Category Archives: Uncategorized

What’s been hot on the Czech Indie Chart this August…

It’s been a pretty hot summer in the Czech Republic, musically speaking, especially for electronic music: Radio One Prague’s VELKÁ SEDMA chart – the Czech Indie Top 15 – has been dominated by electronica from the likes of VENTOLIN, FLOEX, KUBATKO and APOLLINAIRE…with the odd bit of indie guitar rock or pop from the likes of PETER PAN COMPLEX, DIV I DED and LAKE MALAWI topping things off very nicely…

Here are just some of August’s highlights:

KUBATKO – Anthracite (Feat. Oh Hee-Jung & Jo Joong-Hyun)

FLOEX – Prenatal Hunters

NOVÍ LIDÉ – Ztracen

VENTOLIN – Supersonik

SABIANI – Variation On Suspicious Love (2015 Mix)

PETER PAN COMPLEX – Talking Sense

APOLLINAIRE – Ice

FREQUENCY – Walk Straight

BUY HER SUGAR – Waiting

SELECTIVE MUTE – Sick Love

NOISE PARADE – Magmatic

ANDELS – Rave Biscuit

PS – Got Me

CHEVEYO – Summer Ease

DIV I DED – Waiting

LAKE MALAWI – We Are Making Love Again

The new Velká Sedma chart can be heard every Tuesday evening 7-9pm (UK time) on Radio 1 Prague. For the current Velká Sedma chart visit the Radio 1 Prague website here.

Alex

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NEW VELKÁ SEDMA CHART: the best of the latest Czech Indie Top 15…

The CZECH INDIE TOP 15 – known as the VELKÁ SEDMA – is particularly strong this week. Here are some highlights…

No 3: HOUPACI KONĚ – Suez

No 4: AUDIO ATTACHÉ – Chvíle

No 5: KLARA – Home (feat. Edna Green)

No 6: QUEER JANE – Bittersweet

No 7: VENTOLIN – Supersonik

No 8: THE BREAKROLLS – Drumma

No 9: DIRTY PICTURES – Letiště

No 10: APOLLINAIRE – Ice
https://soundcloud.com/apollinaireaudio

No 11: PUDING PANI ELVISOVEJ – Biela

No 12: ČERVEN – Oktavín 3

The latest full Velká Sedma chart can be viewed on the Radio 1 Prague website here.

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Highlights from this week’s Czech Indie Top 15…

Here is a selection of songs from this week’s VELKÁ SEDMA – the Indie Top 15 chart on Prague’s Radio 1:

No 1:    VLOŽTE KOČKU – Ryby II

No 2:    IRA MIMOSA – Mlha

No 3:    PIČA Z HOVEN – Nemůžu spát

No 4:    LUNO: Target Fish (Acoustic)

No 5:    GAGARIN – Co bude

No 6:    KUBATKO – Za hlavou (feat. Olga Königová)

No 9:    JUSTIN LAVASH – If You Weren’t My Friend

No 11:   LANUGO – Smutná vášeň

No 12:   ROOCZA – Flatline

No 15:   SUNDAYS ON CLARENDON ROAD – Unward

For the full VELKÁ SEDMA chart on Radio 1 click here.



LAKE MALAWI to tour UK after Great Escape Festival appearance in May



LAKE MALAWI will be embarking on their first ever British tour in conjunction with their forthcoming appearance at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton this May. The London/Prague-based indie dream pop band, fronted by Albert Černý, will play gigs in Worthing, Newcastle, Birmingham, Chichester and London around their appearance at Brighton’s Paganini Ballroom on 14 May, before returning to the Czech Republic at the end of the month. The tour will begin and end in London (9 May Sebright Arms; 28 May The Finsbury). There will also be two consecutive nights in Birmingham (20 May Victoria; 21 May Actress & Bishop) in view of anticipated demand. Here is a screen shot of Lake Malawi’s full UK tour schedule from the band’s official website: LAKEMALAWI_UKtourdates2015 More about Lake Malawi at http://www.lakemalawimusic.com



