Eesti Laul 2018: The First Semi Final Drop

Ah, Eesti Laul. A gem of a Eurovision national final, with fabulous genre diversity and a genuine sense that we’re seeing the best of a small and largely interconnected music scene. Last year we covered Eesti Laul (Semi 1, Semi 2)  and ended up in the press room at Saku Suurhall doing interviews with the artists and having a great deal of fun being the pretend jurors in the dress rehearsal. I’ll be going again this year, and as I said in the Curtain Up post I’m particularly hoping that I’ll be talking to Iiris and Frankie Animal.

So, let’s have a go at the first songs. There’s a lot of tropical house derived stuff to get through… (Official Mission Statement of National Final Season 2018)

You can listen to the songs here.

Aden Ray “Everybody’s Dressed”

This one reminds me of a very stripped back Constellation Prize, but Aden has a vocal quality that I can’t quite warm to. With there being so many genre songs in this semi, I think it’s got a reasonable chance of getting to the final, but I worry about the stability of his high and breathy head voice live. If it won, it would need a big old revamp. You could put a distorted harmonica on it. Maybe.

Desiree “On My Mind”

Extremely young sounding Carly-Rae Jepsen type stuff. It’s got something tonally in common with Liis Lemsalu’s 2017 Eesti Laul song Keep Running. It’s got a bit of that post-dancehall vibe to it, but the beach that it’s making you think of is firmly on the Baltic coast.

Elina Nechayeva “La forza”

Sitting prettily between Randajad and La Voix, this is a lovely fusion of your shiny Scandi-Baltic electronic atmospheric pop synths with a soprano giving it some welly. I wouldn’t put it past the Estonians to send this in a fit of operatic pique. A reasonable outside bet. Also the the 7th Heaven Remix would be BANGING and you know you want that.

Etnopatsy “Külm”

If you liked Vihm last year, or you generally enjoy a bit of Baltic trad (and you’re gutted that Baltic won’t be competing in Latvia’s Supernova) then this is the one for you. An achingly slow burn with a haunting call and response melody. Next year at Eesti Laul songwriting camps can they get a folk artist to do a writing session with one of the electro/post-dubstep artists? I would love to hear those beautiful ornate vocals juxtaposed with some very grindy beats and a big drop. See oleks põnev.

 

Iiris & Agoh “Drop That Boogie”

A totally cute and sparkly song about the perennial millennial state of mind – the world is messed up, I am failing the generational expectations set for me by my parents, but I realise that success is a construct and so I’m going to drop that boogie and give the means of production a good old shake on the dancefloor. Iiris is a UK-based Estonian singer who I’ve had my eye on for a couple of years – her happy/sad banger ‘Stranger’ from the summer was one of songs of 2017 – and I really expect to see this in the final.

Miljardid “Pseudoprobleem”

Here we go with the slightly mathematical indie funk of Miljardid. It’s really, really sparse in the verses, has a lovely set of hooky backing vocals (which is useful for non-Estonian speakers to be able to get some sort of a grasp on the song) and a quite startling breakdown which stops the repeated final chorus from dragging.

Sibyl Vane “Thousand Words”

On this single the raw and bluesy edge that has characterised their previous work has been polished up into something a bit more friendly to the wider public ear. Thousand Words is a bit like a slightly more cheery Interpol, or an emotionally vulnerable Franz Ferdinand, with the shifting and chugging guitar lines propelling us along. I can imagine the live version of this will have a great deal of intensity and power, but Helena will have to walk the line between being true to her authentic performance style and adapting to work with the cameras.

Stig Rästa “Home”

Oh my word. It’s just before Christmas so I am maximally susceptible to a sentimental song in 12/8. This is probably . This festively cosy swayalong vibe is what Ed Sheeran was also going for he was doing Perfect. This is a very nice listen indeed. Wait. Does he sing about watching Game of Thrones? YES! Sleep on the balcony, watch a little GoT. Stig, you marvel. See you in the final. Although, I do have my concerns that this might sound too Christmassy to do well in March, let alone in May.

Tiiu x Okym x Semy “Näita oma energiat”

Starting off with some moderately epic sax tooting and then introducing Okym & Tiiu spitting filthy sounding moon language rhymes over a spacey, juddering interpretation of a post-dancehall beat. It’s a few bpm and decibels away from being Igranka, but you get the idea. They’ve also got Semy of Estonian Eurovision winners 2XL involved, so they’re pretty serious. I am also looking forwards to talking to Tiiu, who looks like she means business. In the intro interview, she’s towering over her bandmates, wearing studded baby pink latex, a decorative merkin/sporran arrangement made of pom poms and a demure expression. Yass, challenging fashion queen.

Vajé “Laura (Walk With Me)”

Weirdly downbeat song from the Estonian/Armenian duo. There’s something a bit Chris Rea about the guitar solo, and then something a bit Heroes about the bridge into the chorus. I am not a fan of the genre, but this is definitely a nicely executed version of the thing that this is, which is country influenced pop.

