The Legends Archive

Avalanche: Best of the Decade


Top 20 Releases of 2000-2009


These might not be the most important or groundbreaking releases per se but these are simply the records that have become stalwarts in my music heavy rotation that purr along with classics from the 80s and 90s.

1. Dean and Britta – L’ Avventura (2002)
2. Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours (2008)
3. Cinerama – This is Cinerama (2000)
4. Modest Mouse – Moon Over Antartica (2000)
5. Lungfish – Love is Love (2003)
6. Ian Brown – Music of the Spheres (2002)
7. Belle & Sebastian – The Life Pursuit (2006)
8. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Etiquette (2006)
9. Tindersticks – Hungry Saw (2009)
10. The Natural History – The Natural History EP (2002)
11. Low – Trust (2002)
12. The Legends – Facts and Figures (2007)
13. Jeremy Jay – Slow Dance (2009)
14. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell (2003)
15. Child Ballads – Cheekbone Hollows EP (2008)
16. The Postal Service – Give Up (2003)
17. Calla – Scavengers (2000)
18. Blonde Redhead – Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons (2000)
19. The Kills – Midnight Boom (2008)
20. Ladytron – Velocifer (2008)


Top 20 Concerts of Decade


These are the shows that most emblazoned on my retinas for whatever reason. For instance, The Modest Mouse show was soon after 911 and featured huge projections of buildings collapsing in reverse while MM performed songs from the epic celestial themed “Moon over Antarctica”.

Here is my top 20 best shows, and whenever there is any supporting evidence, I link to it. Enjoy.

1. Lungfish – Southpaw, NY, NY (2005)
2. Laibach – The Town Hall, NY, NY (2007)
3. Flin Flon – Luna Lounge, NY, NY (2002)
4. Fever Ray – Webster Hall, NY, NV (2009)
5. I AM THE WORLD TRADE CENTER – CBGBs, NY, NY (2002)
6. Final CBGB shows (New York Dolls, Vandals, Dead Boys, Offspring, Circle Jerks, etc) – CBGBs, NY, NY (2005)
7. The 3 Terrors (The Magnetic Fields) – various, NY, NY (1999 – 2005)
8. The Tindersticks – Brooklyn Masonic Temple, NY, NY (2009)
9. Dean and Britta (performing Galaxy 500), The Zipper Room, NY, NY (2008)
10. The Child Ballads – Knitting Factory, NY, NY (2007)
11. THE PATTERN – MAXWELLS, HOBOKEN, NJ (2003)
12. Freeheat – Brownies, NY, NY (2002)
13. Wire – South Street Seaport, NY, NY (2007)
14. THE FALL – KNITTING FACTORY, NY, NY (2003)
15. Siouxsie – Irving Plaza, NY, NY (2008)
16. FischerSpooner/Peaches – Terminal 5, NY, NY (2003)
17. MODEST MOUSE/THE SHINS – IRVING PLAZA, NY, NY (2001)
18. MAKE UP – THE COOLER, NY, NY (2000)
19. 7 Seconds – Webster Hall, New York City, NY (2009)
20. Suicide – Europa, Brooklyn, NY (2008)

The Legends – Monday To Saturday (Live)

A longstanding TSOI favorite, The Legends are making a rare stateside appearance supporting the release of their killer new album Over and Over out now in MP3 format at Labrador Records as well as on eMusic. The first of three New York area shows was The Legends as headliner in Brooklyn. The Legends played for 25 minutes and then left the stage with no encore. I began to wonder if I somehow missed half the set or if something precipitated them to get pissed off and cut the set short. I am drawing the conclusion that the simple explanation is that they like to keep their sets short and sweet. Now that I think of it, they played a similarly short set the last time they were around in 2006, but were opening for the Acid House Kings, so a short set didn’t seem particularly out of place. Whatever the case, here is a live performance of a track “Monday to Saturday” off of the new album.

The Legends play one more show tonight at Webster Hall, so be sure to catch it if you can. Also, be sure to read the mind-bending trenchant questions served up to The Legends right here on TSOI.

Breaking News: A show was added for Saturday in Philadelphia.

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Download: The Legends – Monday To Saturday (Live)

Interview: Johan from The Legends Answers Our Questions

One of TSOI’s favorite bands of the past 5 years has been The Legends, so we were thrilled when Johan took time out of his busy schedule preparing for their upcoming NYC shows to answer a few of our burning questions.

TSOI: Based on the strength of “Facts and Figures” The Legends were sited by The Sound Of Indie as the northern European representative of the most notable world-spanning Tetrarchy since the days of Diocletian. (See our April 8th, 2008 Cut Copy post.) Has being bestowed such an honor changed how you go about your daily life?

