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Ed Harcourt. What can you say? This musical genius has been making rock journalists wet their pants with excitement for the last months with "Here Be Monsters". It's kind of ironic that the two biggest hypes in today's music are the laidback piano tunes with beautiful strings, complex arrangements and almost naive lyrics of Mr. Harcourt, and the aggresive retro-70's-rock frenzy of The Strokes and The White Stripes.

So, is he worth the hype?

No. Not really.

But he's still REALLY good. The album is filled to the brim with some of the most endearing songs I've heard in a WAY too long time. Check out "Hanging with the Wrong Crowd", "Apple of My Eye" or "Those Crimson Tears" and be overjoyed. It's as if the last 20 years of music never happened. (Not that I don't like the last twenty years of music, mind you. :) His brilliant sense for atmospheres and feelings is... Ah, hell with it, just get on your KaZaA, download said tracks, and then go buy Here Be Monsters.

His obvious main influence is Tom Waits, but you can find traces of so much more if you dig deeper -- Lennon, Elliott Smith, Kevin Ayers or Badly Drawn Boy to name a few.

I saw him at the Hultsfred festival this summer. It was one of the finest moments I've experienced. There he was, at the big noisy rock party, alone on a small stage with his piano like he was unaware of everything going on around him. Just a man sitting there, telling stories, joking, and just playing a few of his favourite songs. It was dark. We were a smallish crowd huddled up around the little stage. I felt like I was sharing a wonderful secret with our small group. And he sang "Hanging With the Wrong Crowd".

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