mercoledì 22 novembre 2017

L.STADT - "L.STORY" (2017)

L.Stadt are a Polish band from Łódź, founded in 2003 by singer and multi-instrumentalist Łukasz Lach. Their moniker is a contracted form of Litzmannstadt, the name of their city during the nazi occupation.
Despite never making it to the mainstream, L.Stadt have been celebrated for years as one of Poland's best rock bands.
I have to admit that before this new studio effort I wasn't impressed with them, but now I'm fully supporting their new sound.

"L.Story" is a great album. Arrangements are ambitious, incorporating folk elements, prog structures, and background vocals by the young and talented Wielki Chór Młodej Chorei. Acoustic guitars, synthesizers, and traditional instruments mingle with electric instrumentation to create refined, layered songs full of harmony and melancholy.
Words are written by poet and theatre author Konrad Dworakowski, as in the great tradition of poezja śpiewana. In fact, the whole album is influeced by the movement, just think to the choral arrangements in the last song, "Od nowa", and compare them to Marek Grechuta's "Świat w obłokach".
All in all, this may be the best Polish album of 2017.


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martedì 17 ottobre 2017

KORTEZ - "BUMERANG" (2015) + "MINIALBUM" (2016)

Kortez is a Polish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. 
In 2013 he tried to enter a talent show, but he was discarded during the auditions. Luckily, the chief of Jazzboy Records, Paweł Jóźwicki, noticed him and decided to offer him a contract. 

"Bumerang" (2015) is his beautiful debut album. It consists of ten ballads recorded with both acoustic and electronic instruments, and ecompassing styles like dreampop and downtempo. Some songs are soft, whilst others indulge in noir atmospheres. 
"Zostań" is the most popular song on the album, and one of the most important singles of the decade, at least in the Polish alternative scene. On the wake of its success, the album reached no. 2 and as of today it has been in the local charts for 94 weeks.

In 2016 an EP called "Minialbum" was also released. It is notable for containing an extended version of "Z imbirem", one of the best songs on "Bumerang".

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lunedì 2 ottobre 2017

ARMIA - "LEGENDA" (1991)

Robert Brylewski is one of the most important musicians in the history of Polish rock, having been the guitar player and main composer of legendary bands such as Brygada Kryzys, Izrael, and Armia
He founded Armia in December 1984, along with singer Tomasz Budzyński, a former member of Siekiera

Armia are still going today under Budzyński's guidance, whilst Brylewski left them in 1994. "Legenda" is their second album. It was released in 1991, showing a band quite distant from the canonical hardcore punk sound of their eponymous debut. While still classifiable under that style, "Legenda" is one of the most original records of its era. 
Its riffing is somehow influenced by thrash metal, the symphonic sound of guitars is not far from black metal, and some songs have open structures which remind of progressive rock. While distorted guitars and frantic rhythms dominate the arrangements, here and there you can hear unusual tricks like synthesizer drones, French horn, and acoustic guitars. 
Budzyński's vocal style is also worth of mention, taking a strong departure from hardcore punk shouting, and choosing a clean, melodic style that makes the tunes catchier, while still being aggressive. 

Not so popular at the time, "Legenda" is today considered a classic. Often mentioned among the best Polish albums ever, its cult is unexpectedly solid among hardcore punk followers from all over the world.


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sabato 26 agosto 2017

ORGANEK - "CZARNA MADONNA" (2016)

Tomasz Organek is one of the key figures of the current Polish music scene. After ten years spent in the alternative R&B collective Sofa, he started his own project, simply called Organek.
The debut album, "Głupi" (2014), was a good mix of blues and indie rock, but maybe a little too traditional. Released at the end of 2016, "Czarna Madonna" is way more mature and probably represents the peak of Organek's entire career.

Blues and indie rock are still part of the game, but the songs sound darker and more epic. There's a sense of tension and violence throughout this record, which doesn't prevent it from being catchy. In fact, the album went all the way to no. 3 in Poland, remaining in the chart for months.

In the meantime, Organek has become a sort of guru. He directed the popular Męskie Granie project in both 2016 and 2017, while rock legend Kora, the former singer of Maanam, has portrayed the lead character in "Czarna Madonna"'s videoclip. Even the young star Dawid Podsiadło has expressed his admiration for Organek.
This is one of the few great rock albums released in 2016, and you really shouldn't miss it.



sabato 5 agosto 2017

SBB - "SBB" [aka "WOŁANIE O BRZĘK SZKŁA", "SLOVENIAN GIRLS"] (1978)

Third SBB album on Soviet Sam, and it won't be the last one.

During the Seventies the band had the honour of touring outside of Poland, which was quite rare during the Iron Curtain era. They recorded this album in April 1977 in Prague. It was released one year later exclusively in Czechoslovakia and West Germany. It was sung entirely in Polish, but it probably didn't matter that much, since most of it is instrumental and the band only had a small cult following in those countries.

