Annie, You Are One Lucky Girl : Big Tooth – Single Review

Big Tooth

London based band ‘Big Tooth’ (easy there tiger!) have a new song streaming on SoundCloud.  It’s called ‘Annie Girl’ and it is sheer romance in a song. Pure musical “Mills & Boon”.  Gentle, loving, lovely, soft, warm – I want to be held in it’s arms and hypnotised, disappearing blissfully into its love story.

Opening with pared back acoustic guitar, enter stage left some easygoing drumming and nice honeydew mellow synth.  Serenely vocalised poignant lyrics are blanketed by a chorus of floaty harmonies.  Tranquil.  Bliss.

Then woo, off we go … Enter stage right, rapturous synth whirling dervishes, billowing and soaring as the song bursts into a romantic rhapsody.  The track takes off into the heavens, bringing you with it, mind and soul.  Even if the body is still unfortunately answerable to gravity, it is not bound by gravitas, and the overall result is a huge serotonin rush.  This song is as effervescent as champagne and equally intoxicating.

‘Annie Girl’ is mesmerising musical seduction, & I for one have been seduced.

I might just add that ‘Annie Girl’ made it into the BBC6 Music supported Fresh on the Net #FRESHFAVES this week, as voted for by the public! And rightly so!

The socially inclined can hook up with these musical romancers on FB – here and Twitter – here.

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BELLA MARIBEL produce Angel Delight Pop

Maribel

Woozy, Nordic Dreamgazers, MARIBEL, have just popped a new album, ‘Dirty/Clean’ in Norway, and man is it one blissed out beauty.

These perfect purveyors of super shimmer shoegaze have a well established fanbase in Norway, and my bet is that once this album makes it’s international debut, they will see their fuzzy fireworks rocket into the world beyond their own Aurora Borealis filled skies.

As a precursor to the album, Maribel published opening track, ‘And back in’, featuring Carmen Villain), up on free streaming site SoundCloud.

It is a trance inducing musical cloud, that wafts and winds it’s way through your soul, lifting your subconscious to another level, transcending the mortal and arriving in all it’s Technicolor psychedelic glory at some blissed out Nirvana.  Simple guitar arrangements, gauzy vocals and blurry synths, are brought together by hypnotic harmonies and acid-trip percussion.  This is dream-pop at it’s most “angel delight-ful”.

Stay tuned here for an upcoming feature on Maribel & Dirty/Clean.

You can follow Maribel on SoundCloud – here – Twitter – here – and Facebook  – here.

We all have our Moments, especially Tove Lo

Still from the Tim Erem Video for 'Moments'
Still from the Tim Erem Video for ‘Moments’

If you were to put ‘Tove Lo’ into a dictionary, what would the definition be? Undefinable I’d wager, or very, very long!

Brutally honest, genuinely talented and hugely enigmatic, the ever subversive Tove Lo can’t be easily boxed off. She has too many edges; there are too many angles. Neither her persona nor her work are simply straightforward enough to be comfortably classified. In that regard, I find her highly reminiscent of Pink: another feisty lady who has continued steadfastly to circumvent convention and play it her own way.

Lo has been on a non-stop ‘merry-go-tour’ since the release of her album Queen of the Clouds in September 2014. A slow stream of releases has ensured that the musical ferris wheel keeps turning, and this month sees her drop yet another single, in the form of ‘Moments’, a thumpingly good electro-rock-pop meld.

‘Moments’ is a harsh, disparaging critique. Its lyrics are frank, explicit, and unsympathetically blunt. The video is similarly rough around the edges – produced by Ian Blair and directed by fellow Swede, the LA based uber cool Tim Erem, it is a disturbing montage consisting of clips of Lo in various awkward and anomalous scenarios. The opening scene which sees Lo being dragged down a flight of stairs by cops, cuts quickly to a “dia-monologue” in a therapy session (Lo plays both characters) in which the “patient” is told…

“You’re just broken inside. You never did anything right. You’re fucked up.”

