Asian Mojito is available at:
RELEASED: December, 2015
The Nostalgia E.P. is available at:
Fade Out- 9.5
Asian Mojito- 9.6
My Fortune- 9.4
Fade Out; Asian Mojito; Valencia
ONE of the best things about music reviewing is getting to...
discover acts that are new and exciting. I spend a lot of time assessing U.K. acts so it is rare I get to venture elsewhere. Today I am back in Sweden looking at a duo that is among the most exciting and uplifting in music. It brings a few different points to my mind: the music coming from Sweden; the Pop market in general in addition to the sunnier side of music. Over the past few years I have got to review a few Swedish artists. From Say Lou Lou- technically they are half-Australian- to Anna von Hausswolff it has been a pleasure witnessing the stunning music of a wonderful nation. What I notice about Swedish music is the expertise and confidence that comes through. Whereas a lot of young artists here start off nervously and few sound completely in control; in Sweden there seems to be an ingrained mentality and authority. Whether it is the climate and landscape of the country I am not sure; it may be a different type of personality and community- I find Swedish music much more hypnotic, uplifting and unique. I am familiar with a lot of great Scandinavian acts- from Nelson Can to First Aid Kit- and love every example that comes forward. When reviewing international music I always love seeing what different areas/regions provide. The U.S. is one of the most wide-ranging and varied nations in the world yet Sweden seem to be the most consistent and under-the-radar. Perhaps not the first stop British reviewers and media outlets go to; Sweden is offering some of music’s most compelling and fascinating musicians. Maybe there is less congestion and crowding there; the people more friendly and less stress about? Whatever the reason behind it all you cannot deny there are some fantastic artists showing why Sweden should be in the public focus. One reason why the country is leading a golden charge is its prolificacy and innovation in the Pop arena. In the U.K. and U.S. - and most parts of the world for that matter- the Pop market is defined by some rather indeterminable quality. We all are sick of the sugary and nauseated Pop music of boy bands and twee teen singers- the types you hear singing on John Lewis adverts every year! The best Pop music comes from those with the balls to take the vocals, music and subject matter to new heights and different arenas. If you focus solely on love and issues around relationships then you are far too limited and risk boring the audience very quickly. Those acts that look at other aspects- from the population are large to specific items/people- yield the finest crops. I have long grown tired of British Pop music for its lack of quality and the complete lack of intelligence that goes into it. Sure, we have a few great Pop acts yet for the most part the scene is very under-developed and depressing. We do much better when it comes to harder sounds- Alternative and Rock fort example- but there are some fine examples that could be fixtures in 2016. I have reviewed the likes of NINA and Ivy and Gold- two London-based acts that mix Electronica and Pop- that are demonstrating determination, innovation and passion. I get bored and sick of the lack of energy, originality and intuition of Pop musicians today. Seemingly fixated with numbing the audience, there needs to be a spark and explosion in the market- there is a risk that Pop could sink into quicksand and never come back up. Thankfully the likes of Sameblod are providing guidance and a rulebook that should be picked up by artists here. Before I raise a new point, let me introduce the Swedish duo:
Sameblod are: Frederick and Mikael
“Wild arctic nature. Big city pulse. Fearless synthesizers, miles and miles of reverb, and delicate rhythms. Delicious Swedish indietronica from Stockholm by way of San Francisco and the cold northern regions of Sweden. Long nights of dancing and long hikes in the mountains.
Sameblod is one of Sweden’s most promising and exciting new acts - Frederick and Mikael in Sameblod released their debut album 'Braided Memos' April 20th, 2012”.
There is mystique and mystery behind the duo- very little biographical information is known about them- so it is down to the music to fill the gaps and do the talking. It would be nice to know who influences Sameblod and what their plans for next year are. With that being said their music at least raises some points about the importance of energy and colour in Pop music. Too many artists use the genre as a way of exorcising demons and playing clichés to death. You can sing about love and relations without succumbing to doe-eyed proffering and predictable sounds. What Sameblod have shown is how much potential and quality can be gained from injecting fervency and sunshine into their music. Their Nostalgia E.P. is out and contains five tracks that radiate with light, energy and plenty of intrigue. The stunning songs are defined by their originality and stunning compositions. Each track compels vivid images and daydreaming; a lot of thought and investigation. Songs that demand repeated listens and long-term affection; here is a duo that has a good and bright future ahead of them. The E.P. is being greeted with celebratory reaction and fans (new and old) are welcoming it with open arms. Whereas most Pop acts lose momentum over the course of an E.P. there are no such concerns here. From Fade Out’s bright openings to My Fortune’s lucky charms and you have a collection that will keep listeners hooked and invested in every moment. I was keen to dive into the E.P. and select a song to review (Asian Mojito) and came away amazed by the depth and quality of the music. A duo I was new to a few weeks ago, I will be following them very closely- seeing just what the next year has in store for them.