Live Concert Review: MARKÉTA IRGLOVÁ @ Bush Hall, LONDON, Thursday 19th March 2015


Born in the Czech Republic, now living in Iceland, MARKÉTA IRGLOVÁ recently completed the British leg of her world tour promoting her latest album MUNA. CzechHarmonies was at her London gig…



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Markéta Irglová, London Bush Hall, 19 March 2015

MARKÉTA IRGLOVÁ has come a long way. And I’m not just talking about her seemingly never ending world tour promoting her second solo album, or even the middle-distance hop from her adopted home city of Reykjavik to the metropolitan sprawl of West London for this, the first of her two UK gigs this year. I’m talking about her musical journey, her creative journey, her personal journey. 

From Valašské Meziříčí in the Moravian valleys to bustling New York to the Icelandic capital to one of the UK capital’s plushest music venues via the Grammy Awards, the Oscars, an episode of The Simpsons, and a clutch of intensely soul-searching album releases – with three love stories thrown in for good measure, the present one culminating in joyful motherhood – is not exactly the shortest distance from A to B.

And on a crisp mid-March evening in Shepherds Bush, a 200-strong capacity audience could almost see and feel Irglová’s emotionally vivid life flashing before their eyes as her cultured melodies caressed Bush Hall’s chandeliers and hanging glitterball on their way into our ears and hearts.

But tonight was not only Markéta Irglová’s evening. Step forward Svavar Knútur, a close friend of Irglová’s whom she had personally invited to open the London gig. Although the CzechHarmonies brief is to write about Czech music, it would be impossible to describe the evening without mentioning this Icelandic singer/songwriter and self-styled troubadour, who seems to share the headline act’s mission to conquer Britain peacefully with a subtle tug of the heartstrings – in addition to being a catalyst for Irglová’s long term relationship with Sturla Mio Thorisson, who produces both artists and was tonight´s sound engineer.

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Icelandic singer/songwriter Svavar Knútur, who opened the show.

Like Markéta Irglová, Svavar Knútur is phenomenally gifted. He is also extremely funny. In fact, he could release his between-song banter as a comedy album in its own right. There were audience belly laughs aplenty as this thoroughly likeable 39-year-old bearded man in a natty bow-tie outfit regaled us with chuckle-tastic anecdotes about his historic lack of success with girls, that gig where he conspicuously scratched his nose on the mic, how American reactions to his weighty frame are more two-faced than German reactions, and how EU regulations forbid Icelanders from building igloos more than five storeys high without an elevator with a cooling system. Apparently.

In fact Knútur would be in severe danger of eclipsing his musical gift with his comedy gold, were his compositions not so incontestably brilliant in their design and execution. His adept acoustic folk style – mainly on guitar but occasionally on ukulele – perfectly complemented his endearing narratives and mellow vocals, combining taut wordplay ‘Out in the ocean, under a fish, lies a kiss that you once blew to me’ (Baby, Would You Marry Me?’) with sinewy fingerpicked chords. Svavar Knútur sees himself as taking the audience for a workout because, as he so succinctly put it, “music is better for long term health than sport”. Well played, sir!

As Markéta Irglová took her position at the grand piano, sporting tight jeans, a loose fitting pale pastel orange top and a maternity scarf shrouding her stomach in mystery, astute observers might have spotted a bun in the oven. Indeed, eight songs into her set she announced “we have another baby on the way”, to empathetic applause. When she thanked her support act for unwittingly playing cupid (Irglová was providing backing vocals on Knútur’s Sturla Mio Thorisson-produced latest album when love blossomed for Markéta and Mio), Svavar got yet more laughs by bellowing “You’re welcome baby!” from the back of the hall. And he wasn’t finished just yet.

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By this time, Valašské Meziříčí’s finest export had comprehensively got London onside by making us care about her, through both her peerless music and bite-size snippets of her life story told between songs. Of course you can surmise the tone of her life story simply from the timbre of her singing, even without studying the words. At its tenderest, Irglová’s voice is so fragile you fear it will shatter at any moment, but somehow it never does. And, like the person it belongs to, what doesn’t kill the voice, only makes it stronger.

