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Robert Forster, Mariatorget i Stockholm, 4 mars 2019

Somliga måndagskvällar när du promenerar över Mariatorget och likt en gasell skuttar fram mellan vattenansamlingarna, står statyn av Tor redo att rundas, såvida du inte redan hamnat på rygg i geggamojan innan du hunnit till mitten av parken.

Andra måndagskvällar, om du har ögonen med dig, står Robert Forster där med en påse smutstvätt och ser frusen ut, med kragen uppdragen för att skyla sig från de blöta, stora dropparna som tidigare under dagen var nedsinglande vita flingor.

Sådana som han får inte sällan epitet som ”the elder statesman of indie rock”. Jag vet inte om det alls existerar någon officiell koppling mellan uttrycket och ett namn. Jag vet bara att om det hade gjort det så måste det namnet vara hans.

Den vältalige eleganten som ödmjukt anpassar sig till det mesta och de flesta, med undantag för när baristan inte fått till den riktiga temperaturen i hans kaffe. Gentlemannen som nyfiket frågar om det tyska uttrycket för fruset och isigt väglag – ”glatt” – är detsamma på svenska. ”Vin” har han däremot full koll på vad det betyder, trots att han inte konsumerar rusdrycker sedan närmare tjugo år.

Vid ett fullt upptänt Zinkensdamms IP kommer den riktiga utmaningen; att på 60 sekunder försöka förklara storheten med en sport vars mästare under 38 världsmästerskap av 39 blivit antingen Sverige eller Sovjetunionen/Ryssland. Det går sådär.

Nästan som att ge sig på att förklara varför vi inte säger ”glatt” oftare här hemma när det handlar om halka. Håll med om att det låter roligare. Dessutom hade indierockens elder statesman förstått vad sjutton vi pratade om.

Det är annat än man kan säga om bandy.

#robertforster #thegobetweens

Ny låt: Big Thief “UFOF”, 2019

Precis när jag trodde att Adrianne Lenker skrev låtar på den absoluta toppen av sin förmåga.

Sedan kom nya Big Thief-singeln “UFOF” och plötsligt fanns det en nivå ytterligare.

Lyssna på Spotify

Class of 2018 – The 100 Greatest Songs of the Year!

“Don’t you have anything better to do?”, people have been asking me, year in, year out.

Frankly, no, I don’t. Can you dig it?

What could be better than going through all your playlists from 2018 revisiting your own favourites, or digging through this year’s releases mining for lost gems? What’s better than narrowing thousands down to the top 100, feeling anxious about whether you left ones out that you in a month or so will regret were omitted? What’s better than talking to songwriters, trying to get their perspective on a certain track of theirs that you have grown to love?

Well, there you go. Very few things come even close to being better than that.

For the sixth consecutive year, here is the most unique year-end “best of” list you may come across. The 100 greatest songs of 2018. Out of those, more than 40 of the songwriters tell the story behind their song, a personal insight shared exclusively for this very list.

Please honour them by reading their contributions while listening. Perhaps there’s a new artist waiting to be discovered? Or a track you like that you didn’t know much about? Suffice to say, whatever the approach; if you’re really, really interested in music, this is your goldmine.

Can you dig it?

Playlist on Spotify at the bottom of each page.

Class of 2018 – The 100 greatest songs of the year!:
#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#2 | #1

100. IDLES “Never Fight A Man With A Perm”
(from Joy As An Act Of Resistance)

99. TT “Love Leaks”
(from LoveLaws)

98. Beach House “Lose Your Smile”
(from 7)

97. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats “Still Out There Running”
(from Tearing At The Seams)

96. The Vaccines “Your Love Is My Favourite Band”
(from Combat Sports)

95. Holy Esque “I Am The Truth”
(from Television / Sweet)

94. NAO “Drive And Disconnect”
(from Saturn)

93. Courtney Barnett “Charity”
(from Tell Me How You Really Feel)

92. Parquet Courts “Total Football”
(from Wide Awake!)

citattecken “The first time I heard Jimi Hendrix was in some movie about Vietnam which made me think of the sixties and the music I loved from that era…”

91. Unknown Mortal Orchestra “American Guilt”
(from Sex & Food)

“That song started in Hanoi. The reason I went to Hanoi was because I wanted to bring guitar back into it a bit more. The first two albums were written on guitar and featured mostly that instrument. On the third album, however, I leaned more on keyboards and piano since I was interested in taking apart old analogue synths and stuff. Because I was obsessed with the insides of the synth I ended up playing them a lot on the record.

