BlackBook Tracks #28: I Resolve To Come Up With Better Titles For These

Local Natives – “Heavy Feet”

After getting back in the game with “Breakers,” the LA band has released “Heavy Feet.” It’s an understatedly lovely cut from their forthcoming second album Hummingbird.

AlunaGeorge – “Diver”

In “people who are doing pop music their own way” news, AlunaGeorge are still on track to be this year’s darlings. “Diver” piles glitchy layers and crystalline vocals over a bass-heavy foundation.

Vampire Weekend – “Unbelievers”

The press cycle for Vampire Weekend’s third album is just beginning, so enjoy it before it turns into people getting angry about sweaters for no reason. Here’s the only song the band has publicly unveiled so far, hopefully with more to come soon.

Miles Kane – “Give Up”

British rocker Miles Kane knows how to pack a punch, and he nails it on the short and snarling “Give Up.” As a bonus, this song appears to center around the same basic principle as the classic 30 Rock episode “The Bubble.”

Free Energy – “Girls Want Rock”

It’s usually a bad idea to make assumptions about half of the earth’s population, but I’m pretty sure girls actually do want rock, so Philadelphia’s Free Energy are in the clear.

Total Warr – “Where Is My Mind”

For the forthcoming Loisy EP, this electro-pop duo has remade the Pixies classic with a French accent.

HAIM – “Don’t Save Me”

The LA band just won the BBC Sound of 2013 poll, so get ready to hear more of them if you haven’t already. Guitar pop’s new golden girls are set to make 2013 their year.

NZCA/Lines – “Airlock”

Electro/R&B crooner Michael Lovett opens this track with the line, “Baby, you look so cold.” I’m going to pretend he’s singing about me when I trudge down 14th Street wearing a neon green puffer coat and a displeased expression.

Peter Bjorn and John – “Eyes”

I’m going to keep reminding myself that there are places where it’s even colder, like Sweden.

Follow Katie Chow on Twitter

BlackBook Tracks #2: Songs From @Sweden

After Jens Lekman and Niki & the Dove came to New York this past weekend, we were inspired to round up some songs from our favorite Swedish artists. Settle down with a plate of internet uterus and some informational reading about Judaism and check out this week’s picks.

Jens Lekman – “Waiting For Kirsten”
No one tells a story like Jens Lekman, who’s equally adept at bringing laughter and tears. This song leans more toward the former, telling the now-notorious story of how the singer-songwriter once tried to meet Kirsten Dunst. Anticipation levels for his forthcoming heartbreak-centric album, I Know What Love Isn’t, are already running high.


Peter, Bjorn and John – “(Don’t Let Them) Cool Off”
It’s already too hot to come up with a remotely funny joke about the weather. All whistling aside, Peter, Bjorn and John’s 2011 album Gimme Some was highly underrated.


Noonie Bao – “Do You Still Care”
If you can look past the “white person experiencing exotic India” video, “Do You Still Care?” sees up-and-comer Noonie Bao delivering an extraordinary performance. Depending on what kind of emotional upheaval you’ve recently gone through, this song represents the stage either before or after “Somebody I Used To Know.”


We Are Serenades – “Birds”
Featuring members of Shout Out Louds and Laasko, We Are Serenades find strength in harmonies. Also, strings!


Miike Snow – “God Help This Divorce”
Cool down with this crisp track from Miike Snow’s latest, Happy To You.


Niki & The Dove – “DJ, Ease My Mind”
The electro-pop group sold out their Northside Festival show last Thursday, and the buzz is only going to continue to skyrocket by the time they return to the US this fall to tour with Twin Shadow. Dance with tears in your eyes!



Karin Park – “Restless”
Dark like the Knife, but easier to sing along with.


Icona Pop – “Nights Like This”
Icona Pop were already featured on last week’s playlist, but we can’t help it if the dance-pop duo makes infectious tunes. They’re also playing their first New York headlining show this Friday at Brooklyn’s Glasslands Gallery. If you didn’t get tickets in time, you can always see a different Swedish band that night.


The Hives – “Wait A Minute”
The Hives can always be relied on for a good time, and they’ll be tearing down Terminal 5 on Friday. After going five years since their previous album, they’re back with a vengeance on Lex Hives.


