Hail Their Sunny Days – A take on Mando Diao so far…
Well, here we are again, and I’ve got another band for you to get your lugs round. This time, it’s a band called Mando Diao; another Swedish band (shock). I hope you like the old Swedes cause I’m sure they’ll be featuring pretty heavily on these new articles. Hey, it’s not my fault Sweden is obviously Europe’s hot spot for good music.
Mando Diao are an alternative, rock band who’s fan base consists largely of Europe, including Germany, Austria, Sweden (obviously), Japan (who knew?!) and more recently, the United States. The band was formed in 1999 when two of the original members, Björn Dixgård (vocals and guitar) and Daniel Haglund (keyboard) played in a band called Butler. The rest of the band in 1999 (after being renamed to Mando Diao) consisted of Gustaf Norén (vocals, guitar), Carl-Johan Fogelklou (bass and backing vocals) and Samuel Giers(drums); although the present members of the band now reside at just Björn Dixgård, Gustaf Norén, Carl-Johan Fogelklou and Mats Björke (piano and keyboards).
Their debut album, Bring ‘Em In, released in 2002 was a big hit and they began touring Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. From this album, came their debut single,Sheepdog, (which you should really check out by the way) which paved their way to success by releasing their second album, Hurricane Bar. This became an international success almost immediately, with hits such as God Knows, which actually featured on the Fifa ’06 soundtrack, so perhaps you may have heard this one before; and for the record, it is undoubtedly one of their best songs. Other gems from this album include Down In The Past and You Can’t Steal My Love, but more on those later!
The band followed up their success of the first two albums by releasing their third album just two years later, in 2006, named Ode To Ochrasy. This has been described by the majority of the music press, as the bands best album, which I just have to agree with as this is my favourite album, (if we don’t include the MTV Unplugged, but again, I’m getting ahead of myself). Tracks to watch out for on this album include Song For Aberdeen, Long Before Rock ‘n’ Roll, Welcome Home Luc Robitaille and Ochrasy. Just one year later, Mando Diao released their fourth studio album, Never Seen The Light Of Day, in 2007; and just because this one was released only a year later, by no means is it any less fantastic than its predecessors. Their fifth album, Give Me Fire, was then released in early 2009 citing their biggest track to date,Dance With Somebody. This was followed shortly after, by the release of The Malevolence Of Mando Diao, a collection of previously unheard or unreleased tracks and B-sides in late 2009. And, if you didn’t think they were busy enough; in the next two years they released their recording of Above And Beyond – MTV Unplugged on CD and DVD, a downloadable Christmas calendar, and a greatest hits volume 1 CD, and their sixth album in 2012, Infruset, performed in their native tongue, (Swedish in case you’d forgotten). Of course, in between all this, the band has been headlining festivals across Europe and touring the world with the likes of The Bravery, The Colour, Razorlight and Dirty Pretty Things to name but a few.
Now, have I got you interested yet? Either way, we’ll back track to that MTV unplugged recording. This CD/DVD is actually one of my favourites ever, featuring a collection of Mando Diao’s best songs, all performed live. MTV Unplugged recordings can often do a lot for bands; after all, we all remember THAT Unplugged recording, of Nirvana. Sometimes, you just know you’ve made it when you’re doing an MTV Unplugged. The band’s recording features other artists such as Juliette Lewis, Ray Davies (wow), and Lana Del Ray (before she was an international icon herself), so from the off, it’s bound to be amazing. Some of the tracks recorded on this CD, are actually better versions (in my not so humble opinion) of previous songs the band has released.Some of my favourites from MTV Unplugged include Dance With Somebody, Long Before Rock ‘n’ Roll, Gloria, No More Tears, Mr. Moon, and Victoria, (yes, that’s right, a cover of The Kinks, featuring Ray Davies himself).
So, now you’re better acquainted with Mando Diao, I hope you’re going to trot off and download some of their material, if not, then more fool you, to be honest. Now, as I mentioned previously, Mando Diao has been hailed by the majority of the world’s music press, and bloody hell, they deserve it. However, there will always be those nitty gritty people who thrive in comparing bands to other bands, like nobody can have an original sound anymore, oh yes NME, I’m looking at you. As much as I enjoy NME, sometimes their reviews are quite frankly, utter shit (please excuse my language). So, as long as you by-pass their ramblings of mad men, you will find Mando Diao to be an incredible band, that I hope keep going for years to come, especially as I am yet to see them perform live myself. Once again, the music fans of the UK are holding me back; if the fan base here grew, they would maybe gig here more often…just saying. For your added benefit and enjoyment, I have listed my top ten Mando Diao songs below for you lot to have a gander at. Enjoy.
10. Never Seen The Light Of Day – taken from 2007 album,Never Seen The Light Of Day.
9. Welcome Home, Luc Robitaille – taken from 2006 album,Ode To Ochrasy. A slightly angry, if not a little wistful, song for you bop along to when you’re in one of your moods.
8. Mr. Moon – taken from 2011 Above And Beyond MTV Unplugged. This song is perfect for when you get in from a drunken night out, to wind down and relax (without passing out).
7. Down In The Past – taken from 2004 album Hurricane Bar.I just don’t know why, but this song just wants to make me get going on some sort of crazy revenge mission. Revenge for what, you say? Who knows and who cares? Certainly not me, but you might find it helpful if you are on your own little mission!
6. Sheepdog – taken from 2011 Above And Beyond MTV Unplugged. This is a much slower version of the band’s original song, however, it seems to carry more meaning this way, and much like Mr. Moon, consider this a nice, relaxing tune to ease you either into bed, or another bottle of whisky.
5. Song for Aberdeen – taken from 2006 album, Ode To Ochrasy. I’m pretty sure everyone will find relevance to the lyrics of this song somewhere along the line. After all, who hasn’t ‘woke up on your kitchen floor, with a headache made in Hell’?
4. God Knows – taken from 2004 album, Hurricane Bar. I mentioned this song earlier, so please take this as second notice that you should definitely get on this song. Right now.It’s a brilliant catchy tune, and definitely one for the dance floor. You know, if you’re frequenting the same kind of dance floors that I am, of course.
3. Gloria – taken from 2011 Above And Beyond MTV Unplugged. Pretty much jumps straight into the tune of the song, and this will have you mincing around your living room in no time.
2. Long Before Rock ‘n’ Roll – taken from 2011 Above And Beyond MTV Unplugged. So what, it may have a slightly longer intro than usual, but it’s bloody worth the wait. See for yourself.
1. Dance With Somebody – taken from 2011 Above And Beyond MTV Unplugged. This is one of my favourite songs, there’s just something about this song, and I will never tire of it. Ever. If you were to only ever listen to one Mando Diao song in your life, then I beg of you, to make it this one. You will thank me one day. (Although please feel free to thank me sooner, if necessary. Just to make it clear, thanks are always welcome. I reiterate, always.)
So we have reached the end of our countdown, which sadly means the end of this article. I hope you have all enjoyed yourselves thoroughly, and the review of (another) fantastic Swedish band. Don’t worry; I’m not going to do one on ABBA any time soon. Or maybe I will, just for you lucky so and so’s. But for now, it’s over and out.
Words by Stuart Green (@Mojo20_music)