Blood or Love? Heavy Heart’s Cochineal Keepsake

heavy-heart-keepsake-artwork-med
ingAt the beginning of 2016, London based Heavy Heart set out on a mission to release a song a month for the year; you can read my review of their socio-political statement, ‘The Way Home’ here.
Mission accomplished and to kick off 2017, the English alt-indie five-piece are releasing a limited-edition red vinyl 12-track LP comprising their 2016 musical diary as it were.  The album aptly entitled ‘Keepsake‘ will be limited to 300 pieces, each of which will be hand-numbered, and for clever collectors out there, the first 100 eds will also include a set of custom designed postcards featuring lyrics and artwork from each of the dozen songs. The album will be released on 31st March via indie label, I Can & I Will.
To add a frisson of temptation to your tastebuds the band have just released an audio video replete with quirky cut-out nostalgic ’60s photographic images for one of the 2016 ‘monthlies’, ‘High Dive‘, itself released as a single in June of last year.
heavy-heart-as
‘High Dive’ is like staring into a funhouse mirror whilst riding an undulating slow-mo roller-coaster.  While the song somnambulates through a rise and fall of haze, drone and morphia, one can’t shake off the feeling of ‘drunken’ unsteadiness, as if one were standing on their own personal earth tremor.
The atmosphere laden with a feeling of edgy uncertainty is lifted somewhat by the beguiling, illusory vocal of Anna Vincent. Although the song falls loosely into the alt-indie bracket, it reflects Heavy Heart’s ability to explore that genre’s many and varied dimensions.
Heavy Heart have some upcoming London gigs to tempt you away from mid-week footie & Gogglebox:
  • Tuesday 14th March @ Old Blue Last w/ Average Sex + Missing Mäce
  • Tuesday 11th April @ The Victoria
The limited vinyl ed of their album ‘Keepsake‘ can be pre-ordered here or, if you’re not one of the lucky 300, you can download it here.  Social links to Heavy Heart are beneath their new ‘audio-visual’ which you can peruse here,

                                                      Website:      Facebook:      Twitter:      Bandcamp:

Denmark’s ‘Saint Cava’ Share New Single ‘No One’s God’

 

saintcava_foto_oliviarohde
saintcava_foto_oliviarohde

There is something quite compelling about the fusion of left of centre R&B and early ’90s dance with a hint of trance! That’s exactly what you get on ‘No One’s God’ the latest single from Danish duo, Saint Cava.

Based in Copenhagen, Saint Cavan was formed in 2014 by Erika Casier & Andreas Waze – who per their FB page, identify as “gender neutral (It)” #Applause.

With just a smattering of tunes on their Soundcloud page which btw pays mention to an EP – ‘Bliss’ – it’s hard to nail down their backstory: one assumes it is filled with endless jamming, scribbling, crossing out, recording snatches, experimenting and trying to nail as many lives as is physically possible when you’re an unknown band starting out in a busy music hub such as København.

They played SPOT Fest 2016 and most recently have been releasing but as most of the info on them is in Danish, it’s a bit difficult to ascertain any more facts.

‘No One’s God’ is dystopian, disillusioned romance set to damning hypnotic electro-loops with a central line in insistent drum-claps.  But perhaps the most intoxicating ingredient in this provocative mix is the retro synth driven dance sounds that transform what is an inherently bleak atmosphere into an altogether more compelling one.  Add in a seriously seductive vocal and you’ve got the recipe for one of the best single releases of the new year.

The song is accompanied by a visual conceived of and designed by Danish 3D Graphic artist, Kristoffer Moth.  It’s concept is quite apt and reflects the starkness at the heart of the song.
There’s no information ref upcoming live dates etc but you can hook up with Saint Cava via their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter and Soundcloud to tune into their latest releases.  We’ll leave you with the video for ‘No One’s God’ – if you listen to nothing else today, listen to this!

 

A Dozen Diamonds That Gave A Shine To An Otherwise Murky 2016

Julia Holter

Julia Holter

Well here we are, on the cusp of yet another new year.  Who’d have guessed that as we stumbled unsteadily in a post-Christmas toxic daze towards 2016 that it would prove to be one of the murkiest, most unsettling and quite frankly disturbing of years.  One can only hope, and there is always hope, that this coming year will bring gladder tidings and a lot more joy than its predecessor.

Musically, 2016 had many, many highs.  It also shared several heartbreaking lows not least amongst which were the untimely deaths of Prince, George Michael and David Bowie – three of the rather large cohort of celebrities and legends who passed away in this year of darkness.  While those legends who died were predominantly male, much of this year’s sparkle mainly came from the female stars of the music world.  Lady GaGa, Beyonce, Marissa Nadler, Taylor Swift, Julia Holter … just some of the big female names that featured in the 2016 musical calendar.

Not surprisingly, some of them feature in my Dozen Diamonds of 2016 – a playlist of songs by international artists, with a select contribution from our part-time contributor, Eddie Sweetman.  Interestingly, the two artists selected for inclusion by Sweets are both male, while mine are predominantly female. Those choices themselves would probably make for an interesting case-study!

So which songs, by which artists made it into our top twelve, and why?

12. Margaret Glaspy – Pins and Needles (USA)

Strong, feisty country tinged indie with an edge.  There’s a waft of punk attitude blowing through the gritty melody, and more than a hint of steely determination in the ballsy lyrics.  The right side of rock for my tastes; tastes which I seem to share with most of BBC Introducing, BBC6 Music and BBC 1 … not a bad benchmark. Classy, savvy, strong, energised sounds from a lady who’s going places.

