22 Irish Acts Will Be Showcased At International Festivals Inc TGE & Primavera

Music From Ireland Announces Names of Irish Acts Being Showcased at Both TGE18 and Primavera Pro. 22 Irish Music Artists Will Line Out for Two of the Biggest Summer Festivals On The Euro Circuit

Music from Ireland has announced the names of those emerging Irish music artists selected to play two of this Summer’s biggest showcase festivals. Of the 22 up and coming acts, 19 have been lined up for Brighton-based The Great Escape while a further three will pitch up for Primavera Pro, the ‘pro-am’ leg of renowned Spanish summerfest, Primavera Sound. Two of the total acts, Le Boom and Fontaines DC will be showcased at both festivals.

TGE18, which will run from 17th to 19th May, will play host to nineteen Irish acts out of a staggering total line up of 450 emerging music artists set to light up the southern seaside town across the three days of the festival. The Irish team lining out for TGE18 is, in alpha order,

Æ MAK | ÁINE CAHILL |   JOSHUA BURNSIDE  | THE ESKIES | 

FONTAINES D.C.  |JEALOUS OF THE BIRDS |  DAVID KEENAN | DERMOT KENNEDY  |

LE BOOM  |  CATHERINE McGRATH | MONCRIEFF  | PILLOW QUEENS  |

REWS | RUTHANNE | TIM CHADWICK | TOUTS  |

LILLA VARGEN |WHENYOUNG  | WYVERN LINGO 

Roe Photo: Hotpress

Music from Ireland will host two Irish music showcase events at TGE on Thursday 17th May – details here:

10.30 – 11.30am Thursday, Networking Brunch (as part of Culture Ireland’s GB18 programme of events).

12.00 – 5.00pm Thursday, Series of Lives The Prince Albert venue, line up as follows:-

12.00 Tim Chadwick

13.00 Pillow Queens

14.00 Fontaines D.C.

15.00 RuthAnne

16.00 Æ Mak

In addition to the 19 artists giggin’ and rockin’ out at The Great Escape, two of those plus a further three are being given the chance to peddle their wares at the Primavera Pro spin-off of the illustrious Primavera Sound. The two lucky double dippers are Fontaines DC and Le Boom, who’ll be joined at PP by singer/songwriters Ailbhe Reddy, Roe and Paddy Hanna.

This is the first year that up and coming Irish music artists have been invited to showcase at the event which is a magnet for (Spanish & South American) industry insiders, tipsters and professionals. We have no doubt that all five acts will do themselves proud and then some. The Irish PP showcase is scheduled for Friday, 1st June at the Day Pro Stage.

All credit to Culture Ireland and Music from Ireland for working together to ensure the funding was put in place to support the promotion of Irish music through expansion into new global territories.

Listen to sounds by all 22 acts on out Music from Ireland – TGE & Primavera Playlist here.

Come On Live Long Break Bread Along With Some Bones

Photo Rich Gilligan

“It is a truth universally acknowledged” that some of the best musical relationships are those that come about purely by chance. Personally speaking, I pride myself on the number of happy accidents (Lina Kasa remains #1) that have befallen me during the 18+months since I started, as in Tom Robinson seriously started, writing about music.

My latest accidental discovery is upcoming Irish band, Come On Live Long (there’s a story there surely … unlike Killer Kid Mozart who swear there isn’t!), a four-piece who dabble in a myriad genres from dirty electronica through soul-lite to dramatic pop with flecks of folk and urban in between.

Their FB states that their hometown is Dublin though judging by some of the accents I would imagine that denotes place of residence as opposed to ‘natives of’.  How do I know this?  Because these clever dudes have only gone and uploaded a backstory to their latest single, ‘Bones to Break‘, in the form of an ‘here’s how we did it guys’ audio, onto their Soundcloud page.

This short audio tracks the construction of the song from the programming of the initial beat to the complex building of layer upon vocal layer until the production was a perfect ten. It’s a fascinating listen, not just for self-confessed studio-dummies like myself, but also for any would be, will be musicians out there, scrambling around the ‘IoT’ for scraps of wisdom thrown down from the tables of those who have themselves cut their teeth and worn the tee-shirt.

It’s 10-minutes of well thought out, unfussy home-truths about composition and recording. Stream it here…

Now, listen to the finished product!