Die Mädchen aus dem Weltraum – Berry Lipman

Well. I bet you weren’t expecting this. While doing a spot of music research for the next Listen Outside radio shows over on Radio Six (Christmas specials!) I happened upon this and sat, listening, rapt for the whole hour.

This is the incidental music from a TV series called ‘Star Maidens’ or ‘Die Mädchen aus dem Weltraum’ which ran for 13 wild episodes in 1976. It is astonishingly groovy. The German language spoken word interludes and the lithe synths combine to illustrate the sexy, role-reversed retro-future that we used to look forward to.

The composer, Berry Lipman, has a discography stuffed with the sounds of shagpile and polyester shirts. Sadly, this seems to be his only TV compositional work. Imagine what the man could have done to late 1970’s Doctor Who?

Make yourself a gross 1970s cocktail (snowball? something with creme de menthe?) and enjoy this album. Especially Sex World, the greatest Bond theme never to have bonded.

Yellow – Mydy Rabycad

Like a jazz Goldfrapp, like a swing Human League, it’s Mydy Rabycad from Prague. They’re superb on record, and if the live videos are anything to go by, they’re a heck of a party. Yellow is their latest single, which is a bit more blues-inflected than their previous album Glamtronic. Give them a listen and get your jive shoes on.

Mydy Rabycad have a website

 

Take Him Back – Y’Akoto

Y’Akoto is a fantastic soul singer who I’m surprised isn’t HUGE all over the world. She splits her time between Hamburg, Paris, Stockholm, Los Angeles, Dakar, Accra and Lome – but I suspect that we’d like to hear from her in Glasgow, London and Manchester too.

She’s five years and three albums into her musical career, and her latest album Mermaid Blues weaves together mythological references, complicated emotions and allusions to the stories of refugees. She deserves to be massive. She’s currently on tour – catch her if you can.

Y’Akoto has a website

Y’Akoto is on Facebook

Video

Nature of Me – Michael Greilsammer

A particularly touching sub-genre of love songs is the love song from a father to his spouse once they’ve had children. The Nature Of Me is one of these – it’s got a quality to it that is at once anthemic and intimate, and Michael’s wife and long term musical collaborator Shimrit features on backing vocals.

You might remember Michael and Shimrit from the Israeli national Eurovision final in 2011, where they delighted us with Tou Dou Dou. If you don’t remember that, you should definitely check it out. In fact, check out all his work, it’s delightful.

Michael has a website. 

Michael is on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

Video

White Cars – Powernerd ft Ankathie Koi & Johann Martinus Bass

This song popped up while I was researching retro electropop diva (and Austria’s hottest ever mullet wearer) Ankathie Koi for the ‘Air’ show for Listen Outside On The Radio. I’m already very fond of Johann Sebastian Bass and I am a sucker for any form of homemade mirrorball costume, so this whole package had a huge raw appeal.

White Cars is a pure distillation of the aspirationally naff 80’s aesthetic, with the deliberately clunky video, the awkward extras and the beautiful deployment of a keytar vocoder. How fabulous!

If you like the more danceable end of Goldfrapp, or you were into Steed Lord, or you liked the Human League first time round, please get right into the work of Ankathie Koi. She’s a delight.

Here’s her Bandcamp.

 

 

Stay Awake EP – Bandmaster

Momentarily decloaking, I give you something that might take a couple of listens but will be very, very rewarding and actively make you cooler. Latvia’s Bandmaster are very much on the rise in 2017, doing Eurosonic Noorderslag at the start of the year and covering themselves with Baltic festival circuit glory.

Here’s the EP. For me the absolute standout tracks are Just Paddle (an excellent, spacey duet with EZERI) and Paper, Rock and Scissors which sounds like two songs playing simultaneously in the absolute best way possible. She Will starts off as a 90’s dancefloor banger and then gleefully wrongfoots you just when you’re expecting the drop. Hiding finishes the EP off with all sorts of difficult noises, squelchy noises and a synth solo line that begs to be played on keytar.

I like this, it’s good. You can definitely dance to it, but it’s like a 4/5 difficulty rating.

Bandmaster are on Soundcloud 

Bandmaster are on Facebook

Bandmaster also have this excellent music video.

Game On! The Netherlands vs Norway

It’s summer again and that must mean that it’s time for some international football. We’re celebrating the 2017 UEFA Women’s Euros with another set of Game On! posts.

First up, it’s the hosts The Netherlands vs Norway.

The Netherlands are represented by Amsterdam based dance duo Secret Rendezvous, with summery 90’s tinged anthem Don’t Look At Me That Way. Secret Rendezvous have been doing their thing for a few years now – if you like a chill dance vibe, check out their Soundcloud page.

Norway are represented by thoughtful and ecological trop house anthem ‘Save Tropical House’ by R.E.D.D and DL Marlene Martinsen. You’ll love the lyrics, you’ll love the message and you’ll love the bit where they repeatedly shout ECUADOR! Yes, they are comedians.

Does The Netherlands or Norway win the Women's Euro 2017 curtain raiser?

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