I saw The Soundtrack of Our Lives at this year’s SXSW — twice — where their sets were almost entirely new material. After the second, I talked to lanky guitarist Mattias Bärjed and said if they’re playing all these new tracks they must have an album ready. He told me it was going to be a double. I said, aren’t they all doubles? (TSOOL’s first three albums were all technically double-LPs though they fit on one CD.) Bärjed clarified — it would be a double-CD.
He did not lie. TSOOL’s new record, Communion, is a whopping 24 songs, clocking in at 93 minutes of blissed-out, riff-heavy rock. While they have yet to equal 2001’s awesome Behind the Music, Communion is pretty consistently great across its two dozen tracks, from the propulsive “RA 88” and “Thrill Me” to the more Love-esque wistful numbers like “Second Life Replay” and the string-drenched “Songs of the Ocean.” It also features their first-ever cover — a swell reinvention of Nick Drake’s “Fly.” The cover art, however, is way creepy with a couple blue-eyed 50-somethings holding giant glasses of what appears to be Mylanta.
Out now in Sweden, Communion hits the States on CD and vinyl via all-around nice guys Yep Roc on March 3, but you’ll be able to get it as a digital download as of January 6. If you have to have it now, Swede-loving Parasol records (who originally put out Behind the Music on their Hidden Agenda label) will sell you the import for $28. Here are a couple early tastes:
The Soundtrack of Our Lives – Flipside
The Soundtrack of Our Lives – Fly
New record also means new tour, and if you’ve never seen them before, TSOOL are one of the most awesome live bands on the planet. The last full show I saw was a two-and-a-half hour marathon at Mercury Lounge in 2007 that was one of the best shows of that year. (There is no shortage of TSOOL live footage on YouTube.) How awesome would it be if they played the ski-lodge-esque Bell House? Skippy, get on that.
Meanwhile over at TSOOL.net the boys are in the yuletide spirit with a Christmas Advent Calendar, with every day revealing a new downloadable surprise: live tracks, b-sides, ringtones, etc. I’m hoping that some of their holiday web singles will pop up as we get closer to the big day, but if not here’s a farfisa-rocking stocking stuffer:
MP3: The Soundtrack of Our Lives – Jingle Hell (Stuck in a Chimney)
While we’re on the subject, I finally got around to picking up Mattias Bärjed‘s soundtrack to Swedish miniseries Upp Til Kamp, about growing up in Göteborg from 1966-76. Music plays a big part, from what I can gather from online translators , and you can tell from the soundtrack too which includes a bunch of cool, faux period-sounding songs as well as incidental music. (May have to spring for the Region 2 DVD.) It’s a double CD. Do you sense a theme here?
MP3:Mattias Bärjed – Set Us Free (buy it at Parasol)
And also, former TSOOL (and Union Carbide Productions before that) guitarist Björn Olsson has been putting out a series of Morricone-influenced albums since leaving the group in 2001. Fans of whistling will particularly enjoy this:
MP3: Bjorn Olsson – Tjorn
And lastly, here’s the video for “Sister Surround”:
I do hope they come to Salt Lake City. The show I saw in 2005 at the 9:30 Club was kind of disappointing, but then they were touring on sort of a crummy album.
The Upp Till Kamp miniseries on DVD is pretty awesome, worth searching out; as is Barjed's soundtrack. My fave record of last year in fact. Glad to have TSOOL back, the new album is the best of both TSOOL worlds.