Cue scene change, and we find ourselves at the site of car crash, with a dazed looking Lo meandering aimlessly until she suddenly breaks into some ‘crazy lady’ choreography, proceeds to dance her way around a supermarket and the inside of a church, wherein dressed as a lap-dancing, veil swirling anti-bride, she pulls out a Glock and bumps off the groom. Boom!

Speaking about making the video, Lo says: Dirty feet, 20 pills, broken glass, gun shots, smashed car, dragged by police and 48 hours of crying, laughing, drowning and dancing. This video takes the meaning of this song to its most extreme. Thank you Tim Erem and the whole incredible team for making it into everything I dreamt it would be.” 

Erem has perfectly interpreted both his brief and the song. Using the image of the car crash to convey the notion of the ‘antagonist’ as a car crash themselves, is particularly effective. The video is a graphically potent realisation of a song that is painful in its self-criticism, humourous in its self-deprecation and disturbing in its visceral and trenchant storyline. We all have our ‘Moments’, Tove Lo just has more than most!

Queen of the Clouds has recently been re-released and Tove Lo continues to tour, with dates in both the UK and US through November and December, details here. ‘Moments’, the fourth single from Queen Of The Clouds is available here!

Note* This review was first published in Ja Ja Ja Magazine on 27th October, 2015.

Interview – DreamGaze Dudes Dråpe are more Relax than Relapse

Photo Lars K Boquist
Photo Lars K Boquist

Norwegian band Dråpe have gone through a significant number of changes in the past year, not least of which was having Eirik Fidjeland return to the fold, replacing vocalist Hanne Olsen Solem. By their own admission, they have had their share of ups and downs (and broken ribs), but riding the tide of challenging experiences seems to have not only solidified them as a unit, it has also brought a new depth and maturity to both their lyrics and sound.

Bursting with enthusiasm and showing all the hallmarks of having a seriously wacky sense of fun, the guys from Dråpe happily agreed to spend some time filling us in on the background to their latest album ‘Relax/Relapse’, a masterpiece in melody and a master class in musicianship.

Kick back and enjoy some amusing thoughts on cold guitars, the Beatles and wonky sounds with Dråpe 🙂

For those unfamiliar with Dråpe, tell us a bit about yourselves?

Eirik Kirkemyr is our drummer, Lars K. Boquist is our bass guitarist, Even Hafnor is our classic-rock guitarist, Eirik Fidjeland is our multi-instrumentalist (mainly synth and harp but he occasionally rocks out a noisy guitar solo), and Ketil Myhre does vocals and guitar.

We are trying really hard to have ourselves recognised as an “established” act in Norway; this makes it easier for us to experience the feeling of “being a new band” in other countries.

As for ourselves personally, well, other than playing music, most of us work in a Kindergarten except for Even, who is an award winning director in the movie business, and Lars, who does web/graphic design.

Your album Relax/Relapse, opens with the ‘Relax’ element, which isn’t particularly ‘song for a hammock’! Why did you give this track that name, and, do you think your fans will be expecting your long awaited new album to open with an instrumental??

Hehe that’s true, it’s not the most soothing tune. This is the “intro” track to the album and the second song, “Replica”, uses the same chords but with a very different approach. Our album starts with Relax and ends with Relapse to tell the story behind the album from start to finish as to how it came to be named ‘Relax/Relapse’.

‘Replica’ has an almost new wave feel to the guitar sequences at certain points (I hear a touch of the Undertones) and there is also a trend of unconventional shifts in tempo and genre throughout most of the songs. Overall the sound is heavier, more mature, more random. Is this a deliberate consequence of your trying to be more experimental and organic in approach, whilst moving away somewhat from the “shoegaze” tag?

We wanted to make something very different from the first record. We also wanted to keep our options open sound-wise, to help us get the best out of ourselves, just to see what that sounded like.  We wanted it to just happen, rather than deciding on everything beforehand. The one thing we did deliberately decide to do, was record the whole album on a 24 track tape recorder. That element really made a difference for us as to how we built the songs. It was really nice to be limited to only 24 tracks.  We could remove unnecessary things that would otherwise cover up important sounds if we had had access to an unlimited number of tracks. From that, together with using a lot of amazing vintage amps and guitars/synths, we got a more mature sound.

