1. SIGUE CON EL AMOR – John Defeo (3)
2. CHLORINE – twenty one pilots (5)
3. TRAMPOLINE – SHAED (1)
4. READY TO LET GO – Cage the Elephant (2)
5. VOLCANO – Feather Weight (4)
6. LONGSHOT – Catfish and the Bottlemen (8)
7. DISAPPEAR – Western Jaguar (9)
8. BURY A FRIEND – Billie Eilish (14)
9. HARMONY HALL – Vampire Weekend (10)
10. FEAR THE FUTURE – IAMWARFACE (11)
11. DARK PLACES – The Frontier (13)
12. ASSUME FORM – James Blake (6)
13. POWER OVER ME – Dermot Kennedy (7)
14. TIME – Morosity (16)
15. ESCAPE – Ships Have Sailed (17)
16. HURT – Oliver Tree (18)
17. LOVE CRAZY – Karolina Rose (19)
18. LO/HI – The Black Keys (20)
19. STILL FEEL – half alive (23)
20. GENERATION Y – Guide Dog (24)
21. SUPERPOSITION – Young the Giant (12) 19th week on chart
22. BELOVED – Mumford and Sons (26)
23. SEVENTEEN – Sharon Van Etten (27)
24. EXITS – Foals (15)
25. PATIENCE – Tame Impala (28)
26. BAD LIAR – Imagine Dragons (N)
27. I’LL BE AROUND – Morning Fuzz (N)
28. MISSED CONNECTION – The Head and the Heart (N)
29. NOT WORTH IT – The Only Route (N)
30. OLD MAN’S WAR – Roadkeeper (N)
As I’ve noted previously in other posts, one of the best things about being a music blogger is getting to know a lot of really wonderful artists and bands. One of my favorite indie bands is London-based alternative rock outfit From the Cave. With a singularly unique and eclectic sound drawing from a broad range of influences, including punk, pop, shoegaze, blues, funk and ethnic folk, they have a distinctive sound like no other band I’m aware of. I love their music, and have featured them on this blog several times over the past few years. They’ve previously released two EPs, their self-titled debut From the Cave in 2016, and Medieval two years later, which I reviewed last September. Now they return with their third EP City Life, which drops on 30 April, and which I’m pleased to introduce to my readers.
Comprising From the Cave are the wildly creative front man Kristian Møller-Munar, who plays guitar and sings most lead vocals, Mikaela Lindgren on vocals, keys and percussion, and Joshua Scriven on guitar and vocals. Each of them is a major talent in their own right, actively involved in all aspects of the creation of their music, including songwriting, playing instruments and singing, and as they continue to mature, so too does their music. As its title suggests, the songs on their new EP have an edgier, more sophisticated vibe, and deal mostly with topics that are current and socially relevant. City Life was written and produced by the band, and expertly mastered by Tim Debney. The songwriting, instrumentation and arrangements are all superb, sounding better than ever, and all three band members’ vocals and harmonies are marvelous.
The first track “Get a Life” is a scathing take down of someone who’s always complaining and whining, yet doing nothing to solve any of their problems, and you’ve had just about all you can take of their bullshit.
It’s just mind games and control It’s just plain dumb lack of soul Get a backbone, get a grip Your self-importance makes me sick Get a life! (Cause I’m really fucking tired of your shit though)
Besides the great, brutally direct lyrics, the song’s really interesting from a musically standpoint too, with a catchy, trap-like beat and an exotic Eastern European folk vibe in the chorus. The spacey synths and jangly guitars are great, and I love Kristian’s deep vocals with his Danish accent, backed by the all three members’ harmonizing choruses. The clever and colorful animated video was created by Kristian, who does a fantastic job on all their videos.
“Freedom” seems to suggest that freedom comes with a price, enabling us to fall victim to our darker instincts. The song starts off on a fairly light air with a funky beat, but eventually turns more menacing, with sinister synths and a harsh, almost foreboding drumbeat. As always, the guitar work is brilliant.
