It’s a pity really. Any band that doesn’t come from the United States automatically gets labeled exotic bordering on novelty (to varying degrees), will typically be compared to whatever bands the reviewer knows from said country, and often the band review will be molded and shaped into one part music overview one part national geographic travel essay.
Pitchfork has posted a better review than most online publications but is still basically a more trumped up version of all the other Amandine pieces I read. I am beginning to wonder if there needs to be music journalists when we all have access to Wikipedia , press releases, band sites and their My Space page.
Each review checklists the same basics:
Location: Malmö, Sweden
Band: 4 piece whose line up has changed ove the years.
Genre: Alt-country RIYL ( just like the one sheet says) : Songs: Ohia, Damien Jurado, Iron and Wine, and CSNY. Had this been released 5 years ago this would have said Son Volt, Jayhawks, Wilco, and Uncle Tupelo.
Band History Basics: Originally called Wichita Linemen, FatCat signed them after hearing a demo, and this is the bands first long player.
Label: FatCat, also has Animal Colelctive , Vashti Bunyon, Mum, Songs of Green Pheasant, Sigur Ros, and more.
See for yourself, one review doesn't differ that much from the next.
Getting back to the Sweden topic, at this point I think it is fair to say with this not so new global trade act in place, with air travel being relatively affordable no less reaching all points on the map, and the widespread use of things called computers connecting us on a global level, our cultural exchanges and influences have fewer boundries separating us than ever. Yes Amandine does alt-county / folk but this isn't a new genre to Sweden by any stretch and instruments like the accordian, violin, and banjo has been a part of Swedish music making community for more than a century.
I don't expect American writers to be experts in world music history and what trends are happening in every country but underestimating the musical diversity of a country reflects a shamefully sheltered opinion and lack of real insight.
And people wonder where phrases like ugly American come from.
With a little digging I found an interview with Amandine that briefly touches on the genre subject and while it doesn't expose any uber exciting facts it does shed a little light on the present Swedish music scene Amandine comes from.
BH: is there a scene for country/folk/americana music in Sweden ?
A: Not really... well there are a few bands who play somewhat similar music and there is definitly an audience, but its not based around any city or any particular group of people. Some bands and artists are doing quite well, such as Christian Kjellvander or Kristofer Astrom, but we dont feel closer to them than other bands.
(and if you google alt-country and Sweden quite a few bands come up actually)
To promote this get to know another country AKA Sweden concept, check out this music blog site dedicate to the cause : http://www.swedesplease.blogspot.com/
The Amandine "This is Where Our Hearts Collide" PFM review offers an on point review of the music and the rating wise I have to agree too but I will say this: I passed along my promo of the Calexico/ Iron and Wine cd to a friend but I kept the Amandine cd.
Amandine makes me wish I had a working fireplace to curl up to and hot toddies to sip. Much like I think of my Neil Young records, the darkness that comes with winter begs for this kind of a soundtrack and a band like Amandine lights the way.