On this one I wanted to go back to guitar. I think people who like Unknown Mortal Orchestra missed the guitar a little bit, I felt that was the case. So I was thinking of the most obvious influences, trying to get back to almost what I liked about guitar when I was a teenager. I didn’t play the guitar then but I was a big music fan as a kid. The first time I heard Jimi Hendrix was in some movie about Vietnam which made me think of the sixties and the music I loved from that era and how I probably heard it all on these TV shows and movies about the Vietnam war.

Maybe if I went to Vietnam that would prompt some kind of inspiration for something heavy and guitar based. That worked better than I thought it would. The moment we arrived in Hanoi I thought it would be more modernized but it actually reminded me of a movie about Vietnam! It was really inspiring, it was the monsoon season, so we didn’t do anything touristy or fun. We rented a place through Airbnb from where we had to walk through a really messy neighbourhood to get to the studio. Each time we arrived there we were drenched in sweat, bedraggled from going through this crazy third world situation, but always inspired from things that we’d seen on the way; fishermen, farmers, stray dogs, people selling food and everything.

Walking home from the studio was a similar thing, but always night, people having picnics everywhere, strange tropical smells, burning incense and stuff. We were constantly talking about how stimulating everything was just to look at, so in the studio we felt that we had a lot to say. American Guilt was one of the things to come out of that. It was just fun to make music with the two other guys who were with me, my brother Cody who plays drums and Jake, the bass player. Often we threw these ridiculous references into the mix. For instance, at one point we were talking about Metallica and Jake was probably thinking that I was crazy, Metallica is normally not relevant when making an Unknown Mortal Orchestra record! But talking about the wrong references is sometimes very useful to me.

To me, the phrase ‘American guilt’ wasn’t me pointing a finger at the Americans, I’ve lived there for nearly ten years myself. If people in Mexico, Canada or wherever are angry at America they can use the song however they want, but the way I thought about it was that the longer I’ve lived there the more I understand it and get implicated myself as I get American. There’s a guilt that comes with it though, for instance all the tax dollars that go into the war machine. The more money I make, the more money I indirectly put into the war machine. At the same time I also feel in debt for all the great music that has come out of that country.”

– Ruban Nielson

citattecken “I wrote it after watching a clip of Judge Jeanine Pirro telling everyone they should ‘get a gun and learn how to use it’…”

90. The Tambourine Girls “Jeanine”
(from Waiting For Pleasure)

“I guess it’s about love and doubt. I wrote it after watching a clip of Judge Jeanine Pirro telling everyone they should ‘get a gun and learn how to use it’. I’m always amazed by people who can say things like that with such certainty. I don’t share her opinions, so I wrote her a love song. Our guitarist Nick[Weaver} came up with that guitar line the first time I took the song to rehearsal.”

– Simon Relf

89. Charles Bradley “I Feel A Change”
(from Black Velvet)

88. Jonathan Wilson “Living With Myself”
(from Rare Birds)

87. Thievery Corporation “Voyage Libre (feat. LouLou Ghelichkhani)”
(from Treasures From The Temple)

86. Thee Oh Sees “Enrique El Cobrador”
(from Smote Reverser)

85. Courtney Marie Andrews “May Your Kindness Remain”
(from May Your Kindness Remain)

citattecken “After seeing the documentary it seemed like it would be a good metaphor for a couple that’s taking a small vacation to the Salton Sea…”

84. Josh Rouse “Salton Sea”
(from Love In The Modern Age)
“The idea came to me when we were on tour and we were driving from Phoenix and Los Angeles. We crossed by a sign that gave directions to Salton Sea and I said ‘ooh, that would be a great name for a song!’. I had heard about the place but I didn’t know too much about it so on that drive I watched an hour-long documentary about the Salton Sea on Youtube, narrated by John Waters, the filmmaker. That’s how the title and the song idea came about.

