“2 words”, says Eric, “theremin and accordion”

We have another guest post for you tonight!  We love guest submissions, and always encourage them for many reasons, but until now, Dan Holloway has been the only one to really run with our invitation.  Tonight, I introduce to you Kate Metcalf, a fellow musician, anthropology-lover, and dear friend to us both.

First of all, for the sake of full disclosure, you should know that I have an ongoing love affair with everything Swedish. Blame my heritage if you want, but they have just about everything cool in spades. I mean really, Volvo, ACNE, Nina Persson, and H&M all call Sweden home. It makes me wish I did too, just to be as cool as them.

So having said all of that, I am in the throes of yet another freak-out for Sweden because they are the homeland of one of my new favorites, Detektivbyrån. The thing I love about this band is that they are chock full of seemingly far-fetched combinations made to seem totally plausible, like “of course this is the most natural, obvious thing in the world.”

They combine Swedish electronica from Stockholm and traditional folk music from their childhood region, Varmland. They dress like rock stars and live on a little farmstead outside of Gothenburg. But leaving those things far in the dust are their instrument combinations. Theremin and accordion, Moog and glock, traktofon and music box, toy piano, real piano, shoes, scissors, oh my! They are an amazing relief from the tried and true but often tired voice, guitar, drums combo. They are a purely instrumental group, with nary an ax in sight, that manages to do what I never thought possible with instruments like theremin and accordion. They make it all very, ridiculously cool.

At this point, Detektivbyrån has two records available, E18 and Wermland. Both have a few tracks bearing a striking resemblance to the music of Yann Tiersen in Amelie, which I love. They in fact cite Amelie as one of their major influences along with their time spent as street musicians when glocks and accordions were conveniently portable. Now they’ve taken those influences and melded them with electronica and synths to craft a very distinctive and genre-spanning sound about which they say this:

“Indie kids come up to me after shows and tell me their parents gave them an accordion as a birthday present, they started to play it since they listened to us, and that’s one of the most beautiful things I can hear after a show. Then there’s an local radio station which has this accordion special every Thursday and usually there’s just old traditional stuff, but they really dig us and play for the old people out there, and these people send cute e-mail to us, they are glad we are taking care of their accordion tradition.”

So fantastic!

If you want to hear more, hop on over to www.detektivbyran.net to check them out, download a couple songs, and even stream both albums. Even better, hit up the store for the CDs or vinyls. They are ridiculously affordable and the guys send out all their orders personally, so they’ll sign the covers if you say pretty please.

A Song That Has Its Own Soul

When I first heard the name Musée Mécanique, I couldn’t help but wonder what to expect.  Are we talking Edgard Varèse here?  Because I am not particularly in the mood for good ole Edgard today.  The band shares, though, that they’ve named themselves after the museum in lovely San Francisco–they “love to make a song that has its own soul, just like the machines they have over there at the museum.”  Now that’s something I’m always in the mood for.

Hampton Roads is an interesting place because we have very few good venues, but the venues we have are pretty cool.  (Then again, it could be like those guys in your college classes who aren’t really that cute, but you are tricked into thinking they are because everyone else in the class is so unattractive.)  So,  I was going through the list today deciding what shows are going on my calendar for the summer, and if you’re local (to me, not to Eric), you’ll be glad to know that Musée Mécanique will be playing with Laura Gibson and The Muckrakes at the Boot on June 18th!  And now I will convince you why you should be there with me.

Musée Mécanique is an indie folk band, but they are not your average indie folk band.  They’ve incorporated some awesome instruments, not just as fun showstopping gimmicks, but as a convincing contribution to the whole.  You’ll hear minimalist influence in tracks like “Under Glass” (how ironic) as violin, oboe, cello, and others are added to the repeating guitar, building to the point of catharsis.  Accordion underbelly on tracks like “Like Home” and “Sleeping In Our Clothes” make their sound incredibly distinct, and although glockenspiel has become an indie staple, when you combine it with melodica, real strings, and real wind instruments…well, it’s pretty different, right?  Micah and Sean’s soft vocals fit comfortably into the ensemble, and I think this is getting to what is most impressive about the lovely Musée–every lyric, every instrument, every solo, every harmony, and every stop and start has its place.  Nothing is random; nothing sounds unintentional.  The result is something that I can only think to describe as whole.  How often do you find music that moves you, and how often are you looking for it?

By the way, since I know all of you can’t be at the Boot w/me… they’re in Chicago on June 6th, Columbus on June 9th, DC on June 15th, and Portland on July 3rd (to name a few).  Find the rest of their tour dates + details on their myspace.