11. Birdy – Wild Horses (UK)

Twilit voiced, inspired poet and musical prodigy, Jasmine Lucilla Elizabeth Jennifer van den Bogaerde aka Birdy, has seen her star rise, and rise, and explode.  World class productions are now the order of the day but Birdy still holds on to the spiritual and emotional qualities so inherent in her earlier more gauche works.  With a vocal range that can scale mountainous heights and scrummage fireplace ashes, this super-talented musician could craft a song from the nothingness of a silken spiderweb and make it a masterclass in songwriting and performance.

Her 2016 album, ‘Beautiful Lies’ was a gift to the world – a finer, more emotive, and splendid talent you will struggle to find, and with even greater things sure to come, the future is “global” for this little songbird.

10. The Last Shadow Puppets – Les Cactus (UK)

Like them or loathe them TLSP are nothing if not entertaining. Seeing them live in Oslo was akin to watching a human firework display crossed with the energiser bunny thrice spliced with Poitin.  A pair of musicians who have most certainly put the roll back into rock, Turner & Kane may take the music seriously, but the live performances are treated more like a fun ride on the amusements. Never ones to shy away from taking the piss out of themselves, the video for their cover of ‘Les Cactus’, is a classic example of TLSP ‘on form’. As a cover, it pales in comparison to the Jacques Dutronc original, but as a piece of entertainment, it doesn’t fall short.

9.  Ed Harcourt – Occupational Hazard (UK)

Intense, moody, brooding, cavernous, blazing, ferocious – just some of the words I would use to describe Ed Harcout’s 2016 scorcher of an album, ‘Furnaces’, every pun intended.  One of the standouts LP releases of the year, ‘Furnaces’ reached out to and drew into its fold, a broader, more diverse audience than any of the Englishman’s albums had hitherto succeeded in doing.  I was drawn hook, line and sinker to this track because of the wolverine intensity of the guitar sequences and brutal rawness of the lyrics, the combination of which is addictive.  Brutal ingenuity at its bloody finest.

8. Radiohead – Burn the Witch (UK)

The first of two entries from the worlds greatest band EVER, ‘Burn the Witch’ was one of a pair of picks by sometime contributor Eddie Sweetman.  In his words, “incisive, relevant an astonishing comeback and the highlight in my opinion of the album.”  Need we say more?

7.  Amber Arcades – Fading Lines (NL)

What can I say.  I fell in love with this song on first play.  Like a 21st century incarnation of The Cardigans,  Annelotte de Graaf has all the dreamy deliciousness of that Nina Persson vocal, along with plenty of her antecedents uber Nordic cool!  Sexy, edgy, inviting indie-pop with a swirl of darkness running across its shiny exterior.

6. David Bowie – I Can’t Give Everything Away (UK)

The second of Mr Sweets’ picks, and a poignant one at that.  ‘Blackstar’ was a huge favourite amongst the bloggerati and a fitting finale from a gifted man, musician, artist, performer & more, who was truly one of a kind.  On his selection of this particular track Eddie explains: “This was the last track Bowie ever released. Poignant and delicate. Even more so now that we know he was aware he was dying.”  A fitting tribute I think you’ll agree.

5. Marissa Nadler – The Best You Ever Had (USA)

Sadly sickness struck (again) when Marissa Nadler came to town … “out damn ‘germ’ out I say” said I, alas to no avail.  Laid low, my chance to see this bewitching enchantress weave her goth clothed spells was gone in the blink of 24 hours (the length of time it takes me to go from apparently healthy to woefully ill).  I had sped towards Nadler like a bee to honey on the recommendation of my ‘pen as sword’ icon, tQ scrivener John Doran, who had bade me not to miss her more than magical live performance.  Instead, I’ve had to make do with looping replays of her album, ‘Bury Your Name’ from which this is my stand out track. Delish!

4. Julia Jacklin – Coming of Age (Aus)

The new age Little Miss Firecracker of country-grunge hits Dublin at the end of February 2017 and nothing, I mean NOTHING will stop, hinder or hamper my path to Whelans! Elbows at the ready, that space up the front is mine. Part of that new wave of punky twang that includes fellow upcoming songstrel Margaret Glaspy, Julia Jacklin takes smartly honed real-life lyrics and sandwiches them between slices of heaving melodies chock full of punchy guitars layered over a tightly woven R/S.  The result is impossible to resist infectious country stained down and dirty pop. Only a fool would miss the chance to see this raw and rousing talent shine live!

3. Radiohead – Identikit (UK)

2016 saw the arrival of what was possibly the most awaited album for years.  ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ didn’t disappoint.  This piece of classic Radiohead was sheer musical perfection packed with all the innovative ingredients that have made this quintet the consummate musical giants that they are.  And while most blogs will have opted for either of the two singles, this off-kilter piece of jazz infused experimental alt transports me back to the halcyon days of ‘Kid A’.  With its lyrical nods to Murakami’s 1Q84 (there was a similar intertwine between ‘Kid A’ and Kafka on the Shore), haunting interludes from vocal ghosts, and natty, spacious percussion Identikit is the understated star in this a stellar compilation.

2. Julia Holter – Lucette Stranded on the Island (USA)

Yeah, yeah I know.  The album was released in 2015.  But for me 2016 was all about Julia Holter.  Having failed to make her Dublin concert earlier in the year, one of the main catalysts for my travelling to Oya in Oslo, was the chance to make up for that lost experience.  While thirty minutes was far too short to soak up the musical enchantment magicked by an artist of Holter’s calibre, as luck would have it, Julia returned to Dublin in November and gave, what was for me and the several hundred other spellbound concert-goers in Vicar Street, the live performance of the year.  Compelling, captivating, magical, powerful, innovative – Julia Holter ranks as one of the most outstanding of contemporary female artists. This ingenious track just goes to prove it.