‘es to Break’ is the lead single from the band’s upcoming sophomore album, ‘In The Still’, due for release in May 2017.  While that excited storm is brewing, one of the gigs that the band will be busying themselves with is a new Irish music meets craft beer initiative.  ‘Future Proof‘, a new live music series showcasing the best of emerging Irish talent will kick off in Bello Bar on 22nd March – tickets are available online or at the door (if they’re not already sold out!), details here.

I’ll leave you with a track from Come On Live Long’s debut album ‘Everything Fall‘.  The song is called ‘For The Birds‘ and it was its title which caught my eye on Soundcloud.  Given my current state of mind, it resonated!

With its reverbed echoey vocal and intergalactic sound fx it leans towards dreamy electro-pop but blues-hued guitar licks and sexy lounge percussion drag it back down and anchor it to a very gritty earth.  That is, until the whole thing explodes sky-high. A gloriously unexpected firework, this dramatic flourish of guitar drone and spectacular synth flares and dazzles, bringing the track to a spectacular close fading out with one last breathy note.

Check out ‘For The Birds’ and the rest of Come On Live Long’s published music on Souncloud, MySpace and Bandcamp.  You can check in with their FB and Twitter pages to keep up to speed with album and tour-date (yes, there will be a promotional tour) developments.  Derval.

Talos Takes Us On A Personal Odyssey Towards Acceptance & Change

talos

There is something about Cork man Eoin French‘s voice that reminds me a little of the wonderful late Christy Hennessy, albeit in a more latterday incarnation.  French sings with the same animated falsetto and idiosyncratic preciseness that set his fellow Munster native apart from his peers.

But that’s not where the comparison ends.  Dyed in the wool songwriters, both men have produced meticulously crafted songs of a deeply personal nature; songs so perfectly in tune, intertwined even, with their close society and immediate surroundings that they will forever remain timeless.

French is chief architect and project manager of a solo project that started life in 2013 after the creative well of his former band Hush War Cry ran dry.  After a collaboration with Young Wonder‘s Ian Ring, he felt upskilled enough in the art of writing and production to go it alone and thus, Talos was born. Far from operating in splendid isolation, Eoin French enlisted the help of several musicians including Sam Mc Nicholl (percussion) and Alex Sampson (guitar) to fresh out Talos’ instrumental sound.

Born of sparse electronica, Talos’ atmospheric sound is architected using an holistic approach, with layers of airy, ambient Hollis-esque nodes, samples, and spaces joisted by perfectly nuanced guitar, percussion and synths of diverse tonality and dimensions. Since signing to the Feel Good Lost label, Talos has released two singles and two EPs, all of which have been more than enthusiastically received. Latest release, ‘Odyssey‘, is their third single and timely precursor to his debut album due out on 21st April 2017.

An ‘indietronica’ amuse bouche to the main course of ‘Wild Alee‘, this song is a beautifully proportioned quenelle replete with honest emotion and intimate, self-reflective lyrical poetry.

Opening with a gently gusting breeze of synths, the song then falters into a simplistic ambience imbued with a sense of hesitation brought about by French’s rather tremulous vocal.  It’s not long before the wind rises, and the submarinal fx are swept through rippling percussive tidal currents and a synth-rich maelstrom, up into a high-altitude instrumental airstream of disorder and uncertainty, edged with a flash of elation.

april-tour

Talos has announced a ‘Wild Alee’ tour kicking off in Connolly’s of Leap (of which I could regale you with vintage tales of laughter, but won’t!) moving onto Dublin through Galway and Belfast, before winding up in Dundalk on 22nd June. Given the April to June timeframe, don’t be surprised if more dates are added.  One week into the tour, on the same date Talos plays Dublin’s Button Factory, his debut album, ‘Wild Alee’ will have its release.

Talos can be found on Spotify, Twitter, and Instagram amongst other social sites.  Watch the lyric video for ‘Odyssey’ here,

Pom Poko – Unleash New Single Ahead of Trondheim Calling & Cruise Into Urort Final!

Pom Poko Urortfinalen 2017
Pom Poko Urortfinalen 2017

Norwegian modernist collective Pom Poko have just released their third single ‘It’s a Trap’ accompanied by an impressive avant-garde ‘toon visual, the work of Olav Fangel Jamtveit, brother of the band’s vocalist, Ragnhild FJ.