We have always played with tempos and shifts in time signatures from our first EP to now. There are a lot of time signatures going on in our music but to us they never feel weird to play, it is more to make it feel “more correct”.  On this album we actually recorded every song live without a metronome, ON TAPE! This really made us throw away anything that didn’t have an important enough place in the soundscape, as well as making us play tighter, better.  We got into a better groove without a click track stressing us out.

“One of the goals on the album, sound-wise, was to find the perfect out of tune guitar sound. An electric guitar sounds a lot better when it’s a bit out of tune rather than a clean one. But if its too much of out tune, or worse, if its calculated out of tune – it doesn’t work. It must be a slightly, but random, out of tune. Some of the methods we used were to put guitars out in a cold parking house next to the studio so the wood would get cold and the pitch would change. This would usually work quite well. However, our new guitar player Eirik had his own method which definitely isn’t appropriate to mention here.”

You say you wanted to find the “perfect out of tune guitar sound” – (well you found it) … “Some of the methods we used were to put guitars out in a cold parking house next to the studio so the wood would get cold and the pitch would change.”  Discuss! 🙂

If we promise to publish after 9pm will you let us in on Erik’s secret??

Yeh hah, we did that. Usually we don’t have the right umbraco key or money to correct the truss rod to intonate our guitars so we just tune to the song we play. That combined with cold guitars made some nice sounds through old amps.

You’ve been quoted as saying that Beatlesesque psychedelia was a major inspiration for the new album. Which albums//songs influenced you most, how and why?

It’s hard to pick out one particular song/album, but we’d been listening a lot to Revolver whilst we were in our tour van. The way the Beatles experimented in studio, with different sounds and weird noises, and how innovative they were, is probably the main inspiration. Of course we were inspired by their music, as well.

You name a song on the album ‘?’ – this isn’t the first time a song has had this title?? Did you name it ‘?’ because it’s so sonically random that you just couldn’t put a label on it?

The lyrics reflect questions we ask ourselves everyday about people’s actions, society and it’s trends, narcissism, self-obsession. Also we were poking fun at ourselves as well, because we are no better than anyone else. We are not above others when at the same time there are still awful things happening in the world.

Even edited the video for My Friend the Scientist – are you going to use his “award winning film making” skills for future videos 🙂 ? Who came up with the concept for this video and what is your approach to videos in general?

We sure are! Just keep an eye out for something soon!! Some hints: old, homage, 16mm, awkward. It was Even’s idea for “My Friend The Scientist” video and it was made while we filmed our next project.

DRAPE_541_384

 It’s 30 years since A-ha released ‘Take on Me’ and changed Europe’s perception of Null Points Norway. How do you guys view A-ha? Did you take any inspiration or influence from them in any way, and do you think they, more than any other Norwegian act, opened up the doors for Norwegian music to be more acceptable to Euro ears?

We wouldn’t really have A-ha in mind when playing music to be honest.  One thing they keep doing that we’ve taken on board as something NOT to do, is to have a 2 year “A-ha is quitting” period, milk that with tours and new albums..? Then after a month. “A-ha COMEBACK TOUR, new album!!” again.. Feels like they have done that like 4 times now.

If you could do a cover of any song with any other artist – what and who would that/they be?

It would probably be ‘Young Folks’ by Peter Bjorn And John. Such a catchy and laid back song. Love it!

 What are the challenges facing Dråpe playing this album live, if any? And how do you relate to your audience – do you prefer an interactive experience that can potentially feed back into the creative process??

Because we already recorded this album live, it is not a very difficult transition to a concert. We really enjoy playing live in smaller spaces and venues where it fills up fast and people can get a more intimate connection with us. Then we can see their faces and those who sing along to our songs, rather than a sea of heads and some cellphones. But playing big spots has its own vibe, and can be really cool of course.

Do you have any good new music tips to share with us? Norwegian tips are particularly welcome!