1. Weyes Blood – Generation Why (USA)

Not since hearing Dusty Springfield sing ‘The Look of Love’ have I come across another female vocal that radiates such warmth and richness, with a darkness edged with light. A voice with a true and unfaltering power cloaked in a sheath of softness like an iron fist in a velvet glove.  Not until that is, I heard the voice of Natalie Mering, the enigmatic talent behind music project, Weyes Blood. ‘Generation Why’, from the album ‘Front Row Seat To Earth’, is lyrically inspired and musically fresh, and while it contains many of the default elements of a classic pop song, it is the shades of daring alien electronica and the edgy undertones to words sung with angelic clarity that take this song to altogether another level.

The inclusion of so many American artists reflects the shifting sands of my musical tastes during 2016.  For me personally, this has been quite a remarkable year in terms of the quality and diversity of the music that’s been released.  And while the likes of Bieber, Rihanna and A-Z of Hip Hop may dominate the charts, the greater wealth lies in those treasures which remain beloved of those worthier barometers of musical greatness – The Guardian Culture, DiS and my personal fave, The Quietus.

I’ll leave you with a Spotify list of the 12 tracks featured in this sparkling retrospective … and hope you enjoy them as much as both Eddie and I have done.  May 2017 bring more shimmering gems to brighten up our sometimes more than mundane lives!

Introducing Picture This … ‘A Sight Worth Seeing’

Jimmy Rainsford (L) & Ryan Hennessy (R) make up Picture This
Jimmy Rainsford (L) & Ryan Hennessy (R) make up Picture This

With a sound that veers in the general direction of their fellow Irishmen and musical forerunners The Script and Kodaline, recently appointed chart-sensations, Picture This, have arrived more quickly than most at that point on the musical map that many of their peers will only ever view from a distance.

Formed a little more than a year ago, theirs has been an easy and rapid ascent up a most vertical trajectory.  Watching ‘themselves’ from the virtual side-lines, as they shot from ‘Home Studio, Jimmy’s House, Athy’ to the top slot in the Irish charts must surely have been as surreal an occurrence as an out of body experience.

Even more bizarre must have been the spine-tingling, stomach turning flurry of butterflies moment they surely experienced walking onto the stage to a capacity crowd in a packed-to-the-rafters Olympia theatre a couple of nights ago.  How many bands can put that on their CV just a little more than 12months from recording their first hook on their iPhoneX?

Picture This Olympia Dublin
Picture This Olympia Dublin

‘Picture This’ has drip fed slow, steady single releases to their ever-increasing fan-base. Starting with the beautiful ‘Take My Hand’ which they first sampled only in October 2015, the duo continued, throughout the long, dark Winter months, to unfurl their uplifting musical charms onto an unsuspecting Irish audience, who singularly and eagerly fell captive to their unassuming yet compelling and honest sound.

So much so that the band’s debut gig was in the Academy (cap. 850) – like who the hell debut’s to an 850 strong crowd?  A rolling tour across Ireland and the UK that included full house lives in both Manchester and London, has culminated in three sell-out dates at the music-lovers venue of choice, Dublin’s Olympia theatre.  All on back of one Aslan cover and a 5-track EP, ‘Picture’. Phew!!

On 12th August, Picture This released their debut EP – the tracks of which run in single release sequence – and six days later it had reached the number one spot in the Irish charts.

Needless to say, the critics ranted, in a good way natch, while the fans raved, and now after one helluva rollercoaster ride and rock-n-roller tour, Picture This are set to finish 2016 on a high when they hit the stage at Dublin’s 3Arena on 3rd December, for the 2FM Xmas Ball in aid of the ISPCC.

When the fall of ticker-tape subsides and the shutters come down on the year that was 2016, this pair of ‘unlikely lads’ (and I say that in the nicest possible sense) will probably clink a pair in Some Pub, Main Street, Athy, and raise them in salute to friendship, Aslan, YouTube, iPhones, Kildare and oh, I suspect Lady Luck and good musical genes may just also get a nod.

With an album on the way next year, 2017 should see more of the same if not bigger and better from the Athy pair whose star looks surely set to rise, and rise, and …

‘Picture’ is available to buy or download via iTunes, Spotify et al, details – https://wmgartists.com/lp1/7444/picture-this-picture-this

Picture This will play Dublin’s 3 Arena on 3rd December along with Kodaline, All Tvvins & more, as part of the ISPCC Charity Ball organised by 2FM – tickets available here – https://wmgartists.com/lp1/7444/picture-this-picture-this

Why Sometimes Saying Thank You Just Isn’t Enough … #Blogging

dervswerve

Emailed thank yous that no-one ever sees … discreet little intermittent likes on Twitter … the odd like of a post on FB.  Nothing obvious.  Not so anyone would ever notice. No words or actions that publicly acknowledge, support, reinforce, or help spread awareness.  The key words in that sentence are “publicly acknowledge” – meaning, “to show someone you have noticed them or heard what they have said; to publicly announce that you are grateful to someone for something; to publicly recognise how good someone is”.

Type Irish Music Bloggers into Google and two things happen …

Aside from the omni-present Hype Machine, which imo is a whole lot of exactly that, hype, two links dominate the SEO rankings.  The interesting thing about the top search result, ‘Irish Music Blogs – serenityb‘ is that the latter no longer exists. Having fallen off the Twitter bandwagon in February 2015, it disappeared into the blog-ether towards the end of that same year.

