Artist: Moonbabies

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Alcoholic Faith Mission - Let this be the last night we careAlcoholic Faith Mission
Let this be the last night we care
PonyRec/Paper Garden Records


My first exposure to Alcoholic Faith Mission was quite pleasant, but, with the exception of a few tracks, it was not an enduring experience. Still, I knew there was something there, a delicate concept that had not fully formed on "421 Wythe Avenue". In my review I compared the group to acts such as Broken Social Scene and fellow Danes Slaraffenland, whose "Private cinema", while a far more ethereal work, is a kindred spirit of Alcoholic Faith Mission's gentle, yet driven take on pop music. I also noted that "There is a tragic beauty here, one that blends the emotional registers of Mixtapes & Cellmates and Moonbabies, yet remains quite distinctively an original construct, and it is this ingenuity that sets Alcoholic Faith Mission apart from many of their contemporaries." All of this remains true on "Let this be the last night we care", but the promising intimations are now fully realized -- while retaining the airy, spacious attributes of "421 Wythe Avenue", there is an anthemic, Arcade Fire-like quality permeating the compositions; for fear of waxing poetic, it is as though the intricate clouds of dust of their previous effort have found a way to manifest themselves in a more concrete fashion. "Let this be the last night we care" is brilliant -- engaging even at its most haunted and distraught moments, such as "Sobriety up and left"; moving even when playful; gorgeously layered and focused, all in the same breath. I have had the distinct pleasure of reviewing a number of very strong albums over the past few weeks, and still Alcoholic Faith Mission's stands out from the crowd. It's rare to stumble upon an album like this, one that is reminiscent enough of other acts as to be somewhat nostalgic and yet remains so markedly unique, capable of reminding us where we've been while concurrently functioning as our soundtrack to the present.
- Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

Festival report: CMJ 2009

Moonbabies @ CMJ

Updated show info for Moonbabies in NYC at CMJ:

10/22 - Pianos, BrooklynVegan Party (12 pm)
10/22 - Norwood Club, ExMS (10 pm)
10/23 - Crash Mansion

Sirius playlist week #41

Here's the playlist for this week's radio show Sirius XMU:

01. Bröderna Lindgren - Annan sort (feat. Britta Persson)
02. TALK 1
03. Rigas - Tonite
04. Sienna Root - The road to Agatha (Ahir Bhairav)
05. The Gentle Act Incident - The city doesn't know me
06. Asha Ali - Hurricane
07. TALK 2
08. Agent Side Grinder - Die to live
09. Moloken - My enemy
10. Boys of Scandinavia - Good looking
11. TALK 3
12. Sivert Høyem - Moon landing
13. Moonbabies - Take me to the ballroom
14. The Movements - Save me
15. TALK 4
16. Mikkel Meyer - Tunge (feat. Non)
17. Sahara Hotnights - Impressed by me
18. Samuraj Cities - The weekend is almost over
19. TALK 5
20. Adjagas - Mánu rávdnji

Reminder: my show airs every week on Sundays and Mondays at 11pm ET on Sirius XMU. That's channel 26 on Sirius, 43 on XM and 831 for DirecTV subscribers.

Sweden at CMJ 09 - Turning the Market Around: Creative Dialogues for Stepping up the Game

If you're going to CMJ or will happen to be in NYC in late October, the Consulate General of Sweden and Export Music Sweden are once again teaming up for a series of panel discussions on the current state of the music industry and yours truly will be there. Read more and register (free) here:
NYC friends who care to hang out and/or show me + my wife around are encouraged to get in touch! And as for the showcase, artists slated to appear include Hajen, Francis, Sofia Talvik and Moonbabies.

Kulturradet Bidragsbeslut (Swedish cultural grants)

If you're curious about what Swedish artists are receiving state funding this year, the latest recipients are now listed:
Nice to see that Moonbabies are coming to NYC in October! And new music from Junip on the way?

Alcoholic Faith Mission - 421 Wythe AvenueAlcoholic Faith Mission
421 Wythe Avenue


Denmark has established itself as a sanctuary for offbeat pop musicians. I was easily won over by Slaraffenland's "Private cinema" and Larsen & Furious Jane's "Zen sucker", to name just a few, and it is within this eccentric, peripheral vein of pop music that Alcoholic Faith Mission exist. On "Gently", which begins (and continues on as) a lavish, beautifully layered composition, a female vocalist delicately sings: "Just 'cause I'm a whore, you know it doesn't mean I don't feel it when you fuck me." This strange juxtaposition of the beautiful and the base continues on in the next track, "Nut in your eye", a track that by name alone should be on a throwaway hip-hop album, but in substance falls not too far from the realm of Broken Social Scene. "421 Wythe Avenue", while moving away from the resplendent/sexual parallelisms, continues on musically in much the same way as the opening tracks -- ethereally layered electronic elements and vocals, solid acoustic and electric guitar work, all tethered to shifting centers and uncertain musical landscapes. There is a tragic beauty here, one that blends the emotional registers of Mixtapes & Cellmates and Moonbabies, yet remains quite distinctively an original construct, and it is this ingenuity that sets Alcoholic Faith Mission apart from many of their contemporaries.
- Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

Moonbabies live, on video

Moonbabies posted a recent 25-minute live clip for viewing at their website:
No new material to preview unfortunately, but the songs featured are all hits as far as I'm concerned.

