www.whyville.net May 29, 2007 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

The Music Scene

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There's been loads of American rock in "The Music Scene", most of which you all hate. I would like to say thank you to all of you who were kind enough to point out that the bands I do are horrible without swearing filthily. Or trying to swear. The filter has saved me yet again. Anyway, that's not the point. Today I'm writing the tenth "The Music Scene". Ten doesn't seem like a big number for all of you, but to me it's a landmark. Will there be a 15th? A twentieth? I sure hope so, because there is nothing I like better than sharing my musical tastes with you. Honestly and truly. Does it sound like I have nothing better to do or what? For those of you who would like me to stop rambling, your wish has come true. Let's get on with the 10th! And, um, wait. Who will this week's be about?

Attitude plays a big role in this band, and that's what I like about them. I love the different musical instruments they use, and the husky, but sincere voice of Maja (pronounced Mya). I love how this band can strut around on a stage like they own it, and when their set is done, be the most down-to-earth people you've ever met. That is, if you have ridiculous connections and do ever meet them, if in which case you have, I'll pick your brains for an hour. With all my confusing jabber, I suppose you still can't guess who it is.

The Sounds, of course. Not the most obvious answer in the world? I apologize.

Besides the fact that they play edgy, fun music, and that they really have personality, I picked the Sounds this week because I wanted to get some other types of music in the scene. Yes, you guessed it. The Sounds are a Swedish pop group. Fine. Am I giving you to much credit? You wouldn't have a clue in the world.

The Sounds popped out of a virtually unheard of city in southern Sweden, Helsingborg. The group started with vocalist Maja Ivarsson, keyboardist Jesper Anderberg, and guitarist Felix Rodriguez playing power pop music with edgy lyrics in a couple of local clubs in their city. Although their kind of sound wasn't much appreciated in Helsingborg, the band didn't lose hope. Heck, they pushed right on forward adding drummer Fredrik Nilsson, and bassist Johan Bengtsson. "Our parents were supportive of everything we did, although they wouldn't put a penny into us. We had to earn everything we wanted," Maja states. Sounds like two people I know!

After many long months as a group, The Sounds finally scrapped together their debut, Living in America. Ironic, if you think about it. I guess the word "scrapped" doesn't fit this album whatsoever. More like "beautifully crafted". The debut was made when the four members were barely out of high school. Tell you the truth; making an album is extremely hard work, especially if you are straight out of school. What The Sounds did defeated the odds. Don't believe me? Put your money in Living in America debuted at number 4 on Swedish album charts, and several Swedish Grammy's, including "best newcomer". Ha. Even try to go to Vegas, baby. In America, the album made The Sounds one to watch, and respect. Some bands can't earn that sort of eye into they are late into their junior album. The Sounds do it again. The next big step for the Sounds was touring. Not that they didn't have options. In the end, they went on Warped Tour, as well as being alongside the Foo Fighters, and the Strokes in other tours.

As if having a huge fan base all over the world wasn't enough, The Sounds were picking up other star-studded musicians publicly co-signing for the band. Pharrell Williams, Bam Margera, and even Britney Spears, just to name a few. Wow, like that wouldn't give any other band a shock.

What do they say about having such sudden fame? "It's kind of weird, being from such a small city in Sweden and all these celebrities starting to dig into our band. But it's cool in we play, and people like it. That's the most important things to us," says Jesper.

After logging miles and miles to tours, signings, and the frequent interviews, you think our lovely little (okay, big) band would be dead tired. Apparently not so. After finishing the year's tours, the band went into the studio again for their second LP, Dying To Say This To You. This record is even more full to the bursting than the last. Sure, The Sounds stay with their punk lyrics and pop sound, but they push the boundaries, earning a few Billboard numbers along the way. The producer Dying To Say This To You, Jeff Saltzman, (he helped produce the Killers' Hot Fuss) with additional production from Scratchie Records co-owners, James Iha (from The Smashing Pumpkins and A Perfect Circle), and Adam Schlesinger, (Fountains of Wayne, and Ivy) and mixer Paul Kolderie. The Sounds had quite a crew for this record, and it paid off. The album sounds like a deeper, more mature version of The Sounds. Priceless. Dying to Say This to You has a lot of vibes for any music lover. Flavorful rock songs, upbeat electronic, funky, personal, ballads, and tear-jerking pianos; it's all there. If you enjoy a bit of disco, heck there's a mixed up old disco beat on the record. It surprised me how many different types of music that The Sounds fit into their songs. All of it sounds like the original band, though, which is always a key element. If you call "exploring new territory" sounding like Justin Timberlake, even though it's personal, then it's time to rethink the whole basic idea of your band, and finding a new, original sound.

The recording sessions started with Jeff Saltzman in Studio 880, in Oakland, California. This is the studio where Green Day recorded American Idiot. I think Maja puts it best when she says, "880 is huge-you feel like your Bruce Springsteen when you walk in." So what does the enchanting lead singer think about The Sounds new sound? Check that out.

"When we wrote the first album, everybody was so young," Maja says, "So we were really going for that upbeat, up-tempo songs with catchy lyrics and stuff. And now, you can still hear that in some songs, but also darker things too, because we've been through a lot together. There's still a catchy chorus, but maybe the lyrics aren't about drinking and partying. That combination of light and darkness is the kind of twist I like."

The Sounds can truly break molds. It takes a lot to get where they are now, especially if you are from an unheard of town in Sweden. Think about it.

So, with schedules booked, and aspirin swallowed, The Sounds are taking off on their tours, and new life as a structured band. I've been on board with The Sounds since I heard the Living in America album years back. I'm proud to see them as a band today. One album can change a lot, and 3 years can do even more.

The 11th The Music Scene? This band blends rap, rock, R&B, and funk into one smooth sound. This band was discovered by Pete Wentz and these upstate New York natives are now signed onto his label, Decay Dance.

Pffff. You can figure out.

Vi ses senare, (See you later in Swedish) Or as close as I can get.


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