The search for Irish music blogs also yields a link to ‘The Best of Irish Music Blogs’ – a list compiled by the IASCA.  This list however, dates back to 2011 in comparison with the aforementioned site whose list is a little recently clocking in mid 2015. However, the stark reality is that of the 20+ music blogs recommended by both sites, over 50% of them are now defunct.

The sad truth is that the reality tends to be a lot harsher than the passion foresees – endless long hours gnawing into weekends, family, quality and recharge time, a seriously scaled back to non-existent social life, and the relentless allocating of annual leave to far flung festivals.  Not to mention the cost.  We haven’t even got that far yet.  Then there’s the ugly reality – the wake up and smell the one way aroma, wrap yourself around the cold comfort of unreciprocated support.

You see the fact is that unless the support network operates a dual-way system, then one side will eventually become redundant. . Like a pot plant that grows in half-light/half-shade, one side will thrive in the warm glow of attention, cosseted and nourished by a drip feed of positivity, whilst the unattended other, will simply fade and die.

The ultimate aim of most bloggers is simply to write about, nay rave & rant about music they love.  And to help promote it, as best they can.  To have their views, thoughts, emotions, values, and passions reach an audience of any size, age, colour and creed, as long as that audience is appreciative.

No-one likes to be derided.  No-one sets out to be ignored. No-one wants their words to fall, like crumbs off a kitchen table, down a virtual shaft of disregard. Nor do they want their time and effort to be used like newspaper clippings, to pad out a press portfolio that nobody ever reads.  A box ticked, a quota reached, job well done all round.

Which brings me back to the comments at the top of this piece … or, put simply and in the words of Amy Winehouse, ‘Love is a losing game’.  Love is a losing game and blogging is a mug’s game … if you’re green and gauche enough to let them both beat you and mug you off.  I was.  Not anymore.

Days, nights, bank holidays, weekends, holidays.  Time which should have been spent with loved ones, nights when I should have been out having fun, afternoons when I should have been working, Sundays when I should have been relaxing. Hell, even holidays when I hid the laptop in my suitcase, sitting up into the early hours typing reviews.  Why?  Because X had asked me, and if I said no, they might never ask again.  Because I had promised, and I wanted to keep my word.  And oh because it’s such a great song I need to be in on the action.  More often than not the reward was never as sweet as the sugar I was pouring onto the WordPress screen.

How many times have I spent hours, days, working on an album review to get it just so, to make it the best I could, only for it to pass through the social ethernet unnoticed.  How often have I sat hunched over a laptop on a Saturday night while everyone else was out enjoying themselves as I laboured over reviews for this publication and that publication because they operated on a strict 24 hour t/o, despite the fact that they rarely put out their requests before Friday and notwithstanding the fact that they themselves hardly ever worked over the weekend.

Possibly the biggest kick in the teeth you could ever give a reviewer is to ask them to review something and then completely blank it.  The biggest slap across the face? Ask them to review something on another publication, and then completely blank it.

And while I can take the saccharine emails teasing for my opinions, pining for my thoughts on this, the latest artist du jour’s best banger ever, I cannot accept the insouciant ignorance of the musicatti – self-anointed music royalty using bloggers like some free PR vehicle.

Which brings us to the crux of the problem and the real reason why so many of the afore-mentioned go-to blogs listed by their peers as being at the top of their game, have failed, have faded and have died.

Who do you think pays for the site, pays for the time and effort, pays for the music on Spotify and iTunes, and pays for the trips to festivals including travel, accommodation and food?  Where do you think the hours and days off come from?  Have you ever actually given it any thought?

The funds come from our own pockets, our wages from the real jobs we do every day – banking, teaching, sales, copywriting – and, from our savings.  Heck one 2016 trip even came courtesy of a bank loan!  When was the last time someone took out a loan to pay me to write something? [ B L A N K S P A C E]

The time comes from our holiday leave allocations, our weekends, our free evenings! Everything that’s there – we give it, US, for FREE. The bloggers.  The time, the money, the words, the research …

Now musicians you might counter the argument by saying that you rarely get paid for playing a gig – but at least you’re playing your own music!

If you ask a blogger to review your work or your artists work, if you cannot financially recompense them, at least show them the respect of supporting their blog.  And, AND, if you have enough brass neck to ask a blogger to post a review or make a submission to another site, at least acknowledge the author when you are blowing the trumpet of that very same and usually much bigger site, because without the writer, you and your music or your artist would not be there.

If PRs and musicians do not start supporting blogs in a mutually respectful way, there will be less and less small blogs, leaving a monopoly of a handful.  The big guns who hoover up all the “woo woo premieres” (really guys, they aren’t all that!) – big titles, big soundbites, one quote and no substance.  If that’s what you want, then that’s what you’ll get.  But with everyone competing for space within the limited confines of the few, how will every artist ever get press?

And if the big guys only ever want premieres, then does that not lessen the chances of cross-publication coverage? Because despite what some PR folks think, there can only be one premiere (unless the definition of the word has changed in the past couple of days).

Every time I am asked to post a review on another site, I respond with a simple question: how would you like it if I were to ask you to promote an unsigned band for free and/or your artist/band (tick where appropriate) to play only cover songs?

Just play 3rd party songs all the time there will you?  I don’t care that you write, rehearse, record and play your own songs; I love your voices and the way you play guitar, it’s really cool, but could you just see your way to singing A.N. Other’s songs.  I’d be so grateful. Smiley Fucking Face.

