... in honour of the magnificent show I went to last night, I present two albums for your listening pleasure.
The first is "Ta Det Lugnt". This album, released in 2004 by Swedish psychedelic rock group Dungen, hearkens back to music of the same genre that was released in the 60s and 70s at the same time that it is truly remarkable and innovative. I could talk about it a whole lot more, but instead, I'll present you with my two favourite tracks off the album, Panda and Festival.
Dungen does have one weakness, shared by a great many psych rock bands: they're a bit boring on record. For a band whose music relies so heavily on vocal melodies, they play an awful lot of instrumental stuff, which is not necessarily bad except that it can get a bit dry and same-sounding after a while. Each song on its own is a gem, but put them all together and the impression fades a bit, particularly given that they're pretty much all over 5 minutes in length. I'd say that this is an album best savoured in pieces, though that could be just my own personal impression, I don't know. One thing I can now say is that they're simply amazing live, much better than on the album, so if you ever get a chance, I highly recommend attending a show of theirs. They're energetic, talented, and they make a whole hell of a lot of noise. Great fun.
My absolute favourite tracks: Panda, Sluta Följa Efter, Tyst Minut, Jämna Plågor (in short, the bonus tracks are pretty much the best part of this).
What to listen for: the vocals, of course. The bass. Those drums!
The second album I'd like to offer is Fleet Foxes' lovely 2008 eponymous record. Their music is in most ways radically different from that of Dungen - often soft, more folky than rocky, acoustic and soaring, though still often rollicking and fun. They are, however, bands who go quite well together, as I discovered last night, perhaps because of their shared ability to write damn good vocal melodies. That shouldn't suggest, again, that they are musically uninteresting - quite the opposite. It is undeniable, however, that what stands out most is that honeyed tenor, and the beautiful harmonies that float behind it. Again, I'll let the music speak for itself. Two of my favourite tracks rolled into one (yes, it's live, and yes, the cameraman does feel the need to sing along occasionally, but when he shuts his damn mouth it's pretty amazing - though of course this crappy recording can't remotely capture what it's like actually seeing them).
Simply lovely. I have to admit I wasn't expecting too much from them live, certainly not after Dungen blew the roof off, but when they first began playing, I got gooseflesh. Like Dungen, they're much better live than on record, though this record is pretty damn strong on its own. I recommend them both highly, of course, but if you're going to take just one (and assuming you actually like this sort of music), this'd be it. No doubt that it does have its weak points, but they're more than forgivable. All in all one of the most beautiful albums you're ever likely to hear (only one of; Sigur Rós' "Takk..." and "Ágætis Byrjun" still top that list).
My absolute favourite tracks: White Winter Hymnal, Your Protector, Blue Ridge Mountains, Ragged Wood.
You can download Dungen's "Ta Det Lugnt" here
, and Fleet Foxes here