“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 FBand Twitterpages to keep up to speed with album and tour-date (yes, there will be a promotional tour) developments. Derval.
Ok so not my normal ‘thang’. Usually this would be an hyperbolic wander through a shimmering, iridescent, heartachingly beautiful or mesmeric piece of sonic wonderment. Instead, I treat you to, er, the facts behind the Nordic northwind that is DervSwerve.
A cohort of blogger-pals have been challenging each other to answer a series of random personal questions. Always one to rise to the bait challenge, I’ve answered the call of one Angela Stratta, she of Cappuccino and Brioche fame, found the postcard and answered the q’s.
So voila, here it is … a blog about, er, Derval me!
Share your profile picture
I would love to say it’s this …
but it’s this
Who are you named after?
I was named after the daughter of the much revered Tom O’Higgins, former Irish Government Minister, Presidential candidate and Chief Justice of the Irish Supreme Court and European Court of Justice!
My parents were both living and working in London at the time and Mum, who was in a constant state of homesickness from the day she emigrated to the day she finally returned home for good, used, when she could, to buy a copy of the Irish Independent. In one pre-natal edition, she saw a photograph of the then Minister O’Higgins accompanied by his daughter Derval, and thought it was such a lovely name that she bestowed it upon moi! Which was lucky for me given that my Dad wanted to name me Brenda! Brenda? Do I look like a Brenda?
Do you like your handwriting? Do you?
Both my mother and her sister have beautiful handwriting. I obvs inherited the paternal gene – dab hand with a paintbrush but with a pen, not so good!
What’s your favorite lunch meat? Why only lunch I wonder?
We-ell, I guess it would have to be baked ham. I’m not a huge lover or eater of meat having more of a predilection for game, poultry and fish, but ham is easy isn’t it. And if freshly cooked onsite by a decent deli like Fallon & Byrne, it is usually super flavoursome, succulent and moreish. Ham is also extremely versatile and complementary to many other foods! (Sounds like a line from a Food Board promo don’t it!).
Longest relationship? With myself, or possibly my mother, depending on where you stand on foetal status.
Do you still have your tonsils? I believe so. Like I don’t go looking for them or anything, but every now and a misty cold day, they make their presence felt a la very sore golf balls. Like Alice, I lived next door to severe tonsillitis every year for twenty four years. Then one Winter … pffzt zzzp … they just cut out and gave up the ghost. Intermittent annoying golf-ballitis recurs, but not very often and it’s more bothersome than painful.
Would you bungee jump? You might as well ask me if I’d walk out in front of a car! I hate heights, I hate flying, I don’t jump, the wind makes my hair flap into my face and the cold makes me wanna pee. So, no, no, no, no, no.
Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? I don’t even untie them putting them on never mind taking them off! Life’s too short!
Favorite ice-cream? Don’t eat a lot of the stuff but I distinctly remember as a child, developing a long-distance, unrequited love affair with Pistachio ice-cream courtesy of a plethora of American TV shows. When I did finally make it across the Atlantic at the tender age of 12, that was one of the first things I asked for … and oh boy! OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY! Long distance love became love at close quarters.
While it goes without saying that my mid-Summer go-to is everyone’s favourite, golden-oldie HB’s Maxi Twist, I have recently developed a penchant for some of the newbies like Nobó’sSalted Caramel or Chocolate & Toasted Almond. However, my ice-cream heart will always belong to Pistachio!
What’s the first thing you notice about people? Call me superficial but their general appearance, the overall package. After that it has to be their eyes and what they say to me or not, about the internal workings.
I’m not looking for labels or shoes with such a shine that one can see their reflection, but the way someone dresses, how they carry themselves, their gait, their handshake and whether or not and how they look me in the eye, will sway my initial judgement of them.
Football or baseball? Er, neither. I’m Irish so don’t know the first thing about baseball and much to the annoyance of most of ‘footie’ fans, I call it (looks furtively around) – SOCCER! Tbh the only reason I call it that is to differentiate it from Irish GAA football, which is of course, ten times more entertaining, especially as the players can ‘elbow’ each other, which invariably leads to a few on-field fracas!