The story is all fiction. After seeing the documentary it seemed like it would be a good metaphor for a couple that’s taking a small vacation to the Salton Sea, but when they arrive they realize that it’s not what it used to be. Colouring geographical locations sometimes inspire a song. When you’re listening to a song you want to take people to a place sometimes, you set the scene like a movie.

I think I did the music a few years back, I kind of had the melodic idea but no lyrics for it. That’s how songs work sometimes, it just came together that way. With the keyboard it sort of went in a Cure direction. They have a song called ‘A Forest’ that we used to do a cover for and rhythmically it takes its cues from that song.”

– Josh Rouse

citattecken “I met Dylan years ago, when he was opening for me on a tour. He was late for his set. But he was so good, I remember thinking, ‘he won’t be opening for me very long’…”

83. Lera Lynn “What Is Love (feat. Dylan LeBlanc)”
(from Plays Well With Others)

“I met Dylan years ago, when he was opening for me on a tour. He was late for his set. But he was so good, I remember thinking, ‘he won’t be opening for me very long’. I’ve been a huge fan ever since. He’s an excellent guitarist and singer and writer and I’m so glad we finally got the chance to write. When we sing together, something really cool happens where you can’t distinguish who’s who. This song is dear to me, as it explores how one cannot love another without first loving themselves, which we all know is a life-long pursuit.”

– Lera Lynn

82. King Tuff “Psycho Star”
(from The Other)

81. Ought “Disgraced In America”
(from Room Inside The World)

#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#2 | #1

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Way Out West 2018: recensioner för GAFFA

Nedan följer länkar till samtliga recensioner jag skrev under Way Out West 2018 för GAFFA.

Torsdag 9 augusti

Sarah Klang – “En av de mest självklara stjärnor som fötts”

Jorja Smith – “Lite mindre blygsamhet och det kunde ha blivit en klassiker”

Iggy Pop – “En 18-åring fängslad i en 71-årings kropp”


Fredag 10 augusti

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – “Transcendentala kvartstoner och en tappad sko”

Lily Allen – “Det krävs tålamod för att få visa fingret”

Courtney Marie Andrews – “Nödlösningen som blev en jackpot”

Amyl And The Sniffers – “Svettigt punkröj i knät på publiken”


Lördag 11 augusti

Markus Krunegård – “En återkomst med spelglädje”

Lykke Li – “Fräscht och bra – men det finns mer att ge”

Arcade Fire – “Vilken avslutning!”

Class of 2017 – The 100 greatest songs of the year!

Amongst all the nerdy year end lists that have flooded us the past month, this here may possibly be the last  but definitely the nerdiest. A bold statement, perhaps. Nerdy, in this case, equals loving. Noboby puts down this much effort into hunting down the songwriters for a plain old list, if it weren’t for the passionate love of music I have inside. Nobody.

Often, I’m lost for proper adjectives trying to describe the superbness of what I’m hearing. So much so, that I’ve actually invented a new word of my own for occasions when nothing gets even close to adequately doing the job: phantomenal. ‘Fantastic’ and ‘phenomenal’ combined. Phantomenal. Useful, isn’t it?

For the fifth consecutive year, you have at hand one of the most unique year end lists there are. I’ve been on Skype, e-mail, Messenger and telephone. I’ve been backstage interviewing at every venue in town. I’ve been sat down in an empty smalltown hotel lobby with Hannah Aldridge (#25), both of us hungover trying to piece together not only the night before but also the details of how the beautiful title track of her latest album was created. I’ve quite possibly worn out most of my business connections trying to get requests through to those beloved artists whom I’ve sensed had a tale to tell, but hopefully both myself and the good people I’ve harassed have been richly rewarded for every profound narrative that has come in return.

The lyrics to this year’s #1, depicting life taking the unthinkable turn, are the most painful and sadly beautiful you’ve probably heard in 2017. Until you’ve read the story behind them, that is.

