Why Sometimes Saying Thank You Just Isn’t Enough … #Blogging


Emailed thank yous that no-one ever sees … discreet little intermittent likes on Twitter … the odd like of a post on FB.  Nothing obvious.  Not so anyone would ever notice. No words or actions that publicly acknowledge, support, reinforce, or help spread awareness.  The key words in that sentence are “publicly acknowledge” – meaning, “to show someone you have noticed them or heard what they have said; to publicly announce that you are grateful to someone for something; to publicly recognise how good someone is”.

Type Irish Music Bloggers into Google and two things happen …

Aside from the omni-present Hype Machine, which imo is a whole lot of exactly that, hype, two links dominate the SEO rankings.  The interesting thing about the top search result, ‘Irish Music Blogs – serenityb‘ is that the latter no longer exists. Having fallen off the Twitter bandwagon in February 2015, it disappeared into the blog-ether towards the end of that same year.

The search for Irish music blogs also yields a link to ‘The Best of Irish Music Blogs’ – a list compiled by the IASCA.  This list however, dates back to 2011 in comparison with the aforementioned site whose list is a little recently clocking in mid 2015. However, the stark reality is that of the 20+ music blogs recommended by both sites, over 50% of them are now defunct.

The sad truth is that the reality tends to be a lot harsher than the passion foresees – endless long hours gnawing into weekends, family, quality and recharge time, a seriously scaled back to non-existent social life, and the relentless allocating of annual leave to far flung festivals.  Not to mention the cost.  We haven’t even got that far yet.  Then there’s the ugly reality – the wake up and smell the one way aroma, wrap yourself around the cold comfort of unreciprocated support.

You see the fact is that unless the support network operates a dual-way system, then one side will eventually become redundant. . Like a pot plant that grows in half-light/half-shade, one side will thrive in the warm glow of attention, cosseted and nourished by a drip feed of positivity, whilst the unattended other, will simply fade and die.

The ultimate aim of most bloggers is simply to write about, nay rave & rant about music they love.  And to help promote it, as best they can.  To have their views, thoughts, emotions, values, and passions reach an audience of any size, age, colour and creed, as long as that audience is appreciative.

No-one likes to be derided.  No-one sets out to be ignored. No-one wants their words to fall, like crumbs off a kitchen table, down a virtual shaft of disregard. Nor do they want their time and effort to be used like newspaper clippings, to pad out a press portfolio that nobody ever reads.  A box ticked, a quota reached, job well done all round.

Which brings me back to the comments at the top of this piece … or, put simply and in the words of Amy Winehouse, ‘Love is a losing game’.  Love is a losing game and blogging is a mug’s game … if you’re green and gauche enough to let them both beat you and mug you off.  I was.  Not anymore.

Days, nights, bank holidays, weekends, holidays.  Time which should have been spent with loved ones, nights when I should have been out having fun, afternoons when I should have been working, Sundays when I should have been relaxing. Hell, even holidays when I hid the laptop in my suitcase, sitting up into the early hours typing reviews.  Why?  Because X had asked me, and if I said no, they might never ask again.  Because I had promised, and I wanted to keep my word.  And oh because it’s such a great song I need to be in on the action.  More often than not the reward was never as sweet as the sugar I was pouring onto the WordPress screen.

How many times have I spent hours, days, working on an album review to get it just so, to make it the best I could, only for it to pass through the social ethernet unnoticed.  How often have I sat hunched over a laptop on a Saturday night while everyone else was out enjoying themselves as I laboured over reviews for this publication and that publication because they operated on a strict 24 hour t/o, despite the fact that they rarely put out their requests before Friday and notwithstanding the fact that they themselves hardly ever worked over the weekend.

Possibly the biggest kick in the teeth you could ever give a reviewer is to ask them to review something and then completely blank it.  The biggest slap across the face? Ask them to review something on another publication, and then completely blank it.

And while I can take the saccharine emails teasing for my opinions, pining for my thoughts on this, the latest artist du jour’s best banger ever, I cannot accept the insouciant ignorance of the musicatti – self-anointed music royalty using bloggers like some free PR vehicle.

Which brings us to the crux of the problem and the real reason why so many of the afore-mentioned go-to blogs listed by their peers as being at the top of their game, have failed, have faded and have died.

Who do you think pays for the site, pays for the time and effort, pays for the music on Spotify and iTunes, and pays for the trips to festivals including travel, accommodation and food?  Where do you think the hours and days off come from?  Have you ever actually given it any thought?