Gold Celeste. Eirik Fidjeland’s band, have just released their second album “The Glow” which is really good. Also, another band that Gold Celeste will be supporting, the really coolly named Mild High Club. They make really great, weird songs. Other Norwegian bands we enjoy are Psyence Fiction and Foamm, who really should have a lot more fans and people listening to their music.

 Any finally, what does the rest of the year hold for you??

Our album ‘Relax/Relapse’ was released on 9th October, and we’re currently midway through a promotional tour of Norway with gigs coming up in:  Bergen, Trondheim, Tromsø, Kristiansand, Kongsberg and Stavanger. At the moment we are planning for 2016: we really want to play in London and do more shows in Germany. Click on ‘promotional tour’ for dates folks.

Dråpe’s second album ‘Relax/Relapse’ is out now via Riot Factory:  you can sample some sounds & if you like what you hear, you can buy it here. You can follow the guys on Twitter and Facebook.

And to end in their own words….

Vinyl: goo.gl/CsjYf5
iTunes: goo.gl/1ViGMQ
Spotify: goo.gl/TQs974
WiMP: goo.gl/4SiUv5
GIVE US MONEY”!”!

Interview : Palace Winter’s debut EP is Musical ‘Medication’

Palace Winter

Palace Winter are a relatively new Copenhagen based two-piece made up of Carl Coleman and Caspar Hesselager whose single ‘Menton’ recently made the #1 slot in the Hype Machine charts.  They released their scorcher of a debut EP, “Medication” earlier in October. Comprised of five tracks of different tempos, but all with the same underlying identifiable sound, Medication is an accomplished and highly skilled production; featuring pulsing indie-country-dance alongside slower, more darkly atmospheric experimentation, which offset each other perfectly.

Just before they released their EP, I was fortunate enough to spend some time, well quite a lot of time actually, chatting with both Carl and Caspar.  They had A LOT to say about a lot of things, especially movies, drums, the South of France, and music #natch.  Read what makes these indie-country rock loving movie buffs smile here.

For those that haven’t met you yet, could you please introduce yourself – who are you, where are you from, and how would you describe what you do?

CH: There’s the two of us – myself Caspar Hesselager, from Copenhagen, and Carl (Coleman), a very proud Melbournian, who has been living in Copenhagen for several years.  Cari is on vocals and guitars, while I play synth, piano, and bass, and am in charge of production mixing and mastering.  Carl writes the lyrics but we both write the songs. We find the writing process challenging but exciting. Basically, we just sit down in a room and create stuff together.

CC: From an instruments point of view, it matters less and less now who does what. Sometimes you just have to know when to let the other person do their thing. Caspar does a lot of the technical stuff – recording, mixing, mastering. We are pretty self-sufficient.

Oh and Christian Rindorf plays drums on the EP.  He’s joined our live line up for our gigs this Autumn/Winter.

How and when did you come to form Palace Winter? Was there an immediate musical/personal bond?

CH: We met on a tour bus in 2013 when I spent three weeks touring with my old back The Rumour Said Fire. Carl was in Americana influenced band, Sinks Ships, at the time, but he used to play a thirty minute warm up solo slot every night. I went out to see him one night, and was so impressed, so loved his different style of playing, lots of spaces and reverb, I went out to see him every night for the rest of the tour. When I got to know Carl a bit better, I approached him to see if would be interested in doing something. I produce and mix for other bands, so I have my own studio in Copenhagen, so Carl came here and we spent eight, nine months working on the EP ‘Medication’. We enjoyed it so much that we accidentally formed a band!

CC: Our aim was to produce a widescreen sound, something that was cinematic, with a wide open feel. This shared vision was key to our coming together, fundamental to our being able to successfully produce music as a team.

Carl & Caspar
Caspar & Carl

How do you classify your music? Do you prefer a more fixed or fluid approach to classification?

CC: We are open to fluidity of classification. We like to put together as many words as possible to rouse people’s curiosity

“Epic Driving Rock”, “Epic Synth Country”, “Country Kraut”

We like a sound that waves around with its genres. In fact recently, our sound has had a lot of comparisons with R.E.M. which is great, but while we like R.E.M, we certainly haven’t been influenced by them.

