Tag Archives: robyn

Tegan and Sara Get Closer

Tegan and Sara, indie-rock super-twins, have released a new song. And it kind of sounds like they’ve been hanging out with Robyn, my electropop queen. (In a recent Twitter Q&A, they cite Robyn as an inspiration for the new album.) That’s right, folks — the new Tegan and Sara single is utterly danceable. And I love it.

I have seen some fan comments to the effect of “I feel betrayed by this new direction.” These people have obviously not been paying attention for the last, oh, three years. The writing has been on the wall since Sainthood came out in 2009. While Tegan continued to hone her skills writing catchy alt-rock tunes, Sara was heavily incorporating electronic elements. For the first time as a fan, it was easy for me to tell their songs apart. I felt that Sainthood had some great songs, but it lacked the cohesion to make it a great album.

In the past few years, Tegan and Sara have also done several collaborations with DJs. The results are “Feel It In My Bones” with Tiësto and “Body Work” with Morgan Page. I’m a fan of dance music, and I find both of these songs endlessly enjoyable. So I was actually excited when I heard that the twins were working with two new producers on their latest record. My hope is that the new producers have helped them unite their individual experimentation into a more polished electropop sound. And if “Closer” is any indication, my wishes may have come true!

The only disappointment is that their new album Heartthrob won’t be released until January 2013. Tegan and Sara were very transparent about the recording process last spring. They released a series of weekly videos called Carpool Confessional, in which they discuss their progress and, of course, bicker. Rollingstone.com also posted in-studio photographs every week, which can now be viewed at teganandsara.com. All of this information was great, but it probably made the album feel more imminent than it actually was.

In the first Carpool Confessional video, Tegan asked Sara if she worries that fans won’t like the new album. Sara says, “My goal here is not to keep our fans. It’s to surprise, entertain, and excite our fans.” Any successful artist deals with the dilemma between sticking with what you know works and trying to evolve. I love So Jealous and The Con, but I also enjoy the progression of Tegan and Sara as artists. As long as their music keeps its quirky spirit, I’m onboard.

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Best of 2011: Music Edition, Part 1

And so it begins. Prepare yourself for five straight days of the Best of 2011. I’m kicking it off with my ten favorite songs of the year. Here are numbers 10 through 6.

Billy Bragg & Wilco, “Way Over Yonder In the Minor Key”

I have a weakness for alt-country music. I first heard this gem in the movie Love and Other Drugs, then again months later on The Current. The second time around, something resonated with me. It could be Billy Bragg’s voice or the pleasure of joining in the refrain of “Ain’t nobody that can sing like me.” Sometimes a simple song is all I need.

Elliott Smith, “No Name #3”

Good Will Hunting has been one of my favorite movies for years. In 2011 I finally invested in the soundtrack. (A used copy, of course.) The album hinges on six beautiful tracks by Elliott Smith. All are subtle and haunting, but “No Name #3” is decidedly my favorite. There’s something about the way he sings “Everyone is gone / Home to oblivion” that makes it the perfect soothing song.

Ingrid Michaelson, “Parachute”

Okay, I technically heard this song back in July of 2010 when I saw Ingrid in concert. I’m still including it though because I didn’t take much interest in it until 2011. Anyone who has heard her albums knows that Ingrid is a hit-or-miss type of songwriter. Her hits tend to be lyrically simple (like “The Way I Am“) and insanely catchy (like “Parachute”). Supposedly Ingrid didn’t record “Parachute” at first because she thought it was too poppy for her. Something must have changed her mind, and we have this pop confection to show for it.

Gillian Welch, “One Little Song”

Did someone say alt-country? Gillian Welch’s Soul Journey album was one of my best finds this year. That is to say, I found it at a used music store in Uptown. I already featured this particular song once, but it deserves a second mention. I love the way it flows effortlessly between verses. Most of all, I love the message, which is that there’s always a song left to sing.

Robyn, “Indestructible”

My love for Robyn is already welldocumented on this blog. I was familiar with “Dancing On My Own” and “Call Your Girlfriend” when I bought her album Body Talk. Then I discovered a new favorite in “Indestructible.” Like all of Robyn’s best songs, it has real emotion behind the electronic beats. I highly recommend it for rocking out in the car, preferably while driving to happy hour with your coworkers.

