Soak It Up : Sløtface ‘Sponge State’ EP

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Fancy some NRG with attitude?  Some riot that’s less grrrl and more ‘oUS‘.  Well get ye some of this … Norwegian rebels with many causes, Sløtface (formerly known as Slutface, in case you’ve been in splendid isolation somewhere in a world without wi-fi), have just unleashed their 4-track debut EP, ‘Sponge State, on the world, and like the ubiquitous frenzied fallen cable a-whip-crackin’ during a midnight storm, this release is one helluva crackling, spark-spitting firebrand.

Sponge state-digital

 

1. Get My Own
Possibly the song most set in the earthy subterranean punk roots of their orthodox defying predecessors.  Combative, formidable and assertive, the song pushes lead woman Shea to the forefront, unapologetic in her demands to be seen, heard and respected in equal measure.  ‘Get My Own’ is a direct challenge to obsolescent values and outdated gender-driven ways of thinking, and sees Shea take an unabashed stand again a backward, repressive discrimination that has for too long, kept women “in the dark”.
 
2. Kill ‘Em With Kindness
Every time I hear this song I can’t help but think of Flo’s ‘A Kiss With A Fist’.  Melodic, feisty pop meets “up yours” lyrics as the band go for the media jugular, tearing a lump out of a misogynistic ‘boys club’ press-corps who’ve spent years earning their living on the back of highly questionable, disparaging attacks on emerging female artists. Although dripping with sarcasm and shot through with a lot of instrumental shrapnel, this punchy numbers redoubtable melodia opened up the perfect opportunity for Sløtface to broaden their much loved pop horizons.

3. Sponge State

The title track and most recent single from these neo-punk poppers, this propulsive RS driven number is a full on ass-kickin anthem. It’s a call to action to their peers to ditch the ipads and the apathy, look up from their screens and SEE what’s going on around them, to them and to the world they live in. Riddled with apoplectic guitar bombs ignited by Shea’s explosive lyrics and on-fire vocals, this is the incendiary track on the EP.

With banner waving lyrics like, “Got these stitches in my lip and they’re keeping me shut tight, l put my headphones on, you see me putting off a fight, And all my encounters shoved in my face, Oh you can really tell it’s fall … A change of pace from a sponge state, a new approach, shaken out, we’re making it”, it’s pretty easy to decipher the message behind the song.

But in case you need a little more by way of enlightenment, check out the accompanying vid, which to my mind, clearly defines the boldly courageous, refreshingly defiant and forward thinking partisans of human, gender and environmental rights that are Sløtface.

4. Shave My Head
When Haley Shea wrote the lyrics to ‘Shave My Head’ she was to her mind, penning a song about women liberating themselves from the demoralising, dismissive and subjugating views of a certain breed of men.
“I was thinking a lot about why women are portrayed negatively as hysterical and emotional, whereas crazy men are portrayed as tortured geniuses. ‘Bitches be crazy’ and such. It’s also a lot about the way we view femininity and relationships and what we expect women to be and how they should behave.”
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To my mind, ‘Shave My Head’ makes the perfect anthem for the stand Sløtface took against the social media jackboot bureaucracy that so unjustly imposed upon their right to promote their music on certain Stateside media outlets.  Instead of kowtowing to the time-warped jobsworths, the band, who probably have a combined IQ of about 600 and are far removed from the gen z stereotype of spoilt brattish upstarts with nothing better to do, came up with a very clever ruse to get around the advertising embargo.
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Defying all odds, they managed to change yet keep their name, by employing a very simple yet highly effective technique.  They simply swapped the “u” for its Norwegian equivalent, “ø”, and used ‘not-changing their name’ to their best advantage by running an hugely successful media campaign to advertise the fact.  In other words, Sløtface weren’t shaving their head or their identity for anyone!
Smart, funny, open minded, brave, defiant, sassy, humane, entertaining and hugely talented.
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If ever there was a band in which you could trust the future of music and indeed, so many other things political, social and cultural, then Sløtface is it.  This isn’t just a band who bang out songs for the sake of it.  This is a band who care about the quality of their songs as much as they care about the quality of the air they breath and the quality of life experienced by those who breath it.  There are many who thought their name was just a gimmick for yet another gimmicky band…they couldn’t have been further from the truth.  No gimmicks here … these guys are the real deal.
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With their debut album due early 2017, Sløtface have a busy Summer ahead of them between writing, recording and ripping up the festival circuit – they start tomorrow at Spydeberg Rock Festival! However, you can expect to continue to be mentally challenged and sonically invigorated as a few more intermittent Sløtface releases are due before the end 2016.
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Sløtface is : Haley Shea (Vocals),  Lasse Lokøy (Bass),  Halvard Skeie Wiencke (Drums) and Tor-Arne Vikingstad (Guitar).
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Their debut EP is out now via Propeller Recordings.  If you’re into a bit of physical fondling : http://amzn.to/1TGKxUe   vs

aspirational sensory seduction by streaming :  https://slotface.lnk.to/spongestateep

Reality is so much better than virtual!!

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Niki & The Dove’s Second Album Is Full Of Forget Me Nots

48935-everybodys-heart-is-broken-now

Around the middle of April, Swedish duo Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf, aka Niki & The Dove, released their second album, ‘Everybody’s Heart Is Broken Now‘ without, it would seem, too much fanfare.  Reviewed and favourably received by some of the big guns, it has since then, somehow managed to keep its head just under the parapet, shimmering away in the shadows without ever building to a dramatic, fireworky explosive ‘Ta-dah’“! Which is a shame, because this is one truly super-cool ‘back to the ’80s’ time-travelling pop album.

