Mårten Lärka – “Alouette”

February 6, 2017 at 8:37 pm

Mårten Lärka

A Swedish artist releasing an album with French lyrics isn’t anything you see everyday, and it’s even more uncommon if he doesn’t speak French and is known since before for his rock, pop and folk songs in Swedish. Mårten Lärka says that he’s been addicted to French music for a long time and that he has listened a lot to everything from Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg and Francois Hardy to Stereo Total and Telephone. And I understand him. Due to other writings I started listening myself to French pop and rock a couple of years ago. To my surprise a fascinating world of music opened up to me.

When pop and rock currents from the US and England swept in over France in the 60’s they mingled with chanson, cabaret-traditions, world music etc and created a unique musical melting pot. I sense that they took some parts much further than in other contries, maybe because this was very much alive since before. Of course I’m thinking about the romantic side, but perhaps even more about the rebellious, provocative and defiant sides. Also humour, poetry and contemplating lyrics is something I associate with French music. Well, and then there is this thing about the language itself.

Mårten says that he heard something in French he didn’t know what it was, but that got him excited even though he didn’t understand the words. Something in the colours, the shades and the sound of the language. He decided to dive right into it and started from the beginning by studying Frech on his own.

“But I grew impatient and wrote pieces of lyrics before I had understood the language. It was quite a creative and fun way of learning a language, though. I rather feel like a pioneer in that area. You could apply it to any language education. I managed anyway to write som half-measured lyrics with good help from dictionaries.”

“My saviour was my French-speaking friend Hamid Khodja. He helped me out with pronunciation and choice of words. But it took more than a decade before we started for real. Before that all my song lyrics was in Swedish. But after several attempts to complete a tribute song for my tomato-red Renault 4 L (Laban, Quatrelle) something clicked. It just had to be done in French and there I was back again with my dictionaries.”

The end result after several years of work is the album “Alouette”, a collaboration with Hamid Khodja, who has written many of the texts and also sings on one of the tracks. The album was released last year and is an earthy, downscaled blend of rock, americana, blues and French pop vibes. I hear the rock rebel inside of him as his expression changes when he’s now singing in French instead of Swedish. And he does it with a spark of humour and catches this unexplainable French vibe in his own way. It’s a wonderful, playful and nicely unpolished record. He proves in the opening track that it had to be done in French as “Je suis un rockööör…” really can’t be expressed much cooler in any other language. I picked out three of my favourites and asked him to tell us something about the songs:

About “Je suis un rocker”: “It’s a translation of a song that was called “I am a rocker” from the beginning. We played it in the 90s in my band Opossum. When we changed name to The Trimatics we continued performing the song, but we never got a good recording. In 2014 I stumbled upon the first sketches from the portastudio and started playing with it again. On two tracks there were vocals/harmonica and guitars. I added drums and guitar fills on the two remaining tracks. This happened just as Hamid and I had started again and it fit like a glove to do it in French. This means that the harmonica and the rhythm guitar were 17 years old when the song finally ended up on vinyl. What else to say? Well, about the lyrics, “I am a rocker”. It’s about freedom and joy here as well. A naive and simple idea about seeding some love and like yourself and your life, and to be rocker once in a while.”

About “C´est ma vie ´a moi”: “The first lyrics Hamid gave me were “C´est ma vie ´a moi”. He started from a character he thought fit with my persona. It’s about living your life, with all the flaws that comes with it, without caring to much about what others has to say about it. A rather free and simple attitude to life. ‘I’m neither a prince nor a king but I sleep like a king by night’.”

About “Belle Quatrelle”: “I am (still) very proud that I on my own managed to rhyme Volvo with Voulez vous. Belle means beautiful and Quatrelle (4L) is the French nickname for the amazing car we in Sweden call Laban. A wonderful kitschy tune full of other familiar cars, that can’t be compared with Quatrelle, though. What about Porsche, Chevrolette, Citroén and the mentioned Volvo? I have written the lyrics myself but Hamid has made some corrections. After this song Hamid started writing lyrics for me. But it was “Belle Quatrelle” that started it all.”
(translated from Swedish)

Mårten Lärka’s site – on Facebook – on Spotify – on Apple Music

Ocean – “In Another Place” EP

December 12, 2016 at 6:48 pm


The quartet Ocean, hailing from Göteborg, couldn’t have chosen a better name considering their music. Because that’s how it feels. It’s dreamy, meditative and softly melodic, it’s soothing but sometimes also thrillingly grand-sounding, and all the time it’s very much alive. On their debut EP “In Another Place” the band has created a wonderful organic sound which feels like a blend of folk colours from before and indie pop. The three songs are all great tunes, each exploring a different mood, from the peaceful to the dramatic. Listen to two of the tracks here below.