The funds come from our own pockets, our wages from the real jobs we do every day – banking, teaching, sales, copywriting – and, from our savings.  Heck one 2016 trip even came courtesy of a bank loan!  When was the last time someone took out a loan to pay me to write something? [ B L A N K S P A C E]

The time comes from our holiday leave allocations, our weekends, our free evenings! Everything that’s there – we give it, US, for FREE. The bloggers.  The time, the money, the words, the research …

Now musicians you might counter the argument by saying that you rarely get paid for playing a gig – but at least you’re playing your own music!

If you ask a blogger to review your work or your artists work, if you cannot financially recompense them, at least show them the respect of supporting their blog.  And, AND, if you have enough brass neck to ask a blogger to post a review or make a submission to another site, at least acknowledge the author when you are blowing the trumpet of that very same and usually much bigger site, because without the writer, you and your music or your artist would not be there.

If PRs and musicians do not start supporting blogs in a mutually respectful way, there will be less and less small blogs, leaving a monopoly of a handful.  The big guns who hoover up all the “woo woo premieres” (really guys, they aren’t all that!) – big titles, big soundbites, one quote and no substance.  If that’s what you want, then that’s what you’ll get.  But with everyone competing for space within the limited confines of the few, how will every artist ever get press?

And if the big guys only ever want premieres, then does that not lessen the chances of cross-publication coverage? Because despite what some PR folks think, there can only be one premiere (unless the definition of the word has changed in the past couple of days).

Every time I am asked to post a review on another site, I respond with a simple question: how would you like it if I were to ask you to promote an unsigned band for free and/or your artist/band (tick where appropriate) to play only cover songs?

Just play 3rd party songs all the time there will you?  I don’t care that you write, rehearse, record and play your own songs; I love your voices and the way you play guitar, it’s really cool, but could you just see your way to singing A.N. Other’s songs.  I’d be so grateful. Smiley Fucking Face.

Let’s call a spade a spade.  If the Quietus asked Portishead to do an interview but only asked them questions about Goldfrapp, how soon do you think it would be before the words “fuck off” were used?  If Matt Horton wrote a piece about Taylor Swift stating that he loved her voice but she’d be far better suited to singing Demi Lovato songs, how would that work do you think?

Or, let’s look at it in another way.  You or your band or your artist writes/records/produces an album.  They give a copy to several reviewers whose email response is – wow, that’s super cool, thanks.  That’s it.  All that trouble.  All that effort.  Hardly anyone has heard it.  Hardly anyone knows who you are or that the album has even been released.  You’ve worked really hard, for no financial gain, no return and now, after everything, you don’t even get any kudos for a job well done.

Well folks, that’s us.  That’s blogging.

Every month another blog closes down; because they’ve lost their mojo, or they can’t keep dedicating the time, or they can’t build enough recognition to make any money from their labour.  If music artists and their respective management, PR teams and cohorts don’t actively and publicly support bloggers then why should they expect constant support themselves?  They want bloggers to review their music to help generate awareness of their brand, yet in return, they offer no reciprocal support to the majority of blogs unless the words Best Fit or Clash feature in the title! How does that work?  It doesn’t!

It’s not about the money, it’s not about the notoriety.  Hell no.  What it is about, is respect.  Over the past three months I’ve sailed very close to the wind of ‘give up’.  I’ve toyed with just fucking the whole thing in the bin.  There’s only so much anyone can put up with until they blow.  I’ve blown….red hot wired and blown.  But you know what? When the lava cooled I asked myself why should I give up doing something I love because of ‘the few‘?

From November, I am returning to the blog, with hopefully, the same verve and spirit that I’ve had in the past (or at least hoped I had). This time however, the rules have changed.

If you, or your band, or your PR don’t care to support me, then remove me from your lists.  If you want your music reviewed, please send it to me.  If you are PR and you send me music to review, I expect you to show willing on Twitter or FB.  If I don’t see any mutual love, three strikes and we’ll shake hands.

You see this is my time, my money, my life, my choice.  I started writing 18 months ago because I wanted people to know about so many unsigned bands that were going unheard.  I wanted to shout out about amazing Norwegian music and beatastic Danish Americana.  I wanted to bounce enchantments of Dorset other-worldliness off the moon.  And, I wanted to write about Radiohead.

All of that and more is what I am going to continue to do.

But I’m going back to basics.  I’m going back to basics.  Doing things the way I want to do them, when I want to do them and how. Blogging for the right reasons.  And, for the love of music.

If you’re with me, I’ll cya around.

Derv x

Many Voices Speak’s Debut Single Is A Sweet Retro Daydream

Photo: Julia Mård
Photo: Julia Mård

If their social media presence is anything to go by, Swedish band ‘Many Voices Speak’ are a very, very recent formation. Online for less than a month, the band have obviously been living in close quarters and deliberately keeping themselves under the radar, given they have already signed to not one but two labels, and also debuted their first single, ‘Video Child‘.

