On the liner notes for their song “Polaroid Dreams,” 2muchachos declare “only when u hear / the singin’ of a titmouse / outside / u feel the spring / that spring just like the children’s photo album.” That simple sentiment is married with a series of gorgeous instrumentals perfect for lazing in the grass during the warmer months. Their EP, Vesnywki!!, was released in April 2012 and is available for free download on their Bandcamp page, so you should probably get on that.
First of all, there is a Russian band called Human Tetris, which will inevitably recall a certain 8-bit theme melody. But the actual post-punk group has a much fuller and more contemporary sound. Lush, melodic and a little moody at times, Human Tetris is keeping the dream of the ’90s alive in Moscow.
If there’s a theme present in Barcelona Casio-punk band Mendetz’s work, it’s straight-up goofiness. From Looney Tunes-referencing album titles to their use of wacky Spoonerisms (“Hap Your Clands”) to their glimmering neon-and-synths style a la Chromeo.
Guadalupe Plata’s hometown of Úbeda may be in the deep south of Spain, but their music sounds like it comes from somewhere much more otherworldly, by way of the Mississippi Delta. The band’s founding members, Pedro de Dios Barcelo and Carlos Jimena, grew up as devotees of swampy southern blues, and with Guadalupe Plata, they’ve taken that style, poured gasoline all over it, lit a match and watched as tattooed biker zombies rose from the ashes. One YouTube commenter described the band as sounding like “the illegitimate children of George Thorogood and a runaway rat from the sewers of Gijón,” which is as accurate as it is strangely poetic. Also, their videos are absolutely insane, always in the best way.
They’ve been called one of Barcelona’s “best-kept secrets.” But they won’t have that status for long—this post-rock trio has been gaining a fanbase in BCN and beyond with the release of their first EP, Rome, in June of 2011. Their hypnotic, atmospheric style has been compared to Explosions In the Sky, Mogwai and others, but soon, bands to follow will be compared to Boreals. They recently rocked the Primavera Sound festival and released a follow-up album, Grecia, earlier this year.
Jens is back! Jens is back! Jens is back! Alright, so Jens never really left, but he is releasing his first full-length album since his fantastic 2007 album, Night Falls Over Kortedala, on September 4th of this year. In the meantime, put his new track, “Erica America,” all in your ears.
First Aid Kit
The Söderberg sisters from just outside Stockholm first began raising ears with a wrenching cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” that certainly rivaled the original. Earlier this year, they released The Lion’s Roar, their golden, country-ish sophomore album to largely positive reviews. If you haven’t had a chance to drive around / stroll around or dance around your living room to “Emmylou,” take this opportunity now. Right now. Go ahead. We’ll wait.
Sweden has traditionally been a powerhouse in the annual Eurovision Song Contest, most notably with ABBA’s “Waterloo.” In this year’s installment of the competition, Swedish entrant Loreen straight-up cleaned up, and rightfully so, with a little belter called “Euphoria.” This is the kind of song that becomes an international mega-hit and makes a nice, if not slightly cheesy, addition to your summer jams playlist. If you are actually in Europe this summer, be prepared to hear it everywhere.
Competitive battle rap has a massive following in Europe, with several leagues (most notably Don’t Flop in the United Kingdom) amassing hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and making overnight sensations of their emcees. The scene is also huge in Norway and Sweden, the latter which sports the ferocious and gifted tongue of rapper, battler and occasional slam poet Henry Bowers, named after a villain in Stephen King’s It.
Okean Elzy have been around for nearly two decades, and in that time they’ve become one of the country’s most popular bands, moving crowds the world over with their big, often dramatic heavy rock sound. They served as active cheerleaders for the Ukrainian national team when they made the 2006 World Cup, and will likely be throwing all their support behind Andriy Shevchenko and the rest of the team as they compete on home turf.
Ukraine gave us Eugene Hütz and the gypsy-punk dance-party world summit that is Gogol Bordello, but they’re hardly the only group combining Eastern European folk with global influences and a rowdy good show. Gogol fans should give a listen to Haydamaky, named for a group of 18th-century rebels, who deliver the traditional instrumentation and sounds of Ukraine with an added punch of punk energy.
This hip-hop and reggae collective from Ukraine-by-way-of-Uganda was originally called “Black Pillars,” but changed their name to “Chornobryvtsi,” the Ukrainian word for marigold, one of the national symbols—a fitting name, as their take on traditional folk is helping redefine the national musical identity. One of the group’s most recognized tracks is a smooth reimagining of “Tyzh Mene Pidmanula” (“You Tricked Me And You Let Me Down”) a popular folk song about a guy who keeps getting stood up by the same girl.