A song about release and arrival, letting go to achieve self-awareness, ‘It’s a Trap’ is a quirky, punchy little sherbet that fizzes with pops of 90’s post-punk with more than a hint of glam psych.  Without doubt the track benefits from the experimental nous and masterly hand of Highasakite‘s Kristoffer Lo, a man who knows his way around more than a few instruments.  Adding his trademark guitar, brass and a.n.other sounds to the mix, Lo has taken Pom Poko’s sound in a more experimental and diverse direction, giving the original live jam the same depth and texture he brings to all his collaborations.

While the instrumental backdrop has some sharp edges, it is chasmed by sufficient wide spaces to counter-balance the intensity. As usual, vocal duties of the infinitely starlit variety are carried off with effortless ease by Ragnhild Fangel Jamtveit and if her previous live vocal performances are the benchmark to go by, Pom Poko’s two gigs at Trondheim Calling should be something else and then some more!  During TC the band will also perform a live sesh for P3’s Ruben.  Unfortunately for me it’s happening on the Wednesday, ahead of my arrival ‘on scene’.

In addition to their saffron shot nocturnal cartoon visual accompaniment, Pom Poko have adorned their single with the cutest, candy-coloured artwork by Norwegian illustrator Erlend Peder which you can see here!  The floral bedecked character is as yet to be identified!

Illustration Erlend Peder
Illustration Erlend Peder

In other news, Pom Poko have made it to the Urort Final 2017 (a Norwegian national award for promising emerging artists); if you like what you hear, you can vote for Pom Poko to win this prestigious award, here. #doit

It is a testament to their punky quirkiness that Pom Poko give their facebook page “unofficial status” – hook up with it here to touch base with the band and keep up to speed with their lives at Trondheim Calling and their Urort escapades!

The future is definitely as bright as the characters in their ‘It’s a Trap’ video for this effervescent four-piece – I hope you’ll join me in wishing them all the luck in the world – for Trondheim Calling, for Urort and we-ell, for the future.

‘It’s a Trap’ is available now via Phonofile – http://phonofile.link/its-a-trap  .  Watch the captivating fam-made visual here.

The Clock Strikes ‘Won’ For Robbie Williams

robbie

ROBBIE WILLIAMS’ NEW ALBUM “THE HEAVY ENTERTAINMENT SHOW” GIVES HIM HIS 12th SOLO UK NO.1 ALBUM, MAKING WILLIAMS THE MOST SUCCESSFUL UK SOLO ARTIST OF ALL TIME!

Having landed himself a record twelfth successive chart topping solo album, it looks like the British music buying public have well and truly taken up Robbie William’s 1997 ‘Let Me Entertain You’ battle-cry.

Not only has hitting the top spot with ‘THES’ landed him his latest gong, it has also positioned him just behind the Beatles (at 11) on the leader-board for most number1 studio albums in UK chart history.

This latest record breaking milestone marks the end of a triumphant week which saw Williams joining David Bowie and Elton John to become only the third person ever to be honoured with a Brits Icon Award.

On hearing the news that The Heavy Entertainment Show, his first album on Sony Music UK, had hit the top spot Robbie said: “I’m chuffed that this album is No 1 and I’m humbled by these amazing statistics and facts. Thank you to the wonderful, wonderful team at Sony. I’m as proud of this album as much as any other, and hope that the fans enjoy it as much as I loved making it…this is for the friendlies. I’m very excited to be taking The Heavy Entertainment show on tour next year.”

On June 2nd 2017 Robbie William will embark upon a European Arena tour, kicking off in Manchester’s Etihad Stadium.  So far, there are 31 confirmed dates up to the middle of September which will see the singer take in 18 countries including Russia.

Just how Putin will react to Robbie’s devil-may-care charm & mock Russian partying is anyone’s guess. Expect the next album to contain some references to oligarchs closer to home #Trumpton.

There are still some tickets left for Robbie William’s Irish date at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium 17th June 2017, tickets from Ticketmaster starting at Euro 69.50 excluding handling charges.  ‘The Heavy Entertainment Show’ is available through iTunes, Amazon etc and in physical format via your local record shop.

 

Milburn Score A Cool Double A After Decade Long Sabbatical

Uncredited Photo Milburn FB Page
Uncredited Photo Milburn FB Page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HWCH Unveils Its Hot 100 (ish)

hwch social

Irish music festival Hard Working Class Heroes has unveiled the ‘shortlist’ of 100+ acts (there’s actually 105) that made the final cut for its now annual industry convention and new music showcase.

