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Douglas Heart

Something of an oddity -- though not entirely incongruous -- among Labrador Records' stable of sun-kissed Swedish indie poppers, Douglas Heart pursue a subtler, more subdued form of beauty and sweetness. Though their style has continued to evolve over several incarnations, their defining sound, as heard on their self-titled debut, marries the glacial, spacious swoon of shoegaze with a calm, meditative clarity, gentle country inflections, and a keen melodic sensibility filtered through Malin Dahlberg's distinctively limpid vocals, not unlike Mazzy Star or a humbler, rootsier Sigur Rós. They started as an offshoot of the noise pop/shoegaze band Standing Pales, when the group's two principal songwriters, Dahlberg and guitarist Pontus Wallgren, decided to cut back the distortion and focus on simpler, quieter songs with a more intimate presentation. Naming themselves Hal Blaine, after the legendary American session drummer, the duo spent several months recording tapes in Wallgren's bedroom, primarily of guitar, bass, and vocals with synthesized organ and drums courtesy of a small Casio keyboard.

A demo session in an actual studio led to the inclusion of two more electronically oriented songs on Labrador's Kingsize compilation in 2001, by which time the group had changed its name to Douglas Heart in order to avoid confusion (and perhaps disgrace by association) with the original Hal Blaine's novelty solo recordings. As Dahlberg and Wallgren prepared to record their first full-length album, they began playing live with three friends -- drummer Max Sjöholm, bassist Daniel Brandt, and organist Ramo Spatalovic -- who soon joined the lineup permanently, contributing to the warmer, fuller sound of the self-titled debut (released in 2003) that the band co-produced with Björn Olsson of Union Carbide Productions, Spain, and the Soundtrack of Our Lives. I Could See the Smallest Things, an EP of new songs with a louder, rockier bent, followed in 2004, and Sjöholm and Wallgren also released an energetic fuzz pop single on Labrador under the moniker Afraid of Stairs, but the band parted ways with the label sometime thereafter, though it continued working toward a second album in this new, noisier vein. ~ K. Ross Hoffman
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Labrador 100, A Complete History Of Popular Music

Disc 1

1. Car, Travel Far!

2. This And That

3. I'm Home

4. Missing You

5. C'mon Through

6. Ignorance

7. I Don't Need Anyone

8. He Loves Anna

9. Dear Friend

10. Honey Watch That Man

11. We're Simple Minds

12. Bruised

13. Reflected

14. Before You Went Away

15. Charlotte

16. We're The Acid House Kings

17. Once Upon A Time

18. Undeserved Disgrace

19. Everlasting Love

20. When Sun Falls On My Feet

21. You And Me

23. Maybe In The Next Life

24. Flowers First

25. Sunday Morning

Disc 2

1. Against The Tide

3. The Great Divide

5. Expired

6. Syster Dyster

7. Not Today

8. Sacred Heart

9. Cold Hearts

10. She Stays At Home

11. A Pleasant Dream

12. Love Is So Cool (That My Heart Goes Boom)

13. Landmarks And Houses

14. Trying To Be Clever

16. Why Won't You Talk About It?

17. The Astronauts

18. One Last Song About You Know What

19. Saturday Night Engine

20. Smoke Screen

21. Where Damage Isn't Already Done

22. A Question Of Gender

23. Say Yes If You Love Me

24. Freedom Fighters

Disc 3

1. Go To Hell, Miss Rydell

2. Trumpets And Violins

3. Deliverance

4. There And Back Again

5. This Heart Is A Stone

6. Between The Lines

9. Funeral Face

10. Die 5 Times Times 5

11. That Grim Reality

13. When The Day Is Done

14. Dreams & Lies

15. Rent A Wreck

16. Pulling Our Weight

17. Always No

19. Hurray!

21. Do What You Wanna Do

22. And Then She Flung Me The Truth

23. Empty Feeling

25. Call It Ours

Disc 4

2. The Worst Taste In Music

3. New Moon

4. Waterfront

5. Play It For Today

7. I Wanna Be Like Johnny C

8. Pet Grief

9. Heart

10. A Tasteless Offer

11. Marry Me

12. People Like Us

13. Lost

14. Baby I Love Your Way

15. Will You Love Me In The Morning?

16. Keep Your Love

17. Lucky Star

18. The Beehive Kid

19. Ice & Snow

20. He Knows The Sun

21. It's Ok

22. Little Things (That Tear Us Apart)

23. Riverbank

24. Today (Phone Edit By Les Espions)

25. Kate

26. We Made The Team

x

Track List: Never Lose That Feeling

1. Angel Sigh

2. Coast Is Clear

3. When The Sun Hits

4. You Made Me Realise

6. Never Click

7. Mercy Seat

8. Suzanne

9. Alison

10. For Love

11. Kinky Love

14. The Perfect Needle

15. Frozen

16. Black Metallic

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