Sameblod have been on the scene a few years now- and have released a number of tracks already. When considering their latest offering it is worth harking back to see how they have developed and changed. What is clear is the passion and commitment they have at the moment. Their earliest days saw them find their sound and solidify their direction. UR Road was unveiled a few years ago and begins with a teasing beat and a twirling electronic sound that bond surprisingly well. Almost infantile in its sound you have a song that is radiant and bright from the very start. The composition itself is perhaps a little more interesting than the words- the vocals are mixed too low making it hard to decipher what is being sung- but that is compensation for the sheer energy and vitality of the music. The pressing and thudding beats keep that insistence and passion bright whilst the electronics weave beautiful patterns and possibilities. As the song nears its end we get something lovely little details and touches come through. Whistles and giddy notes sit with skipping beats and plenty of colour. A terrific early number- only let down by the poor vocal mixing- it showed the duo meant business and had a very distinct and stunning sound.
Norwegian Summer shows a more heartfelt and emotive beginning (than UR Road) - well the first few seconds! After that we get explosions of light and fire that brings the track right into the forefront. The lyrics look at someone hiding things “that are growing”. It seems like the worst days are gone- and the best ones are still ahead- which causes some fascination and intrigue. Perhaps assessing a Norwegian Summer- the warmth and tranquility will replace the colder moments- the song promotes some conspiring and interpretation. There are still one or two issues with vocal decipherability (especially towards the chorus) but is improved greatly from their earliest cuts. Again it is the consistent beat that makes the song such a thing of beauty. Our lead wants to take away the days without colour; improve things and make life better. That optimism and belief makes the song an inspiring thing for those listening. Too much of music gets concerned with sadder and heartbroken themes; Sameblod cast their net to greener pastures and aim for the sunshine. Showing emotional and thematic consistency; the duo sound more confident and clear here- a step forward and a necessary development in their music.
Forever arrived around the same time as Norwegian Summer and boats the same kind of introductionary fascination. Tumbling and delirious beats splice with a soothing and emotive electronic swathe to bring a great shiver and warmth to the opening. The song soon gets underway and displays that traditional sun-burst that marks out a Sameblod composition. Entranced in the beats and electronics, you “hide from the things you fear at night”. There is redemptiveness and protection at the song’s heart- something that is a staple of the Swedish duo’s artistry. Few negative thought and intentions can be heart and there is a dedicated bond and connection at work. Whether speaking of a sweetheart or friend, you cannot deny the loyalty and intentions of our hero. The girl has had a hard life and struggled but our hero is urging change and a way to improve thing. Urging her not to stop forever there is that motivational coda that is sing-along and indelible. A message and emotion not often conveyed in music that optimism and uplift never tires at all.
Suddenly was released a year ago- and was remixed several times as part of an E.P.- and stands as one of the duo’s most popular and assured numbers. A harder and more urgent start comes to play- compared to their previous numbers- but you have that distinct and unmistakable sound. Our hero is speaking to his girl and misses her face. His girl got her way; she sighed when they fade away- perhaps there is something more negativity and jaded in this number? Compared to the hopefulness of previous numbers there seems to be more emotion at play here. The issues with clarity (especially in the vocals) are almost resolved which makes it easier to interpret and understand the track. It seemed like the relationship was meant to last and would endure any test. Perhaps time and circumstance has altered things but you cannot deny the emotion at work. Our man lets it be known he is hurting and things have not worked out how they should. Although there is some hurt and dissatisfaction in the song the composition remains as sprightly and open as ever. The electronics and beats never seem suffocating or tense: juxtaposing those nervy and wounded sentiments makes the song even more interesting and fascinating. Perhaps the drifting apart is a mutual agreement although one suspects there was an argument or difference of opinions. Whilst the lyrics are story cause speculation and investigation it is the composition that digs deep and takes your mind somewhere else- the two work effortlessly alongside each other. Marking a move forward for the band- in terms of subject matter and assuredeness- and you have a track that was rightfully celebrated and mixed (producers and musicians were keen to give their spin on the track).