“Have a Nice One” really showcases From the Cave’s impressive musicianship, with an enchanting strummed mandolin taking a starring role, and once again, their vocal harmonies are absolutely sublime. The positive song lyrics advise us to not beat our heads against the wall trying to change things over which we have no control, and instead just try to enjoy our lives:
Don’t worry about the things you can’t change anyway They float as they like, and then they go away Don’t try to fix anything Have a nice one, have a nice one
The band changes things up a bit with “City Lights“, a gorgeous and sultry song that’s my favorite track on the EP. From the opening zing of spacey synth, I love everything about this breathtaking song – the shimmery chiming guitars, ethereal synths, entrancing drumbeat, and most of all, Joshua’s captivating vocals, backed by Kristian & Mikaela’s dreamy backing harmonies. Thought I’m not certain about the song’s meaning, to my mind it seems to celebrate the allure of the city and the romantic spell it casts upon those who surrender themselves to its possibilities.
The rousing, uptempo track “Justice” sees the band taking a political stance, calling for people in our sharply divided society to open their minds to a broader point of view, and try to find common ground so that we can hopefully solve some of the problems plaguing society.
You hate the news and you hate a long a drive You don’t like the things that will waste your time You love your mum, and you love your son You love your dog, and you keep your gun We’re not alike, we’re still the same We shouldn’t have to feel ashamed We feel so wrong, we feel so right A common ground is worth the fight
Forgiveness is missing It’s like it’s been beaten to pieces And the middle, and justice is kicking and kicking Living for the living, for the living right now
City Life is another fantastic release from this amazingly talented band, and proof that their creativity and musicianship keeps growing ever better and stronger. That makes me very happy, as I hope they continue making music for a long time to come.
Though the music I’ve written about on this blog has more often than not involved various forms of rock, folk, electronic or pop, as EclecticMusicLover I do like to feature other genres as well, especially from countries outside the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Today I have the pleasure of featuring singer/songwriter Grace-Attalie, a young woman with one of the most amazing and distinctive vocal styles I’ve heard in a long while. Originally from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and now based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Grace uses her soulful voice like a musical instrument, producing exquisite vocal sounds and textures with such incredible depth and emotional range that they leave me speechless.
In December 2018, she released her marvelous debut EP Polluted, featuring three excellent songs drawing from soul, jazz, Latin and African music influences. Now, she’s released a new medley of the three tracks, entitled simply “Polluted: The Medley“, along with a video of her performing the song with musicians Ngwato Mapalakanye on guitar and Joe Simoz on drums. The video was beautifully filmed in subdued light with cool blue tones by photographer and cinematographer Ryan Jarrett.
Though each of the three songs – “Eggshell”, “Standards” and “Sombre Storm” – are distinctly different, they’re artfully melded together seamlessly in the medley to flow as one flawlessly smooth and gorgeous composition. Simoz taps out the sultry tempo that hovers somewhere between a Latin and African-flavored jazz beat. Backed by airy synths and a sensual bass line, Mapalakanye’s strummed electric guitar notes are sublime, and a perfect complement to Grace’s lush vocals that go from breathy purr to deep smoke. It’s an absolutely captivating track.