The themes cover a lot of ground: racism (#36 and #7), precursors to the #metoo movement (#62), money woes (#83), friendships gone sour (#65), existentialism (#86), the now-defunct Welsh coal mining industry (#20) and – naturally – love in every shape or form. Musically, we’re in some cases given the grand tour of studio creativity.

Oh, and before I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, one more thing: if there’s any single song you need for your New Year’s Eve festivities, it has got to be ‘Resolution’ by Desperate Journalist (#35) in which singer Jo Bevan recalls the memorable, to say the least, rollercoaster of a celebration she experienced a couple of years ago.

Now, get on with it and check out all the songs and stories over the next six pages.

They’re nothing less than phantomenal.

To all artists who have contributed with invaluable insight behind the curtains: Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Spotify/TIDAL links at the bottom of each page.

100. Frankie Rose “Red Museum”
(from Cage Tropical)

99. The War On Drugs “Thinking Of A Place”
(from A Deeper Understanding)

98. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions “Sleep”
(from Son Of A Lady)

97. Porches “Find Me”

96. Penny And Sparrow “There’s A Lot Of Us In Here”
(from Wendigo)

95. Hurray For The Riff Raff “Hungry Ghost”
(from The Navigator)

94. Calexico “End Of The World With You”

93. The Fresh & Onlys “Wolf Lie Down”
(fom Wolf Lie Down)

92. Fleet Foxes “Fool’s Errand”
(from Crack-Up)

91. Beak> “Sex Music”

90. King Gizzard And The Wizard Lizard “Sleep Drifter”
(from Flying Microtonal Banana)

89. Hiss Golden Messenger “Jenny Of The Roses”
(from Hallelujah Anyhow)

88. Joey Bada$$ feat. Schoolboy Q “Rockabye Baby”

87. Obliques “Instant Pleasure”

citattecken “There are things in life, whether it’s a friendship, a street, a time of year, a film, a conversation that touches you. Something that kind of reminds you of what it is to be alive…”

86. Beck “Colors”
(from Colors)

“Like almost the entire album it was made with Greg Kurstin who is an old friend of mine. He’s played on many of my records and we’ve toured together, so we’re like old bandmates. We got together about four or five years ago in his studio and started to write songs together. This was one of the first ones we worked on and we just spent a number of years building the songs and layering ideas, developing them, experimenting and trying to find a sound and creating an identity for this record. Building the whole musical world around it. This is one of the early songs we did. Dear Life, Dreams and Colors I think were the first ones.

To me, the meaning behind the title Colors is about the things in life that are colourful, that represent life. It could be the simple things, like one of those days you’re walking around and you notice things about the world. I don’t know if you get that feeling, at least I get it, where you’re just glad to be alive. Those moments remind you while you’re in your problems, your struggles and difficulties and whatever is going on. The things that just take you out of everything, you know. So that’s what I wanted the record to represent. There are things in life, whether it’s a friendship, a street, a time of year, a film, a conversation that touches you. Something that kind of reminds you of what it is to be alive. I think it’s that appreciation of being alive after difficulty. In the face of periods where there wasn’t so much hope. Where you can find grace again in the world. So trying to put that into some kind of music. It was something I didn’t know exactly how to articulate what I was putting into the songs.”

– Beck Hansen

citattecken “Sometimes shamelessly running away from life’s unavoidable mishaps is the first step to processing them and learning how to move on…”

85. Bully “Running”
(from Losing)

“‘Running’ is about learning to adapt to new situations. Sometimes shamelessly running away from life’s unavoidable mishaps is the first step to processing them and learning how to move on.”

– Alicia Bognanno

citattecken “…a sort of pep talk delivered from your own personal coach. Its for the times when you want to quit. At the time I wrote it, I was hearing the word ‘No’… a LOT and I needed encouragement…”

84. Jesca Hoop “Memories Are Now”
(from Memories Are Now)

“For me, ‘Memories Are Now’ is a Go Get it Anthem and a sort of pep talk delivered from your own personal coach. Its for the times when you want to quit. At the time when I wrote it, I was hearing the word ‘No’… A LOT and I needed encouragement. Writing this song was like concocting a tincture for the hard times. A little drop to help reset your mind for hanging in there and riding it through to better times.”