While on a very obvious level this album recalls Prince and Donna Summer and, is rife with vocal enunciations that scream Stevie Nicks at every possible nuanced turn, it is also a fusion of everything that was great and glorious about 70’s disco and ’80s pop, conjuring up sonic images of every stand-out name from that era, from 10cc to Five Star, from Nile Rodgers & Chic to Michael Mc Donald.

nikidovesmih

Album opener, single ‘So Much It Hurts‘, has an intro cut straight from Foreigner’s ‘Waiting For A Girl Like You’ and a melody line that could amiably mash up with ‘On My Own’, Pattie Labelle’s famous duet with the afore-mentioned Steely Dan frontman. It is sparkling ’80’s slick pop, bedecked with smatterings of darting synth sequences and Rn’B basslines, all topped off with a gloriously wistful vocal. Those dude basslines become even more pronounced in the next track, ‘You Stole My Heart Away‘, when they go pure vintage Freddie Washington in a 21st century refresh of Chic vs Patrice Newton with its crossover jazz/Studio 54 blend.  This is the track to transport you back to the glitzy glory days of ‘Forget Me Nots’ and ‘Good Times’, with it’s infectious handclap beat and strutting hard funk guitar.

You Want The Sun‘, is jizz-jazzy Summer filled slacker-funk coloured with golden flecks of lush guitar, and a song very much in the mould of the duo’s fellow Nordic musical bedfellows, Lovespeake.  While billowing in a reverbed Fleetwood Mac ‘Gypsy’ breeze, ‘Play It On My Radio’ has a line in percussion stuck in a Phil Collins timewarp, with traces of Mike and the Mechanics’ ‘Living Years’ in the easy melody of its inviting guitar loops and strum patterns.

Coconut Kiss‘ is an electro-reggae trip to the tropics dotted with gorgeous synth ‘birds of paradise’ singing their sweet song amidst a luscious dense growth of cheeky bass and 10cc style guitars.  Watercolour washes of Malin’s infectious dreamy vocal beckon the listener to come take a stroll with her along the sun-kissed white sands of some azure lapped Caribbean paradise. ‘Shark City‘ is a bit of an odd one mind.  On the one hand, it’s a little bit Toni Basil on high-pitched steroids, on the other it’s way down low groovy basslines and disjointed percussion.  I can’t quite make up my mind, so I’ll leave you to your own decisive devices.

Album closer ‘Ode to Dance Floor‘ sees Malin kick off with a rambling monologue that’s followed by disparate vocal styles, part talking, part oooh ooh, with very little of what you could actually call singing (except for the background harmonics).  It veers a little towards late ’80s Talking Heads with it’s talk-talk vocal and bubbling rivulets of electro noises, which Karlöf backdrops with a delightful melodic montage of guitars.  The addition of a sublime overlay of brassy sax gives both track and album a gilt-edged, elegant finish.

It’s four years since Niki & The Dove released their debut album, and in that time they have honed and evolved their sound into a rainbow hued confection the recipe for which has been the best of breed ingredients from the glory days of the 70’s and ’80s – an era when pop was king, and disco was queen.  In 2016, these avant-garde pop virtuosos have wed these regal highnesses to create a rich royal blend of smooth, groovy disco-funk that is a modern day musical marriage made in retro heaven.

“Sending you Forget me Nots …To help me to remember”

You can follow Niki & The Dove on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify & more.  You can buy their album, ‘Everybody’s Heart Is Broken Now‘ via their official website.

Highasakite : Live Review – Whelans, Dublin 22 May 2016

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Dundon Whelans
Photo Courtesy of Kevin Dundon Whelans

The last time Norwegian outfit Highasakite played Dublin, it was on a cold, dark December night, when they were the ‘crowd-warming’ support act for Icelandic band of the mo, Of Monsters & Men, then headlining Dublin’s revered Olympia Theatre. That night, at exactly 8pm, Ingrid Helene Håvik gently whispered, “Lover, where do you live, in the clouds, in the sky, in the ocean …” into the vast expanse of the darkened theatre, and a curious hush descended on the large crowd already gathered in anticipation of seeing the Icelandic chart toppers, who had crammed 2015 chock-full with hits such as ‘Little Talks‘.

What they weren’t prepared for, was to be spellbound by a 30 minutes set of dark and evocative, nostalgic and transfixing songs, performed with understated ease, by a Norwegian band who were little known outside the fjord-filled borders of their home country.

From the moment the crowd heard those opening words to ‘Lover, where do you live‘, they were in thrall to its wistful melancholy, and thus it was that Highaskite left their indelible imprint on the musical minds of a buoyant crowd of festive revellers.

Fast-forward five months and Highasakite have rolled back into town, but this time it’s all change.  The mantle of ‘support-act’ has been passed on to young, Australian singer, Gordi, and this Nordic five-piece, who only a few months ago would have been viewed by Irish audiences as ‘pretenders to the throne’, are now the headline act at that venerable Irish music mecca, Whelans.

On a stage bedecked with so many silver-clad accoutrements that it looks like one of the road crew lost the run of themselves with a years free supply of tinfoil, the lights dim to a disorienting jet-blackness, with just the odd, faintest of shimmers coming from those silvery instrumental props.