Whittled down from a longlist of 700 names, the A-Z of who’s new in Irish music was selected by a panel of judges comprising national and international industry names.

Running from Thurs 6th to Sat 8th of October across a plethora of Dublin venues including hotspots Odessa and The Chocolate Factory, the festival-cum-networking event will see tech meet music meet business in both formal and inform settings over its three day span.

In addition, HWCH has announced its inaugural Conor Walsh Memorial Bursary, in honour of the Swinford musician who tragically died earlier this year.  The task of choosing “the act who most embodies Conor’s talent and bravery among their number” will be afforded to the participating centum, whose votes will determine the act to be awarded the €2,500 bursary, which will fund recording or touring costs.

Some of the names to make the HWCH hot one hundred are Wyvern Lingo, Talos, Bitch Falcon, Evvol and PALE RIVERS.  Check out the full line up here.

Tickets for HWCH are on sale via DICE.FM (mobile app), with costs broken down as follows:

Weekend Tickets €45.00, Nightly Tickets €20, Individual Venue Tickets €10

Tempesst Celebrate Those ‘Broke Down Blues’ …

Tempesst Photo BDB Land
Tempesst Photo BDB Land

… or, in other words, when you’re down, there’s only one way to go, so why not join ‘Brian’ and look on the bright side!

Music is a funny thing, and the throw-back connections it can so quickly form in your minds eye, or ear even, can oft be especially bizarre.  Take this track, ‘Broke Down Blues’ by boomerang Londoners, Tempesst.  I clicked play on the YT link, ‘cos that’s what I was supposed to watch right, their new live video shot amidst the chimneyscapes of East London.

Except of course all I can hear when the percussive beat kicks in is America’s ‘Horse With No Name’. The mind boggles!  Of course my #tbt kinda mind isn’t helped by the slacker-Americana vibe and yodelayheehoo cowboy drawl of the vocal!

A couple of stiff coffees later…and I can still hear cowboys, except now as the strings kick in, we’re heading in the direction of Dexy’s Midnight Runners.  So I down tools and go on a bit of an investigatory snoop around the socials to check out just who Tempesst are and what they’re about.

Toma Banjanin, Andy Banjanin, Eric Weber, and Jesse Hutchence are the key ingredient make up of this band who claim to be from London but I’m convinced are from Australia.  Further digging confirms that not only am I correct, yes there are Oz connections but furthermore, the Banjanins*2 are not just bros, they are in fact twins.  Now while they’re FB says they’re unsigned, this single, ‘Broke Down Blues‘ was released by 0E0E, spin off label of Norwegian giant, Propeller Recordings.

Broke Down Rules

Choral harmonies redolent of the top notes at the intro to ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ (#tbt won’t go away). swathes of slide, lying back in a hammock lazy cowboy drone guitars muddled with Americana acoustic, and a vocal marinated in molasses swirl around in front of a backdrop of slacker percussion.

‘Broke Down Blues’ is an easy on the ear, delightful on the soul, kinda song that fits well coming towards the end of a hard week.  “Celebrating the broken” (we like), its ‘things can only get better’ attitude spins only positive from negative, which is how things should be … no point in kicking a guy when he’s down, why not just reach out your hand to help him get back up instead.

The stripped back live version of the video shot in East London, adds to the easy feeling vibe of the original.  Whilst pushing the vocals a little more to the fore. this pared back offering exposes a more interesting instrumental sound, with its duality of acoustic guitars offset by the quirky combination of xylophone and harmonium, all led by the beat of a single drum with tambo on the side.

Who wouldn’t want to see these boys do a live-jam … sunny evening, couple of beers, cool beats, what more could you want?

‘Broke Down Blues’ is available on all digital channels via 0E0E, link here – https://0e0e.lnk.to/broke-down-blues

You can watch the Eastenders Live Episode here, or scroll down further for the pre-recorded “one we made earlier” via Soundcloud! Either way, dip your toe in the Tempesst social pond, here, and get to know what is surely an Americana cum Psych outfit worth further exploration.

Tempesst headline London’s MOTH CLUB on 29th September, get your tickets here:  http://bit.ly/28P1iMq

 

Øyafestivalen – The KlubbØya Live Review

Panda Panda Subscene KlubbOya 2016
Panda Panda Subscene KlubbØya 2016

Where the roving reporter chronicles their Øya pub club-crawl and all that it entailed!

