With More Guests Than A B&B, This Is No Empty House

Foto: Kristin Slotterøy
Foto: Kristin Slotterøy

Isolation, desolation, a sense of failure, and loneliness; just some of the things caused by the breakdown of indigenous industry and collapse of local economies.

“Empty House, No-one’s been around, the neighbours gone, there’s no-one left in town”

So begins ‘Motor City’, the solemn opener to ‘Empty House’, the international debut album from Norwegian band, Snøskred, and song which has the collapse of car manufacturing in Michigan at its heart

‘Motor City’ with its soft, Americana wistfulness, contains some memorable moments of slide guitar and harmonica, which together produce glorious sequences harking back to John Barry’s wondrous soundtrack for ‘Midnight Cowboy’.  Despite having a pretty bleak theme, the song ends with the merest hint of hope.  A delightful, lingering dream sequence comprised of ascending, guitar and synth chords, gives just the faintest notion of pealing bells heralding good news.

 

“Seems I’m winnin’ 9 times outta 10, All it takes is a weak link in the chain”

When you play the track ‘Preparations’ you will hear one voice and one voice only – and it’s not that of a Lars Ove Fossheim – who’s in the vocal driving seat for this ride.  It IS that of one Mr. David Byrne – for those too young to know, I have embedded the wiki – go read & then listen to Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense.  Best track on the album by a country mile (I can hear all the “critics” groaning).  David Byrne super-grouping with Bowie and Suede.  Need I say anymore?

‘Preparations’ is a far cry from the REM “End of the world as we know it” darkness of the first ten minutes, but in a humorous twist of irony, the band have used those very same words in its lyrics!! This little belter, brimful of chiming guitars, sweet synths and doolally lyrics, would, thematically, make for some great visual fodder, should Snøskred have a mind to make an off the wall, Monkees meet Talking Heads type video.

 

Next up is another personal fave, ‘Blurred Out Lights’, and yayhay, a song in which I can actually hear some R.E.M and, wait for it, Yo La Tengo (#privatejoke!).  I must also confess to hearing a lot of what one might call, Charlie Watts style drumming on this album, and none moreso than on this little number.  Was Kyrre Laastad channeling his inner Charlie in the hopes of getting some “Satisfaction”?  Who knows.

Be that as it may, this is a cracker of a track that finds Fossheim and Klaseie rockin’ out on their guitars and hopefully having a lot of fun in the process.  Veering in an R.E.M. country-psych direction with a spacious vocal, this track starts off “harmlessly” but builds gradually in an upward spiral, until after a brief trompe l’oreille, it explodes into an instrumental frenzy of chaotic guitars and an insistent free for all on the part of the R/S.

 

Mirage: “an unrealistic hope or wish that cannot be achieved”

Having already reviewed Snøskred‘s latest single, ‘Mirage’, I’m not going to explore it any further.  Suffice it to quote: – “A musical chimera, ‘Mirage’ is a series of musical layers – a melding of several sketches, spliced and diced, that have been very haphazardly “mille-feuilled”.” You can read the full review, here.

“Is there someone looking out for us? The same way every shepherd looks out for all his sheep, But there’s no-one, looking out for me”

Next up is ‘Lexington Hotel’, virtual home to Klaseie’s mob nightmares, the inspo for the track.  Tantalisingly hypnotic, it undulates to the provocative beat of the rhythmically synced R/S whose densely compacted sound adds to the tracks intensity, by making it feel somewhat claustrophobic. Ingeniously, drummer Kyrre Laastad used three different drum kits, congas (and not to my eternal shame, bongos #blushes) and a vibraphone to concoct the deliciously languid and cavernous percussion. Yum.

The vocal has Damon Albarn stamped all over it, with Klaseie having that same Albarn-esque way of letting the vocal slip effortlessly from his lips – languorous, subtly playful, and nonchalantly cool.

A rich, sticky ooze of dark toxicity, ‘Lexington Hotel’ lures, captivates and holds you in thrall to its highly potent, dangerously addictive nature.

“So this is what it’s all about, time stands still when you’re around, the pieces fall in place, the puzzle’s done”

‘Puzzle’ is a cheeky little thing, full of “Sunday Morning” vocals, happy clappy percussion, extended guitar chords like noonday rays of sunshine, and an uplifting medley of groovy synth sounds.  All of this is underpinned by Martin Hvidsten Berger whose adept shaping and expression of the bass lines  both drive the song and glue it together.

 

The album closes with the track ‘Homeless’ which essentially tells the story behind how three different people became homeless when the world economically imploded and the boom went bust, thereby blowing the lives of those living within it to smithereens.  It’s a stirring, lyrically pensive track, in which an accusatory vocal is filled with spaces leaving its indictments hanging in mid air, above an intensely moving instrumental accompaniment.

