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!

Sløtface Shine ‘Bright Lights’ On A Dark Subject

Lasse Lokøy
Lasse Lokøy

Earlier in the Autumn, when the evenings were still balmy enough for us to hit the streets without donning the plethora of woollens and multitude of layers with which we are currently swaddled, Norwegian four-piece Sløtface took to the nocturnal streets of Bergen to shoot the video accompaniment to their latest single ‘Bright Lights‘.

Lifted from the EP, Empire Records‘ itself just released on 18th November, the track is about escapism – escaping self and society. The song is written by frontwoman Haley Shea, who is to Norway what Grimes is to Canada and Ani DiFrancio is to the US. who gives an unusually restrained yet highly effective vocal performance with a much nuanced emphasis on the word “crushed” that hangs at the end of the chorus like a broken arm.  Musically, this is Sløtface at their most understated.  Intuitive guitars make a statement without being overpowering while the percussion takes on a more relaxed style.  This is less punky, rriot, more Blondie style pop with its native intelligence.

The self-made Lasse Lokøy directed visual however, focusses its lens on an altogether darker subject – female vulnerability & safety.  Just how safe the nocturnal streets of Bergen are is not known to me; what is known, and only too well, is how unsafe the streets of Dublin, city or urban, are for women at any time of the day or night.

Opening with scenes from a booze, music and fun filled gathering of friends, the mood of the film quickly shifts from relaxed gaiety to one of tense uncertainty, as the once crammed frame empties onto a deserted street, dark save for the street lights, desolate except for the lone female protagonist.  What follows in this perceptively scripted and directed storyline, is an experience with which most of us females will be all too familiar.

Lasse Lokøy
Lasse Lokøy

The nervousness that automatically creeps in when we find ourselves walking alone at night.  The sense of terror that screams inside when we suddenly find that we are not alone.  The panic that sets in when a dark, hooded figure walks into our immediate space.  The disgusted indignation and feeling of limp frustration at having to ignore midnight, booze-fuelled boors, spouting sexist claptrap dressed up as a neanderthal charm offensive, that rapidly turns into insults when their efforts go unheeded.

Walking with the phone on ‘dial-alert’.  Bracing oneself with keys jagged to the ready.  Taking to the middle of the street under some misguided impression that the midsection is safer than the side because “everyone can see me, right?”. Wrong.

We are not safe.  Not safe from louts. Not safe from thugs.  Not safe from bullies.  Not safe from misogynists.  Not safe from attackers, muggers, rapists, and murderers.  We are women .. vulnerable, open to every form of attack from mental through verbal to physical.  Welcome to our world.

Sløtface have been chugging out singles like JK Rowling spawns fantasies.  The ‘Empire Records’ mini-compendium is the latest in the ever accelerating run up to their debut album, due for release in early 2017.  In addition to their ever lengthening discography, the band have been speeding up and down the gig helter-skelter and not satisfied with having recently finished a whistle-stop tour of the UK, this hyper-energised bunch have just announced another week of UK dates running from 13th – 18th February.

feb-tour-dates

‘Bright Lights‘ is available to stream/download here https://slotface.lnk.to/BrightLights & you can watch the band’s ‘on point’ awareness film right here.

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/

Øyafestivalen … Internationally Speaking.

Julia Holter
Julia Holter

Where the author recommends their top 5 tips from the #Øya2016 International line up.

OYa

There is no mean array of ‘international jetsetters’ flying into Oslo from today for their annual musicfest with an environmentally friendly twist, Øyafestivalen. With revered acts from across the spectrum taking part, it’s a hard task to choose the creme from the creme de la creme, but hey, someone’s got to do the heavy work!

CHRISTINE & THE QUEENS

First up we have on-trend Queen of the Now, Christine aka Héloïse Letissier.  A multi-media artists hailing from Nantes, France, her name comes out of her long term association with drag queen musicians.  Signed to Because Music since 2012, she has released multiple recordings, but it was latest album, ‘Chaleur Humaine‘ that sent her spinning like a #tilted top into the arms of the international musicverse.  Christine and the Queens will play the Sirkus stage at 3.55pm Wednesday and her performance should prove to be one of the most unique of the festival.