– Jesca Hoop

citattecken “I think money woes are pretty universal though, and what better place to cryptically harangue about them than in a jaunty punk tune…?”

83. Protomartyr “Here Is The Thing”
(from Relatives In Descent)

“‘Here Is The Thing’ was one of the last songs we wrote for the album. We all thought the album could use a looser, groove-based one, maybe in the spirit of “Uncle Mother’s” or “Tarpeian Rock” from previous albums. Greg has said the guitar line is influenced by The Country Teasers song “Golden Apples” and I can hear that. Once I knew it would come after “A Private Understanding”, I felt I could write the lyrics as a sort of continuation of the subject matter in that song, but focus more on the state of Detroit in relation to it. The way the song moves sounded “jaunty” to me, so I felt it could be more humorous or, at least, be more ridiculously wordy.

One of my biggest fears is not fully understanding how money works: how to get it, keep it, and not have it control my life. The fact that many people in America, including me, have to forgo basic medical care because it’s financially out of reach is truly disgusting. I think money woes are pretty universal though, and what better place to cryptically harangue about them than in a jaunty punk tune?”

– Joe Casey

citattecken “…we told more lies than we should and generally did more damage than the body should bare in one night, so I guess because of that I always felt like there was a sort of hazy nostalgia…”

82. The Rural Alberta Advantage “White Lights”
(from The Wild)

Nils: “I feel like White Lights was the first of the new songs that I started working on for the record. We’re always going back to older ideas and reworking them but the simplicity of the opening chords sort of came out of nowhere as did the first line “It’s been a while, I swear that I’ve admired the view”.

At the time we’d wrapped up most of the touring for Mended With Gold, and I was missing the pull of being on tour but at the same enjoying falling back into the domestic routines you miss when you’re travelling like weekend coffees and walking the dog, that sort of thing.

While the opening line came quick, the rest of the lyrics came together closer to the actual recording of the song. I remember the weekend before we were about to go into the studio I was hanging out with some close friends of mine, some I hadn’t seen in a while and most of which I’ve known for close to two decades. We stayed up later than we should, told more lies than we should and generally did more damage than the body should bare in one night, so I guess because of that I always felt like there was a sort of hazy nostalgia to the song, like having an intimate conversation to a close friend.”

Paul: “I think this song came alive when Robin laid down her harmony on the chorus. It’s also really fun to play.”

Robin: “I remember at practice while we were writing the song, Paul busted out these Keith Moon drums, and it all sort of magically fell together quickly after that. The organs were recorded off my Nord Electro, which was exciting for me because it’s been my main live keyboard for 6 years, so there was sentimental value attached. Our producer Leon Taheny has a really great ear for how accenting certain timbres can totally sculpt a song and even determine how the listener experiences a song. Sonically the bridge and outro make me picture Tom Petty walking into Studio 54 or something; he really made the organs shine. Leon can make something sound very classic without ever seeming uncool.

I love a good rock duet. I think I was thinking about the Neko Case performance of ‘Evangeline’ from the live Sadies record, and the Emmylou Harris part from ‘We Are Nowhere And It’s Now’.”

– Nils Edenloff, Paul Banwatt and Robin Hatch

citattecken “It really has nothing to do with indie music, which I don’t listen to very much of. To me it’s more new wave/power pop/country sounding. I was thinking of early Nick Lowe and people like that…”

81. Sea Pinks “How Long Must I Be Denied?”
(from Watercourse)

“This song started life about five or six years ago with a riff. I wasn’t writing riff based songs much at the time. The riffing was like a new connection happening in my guitar playing brain. It kind of stuck out from the start, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I had some dummy words for it. The original chorus was ‘Shake hands, here’s luck and goodbye’ a quote from A.E. Hausman which I read somewhere second hand. It was much slower at this point. The riff and half song kicked around for a couple of years before I tried it out with Sea Pinks. We worked up a version of it for inclusion on Dreaming Tracks (2014) which had lyrics closer to the final version. At that point I was thinking of finishing Sea Pinks and putting out an album under a different name, and this song would have been the first track on that album. But it didn’t quite work out that way. Anyway the version we recorded sounded all wrong.