Flourish was released earlier this year and saw another change of direction for the Swedish pair. The introduction itself is different from past endeavours. Reminding me of Black Box’s Ride on Time- that oft-sampled and mimicked sound- and you have a track that could have been a staple of the late-‘80s/early-‘90s. That introduction is more than a recollection of past glories. Stunning little gems and details linger in the fray; the sound is detailed and nuanced- more than just a one-dimensional thing. By the time our hero gets to the microphone we hear sentiments like “(I) couldn’t preach my words” and “need to let you go”. It seems the love he is perhaps too intense and confessing this is more than he can go through. Our lead has stress and problems and needs to let her/it go. Whether it is just a relationship that needs cooling-off- or a particular tense time of things- you get that anxiety and strain in the vocals. Being a Swedish Pop duo you are never going to get a whitewash of emotion and sadness. The composition is perhaps the most vivacious and colourful the duo has come up with. Flourish is the statement of someone needing to let go and change things. People are telling (our hero) what comes next yet he wants to make his own way. He knows his stresses and life and will not be dictated and controlled. There is soul-bearing and sensitivity at work as our hero needs to control his emotions and take time to reflect upon things. It is unclear what has caused this realisation although one suspects the vicissitudes of life have had their bearing on his soul. One of the most assiduous and fascinating songs from the duo’s collection it showed a leap in quality and confidence.
With each release Sameblod grow in stature and meaning. The earliest days were interesting and impressive yet there were one or two issues. The vocals were often buried down in the mix and it made the songs hard to truly enjoy and understand. The compositions too played along the same lines and were not as diverse as they are now. The two-piece ensured the clarity and decipherability issues were rectified- they are now; everything is a lot crisper- whilst they push their sound and have become more daring and innovative. Nostalgia E.P. grows upon this and boasts five tracks that match Flourish’s sense of ambition and wonderment. Tying in emotional themes from their past work- love breaking down and more positive attitudes to life- and you have an E.P. that marks the peak of their achievements. Everything has been building to this moment and the boys have done themselves proud.
A dizzying and Asian-themed blend of electronics strings welcome in a track that instantly gets inside the mind. High and low notes swim frantically into a cascading waterfall that takes you by storm. Summoning up that image of an Asian mojito and you have a song that is evocative and stunning before the first note is sung. Before too long that drumbeat comes in to augment the fascination and add another layer to the intoxicating opening. It is rare for a band/act to elicit so much quality and passion in an introduction. Sameblod have always been masters of the craft yet have outdone themselves on Asian Mojito. With our hero at the microphone he confesses he drinks with everyone; not liking it when they complain we have some curious and intriguing early sentiments. Both oblique and direct, you start to imagine various scenes and predicaments. The introduction puts your mind in a Tokyo bar- where you hear those sparkling and crackling notes in the background as you sip a mojito- and the characters that are assembled. When the lyrics arrived our hero might be in the midst of the throng. As our man proclaims a beautiful day and swims with dolphins- ironically images that seem like a drunken haze in their contradictions and oddity- and you start to drink in the various scenarios and views of the hero. Our lead is looking inside his dreams and seems to be battling against certain people and thoughts. When it all comes down to it that Asian mojito is called for (“keep them coming and coming…”). As you become entranced in the images of paradise beaches and tropical retreats- matched against thoughts of skyscrapers and bustling metropolis crowds- you wonder what an Asian mojito consists. It seems like a drink with a lot of kick to it- perhaps some wasabi mixed with lime and mint leaves? - and all sorts of possibilities present themselves. Whatever is contained within the cocktail is surely having a desirable effect as our hero is propped at a bar- whether an Asian city bar or a beach-side retreat- and slipping into the night. It seems like there are personal anxieties and troubles causing him to slip into the bottom of a cocktail glass. Whether an Asian mojito is a metaphor for something else (or literal in its meanings) it is causing his mind to become more relaxed and less inhibited. The chorus marks one of Sameblod’s most delirious and spellbinding creations. Those electrifying electronics and beats are head-swimming and insatiable; you cannot escape the grip and theatrics. That chorus promises so many images and colours. Our lead has his only friend in hand; becoming more drunken and relaxed it seems like he is escaping his problems and retreating to somewhere safer and more comfortable. Our lead asks for company- whether from the drink or a friend- as he will drive the oceans and it “feels like lotion when we dive in”. As the words develop I get the impression of that tropical climb and the sand and sea underfoot. It seems like the sun-bliss island is the perfect place for our man to be in. Whether fighting struggles in life or entranced in a dream Asian Mojito is one of Sameblod’s most vivid and wondrous numbers. Asian Mojito never relents its charge of charm and seduction; effortless making its way into every crevice and nook of your existence. That Asian-Electro.-Pop blending is something very rare in music and it is stunning to witness. The duo is always authoritative in everything they do but here they sound utterly unstoppable and steamrolling. As the song comes to its end our man is sipping down his favourite drink whilst exploring ideas of the ocean, escape and tranquility. When trying to explore an origin and inspiration for the song I feel like there is a loneliness and sense of dislocation. Maybe so-called ‘friends’ are shunning the hero and not as supportive as they should be. Few could argue against the passion and conviction within the song; a number that shows underlying anxieties and heartache. The Asian mojito is the remedy that is sought; the way to drift into a fantasy and perhaps forget the troubles surrounding him. Maybe I am over-reaching but always like to drill down to the nub of the song.