How have you developed your very specific and identifiable sound? And was that development deliberate on your part? Where do your influences come from?

CC: That’s great that you think we have an identifiable sound, thank you. That’s really good to hear.

CH: The Country influences come from Carl – when we met he already had a very specific sound. It was Country and yet non-Country. He was very successful in making it both but yet none.

CC: Country music tends to be underplayed, so it’s great to be able to bring a hint of Blues Americana into our sound. To be honest, we talk more movies that we do music. We like that that fiction, that cinematic vibe, leaks into the production side. We are trying to build a picture in which every inch is working towards building the bigger picture.

Will you continue to move in the same direction sound-wise, for your next album for instance? Is this a sound you want to explore and develop more, or will you perhaps maybe try to change the sound, work in a slightly different direction, or add in another genre?

CC: I think it will pretty much always be the same sound – the same fundamental sound that we have.  It will change in that there will be a natural progression, but it’s not like the next album will be completely different, like a reggae album etc. But there has to be some sort of limit genre-wise as to what is going to be your output.

I don’t think people listen to specific niche genres anymore to be honest. Years ago, people would only listen to punk, or prog rock, or country but never all three. It’s nice to keep your mind open to different types of music and musical influences.

How do you write your songs – it’s a bit chicken and egg isn’t it – which comes first, the lyrics or the melody/music? Do the songs change much from demo to master?

CH: We try not to fix on a certain method.

We just sit down in a room and create stuff together. It matters less and less now who does what. Sometimes you just have to know when to let the other person do their thing.

Normally the music comes first – we jam and see what happens. You are looking for that little seed that you need for things to germinate – you never see the seed, it can be anything – a tempo – very fast, very slow – very often the process starts with a desire to play in a certain tempo and that by itself can be the seed.

We spend a lot of time bringing the songs back to life, as part of them dies when you record them, so sometimes you need to fill in the gaps that have been created by the recording process.

Then once we’ve done, a lot of time is spent on production, on adding in drums, which are really key to our sound as very often our songs open with a very solid beat.

We spend a lot of time bringing the songs back to life, as part of them dies when you record them, so sometimes you need to fill in the gaps.

C&C 2

During the creative process are you influenced at all by the audience? Do they feed your creative process, influence the direction your songs take? And what kind of listening experience do you want to create for your audience?

CC: That’s a really good question!

We consider the audience in that we want to make music that we would want to listen to – something that’s moody and energetic. We definitely do like to feed off the energy we get from live audiences.

CH: It’s simple. You want to do something that’s able to transport you into another place. We don’t think about it too much apart from certain technical modifications to make it more appealing. There’s not much mot to it than that.

Your EP came out a few weeks ago. Why did you choose the title ‘Medication’?

CC: Basically because it sounded good 🙂

Plus it comes from a line in New Ghost – “You feel the medication kicking in”.

CH: I like the way Carl sings that line, so the word medication stuck out in my head.

It’s funny how things that are not related become related when you find the relation in them. For example, the photographer who shot the promotional material for Medication, took some shots in a pretty undramatic, suburban street. But the way he produced the photos, the colours are weird, the trees look weird, it’s a scene that almost looks ill, but yet it’s weirdly beautiful. It could be an image that needs or is suffering from a lack of, medication.

Most of the songs are on the long side time-wise? Will you release Radio Edits for any single choices? Why did you continue with such extended instrumentals after the main body of the song had effectively come to an end?

Yes we will be producing radio edits.

CC: As for the length of the songs, we didn’t want to do an extended vocal, but we did want to reach out musically. It was about having a connection with the song, and with each other. We wanted to reflect that. Let’s just say that for a while we weren’t afraid to do that.

CH: We were kind of like in a trance, a bit techno/kraut. It’s not something we decided to do, it just evolved, happened organically. For the album we will do 9 or 10 songs and they can’t be that length. We really do enjoy just letting go into the instrumental though, and we enjoy it even more playing live.