Burning Hearts - Aboa sleepingBurning Hearts
Aboa sleeping
Shelflife Records


Everything about Burning Hearts just seems to fit - from the beautifully conceived cover art (that reminds me of the early dust jackets of Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's cradle") to the whirling swells of pop instrumentation that provide the landscape for Jessika Rapo's voice (one that wonderfully channels Nico at times) to glide along. There is a twee playfulness reminiscent of Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura, but Burning Hearts are very much a collaboration that could only have come together in Scandinavia. Opener "I lost my colour vision" exists somewhere between Club 8 and Moonbabies, and "Aboa sleeping" continues to transverse this Nordic territory throughout with a dexterity that only echoes certain bands, Granada and The Chrysler among them, without feeling weighed down by their influence. "Aboa sleeping" is a lavishly imagined pop album, one where my favorite tracks has shifted almost every listen. There is one stumble on the record, however - the strangely conceived "The galloping horse" was removed from my iTunes quite quickly (I can only listen to the sound of heart arrhythmia and a narrator from a 1950s-style medical instructional film played over an arpeggiated synthline so many times). Stumbles and arrhythmia aside, "Aboa sleeping" is one of the best albums Shelflife has put out, and Burning Hearts have proven themselves one of the strongest members of a very strong label roster.
- Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

Moonbabies add date in Switzerland

Updated Moonbabies dates for next week:

04/02 - Die Box, St Gallen (CH)
04/03 - K4, Nürnberg (GER)
04/04 - Vortex, Siegen (GER)

Two Moonbabies gigs set for early April

Moonbabies will be taking a break from working on their new album to play a couple shows in early April:

04/03 - K4, Nürnberg (GER)
04/04 - Vortex, Siegen (GER)

Swedish duo Moonbabies are now firmly established in their new German home and have revamped their website:
They've also started a blog to follow along as they work on their next album with all sorts of bonus downloads and more:

Moonbabies will do two shows this coming weekend, the last they'll be doing for a long while as they plan on taking a break to create a new record:

08/22 - Studenterhuset, Copenhagen (DK)
08/23 - Park-Aid Festival, Schenefeld (GER)

King of All the Animals - Paper beats rockKing of All the Animals
Paper beats rock


I've always held a soft spot in my heart for Tigerbombs, mostly as a damned fun summer band, though Pepe Trouble's solo act took me by surprise: not only in solidifying his songwriting amongst the strongest summer-pop work out there, but also by branching out his pop craftsmanship along more serious avenues. With a truly all-star Scandinavian cast, including Astrid Swan, Samae Koskinen (of Sister Flo), and Sweden's The Mopeds, amongst many, many others, King of All the Animals is a talented collection of tried and tested musicians, and "Paper beats rocks" is even further testament to this statement. Instead of the Caesars (Palace)-like tact that Tigerbombs adopt -- chock full of rock organ hooks and fills -- King of All the Animals is a much more typically Scandinavian pop group. "1000-mile-heartache" feels like it fell straight out of a 80s coming-of-age film, a Modern English vibe wrapped around an almost Shout Out Louds-type delivery. "Everything burns red" bristles with perfect guitar hooks and the layered, saturated approach that Moonbabies have perfected. There are a few stumbles on the record, all of which are easily forgiven (and almost more easily forgotten as one become more familiar with the album), and none of which even mildly threaten to derail this proficient and entertaining work. Listen to "The Cologne beat" and you'll know exactly where all my excitement for "Paper beats rock" comes from.
- Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

MP3: The Opium Cartel - Flicker girl

One of the perks of running this site that I enjoy most is developing relationships with artists I admire. It's not just interacting via email interviews, but moreso the conversations that go on off the record. Stuff like talking Broder Daniel with Gustaf Kjellvander or even shooting the shit with the dudes from The Swedish Model, discussing the future of physical products. Of course, it's always about the music in the end and so when I get a chance to peep in on the creative process, that's always the best. I'm not much a collector of b-sides and alternate mixes for the most part, but sometimes that really is the best way to get inside an artist's head to see how they work. Moonbabies are a great example -- their songs go through so many variations before arriving at the finished product and it's amazing to hear how many different ways a single piece of music can be expressed. Another great example is Jacob Holm-Lupo and his current project The Opium Cartel. Like Moonbabies' Ola Frick, I get the impression that Jacob labors endlessly in the studio, adding endless layers of instrumentation until he can finally realize the symphony in his head. Ah, the double-edged sword of modern technology! So naturally, when presented the opportunity to share a work-in-progress from him, I gotta jump on it.

If you remember the previous Opium Cartel track I posted last September, this one mines similar territory, though is a bit quieter/folksier. I still hear a bit of the same dark, atmospheric vibe that's in all of Jacob's work dating back to White Willow, however the guest vocals from Rachel Haden (currently on tour with Todd Rundgren, believe it or not) push it closer to Kate Bush avant-pop territory. It starts off twinkly, but slowly progresses into, well, progressive territory. This mix isn't even close to refined so I'm sure the finished version will be even bigger (Jabob: "None of the TOC tracks have actually been mixed yet, and this one suffers a bit from that, as it has like a million tracks"), but it's pretty damn good as-is, so listen up and let your mind fill in the blanks for its as-yet untapped potential. The song and the main melody are in place and that is what's most important.

Errata: the lineup for this recording is Jacob and Rachel plus frequent collaborator Mattias Olsson (Pineforest Crunch, Molesome, etc.) and flautist Ketil Einarsen (Jaga Jazzist). Expect a late 2008/early 2009 release.

The Opium Cartel - Flicker girl (ft. Rachel Haden)