Like their previous effort, "Ze słowem biegnę do ciebie", this consists of two long pieces, one on each side of the LP. The band seems to be more skilled than ever; the sound is beautiful, harmonic, deeply futuristic, but also able to show off some muscles. A mix of jazz rock, space rock, and occasional ambient parts, which partially predated the electronic world music of the Eighties (just think of the beginning of "Odejście").
All in all, this may be SBB's masterpiece.

Józef Skrzek - keyboards, harmonica, vocals
Apostolis Antymos - guitars, bouzouki
Jerzy Piotrowski - drums, percussion

Composed by Józef Skrzek 
Produced by Hynek Žalčík
Lyrics by Julian Matej

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)



(Old albums, new download links:

lunedì 22 maggio 2017

R.I.P. ZBIGNIEW WODECKI, 1950 2017

Zbigniew Wodecki has died today from a stroke.

Soviet Sam posted his legendary debut album back in November 2015: 
http://sovietsam.blogspot.it/2015/11/zbigniew-wodecki-zbigniew-wodecki-album.html

A must if you like baroque pop, folk, bossanova, and soft-rock.



venerdì 19 maggio 2017

MAREK GRECHUTA & ANAWA - "MAREK GRECHUTA & ANAWA" (1970)

Marek Grechuta's debut album with backing band Anawa is one of the most important Polish albums of the Seventies.
Complex and beautiful folk pieces which mix strings in the 18th century style, cabaret-like piano marches, and jazzy double bass lines.
Most of these songs are familiar to the majority of Poles. My favourites are "W dzikie wino zaplątani", "Nie dokazuj", and "Piosenka".

Marek Grechuta – lead vocals
Jan Kanty Pawluśkiewicz – piano
Tadeusz Kożuch – violin
Zbigniew Wodecki – violin
Anna Wójtowicz – cello
Tadeusz Dziedzic – guitar

Producer: Zofia Gajewska


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lunedì 10 aprile 2017

FISZ EMADE TWORZYWO - "DRONY" (2016)

If you liked Fisz Emade Tworzywo's previous album, "Mamut", you should listen to this one too. The atmospheres are quite similar, with electronic downtempo rhythms, mysterious keyboard sounds, and a melancholic but tense mood throughout the tracklist. "Kręte drogi" is probably the best song they ever made, with those beautiful mystical voices above an impressive foktronica background.

The album debuted at no. 1 on the Polish chart. 

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mercoledì 29 marzo 2017

SBB - "ZE SŁOWEM BIEGNĘ DO CIEBIE" (1977)

Another beautiful album from SBB, the most important Polish prog band. Compared to "Pamięć", which you may have already appreciated, the sound quality has even improved. 
There is only one song on each side. The title track is a mix between symphonic prog and space rock, passionately sung by keyboard player Józef Skrzek, while "Przed premierą" is instrumental and more jazz fusion oriented. The whole album is characterized by ethereal, liquid sounds, originating from guitars and keyboards as well.

Released as a limited edition of 50.000 copies, the vinyl version quickly went out of print. It was finally reissued on CD in 1997.


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sabato 18 marzo 2017

PHOENIX - "CEI CE NE-AU DAT NUME" (1972)

This is Soviet Sam's first Romanian entry, after just over four years of existence (better late than never).

Phoenix are probably the most popular rock band of the nation, at least among the older generation. After spending the Sixties playing beat music, they changed their style in 1971, when the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu officially stated that every musician should have praised the nation and the Romanian tradition in one way or another. 

To avoid a ban, the band decided to incorporate the local folklore into its sound, while maintaining the electric side. In fact, the new songs sounded even louder than in the past, but since the band had accepted the request of Ceaușescu, they managed to partially bypass the censorship. 
The first full lenght album, "Cei ce ne-au dat nume", should have been a double Lp, but half of the material was not approved because of its controversial contents, probably considered too heavy and depressed (many songs talked about death). The remaining songs were released by the state label Electrecord in 1972. The first Cd reissues came at the end of the Nineties.

Lead by the talented multi-instrumentalist Nicolae Covaci, Phoenix were one hell of a band at the time. This debut is a gem which mixes hard rock, blues, progressive rock, and Romanian folk. The sound is sharp and aggressive, maybe a little flat, but surprisingly clear. Heavy guitar riffs, distortions, and powerful solos on one side, pristine vocal arrangements and arcane atmospheres on the other. Like it or not, you'll rarely hear something similar.

Nicolae Covaci: lead guitar, acoustic guitar, flute, percussion, vocals
Mircea Baniciu: lead vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, percussion
Iosif Kappl: bass guitar, violin, percussion, vocals
Costin Petrescu: drums
Valeriu Sepi: percussion


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)