Sameblod have crafted a terrific number within Asian Mojito. The rest of Nostalgia E.P. contains plenty of colour and vibrancy; perhaps no song is as urgent and memorable as Asian Mojito. A lot of Sameblod’s material is noted for its frantic past and rushing vocals. A few of the lyrics get buried on Asian Mojito although not too many to cause a big issue. With the simplicity of the lyrics it is clear that that cocktail and its effects is the central message. The vocals are among the most instantaneous and memorable the band has come up with- they summon up a myriad of emotions and intentions. The composition is something of rare beauty and wonderment. Such a busy and detailed beauty you can’t help but get lost inside its magic and mystique. Colours and sparkling notes put your mind in busy cities and among neon light- whereas the lyrics put you in a tropical climb- and it is a wonderful concoction. By the time you hear the song and let it do its work you are compelled to go back and investigate it again and again. Ensure you check out a wonderful song from a fantastic duo.
Not being the most ardent Pop fan I have been fascinated to hear Sameblod do their thing and kick ass. So much of Pop relies on introspection and a rather limited vocal/musical palette- it creates a low bar standard which others seem intent on limbering under. There are some great U.K.-based acts out there that are putting energy, fire and colour into Pop although they are a rare breed indeed. The Swedish two-piece has shown what can happen when you put some imagination into your music. It is true Nostalgia E.P. is not wall-to-wall joy and upbeat- there is emotion and some darker moments- although the abiding take-away is that of a duo intent on putting fun and passion into proceedings. Before I take things to a close it is worth looking ahead to 2016 and which Pop acts could make an impression. I mentioned I have reviewed some interesting Electro.-based Pop acts that could be creating waves in the near-future. For my money there are too few original and memorable Pop artists that deserve closer scrutiny. This country does a lot better when it comes to Alternative and Rock bands; we have some interesting solo artists coming through but there is too little quality and overall consistency. Sweden is one of those nations that few musical eyes cast towards. When it comes to the press here they tend to focus on homegrown talents- perhaps venturing on hot acts out of the U.S. - and negate the great artists coming from Europe and further afield. I understand that it is vital to foster and nourish the best we have here although that often creates homogenisation. What Sameblod produce is definitely worthy of some serious admiration and love, no? Their social media numbers are climbing and the feedback they are receiving- when it comes to their latest E.P. - demonstrates how effective and stunning their music is. They have not had to reinvent the wheel to elicit that kind of reaction and affection. Taking some core and standard elements of Pop- love and life’s struggles; interesting scenes and characters- they have ensured their voice is original and pure; the compositions are rich and vibrant- essentially they are putting as much intrigue and thought into the songs as they can. This attention and consideration results in music that has spiked a lot of excited eyes and ears. Make sure you pick Nostalgia E.P. up and discover a five-track release that ranks among this year’s most compelling and original. Sameblod are a fairly new act out of the blocks and have their best moments ahead of them. It will be great to see how they develop and progress in the coming years. Clearly they will be performing across the globe- let’s hope they come to London and play down this way- and giving fans a first-hand chance to hear the songs in the flesh. I am confident there will be another E.P. mooted and the boys will be seeing what they come up with next. Sameblod are a duo that has a big sound and clear knowledge of Pop. By sprinkling electronic elements into something genre-blending- hints of ‘60s Power-Pop with something ‘90s-inspired- you have music that hits you upon first listen and reveals new charms and layers the more you listen to it. With winter being among us we all need something warmer that emits something sunnier and joyous. Nostalgia E.P. provides plenty of heart and emotion but takes the trouble to lift the spirits and rouse the soul. Asian Mojito is one of the (E.P.’s) tracks that get less attention- when you compare it with the rest of the songs- but to my mind it is the finest track the duo has created. The title alone had me hooked and fascinated; the music contained within is spellbinding and hypnotic. Few Pop acts understand the importance of energy and mobility when it comes to their songs so I hope more follow the example of Sameblod. It only takes a few seconds to be completely invested in their music. With so few comparable acts around I will be sure to follow their plight and see what they come up with. Take a few moments out of your day to study a duo that is being talked about in very fond terms. You may be unfamiliar with the Swedish music scene; you may lack a great insight into the Pop market. Once you get onboard Sameblod’s train of thought and you will have your perspectives changed. Nostalgia E.P. and Asian Mojito are mighty fine ways…
TO end the musical calendar.
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