Check back tomorrow for the top 5!

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Fembots Have Feelings Too

Back in the day, I was a bit of a music snob. And by back in the day, I mean high school. Then somewhere along the way, probably amidst the academic pressure of college, I found myself enjoying pop music again. I came to the realization that there’s a time and a place for all kinds of music, and there’s room in my heart for many genres.

One musical genre that I was particularly against in high school was “techno.” Every time they played “Sandstorm” at a dance, I was filled with annoyance. Then, during a stint of late-night TV, I was exposed to the beautifully intricate electropop of Imogen Heap and was forced to concede that maybe electronic music wasn’t all bad. (I think it was this performance that I saw. She’s really impressive live.)

Fast forward to the present, and I’m listened to Robyn‘s Body Talk album on repeat while I run errands in the afternoons. In the hilarious track “Fembot”, Robyn takes on the persona of a robot with a broken heart. She may just be taking a metaphor to the extreme, but regardless, she makes a valid point:  “I’ve got some news for you / Fembots have feelings too.” It reminds me of how I used to dislike electronic music because I thought it lacked emotion. The truth is, in its best form, all the beeps and blips are just another way to tell a story.

There are many artists who fuse electronic tools with musicality in very interesting ways. I don’t claim to have an extensive knowledge of this genre, but I’ve come across some great examples in the past few years. Besides Imogen Heap, one of my first exposures to electropop was The Postal Service. Not exactly thinking outside the college indie music box, but their album Give Up is widely considered to be, well, awesome. Since one half of the duo is Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, you can bet that their songs have an emotional/narrative thread.

For your consideration:

 

Another group that’s close to my heart is Freelance Whales. Last spring I went to a concert with my friend Amy. I wasn’t really familiar with the headliners, the Shout Out Louds, but it doesn’t take much convincing to get me to a concert. As it turned out, I became a fan of the opening band, the Freelance Whales. Their quirky appearance and music reminded me pleasantly of Carleton students. Recently their songs have popped up in several commercials, which makes me a little sad, but their album Weathervanes is pure joy. (Wikipedia doesn’t classify them as electropop, but heavy use of synthesizers is enough for me.)

Here’s the song that first got my hooked:

 

College is all about personal growth, right? Maybe expanding musical horizons isn’t exactly what the brochure writers have in mind, but it’s certainly something that I appreciate. Without it, I would have missed out on a lot of great music. Just in case you’re clamoring for more, I’ll leave you with my new favorite Robyn song. O dearest Robyn, how you speak to me.

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Robyn, Make Me Dance (and Cry)

As anyone who had to put up with me during Senior Week probably already knows, Robyn is my new obsession. “Dancing On My Own” was my go-to youtube video for much of winter term, and now the “Call Your Girlfriend” video has turned my admiration into downright love. Lately so many music videos and live performances just make me feel like the artist is trying way too hard. They’re all trying to out-Gaga each other, and sometimes even Gaga herself fails. Enter Robyn, platinum-haired Swede. She is the perfect antidote to my musical fatigue because she tries just hard enough.

If the lyrics of “Call Your Girlfriend” are a turnoff, try to get past it! Yes, Robyn is instructing her new man in the best way to break up with his current girlfriend. Some of her potentially infuriating advice includes “Tell her that the only way her heart will mend / Is when she learns to love again.” Obviously if a guy said that to me, I would be tempted to throw my beverage in his face. Still, let’s consider the possibility that the lyrics are ironic, with Robyn actually taking the side of the spurned lover. Or if that doesn’t do it for you, just give her a free pass because she’s Swedish. Surely ABBA has earned them some pop music clout. I, for one, have accepted that Robyn is on the side of all things good.

Why does the “Call Your Girlfriend” video make Robyn worthy of my unswerving devotion? Her endearingly awkward dance moves are reminiscent of both Modern Dance class (“Radiate from your navels!”) and the Punching Dance, which was my method of letting off steam as an eight-year-old. She manages to look awesome and on the verge of tears at the same time. And her platform sneakers would be the envy of any girl from the Spice Girls generation.

If you find yourself clamoring for more variations of the Punching Dance, or if you’re feeling more like the spurned lover than the helpful other woman, I also highly recommend the “Dancing On My Own” video. May it warm your icy Scandinavian heart.

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