Saturday, July 26, 2008

Eggstone "Ca Chauffe En Suede! Avec Eggstone" (compilation, 1999)

Further to the Scandinavian Pop post below...

1. Waiting For The Bell
2. Still All Stands Still
3. Against The Sun
4. If You Say
5. Summer and Looking For a Job
6. See The Good Things
7. Good Morning
8. She's Perfect
9. Marabous
10. Wrong Heaven
11. Beach Boy
12. Shooting Time
13. Penguin
14. Sun King
15. The Dog
16. Birds In Cages
17. Brass
18. Taramasalata
19. Mizu

One summer in the late nineties, Supergrass were due to play at Denmark's Roskilde festival but had to pull out at the last minute. The gap they left on the bill was filled by Eggstone, who strode out on stage wearing stuck on sideburns and other items of comedy facial hair. This is reason enough to like them isn't it. Well I think so anyway.

Per Sunding, Patrik Bartosch and Maurits Carlsson, who comprise the group, had met about ten years previously on the ferry back to their native Malmo from the Roskilde festival. Eventually, along with their friends Tore Johansson and Anders Nordgren, they established Tambourine Studios in Malmo. Five years after that they set up their own record label and called it Vibrafon, which is sort of appropriate given what Eggstone's records sounded like. The Cardigans' best albums were recorded with Tore Johansson at Tambourine. Scott 4, Texas, New Order and Saint Etienne also recorded here. Not since Benny and Bjorn from ABBA founded Polar Studios in 1978, had one band had such influence over the sound of Swedish pop music.

Not that Eggstone get the credit they deserve outside their native country. In Spain there has for some years been a vibrant indie-pop scene based around the Siesta record label in Madrid. Eccentric record label boss Mike Alway, who helped to found Cherry Red and él records in the UK, is based in Madrid now, and has links with Siesta. It's no surprise then that the label released an Eggstone compilation called "Spanish Slalom", raising the group's profile - just a little - in Spain. In 1999, the confusingly titled compilation "Ca Chauffe En Suede! Avec Eggstone" was released to mild critical acclaim. In fact I think only Uncut magazine picked up on it at all. Tracks from all three Eggstone albums ("Eggstone In San Diego", "Somersault", Vive La Différence") appear here, so it's a good place to start with the group. They've never split by the way so hope remains of a fourth album appearing at some stage.

"Waiting For The Bell" is a brilliant introduction to the band, the Tambourine sound is all in place here, in the crisp drums, the bright pianos and vibes. Having been so taken with Eggstone in the late 90s that I visited Malmo myself, it's impossible to hear these records without thinking of woodcabins in the forests of Skane, of Malmo's modest fishing port, and still, chilly, Swedish air. Listening to the exhilirating "Against The Sun" now, I wonder why Eggstone weren't bigger in the UK. Just try to listen to it without grinning. The sixties swing of "See The Good Things" and "Marabous" would have sat comfortably in the UK charts at the height of britpop. They're just two of the songs here that lurch off into psychedelia, the sort of things you might expect to find on a Dukes of Stratosphear record. "Good Morning" and "She's Perfect" are string-drenched, cocktail party pop songs, while "Shooting Time" anticipates The Cardigans' disco direction on "Lovefool".