JOHAN: No, I can’t see the good things. Just the bad things, oh…

TSOI: I think I speak for everyone here at TSOI, but probably since hearing The Cardigans, Komeda and Doktor Kosmos in the mid 90s, we have developed a very pronounced “Swede tooth”, that is an affinity for bands from Sweden. If someone recommends a band to me, and I find out that they are from Sweden, I generally find that cause enough to buy the record. Starting with The Cardigans and on to bands like The Hives, The Hellacopters, to even Robyn, Lykke Li, Jens Lekman, and in particular with The Knife, Sweden, which has the combined population of New York City manages to knock out great bands at a steady clip all presumably handicapped by working under a non-native language. And if you include the Max Martin hit factory, this observation reaches near pandemic proportions. (I might also note that I can make a similar case for Scottish bands, but indecipherable accent aside, they are speaking English.) I guess my question would be: 1) Is this something that Swedes are aware of, and 2) why do you suppose so many achieve a disproportionate seeming relative success in the US?

JOHAN: I think people here are pretty confident about making music and that it comes pretty natural to play instruments, write songs and start a band for a lot of people. Basically everyone here learns to
play an instrument in school. I was actually one out of two in my class who didn’t. Perhaps that explains my lack of technical skills even to this day? There is a long history, starting with ABBA I suppose, of Swedish bands that has managed to come through pretty well internationally so I think playing music on an international level is not looked upon as something strange or unusual. I think what makes the Swedish pop scene really good these days is that it doesn’t try too hard. I think I’ve made comparisons to the UK scene before. UK bands seems to aim at being the next NME hype, big cliché rock start and make the charts from day one. They seem to have fancy lawyers, management and a “cool” image long before they’ve written any good songs or found anything whatsoever interesting to show the world. It’s about all the wrong things. So hopefully Swedish bands normally don’t do it that way. Instead they might write the songs they want to, find an identity of their own and basically just do music for their creativity wants them to. With that comes more quality and perhaps that has paid off.

TSOI: Three of the bands that I didn’t mention on the list above, The Acid House Kings, The Legends and Club 8 released incredible albums that are perfectly effortless in their excellence, but as releases, have managed to keep a low profile in the US. Based on success of recent bands, I figured the three would be ubiquitous. Any thoughts?

JOHAN: We’ve never really tried that hard. AHK release an album every fifth year or so. We never tour. With Club 8 we actually did quite a few show last year to promote the album. Not in the US though. But we did try a little more than before… not THAT hard, but still. Club 8 can’t be away on tour too much either though and when we got to choose from going to places like Thailand and Indonesia and play for a couple of thousand people, stay in nice hotels and get decent payments for the shows – or loose money traveling around the US in a van, we decided to go for Asia. We’re very focused on making great album, but the people involved perhaps don’t value success with the bands high enough to do the things it would take to take it to another level. So, that explains parts of it. Another thing could be that a lot of people don’t like our music?

TSOI: I suspect that an element that makes albums by The Cardigans and The Legends so notable is the perfect production. I have lamented about how poorly many recent synth based records sound with The Legends “Facts and Figures” being a notable exception. Do you have comments about the importance of production, in particular for a synth based band, which you would think would be predisposed to studio production?

JOHAN: I don’t know the meaning of “predisposed.” It tried dictionary.reference.com but still couldn’t really fit it into the sentence completely… oh well…Writing songs is not that hard. Recording and producing them on the other hand, and doing it in line with the core emotions of the songs and in line with the visions made up when the song was written, THAT is difficult. I try not to listen to other
people when I make my albums. Other people’s ideas only blurs the vision and compromises the result. It takes a lust for experimenting and patience to get it right.

TSOI: Another observation: When it comes to production of synth based bands, the 80s/90s output on Wax Trax! records seemed to be uniformly good…like they housed the Phil Spectre’s of making a synth riff really full and heavy. Any comments?

JOHAN: No comments, but I’ll take it as a tip that I should look up the 80s/90s output on Wax Trax! records.

TSOI: I saw The Legends on their 2006 East Coast tour. How did that tour go? Plans on a return?

JOHAN: It went OK I suppose. I thought New York was great fun. I’m not sure if our performance with The Legends was very good. Maybe we were OK, maybe we weren’t. Seeing The Legends is an erratic live experience, probably leaning towards the more bad side of things. It makes things exciting though. You can probably see The Legends three times in a week with the same songs and have three very different experiences. And you’ll soon get a chance to do that. We’re heading over for a New York –tour in June 23rd at Bell House, 24th at Santos, 26th at Studio. We did a two-date tour in Sweden and I think we were really good on at least one of the these shows (the other one was pretty good too), so I believe we’ve improved. Bring the earplugs!