To more fully appreciate Grace-Attalie’s astonishing vocal talents, spend a few extra minutes and listen to the three wonderful original songs here:
1. TRAMPOLINE – SHAED (3)
2. READY TO LET GO – Cage the Elephant (1)
3. SIGUE CON EL AMOR – John Defeo (4)
4. VOLCANO – Feather Weight (5)
5. CHLORINE – twenty one pilots (7)
6. ASSUME FORM – James Blake (6)
7. POWER OVER ME – Dermot Kennedy (2)
8. LONGSHOT – Catfish and the Bottlemen (9)
9. DISAPPEAR – Western Jaguar (10)
10. HARMONY HALL – Vampire Weekend (12)
11. FEAR THE FUTURE – IAMWARFACE (15)
12. SUPERPOSITION – Young the Giant (8)
13. DARK PLACES – The Frontier (16)
14. BURY A FRIEND – Billie Eilish (17)
15. EXITS – Foals (11)
16. TIME – Morosity (19)
17. ESCAPE – Ships Have Sailed (20)
18. HURT – Oliver Tree (23)
19. LOVE CRAZY – Karolina Rose (21)
20. LO/HI – The Black Keys (22)
21. S.O.S. (Sawed Off Shotgun) – The Glorious Sons (13)
22. HOME – morgxn featuring WALK THE MOON (14)
23. STILL FEEL – half alive (25)
24. GENERATION Y – Guide Dog (26)
25. MOVEMENT – Hozier (18)
26. BELOVED – Mumford & Sons (29)
27. SEVENTEEN – Sharon Van Etten (30)
28. PATIENCE – Tame Impala (N)
29. SECRET THAT LIES BEHIND – The Gear (27)
30. CHANGE – The Revivalists (24)
Derek Schmidt is an imaginative and talented queer composer, songwriter, and sound designer based in San Francisco, and he’s created one of the most uniquely wonderful and ambitious musical works I’ve ever come across. With over 15 years experience working and performing in the Bay Area in solo performances and as front man for three different acts – folk band All My Pretty Ones, queer electronic band Adonisaurus, and Oakland electronic band Partyline – Derek has produced numerous albums across many genres, and has been a featured composer on independent film and performance art projects, including the feature length film Home And How To Break It. Most recently, on March 1st he released an opus concept album Major Arcana, a monumental 22-song interpretation of the trump cards (or major arcana) of the tarot deck.
The album was a five-year-long undertaking made possible through the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Individual Artist Grant, one of the city’s most prestigious awards for individual artists. Each song explores one of the 22 trump cards, from 0 The Fool to 21 The World (Universe). As Derek explains: “Each card is a meditation on the symbolism within that card, as well as my own personal relationship to the card. Utilizing samples as a form of sympathetic magic, a mixture of both personal and more transcendent lyric writing, acoustic and electronic arrangements in combination with lush harmonies, Major Arcana has become a set of exploratory rituals attempting to capture the wisdom of each card, for myself and for everyone.”
With a running time of one hour and 38 minutes, listening to this album is an immersive experience. If you allow yourself the freedom to do so, you can easily get lost in its enthralling soundscape of electronic dream pop magic. Musically, the album features a bold array of synthesizer sounds and textures, complemented by Derek’s enchanting ukelele. I’ve never fully appreciated just how beautiful music from a ukelele can be, but Derek draws forth sounds that are exquisite and utterly charming.
I generally tend to discuss or at least mention every track on my album reviews, but with 22 of them on Major Arcana, doing so would turn this review into a thesis. So, I’ll instead touch on some of what I consider to be highlights or my personal favorites. The album opens with “0 The Fool”, named for the first card of the tarot deck. One of my favorite tracks on the album, it perfectly showcases Derek’s skill at using synthesizers to create richly complex musical compositions. He employs all sorts of exotic and quirky synths, pulsating drumbeats and clicks, over which he layers his lovely strummed ukelele, and the result is an absolutely captivating song. Derek’s pleasing vocals have an earnest vulnerability as he sings: “Before I begin, and after I’m gone. That’s where I’ll be. That’s where I belong. Not afraid anymore, my arms open wide./ What is real, always was. And cannot be destroyed. And a fool for me. I’m a fool for you.”
Derek continues to explore each card in the tarot deck, artfully tailoring the synth sounds and song lyrics to the card’s themes. Swirling spacey synths highlight “I The Magician” and “II The High Priestess”, with the latter featuring sharp thunderbolt-like sounds that conjure up images of spells being cast. The exuberant horn synths at the beginning of “IV The Emperor” symbolize the power and majesty of the position, and Derek’s ukelele riff later in the song is sublime.
On “VI The Lovers”, Derek uses sunny, whimsical synths as a backdrop for his lyrics extolling the joy of his love affair: “I love to love my lover so. To understand all that I don’t. It’s his fluency, won’t scare me. We laugh like kids, we find out things./ Where I am and where do you begin?” “IX The Hermit” sees him pondering loneliness and isolation: “It all comes down to a room of one’s own./ And all I need is a little more time. A few more hours in the day, and then I’ll turn to everything I’ve put aside. / Rearrange the furniture and open windows, give yourself some air.” And on the gorgeous “XI Lust”, he expresses ardent desire and passion through dramatic, soaring synths.
