Thursday, 25 June 2009

I travel and travel,I'll never come home

So I came back to France today,to the super news (thanks to Laura at EuropeCrazy) that Polarkreis 18's debut Allein Allein will be released in the UK next month,and is being played on Radio 2! This,on top of the fact that there was loads of Europop on the music channels at home last week makes me really happy indeed.OK so it was only Agnes,Star Pilots and Kate Ryan on telly,but you can't be choosy.And then there's Teitur on Radio 2 the other week,and the World Service a few weeks before that...For me it shows progress for the music scene in the UK- a country who I've musically ignored for a good 3 years now being sick and tired of all the indie clones who've invaded the charts and sat there festering for far too long.Maybe it's now safe to put the radio on again and tune it to something other than Radio 4?

I realise that European music of any kind will never make the same impact as the aforementioned indie clones and the endless stream of American tripe in the UK,but still,it's an exciting prospect.And on a geeky note,not since The Rasmus released In the Shadows in 2004 have I been able to say "I knew about them ages ago!" So yes,three cheers for Europop :)

And speaking of Polarkreis 18,here's my other favourite song of theirs- Tourist.This is a bit different to the album version- Felix doesn't do the "Ich bin nicht hier,ich weiss nicht wo ich bin" bit normally.But it's good.His voice is magic.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

It's Time for Regina!

Eurovision always leads to fab new musical discoveries- Dima K, Anžej, Írafár... And this year was no different. My band du jour are of course Regina, who did really well with Bistra Voda and 9th place in Moscow. Not only was it a lovely, moving song, but the guys themselves seem really nice from all the interviews I’ve seen. Davor particularly is very charming, and very funny too. And he speaks fluent German, which is always a plus as far as I’m concerned :)

Vrijeme Je (It’s Time) is Regina’s 10th album since the originally titled debut “Regina” in 1990. And actually, one of the songs on VJ (called Spavaj) is an updated version of the original which appeared on the debut album. I haven’t heard the new (and improved?) version yet, but the original is rather good. It does sound as old as it is, but I find it quite haunting, and the lyrics are very moving too. This is the one thing that bugs me a bit- I’m used to knowing what songs mean, whatever language they’re in. But in the case of Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian songs, there aren’t many translation resources around, which makes it a bit difficult. I did learn Serbian for a while, but that was 5 years ago and I’ve forgotten everything now, so have to go by the (rare) translations people put on youtube. But anyway, the songs on Vrijeme Je are still powerful enough to have an impact without knowing what all the words mean, which I don’t think can be said for all pop albums.

As you’d expect from a band who seem proud of their Yugoslavian roots (despite spending several years in various other countries during the civil war in the 90s), there’s a strong Eastern European feel to the album. There are all kinds of instruments going on- with a big emphasis on the strings that you tend to hear a lot in Balkan ESC entries- especially in Bježi dok sam Mlad (Run While I’m Young), one of my favourites (it’s also this song that made me realise how pretty the Bosnian language sounds), and also in Pazi gdje spavaš , a rather sexy affair that also contains copious 80s style guitars and a big shouty chorus. Pianos are also used a lot, especially in the beautiful, seemingly chillout song (until the big surprise intstrumental free-for-all at around 2.30) Snijeg (Snow). The good old accordion also features prominently in Bijele Zore (White Dawn)- which is a whole 5 minutes long and ends with an extended outing for the 80s power ballad guitars. I felt that BZ would have been a really good song to end the album with, but then I suppose that was always the natural place on the tracklist for the English and Russian versions of Bistra Voda.

Then of course, there’s Davor’s vocals, which always add an extra layer of loveliness :) Despite not knowing what many of the lyrics are talking about, you get the impression that it’s all very deep and that Davor means every word. He sounds passionate about everything- which I think you could also see from the performances at Eurovision. The title track Vrijeme Je is a break-up song from what I can gather- the choruses are angry sounding, yet when he sings the line “my heart still hopes, and searches for happiness... but always in vain,” it all sounds rather tragic. It’s a bit like a Bosnian version of Freunde Bleiben. Sort of.

Possibly my favourite of all the 13 songs is Sve Sto Imam (All We Have). I guess it should be quite forgettable really- it’s not really single material, and there’s nothing in particular about it that stands out enough to be remembered like the chorus of Zvaću te pile moje or the radio-friendliness of Koji ti je Sad. But it has a good, almost RnB like beat to it, and has all the range of instruments to make it sound exotic and eastern at the same time. Actually now I think about it, it’s a bit Prohor Shalyapin.

The album ends on the sad and moody ballad Ruzo Moja, followed by (as mentioned) the English and Russian versions of Bistra Voda- both of which are pleasant, but obviously not as good as the original (which, by the way, is track 3).
The first single from Vrijeme Je though, is track 1- (Zvaću te) Pile Moje, which makes a great opener to a great album. It’s fast, catchy, and sounds super on a proper sound system. Like all the others, it’s rather long at just under 4 minutes, but when you’re watching the video and are distracted by Davor who looks very yummy indeed, it seems over in no time. It’s a wonderful fusion of “typical” Eastern European and “typical” Western European pop, which I hope will win over some of the many Balkan music skeptics who are all over Europopworld these days.

Love is not just a word

I’ve had approximately 268 various computer problems in this last week, which means I've only just got round to listening to the previously mentioned Best Album of the Year. It may have been a bit premature to call it that after listening to only the first 3 songs, but it seems I was right. Am working on the review at the minute, but for now, here’s something completely unrelated but wonderful. I found it hidden in the depths of my old laptop’s hard drive last week.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Coming soon...

This week some time (hopefully),a review of the best album of the year will appear somewhere around here.I say hopefully because I haven't even listened to it all yet,but from what I hear so far,it's really rather good :)

Sunday, 7 June 2009

It's that time of year again

Isn't that the best cake in the world ever? I want it for myself.Anyway,yes,today marks the 2nd birthday of my (admittedly rather neglected) first child.So much has changed since June 2007 when WYM all started- most notably the arrival of Parlez-vous Europop,which has taken up most of my attention over the past 10 months as I've been out of the country and preferred to talk about me rather than keep up with European music.That said,I did discover some pretty wonderful songs and singers during my time in Germany.The same can't really be said for France though- I've tried but I'm just not feeling pop française.But anyway,I must be doing something right,the ever-wonderful Sitemeter informs me that I've had over 17,000 hits in the past year at least,which is a hell of a lot more than I expected.So thanks for visiting peeps! And by the way,I'm leaving France in just under 5 weeks,and when I get back home,I intend normal service to resume.Actually I do have a rather grand idea for this blog,but it's a question of time and resources that I don't have at the minute.But stay tuned.

Of course at the birthday of a music blog,one needs music,and so here's what is easily the best song that's come about since WYM started...