A sombre end, it brings ‘Empty House’ full circle to a close as solemn as the beginning.  This album runs the gamut of emotions, touching on tough, stark subject matter, expressing it with clarity, and just the right amount of empathy to resonate with the listener.  The dark is interspersed with moments of light frivolity that give the album balance.  Musically it is technically proficient,  instrumentally adventurous, and excellently arranged.  Self-produced by Karl Klaseie and Kyrre Laastad, it is a well polished but yet not too shiny production, retaining enough grit to have an edge.

‘Empty House’ is a carefully crafted disparate world, full of colourful virtual visitors and fleeting influences, but at its heart sits an oasis of tranquility and calm in which the listener can mindfully reflect upon its thought provoking messages and stark real-life themes.

Snøskred are: Kyrre Laastad: Drums, Lars Ove Fossheim: Vocals and guitar, Martin Hvidsten Berger: Bass &
Karl Klaseie: Vocals and guitar. 
The band embarks on a promotional tour in April; full details can be found on their Facebook page.  You can also follow them on Twitter.

 

‘Empty House’ is available now via Bandcamp, and the usual other sources, including iTunes and Spotify.

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by:Larm Alarm!! EERA [Interview]

Photo-credit-alice-rainis.
Photo-credit-alice-rainis.

When things MOVE in the music industry, they tend to juggernaut rather than chug along steam train style. Such is the case with the trajectory of the latest singer/songwriter to emerge out of Norway, Anna Lena Bruland, who goes under the moniker, EERA.  With two single releases now firmly under her belt and a string of rave reviews to stick in her scrapbook, EERA has fast become a recognisable name on the music scene within an astonishingly short space of time.

Here current single, ‘White Water’, is an intriguing taster of what we have to look forward to on her forthcoming EP, recorded and produced with Nick Rayner, of Farewell J.R. fame, at his home studio in Cambridge.   Of the EP, EERA explains, “My lyrics are based on images, rather than storylines.  For me, it’s about creating imagery and wordplay that means something quite different to each individual.”

On the eve of EERA’s appearances at the renowned by:Larm Festival and the release of her self-titled debut 4-track EP on 4th March, which falls smack bang between her two festival dates, I caught up with the London based Norwegian newbie of the moment, for a brief but extremely interesting Q&A, in which she talks about her dream “supergroup” collaboration, inspirational Farao, learning Alex G’s ‘Kicker’ and Meg the dog.

 

“Never become a musician, it’s too much hard work”

Hey EERA, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.  First up can you tell the readers something about your musical background and influences?

My main influences are PJ Harvey, Blonde Redhead, Deerhoof etc. And also “older” stuff like Pixies and early Cat Power. Just artists with dissonant noises and great lyrics mainly.

What brought you to music and how & when did you decide to become a full time musician?

I don’t think it’s something you decide to do, it’s something that chooses you. My grandad was a big conductor back in the 60s and he always said to me; “Never become a musician, it’s too much hard work. But if you are going to do it anyways, I’ll make sure I’ll get a choir together for you so that you can become a choir conductor when you come back to Norway.” So I guess my back up plan is sorted.

Why did you move to London?

It was just a natural move from Liverpool. I lived there for four years before I moved down to London. My bandmates at the time were moving down, and I’ve always wanted to live in London because of the music scene here.

That seems to be the same for most Norwegian musicians – London is the big draw.  Where did the moniker EERA come from?

I wish I had an exciting answer to this, but to be perfectly honest I just really liked how the word sounded and looked, and it’s nice that it’s similar to an era.

How would you define your style?  Do you feel that music should not be pigeon-holed by constantly being categorised?

I don’t think music should be pigeon-holed, no. My favourite comments I’ve gotten after a show is that they feel that I’m doing something new, which is the best compliment any artist can get really.

What makes you stand out from other musicians/artists?

Hopefully I do stand out by the way I write my songs. The chord sequences I use, and the lyrics I write.

How did you approach creating and making your EP?

I recorded the EP with Nick Rayner, in his home recording studio in Cambridge. At the time, I already had the main core of the songs written. Nick just helped to get the sounds that were in my head into the computer. I really enjoyed being in an unconventional studio with a limited amount of gear. That inspires me the most. And he has the most incredible studio dog, Meg!

“I like to challenge the listener”

What were the sources of inspiration for your songs?

Something I can connect with. Either it’s something that has affected me, or others. But it has to be something that I understand fully and that I want to explore further obviously.

Do you expect the audience to be able to understand the themes/concepts of the songs, or do you think music should be open to free interpretation?

