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José González

A widely celebrated Swedish singer/songwriter, José González is known for his pastoral blend of introspective folk and autumnal indie pop. A first-generation Swede of Argentine lineage, González rose to national success in the early 2000s, first leading the indie rock band Junip, then as a critically acclaimed solo artist. With his trademark classical guitar picking and soothing vocals, his popularity continued to grow around Europe and in the U.S. thanks to albums like 2007's In Our Nature and the inclusion of several songs in the 2013 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Following the critical success of his 2015 release Vestiges & Claws, González began the next decade with 2021's similarly understated Local Valley. González was born on July 31, 1978 in Gothenburg, Sweden to Argentinian parents who had fled from a right-wing military junta in their home country two years prior. Following stints playing in hardcore bands during the 1990s, he formed the indie rock outfit Junip alongside organist Elias Araya and drummer Tobias Winterkorn; they released their first EP, Straight Lines, in 2000. González officially launched his solo career with the release of 2003's Veneer, an entirely acoustic affair that reflected his diverse influences ranging from Latin folk and classical to post-punk. Touchstones for González's sound include Nick Drake, Paul Simon, Red House Painters, and Elliott Smith, and the album featured a popular cover of the Knife's "Heartbeats." Over the next several years González recorded a spate of unlikely covers including "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division, "Hand on Your Heart" by Kylie Minogue, "The Ghost of Tom Joad" by Bruce Springsteen, and "Teardrop" by Massive Attack. As his popularity spread overseas, Veneer finally received an American release in 2005. González's stateside prospects were aided by the appearance of his song "Crosses" in the season-ending episode of The O.C. His 2006 EP Stay in the Shade displayed a move away from the bedroom sound of his first album, yet it maintained the same caliber of songcraft and performance. After teaming up with the British electronic band Zero 7 to provide vocals on their album The Garden, (which included a version of his own track, "Crosses") González returned to solo work in 2007. His sophomore full-length, In Our Nature, was partially influenced by the works of biologist Richard Dawkins and philosopher Peter Singer. In 2009, González began collaborating with a group of fellow Swedish songwriters and German composers on the Göteborg String Theory project, an experimental art and music venture that culminated in the 2010 album The Göteborg String Theory. He also became increasingly active with Junip during this period, releases two albums, 2010's Fields and 2013's Junip. González's gently cinematic sound loaned itself well to film and in 2013, music (three solo tracks and the Junip song "Don't Let It Pass") was featured heavily in the Ben Stiller adventure film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Released in 2015, González's third solo album, Vestiges & Claws, was a critical hit and even managed to break the Billboard Top 100 chart in the U.S. Three years later, he was joined by his newly formed band the Brite Lites for the EP José González & the Brite Lites at Svenska Grammofonstudion (Mute), which he promoted with a yearlong tour. Led by the gentle "El Invento," his first Spanish-language song, González returned in 2021 with his fourth album, Local Valley.
© Tim Sendra & Andrew Leahey /TiVo
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Discography

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