Photo D Mc Cloat
Photo D Mc Cloat

The place isn’t exactly jammed, but it is pretty darn full, and there is a sense of hungry anticipation coming from the murmuring crowd as they wait patiently for the band to come out on stage. Which they do at exactly 9.15pm.

The A-Z of Highaskite’s tours/performances/stage set-up is masterminded and organised with military-precision by their tour manager, Ida, and when she makes very definite statements like, “they always go on stage on-time“, she isn’t lying!  With a seventeen track setlist to complete before 11pm, there is no room for antics or technical hitches, no time for faffing around.

Highasakite lead into set opener ‘Liar’ with an atmosphere creating, anticipation generating, slow, dramatic build.  It’s a clever choice, on this the debut night of their first headline tour, to replicate the opening to ‘Camp Echo’, their new album released just two days prior, and the reason for this extended tour that incorporates not just Europe and the Summer Festival circuit, but also a whistle-stop whizz around the United States.  And, it is probably because this is the first night of such a huge tour that the band is very noticeably nervous. Tension is etched across Håvik’s face as she starts to sing, and for the duration of this and the next song, ‘Chernobyl‘, she continuously looks enquiringly across at fellow band member, Marte Eberson, for what, one can only presume, is reassurance, a look of reciprocal support?

Ingrid Golden Ticket 4
Øystein Moe, Alexander Somma and Line Klungseth Johansen

A shiver of first night nerves is only to be expected though and more than likely something that will dissipate from their performance over time.  But, personally speaking, its effect on the first two songs is hugely disappointing, as they happen to be my favourite tracks from the new album!  It’s not that the delivery is bad, God no, far from it, but it is very uptight and distracted.

In an ironic twist, when Håvik hits ‘Bad Neighbourhood’, she finally unshackles herself from the last vestiges of nerves and the charismatic performer that she is, is unleashed to stunning effect.  Anyone who has ever heard a Highasakite song knows full well that this girl has an amazingly powerful and wonderfully textured voice: hear her sing live and you’ll soon realise that all the vocal work on their recorded material is the ‘real deal’. Of all the live vocals I have ever discerned, hers probably comes closest to replicating the pristine quality of its recorded self.  In essence, her voice is as near perfect as ever I’ve heard.

Soon in her stride, it’s not long before she commands the audiences gaze, who watch with rapt attention as she immerses and loses herself in the shifting landscapes of the songs she herself created and is now bringing to life with animated and evocative majesty.

Photo D Mc Cloat
Photo D Mc Cloat

But Highasakite isn’t just all about its front-woman.  Guitarist Kristoffer Lo and drummer Trond Bersu are the linchpin around which this well-oiled musical machine flows, and as a ‘loctite’ rhythm section, they nail it on the night. Lo, a writhing mass of energiser bunny wows the crowd with his innovative bow on strings, guitar technique, not to mention his sublime turns on the flugabone, of which he is the consummate virtuoso.  Bersu, buried beneath a mass of kit, is on fire, playing like his life literally depended on it.  It’s no secret that I’m a fan of his finely honed percussive techniques, and his intuitive delivery on the night underscores my belief that he is one of the best in the business.

Photo D Mc Cloat
Photo D Mc Cloat

Bringing the wonder of their surreal electronica to the dark indie that lies at this bands core, are Øystein Skar (whose name I still can’t pronounce despite his best efforts to teach me), and Marte Eberson whose harmonic gymnastics are immaculate in both pitch and sync with Håvik’s lead.

The sum of the parts is a bewitching musical mesmerism.  Ranging from the dazzling gilt-edged splendour of the poptastic, ‘Golden Ticket’ to the impassioned darkness of ‘God Don’t Leave Me’, Highasakite’s performance is at all times densely atmospheric and perfectly tempered.   The seventeen-song set-list includes favourites like ‘Since Last Wednesday’ and ‘Keep That Letter Safe’, as well as non-single tracks from new album, ‘Camp Echo’, like the amazing, ‘Deep Sea Diver’, making for an eclectic enough choice to suit all tastes.   The dramatic ambience is further enhanced by the intense lighting effects which invigorate or opiate as required.

Without doubt, crowd pleaser of the night is their latest single, ‘Golden Ticket’, which has the audience, who are in fine-vocal-fettle, singing word for word with the band, while the undisputed show-stopper is ‘God Don’t Leave Me’, the performance of which is simply astounding.

Overall the gig is a brilliant ninety minute cross-spectrum fusion of myriad songs; a blend of the exotic, bleak, heartfelt, enraged, wistful and golden, this set has it all.  Highaskite’s European tour opener is a triumph and their sense of delight and indeed surprise, as the appreciative crowd roar for more while the final notes of ‘Golden Ticket’ ebb away, is touching.  They go off stage but reappear as quickly as they disappeared, but not before the audience is treated to a few lush moments of solo Lo ‘flugabone wonder’, which serves as an hypnotic intro to the single instance encore in ‘Lover’, that brings the concert to a memorable close.

 Øystein Moe, Alexander Somma and Line Klungseth Johansen
Øystein Moe, Alexander Somma and Line Klungseth Johansen

Interestingly, talking to some of the crowd afterwards, with one voice they tell me that they’d been so wowed by Highaskite’s performance at the Olympia in December they felt compelled to investigate them further, had bought ‘Silent Treatment’ and were intending on picking up ‘Camp Echo’.  All of which goes to prove that getting that support gig with a touring brand name is the ‘golden ticket’ to wider audiences!

The rapturous applause and enthusiastic ebullience shown to the band at the end of the night by a completely ignited crowd, must surely eradicate any anxieties that might have been lingering about their set.