Although it was no surprise that the Muna album’s opener ‘Point Of Creation’, with its bells, organ, choir and cathedral acoustics, did not feature in this solo show, before we knew it we were into the album’s second song ‘Time Immemorial’, the first of only four tracks tonight taken from Irglová’s latest album. In total, her set (including encores) comprised fifteen songs, being drawn also from debut solo album Anar, as well as The Swell Season repertoire – though the band itself was absent tonight. “I have you all to myself,” she quietly gloated. There were also a couple of cover versions.

A notable highlight, from the ‘Once’ film soundtrack collaboration with Glen Hansard, was a movingly desolate version of ‘If You Want Me’. The switch from guitars and drums to solo piano opened up a huge vista, into which Irglová seemed to pour every last molecule of her soul, culminating in a swelling wordless vocal that surfed the coda with an imperious yet hushed intensity.

Hearing a song from a blockbuster musical out of its normal context is an intriguing acid test, and Irglová’s reading of ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’, from Jesus Christ Superstar (preceded by the delightful tale of her childhood crush on the musical’s lead actor) gelled surprisingly smoothly with the rest of her set, nestling as it did quite comfortably between ‘If You Want Me’ and ‘Gabriel’.

‘This Right Here’ might be the Muna album’s closer, but here it was at the beating heart of the Bush Hall set list, followed not by silence, but by a sensitive rendition of ‘Gently Johnny’, from The Wicker Man soundtrack, which turned out to be Irglová’s only foray of the evening on acoustic guitar, prematurely abandoned due to a faulty capo.

We were then blessed with a privileged insight into Irglová’s creative process as, returning to the piano, she treated us to an untitled work in progress characterised by slow, twinkling arpeggios and a looped chord progression. A few bum notes and hesitations really didn’t matter: we were witnessing a rough diamond being freshly hewn from the mine. The finished, polished product can’t come soon enough.

MarketaIrglova

If I had never heard of Markéta Irglová but stumbled upon ‘Crossroads’, I would possibly have guessed, on first hearing, that it might be a classic early Joni Mitchell outtake that had somehow inexplicably failed to make it onto her ‘Blue’ album of 1971. But subsequent listens mark out this lovingly chiselled sculpture of pianistic magic as pure Irglová through and through. And in Bush Hall it glowed like a candle that will never go out.

“The act of falling in love is so precious, and you never get that time back…but sometimes those feelings come back…I sing this song to remind myself of what I am when I fall in love – to honour the bond.” With such an introduction, she could only be talking about ‘Let Me Fall In Love’, another showstopper from ‘Anar’. And what was incredible during this performance – and I don’t know if this was by accident or design, and I swear I didn’t imagine this – was the illusion, caused by red light reflected off the piano lid onto her eyes, that she was wearing rose-tinted shades. Which was eerily, movingly appropriate for the lines ‘When you fall in love, you fall in love with everything, with everyone/ And you look at the world through a new pair of eyes’.

There was only one possible set-ending masterstroke to top this: a duet with the irrepressible Svavar Knútur, who returned to the stage to join Irglová for another Swell Season classic ‘Falling Slowly’. First, however, there was the unhappy announcement that both of them had had some possessions stolen earlier in the day. Irglová herself had been so knocked back by this that she had felt like cancelling the gig and going home… “but when I came into the room and felt the energy from you guys I knew I’d made the right decision to stay.”

You’re not wrong there, Markéta.

There followed two encores: ‘The Hill’ (Swell Season territory again) swiftly followed by Svavar Knútur again duetting with Irglová on one of his most affecting songs. But not before Knútur had once again pressed the between-song comedy button, telling us how he loves to wind up audiences on his foreign tours with the revelation that “in Iceland we don’t have any normal clothes like you, we just wear furs from animals that we kill”.