Let’s call a spade a spade.  If the Quietus asked Portishead to do an interview but only asked them questions about Goldfrapp, how soon do you think it would be before the words “fuck off” were used?  If Matt Horton wrote a piece about Taylor Swift stating that he loved her voice but she’d be far better suited to singing Demi Lovato songs, how would that work do you think?

Or, let’s look at it in another way.  You or your band or your artist writes/records/produces an album.  They give a copy to several reviewers whose email response is – wow, that’s super cool, thanks.  That’s it.  All that trouble.  All that effort.  Hardly anyone has heard it.  Hardly anyone knows who you are or that the album has even been released.  You’ve worked really hard, for no financial gain, no return and now, after everything, you don’t even get any kudos for a job well done.

Well folks, that’s us.  That’s blogging.

Every month another blog closes down; because they’ve lost their mojo, or they can’t keep dedicating the time, or they can’t build enough recognition to make any money from their labour.  If music artists and their respective management, PR teams and cohorts don’t actively and publicly support bloggers then why should they expect constant support themselves?  They want bloggers to review their music to help generate awareness of their brand, yet in return, they offer no reciprocal support to the majority of blogs unless the words Best Fit or Clash feature in the title! How does that work?  It doesn’t!

It’s not about the money, it’s not about the notoriety.  Hell no.  What it is about, is respect.  Over the past three months I’ve sailed very close to the wind of ‘give up’.  I’ve toyed with just fucking the whole thing in the bin.  There’s only so much anyone can put up with until they blow.  I’ve blown….red hot wired and blown.  But you know what? When the lava cooled I asked myself why should I give up doing something I love because of ‘the few‘?

From November, I am returning to the blog, with hopefully, the same verve and spirit that I’ve had in the past (or at least hoped I had). This time however, the rules have changed.

If you, or your band, or your PR don’t care to support me, then remove me from your lists.  If you want your music reviewed, please send it to me.  If you are PR and you send me music to review, I expect you to show willing on Twitter or FB.  If I don’t see any mutual love, three strikes and we’ll shake hands.

You see this is my time, my money, my life, my choice.  I started writing 18 months ago because I wanted people to know about so many unsigned bands that were going unheard.  I wanted to shout out about amazing Norwegian music and beatastic Danish Americana.  I wanted to bounce enchantments of Dorset other-worldliness off the moon.  And, I wanted to write about Radiohead.

All of that and more is what I am going to continue to do.

But I’m going back to basics.  I’m going back to basics.  Doing things the way I want to do them, when I want to do them and how. Blogging for the right reasons.  And, for the love of music.

If you’re with me, I’ll cya around.

Derv x

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.

Øyafestivalen … Personally Speaking

Photo of Hanne Kolsto Steinkjerfestivalen.no/
Photo of Hanne Kolsto Steinkjerfestivalen.no/

When it comes down to it, music is all about personal taste.  Put ten people into a room and ask them to pick their favourite artists.  How likely would it be that they would all choose the same names?  Surely whatever artist crossover there might be would be unlikely to result in a similar choice of go-to songs?

Music makes the world go around, as do love, cute animals, chocolate and gin (not necessarily in that order).  For those of us for whom music is a consuming passion, picking favourites and making recommendations from across as wide a spectrum as the line up on offer at Øya2016 is one bloody difficult task.

However, there are times when the fence becomes just that bit too hard, and one feels the need to jump off and, as the song goes, “express yourself”.  So, without any intention to cause offence or personal injury … just cos a certain band ain’t on this list, don’t mean I don’t rate them … here are my personal Norwegian must sees during Øya this week.

HANNE KOLSTO

From the moment I heard this gal’s voice I fell in love with its overwhelming emotional depth and ferocious honesty. Hanne Kolstø sings songs crafted with visceral feeling, penned with the ink of experience and delivered with a searing openness that strips her bare of any places behind which to hide.  Self-deprecating, achingly funny and very, very real, Kolstø is a wonderfully charismatic performer with a rare, unfailing ability to get under the skin of her audience. Kolstø doesn’t just connect, no, she touches the very raw nerve of those who go to see her mesmerising live performances.  Having earlier this year released the album ‘Live at Tøyenkirken, a piano acoustic rework of some of her best known and loved songs which received huge critical acclaim, without doubt Hanne Kolstø is one of the live must sees of Tuesdays KlubbØya club-carnivale.  Hanne plays Internasjonalen at 9pm.

PANDA PANDA

Unfortunately Hanne clashes with Sgrow … that’s life, this is what festivals are all about … personal challenges and making tough decisions.  Following the plot ain’t easy on club night and in order to see out the full Kolstø performance I must also forego seeing The Hallway.  On top of that I am then left with the nightmare of choosing between Therese Aune and Panda Panda.   Sorry guys, the Pandas have it.

Hailing from Trondheim, this relatively new young band only recently signed to the Riot Factory label, are building up to the release of their debut album.  The first EP, Millions, was a tearaway success, and from what I can gather new music in on the cards for their set at Subscene.  Their brand of vibrant, multi-coloured, youthful indie with its delightful golden vocal duets fuels quite the rush of sonic serotonin; if you don’t walk away from seeing Panda Panda play live feeling uber-energised then I strongly recommend you go to a GP to get your pulse checked!  They’ll hit the Subscene stage running at 10pm and if their KlubbØya performance is even only half as good as that at Trondheim Calling, they’ll rock the roof off the joint.