TSOI: For a band as prolific as The Legends (almost one LP per year), why have tours have been so limited? What keeps The Legends from touring the US say in contrast to say, Lykke Li or The Shout Out Louds? I suppose Kevin here would like to know why you hate Los Angeles, and why you have never toured on the West Coast? What has the West Coast done to be shunned by The Legends and what can we do to fix that?

JOHAN: I think you almost answered the questions yourself. If you want to put out a fair amount of albums you don’t have the time to tour that much. Also, I think it’d be boring to tour a lot. I want it to feel special each time I play. If I’d do 10 shows in a row it would start to feel like a job and music shouldn’t be like that.

We’d be more than happy to play the West Coast. But, there’s a tradition especially in the UK, but a bit in the US as well I’ve noticed, that bands on tour should be happy to loose a few thousand
dollars and get paid in beer and sleep on people’s floors. And there I’m back with the “not trying hard enough”–thing because I don’t really feel like doing these kind of things.

TSOI: TSOI had this to say when receiving the latest single “Seconds Away” last October: “Hot damn! After a couple quick listens, I can safely say that Johan a.k.a. The Legends achieved what Stephin Merritt tried and failed miserably to do with the last Magnetic Fields record, and that is successfully channel Psychocandy-era Jesus And Mary Chain.” Did you follow any of Stephin Merritt in press leading up to The Magnetic Fields’ press for ‘Distortion’? Did you have the sound laid out for the track before the Magnetic Fields’ JAMC pronouncements were made? If so, did you think that your thunder was about to be stolen?

JOHAN: I remember reading that and it has a point. Not that I was aiming at making Psychocandy 2.0, but I was also disappointed with Magnetic Fields‘ “Distortion.” When I read about it it sounded as if it could be really great, but it ended up pretty lame and badly produced. At least from what I remember. I was so let down I only listened to it once, so perhaps I should listen a bit more before making any statements on this…I’m actually in a Magnetic Fields “Get Lost” period this week so it should be a good time to pick it up. But to answer your questions, yes, I think I had heard/heard about “Distortion” before writing “Seconds Away” as I wrote that in March or something last year.

TSOI: The Legends certainly have no problem shifting stylistic gears moving from a 60’s soul sound in the excellent debut record, “Up Against The Legends” and most recently with synth pop sheen on the insanely excellent “Facts and Figures” record. If the recent “Seconds Away” single is any indication, the new record will involve a major shift again into classic shoe-gaze, a genre that we here at TSOI are particularly fond. What motivated this move?

JOHAN: I needed distraction. I needed noise to clear my head from angst. Uncontrolled feedback and white noise on high volume has a very nice effect on the brain and so that’s what I went for. It’s like
medicine for me. It’s also inspiring to move between opposites and after having made the rather quiet “The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Dreaming” with Club 8 it was good to make something louder. I don’t
think The Legends fit into to a shoegaze scene though. “Over And Over” is after all based on very distinct melodies.

TSOI: Here at TSOI, we are fans of many of the bands that have been slotted as noise/shoe gaze with Swervdriver, Ultra Vivid Scene, Curve, and Jesus and Mary Chain, etc being among the preferred here. Do you have comments about any of these bands or others? Have you seen any of the recent shows of reformed Swervedriver, My Bloody Valentine, or Jesus and Mary Chain?

JOHAN: I like JAMC’s “Psychocandy” and like even more the single “Upside Down,” but the shoegaze that I really like is My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive. But from what I remember, I thought the scene lacked good melodies and I’m afraid that was my thoughts on both Swevedriver and Curve when I last heard them. Shall I give them a new chance perhaps? I liked a few songs from Ultra Vivid Scene though. I haven’t seen any of the bands lately. I’ve seen My Bloody Valentine in the past and it was an amazing, and deafening, experience. Not sure if I want to spoil the memory.

TSOI: The other member of the mighty Tetrarchy noted above are Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Cut Copy, Hot Chip, (and probably should include Ladytron and Ruby Isles as well, but then it wouldn’t be a Tetrarchy now would it?). Are you into any of these bands? Any other bands that are currently experiencing heavy rotation at The Legends headquarters?

JOHAN: I saw Cut Copy live and I’ve heard some songs and weren’t impressed. What I am supposed to feel when I listen to that music? Happiness? An urge to dance? I don’t dance so I didn’t feel that much. Christian at the Labrador office thought Cut Copy was last year’s best album so I’ve promised myself to give them another chance. I might buy it today, exactly one year after everyone else was into it. I loved Hot Chip’s version of Matthew Dear’s “Don and Cherri” and I really liked Ladytron when they released “Playgirl.” Can I add Junior Boys to the Tetrarchy instead of Casiotone? I really liked the production of the previous album.