MarketaIrglova_4

And so on, ad infinitum, while Markéta Irglová – the headline act, need I remind you – sat patiently at the piano, fixing her friend with an ever-intensifying ‘have you quite finished upstaging me at my own concert?’ stare. Eventually the Icelandic jester took the hint and, after a pause measured out with perfect comic timing, his sheepish “Shall we do the last song?” elicited possibly the biggest laugh of the night. Priceless.

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Obviously you can only follow such shenanigans with a ‘post-apocalyptic love song’, which is exactly what they did. And as Knútur picked the plaintive intro to ‘While The World Burns’, taken from his latest album ‘Way Of Waves’, he made it up to Irglová by thanking her sincerely for tonight and declaring touchingly that her life has also affected his life.

MarketaIrglovaSvavarKnutur_2

This was more than a concert of very special music. This was a window into the lives of two very special people who clearly love each other dearly as friends. And in the light of the unhappy news of that day’s theft incident: if there was one thing this gig taught us, it’s that material possessions, and the convenience and diversions they afford us, constitute only a tiny fraction of what it is to be a human being. Tonight Markéta Irglová might be several physical possessions lighter thanks to some dipstick’s misdemeanour, but she remains one of the spiritually richest – and most creatively talented – individuals on the planet.

And no one can steal that from her.

Alex


Markéta Irglová’s official website: http://marketairglova.com



Six Of The Best from this week’s Czech Indie Top 15…


THE VELKÁ SEDMA – the Czech/Slovak Indie Chart as voted for by listeners to Prague’s RADIO 1 – is teeming with superb songs right now. Here are six of the best, followed by the entire listing for this week’s Top 15…


15:    PIČA Z HOVEN – Nemůžu spát

9:    VLOŽTE KOČKU – Kroky ll
http://www.indiemusic.cz/vlozte-kocku-kroky-ii/

7:    LUNO – Target Fish (Acoustic)

6: FLOEX – Isemifopix

5: KUBATKO – Za Hlavou (feat. Olga Königová)

1: KIESLOWSKI – Doteky

…and here’s a screenshot of this week’s Radio 1 Velká Sedma chart in full:
VelkaSedma_24.3.15-31.3.15

Click here for the CzechHarmonies article on RADIO 1 Prague.

Click here to listen to RADIO 1 Praguehttp://www.radio1.cz

Tune in to Radio 1 every Tuesday evening 7-9pm UK time to hear the brand new Velká Sedma chart.

Happy listening!

Alex 



MARKÉTA IRGLOVÁ live: Thursday 19 LONDON Saturday 21 LIVERPOOL… Still dithering? Check out these videos…

MARKÉTA IRGLOVÁ is performing two concerts in the UK this week.

The Iceland-based Czech singer/composer appears at LONDON Bush Hall, Shepherds Bush on Thursday 19 March.

She then headlines the LIVERPOOL ACOUSTIC FESTIVAL at the Unity Theatre on Saturday 21 March.

The gigs are part of her world tour promoting of her latest album Muna.

The support act for the London gig will be Icelandic singer/songwriter Svavar Knútur.

Irglová will be appearing solo, without her band The Swell Season.

Below is a selection of some of Markéta Irglová’s finest songs…

Tickets for LONDON Bush Hall (Thursday 19 March) HERE

Tickets for LIVERPOOL ACOUSTIC FESTIVAL (Saturday 21 March) HERE



BROADCAST ALERT!!! SLUNÍČKO album to be played in full TONIGHT on Radio 1…


ONE OF THE CLASSIC CZECH INDIE ROCK ALBUMS OF THE 1990s is being broadcast in its entirety this evening (Tuesday 17 March) on Prague’s RADIO 1. 

SLUNÍČKO‘s eponymous album – featuring an 18-year-old LENKA DUSILOVÁ sharing vocal duties with Pancho – was released in 1994 to great critical acclaim, but is currently commercially unavailable.