Opening with a shiver of guitar strings with a nuance of Twin Peaks mystery, ‘Video Child’ slowly and cautiously evolves into an intricate, yet loosely woven retro menagerie of guitar lines lightly dusted with reverb, delicate melodic keys, and barely there horns, all underpinned by the most discreet of RS arrangements.  Full of Hollis-esque spaces that give it a relaxing tranquility, the song has a dreamy nostalgia into which we are irresistibly drawn, not least by the softly restrained vocals of Matilda Mård, whose careful enunciation evokes feelings of both nostalgia and regret.

With scant information on both their socials and website, there’s little to go on here, but what we do have is a quote from Mård about how the song was shaped:  “‘Video Child’ was shaped from a kind of rebellion against the musical introspective sound that I devoted myself to for several years. To me it’s a song that looks back to the late nineties. Both lyrically, but also I’ve given into another kind of arrangements that provide space for a larger expression, which looks back to the artists who made me want to sing in the first place, like Dido and Destiny’s Child.”

‘Video Child’ is lifted from the band’s debut EP, ‘Away For All Time’, which Mård wrote during a long term stay in the Swedish town of Borlänge.  Be prepared for more gentle, halcyon pop melodies laced together by pure, unadulterated vocals that invite and assuage with the lightest of impressions, as they sing of a darker past whilst looking to a brighter future.

You can stream or buy ‘Video Child’ via Spotify or iTunes, while Away All the Time will release via Hit City U.S.A. on October 28th.  In the meantime, you can listen to the debut single here.

Samü Release ’60s Dipped Debut Single ‘How It Works’


If you teleported Aurora back to the soulful days of the late 60s, threw a gauze of colour-pop psych over some Broen type wonk, and then fused the two, you might arrive at something vaguely in the realm of ‘How it Works’, the debut single from Oslo based Samū.

With only one other song up on their socials, the ludicrously good ‘In My Head‘, a song that could easily have been crafted by that erstwhile queen of ’50s jazz and ’60s trippy folk cum blue-eyed soul, Amie ‘Warwick Avenue‘ Duffy, Samū’s sound is still pretty much uncharted territory.

A five-piece comprising Trine Samuelsen Hansen, Sander Eriksen Nordahl, Ruben Gilje, Martin Morland and Knærten Simonsen they recently signed to Trondheim based ‘NO FOREVERS‘ a label whose star is very much in the musical ascendancy.

That they draw the bulk, if not all, of their influences from the 20th century is pretty clear, with samples spanning a 40 year spectrum from the ’60s folk of Simon & Garfunkel through sugar coated synth-pop to ’90s slacker pop, all washed down with that easy-evening, ‘Waterloo Sunset’, laid-back chill of The Kinks.

And it is that low-key, serene feeling, that lies at the very heart and neo-soul of their single ‘How it Works’, a song set in a timeless world, in which everything moves in a slow-mo waltz, against a backdrop of hazy days harmonies and easy, peaceful sounds.

Echoey ’60s piano riffs and retro keyboard sounds take centre stage, while nice n’easy  guitar and percussion take a more subtle, gentler approach.

Trine Hansen’s vocal, more golden delicious than the Nordic cool of so many of her peers, skips and dances playfully through the songs instrumental spaces, giving them a delicious sweet filling. The song itself is underpinned by a lumbering bass, which in an almost bluegrass outro, tracks its elephantine plod through a garden bed of spiralised wonk.

Having cut their live teeth playing several gigs in Norway, Samū laid down their first single in Øra studios with Karl Klaseie (Kari Harneshaug, Antler, Østfrost).  The band are now working on their first album, details of which will be announced later in the year. ‘How it Works’ goes on release today, and  you can hear it right here, right now.

Follow Samū on Facebook and Soundcloud for more updates regarding live dates and new music.  ‘How it Works’ is available now on Spotify.

Milburn Score A Cool Double A After Decade Long Sabbatical

Uncredited Photo Milburn FB Page
Uncredited Photo Milburn FB Page

To be honest when the PR for the new Milburn video landed in my inbox I stared blankly at it, my facial expression taking on that quizzical ‘who?’ look!  I’d never heard of Milburn – had no prior knowledge of them, or their music.

So it was, with a slight headache, a touch of a cold and the daunting task of packing for a holiday making up my Mardi-soir, I decided to venture forth and have a deco at this ‘unknown entity’.

Good guitar intro, bit of impending doom bass, and wham.  It’s Alex Turner!