As would be expected, “XII The Hanged Man” is dark, with moody synths, a mournful backing chorus and a pensively strummed ukelele, accompanied by a funereal march drum roll. Derek sings of things from the point of view of a man about to be executed: “Hanged man sees it differently. Upside down, blood rushing to my head. Unfriendly faces become smiles instead. How many times have I been here before? Caught up, emotionless and always wanting more.” “XIII Death”, on the other hand, is not at all depressing, and in fact is one of the more beautiful songs on the album, with glittery, uplifting synths and Derek’s soaring ethereal vocals. He envisions life’s end as a new beginning: “A great unknown, behind the door. The ocean floor. A mystery yet to solve. The ones unmet. The tears unshed.”
A standout track is the mesmerizing and powerful “XIV Art”, for which Derek has created a fantastic video with the help of visual artist Video Hole (J Mason Buck).
Another of my favorites is “XVI The Tower”, one of the more musically complex tracks on Major Arcana. It’s a rather melancholy song, yet contains many beautiful and melodic passages that continually surprised and held my interest at it unfolded. And “XVII The Star” is pure delight, with its spacey sci-fi synths, sweeping melodies and lovely ukelele. “XVIII The Moon” is another highlight, and was the first song Derek wrote for the card cycle. In an interview with webzine Out Loud Culture!, he explained: “I was inspired by the meaning of the card, which usually involves ideas around intuition, illusion, and a general mystery. To me the moon is an ever present set of symbols like all of the cards that capture some aspect of the human condition. It’s a playful card but it can be bewildering, and I loved writing a song about that mystery. It was like a meditation.”
Closing the album is “XXI The Universe”, an appropriately epic six and a half-minute-long fantasia of glorious sound. Derek pulls out all the stops in creating a song of such incredible beauty and nuance that it takes my breath away. He uses a dazzling array of intricate synths ranging from glittery keyboards and shimmery strings to sharp industrial, sci-fi and atmospheric sound effects. All of this is of course accompanied by his beautifully strummed ukelele and richly-layered ethereal vocals. It’s one of the most spectacular tracks on the album, and a fitting conclusion to this magnificent and monumental work.
My friend Robert Horvat, who has a wonderful blog Rear View Mirror, has an equally eclectic taste in music. I love the passion and exotic beauty of this song he recently posted by Turkish band Light in Babylon.
Ted Kennedy is a producer/composer of electronic music based in Toronto, Canada. He’s been producing and recording music for several years, and released his first EP Late in 2014, and followed two years later with a second EP Lost, both of which contain some very solid tracks. He also curates a weekly live show called Frequencies, featuring live sets from forward-thinking electronic artists, producers, and MC’s. The shows take place on the third Thursday of every month at Handlebar in Toronto.
After a bit of a hiatus, Ted is once again recording more songs, and released a new single “Forty” earlier this year. Now he returns with another single “Not Enough“, which dropped on April 12. About his latest single, Ted told me “Like a lot of music I have been writing recently, ‘Not Enough’ is inspired by the sounds of Toronto’s underground electronic music scene. Curating Frequencies, I’m constantly blown away by the amount of talent here. It’s tough to be an artist in this city; rents are high, venues are closing, and platforms big enough to give artists any meaningful exposure are nearly non-existent. Everyone has day jobs, roommates, and bedroom studios. Despite the challenges, artists put in the work and create great things. This song is inspired by those artists, their sounds, their creativity, their energy. I just hope I did them justice.”
On “Not Enough”, Ted employs a strong thumping EDM beat and moody, pulsating synths that give the track a bit of a Depeche Mode vibe. In fact, his deep, sultry vocals even sound a bit like Dave Gahan’s here. The driving dance beat is hypnotic and seductive, compelling us to move as it carries us away to a dark, yet dreamy place. Throughout, Ted uses deep bass and fuzzy, otherworldly synths to give the track added texture and depth. I found myself getting lost in the music, not wanting the song to end.
The lyrics speak of a love affair in tatters, in which the love they had is no longer enough to sustain the relationship:
Damn taste of love is all I know
It’s always on, not enough
Your love is my own ruin
A quiet knot undone
Our love is all in cinders Our love is not enough I’m always in the windows I’m always on the run
Ted will be performing “Not Enough” at Handlebar on Thursday, April 18 as part of his Frequencies series.
