The five songs Shy Shy Shy can’t live without

Shy Shy Shy is Astrid Cordes and Simon Kjeldegaard, a duo from Denmark who have subverted our expectations of Scandinavian indie pop with a synth-powered mix of awkwardness and confidence. We’ve been writing about them for the past three years or so, across which we’ve seen them push their boundaries while keeping that sense of fun. This Friday they release their debut full-length, Make Up, and to make the occasion we’ve dusted off this feature and asked them about the five songs they can’t live without. It’s not entirely synth-powered.

Continue reading

Review: Prisoner by Ryan Adams

Prisoner by Ryan AdamsThere was a lot of buzz around Prisoner, the new album from Ryan Adams, but to be honest, I don’t know if it all matches up. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad Ryan Adams album. If anything, this is really the break-up record (while his cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989 just suffered, or benefited, from coming so soon after his split with Mandy Moore). There are the usual elements from a Ryan Adams record, and in the right places it pulses with energy, flows with excitement. All that said, it is what it is: a Ryan Adams record. It doesn’t push the envelope – although it’s not what I wanted him to do, I think – but it doesn’t exactly retreat back. I dare say it actually turned out to be more unexciting than what “Do You Still Love Me?” suggested when that premiered. But again, it could be the hype. It is a good Ryan Adams album. It’s just not something I think I’ll remember. [NB]3/5

Review: 1989 by Ryan Adams

1989 by Ryan AdamsThere are several ways to approach Ryan Adams’ track-by-track cover of Taylor Swift’s massive pop smash 1989. If you’re particularly annoyed at how Taylor is hogging everything – from media attention to basic feminism tenets – lately, you can call this record a semi-ironic victory for “real” music, showing that real instruments and musical craftsmanship can always improve on any crappy pop record. If you’re a big TayTay fan, you can call this record proof of your queen’s musical supremacy, of how her record cuts through today’s fragmented audiences and becomes a genuinely universal experience, the world united by Taylor Swift’s music. Well. The most striking thing about 1989 is how it’s very sincere: there are no piss-takes here. And somehow, Ryan manages to flip around a record inspired by 80s pop and make it a more vintage proposition, one reminiscent of the angsty pop-rock ballads of the decade – a flip-over from the original. (It’s easy to mention Bryan Adams at this point, so, well, Bryan Adams.) Sometimes it’s brilliant (“All You Had To Do Was Stay” has this swagger that the original didn’t have) and sometimes it’s dreary (I still prefer the original “This Love”) but this is not something punched up entirely for kicks. It’s a respectful tribute – that term isn’t exactly accurate, however – that finds new things in the old. [NB]4/5

Review: Ryan Adams by Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams by Ryan AdamsOn the way to his fourteenth studio album, Ryan Adams scrapped a record’s worth of songs, decided to produce the album himself, and decamped to his own studio. The result is an interesting record, one that’s obviously personal, if not a bit self-indulgent – but with a background like this, why be bothered? Ryan’s self-titled record is an atmospheric dig, a bit more inspired by the sounds of his growing years than his previous records. The whole “this is my record” feel sullies the whole thing halfway through, however. The 70s studio rock feel gives way to the usual antics – and not that it’s a bad thing, but you feel like he just didn’t sustain what he had in the long run. But he sure sounds like he’s having fun, so I guess that’s all that matters in the end, yes? [NB] | 3/5