Finally I dug it up again for Watercourse. We had it down by now, the bass and drum parts were improved from the previous version and it was much faster and leaner sounding. I also finished off the words. The key line is probably ‘never gonna hear me asking you twice’, immediately before the chorus which proceeds to ask twice. The title becomes a rhetorical question because I know it won’t be answered or even heard by the person or people it’s aimed at. Another key line is ‘I don’t wanna know why’ – implying I already know the reasons for this. Then it flips things around, becomes ‘you know you’re wasting your time/ I won’t be waiting in line’. It’s all very over the top of course and meant to be taken with a pinch of salt. But I suppose it’s about defiance apart from anything else, about wanting something you know you can’t have, and turning that emotion to your advantage. It’s about not being defined by that rejection, but subverting it, even being empowered by it.

Watercourse is really like two mini albums in my mind. I put ‘How Long’ at the start of side two as it marks a break from the softer, more dream pop stuff on side one. It really has nothing to do with indie music, which I don’t listen to very much of. To me it’s more new wave/power pop/country sounding. I was thinking of early Nick Lowe and people like that. I’m still not fully satisfied with the sound of it. It’s a little too polite. It’s one of those songs that keeps being redefined when you play it. We’ve never actually played it live though because the guitar line is so slippery to get right and sing at the same time. Some songs you write in ten minutes, some take six years (and counting). I suppose as a writer it keeps things interesting, at least. “

– Neil Brogan


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Popaganda 2017: Jonathan Johansson

Foto: Nora Cederin

Av Tommy Juto för GAFFA.

Jonathan Johansson på Popaganda

Lördag 2 september

Betyg 3 av 6

Det är då en himla tur att musiken finns som konstform. Särskilt för de som har så infernaliskt svårt att låta allt kanaliseras ut via kroppsspråk och tal. Jonathan Johansson är inte den som lattjar runt i onödan, det känner alla till. Inte minst sedvanligt körsjungande systraduon VAZ som mot slutet av spelningen försöker reta igång den trulige skåningen, väl medvetna om hans olust till spex. Det går sådär. Vi talar ändå om en person som vid ett tillfälle går fram till det orangemålade mickstativet för att säga ”ja, ja” som mellansnack.

Johansson drar fingrarna genom sin tjocka kalufs, förmodligen i en helt omedveten poetisk accentuering, och sjunger inledningsfrasen ”Du har din hand i mitt hår…” i Stromboli Brinner. Har man för avsikt att omgärda sin konst med ett romantiskt skimmer är hälften vunnet redan när den omnämns, den italienska vulkanön som symboliserar kärleksolycka galore ända sedan Ingrid Bergmans rollfigur Karin rusade uppför sluttningen för att göra slut på sitt miserabla äktenskap.

Ibland när jag lyssnar på Jonathan Johansson tänker jag att ”snyggare musik än så här går väl knappast att göra?”. Jag älskar de väl avvägda arrangemangen, de inplacerade små detaljerna, det återhållsamma svänget. Men det är som om han satt en fasad framför sig, en osynlig mur ingen annan släpps igenom. Allt hade tjänat på om den intressanta person musiken blottar kunde visa sig lite oftare.

Befriande nog rämnar fasaden en smula i absolut sista skedet när Johansson tänkt köra en äldre låt men blir varse om att tiden håller på att rinna ut. Ställd inför faktum går han direkt på publikfavoriten Sommarkläder. I brådrasket glömmer han bort att sätta sitt capo på gitarren vilket resulterar i oförstående blickar från bandet när de inser att förinspelade keyboardslingor lindrigt sagt inte kommer att låta särskilt bra om de startas. Johansson löser det dock smidigt med att tajma in den påtvingade tonartshöjningen efter första versen.

Man är inte mer än människa. Inte ens Jonathan Johansson.

”Påtvingade tonartshöjningen …”. Det ni.