As I walk out of the venue, after seeing a performance best described as ‘sheer brilliance’ I can only wonder why they were ever nervous at all.  I’m now curious to see how much Highasakite will have gained in confidence by the time I see them again at Øya in August, when they will play to a capacity crowd on a much bigger stage.

Highasakite is : Ingrid Helene Håvik (vox), Trond Bersu (drums), Øystein Skar (synths), Marte Eberson (synths/vox) & Kristoffer Lo (guitars/flugabone/percussion).  Their new album, ‘Camp Echo‘ is out now via Propeller Recordings.  The full list of tour dates can be found on their website but check-in on their Facebook page to keep up to speed with all the action!

Highasakite : Live Review – Whelans, Dublin 22 May 2016

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Dundon Whelans
Photo Courtesy of Kevin Dundon Whelans

The last time Norwegian outfit Highasakite played Dublin, it was on a cold, dark December night, when they were the ‘crowd-warming’ support act for Icelandic band of the mo, Of Monsters & Men, then headlining Dublin’s revered Olympia Theatre. That night, at exactly 8pm, Ingrid Helene Håvik gently whispered, “Lover, where do you live, in the clouds, in the sky, in the ocean …” into the vast expanse of the darkened theatre, and a curious hush descended on the large crowd already gathered in anticipation of seeing the Icelandic chart toppers, who had crammed 2015 chock-full with hits such as ‘Little Talks‘.

What they weren’t prepared for, was to be spellbound by a 30 minutes set of dark and evocative, nostalgic and transfixing songs, performed with understated ease, by a Norwegian band who were little known outside the fjord-filled borders of their home country.

From the moment the crowd heard those opening words to ‘Lover, where do you live‘, they were in thrall to its wistful melancholy, and thus it was that Highaskite left their indelible imprint on the musical minds of a buoyant crowd of festive revellers.

Fast-forward five months and Highasakite have rolled back into town, but this time it’s all change.  The mantle of ‘support-act’ has been passed on to young, Australian singer, Gordi, and this Nordic five-piece, who only a few months ago would have been viewed by Irish audiences as ‘pretenders to the throne’, are now the headline act at that venerable Irish music mecca, Whelans.

On a stage bedecked with so many silver-clad accoutrements that it looks like one of the road crew lost the run of themselves with a years free supply of tinfoil, the lights dim to a disorienting jet-blackness, with just the odd, faintest of shimmers coming from those silvery instrumental props.

Photo D Mc Cloat
Photo D Mc Cloat

The place isn’t exactly jammed, but it is pretty darn full, and there is a sense of hungry anticipation coming from the murmuring crowd as they wait patiently for the band to come out on stage. Which they do at exactly 9.15pm.

The A-Z of Highaskite’s tours/performances/stage set-up is masterminded and organised with military-precision by their tour manager, Ida, and when she makes very definite statements like, “they always go on stage on-time“, she isn’t lying!  With a seventeen track setlist to complete before 11pm, there is no room for antics or technical hitches, no time for faffing around.

Highasakite lead into set opener ‘Liar’ with an atmosphere creating, anticipation generating, slow, dramatic build.  It’s a clever choice, on this the debut night of their first headline tour, to replicate the opening to ‘Camp Echo’, their new album released just two days prior, and the reason for this extended tour that incorporates not just Europe and the Summer Festival circuit, but also a whistle-stop tour of the United States.  And, it is probably because this is the first night of such a huge tour that the band is very noticeably nervous. Tension is etched across Håvik’s face as she starts to sing, and for the duration of this and the next song, ‘Chernobyl‘, she continuously looks enquiringly across at fellow band member, Marte Eberson, for what, one can only presume, is reassurance, a look of reciprocal support?

Ingrid Golden Ticket 4

A shiver of first night nerves is only to be expected though and more than likely something that will dissipate from their performance over time.  But, personally speaking, its effect on the first two songs is hugely disappointing, as they happen to be my favourite tracks from the new album!  It’s not that the delivery is bad, God no, far from it, but it is very uptight and distracted.

In an ironic twist, when Håvik hits ‘Bad Neighbourhood’, she finally unshackles herself from the last vestiges of nerves and the charismatic performer that she is, is unleashed to stunning effect.  Anyone who has ever heard a Highasakite song knows full well that this girl has an amazingly powerful and wonderfully textured voice: hear her sing live and you’ll soon realise that all the vocal work on their recorded material is the ‘real deal’. Of all the live vocals I have ever discerned, hers probably comes closest to replicating the pristine quality of its recorded self.  In essence, her voice is as near perfect as ever I’ve heard.

Soon in her stride, it’s not long before she commands the audiences gaze, who watch with rapt attention as she immerses and loses herself in the shifting landscapes of the songs she herself created and is now bringing to life with animated and evocative majesty.

Photo D Mc Cloat
Photo D Mc Cloat

But Highasakite isn’t just all about its front-woman.  Guitarist Kristoffer Lo and drummer Trond Bersu are the linchpin around which this well-oiled musical machine flows, and as a ‘loctite’ rhythm section, they nail it on the night. Lo, a writhing mass of energiser bunny wows the crowd with his innovative bow on strings, guitar technique, not to mention his sublime turns on the flugabone, of which he is the consummate virtuoso.  Bersu, buried beneath a mass of kit, is on fire, playing like his life literally depended on it.  It’s no secret that I’m a fan of his finely honed percussive techniques, and his intuitive delivery on the night underscores my belief that he is one of the best in the business.