No seriously, I’m not that up on singers from Sheffield, natural habitat of Milburn.  In fact, the only singer I know from Sheffield IS Turner and for the record, Joe Carnall does kinda sound like him. With an added dash of Tom Ogden, thrice removed relation of Hilda and frontman with “tears of gold, my Charlemagne” Blossoms.  I’ll put the resemblance down to geography and indigenous Northern accented vocals.

So … ‘Midnight Control’.  Bit rock, bit indie, bit pop, it reminds me of some of the sounds that used to populate the chart toppers of my ‘disco days’ – back when music was pure, its intention was clear, and it had stalwart, dedicated fans who went out each week and didn’t just pay for it, nooo, they queued up to pay for it!

Retro rock guitar vibes and a soulful vocal take centre stage ahead of some funky blues-bass and piano, all held in check by well tempoed, understated drumming.  This is good stuff, more than good, pretty top notch in fact.  It’s a song with an easy rhythm, that’s both well arranged and skilfully produced, just without the prerequisite overcoat of oil slick that so many similar bands opt for these days.

I have no idea why Milburn’s sound means nothing to me, but I’ll be making a point of deep diving into their back catalogue.

Cue words about the video!  Young page-boyed chick (I can use the term, I’m female) dressed in ’70s tribute outfit of wallpaper coloured stripey top, and high-waisted, bell-bottomed, “no elastane in these babies” jeans, high kicks the night away in Sheffield City Hall.

With more stretch on her hamstrings than Ibrahimović, she Can-Cans and Night Fevers across a rubix cube disco floor – the kind that used to be found in Club “Anytime Anyplace Anywhere” back in the day!  I’m told her dance routine is ‘Northern Soul’, something about which I must confess total ignorance!  But it’s a neat video that goes with the retro disco-hall vibe of the song.

‘Midnight Control’ is part of a Double A along with track ‘Forming of a Fate’, available now via iTunes and usual digital outlets. Milburn have just kicked off a UK tour and I’d post the dates ‘cept they’re all sold out BAR – Sep 27 – Carlisle The Old Fire Station, GET ON IT CARLISLE!!

You can follow the band on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with their antics, hijinks and further music releases.

Dagny Shines An Ultraviolet Light On The World Of Pop

Dagny Photo Andrea Edmondson, London's Courtyard Theatre
Dagny Photo Andrea Edmondson, London’s Courtyard Theatre

I’ve met Dagny … she’s the funny, self-deprecating, bubbly young woman, with whom I spent an hour chit-chattering before cajoling her into posing for a daft photo in the foyer of the Clarion hotel in Trondheim.

That was back in a snow-ridden February, just before she was due to play to her live set as part of the Trondheim Calling Festival.  The Norwegian popstrel wasn’t feeling 100%.  Her throat was a little scratchy. She made herself a hot drink and went up to have some quiet time in her bedroom.

Three hours later she blew the sox off a capacity crowd sardined into the massive glass menagerie that is the Rockefeller venue, with a kick ass performance that had them screaming their appreciation and baying for more.

She was going to the States she told me, to work with some top liners, producers, other musicians, play some lives, shoot the breeze, soak it all up, #livethedream.  It was all hopefully gonna kick off for Dagny before the end of the year.

Now here we are in September, the sun is getting low in the sky and the evenings longer.  What better way to transition from the azure days of Summer (what Summer?) to the hazy shades of Autumn with the sun-soaked, rainbow hued pop songs of Dagny’s debut EP, ‘Ultraviolet‘.

Five nuggets of pure pop gold, ‘Ultraviolet’ has had UK music media in its thrall since its release a few days ago.  We’re thinking especially of PopJustice Ed in Chief, Peter Robinson, who’s been raving about it with a capital R!

This bouquet of punchy pop kicks off with a retro-vibing, beat-tastic bamarama.  With its guitar licks carved out of the ’70s and a melody dug up out of the garden of Now That’s What I Call The ’80s, ‘Fight Sleep’ is what you might expect to hear if legendary singer/songwriter Cathy Dennisshe of Kylie mega-hit ‘Can’t Get You Outta My Head’ fame, was to do a disco remix of tub-thumper ‘War Baby’ (just don’t tell TRB!).

Dagny has a strong voice and carries this weighty track well, but, and this is just a personal observation, maybe the vocal would be served better with a little less of the accentuated end of line upticks!

Lead track ‘Ultraviolet’ is the perfect ‘getting ready with the girls before a night out‘ anthem.  Rife with ‘all American’ rock riffs and rollin’ percussion, this is the kind of number the Pinks of this world do so well, and, which the US of A, home of all things rock-pop with a danceable pulse, buys by the Platinum-coated bucket load.  This is slick, strobe-lit, high-school pop, and with its upbeat, ‘oh-so-memorable’ catchy hooks, ‘Ultraviolet’ should have gaggles of teens and tweens everywhere reaching for their hairbrushes.