Ocean on Facebookon Spotify

Lilou & John – “100 Faces”

November 23, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Lilou & John

I’m almost hypnotised by Lilou’s vocals. Her dark alto voice breathes of blackness, mystique and rock attitude, like a magical music incantation I just have to listen to again and again. Together with her husband she form the duo Lilou & John, who earlier this Autumn released the debut EP “100 Faces”.

Here we hear them in five tracks that spans from epic folk songs to alternative rock and indiepop, all wrapped in an unpolished sound that perfectly matches Lilou’s charsima. Each song also has a corresponding music video created by different video artists from USA and Brazil. You can watch an example here below in the video to the song “When Murder Victims Die”, a video created by Patrick Paax. The other videos are available on their Youtube channel.

Lilou & Johns site – on Facebookon Spotifyon Apple Music

About “He Broke My Neck, Joséphine”: …inspired by a vivid dream that came to Lilou one night. The ghost child Elizabeth shared with her the last days of her life, and in the dream Lilou felt the brutality when the father of Elizabeth’s love Joséphine broke her neck. It happened somewhere at the end of the 19th century or beginning of the 20th not far from the city of Jönköping.

About “100 Faces”: “About our instinct to always hide our true self, maybe further emphasized by the alienating effect of the modern society of consumption and our emotional difficulties.” (transl. from Swedish)

About “When Murder Victims Die”: …tells the story of the post-traumatic experiences of a child surviving a brutal serial killer. The lyrics was highly influenced by Motörhead and Lilou decided at an early stage that she would sing the song in a weird, tim-burtonesque way, balancing on the edge of quirky disharmony.

Liljor – “Grändens skymning”

September 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm


A Finnish tango legend and some fascinating Swedish indie artists sounds like an unlikely combination at first. It all started last year when the Finnish artist and songwriter Pentti Viherluoto would have celebrated his 100th birthday. His grandchild Tatu Metsätähti came up with the idea of recording Penttis old songs in new, modern versions and as many of the songs already had been translated to Swedish (by the actor Thure Wahlroos) he contacted his friend, the producer and artist Henrik von Euler. Henrik got involved and together with Billie Lindahl (Promise and the Monster), Rickard Jäverling and Pelle Lindroth (Parken) he started recording. One song led to another and they ended up with an entire album named “Skymningsland”, which is going to be released this November.

The first song “Grändens skymning” is an appetizer which definitely makes me interested in more. It’s a track where they blend the two worlds with synths and tremolo guitars that wrap us in a harsh, Finnish melancholy, a drum machine echoing of the last beats from the old dance floor and dreamy, longing vocals which turn into a warm duet. Listen for yourself here below.
I should add also that the original Finnish lyrics, to this song and the others on the album, were written by Pentti’s brother Aimo.

Anna Jadéus – “Håll ut”

September 2, 2016 at 5:07 pm

Anna Jadéus

In March she stood out with the most beautiful and the most moving song during Spring, “Vi vet ingenting”. Now Anna Jadéus has released the album “Håll ut” where the song has found its home. Already on the cover, with the album title and the rainbow-coloured umbrellas, she sends a message to the bedgrudged, the misunderstood and the lonely ones. It’s not a record full of fighting slogans, though, if anyone believes that, it’s rather an emotional and personal story from the inside, full of contrasts.

There’s a musically playful side with rythmic ukuleles as the base, where we all soon sing along in for example the title track. But there’s also a more serious side where time stops for a moment in in songs like “En sån som vill ha mer” or “Mörkret drar förbi”, painfully beautiful songs full of vulnerability and warmth. With small means she slowly builds up the songs into emotional and powerful anthems and throws us between melancholy and joy, but with a final message of hope, love and inner strength. The final song “Kommer vi klara oss?” (transl. “Will we make it?) is a journey which ends right there, but as the track has ringed out with beautiful euforia, it still leaves a worrying echo in my mind: are we all really going to make it in the end if we can’t learn to accept every person for who she is?

Anna Jadéus on Facebook – on Spotify – on Apple Music

“En sån som vill ha mer”:

“Håll ut”:

“Kommer vi klara oss?”

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