My favourite sport is Hurling – the fastest field game in the world – which if you’ve never heard of it, never mind seen it, then feast your eyes on this esp from 44.10 to 44.37 … All Ireland Hurling Final 2014, Kilkenny v Tipperary
What color pants are you wearing? Cripes, a policemen wouldn’t ask me that. If you’re talking in terms of ‘lingerie’, let’s just say that I’m more a Bridget Jones than Victoria’s Angel kinda gal. If you’re just plain ole’ asking me if I’m wearing strides today and if so, what kind, then the answer is yes, and they’re dark blue fine cords of the vintage College professor type!
Last thing you ate? Lunch, consisting of one small tin of tuna in sunflower oil, served with half a tub of M&S cottage cheese w/pineapple and a Pink Lady apple, chopped. All washed down with two glasses of very cold filtered water. On an eat healthy buzz!
If you were a crayon what color would you be? Purple.
Favorite smell? Ooh, now that’s a tough one. I love the smell of grass – freshly cut, or late at night after dewfall, especially during the heart of the Summer. I also love the smell of incense, peonies, vanilla and cinnamon. Foodwise, it’s got to be toast, coffee and oranges!
But, I think the smell I adore the most is that of the sea … especially during the changing tide when everything from seabed to seaweed and salt is at its rawest and most intense.
Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? A colleague with whom I’ve worked for many years but from whom I’ve been recently separated by reason of our being relocated into two different buildings. She phoned me to compliment me on my recently published interview with Irish music star Imelda May for the UK online publication, The Monitors.
Hair color? Bit of an enigma my hair. I had fair chestnut hair until I was around 18 at which point it crossed over to the dark side and I became what’s known as a ‘brunette’, the then by-word for ‘boring’. Not what you need when you’re already hormonal, insecure and bespectacled. This led to several and often hilarious experiments with washes, tints, Glints, Henna and the like until at the ripe old age of 22 I discovered the world of ‘highlights’! (Cue, lots of woo-ing).
Since then I’ve gone from brown with copper highlights, to brown with an aurora of highlights to full on red, a phase which saw me dabble with every shade from Boleyn-esque strawberry blonde to Cluedo-esque Miss Scarlet.
Then around 2009, after several ‘lively debates’ with my then hairdresser (long story), I began the blonde experience. The transformation took well over a year and an even greater financial investment, but to this day, despite the odd deep dive into a mad as a hatter variation on the theme, I remain a ‘having more fun’ Blonde.
Bet you’re sorry you asked!
Eye color? Also something of an enigma … Grey/green colour, which varies depending on mood & environment, with yellow flecks inherited from my grandfather.
Favorite food to eat? White fish – Hake, Turbot, Sea bass, John Dory; French Cheese – Comte, Reblochon and Pont l’Eveque; Stuffing, preferably home made.
Oh and jellies – of any description!
Scary movies or happy endings? Neither, don’t really do movies!. When I do, they tend to be quite idiotic like ‘Ice Age’ or ‘Despicable Me’. Do books though, if you’re interested? Any takers?
Last movie you watched? ‘Malificent’, ‘cos I’m a total child.
Favorite holiday? The most memorable place to which I’ve ever travelled was Vevey (home of Nestle chocolate) in Switzerland. That first nocturnal view of the Alps from a moonlit balcony combined with the feeling of shrinking like Alice, into inane insignificance, will stay with me forever.
My overall favourite place though is Rosscarbery, West Cork; nothing will ever compare. It can’t. When it comes to natural beauty, a treasure-chest of memories, and a complete feeling of being ‘at peace’, no other place on earth can compete with my spiritual and familial home.
Beer or wine? Wine if I must, Sancerre for preference or if the only way is red, then a Barolo or Rioja. Gin is my go-to, the default being Bombay Sapphirewith Schweppes Bitter Lemon or Fever-TreeLight Tonic and a slice of lime. Lots of ice is a must – even in -7 Norway!
Night owl or early bird? With the little sleep I get, night owl for sure. Usually still trying to get to sleep when the early birds are scrabbling for worms.
Favorite day of the week? Never gave it much thought. Definitely not Monday. Probably Friday …
Three or (four) favorite bloggers you want to learn more about?
The admirable Tanya Tonks Mawer who has shown such resilience and strength of character by handling all life throws at her with a few pinches of salt and a bucket of humour.
Stephanie Gaunt, cos I believe there’s a lot more to her than being a Battleaxe!
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 Twitterand 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!