Not necessarily. I always intend to create songs where people can make up their own mind about what the songs are about. I like to challenge the listener, so that they want to listen to the song over and over to then fully understand it in their own way.

How do you approach playing live?

To create an atmosphere that people get sucked in to. I’ve never been obsessed with the idea that the live set needs to be exactly the same as the record. I like that it’s a bit different.

How did you find playing the LoBF and Eurosonic Festivals compared with smaller, more intimate gigs?

The more people the better for me really. Haha. My worst nightmare is to play in front of a really small crowd, if you do that you can see all of their faces! If there’s a larger crowd they all sort of turn into one, which makes it less scary in a way.

Aside from by:Larm, have you any other dates lined up?

As we as by:Larm, so far we have Great Escape and another gig in London (Sebright Arms) confirmed. There are a few more that we can hopefully announce soon!

“Farao is one of my best friends. She is a true inspiration for me, such a talented artist”

You’ve played live with Farao & did backing vocals for her (in Berlin) – how did that come about?

Farao is one of my best friends. I used to play in her band for two years and we also used to live together in London. So we’ve been playing together for a long time. So when she asked me to go on tour with her I obviously said yes. We have so much fun together! She is a true inspiration for me, such a talented artist.

The Norwegian music scene is particularly exciting at the moment, it seems to have entered a really creative and interesting phase. Why do you think that is?

Yeah, I guess it is. It’s tricky for me to answer that question since I’ve always known of the scene, and followed it. And I think there’s always been some great artists here and there coming from Norway, but for some reason more and more people are recognising that at the moment.

If you could cover one song, what would it be and why?

I’m trying to learn “Kicker” by Alex G at the moment, purely because it’s just an incredible song.

If you could collaborate with another artist/band, who would you choose?

Well it’s so hard to just choose one so I might as well just tell you my dream band; John Parish on guitar, Christopher Bear (Grizzly Bear) on drums, Johnny Greenwood (Radiohead) on additional guitar and effects etc. and Jenny Lee Lindberg (Warpaint) on bass and backing vocals.

Are there any artists/bands you’d recommend for 2016?

Yeah! There’s this mental band called The Mantis Opera that I love so much! They’re awesome live as well. If you’re into Battles and Deerhoof they’re definitely worth a listen. I got to sing with them live once which was so much fun!

What are EERA’s plans for 2016?

To write loads, and get back in the studio, and to play some awesome shows along the way.

EERA plays by:Larm festival, 3rd and 5th March and The Great Escape festival in May, among others.  Check out her FB page for full details of lives dates and music news.

by:Larm is one of Norway’s most prestigious festivals and the biggest Nordic emerging talent showcase; it is held annually in Oslo.  Full details regarding tickets, artists and schedules can be found here.

Check out the video for EERA’s current single, ‘White Water, a Cleopatra-esque production that’s darker than it’s milky whiteness would lead you believe.

You can pre-order the EERA EP which comes in two gorge vinyl eds here –

Clear: http://housearrestrecs.bigcartel.com/pr…/eera-ep-clear-vinyl
Black: http://www.roughtrade.com/albums/100224

Her music is also available digitally here –

iTunes pre order – http://smarturl.it/EERA.iTunes
Listen on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1kr9y…

MUSE FIRST EVER BAND TO HEADLINE ALL 3 NIGHTS OF GLASTO

 Muse

 

EXPERIMENTAL ROCK BAND MUSE HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED AS GLASTONBURY 2016 HEADLINERS

HAVING BEEN CONFIRMED TO PLAY ON THE PYRAMID STAGE ON THE FRIDAY NIGHT 

 

Muse have been announced as one of the headliners of Glastonbury Festival 2016.

The band will perform on the Pyramid Stage on the Friday night and in doing so will become the first band ever to have headlined every night of the festival. The band previously headlined the festival on Saturday night in 2010 and Sunday in 2004.

Here’s the footage of their Glasto 2010 performance – enjoy!!

Frøkedal – ‘Hold on Dreamer’ [Interview]

Press Photo HoD2
Photo by: Julia Naglestad

“I tried to write songs without fear of exposing myself.  A lot of the time I end up telling other people’s stories, but when telling them I can twist the story in any direction, and then it ends up being very close to something true about myself”

Anne Lise Frøkedal emerged from the chrysalis last year like a delicately coloured butterfly, flitting through the sky in search of a sweetly flowered meadow.  Having spent much of her formative musical years with Norwegian pop group, Harry’s Gym (‘Whisper’, ‘Brother’), when they split in 2013, she dropped her forenames, adopted the moniker, Frøkedal, and launched herself as a solo artist releasing her debut single, ‘I See You’ in March of last year.  Since then she has gone on to release an EP of the same name, as well as a plethora of singles, all of which have been received with much critical acclaim.

