Music

Mans Wieslander: Yet

Jeremy Schneyer

Mans Wieslander

Yet

Label: Parasol
US Release Date: 2002-11-19
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

For some reason, I always hold a special place in my heart for those artists whom I discovered entirely by chance. These are usually CD's I pick up on a whim, for one reason or another -- maybe the cover art was cool, maybe I know the label it was released on, maybe I recognize a name in the liner notes, maybe the disc was simply too cheap to pass up. Mans Wieslander's CD Twin Piloda fit several of these categories for me. While digging through the budget section of a local record store a year or so ago, I happened across the disc for the princely sum of 99 cents. It was probably Mans' unusual name that caught my eye at first, but a quick perusal revealed not only that he was Swedish (a plus in my book -- it seems that Sweden is second only to Australia in the number of amazing pop bands it produces), but that his record was produced by Ola Frick, a member of another excellent Swedish band, the Moonbabies. With this information under my belt, the purchase was a no-brainer. Twin Piloda turned out to be one of the most pleasant surprises of last year -- simultaneously lush and airy, this was simple, beautiful music. Weislander's voice was supple and nimble, equally capable of gentle croons and more forceful declarations. This coupled with the excellent songwriting and creative instrumentation on display lifted Twin Piloda far above your garden-variety mellow indie rock.

Thankfully, Weislander has scored himself a US distribution deal through Parasol records, which means that his excellent material is no longer limited to those faithful fans willing to track it down on import (or those lucky slobs like me who find it in the budget bin for a buck). Yet is his first US release under this deal, and while it's not quite as sonically impressive as Twin Piloda, it's still an extremely worthwhile effort, and well worth investigating.

For Yet, Weislander seems to have toned down the sonic experimentation factor a bit. While Twin Piloda wasn't exactly a Flaming Lips record, it found its creator a bit more willing to juxtapose ugly noises with the inherent beauty of his voice and guitar playing. Although that tendency is explored to some degree on Yet with songs like "Unsound", which features squalling guitar noise on top of a lush bed of cellos and acoustic guitar. More common this time around, however, are gorgeous entries such as "Speedbump", "Evil Eye", and "October Quarterly", which feature aching, swelling vocal melodies and fairly simple instrumentation (mainly acoustic guitar, bass light percussion). Weislander's voice is put on full display in these songs, and he rises to the occasion magnificently. It is a wistful, autumnal instrument; a soothing sound that draws the listener in despite the fact that it isn't singing about anything terribly profound.

That's not to say that Weislander has nothing to say, it's just that his vocal melodies are much more distinctive than his actual lyrics. All this means, really, is that you'll be singing along to lines like "So be happy now, with your animated loss" (from "October Quarterly") or "Evil eye, in the winter I'll fry" from "Evil Eye") without having the foggiest idea of what the author of the line is talking about. However, it's not like this is anything new in the word of rock music, as over the years, we've happily sung along to the nonsense scribbled by anyone and everyone from John Lennon to Bob Pollard. While Weislander is certainly not as abstract as those folks are, the fact is simply that you're not likely to find any great kernels of wisdom in these songs. And, hell, that's OK: it sounds good, and besides, it's just pop music anyway.

For some reason, with this release, Weislander has received numerous comparisons to the Go-Betweens. While I adore the Go-Betweens, I can't help but think that someone who hasn't actually heard much of their material initially made this comparison. Although his voice bears a passing resemblance to Grant McLennan's, his songs are neither as wiry or tightly wound as the Go-Betweens' best material. If anything, Yet bears a slight resemblance to McLennan's more easily digestible solo work than actual Go-Betweens' material. However, it's certainly not as if that's the first time inaccurate comparisons have been made by the indie music press this year (for the last time, Interpol aren't ripping off Joy Division, they're ripping off the Kitchens of Distinction!).

In the end, Yet is an excellent effort from a tremendously talented singer/songwriter who should find many fans on these shores. If it's a tad less distinctive than its predecessor, it still easily holds its own, and can hardly be considered a disappointment -- truly, if Yet was the first thing I'd ever heard from Wieslander, I'd still be as thrilled as I was when I first heard Twin Piloda. This is a thoughtful, beautiful record full of well-crafted songs that should appeal to anyone who tends to use those adjectives in the description of their favorite artists.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image