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SLUNÍČKO featuring Pancho (far left) and Lenka Dusilová (bottom right). Photo by Katka Simerová from the sleeve of the band’s 1994 album on BMG Ariola.

Sluníčko formed in 1989, with Dusilová joining the band in 1991. They recorded their only album in 1994 and won the Marlboro Rock ’94 competition, before disbanding the following year.

Meanwhile Lenka Dusilová went on to perform with Lucie and Pusa in the mid-1990s before embarking on her solo career, numerous collaborations, and her current project Baromantika.

The Sluníčko album features ten tracks with influences ranging from early 90s US grunge-funk and alternative rock to late 70s British punk and post-punk.

Here’s a taster of three tracks from the album on YouTube…

Prague-based alternative music station RADIO 1 will broadcast the Sluníčko album from start to finish without interruption this evening on CD NONSTOP.

The one-hour programme starts at 6pm UK time.

http://www.radio1.cz/porady/3-cd-nonstop/



NEW ALBUM REVIEW – Manon Meurt: Manon Meurt

Shoegaze is alive and well in the Czech Republic – and MANON MEURT are one of the genre’s most stylish exponents. CzechHarmonies assesses their mesmeric debut, head tilted towards the floor in rapt oblivion… 

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OK – strictly speaking, MANON MEURT’s debut is not a new release: it came out in April last year. But here at CzechHarmonies we’re making up for lost time, having only started blogging on Czech music last November, thereby missing out on several notable 2014 releases. And this heady, epic six-track offering is as splendid a place to start as any. 

Manon Meurt are a four-piece band in thrall to the pedal-laden vibes of 1990s British shoegaze, but who have succeeded in transcending their influences to ferment a fresh and contemporary sound of their own. They hail from a small town called Rakovník that discreetly nestles amongst remote hills stretching west of Prague, and, if you turn your imagination up to eleven, their music could almost be the soundtrack to the atmospheric train journey from deepest, mistiest rural Bohemia into the bright lights and deafening noise of the Czech capital. One of their tracks is even called ‘Glowing Cityscape’.

Sometimes you can hear a well-oiled 100-tonne locomotive coasting regally over a criss-cross of points. Sometimes the train inches ominously up an incline through fog like a wily predator, apprehensive about being exposed by imminent sunlight. Whatever the environment, this album takes you on a perfectly paced trajectory – and, dynamically speaking, Manon Meurt know when to apply the brakes, and when to go full throttle. And the album takes only seconds to work up a head of steam…

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1 – To Forget. 

Two wiry, wispy, broken chords on guitar…and already we’re flying: the Manon Meurt wall of sound (or one variant thereof) kicks in almost instantaneously. Káťa Elznicová’s and Vojtěch Pejša’s immaculate My-Bloody-Valentine-style dual vocals delicately surf a lean, elongated melody, as Síma Kuchárová’s molten bass guitar strains insistently at the leash without ever quite escaping. Drummer Jirka Bendl then resets the mood by going into train-over-points mode while guitars silently regroup and rebuild the momentum.

2 – Glowing Cityscape. 

The album’s most brazenly rhythm-driven track is as glittering an advert for the band’s co-producer Šmity (also the bass player in Luno) as it is for Manon Meurt themselves. The energised, thumping, clock-like drums are crystal-clear in the mix without being too clinical, muscular without being overpowering – and, peeping through the cracks in the percussive grid, strands of guitar drone, moan, mutate and jostle. It is unusual for a three-chord song with such an uncomplicated vocal tune (this time, only Káťa Elznicová is singing) to sound so creatively ebullient. But this does.

3 – ’94

This is the album’s sacred inner sanctum, a majestically unfolding supernova, and a masterclass in how to slowly ratchet up the tension, then gently extinguish it. A distant jangle of muted broken chords slowly builds and builds, drops back to base, rebuilds and rebuilds, the drums kick in, the tension steps up another level, and just when you think there’s no level left to step up to, it finds that too – before ebbing away into the ether. Elznicová’s vocal melody is so simple and endlessly repeated it should in theory get boring, but in practice draws you in like a moth to the flame. A true masterpiece.