Having whetted our appetites and left us licking our lips in anticipation, today finally sees Frøkedal drop her debut album, ‘Hold on Dreamer’, as well as unveil the video for her latest single, ‘The Sign’, which you can watch here.  In anticipation of this wondrous record, and wondrous it is folks, I asked Frøkedal some questions about her Cajun influences, ‘gentle strength’, the invisible man on the chair, and the black landscape of Western Norway.  Here’s what she had to say:-

 

Hi Anne Lise, thanks for taking the time out.  You’ve released a serious amount of music in the past 14 months. How long have you been writing these songs & gearing up towards your debut album, ‘Hold on Dreamer’?

Hei! I started recording this music in late 2014, after testing it on a live stage with Familien (Frøkedal’s band made up of Olav Christer Rossebø, Thea Glenton Raknes, Erlend Ringseth & Ingeleiv Berstad). Some of the songs are older than that, but never fitted into any other project I had, but the majority was written – or at least finished – around the same time as we started playing them live.

How did you approach recording ‘Hold on Dreamer’ and working with the renowned Jimmy Robertson?

We recorded most of the tracks live in a studio in Oslo that has a big recording room. Then I did overdubs (as few as possible) in my own little studio. Some of the more electronic tracks, I’ve recorded all by myself. I actually ended up producing the album as well. I was meant to find someone, but I never did. The reason is probably that I already knew how I wanted it to sound. The mix engineer, Jimmy Robertson, was really important to me, though. When I handed these tracks over to him, I really needed some fresh ears. Luckily, what I’d done made sense to him.

“I think it has something to do with the fiddle, the lack of perfection, the directness”

Your sound incorporates a lot of elements – Americana/Bluegrass/Native American/Folk/Traditional – using all those gorgeous trad string instruments – fiddles, acoustic guitar, etc, – mixed with modern day electric guitars & synthesisers. Can you explain why are you drawn to the “old world” sounds, and what your objective was in bringing them together with more “new world” sounds and techniques for this album?

I’ve known Olav Christer (Olav Christer Rossebø), who plays the fiddle on these tracks, for many years, and he’s constantly introduced me to traditional music from all over the world. What I love about this music, and perhaps the traditional Cajun music in particular, is the simple arrangements, but often very emotional expression. I think it has something to do with the fiddle, the lack of perfection, the directness and the fact that the traditional music was usually recorded live. I wanted to try something like that myself, even if I write pop songs

On the album there is only one song, ‘The Sign’ that uses a full drum kit for percussion, which was overseen by Olaf Olsen.  What drew you to him as a percussionist and why the single instance use of a full drum kit?

On ‘The Sign’ I wanted to capture the slightly odd vibe of a collective euphoria. That’s why I had to abandon all intentions of moderation for a little while. After all, there’s nothing moderate about a spiritual awakening. The way Olaf plays on ‘The Sign’ is very typical for him. He plays very lightly, forward-going, but never rushing it. I love his drumrolls. His approach to the kit always makes me think of recordings that were made 50 years ago. I don’t know anyone who plays like he does.

 

“I am a bad liar”

Your album is really quite special, and your songs are very thought provoking and quite emotive.  How do you come up with the ideas for your songs – lyrically and musically – and if you don’t mind me asking, do you pour a lot of yourself into them when you’re both writing and recording them?

I tried to write these songs without fear of exposing myself. I gave it an honest go, and I see now that a lot of the time I end up telling other people’s stories as if they were my own. I think it happens mainly because I am a bad liar, whenever I know too much about how things really happened, I feel obligated to tell the true version, but when I’m telling someone else’s story I can twist and turn that story in any direction. And then it ends up being very close to something true about myself.

Frokedal 2016

There is a “gentle strength”, if that makes sense, to your songs.  Do you think this is this reflective of you as a person?

Haha, it is probably easier for others to give a truthful answer to that. I am probably not the loudest type you’ll find in the music industry. And even if I am quite emotionally driven, I’m also very determined. I know very well what I like and don’t like.

‘Hold on Dreamer’ seems to be following a couple of themes, many of them full of positivity, self-belief and hope, but there are also moments of intense sadness. Was that just how things worked out or were you trying to find a balance between light/dark, or, was the intention to paint a true reflective picture of life and emotion?

I think the different characters in these songs are going through things that are very recognizable. There is both dark and light in these songs, and I wanted it to stay balanced.