On the morning of 24th June, 2016, 16 million Britons awoke to the news that their vote had failed to secure their country’s continued membership of the European Union and that butt of many jokes, #Brexit, was now a not so comic reality.
While shock and disbelief numbed the 48% who had voted #Remain, unapologetic jubilation was the prize of those Euro naysayers who, having only just secured the narrowest of victories, had voted Great Britain “OUTsch” (Bild) of the EU. The resultant media frenzy spawned taglines ranging from the stiff-upper lipped Guardian “Over. And Out” to the more pedestrian Mirror’s “So What The Hell Happens Now?”. One headline, and its hilariously unforgettable image, stood apart from the rest …
Team GB was no more. The union stood divided. Two countries had voted remain … two for #Brexit, but by sheer weight of its population, England carried the #Leave vote. So, how did it feel to wake up a ‘Remainer’ in that fractured state?
Questioning, accusatory and aggrieved, the sardonic lyrics of Temples of Youth‘s new single, ‘Divide’ take aim at the bewildering and worrying situation that they, like so many others, have found themselves in since that fateful Summer day.
As musically sparse as it is lyrically bleak, the song which is part lament, part political protest, echoes the shift in the mood of the British public from that of bewilderment to inflamed censoriousness, referencing the widely held expert and public opinion that the #Brexit campaign had been based on deceit and a litany of lies,
‘Come With Me Across The Divide, I Can’t Say It Won’t Be Full Of Lies‘ sings a beleaguered Jo Carson, whose vocal interpretation of this trenchant critique is one of remarkable restraint: a paradox that serves to heighten the sense of disillusionment and detachment felt by those youthful Britons, whose dreams have been shattered by the referendum result. Vocal disaffection overlooks a desolate and barren soundscape created by Gumma’s doleful and spaciously played guitar and reflected in Carson’s leadránach percussion. There is no happy ending here. Only the dawning of the unknown reality of ‘splendid isolation’.
BBC Introducing-supported Temples of Youth, have ratcheted up some serious traction with both online music press and national radio, with Beeb ‘big guns’, Steve Lamacq and Huw Stephens, both well known for their enthusiastic support of upcoming artists, giving the duo’s music airplay on their primetime shows.
‘Divide‘ is ToY’s fifth self-produced/released single and available from 1st December.
In tandem with their single release, Temples Of Youth have kicked off a GoFundMe page to help them raise some spondulicks to fund a visual accompaniment for ‘Divide’ (for which they’ve already hatched plans) and invest in the necessary evil that is PR along with some additional recording equipment. All you need is – the link– and your debit card! Simples.
In related news … Jo’s mum will be chatting with Dermot O’Learyabout the new single and more during his BBC Radio 2 Show on Saturday from 3pm, details here – Dermot O’Leary Show. ‘Divide’ will receive its radio premiere on BBC Introducing Solent later that evening, between 8-9pm, details here.
And if, like me, you’ll be otherwise preoccupied, then you can listen back on BBC iPlayer Radiofor up to 28 days.
The Temples of Youth Live Date Diary sees them play Castle Road Xmas Festival, Southsea on 4th December, followed by the Icebreaker Festival, Portsmouth on 28th January and The Boileroom, Guildford 11th February. Full details on their website, http://www.templesofyouth.co.uk/
Listen to the 2016 anthem for #Brexit’s disenfranchised youths & like Temples of Youth, make your voice heard #DontGetMadGetActive
As I sat listening to the hoarse vocals crying through the sparse opening bars of ‘Back To Where I Begun‘, the debut single from Dublin duo, Motions, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d heard that rasping plaintiveness somewhere before. It was on the tip of my tongue and brim of my brain but nah …
Fate stepped in, it was getting bored, and whilst humming the melody I turned my head sideways and lo, there it was, a CD jutting out from my stockpile that immediate caught my eye. The album, ‘Violator’, the band Depeche Mode. Wham! It hit me. This cigarette stained and strained, guttural yet strong and commanding vocal was redolent of Mode frontman Dave Gahan on ‘Condemnation’, widely held by DM fans to be his finest vocal hour.
But this isn’t about Mode … this is about Motions, the upcoming Irish duo whose very single, in all its debut innocence, was voted by savvy music fans into the Top 10 Fresh Faves over on the BBC Introducing feeding ground, Fresh on the Net – click here to read the review!
