Step Aside Whigfield, Saturday Night Belongs To Sløtface – ‘Take Me Dancing’

Photo Fabian Framdal Fjeldvik
Photo Fabian Framdal Fjeldvik

The past year has seen young Norwegian band Sløtface grow into their musical skin as it were, and having heard their latest single ‘Take Me Dancing’, I think it’s pretty fair to say that this four-piece have finally found a sound clearly identifiable as theirs.  Sitting somewhere on the musical midpoint, ‘Take Me Dancing’ is a canny blend of sassy Blondie style power-pop and melodic noize.  With shades of the punked up Summer of ’79 and the shine of ‘alternative night’ at Studio 54, the track finely balances its mild-mannered pop sensibilities with an edgier neo-punk alter ego.

“But now I’m much older than I’ve ever been, Now I’m getting cold I need to knit myself a prince”

Pumelling percussion, a tight-knit guitar jam with archetypal intent and then some, and Shea’s signature vocals are the core ingredients for this potent pop recipe.  Shea’s voice is warm and strong; a youthful confident command with a curious idiosyncrasy of ending lines with a questioning uptick.  The lyrics are as always, a little sweet on the outside with a slightly acidic counter on the bite.

What marks this song out, what sets it apart from its predecessors, is the pervading sense of musical maturity and, the uber-excellent production, and oh boy, is this one well produced song!  Musically speaking, the strength and symmetry of the instrumentation on this track, is a clear indicator of how far this band has progressed and matured over the course of the past twelve months.

Take Me Dancing CoverArt
Take Me Dancing CoverArt

 “Please get me a little drunk, I won’t ask why!”

If you like your riot with a bit of poppy pep in its step and happen to find yourself in & around Oslo on Tuesday 9th August, hoppit over to Parkteatret for 7pm where you’ll be one of the super-lucky vØyagers to see this quartet of attitudinal effervescence perform this and several more hits live… and when I say, live, I mean ‘LIVE’.  Full, energiser bunny animation.  Their set is part of the fabster Klubbdagen Night that marks the annual kick off of the Norwegian Glasto, Øyafestivalen. Details of the Parkteatret event, here.

Sløtface is: Haley Shea (Vocals),  Lasse Lokøy (Bass Halvard),  Skeie Wienck (Drums), and  Tor-Arne Vikingstad (Guitar).

Follow Sløtface on Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the usual social paraphernalia. Check out ‘Take Me Dancing’ here … see you in Parkteatret on 9th!

PS. For the record, the Blondie song that keeps coming to mind is this … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xueCCyZ5V8

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ToY – ‘Churches’ : We Are One But We Are Not The Same

Rainbow

This is dedicated to Jo – a gorgeous, funny, loving, loved and immensely talented person I am very proud to call my friend.

Sometimes artists are led by their head but more often they are led by their hearts, their instincts, or both.  Still, it’s not uncommon to find lyrics, that start with a gut reaction, but are fleshed out with both rhyme and reason.  Rather than drifting on a sea of emotion, they square up with a quiet, refined resolution, to address the difficult or compromising situation in which the artist finds themselves.

Let’s face it, we have all at one time or another, found ourselves in a challenging situation – one that prods and pokes both psychologically and emotionally; maybe even physically.  Many of these situations are caused by perceived differences and notions of social grandeur swept with disdain like cashmere pashminas over the shoulders of the various ‘castes’ and classes within our tribes, parishes, communities, workplaces and/or organisations.

But just what makes someone different?  Who sets down the criteria?  What defines beauty and why is it that external scars are considered ugly in comparison with the internal scars that so often go unseen or unnoticed? Who set the bar for normal and why is it that nonconformists should be compelled to conform and by whose rules?  “We are ONE but we are NOT the same!”*

We are all of us born free from bias; it is both the culture and society and in which we grow and evolve that taint the innocence of our childish hearts and minds. Put a child in a playground with other children, and they will, after time, take the hands of those around them.  They will trust them, laugh with them, play with them, tumble with them.  They do not see colour, or creed, or gender – they see other children. Other children just like them.

