Swedish rocker Lekman brings humor, unique style to FNR

by Marki Grimsley | 10/13/05 5:00am

Dartmouth students have a great opportunity to rage like they've never raged before this Friday night at Fuel. Friday Night Rock is hosting its first international artist, Jens Lekman, at 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 14 in the basement of Collis. The Swedish rocker will bring a sizeable band with him that will include a violin and a cello, making the concert appealing to those interested in many different types of music. Emerging Oakland singer-songwriter Nedelle will open for Lekman with her unique mixture of tender jazz melodies and classic blues sentiments.

"It's going to be a very different kind of show for Friday Night Rock, but probably one of the best. Lekman's style will attract and impress anyone who comes," promised Andrew Sandoval '06, general manager of Friday Night Rock. In addition to featuring great music, the show will also serve as a Hurricane Katrina benefit. Friday Night Rock will accept DASH donations and have Katrina bracelets on sale for $5 each.

Nedelle Torrisi is a native of California who plays violin, piano and guitar in addition to writing her own music. She currently resides under the Kill Rock Stars label, with her most recent album being "From the Lion's Mouth." Her music is generally acknowledged as a mixture of jazz, R&B and pop, with Nedelle's tender and natural vocals infusing her music with great character and warmth. Her previous label Kimchee Records called her style a mix between "Ella Fitzgerald and Everything But the Girl with vocal harmonies reminiscent of The Shirelles." The label added, "At times her music is tender and romantic, at others lovelorn and drained, and sometimes it's downright sexy."

Nedelle explains that her own style is not that of other quintessential indie bands. "I have a more white-girl soul tinge, and I use weirder chords," she stated in an interview with Kitty Majik. Many call Nedelle's mood Californian, which is understandable with the sunny, cheerful sound of her vocals. Yet, if one gets beyond the initial impact of her voice, it is quite evident that Nedelle's lyrics are personal stories that tell of sad and heartbreaking times in her life.

Jens Lekman is a well established pop star in his hometown of Goteborg, Sweden. At 23, he has already claimed many number-two hits on the Swedish pop charts and racked up three Swedish Grammy nominations. Lekman is considerably less familiar to United States audiences; however, his popularity and fan base have been on an exponential rise in anticipation of his new album "Oh, You're So Silent" on the Secretly Canadian label. His first album was "Maple Leaves," followed by "Rocky Dennis EP" and "You are the Light." "Oh, You're So Silent" will actually be a collection of Lekman's older material.

His fundamental influences can be found in the music of Momus, Stephin Merritt and Jonathan Richman. The Swede's style is innovative, with sarcastic, light-hearted lyrics that are somewhat suggestive of early Ben Folds Five and Rufus Wainwright. "You Are the Light," the funky single on his second album, employs trumpets and trombones as backup instruments and illustrates Lekman's humorous lyrics quite well. "Yeah, I got busted / But soon they released me 'cause the cops were sad / And they didn't know how to prove it," he sings at one point. "Yeah, I got busted / I painted a dirty word on your old man's Mercedes Benz / 'Cause he told me to do it," he declares elsewhere in the song.

Quite simply, the guy is hilarious. His songs are attractive because they are instantly familiar and seem to suggest a past melody to which his audience can easily relate. Lekman seems to invoke nostalgia in his listeners of a younger time and a sweeter place. Many claim that he is destined for indie sainthood.

Friday Night Rock staff member Brendon Bouzard '06 finds Lekman's general voice to be "very classy, with a sort of baroque aspect." After listening to a few of Lekman's mp3s, I must admit that I too have come to greatly appreciate his baritone. The deepness of his voice is something that one rarely finds in indie pop, and his voice is all the more appealing for that reason. "He's quite the character," stated Sandoval. "His shimmering baritone and whimsical love songs will satisfy the whole audience." Personally, I am looking forward to hearing Lekman talk about his music and lyrics; he will likely be very open and eager to let the Dartmouth audience know what music has meant in his life.

The passionate staff of Friday Night Rock are looking for a big push this coming Friday. They have good reason to be enthusiastic, with a great line up, a good cause, free food and free beer -- not to mention free admission. The crowd will be small and intimate, and the atmosphere will be loose and fun. So if you are looking for something fabulous to do this Friday, stroll on down to the basement of Collis and hang with a bunch of hot kids listening to some seriously hot music. It promises to be a terrific time.