Motions aka @MotionsMusic isthe enigmatic and mysterious Tom Daly and Dave Nulty, and currently an unknown entity. ‘Faceless anonymii’ about town around which wafts an air of Celtic mystery.
There’s no mystery to their music though – it’s attention-grabbing, showstopping alt-rock. Musical headlights with an option of dip function. Full throttle anthemic built on a weave of potent, grizzling guitars, spacious spiralling synths, vibrant drum rhythms and that ‘oh so amazing’, infectious vocal.
‘Back To Where I Begun’ opens in a near empty soundscape of spacious ‘piano’ chords and a wistful vocal, that from the outset create a brooding and regretful atmosphere. A steady, introspective build follows, as the song makes a gloriously dramatic ascent through chorus and verse to a clamorous climax. The chassis of the clangour is redolent of the chaos of the lyrics. Layers of looping sequences and thrashing percussion underpin Daly’s honest and memorable vocal and save for a momentary dip of the afore-mentioned headlights, bring the track to a dramatic close.
Instrumentally solid with a vocal powerhouse in Daly’s voice, Motions have effortlessly arrived at the perfect combination of musical strength and lyrical insightfulness. In fact, this duo make songwriting seem easy.
With a cleverly choreographed, ‘”Leave Your Emotional Baggage Behind” before it’s too late’ themed video, ‘Back To Where I Begun‘ is as ready-to-market/radio a commercial package as I have come across. [Although there are some scenes in the video that I wish I’d never seen, thanks, and someone give that guy a razor #beardrash]
The vocals are potent, the lyrics thought-provoking, the music anthemic and for a debut single, that’s something special.
Alan Wilder steps back in from the sidelines as performer-producer on debut single from upcoming Londoner, Dédé Davi.
Alan Wilder, man behind the Recoilmusic project, formerly one quarter of Depeche Mode, those pioneers of synth pop whose music captured the zeitgeist of ’80s experimental electronica, and general all-round enigma, has, after some years of silence which presumably he ‘enjoyed’, resurfaced in the form of performer/producer on an R&B piano-ballad by an upcoming English singer/songwriter.
‘Calling The Clock‘ is the debut single from LondonerDédé Davi to whom Wilder was introduced by erstwhile Mode road-manager, Daryl Bamonte, now a successful label and artist manager in his own right. Dédé, who has gone from a Uni degree course, through being BBC play-listed, to working with the likes of Steve Hewitt (Paul Draper, Placebo), is currently in-studio working on her debut album.
Rehearsed and recorded in a negligible four hours, the song sees Wilder reprise his role as accompanying pianist, and music composer and arranger, one that recalls his indelible contributions to songs like ‘Somebody’ and ‘Pimpf’ and which will doubtless reawaken the memories of many a Mode fan.
Speaking of the collaboration with Dédé. Wilder said:
“ I was struck not only by her beautifully soulful and sophisticated voice, but also the simplicity and directness of the words along with a melody which left plenty of room to come up with the arrangement … With limited hours in the studio, an immediate focus was required to get the right piano and vocal performances … The whole experience was refreshing and rewarding …”
Similarly, the song itself – lyrics & melody – was written in a matter of hours, early ones at that, in a creative burst that saw the Croydon-born artist put body to a title that had been lying around for quite some time. Explaining how the track came about, the singer confessed:
“I knew I liked the sound of it; I just didn’t have a clue what it meant to me or what it could turn into. It came out of frustration, I kind of just stopped caring what it could be and at 1am on a Saturday I just wrote what came out and what I felt like.”
Listening to the lyrics one can easily understand how they flowed during the lonely darkness of the small hours. The sense of frustration is palpable, the emotion raw, the uncertainty the territory of the still of the night.
Wilder’s musicianship is as meticulous as it is intuitive and his understated yet effectual performance provides the perfect balance for Davi’s heartfelt vocal. Her voice, which is pitch perfect and well controlled throughout, has a warmth and silkiness that lends itself well to this style of soulful balladry. Mr Bamonte certainly had a eureka moment when he conceived of this perfect musical pairing!
‘Calling The Clock’ is a masterclass in subtlety and discernment. A modern day soul song, emotionally stirring without being overindulgent, performed with accomplished restraint, by two musical perfectionists.