So why is it, that we as adults, cannot emulate our children.  Why can we not see past the prejudices that surround and chip away at our daily lives, and just let others simply ‘be’.  There is no right or wrong, superior or inferior, perfect or imperfect.  We are all flesh and bone, with none of us worth more than the other, so why is it, that we cannot accept that?  Why is it, that we try to put people like pegs into holes that we have fashioned for them?  That we try, against the might of nature, to make people something or someone which they are not.  And, when some have the very gall to stand up and say, “I am not a fit for your standard, I do not want to be that person you think I should” then we shun, cast off, criticise and ostracise.

I have my beliefs, you have yours … you live your life, I’ll live mine.  But we can still be friends.  We can still drink, laugh, dance, flirt, debate and argue.  We won’t always agree – that’s what makes us humans different from other animals and, makes our lives so varied, interesting and colourful.  Fundamentally speaking “We ARE ONE, BUT we are NOT THE SAME”*.  It’s time we all accepted that fact, and, each other.

Photo: @GetInHerEars
Photo: @GetInHerEars

To take us out, you’ll find the Soundcloud link below to ‘Churches’, the latest track release from Winchester duo, Temples of Youth, comprising Paul Gumma and Jo Carson. Specialising in lo-fi electronica wrapped around subtle, evocative guitar and soft, percussive beats, theirs is a sound defined by its refined understatement.  Reserved yet moving vocals translate perfectly the striking prescience of Jo’s lyricism.  ToY’s music has received the undisputed support of team BBC6 Music from Tom Robinson to Huw Stephens through Steve Lamacq to the moderati at new artist support hub, Fresh on the Net.  Temples are currently on the gigocircuit and having done Blissfields, Birthdays and Brighton, they are short listed to live’n up the Joiners, Southampton, on 10th August: details of this and all other gigs on their Facebook page.

All proceeds from the sale of Churches is being donated to the Equality Florida fund, and you can stump up to the bumper here on the Temples’ Bandcamp page.

*Quote is from “One” Written by Paul Hewson & David Evans and performed by U2.

Bryde ‘Help Yourself’ – Leaf Library Remix Reviewed

Photo by Lauren Withrow
Photo by Lauren Withrow

A few months back I had the privilege of reviewing ten tracks for the BBC supported, Tom Robinson managed, new artist support hub, Fresh on the Net. One of the ten was the song ‘Help Yourself‘, by Welsh born, London based music artist, Bryde.  Those of you who read the review at the time, might recall that Bryde made one helluva’n impact on not just this reviewer, but on the whole FOTN tribe.  I think the term Firecracker is one that could possibly be used to describe both song and singer, with her feisty, fiery delivery, accusatory guitar and acerbic lyrics.

When I reviewed the original release of ‘Help Yourself’, Bryde was across the Channel in Paris winning over the French, Celtic rock-chick style.  Since then, she has been on a non-stop UK tour, recently announcing even more live dates in the Autumn including a stint back home in Wales for the GreenMan Festival (which will also see the presence of my boyz, Palace Winter).

Bryde Tour Dates

Today however, sees the release of The Leaf Library remix of ‘Help Yourself’ and it’s an altogether completely different personality to the original!  The Leaf Library, London based peddlars of experi-electro sounds, have taken what was borderline electric guitar indie-grunge and transformed it into an intense electronic visceral chant.  Sonogram heartbeats make up the percussive backbone to this distilled remix in which Leaf Library have distorted Bryde’s vocal, twisting and muffling and looping it with astounding effect.

“Do you love someone else?”

Using the simple technique of repeating key lyrical hooks, they have astutely managed to  both extrapolate and magnify the emotional rawness of the original.  That fraught intensity of the unalloyed edition becomes hypnotically ingrained on the mind through a continuum of repetitive loops. The result is spine tingling.

