We've talked in the past about the twee resurgence, bands who aren't afraid to sound like the days when indie didn't mean anything with a guitar but instead anything with pop ambitions and lemonade bottle returns recording budget. For such things we often have to cast aside the no further than scenester ambitions of us Brits and look to Scandinavia, where they're less uptight about how such things will play in the market and produce great songs for the hell of it. With that in mind, Those Dancing Days could be about to become a band to cherish for many people. Five seventeen and eighteen year old girls from the not at all child-amusingly named Stockholm suburb of Nacka, they take the usual influences - 60s garage/R&B, Motown, Northern Soul, ska, C86, girl groups, Belle & Sebastian - plus their self-admitted love of the Cure and Strokes and weave it all into something floor-fillingly magical. While you can tell they're from the same ballpark as Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, Shout Out Louds, I'm From Barcelona and other Swedish bretheren, their opening UK shot 7" on Wichita, Those Dancing Days/1000 Words, has a confidence and a hip-swinging louche greatness that belies their age and experience, and going on their recent domestic EP they've got even better to come. That they're actually named in honour of Dancing Days from Led Zeppelin's Houses Of The Holy makes them even more inscrutable. Another seventeen year old in a different milieu is Laura Marling, an inhabitant of Eversley, a village situated just about where Berkshire becomes Hampshire, who started playing live at the start of last year and quickly picked up a following, to the extent that she was barred from one of her own gigs last week because it was an 18+ venue. More Laura Nyro than Joni or Sandy, coming from a parental upbringing of the blues, she's already been labelled a New Lily, but only in the way KT Tunstall was originally the New Dido; the My Manic And I EP is far more well heeled late night introspection and promises much. Montreal's New Metric - nobody's really termed them that, but it's never too early to give a band a crutch - Land Of Talk finally release their acclaimed Applause Cheer Boo Hiss EP in the UK in a couple of weeks on the back of their Decemberists support dates, preceded by the not exactly widely approved these days move of releasing an entirely different track as a single, Young Bridge. Does knowing exactly what you're getting from a band make them any less easy to promote? The Hives will never have the weight of commercial tailwind they had between Hate To Say I Told You So and the end of the following festival season again but they're still doing what is very much their thing on Tick Tick Boom. As Klaxons are to nu-rave Maps are to nu-gaze in that we're not entirely sure what it means but we know what it's supposed to indicate in that context. we weren't as taken by James Chapman's album as many but To The Sky is a highlight.
It's the future! Two of high quality deserves a mini-section, we feel. British Sea Power seem to have been about to release a new album all year, having gone to ingest some of that Hotel2Tango immutable magic at the start of the year. The result, sadly, isn't called Now That's What I Call A First World War Joy Division, as suggested by one of their ever quotable if the writer is in a rush Newsboosts, but Do You Like Rock Music?, and it's out two Mondays into 2008. In the meantime comes Krankenhaus?, a five track EP described as "a pre-school understanding of atomic theory with ancient wisdom in amplified rock music" which basically means it sounds much like their usual Psychedelic Furs/Bunnymen/Pixies/Cold War meld, featuring two re-edited tracks from the album, three fresh songs, a live Spirit Of St Louis video ("filmed at London Forum in November 2005 and is the work of five camera operatives. See it and wonder why") and Water Tower, a short experimental film made at a derelict Suffolk tower near their recording base for part of the album; "it features compelling footage of BSP sweeping up, cleaning their teeth and walking around. The soundtrack is a mesmeric agro-ambient instrumental composed of traditional Fenland drumming and guitar styled after a drunk eel who's lost his ticket to the Sargasso Sea." One more? "The title of the EP is Krankenhaus?, which is German for hospital. This could equally allude to the healing and/or life-saving qualities of indie rock music, or perhaps the vast quantities of pharmaceuticals associated with both of these. The green cross adorning the front could be the one used to locate a chemist's, or maybe a symbol of a new ecological religion. The answer is up to you." Less agragarian but no less conceptual are the Decemberists, who've stuck together a The Perfect Crime EP featuring a single edit of the album track (The Perfect Crime #2.51? What happened to 2.5?) and remixes by Junior Boys, Diplo and A Touch Of Class.
Every time Stereogum refer to Jens Lekman, which given his blog popularity is quite often, someone in the comments box always responds "isn't he the Arsenal goalkeeper?", never caring that the target audience probably have no idea of the concepts of Arsenal Football Club or goalkeeping. While the Swedish pop writing genius will probably never see the end of that one, more widespread recognition on his own terms is deserved on the back of Night Falls Over Kortedala (Kortedala being a district of Gothenburg), only his second proper album (Oh You're So Silent Jens was a compilation of early EPs) and one that nearly didn't happen after, feeling the pressure and with his personal life in turmoil, he scrapped an album's worth of songs in 2005 and briefly went to work in a bingo hall. Out of it has come a collection of songs more openly personally rooted than before and not so reliant on samples but still with expansive chamber ambition, deadpan cleverness out of circumstance and the ordinary and ability to make something melodically special out of base indiepop materials, following in the footsteps of obvious influences Morrissey and Stephin Merritt. If it's the little things that matter, this album will change musical lives. We don't know whether Oxford's Jonquil are still just Hugo Manuel in the studio or the fruition of the live six-piece version, but Lions is a step on from their chamber folk origins, aiming towards Montreal-style chorality and widescreen dynamics. Back to Scandinavians influenced by proper indie, except this time it's Finland's Cats On Fire pulling directly from the Mozza'n'Murdoch source, but obviously with an organ, for the enjoyable The Province Complains. Busiest man in the American obtusely detailed alternative scene Spencer Krug has found time for a new Sunset Rubdown record, Random Spirit Lover; Levy made a small splash a couple of years ago and return with the bitter theatrics of Glorious; and Celebration's broken kaleidoscope of David Sitek-produced pulsing psychedelics are refined on The Modern Tribe. The latest in the well on form All Back To Mine series lands with Guillemots, currently on a writing break, which being Guillemots means Fyfe's on a commission to pen a piece for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra which is being performed at Thursday's reopening of the Birmingham Town Hall. As for this compilation it's as eclectic and magnificent as expected, including Sonic Youth, Bjork, the Supremes, Daniel Johnston, Sandy Denny, Liars, Joan As Police Woman, Roots Manuva, Four Tet, Amon Tobin, Charles Mingus and Buffalo Springfield. Oh, and according to the press release "Lauren Laverne even makes an appearance under her Kenickie guise". Her guise? Did Marie and Emmy-Kate die for this? It's I Would Fix You, as you need to know. It's taken a while for the entire recorded output of the Fire Engines to make it to one CD for the first time, Hungry Beat showcasing the Franz-namechecked Sound Of Young Scotland key workers' dissonant Velvetsisms and help in inventing angular punk-funk. Nobody has ever named Stump as an influence, landing as it does somewhere in the not exactly Gary Davies-charming field between the Cardiacs and Beefheart. A Fierce Pancake And Before is a reissue of their key work and assorted add-ons.