I’ve been listening quite a lot to music from Mali and Kongo lately plus a bunch of Brazilian artists from the Tropicalia movement. Tathianna from Coquetel Molotov in Brazil has been very kind and introduced me to a whole scene which is really inspiring. I’ve been very retro the last week. Red House Painters “Down Colourful Hill”, The Montgolfier Brothers’ first album, McCarthy ”I Am A Wallet” and the previously mentioned Magnetic Fields album.

TSOI: And finally, what is the latest intel. concerning The Legends new record and touring prospects?

JOHAN: The New York tour! That’s it for now. It’d be fun to go to Spain when Sweden is getting cold in October so I think we’re heading there in the fall.

_____________________________________________________

TSOI wants to thank Johan for answering our questions and if you’re in NYC next week, be sure to catch The Legends at these shows:

June 23 – New York – Bell House
June 24 – New York – Santos Party House
June 26 – New York – The Studio at Webster Hall

Also, if you haven’t already picked up The Legend’s new record “Over And Over” directly from Labrador Records, you can pick up the domestic US release starting tomorrow, June 16th from your local or online music retailer.

The Legends – Seconds Away

I wish every morning when I opened my e-mail I was greeted with the same thing that I was this morning: “Upcoming single by The Legends (free MP3 download).” I knew something was coming out this fall, but I forgotten to check the Labrador Records website to see the exact release date. The thing that caught my eye was this line in the newsletter:

The Legends return with the noisiest pop single to ever come out of Sweden.

Hot damn! After a couple quick listens, I can safely say that Johan a.k.a. The Legends achieved what Stephen Merritt tried and failed to do with the last Magnetic Fields record, and that is successfully channel Psychocandy-era Jesus And Mary Chain.

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Download: The Legends – Seconds Away

The Legends – This Heart’s Not Made Of Stone

The Legends new cd comes out today. The first 150 people who pre-ordered it through the Labrador website (actually, Bengans) get a free tour DVD (I’m assuming it’s PAL, so if you order it make sure you have a DVD player that can play the disk!). I finally got the credit card bill for my order and after all the currency exchange fees, postage, etc. it ended up costing about $28 to ship to the US. I’m hoping I’ll have it by the end of the week. This song is a B-side from the “Lucky Star” ep which is the second single from “Facts And Figures.”

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Download: The Legends – This Heart’s Not Made Of Stone

The Legends – Call It Ours (Live)

My New York operative came through with flying colors. Since I wasn’t able to fly out to NYC for their shows at the Cake Shop and North Six, he was able to record the shows and get copies to me the next day. I was also thrilled to hear that they are going to be touring the US for their forthcoming album “Facts And Figures” so I may get to see them live after all. Their new single was released yesterday, so I’m about to hop over to the Labrador Records site and order it for myself.

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Download: The Legends – Call It Ours (Live)

Since I had no post yesterday, as a special treat I’ve also posted a short video of the same track.

Download: The Legends – Call It Ours (Live Video)

The Legends – Lucky Star

I’m on the Labrador Records mailing list and about a week ago they sent out an e-mail with the header “Acid House Kings/The Legends US Tour Dates.” Holy shit I thought to myself! I’ve been dying to see The Legends for2 years now and it’s finally going to happen. Well, wishful thinking. They are only playing the midwest and east coast. Well, not a problem, I live in the 2nd largest city in the US, so I should be able to hop on Orbitz and get a cheap flight to the 1st or 3rd largest US cities. No such luck, $530 minimum. Shit. I couldn’t justify the cost, so I’m having my operatives in NYC go to the New York shows in my place and either force the band on a flight to LA at gunpoint, or if that doesn’t work, record the audio. Either one will do.

On to the song. This is the forthcoming single from The Legends which will be out July 19th. They have pretty much abandoned their 60’s soul sound for 80’s synth-pop but it’s still damn good.

Also, if any of you luck bastards records any of the other US shows this week, get in touch!

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Download: The Legends – Lucky Star

The Legends – Against Time

The Legends are playing in London today and the 17th. I keep sending messages to Labrador Records begging them to play here in the US, but they have all gone unheeded. Hopefully they will play CMJ or something. This song is a b-side off 2004’s “Call It Ours” EP. Short and to the point, plus more than enough hand-claps to keep you entertained. The Legends are definitely one of my favorite bands these days. Also, if anyone records the London shows, hook a brother up!

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Download: The Legends – Against Time

The Legends – Air

When I bought reissues of The Cure’s Seventeen Seconds, Pornography, and Faith last August, I wondered why there hasn’t been a band that has ripped off this era of The Cure. It seems like every other late 70s/early 80s alternative rock band has their 2005 counterpart. Then the new Legends cd came out in September and my curiosity has been satisfied. I swear, half the time when I hear this song I want to start singing “Seventeen seconds, a measure of life…”

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Download: The Legends – Air