O is for Øya, Oslo and Oh My God! How Much? (no wonder the Norwegians continuously offer up profuse “tusen, tusen takks” when they’re reeling in your hard grafted tusen, tusen krone!).

This Øya trip raised the ‘bar’ to an all time Gin og Tonic high, as we hit new heights both physically and financially in the Radisson Sky Bar.  Beautiful view! ‘Twud want to be at 135 NOK or 15 euro a hit and not even a complementary bar snack in sight!

Anyway, I deviate.

Oslo is home to a musicfest called Øyafestivalen, an annual shindig held early to mid August when the winds are warm, the sun is high, the skies are blue … needle-vinyl-scratch!  Øya is held every August when you’d think the weather would be pretty clement with a day-glo summery vibe, yes? #Computersaysno!

Foto Isak Froseth for Oya Official
Foto Isak Froseth for Oya Official

I arrived in Oslo on the afternoon of the fest-opener, Klubbdagen, to be greeted by the inclement glumness of grey skies and drip drop showers.  Oh well, says I, the rain can’t get you indoors and indeed it couldn’t as I kicked off my evening’s musical ramble at the Verkstedet venue, having worked out my bearings sans compass but with a lot of inky arrows dotted along my brand-Øya map!

Due to the compression of so many bands into a super short space in time, I opted to see just four acts, with a possible fifth depending on how both evening and bod went.  First up out of the traps was Ludvig Moon, a band with more members than The Specials, or so it seemed as they struggled to find ‘personal space’ on the tiniest of stages in an equally ’boutique’ venue resulting in a band-member overflow spilling out onto the venue floor.

Comprised of Anders (vox/guitar), Ole T (keys), Herman (guitar), Kristofer (drums), Andreas (bass), and Lydia (vox/guitar), Ludvig Moon are still a very young band despite their five years mileage on the clock. Signed to Riot Factory, their releases have been limited to an eponymous EP (of uncertain release geography) and this year’s smash single, ‘Cult Baby‘ whose epicness was drooled over by the likes of Best Fit.

Ludvig Moon Verkstedet Oya 2016
Ludvig Moon Verkstedet Oya 2016

Straight up … Ludvig Moon are a very good band live.  The timbre of the vocals and the instrumentation is pretty much studio to stage without too much of a shift.

On the night though, there was something of a disconnect, as faint as a skipped heartbeat, between both vocalists which, unfortunately, ran the first five minutes of the set ragged.  However, this is nothing that more live gigging and a bit more practice shouldn’t iron out.  Hey even Chris Martin had a total “slam the brakes, what key am I supposed to be in?” moment at Glastonbury for goodness sake!

Live syncing is never easy and I just felt that their nerves got the better of them, but once they settled, it all flowed, and flowed well, so much so in fact that a  30minute cut off did them an huge injustice, as they were just beginning to blossom when their moment in the sun came to a hard stop.

Instrumentally Ludvig Moon are solid, their only downfall is the inexperience of youth.  Musically, they are already there…performance-wise, they are within touching distance of reaching their stride.

One of the songs on their setlist was ‘Swim Dream’.  Obviously a huge fan favourite it went down a storm, and if you peruse this live ‘garden edition’ you’ll understand why!

**If you’re really observant you’ll spot a rogue escapee from Dråpe … one whom I keep running into ’round and around’ Norway’s hotspots!

Next!

To be honest, Chain Wallet were a band I knew very little about before seeing them in Oslo.  Made up of Stian Iversen, Christian Line and Frode Boris (with Marius Erster Bergesen, Adrian Søgnen & Lars Finborud joining live) they hail from that western hub of Norwegian music, Bergen, birthplace of many of Norway’s musical elite including Susanne Sundfor and Anne Lise Frøkedal to name but a few.

Having to glide at high speed down Torgatta from Verkstedet to Internasjonalen caused me to miss their kick off.  Arriving at the venue, it was apparent that they were already full steam ahead and, so was the beyond capacity throng.  The hyped up audience was packed so tightly there was literally no room to move.

There was a particularly good reason that such an huge crowd pitched up; Chain Wallet are incredibly good, I mean amazingly superb, live.  Tearing the varnish off the wood and the paint off the ceilings kinda good.

Chain Wallet Photo by Synne Sofi Bårdsdatter Bønes
Chain Wallet Photo by Synne Sofi Bårdsdatter Bønes

Chain Wallet’s music is a modern mirror of the type of 80’s chart-busting sophisticated pop sounds that the likes of Prefab Sprout and Deacon Blue used to produce so well. Enigmatic, tuneful, animated, their music gently draws you into its feelgood soundscape and notwithstanding a faint hint of melancholy drifting around the edges of its melodies, Chain Wallet’s portfolio is pure pop perfection.