Would you like to tell the readers a bit about the track listing and give them some background to the songs?

CH: There are five songs on the EP and they are listed in the exact order in which they were created, starting with Time Machine, and ending with Stockholm. We could have recorded Time Machine in one day, I don’t remember, I don’t remember doing it.

The songs are interlinked in some ways yet very individual.

CC: With Time Machine we added in a particular sound created by muting the guitar strings. By adding in that noise element we were about to give the impression of speeding, of movement, but it’s a distortion that is not meant to be so distinct as to be heard. We were attempting to add a little realism into the song.

Again, getting back to the idea of film – we love films that are grounded in reality – films about relationships, family, but also mystery and fiction. We want our songs to have a realistic feel, but to be open enough, to be deep enough for the listener to be able to climb into the scenes. We want the meaning to be so open, that it is up to the listener to interpret.

Menton was the third track you recorded, but the first track that you published. Tell us a bit more!

CC: Menton was inspired by the town in Provence in which I holidayed last year, and while it’s very touristy, it’s also very off the beaten track.   I was staying in this really old Hotel, the Winter Palace. It was so regal, but so lost in its own forgotten dream.   It was like it was in its own micro-world, with no-one around, which gave it a very dreamy vibe. I found it very inspiring. We tried to give the impression of falling through a dream in the song by giving it a big cinematic sound.

The chords (guitar) had been lying around for a while, we just layered them up and made the melody quite dancey. We manipulated the acoustic piano to credit the percussive sound and after the drum break, added in the arpeggio (synth) to create what we think is a ‘beautiful mess’

The song is about pondering on times past, but again, we want it to be a work of fiction, a dream, we want to leave the interpretation open to the listener.

You seem to sing a lot about age, the past, dreams, other worlds? Are we on the right track?

CC: Yeah, but a lot of great pop music over time, has told dark, heavy stories.

Our songs are mainly about death, departing, relationships, exploring the past, and dreams yeah. They’re like films, telling stories that tie the songs together. In fact, they’re almost like a big family of songs.

Do you have any good new music tips to share with us? Danish tips are particularly welcome!

Perseverance people! Being an artist is about dealing with rejection. Keep knocking on the door!”

Oh, and here’s another tip! Keep an ear out for a really good band Halasan Bazar. They’re a 60’s psych pop band fronted by a Norwegian guy called Fred – their sound it other worldly! And Fred is a really good friend of ours.

Any finally, what does the rest of the year hold for you??

Well we are working on a new album, jamming, getting our ideas down. We’ll be continuing to do that as well as doing shows in Denmark, Paris and London (December).  And obviously we’ll be promoting our EP Medication.

Palace Winter’s Medication EP is available now through Tambourhinoceros .  They have also just released their latest single ‘New Ghost’.

Palace Winter will support Rangleklods at Pumpehuset Friday Nov 6th and will play Dalston’s Birthday, London on December 15th (can’t wait!!) – details here.

You can follow Palace Winter on Facebook – here and Twitter here.

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Note* An abridged version of this interview appeared in Ja Ja Ja Magazine on 10th October 2015.

Single Update : 24 Hour “AM” with Shallows

“I always fall in sequence not as one, I think I always fall where I know it can be undone…”

Following on from their debut single Enso, Winchester trio Shallows, released AM, which I premiered via the BBC6 supported Fresh on the Net website a wee while back.

An impressive electro-indie ballad written by vocalist Jo Carson, she cites “relationships, the body and sense of self” as her inspiration. “It’s about losing control, throwing yourself into situations and being open to new experiences. It’s also about having different identities and exploring gender.”  We won’t give away too much, we don’t want to ruin the surprise: think Sade but with less sax and more sex, swimming through white spaces between pirouetting piano chords, fanned by orgasmic jungle drums.  Get the picture?

I am now delighted to be able to announce that the third track from the Winchester wowsters is on it’s way.  Yup – and it’s one charismatic composition!

Watch this space for the UK premiere!  You heard it hear first folks….and oh, while you’re waiting.

