The US duo Dálava, consisting of vocalist Julia Úlehla and guitarist Aram Bajakian, explores traditional Moravian folk songs collected by Úlehla’s great-grandfather, blending them with more contemporary, indie-rock sound. We are going to listen to their second album, called the Book of Transfigurations, which was released in April 2017.
On their recently released LP Sbohem a šáteček the three-piece Wild Tides draw on surf pop, punk, country and other genres to cook up a sound that is fresh, energetic and highly entertaining. Out on the BiggBoss label, it is the first record to feature Czech-language lyrics from the Prague outfit, who are led by Jakub Kaifosz, also known for Lazer Viking and Sabreheart.
It’s not at all hard to see why Guru by Tomáš Palucha was named LP of the year for 2016 by Czech Radio’s youth and alternative station, Wave. The captivating and ambitious guitar-based record mixes up dreamy, atmospheric tracks with poppy moments, while the variety of guest vocalists (it is Palucha’s first release to feature voice) makes for a broad and highly satisfying palette.
Kayos, which came out last year, is the excellent fourth LP by the Olomouc-based outfit Flash the Readies. They started out in the mid-2000s as an indie group but today have a post-rock sound that should appeal greatly to fans of Mogwai or Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Though comprising only five tracks, Kayos takes listeners on an atmospheric, psychedelic and frequently epic, journey.
These Semi Feelings, They Are Everywhere by dné (AKA Ondřej Holý) recently won the Vinyla alternative music prize for Czech LP of the year and is also in the running for the Apollo award. Recorded in large part in Holý’s Prague bedroom, the mesmerising, keyboard-based album came out on German label Majestic Casual and has been making waves internationally in a way most Czech artists can only dream of. When I stopped by at Ondřej Holý’s home, I first asked him about his beginnings in music.
Lazer Viking and Sabrehart’s exuberant joint seven-track LP Flesh Cadillac was one of the more intriguing local releases of 2016. Lazer Viking is the stage name of Jakub Kaifosz, who is also in the band Wild Tides, DJs on Radio Wave and is an editor at Vice magazine. Sabrehart, meanwhile, is Prague-based English musician, composer and producer Stephen Abrehart. Polished and poppy but idiosyncratic and characterful, the collaborators’ compelling Flesh Cadillac – which perhaps surprisingly came out on BiggBoss, the Czech Republic’s premiere hip hop
Dné is the alias of Ondřej Holý, a keyboard and laptop wizard who last month released his atmospheric debut long player These Semi Feelings, They are Everywhere on a German indie label. A live rendition of one track, the haunting Asos Model Crush, has had over 250,000 views on YouTube. Other titles accompanying the mostly instrumental material – including Driving A Car While Listening To Bill Burr’s Podcast – also show off Holý’s immersion in Western pop culture.
Last year Děti mezi reprákama (Children Among the Speakers) picked up the Best Newcomer prize at the Vinyl music awards. Recently the Prague group – led by former Post-hudba man Dominik Zezula – returned with their sophomore release, the short but captivating Haiku. Highly recommended if poetic lyrics (helpfully posted on Děti mezi reprákama’s Tumblr account), lo-fi piano and guitar squall are your cup of čaj.
The Prague band Republic of Two comprises Jiří Burian and Mikoláš Růžička, both of whom perform the music, sing and write the songs. After releasing their well-received debut LP, the indie folk duo were named Best New Act at the Czech equivalent of the Grammys, the Anděl awards, five years ago. Since then they have brought out three regular albums, with the most recent, Back to the Trees, coming out in the summer.