Popaganda 2017: alt-J

Foto: Ludvig Gropp

Av Tommy Juto för GAFFA.

alt-J på Popaganda

Lördag 2 september

Betyg 5 av 6

2012 hade jag haft en period av att vara både MP3- och Spotify-vägrare. En idealist som skulle ha ”skivomslag som gick att ta på och läsa”. En envis jävel, helt enkelt. Allt sprack när jag köpte ny dator och samtidigt insåg att det fanns en herrans massa CD för utlåning i det lokala biblioteket och de kunde rippas på nolltid med den uppgraderade utrustning. Så mycket för den idealismen, men man är inte mer än människa.

När sedan Spotify placerades i mobilen gick det inte längre att hålla emot. Världen låg öppen, bara att plocka den och lägga i sin hand. Efter det tittade jag aldrig bakåt. Nysläppt musik blev det viktigaste i livet, det fanns inte längre några begränsningar. Ett av de album jag upptäckte det året tack vare att dammluckorna stod på vid gavel var An Awesome Wave av Alt-J. Äntligen ett nytt band som lät intressant och oberäkneligt. Som försökte göra något ingen annan gjorde. Som sket i bifallet och istället fokuserade på skapandet.

Det som hänt sedan dess är att britterna både utvecklats och invecklats. This Is All Yours fortsatte förvisso mer eller mindre där föregångaren slutade, men årets habila Relaxer låter deras progressiva sida få mer spelrum. Så även deras liveframträdande, i viss mån. Efter en fin inledning på en spelning som genomgående förgylls av en rasande vacker ljusshow hamnar trion i en liten svacka där det monotona, segdragna tar över. Interaktionen mellan Joe Newmans och Gus Unger-Hamiltons röster som normalt sett är den viktiga grundpelaren går för en stund lite på tomgång.

Från Every Other Freckle vänder intresset dock tillbaka igen och slutspurten är oantastlig: MatildaTaroFitzpleasure, den smittsamt swampiga Left Hand Free och avslutande Breezeblocks. Lejonparten tagen från just fem år gamla albumet An Awesome Wave, ni vet. Därmed inte sagt att det gått utför sedan dess. Men ska man ha en ryggrad i ett liveset kan den lika gärna tas därifrån.

Varje morgon jag kan vakna och konstatera att det finns band som Alt-J är det med tryggheten i att jag åtminstone aldrig kommer att hamna i ett läge där musik blir tråkigt. Och att samtidigt ha vetskapen om att när jag själv är tom i sinnet och inte har en aning om vad jag ska lyssna på så kommer svaret alltid att finnas hos Alt-J. Bekräftat ikväll.

Popaganda 2017: Astrid S

Foto: Ludvig Gropp

Av Tommy Juto för GAFFA.

Astrid S på Popaganda

Lördag 2 september

Betyg 2 av 6

Räknat i antal streams är Astrid S en av Popagandas allra, allra hetaste artister. Senaste singeln Think Before I Talk (som här får sin världspremiär live) snittar under första veckan efter release nästan en miljon spelningar dagligen. Läppja på den siffran. Inte många kommer i närheten ens med sin största hit. Vilken betydelse nätverkande har för populariteten ska vi låta vara osagt, men det är en anmärkningsvärd skara samarbetspartners hon rackat upp senaste åren sedan klivet in i rampljuset genom sin medverkan i norska Idol. Anknytningen till succéserien Skam har heller inte gått någon förbi.

Ändå är det väl inte så att det direkt är tjurrusning till åskådarplats för att se norskan uppträda i vad hon själv antyder vara något av hennes andra hemstad, även om det givetvis fylls ut efterhand och många är där för att se henne. Live händer inte mycket som är särdeles anmärkningsvärt. Låt för låt ur den förhållandevis blygsamma katalogen avverkas och sanningen är att det är ganska tråkigt, även om jag alltid uppskattar när en låtskrivare berättar hur hon skrev varje låt. Such A Boy och Breathe var klart bäst på förhand och är klart bäst även i efterhand.

Det märks att livet leker för 20-åringen från Trøndelag, för humöret är det sannerligen inget fel på. Tror jag det när man nästan kan höra streamingräkneverket ticka någonstans i bakgrunden. När hon berömmer den handfull dansande själar som böjer lätt på knäna i takt med musiken genom att säga att publiken i Sverige är mycket bättre än i Norge är det ett lättgenomskådat försök till publikfrieri. Så jädra bra är vi inte. Vi är tråkiga. Eller så är det showen som är för tråkig. Same same.