Of the three bands I saw perform on the club-night, Chain Wallet’s set was the most cohesive, had the strongest sound and was the most perfectly synchronised.

With a pretty strong line in guitars, confident yet warmly inviting vocals and an ‘in total harmony’ RS, Chain Wallet’s self-assured translation of their superior pop compositions from record to live is pretty faultless.

The band’s eponymous debut album will be released via Jansen Plateproduksjon on 7th October, but is available to pre-order now – http://www.jansenplateproduksjon.tigernet.no/artist/17373–chain-wallet.

You need to be ALL OVER IT!!  (I’m soooo looking forward to reviewing it!!!). 

Chain Wallet wrapped their set with this coolness…get down with it.

Fangirling alert!

If watching Chain Wallet gave me palpitations, standing in front of the magical Hanne Kolstø as she performed a tranche of her greatest hits live brought me to another plane.  I think I reached that nirvana musical folks say they strive for – transcendence.

I had waited so long to see this artist play live, that it was with a lot of nerves and a much bated breath I anxiously waited for her to take to the stage.  Disappoint, she did not. Far from it!

If anything, Kolstø’s performance was the best of the night, and certainly one of the highlights of the festival in toto. (so much so that it’s going to get its own individual review)

Internas Oslo
Hanne Live at Internasjonalen Aug 2016

 

Hanne’s music is existential indie-pop: honest songs brought to life by intuitive, adept musicianship and produced with class and finesse.  Exceptional is probably the word that springs to mind!

Sublime, fiery, feisty, evocative, intense, passionate, Hanne Kolstø gave this performance her all, and then some, and still had fuel in the tank for more at the close.  The audience roared and so did I…  Kolstø the consummate performer, with a pitch perfect faultless delivery, a choir of instruments singing in unison, she alone made the effort of travelling to Oslo worthwhile.

‘One Plus +’ was one of my favourite songs before seeing Hanne Kolstø play KlubbØya.  It lived up to the live performance and my heightened expectations.

Riding high on the crest of a musical wave I wasn’t long being flushed back down to earth by the deluge of rain in which we had to walk to our next destination- Subscene – to check out Trondheim troupe, Panda Panda.

Oh what an unfortunate choice of venue…(if it was their choice, I’m unsure).  Too stark, too big, Subscene is seriously lacking furnishings, adornment and most importantly, atmosphere.  It was dead, and nothing Panda Panda could do, play or sing was ever going to change that fact.

I first saw Panda*2 perform live up in Blaest in Trondheim, during the annual TC music festival.  They played the opening night to a huge and enthusiastic crowd and their performance was beyond adrenalin on steroids good.  They were stellar; animated, enthusiastic, and in the zone.  They were lit & fired up like they’d been plugged into the Norwegian grid.

While they tried to convey the same verve and, gain the same audience rapport in Oslo that they’d had in Trondheim, sadly it just didn’t happen.  Whether through rain-soaked tiredness, or feeling the flatness of the venue, the crowd just ‘weren’t there’.

Herman Wildhagen, Photo from PP FB page
Herman Wildhagen, Photo from PP FB page

Which was a shame, because on balance, Panda Panda’s performance was pretty good, and at times, quite amazing.

They mixed it up, crossing some untried newbies with more tried and tested knockouts such as ‘New Friends’.  When they got everything right, it was phenomenal, but there were moments when quite frankly the guitars and drums hit a level beyond ‘noise’ that completely drowned out the lead vocal.

Ragnhild Jamtveit has such a light pitch to her very pure vocal that taking the ‘fuzz’ beyond a certain decibel level is the equivalent of hitting the mute button on her mic.

I genuinely like, admire and am a fan of Panda Panda, and, sincerely want them to do well.  But until they tighten up their on-stage sound they are at serious risk of doing a huge disservice, not just to themselves, but to their supersonic songs!

That said they, especially Jamtveit and drummer Oddbjørn Sponås, totally killed their cover of Abba’s, ‘The Winner Takes It All’.  While the former has sufficient vocal reach and nuance to both carry and emotionally nail this song, the latter is pretty much given free rein to let loose and show his wares, which he did on the night with dynamic aplomb.