Another clash on club-night means I’ll miss out on seeing Toothfairy rising star, Strangelove.  He plays The Villa at 9pm and if electronic genius is your thing, then Strangelove is your guy.

ARY

Wednesday however, proves more lucky when it comes to Toothfairy artists.  The sublime ARY will take to the stage at the rescheduled time of 5.50pm having switched slots with SKEPTA.  With whispers of new music tingling the ears, and after spending the Summer honing her live performance across a pretty extensive Euro circuit, ARY’s set at Øya should be pretty special.  Possibly one of the best of all the emerging new talents rising through the mists of the Oslo skies, ARY is definitely one to watch and without doubt one of my top picks for this years festival.  ARY plays the Sirkus stage, 17.50 Wednesday 10th.

FARAO

Farao

Farao … just the name alone conjurs up images of a modern day Amazonian Queen.  Strong, powerful, hugely talented, ably creative, Farao is one musical class act.  Now based in Berlin, she is currently working on new music for her second album.  If it’s quality is even a shadow of its predecessor, it will be mind blowingly good.  Friends with other female powerhouse EERA (and with a voice and style not too dissimilar) Farao is by now a well seasoned performer and her set on the Hagen stage, 4.55pm Friday, should be one to remember.

 

FROKEDAL

It is an absolute heart-breaker for me that (due to personal reasons) I will miss the first chance that has presented itself to me to see Anne Lise Frøkedal play live.  One of my top three fave Norwegian artists, I could listen to the sweet melodia of that voice forever and never tire of it.  If anything Frøkedal’s ‘picturesque‘ folky cum indie music transports me mind, body and soul into another world – one of peace, contentment and mindfulness.

Her album ‘Hold On Dreamer‘ has been one of the best album releases this year and with several hit singles lifted from its grooves,  Frøkedal has pretty much cemented her reputation amongst the critical few who do the acclaiming! It is with a heavy heart that I will get on that plane back to Dublin knowing that one of the best sets of the festival has yet to come, and that I alas, won’t be around to enjoy it.  Frøkedal and her band Familien will play the Amfiet stage at 3.55pm on Saturday … say hi from me and enjoy!

ELECTRIC EYE

Finally if there is any band I could ‘suade you to go see, it would be Bergen boys, Electric Eye.  You ain’t seen a gig if you ain’t seen an Electric Eye gig.  These guys blew the roof of their by:Larm venue back in March and ripped shreds out of SWSX and their latest album Different Sun was in altogether a different league.  Their more than masterful instrumental abilities and stonking psych sounds will have your heart pounding, pulse racing and brain whirring in no time.

Their live set is beyond bloody brilliant …  miss it, YOUR LOSS.  These guys are better than good at what they do, the are THE BEST.  Psych crafted with magic-infused guitars, sitars and synths and drumming that is more alive than the sapient pearwood ‘luggage’ in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.  Electric Eye are my TOP TIP for Øya2016  – they’ll set fire to the Sirkus stage at 3.05pm Saturday 13th.

Norway’s Øyafestivalen runs from Tuesday 9th to Saturday 13th inclusive.  Full details of the club night and Toyenparken programme can be found on their official website, available in both Norwegian and English.

No Forevers Don’t Promise Marriage, Just Great Music

nrwy_photo_sadan_ekdemir-crop
nrwy_photo_sadan_ekdemir-crop

Lying low in a hammock in the shade, out of the glare of the high Summer sun is a relatively new, cosily small and very chilled indie record label.  Going under the name No Forevers, it was set up in the Norwegian music hub of Trondheim in November 2014 by the not so small, but very VERY chilled, Jonny Hanger Humstad.  A dude of eclectic taste, with a penchant for ‘fine alcohol’, Sami music and baseball caps, Humstad is to the Norwegian music industry as rain is to Ireland.  There can’t be many folks working in the business who don’t already know Jonny, or, at least if they don’t know him, haven’t heard his name.

Here's Jonny!!
Here’s Jonny!!

Sometime musician, DJ, singer (uses term loosely), venue manager, band manager, label boss and lumberjack, Humstad has a keen ear and well honed antennae for picking up raw talent on his NF radar.

His No Forevers roster is made up of a close knit coterie of very diverse but exceptionally talented musicians from alt-jazz artist Kari Harneshaug (undoubtedly the Queen of TC2016) to the more pop ‘fluenced quartet Østfrost whose magical harmonium/viola combo and powerful live performances set them apart from the many others who tag themselves with the indie label. It is more like a familial community than an industry standard ‘sign on the dotted line’ label, and that’s the way both he and his artists like it.

This year, KlubbØya – the customary club night opener for Øyafestivalen (Norway’s answer to Glastonbury) and vehicle for showcasing indigenous emerging talent – will feature no less than four acts from that tightknit No Forevers family – Antler, nrwy, High Tone Low & Sgrow.

Antler Rockheim Feb 2016
Antler Rockheim Feb 2016

Antler are a relatively new young band who recorded and co-produced their first album back in 2015 with the folks at Greener Studios. ‘Bon Bons’ was debuted to much acclaim in April of this year, you can read my review here, and since its release, the band has been gigging furiously across the Norwegian circuit.  They have also been working on some new sounds … so watch this ”     ” for some new tuunnes.  Antler ‘live’, have to be seen to be believed – they are incredibly, stupendously & stupidly good.  I saw them when they played Rockheim during TC’16 and the packed-to-capacity audience was more than a little in awe.  Antler play Kampen Bistro 10pm (22.00) – be there, or miss out, BIG TIME.