As I’ve noted in some of my recent posts, a great many artists and bands that I’ve previously featured on this blog are releasing new music in 2019, and another is the Scottish alternative rock band Made of Eyes. I last wrote about them way back in November 2016, when I was blown away by their gorgeous emotionally-charged single “Wishing Well” (you can read that review here). They subsequently released their EP Bonds in 2017, which included “Wishing Well” and three other excellent tracks. Following that release, the Glasgow-based act went through a period of transition due to the departure of two of the band’s four members, resulting in a what front man JR refers to as a ‘mental hiatus’. In 2018, they acquired a new bassist, so the current lineup now consists of JR Campbell on guitar & lead vocals, Jason Stewart on lead guitar & vocals, and Liam Browne on bass.
Made of Eyes has just released their first single “Room to Breathe” as a newly-configured band. With their new single, the band states they “aim to mark a new direction, delivering a pop element, experimenting with dreamy chords, electronic sounds and memorable melodies.” Listening to “Room to Breathe”, I say they succeed quite nicely. The song is somewhat more pop-oriented than their previous harder-hitting songs, though it still features their signature dynamic guitar work and strong percussion. Opening with an airy synth, the song quickly expands into a beautiful soundscape of chiming guitars and lush, shimmery synths, backed by a pulsating bass line and galloping percussion. The layered guitar work is really impressive, threading its way among the sweeping synths and powerful drumbeats. JR’s resonant vocals are filled with raw emotion as he sings to a loved one about trying to recapture the spark that initially drew them together, in the hope of saving their troubled relationship:
It’s been a weight on my shoulders for days It’s been the choices we failed to make We’re like a book with a missing page Unless we find it, we can’t be saved
And I believe in you And I believe in us, I believe in trust And it’s you and I tonight And these moments will pass by And just remember the promises That you made to me We needed room to breathe
It’s a great song, and an excellent harbinger of more great music to come from Made of Eyes. Nice work guys!
I’ve commented previously on this blog about my continual amazement at the sheer magnitude of enormously talented musicians around today who are creating incredible music. In such a seemingly overcrowded industry, it’s inevitable that so many of these musicians and bands struggle to get their music heard, despite the ready availability of a staggering amount of it that’s free for the taking (which as we all know is another entire set of issues). That’s where music bloggers like myself come in, writing about indie artists we like and helping to spread the word about their music and hopefully gain them a few more followers and fans. With that in mind, today I have the pleasure of introducing to my readers the remarkably talented and undeniably charismatic Olsson brothers Axel and Adam who call themselves Jaded Jane.
Originally from Gothenburg, Sweden, but now split between Gothenburg and Glasgow, Jaded Jane seeks to celebrate humanity and diversity through their music, writing compelling songs with positive, life-affirming lyrics. Drawing upon a wide range of influences such as pop, rock, soul, R&B and hip-hop, they create beautiful, piano-driven melodies and lush soundscapes. Since 2015 they’ve produced four excellent albums, and are now recording their fifth, due for release later this year. I reached out to Jaded Jane to talk about themselves and their music, and was happy Axel agreed to share some of their story.
EML: Hello Axel. Thank you for agreeing to talk with me. First off, by way of introductions, tell me a little about Jaded Jane – when did you guys form the band, and how did you and your brother Adam decide on the name “Jaded Jane”?
Axel: Thanks Jeff. I am super glad to be part of your music blog. Jaded Jane and the musical adventure of brothers Axel and Adam Jane Olsson began in our early youth, being the sons of musician Christer Olsson (Plums, Noll 31, Scandinavian 5) and a mother with a passion for music. Growing up to the sounds of Motown, The Beatles and Michael Jackson, to name a few, it was only natural for us to develop a keen sense of melody, harmony and originality. We grew up in the Gothenburg, Sweden suburb of Hammerhill, and our path eventually lead us to New York & Los Angeles, where we spent ten years back and forth immersing ourselves with some of the most inspiring musicians on Earth. The name Jaded Jane came to me in a dream in 2013, when I was living in New York. The name deals with the jaded aspect of the modern human being. Jaded Jane is also a song from our debut album Diversity, and is about life, death and meaning. The name ‘Jane’ has an androgynous quality that is inclusive and gender neutral.