Dédé Davi is as they say, ‘one to watch’ and so in a way, is Alan Wilder. Where or when he will next be seen or heard is anyone’s guess. We can only hope it won’t be another four years. In the meantime, you can download or stream ‘Calling The Clock’ (our on Smile Records) here : itunes | spotify and watch Dédé perform the song in the video here,
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’ 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 …
If their social media presence is anything to go by, Swedish band ‘Many Voices Speak’ are a very, very recent formation. Online for less than a month, the band have obviously been living in close quarters and deliberately keeping themselves under the radar, given they have already signed to not one but two labels, and also debuted their first single, ‘Video Child‘.
Opening with a shiver of guitar strings with a nuance of Twin Peaks mystery, ‘Video Child’ slowly and cautiously evolves into an intricate, yet loosely woven retro menagerie of guitar lines lightly dusted with reverb, delicate melodic keys, and barely there horns, all underpinned by the most discreet of RS arrangements. Full of Hollis-esque spaces that give it a relaxing tranquility, the song has a dreamy nostalgia into which we are irresistibly drawn, not least by the softly restrained vocals of Matilda Mård, whose careful enunciation evokes feelings of both nostalgia and regret.
With scant information on both their socials and website, there’s little to go on here, but what we do have is a quote from Mård about how the song was shaped: “‘Video Child’ was shaped from a kind of rebellion against the musical introspective sound that I devoted myself to for several years. To me it’s a song that looks back to the late nineties. Both lyrically, but also I’ve given into another kind of arrangements that provide space for a larger expression, which looks back to the artists who made me want to sing in the first place, like Dido and Destiny’s Child.”
‘Video Child’ is lifted from the band’s debut EP, ‘Away For All Time’, which Mård wrote during a long term stay in the Swedish town of Borlänge. Be prepared for more gentle, halcyon pop melodies laced together by pure, unadulterated vocals that invite and assuage with the lightest of impressions, as they sing of a darker past whilst looking to a brighter future.
You can stream or buy ‘Video Child’ via Spotify or iTunes, while Away All the Time will release via Hit City U.S.A. on October 28th. In the meantime, you can listen to the debut single here.
If you teleported Aurora back to the soulful days of the late 60s, threw a gauze of colour-pop psych over some Broen type wonk, and then fused the two, you might arrive at something vaguely in the realm of ‘How it Works’, the debut single from Oslo based Samū.
With only one other song up on their socials, the ludicrously good ‘In My Head‘, a song that could easily have been crafted by that erstwhile queen of ’50s jazz and ’60s trippy folk cum blue-eyed soul, Amie ‘Warwick Avenue‘ Duffy, Samū’s sound is still pretty much uncharted territory.
A five-piece comprising Trine Samuelsen Hansen, Sander Eriksen Nordahl, Ruben Gilje, Martin Morland and Knærten Simonsen they recently signed to Trondheim based ‘NO FOREVERS‘ a label whose star is very much in the musical ascendancy.
That they draw the bulk, if not all, of their influences from the 20th century is pretty clear, with samples spanning a 40 year spectrum from the ’60s folk of Simon & Garfunkel through sugar coated synth-pop to ’90s slacker pop, all washed down with that easy-evening, ‘Waterloo Sunset’, laid-back chill of The Kinks.
And it is that low-key, serene feeling, that lies at the very heart and neo-soul of their single ‘How it Works’, a song set in a timeless world, in which everything moves in a slow-mo waltz, against a backdrop of hazy days harmonies and easy, peaceful sounds.
Echoey ’60s piano riffs and retro keyboard sounds take centre stage, while nice n’easy guitar and percussion take a more subtle, gentler approach.
Trine Hansen’s vocal, more golden delicious than the Nordic cool of so many of her peers, skips and dances playfully through the songs instrumental spaces, giving them a delicious sweet filling. The song itself is underpinned by a lumbering bass, which in an almost bluegrass outro, tracks its elephantine plod through a garden bed of spiralised wonk.
Having cut their live teeth playing several gigs in Norway, Samū laid down their first single in Øra studios with Karl Klaseie (Kari Harneshaug, Antler, Østfrost). The band are now working on their first album, details of which will be announced later in the year. ‘How it Works’ goes on release today, and you can hear it right here, right now.
