Songs From Other Countries

Got Rdio?
October 27, 2012, 4:09 pm
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Most of my friends have probably heard me sing the praises of Rdio so much that they’d think I get a commission. I don’t. I just really love everything about it — its UI, its perfect merging of social and music discovery, and especially the fact that it’s introduced me to so much great new music.

If you’re on Rdio I invite you to follow me (code name esKIMo), or at least check out the new Songs From Other Countries playlist where I frequently add my favorite tunes from France, Sweden, Spain, and beyond. And as always, if you have any music to suggest please get in touch at songsfoc at gmail dot com. Enjoy!


Tim Burgess Breaks My Heart (in the very best way)
October 4, 2012, 11:40 am
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Years ago (20, to be exact), I was into a band from the UK called The Charlatans (or The Charlatans UK to those of us on this side of the pond). A quick look at the band’s Wikipedia page clued me in on the fact that they’ve had many albums since 1992’s Between 10th and 11th, but that’s the only record of their’s that I remember owning. I loved that record though; it was danceable, catchy, and fun, and featured snotty British vocals courtesy of one Mr. Tim Burgess.

Fast forward 20 years and I’m browsing Rdio looking for new releases. It was a pretty slow Tuesday, with nothing much catching my eye (and ears) other than new releases from The Mountain Goats and Beth Orton, both of which I had already heard. Then suddenly, like a beacon in the night, there was Tim Burgess. OK, maybe it wasn’t quite like that. But something about the album cover caught my attention, as well as the title (Oh No, I Love You). The artist’s name seemed slightly familiar but I couldn’t place why. I clicked play. I won’t say I was instantly blown away, but something kept me listening. By the end of the record I was pretty much obsessed. To my ears, there’s not much better than combining a British croon with country-tinged music. Burgess does just that, along with tapping into a 60s-ish, Bacharachian feel at times (quite a departure from The Charlatans), no doubt thanks in part to the influence of Kurt Wagner of Lambchop, who wrote the lyrics for the record. (Check out an in-depth and very interesting interview with the two of them over at The Quietus.)

Do your ears a favor and give it a listen; if you’re not sold at first, stick with it through the third track, “A Case for Vinyl,” which breaks my heart every single time. It wouldn’t have been a bit out of place on Beck’s brilliant Sea Change, if that gives you an idea of its tone. Truly beautiful. Mr. Burgess, welcome back into my musical life. It’s been far too long.

The Shh – “So Over”
October 1, 2012, 11:01 am
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From somewhere between the city of Paris and island of Malta hails The Shh, who wins with a great band name and even better pop tune. “So Over” packs a heck of a lot of punch into a mere three-and-a-half minutes, covering indie rock, surf, and “Summer of Love” territory with their guy/girl vocal melodies. The band is truly going global, with a recent Japan release and airplay on MTV Japan. Great stuff; listen for yourself over at Soundcloud or check out their debut EP, The Burning Love, over at CDBaby.

Let’s Do This!
September 3, 2012, 2:44 pm
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Firstly, apologize to the few fans of this blog for abandoning it over the last few years. It’s back!!! This was always my favorite of several blogs that I’ve started and stopped over the years. I fell in love with the idea of sharing music and art from other countries a few years back while running my label eskimo kiss records (you can read the full history here if you’d like). While I never actually released any music from anyone outside the U.S., I’ve always tried to promote good music from other countries whenever I can. This blog is a way for me to continue to do that.

SO… without further adieu I bring you “Let’s Do This,” the new EP from Berlin’s Bark Bark Disco, who I profiled back in 2010. The new EP continues what they started with four very catchy, garage-influenced indiepop tunes. I get a Concretes vibe from some of this, due in part to the production. This is a very good thing. Seriously awesome stuff, my favorite being the third track “Give Me Back My Heart,” which makes me chuckle because I misheard at first as “Give me back my pants.” Hee hee. You can download this for FREE from their bandcamp, so get to it


Sally Seltmann’s harmonies to my heartbeat
April 15, 2010, 2:30 pm
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Note – This entry was cross-posted from Pretty New Songs. Enjoy!

I was first exposed to Sally Seltmann through a recent Paste sampler I picked up at this year’sSXSW. Her catchy “Harmony to My Heartbeat” instantly got stuck in my head and I had to hear more, so I downloaded her album, “Heart That’s Pounding,” last weekend. I was not disappointed, as it’s a wonderful collection of sunny, 70s-influenced pop that will likely go down as one of my fave releases of this year.

I’ve read reviews that compared Sally to Camera Obscura, which is definitely accurate, but some of her lyrics in particular remind me of one of my favorite unknown (at least in this country) bands, Hello Saferide. If you know me you know I’m a sucker for great lyrics; a catchy melody is tops, sure, but for something to really move me it has to bring it lyrically. “Heart That’s Pounding” definitely does this, as Sally has a great way of mixing just the right amount of lightheartedness (“Get yourself out of bed, this is a new day today”) with introspection (“I’m shy and I do not want you to see my thoughts because they’re tangled in a web”).

Sadly, I completely missed Sally at SXSW, and given that she’s Australian I can’t imagine another opportunity to catch her live will come up any time soon. Keeping an eye on her dates just in case though. In the meantime, you should check out “… Pounding,” and get lost in her lovely video below, which totally makes me want to ditch work, throw a pool party, eat cake, and listen to beautiful music.

Bark Bark Disco
February 25, 2010, 12:23 am
Filed under: Introducing..., Videos | Tags: ,

Bark Bark Disco is a self-described “bedroom pop” band from Germany Malta with a really fun name and attitude to match. They just released their debut album, “Your Mum Says Hello,” which you can download for free from their website. Influenced by such bands as Velvet Underground and The Vaselines, their video for their single “Song for the Lovers” is a good representation of an updated version of both bands, with a hint of Peter Bjorn & John (probably thanks to the female vocals which remind me of “Young Folks”). Really good stuff. Their website includes lyrics and chords for several of their songs so you can sing and play along! I’m a fan, BBD; glad you found me.

Note this post was edited to correctly cite the band’s home base of Malta. Thanks Luigi!

Showstar hits the Gold Mine
October 29, 2009, 4:11 pm
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Showstar is an indierock band from Belgium; their new single “Gold Mine” is a high energy, very catchy pop/rock song in the vein of Franz Ferdinand, Ra Ra Riot, and perhaps the more straightforward “rock” moments of Sigur Ros. I even hear a little bit of Los Campesinos! in the backing vocals and instrumentation. Good stuff. Enjoy the download below, and be sure to check out the video also!

Showstar’s upcoming album “Think Ringo” features “Gold Mine” and will be released in January on Vespasonic/Munich records.

Showstar – Gold Mine (radio edit) mp3