EML: What prompted you to make those moves from Sweden to Los Angeles and New York, and why did you choose to leave New York for Glasgow, rather than return to Sweden? Does Glasgow have a more thriving music scene?
Axel: It’s been a long road moving back and forth to New York, Los Angeles and now Glasgow. We came home to Sweden for a few years after New York, and then we ended up collaborating with a few Scottish artists which led us to Glasgow. It is a vibrant music city, with areas that remind me of Brooklyn, NY. When you are moving to a new city you are putting yourself in a whole new world, which sculpts you into another story and adventure, I have always been excited about learning and growing on all fields as a human being. So I am now in Glasgow, while Adam is still based in Gothenburg.
EML: Your music is beautiful and uplifting, and your songs offer positive, life-affirming messages. What is the inspiration behind your music and sound?
Axel: That means a lot to hear that the songs & music spread those messages. We feel that the music we create is greater than us and has the power to heal by touching people on a deeper level. By being brutally honest with ourselves, we allow others to feel that side of us. The things that are the most personal are ultimately the most universal. My inspiration comes from experiencing all of life’s challenges, both the highs and lows. From a young age, me and Adam starting asking questions about our society, and felt an urge to share our musical stories with other people in hope that it will touch and lift someone who is low.
EML: Do you both write the songs and lyrics together? And do you both play all the instruments and synths yourselves, or do you work with other session musicians to help create your music?
Axel: I have written all the songs on the albums released thus far, and we do play all of the instruments. However, on the new album “117” we’re currently working on, Adam is featuring two of his new songs. Adam plays fretless bass, guitar and sings, and I play the piano, synthesizers and also recording and producing the tracks. We previously collaborated with guitarist Mike Stern on our first album Diversity, and L.A.-based soul singer Frank McComb on The Puzzle, an album we made prior to becoming Jaded Jane. But our journey really took off in a new direction while meeting our third member Åke Linton, a sound artist from Sweden who is now part of creating the soundscapes and sounds of Jaded Jane.
EML: The track “Crystal Stair” on your latest album Salvation is an intriguing song. How did you discover that speech from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and why did you choose to build a song around it?
Axel: The whole Salvation album was recorded live in a studio in Gothenburg, on Queen’s old console and the song “Crystal Stair” was just a small improvised part that came from one of the sessions. Both me and Adam have always been inspired by Martin Luther King, and we thought it’d be cool to have his voice on top of the melodies and sounds of the improvised piece.
EML: I was touched by your recent Instagram post about your struggles and frustrations with trying to make it in this very tough music business. Your music is so wonderful, and you guys need to be heard by a larger audience, which is why I’m happy to feature you on my little music blog. That said, one of the issues I think is that today, most people seem to prefer hip-hop, Country or rock music, rather than beautiful, piano-based easy listening compositions like yours. Yes, there is still a niche for your genre of music, and there are successful artists making music similar to yours such as James Blake and Sufjan Stevens, but they often collaborate with hip hop or other artists to appeal to a wider audience. You’ve stated that you would like to collaborate with other artists, and in fact have a couple of times, like you did with rapper Scope (Jake Lewis) on the track “Life” from your album “One Way”, but that it’s been a struggle getting more artists to collaborate. Any thoughts?
Axel: You are very right, It is a big challenge to get people to listen to a full song nowadays, even though you spent your whole life building and working on your craft, The masses seem to react to the loudest playing songs. I am looking forward to writing and recording more with similar minded artists, The struggle in paying rent and earning money for food has and I am guessing will always be there when it comes to true artistry, I am a full time busker / street performer in Glasgow at the moment, and that has definitely made me humble in how hard it can be to earn money; it gives you a whole new respect for how to use them.
The music business is a tough field to be in, I have always felt and I know Adam felt it too. We are outside of the business, however, we the songwriters and artists are what makes it possible to make a business out of it, so I am determined to find out what’s going on.
EML: Your press release states that you’re managed by Scirca Music Group. Some artists & bands choose to hire a management company or PR firm to help them, while others wish to do everything themselves. Have you found it helpful to work with a manager?
A year ago I reached out through social media in search for a music publisher and manager, which got me in contact with the newly started Scirca Music Group. It has been a learning experience for both me and Adam and for the management company, as they are just starting out. I would like to encourage other artists to learn about how it all works, and how it is built up, that is the key to understanding and hopefully knowing where you want to go from there.
EML: What are you guys working on now? Any plans for another album?
Axel: As I mentioned earlier, we’ve been recording a new album “117” to be released later this year. It’s being recorded and mixed by our Sound Artist Åke Linton. I’m singing & playing on an old upright piano, and Adam is playing a Spanish nylon guitar & also singing some vocals. The last pieces of the songs on ”117” are being recorded with string arranger & producer Mattias Bylund adding a cello to the songs by cellist David Bukovinszky. Last but not least, I am laying down the bass lines on a 1976 Moog Synthesizer and warm analog pads on a 1980s Korg Polysix. We just shot the first music video for our upcoming single ”Trapped”. It was exciting and it turned out great.
EML: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about Jaded Jane that I’ve neglected to ask?
Axel: Yes, we want to share our message of “Ignorance Separates, Music Unites”. We want to take a stand even more, making it clearer that we are for all human beings, especially the ones without a voice. Equality, Humanism, and Reverence for the Beauty and Majesty of Nature are all subjects we care about.
We are from the “hood” of our hometown and we wish to display a different side [to that part of the Gothenburg area] than what is mainly portrayed in media with their car fires, etc. The growth of racist/nationalistic political parties such as SD* is something that we want to be an antidote for. We’ve always stayed clear of politics in our music but when it comes to these ethical & moral values we want to be very clear that we stand for diversity, equality and lifting positive stories about the “hood” which almost always have been a place of brotherhood and acceptance for us. Yes there are problems, but there need to be a more nuanced and balanced portrayal in media. We want to do our part as a counterweight to the negative.
* SD stands for Sweden Democrats, ironically, a socially conservative and far right-wing populist political party.
So lets dig a bit into Jaded Jane’s wonderful catalog and get a feel for their music. They released their debut album Diversityin 2015, a genre-bending work featuring eight tracks drawing upon pop, rock, soul, R&B and hip hop elements. As the title suggests, the songs address uplifting themes of embracing diversity and working together to make the world a better place. Every track on the album is superb, but my favorites are the lovely ballad “Jaded Jane”, the anthemic “After”, “Meaningful Destiny”, with its beautiful piano and shimmering guitar, the funky “The Cure”, with guest vocals from rapper KJ Denhert, and the soulful and fun “Walk the Walk”. Their musicianship and knack for writing infectious melodies that hook us in right from the start are impressive, and I love Axel’s casual vocal style that frequently breaks into a crooning falsetto.
In February 2017, they released their fantastic second album One Way, which saw them branch out and further experiment with their sound by incorporating more complex and multi-textured synthesizers, deep bass lines and trap beats into their soulful mix. The highlights here are “Tell Me What”, with spacey synths and a funky bass line that’ll rock your world, “Breathing”, with colorful psychedelic synths and guitar chords that are fucking magical, and “Life”, a brilliant track featuring killer rap verses by British rapper Scope (Jake Lewis) that beautifully complement Axel’s falsetto vocals. The uplifting lyrics speak of not letting your past troubles define you or keep you from realizing your dreams: “Living life just watch me risk it, made mistakes but don’t regret ’em / I put on a happy face to hide where I come from / Put your knife down, listen to my rhyme / Everything’s gonna be alright.”
Only eight months later, Jaded Jane dropped yet another album Always & Forever, once again going off in another direction with their sound. This time, Axel’s beautiful piano playing takes center stage, with the songs all featuring sublime piano-driven melodies that take their music toward an ambient, easy-listening vibe. In describing his inspiration for the album, Axel wrote as if speaking to his father: “When I sat down by the piano I could feel your presence. I let the songs happen the way they were meant to. Through music we can communicate with another world, here it is, and it is for you, in the here and now and in the hereafter.” The beautiful title track “Always & Forever” is a moving tribute to their father. “Hard to believe that you are gone this time. Oh give me strength to carry on. Easy to smile when you are by my side. You’ll live forever in my heart.”
The opening song “Serendipity” is a serene, 13-minute long piece of atmospheric heaven, with extended runs of delicate piano, guitar and whispery synths that are mesmerizing. The song begins as an instrumental-only track that seems to end at around 3:45 minutes, then starts back up at 4:00, this time with Axel’s tender vocals singing the praises of their father: “It was your light. It was your love, that shone through all of us.” This portion of the song ends with a gradual fade-out of reverb at around 8:45, only to start back up at 9:30 with sparse piano keys, accompanied by strummed guitar and whispery synths that throb until the end of the song.
Their fourth and most-recent album is the gorgeous Salvation. Released in November 2018, the album continues with what Jaded Jane refers to as their “exploration of soulful soundscapes of consciousness” that we loved on Always & Forever. The entire album flows like an atmospheric river of mesmerizing piano-driven sound, enveloping and transporting us to a comforting place of love, peace and serenity. The beautiful title track “Salvation” has simple, spiritual lyrics that speak to finding peace of mind and salvation in the hereafter: “I’ll stay right here, through my last tears. Ain’t got nothing left to fear. Salvation. It’s the longest street, I will follow thee to another space and time. I will walk this road, never looking down, to the place that we’ll call home.”
Another standout track is “Ethereal”, which lives up to its name with breathtaking atmospheric music. Axel’s piano work is absolutely stunning, backed by sweeping glittery synths, gently thumping drumbeats and Adam’s subtle guitar notes.
“Orion” is a beautiful instrumental track, consisting of only delicate piano, gentle drumbeats and whispy ambient background synths. Though over five minutes long, it seems much shorter. The track segues uninterrupted into album closer “Crystal Stair”, with a continuation of the gentle drumbeats and whispy synths. At one minute, words from a famous 1960 speech by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Spelman College enter: “Your life’s blueprint must be a commitment to the eternal principles of beauty, love and justice. Don’t allow anybody to pull you so low as to make you hate them. Don’t allow anybody to cause you to lose your self-respect to the point that you do not struggle for justice. However young you are, you have a responsibility to seek to make your nation a better nation in which to live.”
The track encapsulates the message of love, tolerance and social justice that Jaded Jane seeks to spread by Salvation, and with all their songs. I greatly admire these guys, both in terms of the wonderful music they make, and the positive vibes they spread through their kindness, love and joy. I cannot wait to hear their new album.
1. READY TO LET GO – Cage the Elephant (1)
2. POWER OVER ME – Dermot Kennedy (2)
3. TRAMPOLINE – SHAED (3)
4. SIGUE CON EL AMOR – John Defeo (5)
5. VOLCANO – Feather Weight (6)
6. ASSUME FORM – James Blake (7)
7. CHLORINE – twenty one pilots (10)
8. SUPERPOSITION – Young the Giant (4)
9. LONGSHOT – Catfish and the Bottlemen (11)
10. DISAPPEAR – Western Jaguar (12)
11. EXITS – Foals (13)
12. HARMONY HALL – Vampire Weekend (14)
13. S.O.S. (Sawed Off Shotgun) – The Glorious Sons (8)
14. HOME – morgxn featuring WALK THE MOON (9)
15. FEAR THE FUTURE – IAMWARFACE (17)
16. DARK PLACES – The Frontier (18)
17. BURY A FRIEND – Billie Eilish (21)
18. MOVEMENT – Hozier (15)
19. TIME – Morosity (20)
20. ESCAPE – Ships Have Sailed (23)
21. LOVE CRAZY – Karolina Rose (24)
22. LO/HI – The Black Keys (26)
23. HURT – Oliver Tree (28)
24. CHANGE – The Revivalists (16)
25. STILL FEEL. – half alive (29)
26. GENERATION Y – Guide Dog (30)
27. SECRET THAT LIES BEHIND – The Gear (22)
28. DELTA BLUES – Jetstream (18) 20th week on chart
29. BELOVED – Mumford and Sons (N)
30. SEVENTEEN – Sharon Van Etten (N)