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Beat the winter blues
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As part of southeastern China, Shanghai is far from the coldest place in the country but the city's winter is still pretty unbearable. It rarely snows in Shanghai, but the humidity amplifies the coldness, chilling citizens to the bone. At such times, it is best to enjoy a cup of hot coffee or tea in a cozy place while listening to some good music.

The music should relieve the pressures of work, family or relationships but it shouldn't be simply sweet and therefore too shallow to appreciate over and over.

It should contain a little melancholy but this must be well disguised so it doesn't destroy what little sunshine there is. "Love in December" by Swedish band Club 8 would fit the bill, with its perfect balance between sunshine and melancholy.

Although a band, Club 8 has only ever had two members since its formation in 1995-Karolina Komstedt is on vocals while Johan Angergard writes, composes and plays all the songs.

After they finish their live performance in Beijing tonight, the two will fly to Shanghai for a concert tomorrow night at the exquisite Shanghai Concert Hall.

Categorized as Anorak Pop, the band is heavily influenced by legendary independent UK label Sarah Recording and such seminal bands as the Smiths and Portishead. Komstedt's voice, the symbol of Club 8, is direct but innocent, like that of a teenage girl whose biggest problem is deciding what to wear. But somehow the multi-layered emotions make the voice unforgettable - sensitive like a lady in love, cheerful and more than a little melancholy.

Although Komstedt's voice has remained the symbol of Club 8, the band has matured with each of their six albums.

As the title of their debut album, "Nouvelle," indicates, the sound was brand new, fresh, naive and in places even twee. Komstedt sings about the various bittersweet moments of her youth with a naive yet emotionally drenched voice.

After their second album "The Friend I Once Had" in 1999, the band started mixing different musical genres to create their own. Their mix of bossa nova, glittery guitar sounds, chilled out pop melodies and hidden dance beats made that album stand out. They also made their live debut that year in New York.

The band has intentionally moved away from pop songs since then, resulting in a much darker and slower third album - "Club 8." Since then, their albums have become progressively more innovative and darker.

Swedish singer Pelle Carlberg is touring with Club 8 in China. Inspired by the likes of the Smiths and Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, Carlberg has been lead singer and songwriter in bands, but he has also had normal office jobs too.

With sweet melodies and quirky lyrics, his songs are arranged in a simple, accessible way. His first solo album was released in 2005.

Date: January 18, 8:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Concert Hall, 523, Yan'an Road E.

Tel: 021-5237-8662

Admission: 200 yuan pre-sale (US$27.64) and 250 yuan at the door

(Shanghai Daily January 17, 2008)

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