Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Contenders Series #15: The Radio Dept. - "Heaven's on Fire"

(see also:  Aaron's Sweden Mix, Part One)

Ilana and I are big fans of the Brazilian band Cansei de Ser Sexy (aka CSS).  You may know them.  Their "Music Is My Hot Hot Sex" single was used in an iPod commercial, and the band played a semi-prestigious time slot at Treasure Island Festival two years ago (where the lead singer wore ... um, this).  They are modestly famous in America.

Ilana and I spent five weeks in Brazil last summer.  Going in, we didn't know much about Brazilian culture, music, food ... anything, really.  But we knew CSS, and we assumed that the band was huge in Brazil.  We thought this would be a nice ice-breaker with people we met along the way.

As it turns out ... no one from Brazil has ever heard of CSS.  According to Wikipedia, the band only sold 5,000 records in Brazil.  Somehow, despite this, they managed to score a record deal in America, and the moderate fame that came with it.  This did not help us at all when it came to making friends in Brazil.  Furthermore, the band's name translates as "tired of being sexy" ... which is just a weird thing to say to strangers and people you just met.

Along the same lines, I talk about a lot of Swedish music on this blog.  Later in this post, we'll get to part one of a two-part mix of my favorite Swedish bands.  Listening to all these great songs, I always dream about going to Sweden and just being surrounded by incredible music all the time.  Realistically, though, I doubt this kind of music dominates the airwaves over there.  Swedes probably listen to their fair share of terrible pop music, too.  A lot of these artists (like CSS) actually record for American labels, and those who don't (like The Radio Dept., who we're ostensibly talking about in this post) record for Swedish niche labels.

My two favorite Swedish record labels are Sincerely Yours and Labrador (home of The Radio Dept.).  Look at those web sites.  Not exactly designed to move platinum units.  More ... set up to sell to a handful of obsessives from around the world.

So I doubt "Heaven's on Fire" is on Stockholm's version of TRL.  Still, the fact that Sweden produces music like this at all makes my exceedingly proud of my heritage.  So I'll keep listening.  And you should, too.

Changing gears, here's Part One of a two-part Best of Sweden mix I've been working on.  A lot of these songs should be available on Hype Machine.  Confusingly, "Heaven's on Fire" is on Part Two of this mix, but so is another artist I want to talk about, so ... yeah.

Aaron's Sweden Mix, Part One

(1) Shout Out Louds - "You Are Dreaming"
(2) The Ark - "One of Us Is Gonna Die Young"
(3) Millencolin - "No Cigar"
(4) Lykke Li - "I'm Good, I'm Gone"
(5) Teddybears - "Yours to Keep"
(6) Peter, Bjorn & John - "Amsterdam"
(7) The Knife - "Heartbeats"
(8) I'm From Barcelona - "Treehouse"
(9) The Sounds - "Living in America"
(10) Robyn - "Be Mine!"
(11) Miike Snow - "A Horse Is Not a Home"
(12) Soundtrack of Our Lives - "Sister Surround"
(13) Love is All - "Make Out Fall Out Make Up"
(14) Caesars - "Jerk It Out"

Download:  The Radio Dept. - Heaven's on Fire

Official Site
Hype Machine
Buy Radio Dept Music

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