With my ears fuzzed, and my pockets a lot lighter than when I set out, I trudged back to my hotel through the dark, dank streets of a not-so-summery Oslo night.  Slightly disappointed, I wasn’t deflated, confident in the knowledge that Panda Panda, who are blessed with talent in copious bucket-loads, are capable of so much more.

This is a band who write blisteringly good songs, which they play with exceptional musical ability, and whose lyrics are teased and translated with intuitive nuance and superb vocal sync and control.  To prove that point, I’ll leave you with an insight into how good Panda Panda can be live.

Øyafestivalen – The Ones That Got Away

Foto Fabian Framdal Fjeldvik
Sløtface Foto Fabian Framdal Fjeldvik

In which rather than mourning my Øya losses, I celebrate the anticipation of seeing them play live at another point and place in time …

When you start attending music festivals you learn pretty quickly that no matter how many times or ways you twist and turn the programmes, it is physically impossible to make it to every live set or gig on your bucket list. Crossover schedules call for tough decisions, or failing that, some coin tossing whilst valiantly trying not to cheat when the chosen side lands facing down!

It was no different with this years Øyafestivalen club-night which played host to a rainbow of artists from across a vast and varied Nordic spectrum.  Rather then focussing on the fact that I missed out on several wanna-sees, I like to think of these as the ones that got away; bands who I can continue to pursue in the happy hope that I will one day get to see them play live.

The Øya club-night was possibly my most testing off-site festival challenge to-date, and if you have a look at the night’s programme you’ll understand the predicament in which I found myself.

Foto: Magnus Haaland
Lumikide Foto: Magnus Haaland

First off not only were the lovely Therese Aune and the super groovy newbies Lumikide, whose lustrous single ‘Golden’, is as radiant as its name denotes, pitched against each other, worse still they were pitted against the Øya delegate registration cum meet n’ greet. WHATTTT!

I longed to be transported into the fascinating landscapes of Aune’s imagination.  To be whisked up and away on a treadmill of ebony and ivory, blown along by the warm wind gently borne of harmonium bellows. Sighs.

Signed to Riot Factory and with a smorgasbord of creative soundscapes forming an impressive back catalogue, Therese Aune is one of the most understated and widely respected talents on the Norwegian scene.  It would have been neat to have found out if there were offerings a-new from Therese, especially as there was a rather quirky Soundcloud upload as recently as four months ago, entitled – ‘Sound Horn OK Please – Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ (of Dylan Thomas fame) which you can listen to here.

Alas, it was not meant to be but, Therese, if you’re reading this, do please send word if you are due to release any new material!! My portal is always open and receptive to new tunes!

I also wanted to see what more those purveyors of aureate indie-jazz, Lumikide, had to offer in addition to the multi-dimensional wonder that is their latest single.

With a disarming vocal so warmly inviting it could have insta-thawed the ice age, ‘Golden‘ is a wonderwall of all that is good about that canny Norwegian trick of melding pop-jazz with indie.

Layers of evocative vocal with that intriguing plaintive edge so idiosyncratic of the Norwegian style, intense hazes of guitar chords, blurry and blingy synths and that wonderful, wonderful drumming of Axel Skjelstad, trained in the jazz style, but whose intuitive feel for exploratory percussion is quite exceptional.  ‘Golden’ is a meld of all of these succulent ingredients, poured together to create this most exquisite of elixirs.

I wanted to hear more of what this band were capable of and how they might sound outside the safety zone of the studio, but alas Oslo, it was not to be!

I set my gig alarm for 7pm.  Surely that would give me enough time to register, pick up my bits n bobs and whisk myself off to venue number one, map flapping in hand (actually it was more map sagging in hand as the weather on the night was just abysmal!).

Ok so where to start … well there was Sløtface in the immense Parkteatret at 7pm.

One of my favourite young bands of the Nowegian now, Sløtface produce slickly finished, sassy punk inspo’d sounds, with razor sharp lyrics laced with kick ass attitude. Their latest number ‘Take Me Dancing’, is their most mature offering to-date. A cheeky little flirt, it’s a catchy soundscape of twist n turn bass chords, rolling percussion and a segue of clean and fuzzy guitar opposites that sync with uncluttered ease.  Together they form an animated springboard for Haley Shea’s expressive vocals which in this instance are topped off with a deliciousness of angelic harmonies.