Photo D Mc Cloat
Photo D Mc Cloat

Bringing the wonder of their surreal electronica to the dark indie that lies at this bands core, are Øystein Skar (whose name I still can’t pronounce despite his best efforts to teach me), and Marte Eberson whose harmonic gymnastics are immaculate in both pitch and sync with Håvik’s lead.

The sum of the parts is a bewitching musical mesmerism.  Ranging from the dazzling gilt-edged splendour of the poptastic, ‘Golden Ticket’ to the impassioned darkness of ‘God Don’t Leave Me’, Highasakite’s performance is at all times densely atmospheric and perfectly tempered.   The seventeen-song set-list includes favourites like ‘Since Last Wednesday’ and ‘Keep That Letter Safe’, as well as non-single tracks from new album, ‘Camp Echo’, like the amazing, ‘Deep Sea Diver’, making for an eclectic enough choice to suit all tastes.   The dramatic ambience is further enhanced by the intense lighting effects which invigorate or opiate as required.

Without doubt, crowd pleaser of the night is their latest single, ‘Golden Ticket’, which has the audience, who are in fine-vocal-fettle, singing word for word with the band, while the undisputed show-stopper is ‘God Don’t Leave Me’, the performance of which is simply astounding.

Overall the gig is a brilliant ninety minute cross-spectrum fusion of myriad songs; a blend of the exotic, bleak, heartfelt, enraged, wistful and golden, this set has it all.  Highaskite’s European tour opener is a triumph and their sense of delight and indeed surprise, as the appreciative crowd roar for more while the final notes of ‘Golden Ticket’ ebb away, is touching.  They go off stage but reappear as quickly as they disappeared, but not before the audience is treated to a few lush moments of solo Lo ‘flugabone wonder’, which serves as an hypnotic intro to the single instance encore in ‘Lover’, that brings the concert to a memorable close.

Interestingly, talking to some of the crowd afterwards, with one voice they tell me that they’d been so wowed by Highaskite’s performance at the Olympia in December they felt compelled to investigate them further, had bought ‘Silent Treatment’ and were intending on picking up ‘Camp Echo’.  All of which goes to prove that getting that support gig with a touring brand name is the ‘golden ticket’ to wider audiences!

The rapturous applause and enthusiastic ebullience shown to the band at the end of the night by a completely ignited crowd, must surely eradicate any anxieties that might have been lingering about their set.

As I walk out of the venue, after seeing a performance best described as ‘sheer brilliance’ I can only wonder why they were ever nervous at all.  I’m now curious to see how much Highasakite will have gained in confidence by the time I see them again at Øya in August, when they will play to a capacity crowd on a much bigger stage.

Highasakite is : Ingrid Helene Håvik (vox), Trond Bersu (drums), Øystein Skar (synths), Marte Eberson (synths/vox) & Kristoffer Lo (guitars/flugabone/percussion).  Their new album, ‘Camp Echo‘ is out now via Propeller Recordings.  The full list of tour dates can be found on their website but check-in on their Facebook page to keep up to speed with all the action!

Watch : Sykoya – ‘Closer’, An Inky Reverie

Photo Credit Hannah Couzens Photos
Photo Credit Hannah Couzens Photos

Made up of American, Anna Marcella (vox/piano/keys), and Brits, Curtis ElVidge (drums) and Joe Cross (bass/synth/vox), threepiece Sykoya, have just dropped a stunning visual for their spine-tingling single, ‘Closer.

Despite already having had UK airplay as well as having been featured by the likes of the BBC6 Music supported artist hub, Fresh on the Net, which is managed by the ubiquitous Tom Robinson, Sykoya, like the canniest of hibernators, decided to pull down the shutters and squirrel themselves away over the long, dark winter months, experimenting with, tweaking and refining songs that they knew had a special something, but with which they weren’t yet fully satisfied.

After endless hours and long nights of intense practising and recording, and having evolved a unique sound which they could identify with as the Sykoya USP or musical identifier, the trio were finally ready to debut their EP ‘Strange Night’, which I’m pleased to announce will be released this weekend.  Sat 21st to be exact!

Haunting, slightly menacing ‘Closer, is a melody driven track as dark and lonely as its shadowy night-time landscape.  Set in the twilit world of unrequited love and grasping desperation, this obsession fuelled nightmare is tinged with lonely regret and edged with a trace of eroticism.  Marcella’s intensely nuanced vocal, perfectly captures the brooding neediness and bleak torment of the song’s protagonist. Evoking emotional turmoil with a blend of sensuous ferocity and disturbing plaintiveness, Marcella’s voice elicits the sense of needy urgency and veiled menace around which the instrumental accompaniment builds a perfect soundscape.  ElVidge’s equable electronic drums and Cross’s doomsday bass fuse around otheworldly synth sequences to produce a portentous score to this soporific inky-hued reverie.

The accompanying video, which was shot in the beautiful snow draped mountains of Poland, is the handiwork of the exceptionally talented RO/SA video production company, run by Katarzyna Sawicka (direction/editing) and Adam Romanowski (photography/colour grading) who also came up with the storyline.  Such is the magnificent photographic splendour of this visual, it recently received a nomination for the Berlin Music Video Awards (would you believe the award ceremony is tonight – fingers crossed you guys!).

‘Closer’ is pretty heady stuff and as debut singles go, this is a strong card with which to lead.  If the rest of the EP measures up to the high standard set by this confidently delivered benchmark, Sykoya will be able to look back on those long, dark, wintry nights, and take comfort in the knowledge that all the hard work that went into revisiting, reworking and refining their music, was most definitely worth it.