‘Cherry Trees’ is an extremely beautiful and very poignant song, and possibly my favourite on the album.  Can you tell me what it is about?

‘Cherry Trees‘ is about a relationship that is not going to survive, despite good intentions and an idyllic backdrop of cherry trees blooming in spring. The two people in the song have lost the connection they once had.

 

The title of the album, ‘Hold on Dreamer’ is a line taken from the song ‘The Man Who Isn’t Here’. The lyrics speak of shutting out the city, and the noise, and waking up to the inner dreamer holding us tight. Do you think we all have an “inner dreamer” that we could hear more clearly is there was less noise more silence in the world?

Yes. I think we have an inner dreamer that becomes clearer to us in times of great distress, because we have to shut out everything else.

And tell me, what exactly are you trying to convey through the image of the invisible man on the chair?

The way you can sometimes feel the presence of someone you miss who is no longer around – as it they were still there.

 

“On ‘The Sign’ I wanted to capture the slightly odd vibe of a collective euphoria”

‘The Sign’, such an uplifting song, seems to be saying despite all the destruction around us of  society, nature, community – and despite our failings, there is always way to succeed, look around you and you will find it, it’s not too late for us to change our ways? Can you give us some background to the message?

I believe in this message, if we look for our own answers. But I also believe a similar message is often preached by people with the wrong agenda, and that’s when it gets disturbing.

It sounds like you very much had Norway in mind when you wrote ‘Misery’ – pine trees, black mountains etc. How much has being Norwegian had an influence on your music?

Well spotted. The song is inspired by some of the gloominess of the landscape, and sometimes people, in the west coast of Norway, where I’m from. I have made jokes about it when playing the song in this area, but they always respond in such an enthusiastic way to the track, that I suspect that they recognize something. I think a lot of the melancholy in my music to a certain degree has to do with being from a part of the country where it (seemingly) always rains, and the long dark winters over here. And I think the traditional Norwegian music that I’ve become familiar with through my fiddle-playing friend has (subconsciously) influenced the rhythmics of my songs and sometimes even the way I sing.

And finally before we let you go, who are your tips coming out of Norway just now? Who has Frokedal on her turntable?

I am into some electronic acts, like André Bratten, Todd Terje, Ost & Kjex, Kim Hiorthøy. And I like acts like The Megaphonic Thrift and Årabrot. And a lot in between, but I am afraid I don’t feel up to date these days. I’ve probably spent too much time with my own music lately.

And what better music for Frokedal  to spend her time with than this most delightful of confections!

Thanks so much to Anne Lise for her very precious time and her honest, insightful answers!! You’ll be able to read my review of ‘Hold on Dreamer’ soon, keep your eyes peeled to my Twitter and FB.  In the meantime, have a listen to a final piece of Frokedal music as you take a peek at the video for ‘Kid’, here.

‘Hold on Dreamer‘ is out now through Propeller Recordings, and available through the usual fare of iTunes, Spotify etc, links here.

You can follow Frokedal on Facebook, Twitter and her official website, where you’ll find details of musical releases, and her current tour which kicks off in York tonight, working through the UK, then moving to Germany and on to Norway.  Alas no Dublin, next time hey!!

Sometimes there are no words … Schola Cantorum

Still Frigge Fri
Still Frigge Fri

I’ve said this before, and I am saying it again now.  Sometimes you just have to let the music speak for itself.  You have to let it breathe.  And that is what I am doing with this masterpiece by Bjørn Morten Christophersens, performed by Schola Cantorum, entitled “Oak & Mayfly”, the video for which was directed by Frigge Fri.  The lyrics below, were based on a poem by the wonderful H. C. Andersen.

OAK AND MAYFLY
Growing, stretching, widening, craving
Towered past in a mighty crown

Flying, gliding, dancing, living
Thousands of moments in blissful play

Flying, gliding, dancing, living
– and die

Rustling leaves:
Good night, good night
Poor little mayfly, too short a life

Singing winds:
Good night, old oak, there falls a leaf
Stretch and fly!

Growing, widening
A wonderful dream
A moment forever in the Kingdom of God

Trondheim Calling : Gig Review – Kari Harneshaug

Photo DMc Cloat
Photo DMc Cloat

Standing near the front of the stage in Dokkhuset Scene watching Kari Harneshaug perform on the last night of Trondheim Calling, it slowly became apparent to me that I was undergoing both a mental and musical shift.  While I had always found Kari’s music both interesting to listen to, and fascinating to explore, it was with rapt astonishment that I watched her performance unfold over the too short course of thirty minutes.

Kari performed her six-track setlist accompanied by a 5-piece backing band comprising of none other than slick n savvy Snøskred aficionados, Karl Klaseie (on guitar) and Kyrre Laastad (on synths).