Here’s some 24 hour AM …

https://soundcloud.com/shallowsband/am-1

You can follow Shallows on FACEBOOK & TWITTER

Interview: Norway’s Dråpe talk cold guitars, narcissism and A-ha

dervswerve

Dråpe Dråpe Photo Lars K Boquist

Norwegian band Dråpe have gone through a significant number of changes in the past year, not least of which was having Eirik Fidjeland return to the fold, replacing vocalist Hanne Olsen Solem. By their own admission, they have had their share of ups and downs (and broken ribs), but riding the tide of challenging experiences seems to have not only solidified them as a unit, it has also brought a new depth and maturity to both their lyrics and sound.

Bursting with enthusiasm and showing all the hallmarks of having a seriously wacky sense of fun, the guys from Dråpe happily agreed to spend some time filling us in on the background to their latest album ‘Relax/Relapse’, a masterpiece in melody and a masterclass in musicianship.

Kick back and enjoy some amusing thoughts on cold guitars, the Beatles and wonky sounds with Dråpe 🙂

For…

View original post 1,493 more words

My Friend the Scientist – Another “Drop” in the Indie Ocean

 

Photo Lars K. Boquist
Photo Lars K. Boquist

One could be tempted to go into hyperbolic overdrive to describe the latest offering from Norwegian five-piece Dråpe but ‘My Friend the Scientist’ is worthy of so much more than the world of superlatives can throw at it.

Less shoegaze, more chilled out indie, this is a much darker affair than Dråpe’s previous single, ‘Pie in the Sky‘, which was altogether more candyfloss, sugar-pop.  Albeit a stronger, and, in my opinion more mature song, ‘My Friend the Scientist’ still contains those intrinsic qualities that make up the familiar Dråpe ‘sound’: 60’s trippiness, loose ‘n’ light vocal and dreamy synth sequences.  The difference with this song lies predominately at the heart of the rhythm section, who have masterfully executed a tightknit combo of ground scraping basslines and enigmatic late 60s/early 70s-esque percussion.  Topped off with some seriously languid, and at times, uber reverbed, guitar chords, this is without doubt one of the best Nordic singles I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing this year.

According to bassist Lars Kristian Boquist: “We wanted to make something different from the first record. We wanted to find the best in ourselves,to see how that sounded, instead of deciding on everything beforehand.” Well, congratulations guys, you succeeded on all counts!

The video for ‘My Friend the Scientist’ has a docu-meets-funfair feel.  Perfectly edited by award winning film maker Even Hafnor, the video is a mash up of clips from space simulation training documentaries, and footage from various space stations and moon landings. Special mention goes to the poor chap being chargrilled whilst togged out in an oversized plastic bag.

Dråpe, masters of melody, have come of age, and if the two singles thus far are anything to go by, their album, Relax/Relapse is going to be pretty special.

‘My Friend the Scientist’ is available on iTunes and  Spotify, and Dråpe’s second album Relax/Relapse is out now via  Riot Factory and iTunes.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/my-friend-the-scientist/id1035495574?i=1035496009

The original unedited version of this review was published in Ja Ja Ja Magazine on 26th September 2015.

The Dreamer Realises The Dream : Anna of the North

Photo: Ole Martin Halvorsen
Photo: Ole Martin Halvorsen

At the rate my fascination with all musical things Norwegian is escalating, I’ll probably have decamped to Oslo by Christmas. Today finds me listening to yet another new Norwegian act, Anna of the North.

Since their debut in 2014, Anna of the North have gone from strength to Scandi-pop strength, and their latest release, ’The Dreamer’, bears testament to how comfortable Anna Lotterud and Brady Daniell-Smith are with each other, and how that tight relationship has come to produce a more mature, experimental and expansive sound.

Whilst it has the trademark clarity of vocal and crystalline synth sounds which we heard in this eclectic duo’s debut single ‘Sway’, ‘The Dreamer’ has more than a hint of determined self-prepossession in both sound and lyric, making it less wispy ethereal, more dramatically extroverted. A “Dear John” with attitude, the melody revolves around the hook “it’s not about you, it’s not about you any more” – get the hint world, let me move on!

