Ella Rouge Ludvig Andersson, vocals Max Lachmann, guitar Johan Moraeus, guitar Mats Lundgren, piano Magnus Eugenson, bass Hasse Sjölander, drums It turns out that the recipe for rock & roll success isn't a very difficult one at all. Simply take six talented musicians and isolate them in a cozy studio on an island in the Baltic Sea. Add some outrageous weather, complete with hurricane-force gales, to help concentrate frisky young minds on the task at hand. Sprinkle in a variety of impromptu magical musical moments, and voila!...you have the formula for the amazing self-titled debut album from the sextet of Swedes known as Ella Rouge. Well, okay, upon further review, it's not that easy...but whatever works. And in this case it worked very well, indeed, as the 11 songs on Ella Rouge represent a transcendent tour through a marvelous musical realm. From the very start, with album opener "That's Me With the Gun" and it's somewhat sinister lyrics, "Don't mind me, though inside your head/I won't make a sound," the listener realizes that this isn't a typical first effort. Whether it's the wistful yearning and lilting lyricism of "Holly Golightly," a passionate paean to the heroine of "Breakfast at Tiffany's"; the hard-charging, driving beat of the rambunctious "L.A. Dogs," or the wryly autobiographical edge of "Eldorado High," there's a mood for every moment on the disc. Combine this with some masterful musicianship, featuring everything from barrelhouse honky-tonk piano to an intertwining dual guitar attack propelled by a powerful, potent rhythm section, and the result is an ultimately unforgettable sonic experience. "I think we knew from our first rehearsal that we had something," observes singer/songwriter Ludvig Andersson. "Usually it takes a while to get to know each other, personally and professionally, but here we had a bunch of guys who had seemed to play together for over 10 years...after just one rehearsal!" This immediate rapport was only strengthened by the recording conditions: the group convened at producer Micke Lyander's studio on an island in the Baltic Sea during the winter of 2005, an isolated locale that grew even moreso with a series of stinging winter storms. Throw in the devastation caused by the Asian tsunami, and the mood in the studio started off as a somber one. That quickly changed, however, as the conditions called for a certain camaraderie. "During the recording we lived together in six army beds in the attic of the studio," relates guitarist Max Lachmann. "We did everything together. We had fights, parties, good times, sad times and a lot of jam sessions together." This intimacy produced remarkable results, with all 11 tracks on the album being recorded, live, in two weeks' time. But perhaps none was more noteworthy than the recording session that produced the gorgeous ballad "Weary." "We had been trying out a few versions for a while, just checking key, tempo, etc.," recalls pianist Mats Lundgren. "Then Ludvig and I start playing...and it's as if the world stopped spinning and Time took a few minutes off to see what magic is happening at the studio." "The song was originally supposed to be a full-band rock song and everybody was getting ready to go at it," adds Ludvig. "While waiting for the others Mats and I decided to play the song through just once for practice. He started playing his old grand piano very slowly and delicately and I just tagged along. When we where finished Micke, our producer who had been listening on his earphones, came running, screaming, 'That was amazing!' We asked if he wanted us to do it again, and he replied, 'You don't have to; I had a good feeling about it, so I secretly rolled tape while you played.' So, what you hear on the album is that one practice run-through that Micke secretly recorded on a cold winter night somewhere in the middle of the Baltic Sea." And that's merely one of the many magical moments that went into the recording of this extraordinary debut disc. But enough of the verbiage; music, after all, speaks much louder than words...so why not put this aside and place Ella Rouge in your CD player, and experience the glorious wonder for yourself?
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