Standing in the centre of the dimly lit stage, the singer cut a diminutive, elfin like figure, but my God when she started to sing did it become obvious that there was nothing nanoscopic about her commanding vocal presence.  Kari Harneshaug cuts a most deceiving figure – what she lacks in physical stature she sure as hell makes up for in vocal weight.

Song after song was vocalised with requisite exuberant energy, theatrical drama or understated potency.  The link that bound was the vice like grip the singer had over her breath control, pitch and delivery.  Harneshaug wields her vocal tools with pinpoint precision and as a result, was in full control of her performance throughout.

Experimental and eclectic, her multi-textured, many splendored songs, allow for varied artistic interpretation, ranging from  subtle to melodramatic; an experienced performer, Kari gave carefully considered deliveries that perfectly expressed the varying waves of emotions rolling through her songs.

Highlights of her set included ‘The Great Sea’ and latest single, ‘Wild One’, but it was the track ‘Lower My Eyes’ that blew me away and IMO stole the show. This highly evocative, somewhat provocative slinky jazz-blues number, sizzled with Klaseie’s spotlight hogging, electrifying guitar playing, that was nicely balanced by some relaxed percussion, trickling rivulets of synth and shots of piano.  Laid back lush, sung with a smoky vocal, this had (and still has), all the hallmarks of a sensational blues infused hit song.

Kari Harneshaug’s live set gave her music a 3D quality I would not have hitherto  believed possible.  Intensely atmospheric, superbly instrumented and exquisitely vocalised, it was a perfect performance.

Perfect performances are rare, not for Kari Harneshaug.  5/5.

”Lower My Eyes’ features on Kari’s upcoming record, ‘We Were Closer To The End’, due for release on 26th via NO FOREVERS, (so you’ll be able to listen to it then!) and you can follow Kari on Facebook, to keep up with all her musical endeavours.

Kari Harneshaug Setlist : The Signs Have Been Telling Me, The Great Sea, For Our Love, When The Day Creeps Up On Us,  Lower My Eyes, Wild One

Trondheim Calling : Gig Review – ARY

ARY-winter_0194-med
Photo Olav Stubberud

Norwegian newbie ARY has a vocal that swings from Susanne Sundfor – delicately delightful as on ‘Telescope’ – to Bjork – gaminely quirky as with hit single, ‘Higher’ – depending on the mood of the track she’s performing.

A girl with an otherwordly presence, she has as yet only streamed three songs, one solo and two collaborative offerings; three very different tracks that perfectly exemplify her unique musical abilities.

So it was then that her set at Trondheim Calling was the perfect opportunity for ARY to showcase unreleased musical wares and, she did so in splendid fashion.  Joined on stage by fellow Norwegians, Fay Wildhagen, and, Anders Kjaer, she spliced performances of ‘known’ tracks, ‘Higher’, ‘Telescope’ and ‘Human Again’ with unknown temperature testers, all of which were warmly and favourably received by the crowd.

ARY has a captivating charm that brings real warmth and animation to the cold electronic sound of her music, and whilst her ID songs had an unfinished feel to them, it didn’t detract from the overall sense of enjoyment that pervaded the packed auditorium of the classy Rockheim venue.

Captivatingly beguiling and refreshingly unpolished, ARY put the spark into sparkle with a poised and engaging performance, which although sating the short term appetite, left one with a lingering desire to hear what is still to come.

Expect to hear a lot more from and about ARY in the future – with an aura as bright as hers, her rapidly rising star is set to fire and shine quite brilliantly.

ARY will play two sets at upcoming by:Larm festival, Oslo, on Thurs 3rd 22.30hrs and Sat 5th 01.30hrs, full details, here.

You can follow ARY on Facebook and Spotify.

Trondheim Calling : Gig Review – Slutface

Photo DMc Cloat
Photo DMc Cloat

Total ‘must see’ for me during the Trondheim Calling music festival was the Saturday night Slutface gig at the legendary Øra Studio.  The setup was at the back of the studio proper, in a room that was as high as it was wide – perfect acoustics – wood panelled with both walls and floor bedecked with rugs, artwork and shuttering.  The smallish crowd of about 50 or so, spilled in  – well small for TC but at 100% capacity for the room – and sat on the large deep pile rug.  Not for long …

In bounced Slutface lead by feisty, tour-de-force frontwoman Hayley Shea, who instantly said the magic Norwegian words required to have the crowd jumping to their feet.  That was the signal I was waiting for.  Slutface have form for encouraging serious crowd interaction and sure enough, this 30 minute set was a masterclass in how to perform a top notch gig slam bang in the middle of your audience.  Slutface literally sang while their fans were standing by their side – from my vantage point in the “wings”, it was compelling viewing.