Closer‘ is the lead track from Sykoya’s upcoming 5-track EP ‘Strange Night‘ due out 21st May!  The band are holding a release party at 7.30pm Sat 21st  The Finsbury Pub, Green Lanes, London – full details here https://www.facebook.com/events/1039339372798551/

Sykoya’s music is available via Bandcamp.

You can keep a track of SYKOYA’s musical exploits via FACEBOOKTWITTER, SOUNDCLOUD & their WEBSITE.

Highasakite’s Royal Hued Visual Has Been Given The Midas Touch

 Øystein Moe, Alexander Somma and Line Klungseth Johansen
Øystein Moe, Alexander Somma and Line Klungseth Johansen

Norwegian five-piece Highasakite seem to have mastered the art of the ‘Midas Touch’ with literally everything they are creatively handling right now turning to pure musical gold.

Fresh from a weekend of super successful TV appearances and stunning live performances (did you see that cover of Adele’s ‘Hello’ – if not, why not? er, HELLOcheck it out here!), the band have just hopped out the video for their latest single, ‘Golden Ticket’.  This jewel coloured visual gem, bedecked with purple and gold regalia, was produced by Helmet Films & Visual Effects, with directing credits being divided out between Øystein Moe, Alexander Somma and Line Klungseth Johansen.

Juxtaposing ‘gold-plated’ (well spray painted) images of an always feisty Håvik (that gal’s eyes scream ‘attitude‘) with sublime backlit monochrome frames and a series of sapphiric shots in which a diabolic, neon-strobed witch doctor does voodoo disco, the video is pure escapist fantasia, echoing the “get high, get out” theme of the song (read my review here).

Ingrid Golden Ticket 4
Øystein Moe, Alexander Somma and Line Klungseth Johansen

As if things weren’t crazy enough for these golden wonders right now, it has also just been announced that a ten-date whistle-stop tour of the USA has been added to an already hectic Summer schedule bringing the combined number of headline dates to nearly thirty.  Guess who’ll be looking forward to a nice holiday in October then hey!  Highasakite play The Great Escape Festival 19th May and Whelan’s Dublin, 22nd followed by Deaf Institute, Manchester 23rd and Village Underground, London the 24th.

You can get the full list of US dates plus the link to tickets and the tracklist for upcoming album Camp Echo below.

Ingrid Golden Ticket 3
Øystein Moe, Alexander Somma and Line Klungseth Johansen

Highasakite is made up of:  Ingrid Helene Håvik (vox), Trond Bersu (drums), Kristoffer Lo (guitars), Øystein Skar & Marte Eberson (synthesizers).  You can follow what promises to be an hectic Summer both on Facebook and Twitter.

Download/stream ‘Golden Ticket’ here:  http://highasakite.lnk.to/goldenticket .  Taken from Highasakite’s new album ‘Camp Echo’, released on May 20th 2016, you can Pre-order it here:  https://highasakite.lnk.to/CampEcho

**NEW US DATES ADDED**
6 SEPTEMBER 2016 | ROUGH TRADE – BROOKLYN, NY
7 SEPTEMBER 2016 | MILKBOY – PHILADELPHIA, PA
8 SEPTEMBER 2016 | DC9 – WASHINGTON, DC
9 SEPTEMBER 2016 | THE BASEMENT – COLUMBUS, OH
10 SEPTEMBER 2016 | SCHUBAS – CHICAGO, IL
12 SEPTEMBER 2016 | 7TH STREET ENTRY – MINNEAPOLIS, MN
14 SEPTEMBER 2016 | LARIMER LOUNGE – DENVER, CO
16 SEPTEMBER 2016 | RICKSHAW SHOP – SAN FRANCISCO, CA
17 SEPTEMBER 2016 | THE ECHO – LOS ANGELES, CA
18 SEPTEMBER 2016 | SODA BAR – SAN DIEGO, CA

TICKETS ON SALE NOW – FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT HTTP://HIGHASAKITE.NO/


‘CAMP ECHO’ – TRACKLIST
1. My Name Is Liar
2. Samurai Swords
3. Someone Who´ll Get It
4. My Mind Is A Bad Neighborhood
5. God Don’t Leave Me
6. I Am My Own Disease
7. Golden Ticket
8. Deep Sea Diver
9. Chernobyl

Highasakite Say ‘Hello’ To Adele On UK TV

Camp Echo

Ahead of the international release of their album, ‘Camp Echo’ and a follow on promotional tour of Europe, Norwegian band Highasakite struck gold when they were invited to join ’80s singing wunderkind, Aled ‘Walking in the Air’ Jones on his ITV chatshow, ‘Weekend’, which he has been hosting since April 2014.

The band appeared on Aled’s show on Saturday morning, and their performance, which was nothing short of remarkable, sent both the in-house audience and TV viewers into raptures, to which the remarks posted on the Highaskite FB page can attest. Take this one from an Alex Cameron for example:  “I had never heard of you before today (sorry) but your performance was absolutely superb on TV this morning. Immediately bought the album and only have 6 days until I get the next one I believe :-).  Will try to get to Manchester to see you.

or this one from a Matthew Lee on Ingrid’s vocal delivery: “Her voice is so full in those high notes“.

If ever there was an ad for the power of a positive television performance, this is certainly it.