Popaganda 2017: Hurula

Foto: Nora Cederin

Av Tommy Juto för GAFFA.

Hurula på Popaganda

Fredag 1 september

Betyg 4 av 6

Uppsnappat i myllret under folkvandringen på väg från Stora till Lilla Scenen: ”Kom, vi går och ser Hurula. Han ska tydligen vara bra live”. Jo tack, det är inget löst rykte någon hittat på bara för att.

Med solodebuten Vi Är Människorna Våra Föräldrar Varnade Oss Förbörjade karriären ta sjumilakliv i likhet med de karakteristiska steg han tar härs och tvärs över golvet under sina spelningar, från de mindre klaustrofobiska klubbarna till de större festivalerna.

Utmaningen att få med sig röjet – den täta stämningen som ett begränsat utrymme liksom kramar fram – till de större estraderna är inte den enklaste. Särskilt inte med blandad festivalpublik. Hurulafansen är i alla fall på plats och bidrar med sitt: nävar i luften i takt med de fräsande outsiderfraserna. Bandet låter aldrig det eviga gitarrgnisslet dö ut, inte ens mellan låtarna. Det är som att det är en ljudslinga som ligger loopad i bakgrunden. Mot slutet rycks allt fler med i de effektiva gitarriffen och kampsångsrefrängerna så att allsången under 22 når hela vägen längst bak.

Varje generation behöver sina anthems. 90-talet hade Kent. 00-talet hade Håkan. 10-talet har Robert.

Popaganda 2017: Säkert!

Foto: Nora Cederin

Av Tommy Juto för GAFFA.

Säkert! på Popaganda

Fredag 1 september

Betyg 5 av 6

Usch, så tjatigt det börjar bli. Det eviga hyllandet av de där förbaskade sångtexterna Annika Norlin skriver. Som är så lätta att kära ned sig i. Lätta att känna igen sig i. Lätta att identifiera sig med. Lätta att vilja vara en del av fast ändå inte. Svåra att inte älska villkorslöst. Så det där tjatet får nog gärna fortsätta ett tag till.

Inledningsvis tampas Säkert! med störande ljud från Joys oavslutade spelning på Lilla Scenen, ett irritationsmoment som någon naturligtvis borde ha avstyrt med lite enkel kommunikation. De lugna låtarna i början gör oss dessutom påminda om att inflygningen mot Bromma flygplats lite väl hörbart kan sätta sin prägel även på markförlagd verksamhet. Största orosmolnet den här kvällen för Norlin själv är dock att hon har en krånglande hals, men även om hon nuförtiden fördelar ut en hel del sång till andra är det inte så att problemen direkt märks av. Showen måste fortsätta. Särskilt som det är sista spelningen för sommaren.

Det här blir en timme som inte bara bjuder på förstklassig underhållning utan i mångt också handlar om ställningstagande och ansvar. I Alan Walker-covern Det Är Inte Bara Jag jublas det över kampen mot det ”bruna virus som sprids som en löpeld” och när predikstolen bokstavligen åker fram under Fredrik blir det brandtal både under låten och i det påföljande mellansnacket när Norlin med eftertryck uppmanar alla att vara ”varandras armé” och inte bara passivt se bort när sexuella ofredanden sker i vår omedelbara närhet utan att istället ta fajten. Handskarna är kastade. Och inför första extranumret Dansa, Fastän åker skorna, om än mer för att ge lite otyglat svängrum på scen åt ett par sprittande Östersundsben.

Allt är egentligen redan sagt om Annika Norlin som berättare och sångtexternas innehåll. Jag skulle däremot vilja tillägga att en stor del av lockelsen med Säkert! handlar om allt hon hittills inte berättat. Den där kittlande tanken på vilka tankar i hennes huvud som fortfarande inte omsatts till sång och melodi.

Jag är faktiskt inte helt säker på att jag vill veta heller. Somliga skattkistor håller nyfikenheten bäst vid liv i form av ett X på en luggsliten karta.

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