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Slutface ripped their way through a frenergetic turbo-charged set with more vim than a Dirty Vimto.  ‘Shave my Head’, ‘Bad Party’, ‘Angst’ – each one sung at full pelt by Shea without once having a quiver in her voice.  Trust me, it takes a lot to sing high-octane tracks non-stop for 30minutes without faltering at least once – and she didn’t – which goes to prove that Shea is much more than a mere competent singer.  This girl has a driving, gutsy, wide-ranging vocal that she controls with a vice-like grip!  It takes a lot of command and determination to be able to do that, particularly at such a young age, but then again, this IS Hayley Shea we’re talking about.

Musically, this was pure rocket fuel, with the guys giving a tight, well synced performance during which they never put a foot wrong.  An hyper-active Lasse Lokøy knocked socks out his bass-guitar whilst performing adrenalin fuelled acrobatics through the crowd, while behind him, drummer Halvard Skeie Wiencke knocked seven shades of hell out of his drum kit – albeit very skillfully!  Both of them double-jobbed as backing vocalists, which was a pretty good pull-off considering they were so physically interactive.

Photo of Halvard Skeie Wiencke, DMc Cloat
Photo of Halvard Skeie Wiencke, DMc Cloat

Tor-Arne Vikingstad is as fine a guitar player as I heard all weekend and he pretty much stripped the varnish off the panelling with the fire coming from his scorching guitarwork.  The decibel level must have hit pretty close to 85dB, all the more amazing given the fact that Vikingstad & co were had been equipped with only two speakers!

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The Slutface gig was the only one I attended during Trondheim Calling, where the artist 100% completely engaged with, and even more importantly, engaged the crowd, and the resultant energy that the crowd channeled back to the band, was electrifying.   By the time the gig was half way through, the crowd, encouraged by Shea, had completely surrounded her, whilst she sang, pogoed and bounced like Jumping Jack Flash around the floor. (The only other band I saw interact in similar fashion were equally awesome fuzzpunkers, Rick Ashtray, who led by ‘Tambourine Man’, Chris Omdahl danced their way through the packed crowd on the final night in Dokkhuset).

This was one seriously fiery, hard hitting gig – alive and on fire – and one of the most energetic and animated of the festival.  Slutface are a great band of the future, whose present is in a rapid ascendancy  who gave a volcanic performance, memorable for its energy, honesty, musicianship, and, it’s unparalleled sense of “community” and unorthodox “meet and greet” style.

In a word, #Refreshing.

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You can follow Slutface on Facebook and Twitter.

You can follow DervSwerve on Facebook and Twitter.

‘Someone Who’ll Get It’ #Vogueasakite

Photo: Stian Andersen for Vogue
Photo: Stian Andersen for Vogue

Norwegian indie outfit, Highasakite, are riding high on the crest of a musical wave.  On the cusp of “the big break”, with their sophomore album due mid May, and about to set sail on their biggest and most expansive tour to-date, they have just pulled off one of the bigger PR coups in PressVille.

Yep, they only went and bagged a prime time video prem on THE holy grail of all magazine publications, VOGUE (of which even, Queen Madge was in awe!!).

Premming the video for the bands latest single, ‘Someone Who’ll Get It’, which I reviewed for Ja Ja Ja Nordic not so long ago, and which you can read here, Vogue’s Jacob Brown enthused,  “When we first heard the enchanting voice of Highasakite singer Ingrid Helene Håvik at South by Southwest, we fell hard and fast for the Norwegian band.”

Vogue fell hook line and sinker for Ingrid Helene Håvik’s dark and dangerous vocal, and Highasakite’s exciting sounds, so much so that they invited them to do a live studio session for them (oh to have a studio into which I could invite Highasakite, or any other kite for that matter).  You can view the live sess here, thanks to vogue.com.

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In the meantime, Highasakite are prepping for the kick off of their tour which kicks off in, would you believe it,  DUBLIN on 22nd May, in Whelans (yes, I’ll be there) followed by dates in Manchester, London, Amsterdam, through Germany until the band land back in homeland, Norway for a deserved break, ahead of their Summer Festival run of Oya (will be there too!) and Pstereo, finishing up on Aug 20th at Parkenfestivalen, Bodo.  (further dates are expected to be added – keep an eye on their social media sites for details).

And to wrap things up, the reason we’re all here, the video for ‘Someone Who’ll Get It’ – a dark, intrepid affair, not for the faint hearted – probably just as well it’s in B&W – shot with more than a touch of class.  Kudos to Ingrid for perfecting the art of pole-dancing and proving that this oft derided art-form can be more tasteful than trashy if performed with the right amount of skill and elegance.