With each release, Bryde steadily takes her music up another level, continuously aiming higher and effortlessly succeeding with each attempt.  Later this year will see the release of her debut EP and hopefully 2017 will bring the unveiling of her first album!  I for one, can’t wait for either.  The more I hear, the more I am convinced that Bryde is one of the best ‘just under the radar’ female artists on the UK scene … the question is, for how much longer will she be just off-grid?  Not long I’d wager, and deservedly so.

Listen to The Leaf Library remix of ‘Help Yourself’ here.  Follow both The Leaf Library and Bryde on Facebook.

Irish Duo Hvmmingbyrd Ask ‘If Love Was Enough’?

Hvmmingbyrd

Suzette Das (vocals, piano) and Deborah Byrne (vocals, guitar) make up emerging Irish alt-pop pairing, Hvmmingbyrd and with word of the uber high quality of their songwriting/performances spreading like a fire through dry scrub-land, their latest single, ‘If Love Was Enough’ is set to propel them even further into the musical limelight.  If there’s any justice, that propulsion will help flag their growing rep as insanely talented vocalists and percipient songwriters to music audiences beyond these shores.

Wistful lyrics are spun like finely threaded colourful silk through an intricate weave of warm electronica, pulsing dance beats and latino/jungle percussion. Das’ and Byrne’s golden vocals, which are in perfect symmetry, give off an air of shimmering hopefulness, to create a bright light at the end of that dimly lit tunnel into which the up and down complexities of love can often throw us.

‘If Love Was Enough‘ was written and co-produced by Hvmmingbyrd along with Aisling Jarvis.  The touching video, which you can watch here, was directed & produced by Irish film company Crooked Gentlemen and stars actors Eoin Macken and Olivia Romao.   You can buy ‘If Love Was Enough’ via the Hvmmingbyrd Bandcamp page and keep up to speed with the duo’s gigs and releases via Facebook.  The Hvmmingbyrd girls are using the hashtag #iflovewasenough to try generate some trendin’ social media love … so join in, like/love/share.

Alma’s Latest Single Is Wickedly Good

Alma

There isn’t anything that the pomp of brass and wistful elegance of strings can’t take to the next level, and then some.

By layering russet hued horns and yearning string sequences over menacing basslines, sweetly seductive synth and touches of plinking piano, Swedish trip-hopper, Alma, has scored a classy soundtrack that could easily pass for a younger, sassier sibling of Portishead’s ‘Glory Box – Give Me A Reason‘.  Cloaked in the same hypnotic allure threaded with subtle strands of intrigue, her latest single, ‘Wicked’ oozes that same sumptuous, off-limits sexiness as its mid ’90s predecessor.

Vocals with an attitude face off against dreamy pillows of feathery delightfulness, giving the sultry, chastising lyrics a warm, animated colour with just the right touch of cool, refined disdain around the edges.

‘Wicked’ is Alma’s latest release following the feisty electro-dance track, ‘I Do It For You’.  Less poppy, more intense, this is an extremely sophisticated production that significantly ups the song-crafting ante.  In fact, ‘Wicked’ is of such richly textured and cinematic proportions as to be practically of the same calibre as the many hits penned by Guy Chambers or Adele (think Millenium meets Skyfall).

While the song itself was released a few months back, the Nim Sundström directed, sensual and dramatic Bondesque video (check out the Bond referencing shots of that spiral staircase) was only premiered a week ago.

Relatively new to the music scene in the UK&I, this young Stockholm based singer appears to know her strengths and is playing to them like a well seasoned pro.  If Alma keeps firing shots like ‘Wicked’ from her musical armoury you can expect to see her star in the ascendancy quicker than Bond could say ‘007’.

‘Wicked’ is released via Wicked Records and is available for streaming.  You can follow Alma on Soundcloud, Facebook and Twitter.