Sadly I have to be due north at the same time as their set finishes, so I make the strategic decision that as I have already seen these guys rock out live up at Trondheim Calling, I can live a bit longer on the memory, making a promise to keep them on the “must see again” list.  Bearing in mind that they will undoubtedly tour their forthcoming album in 2017, it’s a promise I am quite likely to keep!  For now, let Sløtface take you dancing around the virtual streets of Oslo.

Having settled on a hot date with Ludvig Moon meant that I also had to take a rain-check on Kildaphew – which didn’t impress me one bit!  However, there was some silver lining zipping around the edges of those dark and rainy Oslo overhangs in the form of a Kildaphewian appearance on stage with ARY, when one half of this fantastic pairing, Danielle Christine Brogden, sang backing vocals to Ms. Loinsworth’s live set.

Kildaphew Lene Johansen Photography
Kildaphew Lene Johansen Photography

Purveyors of experimental electro-rap dipped in funk and wrapped up in a Windies vibe, theirs is one of the most lush sounds you’ll hear this side of 21stC soul.  Danielle’s voice is pitch perfect chocca mocha velvet – sweet, rich, enticing, and moreish.  Their instrumental sound is a collection of cross-border flotsam and jetsam woven with such a delicate and masterly touch as to create a perfectly seamless blend.  Did I want to see them? Hell yeah.  Shame on you programme timing!

On the 100% must see list (a desire reinforced having witnessed Danielle’s brilliant vocal shadowing of ARY the following day), for now I’ll have to satiate my calypso-hip hop needs by hanging out on their Soundcloud page – check this beauty of a track out!

Internasjonalen beckoned with Chain Wallet and Hanne Kolstø in its illustrious line up.  All of which meant that as far as Siv Jakobsen, Pelicat, Sgrow, nrwy, Strangelove and The Hallway were concerned, it was take a ticket and wait for your number to be called (like a watched pot, at some point in a never boiling future!).

The Hallway, John Dee, Oya
The Hallway, John Dee, Oya

Mixing classical and techno backgrounds to produce musical purity of a quality that outclasses many of their peers, Sgrow is a band whose vocal and sonic expressiveness has the clarity of its Nordic roots, the experimental drive of personal inspirations and, the melodic warmth and curious compulsion of the futuristic driven techno age in which it exists.  Missing their set was possibly my biggest mistake of the night!

Luckily, I had the pleasure of meeting the Sgrow folks for a coffee a few days later, which made up in part, for my not seeing them live.  Although, given the fact that they have wrapped up their live set for the present time, it looks like it’ll be quite some wait before I eventually get to see them kill it on stage.  In the words of all the best musical stalkers … “I’m waiting”!  

The Hallway were a band I desperately wanted to see live, especially having heard their now internationally released EP, Vestad a few weeks prior to heading to Oslo. However, as I had been waiting to see La Kolstø since March, sadly, it was a non-runner on the night.  Theirs is my kinda sound, my kinda vibe.  Melodic indie rock with just the right amount of bite, classical snatches of string samples, a little flash of American grunge and a pleasing but ever so slightly terse vocal.

They’re a bit Green Day muddled with Smashing Pumpkins in an ice-capped Nordic kinda way.  Addictive, infectious, vibrant and on the poppy side of rock enough to appeal to the mainstream. The Hallway deserve only good things, and with sparkling creations like ‘I Used to Know’ they’ll probably get them!

So, you can see the challenges that faced me on the night.  To make things worse, all things Toothfairy were happening over at The Villa.  Having been told that the venue would be packed to capacity from early doors pretty much sealed their fate; I didn’t have the time to flit to a venue only to find I couldn’t get in and have to perform an instantaneous volte face to plan B.  Gone, in one fell swoop, Coucheron, Nils Noa(weeps!), Carl Louis and Baya.

My evening drew to a close as I walked in what could only be described as a deluge of rain towards Subscene and the Panda Panda live set, conscious as I was doing so, that I was walking away from opportunity of seeing Frances Wave. “OH cruel Fate, when wilt thou weary be?”

My club-night came to a close and as I walked the short distance back to my hotel through the late night misty murky Oslo streets, I despatched pointless regrets on the North Sea breeze, welcomed the light at the end of the tunnel of possibilities and gently hugged the anticipation of what was still to come.  Hope springs eternal.

Øyafestivalen supported by Music Norway, runs annually in Oslo, usually around the second week of August.  For full details check out the official website http://oyafestivalen.com/