Photo DMc Cloat
Dagny Oyafestivalen 2016 Photo DMc Cloat

Mid-stream finds us in Taylor Swift/Ariana Grande territory with the pure pop beats of ‘Too Young‘, a track that sees Dagny show a more youthful, lighter side to her oft smoky vocal.  This hands in the air head-bobber, is pure iridescent spinning disco ball.  An NRG driven sing-along that will demand you dance your ass off to its compelling gold-plated melody lines and pulsating beats.

Next up, it’s the big one.  ‘Backbeat’, the track that propelled Dagny’s into the world of mainstream pop and etched her name in the minds of Euro-pop-media.  Released in late 2015, it lingers long with its infectious OHs and speed of light handclaps, hyperactive drumming and driving guitars.  An instrumental winner wrapped around shimmering synth loops, it’s enriched by an intense vocal delivery, and yeah ok, we have those Dagny upticks again, but in this instance, they kinda work.

To be fair, I guess when you’re starting out and trying to be remembered, you need to nail an evo-stick trademark.  I get it guys!

The EP finale comes in the form of flamboyant, ‘Fool’s Gold.  A sparkling stunner of a pop diamond, it’s fuelled by a propulsive mid-line of synth wrapped guitars and blood pumping percussion.  If this doesn’t get your toes tapping, head nodding and hips swinging then see a doctor about getting your pulse checked, as it’s quite probable that you’re dead.

With 5million plus streams on Spotify, it’s a class A pop rocket.  A turbo charged stomper that perfectly book-ends this blast of an EP.

If multi-coloured, heart stoppin’, summer lovin’, fluorescent, pure unadulterated pop is your thing, then Dagny‘s music is for you. Five star recommendation for teens, tweens, popstrels, party girls, girls who just wanna have fun, boys who like girls who like boys, and high heeled, sequin swept, glammed up disco queens.  Do It!

Dagny’s ‘Ultravoilet’ EP is available to buy, stream, download via all the usual digital channels, links here.

Google Play:http://republicrec.co/DagnyUltravioletEPGP

Beck’s Pre-Album Amuse Bouche is Pretty ‘Wow’!


“We’re gonna take it around the world
Ride these wild horses”

Just when you think the week can’t get any more chaotic, up pops master of the unorthodox Beck, with a new off the rails video for his not so cut and dried single, ‘Wow.

A follow up to 2015’s ‘Dreams‘, it will feature on his upcoming still to be named album which should see the light of day later in the Autumn.

Where ‘Dreams’, which was as close to mainstream as I’ve ever heard Beck get give or take the odd moment, swung on the side of indie pop, ‘Wow’ sees this unique talent return to his maverick best.

“It’s my life, your life
Live it once, can’t live it twice
So nice, so nice
Song’s like a tidal wave, take you on a getaway”

The song pulls between hip hop and dark electronic pop with shades of Ennio Morricone thrown in for good measure.  Spoken word verses recall the poetic rap of ‘Loser’ while the uplifting chorus strains are falsetto in gloria.

‘Wow’s visual accompaniment is a frenzied melange … a series of kooky vignettes spanning spaghetti westerns to the sheer multi-coloured mania of Monsters inc.  Mini-me ‘The King & I’ choreography is juxtaposed with some middle aged mindful meditation zebra crossing stylee, while a dude with the biggest orange backside you’ve ever seen this side of the ‘Nutty Professor’ gets down to the groove.

And then there’s Beck, resplendent in his all-black cowboy finery, replete with silver plate and suede fringing.  An intermittent vision a bit like a flashing torch,  he jumps and side-steps to the beat with the all the jittery nrg of someone on a diet of sucrose, in a scene set against an unchoreographed backdrop of continuous highway traffic.

“It’s your life
Falling like a hot knife
Call your wife; secular times, these times
My demon’s on the cell phone
To your demons, nothing’s even right or wrong
It’s irrelevant, elephant in the room goes boom
Standing on the lawn doin’ jiu jitsu
Girl in a bikini with the Lamborghini shih tzu”

Look beyond the zany top notes, and smell the sense underneath … this is Beck, having whetted his lyrical nib, inking incisive life observations through abstract imagery.

Two stellar single samples, two polar opposites.  What lies between on the album is anyone’s guess.  One thing is for sure.  If these two tracks are anything to go by, this is going to be one #WOW LP.