LAST SHADOW PUPPETS

One time poster boy for northern kick-ass, Alex Turner has recently become something of the “guy the media love to hate”. Where once the Arctic Monkeys’ frontman was seen as a leading light of the new wave of Brit indie rockers with his Sheffield scowl and swagger, it would now seem that he has swaggered one step too far for some, and has become something of a piñata for a horde of meowling music media.  Personally, I think they’re missing the point of the Last Shadow Puppets and their hammed up, camped up, OTT on stage personae.  Call Kane and Turner defectors all you want, LSP make great guitar driven baroque pop with well crafted, entertaining lyrics accompanied by inspired videos.  I for one shall enjoy watching the northern swagger abound on the Amfiet stage, Wednesday 4.50pm.  Expect to be entertained!

MASSIVE ATTACK

Massive Attack
Massive Attack

Is there anyone on this planet who has remained unmoved by ‘Teardrop’, or, whose heart of stone hasn’t caved on viewing the video … that beautifully, wonderfully conceived of visual (I’m getting goosebumps just thinking of it).  Masters of invention, world-class collaborators and perennial chameleons of reinvention, Massive Attack swing from trip hop to delicate, soothing electro-pop ballads to rousing pop anthems brimful with unforgettable hooks.  Around for the guts of 30 years, there is a reason why Massive Attack have established a worldwide following, and those lucky enough to be in Toyenparken at the Amfiest main stage at 9.30pm Wednesday will bear witness to it!

DAUGHTER

Daughter oh Daughter, how you delight me with your delicious indie-folkie delicacies.  This trio is an international mix of Swiss born Igor Haefeli, Frenchman Remi Aguilella and North Londoner, Elena Tonra.  With a vocal that flows like quicksilver and a subtle intensity that catches you right off guard, Daughter produce spectacularly good music without fuss or fanfare.  They released their critically acclaimed top 20 album, ‘Not To Disappear’ earlier this year, so you can expect snippets from that as well as the ‘known’ songs from their back catalogue.  Masters in the art of understated, their performance at Øya will probably elicit adjectives like bewitching and spinetingling!  Daughter play the Vindfruen stage, Friday 5.50pm.  Will play on your emotions, but hey, isn’t that what festivals are about?

TOP TIP… hands down, JULIA HOLTER.

When it comes to American uncategorisable singer songwriter performer musical magician I have one shit-serious blind-side – Julia Holter.   I cannot be wavered in my magnetic attraction to Holter’s unique and utterly enchanting talent.  So much more than a singer/songwriter, this multi talented, multi-instrumentalist creator of magical charms is to 21st century experimental art-pop what Tori Amos was to the 20th.  Left-field abstract sometimes indie, sometimes ambient, Holter is in the mould of those other undefinable artists of her age – Newsom, Kate Bush and Laurie Anderson.  Her talent is a gift, and she will bestow this gift on those lucky enough to be in front of the Vindfruen stage at 3.55pm Thursday!

The main Øyafestivalen is located in the Toyenparken area of central Oslo.  It runs from Wednesday 10th through Saturday 13th and promises to be a hell of a lot better than the current meteorological situation in the Norwegian capital!!

The Norwegian Propeller Cometh From A Land Down Under

Pic of Frokedal from Månefestivalen by Johannes Andersen
Pic of Frokedal from Månefestivalen by Johannes Andersen

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the dynamic force behind the fair wind that sails the good ship Propeller Recordings, is their Australian marketing tour de force, Jodie Grinstead.  A virtuoso of all things marketing and PR strategist extraordinaire, this uber enterprising media manager whose lightbulb seems to be permanently lit, has literally ‘propelled’ homegrown roster signees such as Highasakite and Frøkedal from who? to where/when? in a relatively short period of time.  While helping to catapult Propeller’s acts into the musical stratosphere outside of Norway is by no means an easy feat, Jodie herself would be one of the first to acknowledge that given quality ingredients the talented chef can create a dish fit for a king.