Multifaceted nrwy are a serious ‘old skool’ rock outfit in the mould of Metallica and Black Sabbath with a hint of Manics and a nod to Queens of the Stone Age. Propulsive drum beats smashing against guitar chords akin to rolling thunder with controlled, forceful vocals at the helm, bear all the hallmarks of ‘classic rock’ in the true and original sense of the term.  Their single, ‘When All Else Fails’, which I reviewed and which was released last December, was followed up with the album, ‘Not Now’ which you can find on Spotify, Tidal and Amazon etc.  Be prepared to have your ears burnt and your nerve endings shot to shit.  Or, bring a pair of ear muffs.  Either way, they play Uhørt 9pm (21.00) … your call!

I was on holiday when the latest single from High Tone Low was released – so I missed all the fun, meh! ‘101’ is a psychedelic trip down a very rocky highway of fraught, zipping guitars, dreamy acid-trip vocal clouds – with some growls thrown in ad hoc for good measure –  and seriously compulsive beats.  The band are currently working on new sounds – we’re all ears guys. Anyone with a tendency towards multi-coloured, adventurous instrumental rock with a 70’s vibe, will need to get down with these dudes.  They rock the mic at SubScene 11pm (23.00) – I’m game!

Which just leaves us with these guys – experimental electronic duo, Sgrow.  With a new single due out this week – the 5th in fact – ahead of their set at MIR next Tuesday, these guys have a lot to be excited about.  Sgrow’s deliciously dark music came weaving its hypnotic spell on our world with the 2015 release of their debut album, ‘Terrors and Ecstasies’.  Part electro fantasy, part techno, Sgrow’s sound is as lush and rich as treacle.  Peppered with zipping bullets of electro-pulses that bring it to life it is topped with an ever-evolving vocal that scales from stringent iciness to whipped airy delicateness in sufficient spades to counter the dense electronic undergrowth.  Be prepared to be mesmerised at 9pm (21.00) in MIR! Smelling salts may be required!

Antler will play Kampen Bistro 22.00, details here

nrwy will play Uhørt 21.00, details here

High Tone Low will play SubScene Oslo at 23.00, details here

Sgrow will play MIR at 21.00, details here

For more information on the No Forevers label, jump aboard their Facebook page, here.  Full details of the festival programme and all participating artists as well as the festival environmental mission statement can be found on the Øyafestivalen website, http://oyafestivalen.no/  (click UK flag for English version).

Toothfairy Crew Bring Their Øya Magic to The Villa

CoucheronPressPhoto1
CoucheronPressPhoto1

Located in the magical surrounds of sunny Sandvika, record label Toothfairy is home to a synthtastic brood of some of Norway’s most promising electronic fledglings.   The Norwegian label boasts the toast of electronica on its roster with Carl Louis, Coucheron and Nils Noa just some of the high profile names from the pulsating world of dub beats that have set up their synth stall in Sandvika.  They also make up just over half of the lineup for the Toothfairy hosted Øya Klubbdagen event, full details here, being held on Tuesday 9th August at Oslo venue, The Villa, as part of the overall festival kick-off.

Strangelove foto.samfundet.no
Strangelove foto.samfundet.no

In total five wizards of the Toothfairy school of electronic magic will show off their wares starting with twentysomething Stavanger native, Alexander Thorstvedt, aka Strangelove, whose fervent fusion of organic with electronic sounds has seen his music feature on both Norwegian TV and radio series.  You can hear the gorgeous, ethereal ‘Ghost’, his collaboration with Trondheim singer/songwriter ARY on our Toothfairy Klubbdagen playlist below.

Next out of the techno trap will be the artist fka Baardsen.  Now known as Baya, this guru of the mixing desk has worked with the likes of Warpaint, Grimes and Dan Croll.  This nimble fingered and hugely creative remixer is also a worthy music maker in his own right, and having released his first single ‘Luft’ under this new moniker earlier in March, will reveal his debut album come September. We wish him well.  Listen to ‘Luft’ on our playlist below!

Taking centre stage is Carl Louis, the brains behind international hits such as ‘Telescope‘ and ‘Apogee’, which you’ll find on our playlist below (the former featuring, once again, Toothfairy ingénue, ARY, the latter, Lovespeake lege, Pav).  Noticing a bit of a trend here … this TF crew are very tightknight yes? 

AKA the ‘prince of Norwegian electronica’  in a follow up to his 2015 mini album, Carl Louis is due to release TUUNNES this Autumn (those TF boys are gonna be busy, busy, busy!).  Renowned for his blistering live sets, do whatever it takes to witness his stint at Øya, it’s goin’ to be a scorcher!

The last time I met Norwegian producer Coucheron, he was back in Norway from the US for a couple of weeks chillin’ followed by some spinnin’ with a few of his fave collaborators.  Six months later sees the Grammy nominated (yup!) production guru back in Oslo and he’ll be taking to the decks for the penultimate slot, no double kickin’ it with club faves such as ‘Alive’, ‘Ruby’ and my personal poison – ‘Chameleon’.

Nils Noa
Nils Noa

Wrapping up the TF club-mania will be The Godfather of Underground, ie., Nils Noa.  There isn’t much I can say about this techno warrior that hasn’t already been said, and then some.  With a reputation that spans the WW spectrum and a horde of hits under his electro-belt, Nils is also the brains behind nature loving Troll Records which he set up along with fellow muso Christian Sol.  Nils has just released new sounds in the form of ‘Makeover Man’ which you can hear on the playlist below.

With such a fabster line up of electronic maestros there is no question that the Toothfairy/The Villa night will be one of the main attractions/hottest tickets in Oslo town next Tuesday night … The advice from the main TF man “get there early” … Damn right!