Robyn – “Dancing On My Own”
You didn’t think we were going to forget this, did you?

Björn Yttling on Getting Fired by His Own Band

Okay, so that headline is a little deceiving. Peter Morén and John Eriksson didn’t actually pull a mutiny and can the third member of their band, Björn Yttling of Peter Björn and John. But Yttling sure likes to joke about it. The Swedish pop-rock trio’s fourth album, Gimme Some (out March 29), is the first not produced by Yttling, and when we asked him why he’d given up said duties, his simple response was, “I got sacked.” Sure you did, Björn.

A more likely answer is that the group was trying to veer away from the minimalist electro sound that has defined them — it should be familiar to fans of Lykke Li (Yttling is her producer) — towards a more classic rock sound like that found on their new single, the predictably catchy “Second Chance.” Here is Yttling on his band’s new sound, the pressures of equaling the success of their massive single, “Young Folks,” and why playing the keyboard sucks.

Where are you right now? I’m in Stockholm, I came back from Paris yesterday.

What were you doing there? Just rocking out for the kids.

Your album is already out in some parts of the world. Yeah, in cyber space.

Why didn’t you do the production on this album? First I got sacked, and then I quit.

I believe you. You know, I was like, if I’m going to get sacked, I’m quitting. That’s how it goes, you know? I got sacked, and Peter Bjorn and John produced, and then I quit because I didn’t want Peter Bjorn and John to produce us no more. So I quit, and then we got another guy, and I’m in between jobs right now.

What do you mean? I don’t know, I mean nothing.

Who sacked you? Uhhh, I guess PBJ sacked me, and then I sacked PBJ from producing myself. It’s very difficult.

But you are part of PBJ, so in a way, you sacked yourself. Yeah.

Do you feel that the last album was a little too production heavy, and that took precedence over the songwriting? No, we write the song first.

Are you a lot more tech savvy than the rest of the band? The electronic voice of the band? No, not at all. I like when stuff is broken and when it sounds weird. I don’t use any computers when I make music.

I read that Peter once said that, “Bjorn is the electro guy, Jon is hip-hop, and I’m the Leonard Cohen type.” Bullshit? I don’t know, maybe it was a couple years ago. I already own everything by Leonard Cohen. I don’t know if I’m that, but I like electro stuff. I love Daft Punk, but I couldn’t make techno music if my life depended on it. I don’t work that much with computers.

I think maybe you got that reputation because of the work you did with Lykke Li. Yeah, I mean I love Lykke Li, but it’s not electronic, it’s minimal. It’s like the blues for me, it’s Johnny Hooker, and you don’t fucking say Johnny Hooker is an electro guy. But maybe let’s say I’m the blues electro guy now.

This album has a more rock-oriented sound. Can you tell me the intention behind that? We wanted to make a trio format thing, like people would say like, Oh it’s so live, this album is so live. So on Living Thing, we made a lot of sounds that people wouldn’t mind where they came from, a lot of organic sounds like hitting bottles and stuff, but on this one people would just say, “This is guitar, bass, and drums.” If we did tricks, they’re not supposed to be heard on this one.

Were you worried about alienating fans who have come to expect certain things from you guys? I’m not really worried about alienating fans. Since we started, we only gained more fans.

Are these songs going to be more fun to play live? Yeah, playing keyboard live sucks. That’s the most boring thing you can do.

You play guitar, right? I play bass, but we had some keyboard live on the last tour, that’s just boring shit because it’s plastic fucking lego shit.

How did “Young Folks” change your career? Before “Young Folks,” we didn’t have a career.

Did you ever think that might happen with that song? Well, I didn’t. It’s like having a baby: You know how it’s done, but you never know how it really feels before you had it.

Did you feel pressure on Living Thing to equal that success? I guess there’s some pressure. I’m introducing an album that’s supposed to be equal success to the previous one. There’s always pressure from the label, and they always compete with the albums from the album before.

I imagine that was the case with Lykke Li. That’s always the case if you have something before, you know. You’ve got to sort of give them some good numbers, but I’m never really affected by it. We’re making albums for ourselves now.