, as it in all its versatility constantly change things up. while perhaps not particularly innovating or outstandingly original, this band is pure quality nevertheless. a breath of pop magic has been drawn. did you catch it?
if you just can’t get enough of Rover, here are two extra songs for you! the title of the opening track “Furious” pretty much sums it up, because compared to The Great Outdoors EP, these two songs are harder and far more straightforward rockers with more of that weird power metal influence. not that the influence itself is weird, but the outcome of power metal influence on pop rock is a bit weird. not weird as in awkward but as in unheard of. which is good. Rover has their own distinct sound which you should’ve learnt to appreciate by now. so get these two rocking tracks and learn how to further appreciate this great band. (yes, there are woah-ohs on this two-track, don’t worry.)
starting off with mid-tempo coldwave-tinged pop, you’d never recognize this as the new Lucid Dreams if not for the distinct vocals. however once the ultra-catchy pop rock chorus comes in and takes your breath away, you immediately know where you’re at again. Rover are Lucid Dreams albeit with some change of personnel. so what’s changed? well they are more diverse, for one thing. they experiment with more sounds and patterns, though still keeping the woah-oh pop rock core intact. this is not an abandoning of the sound displayed on Dark Rain Beautiful, only an evolution. where Dark Rain Beautiful on the surface was mostly upbeat rock songs or downbeat rock ballads, The Great Outdoors EP attempts to do more. Dark Rain Beautiful was detailed and diverse, but you had to pay attention and look for the elements hidden within. with this album here, it’s much more obvious. the incorporation of more dynamics and more piano/synth-focused mid-tempo coldwave-tinged pop rock songs doesn’t beg you to look for its hidden secrets. but for those of you who were more fans of the upbeat rockers of Dark Rain Beautiful than the power ballads, fear not. there are rockers here as well. including a remake of “Wings Orion”! so there’s plenty of goodness to satisfy every taste.
Brødrene Unstad makes acoustic indie pop that will satisfy fans of acoustic indie pop and no one else. if you are not yet acquainted with acoustic indie pop, Brødrene Unstad are a nice place to start. primarily relying on a guitar, a bass and two soft voices, this band is stripped down to the bare bones of cuddle rock. it’s still somewhat possible to tell that these two guys are from the Norwegian sensation Kråkesølv, especially on the brilliant guitar-driven passage on “Like tross store feil”, a sort of Jaguar Love cover. either way God steming på Blücher is a solid folky pop piece with some great ambiance and effective creation of atmospheres and well past “humorous” lyrics in Norwegian (including a brilliant rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Black or White”).
ultra-poppy alternative (like Taking Back Sunday not like Nirvana) with moogs. quite similar to Sherwood. a wee bit heavier though. and there’s something about this that reminds me of Weezer… anyway the EP’s titled “Brighter Sides”, and it is definitely an EP you want to listen to on bright summer days. it’s happy music with dancefloor potential. get in on this.
cozy rock with an acoustic guitar, a gentle voice and pwitty little sounds. a soothing and eerie journey through the emotional spectrum of the human being, you wouldn’t want to miss out on. some tracks are as calm as can be, some are upbeat and catchy, yet still cozy. there’s even some lengthy progressive pop tracks, that are quite good. the closer is in fact over ten minutes. get this.
this is a girl and a guitar and some other instruments. it’s as cozy as possible, without getting obnoxious. the guitars are kind of emo, and there’s some inventive drumming. also she has a nice voice. it’s very pwitty. download it and give it a go.