Like Clockwork is easily one of the most confusing artists I’ve ever encountered in my nearly eight years of writing Independent Clauses. I discovered him years ago as a lo-fi artist churning out tunes in a variety of genres. I guardedly praised his work, then waited for more. Since then, things got weird. There have been rumors of albums, double albums, and even triple albums. I’ll occasionally receive a single e-mailed to me with no text, just the mp3. Sometimes there’s a PR guy involved. Sometimes there’s not.
As of late, he has dramatically improved his vocals and reinvented himself as electronics-backed dance-rocker. His last two dispatches in this vein, “Oh My God!” and the most recent “Hands Up!”, are both awesome. But after rumors of all this material yet to be released, his iTunes page still only holds testament to a handful of singles, a couple EPs, old albums, and collaborations. Jesse Astin is a head scratcher, for sure.
But that doesn’t mean that “Hands Up!” is. On the contrary, it’s quite straightforward. A head-bobbing beat complete with handclaps forms the base for burbling synths. Astin’s assured, snarky vocals come in bright and clear over the beats and bring in the chorus, which is appropriately huge. There’s synths, guitars, backup singers, and guys yelling “Hands Up!” It’s a pop gem. If you don’t feel like moving when you’re listening to it, you’re probably no fun. Cause this song is just ridiculously fun. Mid-tempo, glee-filled, pop-techno fun. I’d check it out at iTunes; it’s worth your ninety-nine cents. And until the next Like Clockwork album appears, this is what we got.
Band Name: Linda Sundblad
Album Name: Oh My God!
Best Element: Not a bad track throughout
Genre: Female pop
Label Name: Monza Music AB
Band E-mail: n/a
If a young Madonna had recorded True Blue twenty years later, it might sound a little bit like Linda Sundblad’s Oh My God! From the crackling album opener “Cheater” to the lead single “Oh Father,” which flirts with the interplay between sexuality and religion, Sundblad brings back sparkly eighties pop and manages to make it sound more authentic (and classic) than most of her peers.
It’s quite an achievement for the lead singer of the now-defunct pop/rock band Lambretta, a group known more for their pop hooks than their adventurous attitude. Now, unbridled and borrowing the best from Gwen Stefani and fellow Swedish songstress Robyn, Sundblad explodes with a solo debut that presents an absolute kaleidoscope of pop styles. Nearly everything is successful, but clear standouts are the boisterous “Back in Time” and the unfortunately titled “Who (Q-Boy).” The latter is perhaps Sundblad’s most eerily Madonna moment. A twisting confection of a story-song, it bursts with unpredictable energy and verve, gliding on hook after glorious hook. Later highlights include hip-pop electro dance tracks “Keeper” and “Beautiful Boys,” though really the entire album is one long, wild ride with Sundblad’s charismatic, playful voice always at the center.
With Oh My God!, Linda Sundblad has easily crafted the female pop album of the year – and the best thing about it is that it sounds completely effortless. Those expecting a retread of the sound that rocketed Lambretta to fame are going to be surprised by this. Instead, Sundbald has fashioned herself as the pop star that Gwen Stefani promised us, but ultimately failed to deliver. A-
Key Tracks: “Who (Q-Boy),” “Oh Father,” “Back In Time”