Beck’s as-yet-untitled album will be released on October 21 via Capital Records. His single, ‘Wow’ is out now, available via the usual channels (links below), and you can watch its zany visual here – #rideemcowboy #giddyup

Get ‘Wow’ on iTunes – http://smarturl.it/BeckWow    Listen on Spotify – http://smarturl.it/BeckWowSpotify

RöykSund ‘Never Ever’ Fail To Impress

Royksopp & Susanne Sundfor
Royksopp & Susanne Sundfor

RöykSund have dropped a new track, ‘Never Ever’. I haven’t been this excited since I discovered their totally Nordic cover of ‘Ice Machine‘ on YT just over two years ago – a cover which I might add, heralded new blogging beginnings and triggered the creation of DervSwerve.

One of life’s happy accidents, I happened upon it when trying to find a live version of the Mode B-side, and there to my surprise were two guys seemingly plugged into the Norwegian grid, a previously unheard of singer and a troupe of mutant ninja drummer boys ripping the skins off their snares. All in the glorious scarlet haze that was Live on Lydverket!

It was love at first sight/sound/beat … The Tundran vocal with its Himalayan reach and the hypnotic spaghetti bolognaise of electronica with more twisting loops than the London Orbital, served with a black army of insistent drums on the side.  To this day, it remains my fave DM cover and, one of my preferred Röyksopp collaborations, of which there have been many.

Aside: RöykSund, if you do happen to read this, there’s more than one Mode fan wants to know when you’re going to release ‘Ice Machine’ as a single!!

There’s nothing wrong with stand alone Röyksopp or Susanne Sundfor releases, far from it.  Nor their third party collaborations for that matter.  It is simply just that there is something truly magical about this triumvirate – this supreme collaborative being – that transcends all others.

Never Ever
Never Ever

Blessed with more talents than a Babylonian tax collector, RöykSund fuse ingenious electro-engineering skills with an unsurpassed ability to deliver the most immaculate of soaring vocals that retain enough pop sensibilities to keep them down on the dancefloor.  And that’s exactly where you’ll find ‘Never Ever‘, down and dirty on the dancefloor, writhing around to a ‘Soul Train’ remix, dressed as a ‘Desperately Seeking’ Madonna wannabe.

Frosted vocals, more cut glass than British royalty are thawed by hot, pulsating electronica in this ‘classic pop’ comp.  Indulging in analog synths of a calibre that’d make Alan Wilder cry with nostalgia, and more hyperactive beats than Phil Oakey and Georgio Moroder could have imagined in their wildest ‘electric dreams’, this is strobe-lit 80s disco-mania accessorised with fine Norwegian crystal – instead of paste and leopard skin –  and its addictive. Intoxicating in fact.

‘Never Ever’ is pure disco ball.  A spinning, glittering dance track that harks back to an age of pioneering electronica, when Jackson was king, Madonna was queen, and Mode ruled the world.

‘Never Ever’ by Röyksopp and Susanne Sundfor is available now via all digital channels – see here.  Follow Röyksopp Susanne Sundfor and Dervswerve on Facebook.

Susanne Sundfor plays Oslo Spektrum this coming Saturday 17th – tickets plus free download of her new single, Reincarnation, here.  Keep your eyes peeled, you never know who you might spot in the crowd, #RYXP.

Listen to ‘Never Ever’ via the Spotify or Soundcloud links below.  

Ponette’s Debut EP is Ice-Coated Nordic Noir


There’s something about Ponette’s ice-coated, Nordic Noir sound, that conjures up images of front-woman Helene Svaland singing dreamily, eyes closed, whilst standing in the middle of a dark, lonely expanse, empty except for a myriad dark shadows slinking under the pale light of a low mid-winter moon.

In addition to Svaland, this Oslo based quartet, comprises Johannes Amble, Ivo Gutu, and Johan Fredrik Bolli, and on the evidence of their socials, they formed about two minutes ago! Competent, well cemented musicianship says otherwise, and based on the fact that their debut EP entitled, ‘I’m Alone’ was both self-recorded and produced, one imagines they’ve clocked a fair bit of mileage on the musical clock.

Wearing dark pop with more panache than a Lagerfeld muse, Ponette have all the silk lined presence of a band who’ve already arrived, before they’ve arrived.  Classy, well produced, synchronised, subtle, their sound is tailored by master-craftsmen of electronica.  Vocal nuance is beguilingly understated, vocals are exhalations trapped in a frosty after-mist.

The band have just released their debut EP, ‘I’m Alone’ a fire and ice production featuring four intertwined yet disparate songs.  Each track builds up from a foundation of darkly brooding, expressive electronica, reaching its acme at the top end of Svaland’s wistful, enchanting and youthful voice.