Apothek with the Propeller Family
Apothek with the Propeller Family

And so it is with the acts signed to Propeller … they are, to put it simply, some of the best in the business, and, when you are presented with talent as great as the label has on its books, it makes the task of promoting and brand-building just that little bit easier!  Just a jot! 

So just who are these superstars of the now, and not so distant future?

Anne Lise Frøkedal hails from the rainy, black mountain country of Western Norway. While those very same mountains have at times been known to cast shadows over her songs, giving them something of a sombre melancholy, the sunnier, more optimistic side of the singers disposition has more often than not lifted them into brighter climes.  One of Norway’s favourite solo artists, 2016 has seen Anne Lise’s debut album release under the Frøkedal moniker.  ‘Hold on Dreamer’ an absolute gem of a record, is a beautifully woven, carefully stitched labour of love.  Coloured with threads of bright silks outlined by darker edges of shade, it is an imaginatively and lovingly thought out soundscape filled with the lark-like voice of one of Norway’s finest singers.  ‘Cherry Trees’ is possibly the best track on the album and if you’ve not already done so, we’d urge you to give it a listen.  However, as the album’s most well known track is undoubtedly ‘The Sign’, we’ll include the video for it here.

Frøkedal plays the Øyafestivalen Amfiet Stage at 15.55 Saturday 13th.

Apothek, Dagny, and Great News – all Propeller gene pool swimming their way to the top of the pops.  Apothek in particular, have been an interesting arrival on the electronic scene, arousing a lot of interest much like a curiosity shop full of secrets.

Apothek

They make songs that have more breadth and depth than a lot of standard electronic fare and with the release of their debut album imminent, it seems likely that we will hear a LOT more of and about this duo in the weeks and months to come.  They most recently performed a live rendition of their single ‘Reunion’, complete with 10-piece choir : unfortunately Mr YT says no, and we can’t watch it over here! (the link is embedded for those of you in Norway!).  For now, the rest of us will just have to make do with the official video for ‘Waiting for the Thunder’ until we can get to see the Apothekian real deal this coming Saturday 13th when the band play the Vindfruen stage at Øya, 13.50.

Undoubtedly one of this reviewer’s personal faves from the Propeller stable is ‘in yer face’, no prisoners, noisefesters Sløtface. This feisty foursome are all about sending out clear messages on equality, misogyny, green/environmentally friendly ethics and human rights, whilst having a helluva lot of fun in the process.  Sløtface score as much cerebral dexterity as they do rampant riotousness, and with the lyrical ingenuity of their acerbically witty works, they have fast built a rep for themselves as razor sharp socio-political observers and commentators, who just happen to make their melodic orations against a deliciously noisy backdrop. The band have spent the past 12 months living between studios and stages, alternating recording for live performances in the run up to the release later this year/early next year of their debut album.  Their latest single, ‘Take Me Dancing‘ is an invitation you’d be foolish to pass up, as you would the chance to see them kick off on stage 19.00 at Parkteatret as part of the KlubbØya opening night fandango, Tuesday 9th,

Finally, one could not write a piece on Propeller’s artists without mentioning their biggest success story to-date.  Norwegian five-piece Highasakite are a band whose star is clearly in a very stratospheric and dazzlingly illuminated ascendancy.  So much has already been said about this intense, insightful, tight-knit drama of a band there’s no need for forensics here.

Photo Propeller Rec
Photo Propeller Rec

At times their music is dimly lit comprising sombre and mournful prayers or reflections, at others they are capable of creating the most dream-tastic wistfulness, smoky and ethereal like shadowy fairytales.  The counterpoints are their spellbinding gilt-edged pop or fantastic OTT warrioresque melodramas that hit with all the whip and venom of angry thunderstorms.  If you want the full on Highasakite experience, pitch your stall in front of the Amfiet stage on Friday 12th for 21.30, when these shiniest of Propeller stars will cast their bewitching spell over the Toyenparken crowd when they make their first Øya headline appearance.

We’ll leave you with a wee behind the scenes of their latest single ‘Samurai Sword’ along with an visual of a live performance of the single itself, below.  See you at Øya!

