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A Very Listen Outside Eurovision

There’s so much more to say after two amazing weeks of music and friendship in Kyiv, but one of the things that struck me was how ‘listen outsidey’ the show was this year. All our non-English language songs qualifying for the Grand Final, our amazing winners Salvador Sobral and Luisa Sobral (we should start giving more credit to the songwriters!) and the edgy and uniquely Ukrainian interval acts from Ruslana, Jamala and Onuka. I’ll be going into the different aspects of the contest that gave it such a cool new flavour over the coming weeks, which I hope will help us all stave off PED together.

Back to Onuka: the version of VIDLIK performed with the NAONI orchestra prompted a rave in the Press Room on Grand Final night, and it’s been running around in my head ever since.

It’s going to be a great summer of music. Keep Listening Outside.

 

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Love Without Violins – The Gift

You have to promise me that you’re going to watch this one all the way to the end. The Gift come from Portugal and have been making arch, deeply alternative, extraordinarily visual rock music for ten years. Brian Eno is one of popular music’s most important thinkers. Both of them think in terms of grand artistic statements.

Incidentally, if you are interested in Brian Eno’s process and thoughts on the importance of creativity and expression, have a listen to this wonderful rambling Eno interview by Adam Buxton.

So I’m guessing that you just got to the end of the video (the part with the boobs in, seriously I told you to watch to the end) where they show you the incredible intimacy and ambivalent nature of the process of making the artworks featured in the video. Beautiful. Now, go and make some art yourself.

The Gift have a website

Brian Eno has a website

Skinny Legs – Elohim

Something totally out of the ordinary from Elohim. Skinny Legs is a cerebral audio journey through dance and ecstatic rhythms with extraordinarily tactile production touches for those of us who like a bit of ASMR in their music.

You might also enjoy Elohim’s lush, dreamy 2016 single Hallucinating.

Elohim is on Facebook (US tour dates there for those of you who can make it)

Elohim has a website 

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Venus Fly – Grimes & Janelle Monae

I wouldn’t normally recommend something by two immensely well known artists like Grimes and Janelle Monae, but I reckon that this song might be a bit too much of a challenging to the ear to get daytime Radio 1 play. I might be wrong?

Anyway, you should watch this video. Directed and edited by Grimes, featuring a wonderful array of physical effects and stunts shot in exquisite slo mo and the most incredible future-fashion that you can imagine. There’s also a GREAT bit with a violin, which should appeal.

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Nehéz – Meszecsinka

BLIMEY! Do you fancy some very intense Hungarian folk music? Meszecsinka have you covered.

I’ve embedded the whole album but I’m presenting to you the opening track Nehéz. Over the course of 5 minutes and 45 seconds, the song grows from a plaintive wail into an insistent, rocking drone, builds to a climax which sounds like a combination of Robert Plant’s yelps in Whole Lotta Love and Halle Berry accepting her Oscar. And then it gets more intense from there.

Meszecsinka are a really interesting band, who’ve been mixing up all manner of music traditions since 2009. The voice you hear is the sensational Annamari, who sings in seven languages and has such an incredible range of vocal textures and techniques. I would love to see this band live, and according to their website if I was in Sicily right now I could.

Meszecsinka have a website

Meszecsinka are on Bandcamp

Meszecsinka are on Soundcloud

 

Mick Pedaja – Hallo Kosmos session!

We promised you a high level of Mick Pedaja coverage, and here is some of that.

On Eeesti Raadio 2 (which I would say is arguably the world’s best music radio station) there is a very strange program called Hallo Kosmos where esoteric thinkers of all flavours are allowed to explain themselves in a judginess-free environment.

Now, this show had itself a birthday party at the start of June, and as part of that they had esoteric musical thinker Mick Pedaja doing a half hour set. If you want to listen to the set, go to 8:58 on the video in this link.  There’s a lovely version of Aeg, a new song in English that I didn’t recognise, and a version of Seis that is SLOWER THAN the Eesti Laul version.

Also, if you press the button marked “Laadi alla” you can download the whole show. Aitäh Raadio 2!

Mick Pedaja: Genius

Mick Pedaja. Photo: Felix Laasme

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Game on: Austria vs Hungary

I am beside myself with joy, as I bring to you two really very good songs from Austria and Hungary. Not only are these songs great, but they’re both taking the mickey out of the kind of toxic masculinity that ruins our lovely world. Austria’s alternative sports anthem Heavy Lipstick comes from the very smashing Johann Sebastian Bass. Hungary’s Belmondo bring their song I Am The Ultimate Leader to the party. The party thanks them.

Which of these mighty tunes did you prefer? Johann Sebastian Bass or Belmondo?

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Heavy Lipstick – Johann Sebastian Bass [Anthemic electropop that will enter your soul and gently buff it with rouge]

The Ultimate Leader – Belmondo [Skeletal 90’s house with a message. And a rap]

Game on: Ireland vs Sweden

It’s the first of our special absolute heavyweight matches here. Who could possibly conceive of trying to decide if Horse Outside, by Ireland’s Rubberbandits is better than Petra Mede and Måns Zemerlow singing Love Love Peace Peace, which might have won Eurovision without even actually being one of the competing songs.

This is going to be TOUGH.

Which country has the best song, Ireland or Sweden?

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Horse Outside – The Rubberbandits [Genuinely brilliant, from Ireland’s favourite cultural commentators]

Love Love Peace Peace  – Petra Mede and Måns Zemerlow [The platonic ideal of Eurovision songs, possibly genius. No, probably genius.]

 

Game on: Turkey vs Croatia

Day 3 of Euro 2016 and already it seems normal to spend every spare minute watching football and listening to fabulous music from around the continent.

Today, Turkey are being represented by Model, whose song Mey is currently in the Turkish Top 10 (we wrote about it before). Croatia are being represented by surf rock superstars The Bambi Molesters. No, wait, they’re really good!

Turkey vs Croatia: who has the better song?

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Mey – Model [Awesomely emotional Turkish rock balladry]

Invasion of the Reverb Snatchers – The Bambi Molesters [Smoooooth surf rock]

Listen Outside Genius: Mick Pedaja

Mick Pedaja: Genius

Mick Pedaja. Photo: Felix Laasme

Seriously. Let’s talk about Mick Pedaja.

It’s January. There was I, doing my musical research for what was shaping up to be a particularly gruelling Eurovision National Final season when suddenly I was transported to a parallel dimension by a song called Seis. It was unlike anything I’d heard. It was weird even for the Estonian song competition, Eesti Laul, which let mind-melting art-thrash weirdoes Winny Puuh compete alongside winsome ballad girls and credible indie.

Seis is a breathtaking moment of stillness – it forces you to slow down and concentrate on the sparse, beautiful arrangement and Mick’s otherworldly voice. After my initial exposure, I was so certain that the people of Estonia would rally behind Mick and send the slowest song of the modern era to Stockholm. Alas, it was not to be and so I resolved to find out more about this mysterious guy.

This is what I know: He’s got an EP/album Ärgake that’s available on UK Spotify which is also beautiful, but in a pastoral and leafy way as opposed to the big blast of cosmic knowledge you get from Seis. He’s also on Soundcloud where he posts the occasional track, makes older work available and has a very exciting stream of recommendations of his own.  I haven’t found a way of giving him serious money other than iTunes. Come on Mr Pedaja, let us buy some sort of limited edition triple disc heavy vinyl boxset.

Mick is on Soundcloud

Mick is on Spotify