Made up of many layers, ‘The Dreamer’ is a melting pot of heavenly harmonies, thumping jungle funk and vibrant electro-pop. Snappy electronica, neat, tight guitar chords, washes of shimmering synth, and above all, some fantastic pumping George of the Jungle drums with a slight nod to the 80s, all buoy up Lotteruds enchanting yet defiant vocal. Anna has an amazing range, which she uses to full effect, without it ever sounding forced. Her voice is an instrument with which she is clearly very much at ease.

If the music Anna in the North have produced thus far is anything to go by, “The Dreamer(s)” won’t be dreaming of Nordic success for much longer! Success will have become a reality, both in the North, and beyond!

The Dreamer’ will be out on 20th November, via Different Recordings in the UK and Honeymoon in the USA.

You can follow Anna of the North on Facebook – here  – and on Twitter here.

Note* This review was originally published by Ja Ja Ja Magazine on 23rd October 2015.

Hymn to the Dark: Beach House – ‘Elegy to the Void’

Beach House Liz Flyntz

“We wanted it to simply enter the world and exist”

It has just occurred to me that this is the first Dream-Pop/Shoe Gaze review that I’ve sat down to write, where the lead vocalist, or indeed any member of the band, is female!  What does that tell you, me, us, about the music industry??

Earlier today, Jo Carson of the UK band, Shallows, posted this on InstaTwitter, and oh boy, does she have a point!

.

Where are they indeed…if I ever have the opportunity to meet Victoria Legrand, I might just ask the question – Why the female void?

Which leads nicely into ‘Elegy to the Void’, the first release from new Beach House album ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ – the shock-horror, “quelle surprise” release of 2015, coming just a matters of weeks after the launch of  ‘Depression Cherry’, an album which was received with an indifferent “plus ça change” shrug by most music reviewers this side of the pond.

Quote/Unquote:

“Thank Your Lucky Stars is our sixth full length record. It was written after Depression Cherry from July 2014 – November 2014 and recorded during the same session as Depression Cherry. The songs came together very quickly and were driven by the lyrics and the narrative. In this way, the record feels very new for us, and a great departure from our last few records. Thematically, this record often feels political. It’s hard to put it into words, but something about the record made us want to release it without the normal “campaign.” We wanted it to simply enter the world and exist.”

‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ has been greeted with a bit more verve and a lot more excitement than it’s predecessor, and on listening to ‘Elegy into the Void’ one can understand why.

“Deep beneath the waves
White-winged birds of May
Run from hollow hills
Walk into the night”

Dark, intense, uneasy, ‘Elegy into the Void’ is Twin Peaks meets Alice in Wonderland as conceived of by the Beatles in Revolver/MMT mode.  It’s the anti-gaze of it’s genre; a musical mist that descends upon the listener, enshrouding them in a twilight of shadows and half light.

Victoria Legrand’s vague and sultry vocal is washed over with cloudy harmonies, giving it a bewitching, almost ghostly quality.  The brooding semi-monotonous electro-classical thrum is given a hint of light and life by some sharp guitar chords and a slow build of dramatic, looping sequences.  These are interspersed towards the end, by comets of synth, redolent of those echoey beeping transmission sounds one used to hear on old NASA space footage.

Mission accomplished.  Beach House have journeyed into the void and brought their fans with them, to experience the dark but fascinating wonders of the world beyond their own.

 

Usual Selly Welly and Social Wocial paraphernalia here:

“Elegy To The Void ” is out now.

Beach House album, Thank Your Lucky Stars
Sub Pop Mega Mart http://u.subpop.com/1Mf9yMx
Amazon http://amzn.com/B016B0FL3I
iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tha…

Beach House http://www.beachhousebaltimore.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/beachhouse
Twitter https://twitter.com/BeaccchHoussse
Instagram https://instagram.com/beaccchhoussse/

FULL ALBUM STREAM of Thank Your Lucky Stars: https://youtu.be/FQyiZiwklgw