If you want to learn more about Norwegian indie label, Propeller Recordings or their spinoff lable 0E0E, dig into their newly vamped up website – http://www.propellerrecordings.no/#gold

Øyafestivalen, Norway’s premier music festival runs from Tuesday 9th to Satuday 13th August incl, full details of the artists and the festival programme can be found on the Øya FB page and website.

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

Soak It Up : Sløtface ‘Sponge State’ EP

Slotface Banner

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

Sponge state-digital

 

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

3. Sponge State

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

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

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

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

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

Reality is so much better than virtual!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trondheim Calling : Gig Review – Slutface

Photo DMc Cloat
Photo DMc Cloat

Total ‘must see’ for me during the Trondheim Calling music festival was the Saturday night Slutface gig at the legendary Øra Studio.  The setup was at the back of the studio proper, in a room that was as high as it was wide – perfect acoustics – wood panelled with both walls and floor bedecked with rugs, artwork and shuttering.  The smallish crowd of about 50 or so, spilled in  – well small for TC but at 100% capacity for the room – and sat on the large deep pile rug.  Not for long …

In bounced Slutface lead by feisty, tour-de-force frontwoman Hayley Shea, who instantly said the magic Norwegian words required to have the crowd jumping to their feet.  That was the signal I was waiting for.  Slutface have form for encouraging serious crowd interaction and sure enough, this 30 minute set was a masterclass in how to perform a top notch gig slam bang in the middle of your audience.  Slutface literally sang while their fans were standing by their side – from my vantage point in the “wings”, it was compelling viewing.

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Slutface ripped their way through a frenergetic turbo-charged set with more vim than a Dirty Vimto.  ‘Shave my Head’, ‘Bad Party’, ‘Angst’ – each one sung at full pelt by Shea without once having a quiver in her voice.  Trust me, it takes a lot to sing high-octane tracks non-stop for 30minutes without faltering at least once – and she didn’t – which goes to prove that Shea is much more than a mere competent singer.  This girl has a driving, gutsy, wide-ranging vocal that she controls with a vice-like grip!  It takes a lot of command and determination to be able to do that, particularly at such a young age, but then again, this IS Hayley Shea we’re talking about.

Musically, this was pure rocket fuel, with the guys giving a tight, well synced performance during which they never put a foot wrong.  An hyper-active Lasse Lokøy knocked socks out his bass-guitar whilst performing adrenalin fuelled acrobatics through the crowd, while behind him, drummer Halvard Skeie Wiencke knocked seven shades of hell out of his drum kit – albeit very skillfully!  Both of them double-jobbed as backing vocalists, which was a pretty good pull-off considering they were so physically interactive.

Photo of Halvard Skeie Wiencke, DMc Cloat
Photo of Halvard Skeie Wiencke, DMc Cloat

Tor-Arne Vikingstad is as fine a guitar player as I heard all weekend and he pretty much stripped the varnish off the panelling with the fire coming from his scorching guitarwork.  The decibel level must have hit pretty close to 85dB, all the more amazing given the fact that Vikingstad & co were had been equipped with only two speakers!

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The Slutface gig was the only one I attended during Trondheim Calling, where the artist 100% completely engaged with, and even more importantly, engaged the crowd, and the resultant energy that the crowd channeled back to the band, was electrifying.   By the time the gig was half way through, the crowd, encouraged by Shea, had completely surrounded her, whilst she sang, pogoed and bounced like Jumping Jack Flash around the floor. (The only other band I saw interact in similar fashion were equally awesome fuzzpunkers, Rick Ashtray, who led by ‘Tambourine Man’, Chris Omdahl danced their way through the packed crowd on the final night in Dokkhuset).

This was one seriously fiery, hard hitting gig – alive and on fire – and one of the most energetic and animated of the festival.  Slutface are a great band of the future, whose present is in a rapid ascendancy  who gave a volcanic performance, memorable for its energy, honesty, musicianship, and, it’s unparalleled sense of “community” and unorthodox “meet and greet” style.

In a word, #Refreshing.

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You can follow Slutface on Facebook and Twitter.

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