In a brave but clever move, Highaskite opted to perform a cover of Adele‘s ‘Hello‘, the lead track from her third and most recent album.  Brave, because not everyone is brass-ballsy enough to take on a song by one of the world’s most renowned and recognisable vocalists and, more-so to the point, it’s not everyone can get it right.  BUT it was also a cannily clever move, as by choosing a song that was bound to be at least hazily if not instantly recognisable to 99.99% of the viewing audience, and by nailing their performance, Highaskite were bound to stamp their name on x*millions people’s minds.  And nail it they did!

With a vocal delivery to challenge the tour-de-force that is Adele and give her a serious run for her money, Håvik hit those top notes with varying but well judged degrees of power and emotion. Undoubtedly gifted with a truly wonderful, textured voice, Ingrid’s performance was both emotionally honest and vocally immense.  Instrumentally, the performance was immaculate and confident, with a choice of percussion that was ingenious.

Highasakite’s delivery was remarkable for both the simplicity, and creativity of its styling and interpretation.  Overall from song choice through to execution, this was a PR and performance master-stroke, so much so I think you could safely say, that Highasakite have arrived.  Just to compound that arrival, the following day, the band’s song, Golden Ticket, received visi-play on Channel 4’s ‘The Big Breakfast’.  #arrived

Btw…I checked to see if Adele had posted a comment about the cover, but so far nothing!  Shame.  It’d be interesting to see how she receives it!

I am now more than a little excited at the prospect of seeing Highasakite live again this coming Sunday (22nd), when they play Whelan’s in Dublin on the second night of their Europe-wide tour which kicks off at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton.  Having seen them last December when they played Dublin’s Olympia with OMAM, I already knew they were ‘smokin” live.  Now having heard the singles from the new album and seen this cracker of a performance, I am stoked to be getting the chance to see them again on this their first headline tour.

Viewers in the UK can watch the full programme ‘Weekend’ here, while the rest of us ‘mere mortals’ can make do with the video below of Highasakite performing ‘Hello’ live on the show.  Their new album ‘Camp Echo’ will be released this Friday, May 20th, via Propeller Recordings.

You can follow Highasakite on social media or check out the finer details via their website…Full details of their Camp Echo promotional tour are below, together with a link to buy tickets!!

highasakite.no | facebook.com/highasakitemusic
@Highasakiteband | instagram.com/highasakiteband


19 MAY 2016 | THE GREAT ESCAPE (UK)
22 MAY 2016 | WHELAN’S, DUBLIN (IE)
23 MAY 2016 | DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER (UK)
24 MAY 2016 | VILLAGE UNDERGROUND, LONDON (UK)
26 MAY 2016 | PARADISO UPSTAIRS, AMSTERDAM (NL)
18 JUNE 2016 | BERGENFEST, BERGEN (NO)
24 JUNE 2016 | HURRICANE FESTIVAL, SCHEESSEL (DE)
25 JUNE 2016 | SOUTHSIDE FESTIVAL, NEUHAUSEN OB ECK (DE)
28 JUNE | GLEIS 22, MÚNSTER (DE)
29 JUNE 2016 | BI NUU, BERLIN (DE)
30 JUNE 2016 | BRÅVALLA FESTIVAL, NORRKOPING (SE)
1 JULY 2016 | ROSKILDE FESTIVAL (DK)
17 JULY 2016 | LATITUDE FESTIVAL (UK)
30 JULY 2016 | TROLLROCK, BEITOSTØLEN (NO)
12 AUGUST 2016 | ØYAFESTIVALEN, OSLO (NO)
19 AUGUST 2016 | PSTEREO, TRONDHEIM (NO)
20 AUGUST 2016 | PARKENFESTIVALEN, BODØ (NO)

TICKETS ON SALE NOW – FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT HTTP://HIGHASAKITE.NO/

‘All for One’ Marks an Incendiary Return for The Stone Roses

All for one

“All for one, one for all, if we all join hands and make a wall”

Recorded in Church Studios, London and produced by the legendary Paul Epworth, ‘All for One’, the first single from Madchester Maestros, The Stone Roses, in over twenty years, is a blistering sonic boom that drags ’90s Brit-psych kicking and screaming into a harder, rockier 21st century.

Swirling guitar chords like demonic fireballs, explode across an intensely frenzied and uber fuzzed landscape that acts as a sizzling hotplate that adds some serious burn to, and chars the edges of, mellow-man Brown’s psyched out, reverb-drenched vocals.

Stone Roses

This is a coruscating scorcher……and if it’s indicative of what’s to come down the line, then any album in the offing is going to hit a pretty eruptive high on the richter scale.  Fans who’ve already bought tickets for the Stone Roses upcoming gigs are in for a bloody good, hot n’ sweaty ride.

The Stone Roses play three sold out shows at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium (17th – 19th) with an additional fourth night added for 15th June, some tickets still available. They also play Madison Square Garden, NYC, on 30th June, tickets go on sale tomorrow Friday 6th, details here http://www.thestoneroses.org/

‘All for One’ is available now via, www.thestoneroses.org  but you can listen to it here.

De Vries Rework of Fufanu’s ‘Plastic People’ Is A Soundtrack To ’60s Sci-Fi

Image Brynjar Sigurðarson & Maxime Smári
Image Brynjar Sigurðarson & Maxime Smári

There’s something quite magnetically compelling about lopsided clamour laced with jet-tinged malevolence, which is exactly what you get on the upcoming single from Icelandic outfit, Fufanu.