Find out more about the Toothfairy label here, and for the full festival programme and details of participating artists look no further than the official Øyafestivalen website, http://oyafestivalen.no/ (English version also avail, just click the flag).

Toothfairy Klubbdagen Hosted by The Villa -:

21-01.00 Free entry ID:20 http://www.thevilla..no www.toothfairy.no

21.00 Strangelove

21.45 Baya

22.30 Carl Louis

23.15 Coucheron

00.15 Nils Noa

Listen to our Toothfairy  Øya Klubbdagen Spotify Playlist here … enjoy x

Riot Factory – Welcome to the House of Fun!

Photo Riot Factory
Photo of Ludvig Moon Riot Factory

Trondheim based indie record label Riot Factory have a happy habit of signing wickedly hip and seriously talented acts that churn out memorable music like Norwegian dairy farmers churn out Brunost; down pat!

Set up by three music mad amigos some mucho moons ago, the Riot label has become synonymous with both identifying and nurturing some of the most unique and spirited of indie / alternative talents to emerge from that Norwegian cradle of music, Trondheim. Farao, Highasakite and Bendik all cut their tyro teeth in this house of fun, which now boasts the creme de l’alt nouveau creme of indie music in the form of Gold CelesteSnøskred and Tellef Raabe .

Of the myriad mouthwatering music-mongers these riotous ravers have on their roster, four will take to the stage for your delectation on the opening #Klubbdagen night of Øyafestivalen.  Yep, you can sink your teeth into the meaty madness of music by Commonplace, walk in the thunderous wake of punk/noize dinosaurs, Sauropod, float in the inky night skies illuminated by the stars of Ludvig Moon and/or get up close and cuddly with those adorable Pandas*2.  See below for full details.

Dinosaurs of the rockier side of the Riot stable, Sauropod are no strangers to whipping up a crowd with their noisesome fare and their headline set at Verkstedet bar should be pretty bloody thunderous and then some!  The ironically named ‘Sunny Day‘ was released as a single in the depths of darkest January, read my review here, preceding their more aptly entitled album, ‘Roaring at the Storm’ which with much-a-play on words, was a roaring success.  Sauropod produce music darker than night but seriously switch the light on with their canny and often witty lyrics … not for the faint-hearted but worth the morning after temp tinnitus.

Sauropod Live July 2016
Sauropod Live July 2016

Back in darkest March, and oh boy was it dark, and cold, myself and the guys over at The 405 had the pleasure of premiering the raw, unnerving neo-punk track ‘Complex Mental State’ from five-piece postpunkers commonplace! Coincidentally, the very same band have a new single, ‘Her Sultry Eyes’ out on release this week on 3rd August (sorry, no advance sneak peeks), but here’s a deco at the artwork.  Tune into the bands FB page here, to give it an early post-release hearing on Wednesday!

Her Sultry Eyes Cover

In the meantime, clear the cobwebs with this sonic scouring pad and prepare yourself to be hyped to the ceiling when they perform this number live next week!

Earlier this year, sextet Ludvig Moon released ‘Cult Baby’, the lead single from their forthcoming album, to rapturous media applause.

Photo courtesy Ludvig Moon
Photo courtesy Ludvig Moon

Hailed by Best Fit as a “soaring, small scale epic”, ‘Cult Baby’ catapulted LM into the realm of UK music media and fans alike, setting the band in seriously good stead for any future releases and/or live dates.  To boot, the accompanying visual was pretty nifty and not one to go unnoticed!  I did my own wee bit of waxing lyrical about both and you can read my review here. While you’re doing so, you can give ‘Cult Baby’ another listen (‘cos we know you’ve already heard it, right?).

Last but definitely not least are personal faves, Panda Panda.  My fangirling of the Pandas was born out of a huge addiction to their first single, ‘New Friends’, the pull of which was so strong it lead me to bump the Riot club-night during Trondheim Calling in favour of the packed out PP gig at Blaest, which due to some very inconsiderate timing on the part of the festival organisers, was on the same night.  Ironically, Panda Panda, a then unsigned band, were to sign with said jilted Rioters only a matter of weeks later!  Where I lead and all that … !

Panda Panda at Ladehammerfestivalen
Panda Panda at Ladehammerfestivalen

Since being signed to the Riot label, Panda Panda have dropped more singles, as well as their debut EP, Millions.  They’ve spent the Summer dipping between festivals and studio, and a full length album should be in the offing in the not too distant future.

In the meantime, you can pop in to see Panda Panda and their Riot stablemates in various venues across Oslo on Tuesday 9th August, details below.  Until then, we’ll leave you with that magnetic first heard, never forgotten single, ‘New Friends’.  See you in Oslo!   For further information on Riot Factory, check out their website, http://www.riotfactory.no/

Tuesday 9th August, Oslo, all events are part of the official Øyafestivalen club night or Klubbdagen.  Øya runs from 9th to 13th August, and all details of artists and the full festival programme can be found on the official website, http://oyafestivalen.com/

Hosted by SubScene Oslo              

23.00 High Tone Low
22.00 Panda Panda
21.00 Tirades
20.00 Syndrom

Hosted by Verkstedet Bar

23.30 Sauropod
22.30 Frances Wave
21.30 Simen Mitlid
20.30 Skóg
19:30 Ludvig Moon

Hosted by BLÅ

00:30 LIIMA (DK)
23:30 Death Team (SE)
22:30 PRTLVX
21:30 commonplace
20:30 Stian Westerhus
19:30 Moon Relay