‘Camp Echo’ the sophomore album from Highasakite has an expected release date of 20th May, via Propeller Recordings, but is available to pre-order now, here.

You can follow Highasakite on Facebook, Twitter and their official website where you can find further details of their nearly sold out tour!

Mats Wawa Drop Debut EP of Vintage ‘Classics’

Mats WaWa Classics EP Promo Shot
Mats WaWa Classics EP Promo Shot

I am sitting in a dimly lit, velveteen draped lounge, somewhere in 1969 Central London – the air is smoky, the people dressed in long floaty khaftans, thigh skimming minis and corduroy jackets with flared lapels and matching bell-bottomed trousers.   The music playing in the background is somewhere between H.P. Lovecraft, The Fallen Angels and Jethro Tull.

Which is great, except that I’m not in ’69 lush London listening to 60’s psych-obscura, I’m in a 2016 office littered with paraphernalia listening to the debut EP from Norwegian outfit, Mats Wawa.

‘Classics’ is the ultimate retro-fest mini-compilation and a must-have for any lover of 60’s/70’s psychedelia and prog-funk fusion.  Mats Wawa could have been beamed up into the 21st c by Star Trek transporter straight out of Whisky A-Go-Go or the infamous Marquee Club so ‘swinging Soho’ is their vibrant vintage vibe.

EP opener, ‘Lord Bisnis’ is a soundtrack of the 60’s, a song that wouldn’t  be out of place on Jethro Tull’s ‘A Classic Case’.  Heartbeat of the ‘Tull’ sound, the flute, takes centre-stage.  It sets the delightful cadence for a slipstream of melodic zen guitar riffs and ‘très, très cool’ bass lines, dotted with snatches of Fender Rhodes style keys, all topped and tailed by some uplifting vocals and groovy drumming.  ‘Lord Bisnis’ is the business; the cool Top ‘TC’ Cat of the EP.

Second track in, tempo shifting ‘Worries’, is an Americana Country Blues ballad interspersed with snips of rock n roll that give it a ‘drinking song’ kind of vibe.  This Nordic rendition of Wild West melancholia features seriously good guitar playing –  heavy ‘way on down’ riffs so prevalent on Cash and Presley tracks mix it up with woozy drunken slide.  The lonesome cowboy vocal and ‘yeehaw’ melodies will whisk you away on your tail-swishing horse to long grassed Norwegian prairies, singing the refrain,

“Why do we worry about the things that will never be, Why do we worry that our lives will never be free, We can fly away, spread our wings like some butterflies!”

EP Cover Art

So far, so good then.  Up next, ‘Bed of Love’ is an intriguing two sides of the same vintage coin.  The first half is in the mode of  Billy ‘Pianoman’ Joel complete with a Doobie Brothers style backing band, all lazy guitars, even lazier drumming and an “All American”, Terry Jacks style vocal. Complimentary Joel style whistling thrown in for good measure.

The second and more interesting side, is pure 70s thriller cop show/film drama soundtracked by Lalo Schifrin and Henry Mancini Vibing high speed car chases along the Pacific Coast, and fast-legged cops pegging it down the Streets of San Francisco, this sees Mats Wawa completely rockin’ out to 70s funk.  Man, oh man, this track does for me, what two bongs and a crate of Dahl would do for others!

Last but by no means least, is EP closer ‘Planet Of The Grapes’.  A quirky vocal is set against a playful, melodic instrumental backwash of sometimes dreamy, sometimes phantasmagorical (I save that word for music I really like) guitar sequences.  This groovy little song is to music, as ‘day-glo’ was to Zandra Rhodes – bright, happy, catchy, and full of colour.

‘Classics’ is an EP full of zing that swings down Carnaby Street, lingers in Nashville, and speeds down Russian Hill, ending up in a West LA piano lounge dressed in Mary Quant and sipping a glass of Babycham .

This is one groovy journey you’ll want to make again, and again, and again …

Mats Wawa can be followed on Facebook. They are playing the Crossroad Club, Oslo on Thurs 3rd March, details here, AND, the super cool by:Larm festival, where I’ll get to see them live, woo, on Sat 5th March, 11pm at Mono.

‘Classics’, released via Oslo-based indie label Ville Vesten Platforening, is available digitally, links below,

Follow Mats Wawa on Facebook hereFollow Dervswerve on Facebook here.

EP Links hereSpotify: https://play.spotify.com/album/69RyJth1sRwzjKt3qp5T5e

TIDAL/Wimp: http://tidal.com/album/56849971