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Sweden & Atoms for Peace Review

Jim and Greg kick off the Sound Opinions World Tour with a musical voyage to Sweden. DJ Stefan Wermelin is our guide through Swedish Pop history from ABBA to Robyn.

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Music News

For as long as we can recall, the music industry story has been a sad one, but perhaps there's a happy ending? It's taken 13 years, but music revenues are finally up, albeit by 3%. That's still cause for celebration, though. Digital music has been a big boost to the record biz, with its contribution to 30% of sales. Which artists are selling? No surprises here: Adeleand Carly Rae Jepsen are the reigning queens.

This week the Center for Copyright Information, which includes members of the RIAA, MPA and many ISP's, will begin to alert users engaged in illegal activity like piracy. The system hopes to be educational, rather than punitive. So, after“six strikes,”or alerts, a user may lose internet speed or be forced to watch videos about piracy. Will this be enough to curb a commonplace practice? We dunno, but here's a video to tell you more. And please note the exits to your right and left.

world tour

Sweden

Jim and Greg have always insisted that rock ‘n’ roll belongs to the world. In our new series, the Sound Opinions World Tour, they prove it by zeroing in on countries that've made big contributions to global rock and pop. Their first stop is the largest exporter of music per capita in the world: Sweden. Swedish DJ and public radio host Stefan Wermelin is our guide through the country's musical history. Stefan explains that in the '50s and '60s, Sweden was a pop music backwater. Musicians churned out cut-rate covers of American and English hits. The '60s hippie“Progg”movement injected some originality and artistic ambition into Swedish music, but things didn't really change until ABBA hit it big with "Waterloo." According to Stefan, ABBA set the template for Swedish success. The band created big hits by co-opting the best bits of global pop music and stitching them together with meticulous production. That tradition of pastiche continues today with Swedish producers like Max Martin, the man behind a hundred-and-one Billboard Top Ten hits (Britney Spears' "…Baby One More Time" and Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" among them). But today, Sweden's also experiencing an indie renaissance in genres as varied as death metal, dance music, and Americana. Decades after ABBA, artists like The Knife, Lykke Li, Robyn, Opeth, and First Aid Kit are staging a second Swedish invasion.

reviewAmokAMOK available on iTunes

Atoms for Peace AMOK

After his solo project The Eraser, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke went out on tour with a group that could only be described as "super": Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea on bass, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on programming, Joey Waronker on drums and Mauro Refosco on percussion. The collaboration worked so well that the group has released an album under the name Atoms for Peace. Greg was impressed with how The Eraser really found its identity live, and he has high hopes AMOK will do the same. But on record, the songs are not as strong as the production, so he can only say Burn It. In terms of his unique voice, Thom Yorke has finally won Jim over. He gets the robotic and alien nature of the voice the electronic musicianship and the dystopian lyrics and says Buy It.

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“If I'm in Luck I Might Get Picked Up”Betty Davis

Miles Davis has been on Greg's mind lately, and his revolutionary string of early '70s albums(including Bitches Brew, Live-Evil, and On the Corner) have been fixtures on Greg's turntable for weeks. Miles' rock and funk explorations can be partially credited to (or blamed on, depending on your point of view) his then wife, Betty Davis. She put out her own series of great records after their divorce. For his Desert Island Jukebox pick this week, Greg turns to the first song on Betty Davis' 1973 self-titled debut, "If I'm in Luck I Might Get Picked Up." Betty put together an incredible band of Santana and Sly Stone sidemen (including Larry Graham on bass!), and wrote parts for them that contained more than enough grit and grime to complement her raspy blues roar and bawdy lyrics. Even Prince personally told Greg that he uses this song as a frequent source of inspiration!

Featured Songs

  1. Carly Rae Jepsen, Call Me Maybe, Kiss, 604/Schoolboy/Interscope, 2012
  2. The B-52s, Roam, Cosmic Thing, Reprise, 1989
  3. Robyn, Hang With Me, Body Talk Pt. 2, Konichiwa, 2010
  4. Opeth, The Drapery Falls, Blackwater Park, Music for Nations, 2001
  5. Bill Haley and His Comets, Rock Around the Clock, Rock Around the Clock, Decca, 1955
  6. Bursell Twins, Route 66, Svensk Rock ‘N’ Roll 1954-1963, Premium Publishing, 1956
  7. Hoola Bandoola Band, Vem Kan Man Lita Pa, Vem Kan Man Lita Pa, MNW, 1972
  8. Ebba Gr"on, Staten Och Kapitalet, Single, Mistlur, 1980
  9. Bj"orn Ulvaeus & Benny Andersson, Hej Gamle Man, single, Polar, 1970
  10. ABBA, Waterloo, Waterloo, Polar, 1974
  11. ABBA, Mamma Mia, ABBA, Polar, 1975
  12. Lykke Li, Get Some, Wounded Rhymes, LL, 2011
  13. ABBA, Fernando, single, Polar, 1976
  14. Blue Swede, Hooked on a Feeling, Hooked on a Feeling, EMI, 1974
  15. Ace of Base, The Sign, The Sign, Warner Bros., 1993
  16. Backstreet Boys, Everybody (Backstreet's Back), Backstreet's Back, Jive, 1997
  17. In Flames, Deliver Us, Sounds of a Playground Fading, Century Media/Razzia, 2011
  18. Sahara Hotnights, Alright Alright) Here's My Fist Where's the Fight), Jennie Bomb, RCA, 2001
  19. Ghost, Elizabeth, Opus Eponymous, Rise Above, 2011
  20. First Aid Kit, Emmylou, The Lion's Roar, Redeye, 2012
  21. Andi Almqvist, Low Dive Jenny, Red Room Stories, Rootsy, 2007
  22. Little Dragon, Ritual Union, Ritual Union, Peacefrog, 2011
  23. Atoms for Peace, Default, Amok, XL Recordings, 2013
  24. Atoms for Peace, Judge, Jury and Executioner, Amok, XL Recordings, 2013
  25. Betty Davis, If I'm in Luck I Might Get Picked Up, Betty Davis, Just Sunshine Records, 1973
  26. Tommy Tutone, 867-5309/Jenny, Tommy Tutone 2, Columbia, 1981
  27. Dead Sweaters, Dangerous, Dead Sweaters, self-released, 2012
  28. Future Islands, The Great Fire, On the Water, Thrill Jockey, 2011
  29. Jimmy Cliff, You Can Get It If You Really Want, The Harder They Come, Island, 1972

Footnotes

latimes.com Global music sales up billboard.com Adele, Carly Rae Jepsen Top Charts copyrightinformation.org Center for Copyright Information washingtonpost.com Copyright alert system goes into effect arstechnica.com“Six strikes”copyright alert wikipedia.org Progg abbasite.com ABBA nme.com Max Martin atomsforpeace.info Atoms for Peace chicagotribune.com Greg's Atoms for Peace review lightintheattic.net Betty Davis chicagotribune.com A peek into Prince's mind