Opening with a menacing bassline and unadorned percussion through which sinister synth sequences tiptoe sneakily, the Marius De Vries (Madonna, David Bowie) rework of Plastic People a track from the bands debut album, ‘Few More Days to Go‘ , is a darkly lit St. Elmo’s Fire, brimful of moody atmospherics and glowering wonk.

Skewed keys chords and disturbing vocals drowning in an ocean of reverb, transform this track into a twisted, blurred mess of epic post-punk proportions, but, it’s when the off-balance, slightly deranged guitar riffs and creepy sci-fi sounds kick in that you feel this track has missed its true vocation.  In an ideal ‘otherworld’, ‘Plastic People’ would be ‘teleported’ back to the early ’60s, wherein it would have made the perfect soundtrack for one of those more than a little bizarre B&W science fiction TV-shows, like ‘The Twilight Zone’, or ‘One Step Beyond’.

Fufanu seem to have mastered the art of creating hypnotically addictive if deeply unsettling goth-punk, the wooze generating headiness and dark toxicity of which, despite its disconcerting nature, prove compellingly fascinating.

Based around a core duo of Kaktus Einarsson (vox) and Gulli Einarsson (guitar), the Icelanders are fast gaining a reputation for being one of the most interesting and innovative experimental bands emerging out of the Nordic music scene.  They are currently in studio with Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) who already has Fufanu form, through his grungey rework of their single, ‘Ballerina in the Rain.  The Icelandic air must be a-spark with electrified expectation!

Fufanu ‘Plastic People’ (Mumu Radio Mix) [+ ‘Now’ (A&E Sounds Edit) & ‘Plastic People’ (BdVMdV Remix] will be released through One Little Indian on 17th June. One week later on 24th, they will issue a 16-track repackaged version of ‘Few More Days to Go‘.

Fufanu play the Artrocker Stage of The Latest Music Bar during Brighton’s ‘Great Escape‘ Festival Sat 21st May.  They will also play Iceland’s ‘Secret Solsticeon Fri 17th June (the same day as Radiohead).

As He Said ‘Get Me Drunk’ On The Sweet Toxicity Of Their Music

As he said
As he said

Trondheim based, As he said, are a new four-piece alt-pop project whose sound is a fusion of pure 90’s Eastern European dreampop and 21c bluesy R&B Nordic style.  Having come together through the renowned Trondheim music college that sits on the periphery of a tightly-knit music scene of its own creation, these four musicians bring a wealth of vastly different references to their collective melting pot.

The sum of many eclectic parts ranging from jazz improv (they cite Jaga Jazzistwhose Marcus ‘Bror’ Forsgren has oft been mentioned here, as one of their influences) through indie-pop to punk, As he said, has developed a very individualistic yet marketable sound, which they say is a result of blending “industrial synths, rusty guitars, organic beats and unpolished vocals“.

Right then, shall we?

Following on from their late 2015 single, ‘Parasite‘, about which our friends over at Nordic Music Review penned some nice words, which you can read here, As he said have released their third single in under ten months in the form of ‘Get me drunk‘. Self-produced by the band, and mastered by Karl Klaseie (Snøskred, Panda PandaØstfrost), the song is about “how things that can be really great can change suddenly into something really bad, which you didn’t see coming.  The only way to handle it, is to get drunk – or get out.”

Before the opening bar of ‘Get me drunk’ had even finished, my ears were recalling the late 90s shoegaze/dreampop sound of The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, a band formed in Prague in 1990, and in particular, their song from a 2000 film soundtrack, called ‘For That Moment‘.

Leading with the bare minimum of some reverbed electric guitar dotted with the odd plink plink of keys, the early focus is firmly on voice and words with the tracks lyrical vulnerability being perfectly evoked by vocalist Synnøve’s beautiful golden timbre and delicately emotional nuances.  The song gently builds from chilled pared back indie wonk to slick bluesy R&B but central to both instrumental styles is that moreish mellowness that allows the music to just glide effortlessly under the vocal rise and fall.

A superlative ‘gloria’ in the form a spectacular starburst is a stunning surprise midway, when a downtempo blur of soft vocal blends is immediately blown skywards by the most fantastic explosion of instrumental fireworks.  This is one disarmingly laid back delight; a pan-musical weave of subtly blended textures and a finely balanced diffusion of influences that when combined, create the most deliciously uplifting track, all warm glow and honeyed aftertaste.

By taking up a theme that is quite prevalent in Nordic songs of the now, that of cleansing the mind of its woes with washes of booze or flurries of sundry narcotics, As he said is following the same youth-culture focussed trend as the likes of fellow Norwegians Broen.  Actually, when you give it some thought, the fact that there is a Norwegian drinking culture of any description is rather remarkable given the cost of alcohol in Norway. (Still not over the shock of the Euro 14 Gin og Tonic #scarredforlife).

Exploratory and experimental, ‘Get me drunk’ is a song of disparate parts that fit together like perfectly hewn pieces of an eclectic jigsaw.  There’s no doubting that As he said has both the nous and talent to take their music to even greater levels, and if they carry on creating songs as addictive as this, they should have no problem in continuing to get me & many more like me, drunk on the sweet toxicity of their sound.

As he said comprises, Synnøve Gustavsen Ovrid (vocals), Torbjørn Kobberstad (synths), Bendik Romundstad (guitar) and Sigurd Underhaug Nermoen (drums)* & you can follow them on their various social sites:- Facebook, Soundcloud, and Twitter.

[*most of which I worked out myself – hint to band, put the detail up on your FB page!]