Opener, ‘Hunt Them Down’ makes for a lavish entrance into the shadowy world Ponette have carved out of forbidden electronica.  It’s blown open by a fanfare of doom-laden synth/bass that is silenced mercilessly, by a cold wind laden with looping grizzles, which in turn, stands down to make way for a melodramatic arpeggio of jungle drums.  It’s across this bleak landscape that  Svaland casually drapes a disaffected vocal.

Next up is lead track, ‘Made of Blood’, the only single to be lifted from the EP. A gossamer confection anchored down to a dark sump by leaden beats, it has moments of sublime loveliness when gentle guitar riffs create a shimmering ripple effect while Svaland’s vocals gently fall like flakes of snow.


Speaking of Svaland’s voice, there are moments when it rises above the clouds, festooned with a quirkiness that is redolent of that other Nordic ice-queen, Bjork.  On a superficial level Helene Svaland’s voice is softer, more delicate than her Icelandic counterpart; that softness overlays an immutable force, the proverbial iron fist in its velvet glove, albeit one that’s been left overnight in the freezer compartment.

“We fall from our high horse, we don’t know how to fly, the rules are slightly different now, ‘cos we grew out of the comfort of our innocence, we don’t know right from wrong anymore, ‘cos the red line is crossed”

Relief from the gloaming comes in the form of track three, possibly not coincidentally entitled, ‘Relief’.  Just what the doctor ordered, sonically at least, it’s a melodic dance through lightly played, spacious guitar, barely there echoey drums, and flurries of hyperactive synth squiggles.  The vocal lays low, restrained but intent on its purpose.

The lyrics, sharp and incisive, provide a counter to the fragile finesse of the instrumental. A propos of nothing, the shutters are lifted, everything is energised and the result is electric.  Thrashing guitars and propulsive percussion wreak havoc through a two minute outro of meandering synth that flows into the EP’s finale.

“So don’t choose me, I’m not choosing you … Love me I’m alone”

Title track ‘I’m Alone’ is the only one with an uptempo rhythm, if you could call it that.  Jittering electro percussion hyperventilates against handclap propulsion, while synth and guitar lines twist and writhe.  The tracks contains some moments where it slips into some very well played funereal keys and damning drums, but overall this is a catchy pop song that balances light and shade to perfection.

A song about love, but not a love song, lyrically it’s a conflict of emotional need and destitution. It closes with an extended semi-classical-electro sequence, probably this EPs finest instrumental wine, which very cleverly, Ponette have saved til last.

On this EP, Ponette explore and mine a vast and dark terrain. They purge the fractious, stripping away any protective veneer, laying bare raw emotions across an expansive, skilfully painted Nordic soundscape.  For a debut EP, this is a mightily impressive offering.  An album, if and when it follows, will be a test of their ingenuity and staying power.  Proof, if it were needed, that Ponette have what it takes to elevate their music to the next level.

‘I’m Alone’ is now available on all digital channels, Spotify: Tidal:  itunes:  Soundcloud:

Follow Ponette on Facebook to keep up to speed with all their antics.  Follow DervSwerve for more musical news, views, reviews and general flotsam.  Listen to the EP here.

The ‘Reincarnation’ of Susanne Sundfor


When you press play on a Susanne Sundfor track, one half of you anticipates the full ‘Wuthering Heights‘ of unfettered electronica to unfurl its thrashing tentacles amidst a frantic storm of flashing strobes.  Your other half calmly waits to be served up a morsel of one of the Norwegian’s more graceful vintages; a subdued acoustic delicacy with a zephyr light caress.

What you don’t auto-expect from the Queen of Norway is a full blown cajun-cowboy number replete with more slide than Mississippi mud.  A folksy kind of track that would be more at home nestling in the ancestral black mountain home of Anne Lise Frøkedal.  

Susanne Live in Bergen Photo Caam808
Susanne Live in Bergen Photo Caam808

But that’s just what the multi-award winning singer/songwriter has just gifted her fans, in the shape of 4-D country ballad ‘Reincarnation’.  An evocative poem shrouded in the ethereal, at first it’s grounded in dancing shadows, warmed by flickering embers of instrumentation.  Then after an intense build, it’s swept gloriously upwards by desert winds to heights where it soars astride the wings of an eagle.

“I might be crazy, baby lately, I don’t believe the news, They say it’s ending, to stop pretending, to start looking for clues.

A glass cylinder, where we can linger, let me take us to the stars, I won’t be missing, your tender kissing, ‘cos the light will wipe up all the sky”

A turn of guitar phrase comparable with Lee Hazlewood in his prime: a vocal of such purity and genuine loveliness; one which is as perfectly nuanced as that of Julia Holter on the ridiculously glorious, ‘Gold Dust Woman‘.  These two things alone ensure ‘Reincarnation’ surpasses all its acoustic predecessors.

