Best Croatian Albums of 2019 So Far

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July 18, 2019 – We’re now officially beyond the midpoint of 2019 and this year has already shown us some great releases from Croatian artists. Here’s a short list of a few new and notable Croatian albums along with an added bonus album from a few years ago that was included in the list for a very timely reason. 

Fog Frog Dog – sdgvuigujheriptbnjieoang

Fog Frog Dog has a very unique sound that pushes boundaries in the originality department without sacrificing listenability. Although I can think of a few sources of inspiration for this particular album, I’m hard-pressed to find a band or artist to compare this to directly. There’s just too much happening all over the place and there are too many layers to pin this down to a single comparison for reference. This album houses a collection of small, simple pieces that make up a much more complex whole, so I think it really needs to be heard in its entirety to be fully appreciated. The vocal melodies and lyrics are generally playful and catchy, bordering on familiarity with early psychedelic folk, but it’s the instrumentation where this album really shines. There’s an almost limitless variety in the sounds that are showing up at every corner of the listening experience with frequent changes in direction to keep even the shortest attention spans interested throughout the entire album. Ever since I heard Fog Frog Dog’s 2015 album, I was looking forward to a sophomore release and now that it’s finally here, I can say that it’s definitely living up to my expectations. 

You can find the album here–SeP3NFg

Mind Teardown – Find

Find is heavy on the synth and retro drum beats with mid-tempo melodies wrapped up in multiple steps of delay and walls of reverb. It seems to me like the influence for this particular piece lies somewhere between the mid-80s and early 90s but even still, the vibe is very modern and even futuristic at times. The album is pretty consistent throughout with a heavy dose of looping, ambience, dark undertones, and the occasional effect of a recorded instrument track temporarily slowing down to give that added element of somber atmosphere. It’s an album that could easily pass for the soundtrack of a film in which all the scenes are set at night, in the rain, and it’s the future, but everyone dresses like it’s the 80s. 

You can find the full album here

nemanja – Tarot Funk

Like the album title suggests, this album is definitely funky, but there’s also a lot of pieces of many other times and places that blend together to make something entirely new. I’d be surprised if anyone heard this and could pin down exactly where in the world it came from. It’s largely instrumental, but you won’t be longing for a vocalist when you hear these tracks. The songs vary in tempo and mood, but there is a sort of “danceable” groove throughout that will, at the very least, make listening heads nod along. Beyond the quality of the songwriting itself, I can also really appreciate the way this album was produced. In particular, there are certain moments where most of the instruments sound so crisp and clean but then there’s one raw and dirty one thrown in there just to push the whole thing off balance enough to make a noticeable difference. This album sounds like a mix of many different cultures all coming together with a shared desire to move and shake to an entirely new beat.

You can find the full album here

Seine – 22

Siene is back with a collection of guitar-based tunes with sparkling vocals and punchy drum arrangements. There is a sense of immediacy throughout the album, much like the feeling that something important is happening and we should pay attention because something even bigger is going to happen soon. The atmosphere is pretty well consistently dark and eerie with so few exceptions that when you hear the occasional moments of brightness, you’ll surely notice the sharp contrast. Seine doesn’t appear to be satisfied playing the familiar tones that allow our ears to stay comfortable knowing what’s coming next and this album reflects what I can only imagine is a desire to bring something new to the world of sound by mixing a few well-known ingredients and employing a distinctly original delivery. 

You can find the full album here

Pseća Plaža – Povratak u lagunu br. 07

This album has a real true and honest sound to it; maybe because of the apparent minimalist production and limited use of effects on the guitars and vocals. It sounds like they wanted to keep the vocals, guitars, bass, and drums pretty clean so they could save all the allowable eccentricity for the sounds of the keyboards. Save for a few double-tracks and stereo effects here and there, many of songs sound like you’re right there in the studio with the band and they’re recording everything live off the floor. The band’s distinct style is manifested by the vocalist’s laid-back method and the prominence of the uniquely-styled keys and synths from track-to-track. Most of the tunes are mid-to-up-tempo and pretty chill but still upbeat and they have a vibe that makes me think of using the word “refreshing” to describe them, for some reason. 

You can find the full album here

Punčke – Sunčano s povremenom naoblakom

Punčke earned a recurring role on my stereo speakers after I heard their 2018 release, Valovi, which is a heavy-hitting and intense rock EP with a modern take on the 90’s grunge flavour. I recently heard that Punčke is going on a hiatus of sorts with one of the band members moving abroad. So, to honour the legacy of a long-running and incredibly talented Croatian band, I wanted to include something from their back catalogue on this list which is otherwise reserved for the most current releases. From all the way back in 2013, Sunčano s povremenom naoblakom is just a fantastic rock album in the truest sense of the term “rock” without the use of a modifier to describe it. It’s throwing highs and lows at you and keeping the tracks to their most distilled and purest form for maximum effect in the allotted time. There’s not a second of filler on this collection. Each track is individually strong and can stand firmly on its own but when they’re all combined together, you get an exceptionally dynamic and engaging rock album from start to finish. Here’s hoping that we haven’t seen the last of Punčke. 

You can find the full album here

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