I’ve met Dagny … she’s the funny, self-deprecating, bubbly young woman, with whom I spent an hour chit-chattering before cajoling her into posing for a daft photo in the foyer of the Clarion hotel in Trondheim.
That was back in a snow-ridden February, just before she was due to play to her live set as part of the Trondheim Calling Festival. The Norwegian popstrel wasn’t feeling 100%. Her throat was a little scratchy. She made herself a hot drink and went up to have some quiet time in her bedroom.
Three hours later she blew the sox off a capacity crowd sardined into the massive glass menagerie that is the Rockefeller venue, with a kick ass performance that had them screaming their appreciation and baying for more.
She was going to the States she told me, to work with some top liners, producers, other musicians, play some lives, shoot the breeze, soak it all up, #livethedream. It was all hopefully gonna kick off for Dagny before the end of the year.
Now here we are in September, the sun is getting low in the sky and the evenings longer. What better way to transition from the azure days of Summer (what Summer?) to the hazy shades of Autumn with the sun-soaked, rainbow hued pop songs of Dagny’s debut EP, ‘Ultraviolet‘.
Five nuggets of pure pop gold, ‘Ultraviolet’ has had UK music media in its thrall since its release a few days ago. We’re thinking especially of PopJustice Ed in Chief, Peter Robinson, who’s been raving about it with a capital R!
This bouquet of punchy pop kicks off with a retro-vibing, beat-tastic bamarama. With its guitar licks carved out of the ’70s and a melody dug up out of the garden of Now That’s What I Call The ’80s, ‘Fight Sleep’ is what you might expect to hear if legendary singer/songwriter Cathy Dennis, she of Kylie mega-hit ‘Can’t Get You Outta My Head’ fame, was to do a disco remix of tub-thumper ‘War Baby’ (just don’t tell TRB!).
Dagny has a strong voice and carries this weighty track well, but, and this is just a personal observation, maybe the vocal would be served better with a little less of the accentuated end of line upticks!
Lead track ‘Ultraviolet’ is the perfect ‘getting ready with the girls before a night out‘ anthem. Rife with ‘all American’ rock riffs and rollin’ percussion, this is the kind of number the Pinks of this world do so well, and, which the US of A, home of all things rock-pop with a danceable pulse, buys by the Platinum-coated bucket load. This is slick, strobe-lit, high-school pop, and with its upbeat, ‘oh-so-memorable’ catchy hooks, ‘Ultraviolet’ should have gaggles of teens and tweens everywhere reaching for their hairbrushes.
Mid-stream finds us in Taylor Swift/Ariana Grande territory with the pure pop beats of ‘Too Young‘, a track that sees Dagny show a more youthful, lighter side to her oft smoky vocal. This hands in the air head-bobber, is pure iridescent spinning disco ball. An NRG driven sing-along that will demand you dance your ass off to its compelling gold-plated melody lines and pulsating beats.
Next up, it’s the big one. ‘Backbeat’, the track that propelled Dagny’s into the world of mainstream pop and etched her name in the minds of Euro-pop-media. Released in late 2015, it lingers long with its infectious OHs and speed of light handclaps, hyperactive drumming and driving guitars. An instrumental winner wrapped around shimmering synth loops, it’s enriched by an intense vocal delivery, and yeah ok, we have those Dagny upticks again, but in this instance, they kinda work.
To be fair, I guess when you’re starting out and trying to be remembered, you need to nail an evo-stick trademark. I get it guys!
The EP finale comes in the form of flamboyant, ‘Fool’s Gold. A sparkling stunner of a pop diamond, it’s fuelled by a propulsive mid-line of synth wrapped guitars and blood pumping percussion. If this doesn’t get your toes tapping, head nodding and hips swinging then see a doctor about getting your pulse checked, as it’s quite probable that you’re dead.
With 5million plus streams on Spotify, it’s a class A pop rocket. A turbo charged stomper that perfectly book-ends this blast of an EP.
If multi-coloured, heart stoppin’, summer lovin’, fluorescent, pure unadulterated pop is your thing, then Dagny‘s music is for you. Five star recommendation for teens, tweens, popstrels, party girls, girls who just wanna have fun, boys who like girls who like boys, and high heeled, sequin swept, glammed up disco queens. Do It!
Dagny’s ‘Ultravoilet’ EP is available to buy, stream, download via all the usual digital channels, links here.