A cloud of harmonies painted with a light wash of synth add a touch of poignancy to what is an already moving atmosphere. Percussion in the form of waves of crashing cymbals, underlines the sonic build, adding a dash of drama to the intensifying score.


Susanne Sundfor is renowned for the crystalline quality of her far-reaching vocal, but for me, her voice goes beyond purity and clarity.  Hers is a terrifically expressive and animated voice, a voice with which she breathes life into intricate lyricism that itself runs the gamut from deeply painful to ecstatically euphoric.

“Do you believe in reincarnation, ‘cos I thought I saw your soul. flashing and dancing on the horizon”

Impressive vocals aside, it is the slide guitar that triumphs on this enchanting journey from mother earth to another realm. Whoever is playing this amber tongued instrument is one seriously skilled and talented musician.

He/she doesn’t just play, they stroke and caress those strings with such a gentle force as to provokes the most heart warming and soul-stirring of sounds. This is amber nectar on an par with Scotland’s finest single malt – rich, golden, potent, delicious and most important of all, satisfying.

‘Reincarnation’ is a song one could visualise Susanne singing at a nocturnal gig in a open field.  A scene dotted with small woodpile fires set against a backdrop of inky night, where a sky filled with opaline stars reflects the heavenly loveliness of the angelic choral finale of this Norwegian lullaby.  One wonders if this will make the Spektrum setlist when she plays Oslo next week?

‘Reincarnation’ is available as a free download here – Susanne will play Oslo’s finest venue, Spektrum, on 17th September – some tickets still available, details here.  For further information regarding the download, Susanne’s upcoming gigs and future releases, follow her on her socials – Facebook Twitter.

Slaughter Beach: The Bittersweet Bliss Of ‘Shere Khan’

Slaughter Beach Press Photo
Slaughter Beach Press Photo

“A fairground attraction of blurred lines and hazy flickering lights, with fireflies overhead, darting around the twilit sky” that is how I’d describe my initial reaction to ‘Shere Khan‘ the latest single by Danish trio, Slaughter Beach.

It’s a light spattered, wind tossed song, which interestingly has its own real life, shadowy backstory:-

“When I made the early demo for ‘Shere Khan’ I didn’t intend to write about anyone in particular, but as the song progressed I realised that I was writing about this friend of mine … a friend who has a special kind of hold on the people he spends time with … and the effect he has on me, for better and worse.”

Don’t be fooled by the fact that trio Nikolaj Westi, Hasse Mydtskov and Mads Emil Aagaard have only been playing together in the guise of Slaughter Beach, since 2013.  As individual musicians, they have a bit more mileage on the clock.  Their skillful collective is a wonderfully eclectic confluence, the expert nous of which has ensured a constant evolution of sound, as evidenced with each passing release.

‘Shere Khan’ itself is quite the intoxicating meld of tropical, fantastical, victoriana, music hall and fairytale.  It plays to the bands strengths, diffusing hazy harmonies through the lilt of stonewashed falsetto vocals, and by sprinkling electronic imaginings over hypnotic looping wonders, will-o-the-wisp guitar, and slacker beats.

The track is at its most captivating, when it slams a jam on the blur button thereby creating a long hazy bridge to the instrumental outro.  Like Alice through her Looking Glass, we are transported into a dreamy, Madagascar-esque tropical wonderland, complete with birds of paradise that coo and trill amidst gleaming rounds of the most delightful of synth carousels.

“All around there’s people coming round for a ride in your magic car”

‘Shere Khan’ gives quite the sardonic shot across the bowels to those who have the power to bewitch, buoy up and blight in equal measure.  In fact, the songs incisive lyrics are so sharp it’s in danger of cutting itself.

This is a glowing reverie filled with beguiling, superficial images.  The mesmeric conceits and fairylit delights of the fairground, an hypnotic world into which we are drawn by a seeming that is never reality.

The faux glamourous backdrop of palm lined boulevards set against a fading azure dusk, in which we are swept away like Lucy Jordan, into long laughter filled nights. High on sparkling joie-de-vivre, we hang fixedly on every delusive word that drips from the insincere mouth of our ‘special friend’.

By shrouding their dark lyrical underlay with a myriad uplifting musical sequences strewn with fragments of pure genius, Slaugher Beach have managed to create the loveliest of iridescent musical allegories out of the most bittersweet of memories.

Shere Khan‘ by Slaughter Beach is out now via Brilliance Records & available via all digital channels.  Their upcoming ‘Heroic Dose’ EP is scheduled for release on 7th October.  For further info, see socials below.

Slaughter Beach can be found ‘slaying in’ on social in the following haunts:  Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter & Tumblr