4 – Until You Can

It takes some nerve to follow ”94′ with an equally slow offering, but somehow ‘Until You Can’ is not overshadowed by its predecessor. It noodles and throbs imperceptibly, seemingly indefinitely, then abruptly swings and swishes into life like a foreboding monster languidly but authoritatively marking out its territory, all cymbals, flanged distortion and distilled, echoey vocals. It may have the same tempo as ”94′, but the end result could hardly be more different.

5 – In these Eyes

The penultimate track sees the band upping the tempo and breathing new life into the old loud/quiet/loud/quiet song structure, with Elznicová regularly re-adjusting her vocal intensity accordingly. Drums undulate industriously like a passenger express weaving in and out of tunnels, while Pejša’s guitar alternates between searing chords and faintly traced semi-melodies. ‘In These Eyes’ is buttressed by probably the simplest bassline in the world (no fancy histrionics required), though a subtle change in the chord sequence towards the end adds a delicate twist.

6 – Blue Bird

This album’s physical release was vinyl only, and if Manon Meurt were aiming to end both sides of the disc with a slow motion explosion, they have succeeded spectacularly. ‘Blue Bird’ matches ”94′ for cathartic drama, though here the ratcheted tension takes hold more suddenly. My one reservation, initially, was that perhaps this final track peaked too early, meaning that the subsequent bluster outweighed the emotional impact towards the close…but even this solitary doubt is already receding with repeated listens.

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MANON MEURT (L to R): Jirka Bendl (drums), Síma Kuchárová (bass), Káťa Elznicová (vocals, guitar), Vojtěch Pejša (guitar, vocals). Photo: Manon Meurt Official Facebook page.

When I first heard this album I was hit right between the eyes on every track. But I also wondered if the repetitive element to the music might leave me bored within a few listens. That this has not happened, is down to several factors: the judicious use of a smorgasbord of effects pedals without relying too much on any one effect; inventive percussive rhythms; periodic embellishments and ornamentations that are not always noticeable first time, but lie in wait to be discovered; and, last but not least, Káťa Elznicová’s intoxicatingly addictive vocals, which suggest even more emotional riches yet to be tapped on future albums.

When a band self-identifies as shoegaze, there is always a tendency for the listener to play ‘spot the 90s influences’. You might well detect My Bloody Valentine in there (whom Manon Meurt supported when they played Prague’s Divadlo Archa in June 2013), as well as hints of early Lush, Ride, Slowdive and Pale Saints. But importantly, by far the biggest and most identifiable ingredient is…Manon Meurt themselves. My only real criticism of their debut album is that it is a mere half an hour long, leaving me gagging for more as ‘Blue Bird’ dies away and spirals down into the abyss.

Which, of course, is ultimately a compliment.

Alex

Click here for Manon Meurt’s Bandcamp page to buy their debut album and their February 2015 single release ‘Untitled‘.

Click here for Manon Meurt’s official Facebook page.

Click here for Manon Meurt’s Bandzone page.



Czech Anděl Awards 2015 nominees announced: LANGEROVÁ, DUSILOVÁ, ZRNÍ, MONOKINO KINO & CHINASKI loom large…

ANETA LANGEROVÁ, LENKA DUSILOVÁ, ZRNÍ, MONOKINO KINO and CHINASKI are among the nominees for the 2015 Anděl Awards, announced yesterday. 

The Anděl Awards – the Czech equivalent of the Brit Awards or Grammys – take place every year during spring.

Here are the nominations in full:

MAIN CATEGORIES 

Best Band:

Best Male Singer:

Best Female Singer:

Best New Act:

Best Album:

Best Song:

Best Video:

GENRE CATEGORIES

Best Alternative Album:

Best Electronic Album:

Best Folk & Country Album:

Best Hard & Heavy Album:

Best Hip-Hop Album:

Best Jazz & Blues Album:

Best Punk & Hardcore Album:

Best Ska & Reggae Album: