Archive for August 2010
Artist: Hot Chip
Albums: The Warning, Made In The Dark & One Life Stand
Released: 2006, 2008 & 2010
Web: Official Website
Favourite tracks: Too many to mention.
I simply can’t choose between the three albums. If I could decide all tracks should be remixed together into one great sweaty dance session.
But then the heart-stirring love songs like In The Privacy Of Our Love, We’re Looking For A Lot Of Love, Made In The Dark, Look After Me, and So Glad To See You, would have to be on an album of their own.
And actually, the diversity of songs is just what makes Hot Chip so great.
They are impossible to classify.
Their geeky appearance contradicts the sophisticated arrangements of electronic instruments and harmonic vocals in a mix of catchy, colourful tunes.
As much as I love the classics such as Ready For The Floor, Over And Over, Hold On and No Fit State I must admit that they have found the golden middle way on their latest album, where layers of deep beats, captivating vocals and high hopeful lyrics go hand in hand, building up the songs from scratch to sensation.
Artist: Håkan Hellström
Album: Känn ingen sorg för mig Göteborg (Feel no sorrow for me Gothenburg)
Released: October 2000
Favourite tracks: All – just as they are – from beginning to end.
Confession: this might be the album I have listened to most in my life. I’m not kidding. In between tuneful English singer-songwriters, American rock classics and trendy Swedish indie pop, Håkan Hellström’s debut album has been somewhat of a best friend, one that you know inside and out, and love unconditionally.
A best friend that never fails to put you in high spirits.
This album has been played on numerous road trips (remembering endless stretches of trees going up to Östersund with my brother back in 2001) and performed a capella riding from Long Street to Camps Bay, Cape Town.
But then again, this album is a trip in itself!
Nostalgic? YES! And without a doubt, you must be Swedish to appreciate the lyrics and probably even the music.
Translating Håkan Hellström’s intro at Way Out West:
“A song about growing up. A song about falling in love”
And apparently he describes his album as:
“…waking up the morning after, wondering where you are headed”
Ten years earlier…
After my little friends and fam trip of two weeks I was supposed to stay home in the small town and start straighten things out, where to go, what to do. The usual.
My plan was to stop and rewind the record, at least for a little bit.
But after three days at home, not doing much else but biking, the weekend was approaching and the sound of a two days outdoor festival in Stockholm started playing repeatedly in my head.
Popaganda is held in a swimming park area and with just two stages it’s not a big festival at all. In fact, many of the bands playing were pretty average indie electro pop hyped bands, probably forgotten tomorrow.
But Robyn, The Magic Numbers and Hot Chip made the ticket worthwhile
Robyn: the little blonde girl that grew up to be Sweden’s uncrowned dance queen, with the high pitched voice singing from the deep corners of every heartbroken soul; and it hurts with every heartbeat…
The Magic Numbers with their equal parts of cheerfulness and melancholy.
And the highlight: Hot Chip‘s pumping electronic beats and flashing neon lights, under the starry sky and my dance delighted feet ripping up the grass.
Walking “home” along the water’s edge, reflections of the past in the water…
So I find myself in the boys’ apartment again.
Micke watching something on his laptop. Tomas and Gustav playing video games, the apartment in more or less of a mess, and me, still without a clue on what to do next.
But the air seeping in from the window is so fresh.
And the record keeps playing sweet music.
I never know what to answer when people ask where I live.
Or what I do.
It seems people have a hard time to grapple me. Probably because the explanations are too difficult – or easy – for daily conversations.
Anyway, I gave up trying to fit into a formula long ago.
A few funny occurrences lately though have had me thinking about the label of a “searching phase” that many wants to stick to the imaginary box we put others in.
A friend asked: What is it you do now Helen? Not right now, but in general?
Provocatively, I answered: Oh, isn’t it more interesting what I am doing right now? Live in the Now! Wink wink.
He still wanted to know so I added:
I am just not doing anything “in general”…right Now…
Another funny thing when I was having a beer out with a buddy and being introduced to his friend he of course asked; what do you do?
My buddy could tell I didn’t know where to start so he quickly filled in:
- Hon är en Livsnjutare – “one who enjoys life”– as if that was a job title. He also dug the idea that I should have that printed on business cards.
Not that it would make anything easier.
A really funny scenario: I went to visit my old roomie, Lina, and not having met her boyfriend in a while we greeted and being straight to the point, he asked:
- So what, are you unemployed now?
What’s funny about this, is that me and Lina started laughing hysterically. Her boyfriend looked puzzled, wondering what was so funny about being unemployed. We tried to explain that in the tourism and service field no one is ever unemployed, just in between jobs. But all credit to Glenn, he really put me on the spot.
Another example of how tricky it is sometimes to express what we do: I was walking to the subway together with an acquaintance of a friend, making conversations. I asked about his work and he said he makes some money looking out for a dog, but that really he was a graffiti and graphic print artist. What do you do, he asked me back.
- Oh, I am in the tourism and service industry I said, but really I want to write.
There just always seems to be a really.
And a reality.
I wonder if the secret lies in finding a way to combine them.
I’ll keep searching
I don’t believe people are looking for the
meaning of life as much as they are looking for
the experience of being alive.
I am at my dad’s big house in the country side of Rättvik
Dad really has a knack for personal decorating
He runs a second-hand shop (one could almost think it was in the house)
It’s been a relaxed and joyful weekend
We walked the 600 meter bridge out in the lake of Siljan
Picked wild mushrooms (some, with doubt)
And the forest’s gold: chanterelles
We took a motorcycle trip in the country
And were reminded of the beauty of Swedish nature
We had Irish coffee on the patio
Talked about the existential aspects of life
One of my dad’s customers runs an art gallery
We paid him a visit and got Tosca cake served with wild raspberries
We also ate cray fish
And big chunks of meat
so needless to say, I’ll be satisfied for days.
Two weeks ago it was the end of summer. Now, it is beginning of autumn…
Swedish summer is sweet but short.
I am so glad I got August.
Leaving the job in Lofoten to go home was one of the best decisions I’ve made. It felt like I had “won” a month of living. Of laughing.
First: I bought a ticket to Way Out West.
Second: I decided I would go visit friends and family around Sweden.
I thought, since I was already on the west coast I could go to Helsingborg where many of my old classmates live. And since we were so close to Båstad we could take a nostalgic trip to our old school. And since Jönköping was more or less on the way home I could finally go see my old room mate Lina and her 7 months old son, Oliver.
I went from Hudiksvall to Stockholm, to Gothenburg and there, changing the route to Lina in Jönköping (or actually Sandhem – realizing when they called it out that I should get off)
We shared two years in a loft apartment in Båstad, biked to school together in the rain, laughed and cried and talked way too much. To say that we got close is an understatement. It was a roller coaster of a time but things have settled for us both and it was great to see a happy and healthy Lina, as a mother and a great friend.
And I got to cuddle with Oliver as much as I wanted.
From in-land Jönköping I had to take three trains to Helsingborg. My buddy “Berka” (or Fredrik if you will) picked me up the station and we went to his beautiful house and family. His daughter Emma of 1,5 years is just the cutest and I wish I could be closer and watch her grow up because she is a doll!
We arranged a BBQ at the house with some friends from school.
Kristin, who was pregnant at our graduation, has had a second child, Hugo, and Villiam is turning three years soon. I had hoped to see them but Kristin wanted an evening of catching up and of course with children around there is barely time to finish a sentence. Jonas who also lives in Helsingborg couldn’t come because his family had the flu. But Louise who is back from San Diego came!
It was so great to sit and just talk!
Memories , that are getting older by the year, still feels like yesterday.
Me and Berka took a roadtrip to Båstad. We walked around on the cobble stone streets and went into my old, favourite book shop. We had hoped to go out to Norrvikens Trädgårdar (the historic garden where our school is at) but it started raining heavily (like it was does this time of year) and when we called our old teachers they weren’t in anyway. I know we can still be back in five years and they will remember us.
I had an open plan to head down to Lund after Helsingborg but because Berka’s mother was visiting and she was driving back to Stockholm in the morning I caught a lift with her.
More classmates; George had written me on FB: I know you’re not in Stockholm without telling me! He had just come back from a last minute trip to Paris all by himself, looking happy and in love (with Paris he declared!) We met up at Lydmar Hotel where Lina works. Emma and Ida came and we had another lovely little Båstad-reunion.
There wasn’t much time in Stockholm to meet up with all my friends. Actually, I was happy to just chill out in the boy’s apartment. One night me and Micke made thai red curry and shared a bottle of red. I think by then, the tiredness kinda started to sneak up on me.
I was so comfortably beat.
And August was almost over.