On the 31st October 1988, Liverboys The La’s released an infectious jangle that was so simplistic and uncluttered it made for a welcome antidote to the alt-psych-dance fusion that was the Madchester sound. With a melody that wrapped itself around your memory like an endearing cobra, There She Goes, became one of the greatest and most memorable Indie anthems of all time.
Five years earlier, a quartet of pioneering genii dropped the S-bomb onto the ToTP studio and the world of music was irrevocably changed as Hand in Glove provided our first meet and greet with the legend that is Johnny Marr.
Why am I starting a post on a Dayflower single with a meander about The La’s and Marr? Well might you ask! And the answer is thus. Because that’s what I hear when I play thisSweet Georgia Gazes – Marr riffing with The La’s – and it’s like sweet manna from heaven on the day before payday.
A brief opening of backwards wonk leads into a charge of propulsive drumming, which akin to that of a certain Spellbound Budgie, hurtles its way through an intricate writhe of guitar blaze and billows of angelic vocals provided by artist/photographer Leonie DuBarry-Gurr, whose voice by the way is simply delightful. Ever the master of subtlety, bassist Dhonau downplays his contribution which acts as an anchoring counter to Alex Clemence’s trademark dreamy vocal.
Parking the hyperbole, suffice it to say, this is a song somewhat akin to the older self looking back on its younger ‘heart-shaped’ self.
With its nod to the Marr-eseque guitar style and side-step away from the more syrupy sound we’ve come to know, Sweet Georgia Gazes is proof positive that Alex Clemence’s songwriting and the band’s capacity for quirky yet innovative arrangement, have developed and matured to such an extent as to take Dayflower’s sound up to the next level.
With a video in the offing you can expect more gazing from Sweet Georgia … for now though, you’ll have to settle for the more than retro lush audio of Dayflower’s hazy days gaze.
Dayfloweris: Alex Clemence: vox/guitar, David Dhonau: bass/vocals/tambourine, Chris Merriman: electric guitar/vocals and Simon Bland: drums/vocals. The band will play their next Candy Dust gig on 30th June as per in The Cookie, Leicester, full details here.
Introducing Sigrid Raabe, the Norwegian challenger to the Larsson throne!
One year ago this month, I stood in Trondheim’s Dokkhuset watching headliner Tellef Raabe close the Trondheim Callingmusic festival. Last week, in that very same city, I sat on a sofa in the Clarion Congress hotel with the head of another music festival. We were discussing the Norwegian music artists we felt were going to go #gold in 2017. Top of that list came the afore-mentioned Tellef’s baby sister, Sigrid.
Coming from a family who immersed themselves in music and culture, all of whom are musically talented, Sigrid Raabe who began her career as her brother’s backing singer, has finally stepped out of the shadow of her older siblings. And with a GIANT step at that!
Recently signed to the Island Records division of Universal Music, Sigrid, who goes by her first name a la Kylie & Adele, has just released her debut single, ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe‘, and it’s 100% electrocket-pop.
With a big and bold voice scuffed by a grungy, gravelly texture that is the antithesis of the her ice-tipped Norwegian peers, Sigrid doesn’t just sing, she punches out a formidable yet mellifluous vocal with a plucky confidence and ease honed by years of on-stage experience, that belie her young age.
Opening with modulated vocals and sombre piano chords the song quickly perks up with the addition of rapid synth sequences, underground basslines, bombastic percussion and Sigrid’s feisty vocal. A vocal that picks up and rugby tackles the 2-fingered gutsy attitude of the track’s lyrics.
“You’re acting like you hurt me but I’m not even listening …
You think you’re so important to me don’t you, but I wanted you to know that you don’t belong here”
‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ is a pop song in the mould of Zara Larsson, another Nordic singer who isn’t afraid to sound off about how she feels. Similarly to the Swede’s street style, the track builds from the ground upwards on a foundation inlaid with the #hiphop beats that give it a refreshing newness and raw energy lacking in many of today’s ‘same old’ churn.
Swede Zara Larsson is to glam-meets-street pop as Norwegian Sigrid is to dance-pop with a feisty urban twist, and while Ms Zara has been one of the top Scandinavian exports of the past few years, the Queen of the Nordic territories just might be about to lose her golden crown to a formidable new challenger!! Time will tell, but for my money, I don’t see why not! Likewise, I can also see a world in which both Scandi sirens can ‘do’ dual world domination! #girlpower
Sigrid’s single, ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ is out now on Island Records with an accompanying video due to be released shortly. Listen to her ‘packs a punch’ pop track here,
Sigrid is set to play by:Larm in March and TGE (UK) in May – if you’re anywhere near Oslo or Brighton on either occasion you know what to do! Follow Sigrid on Facebookand Twitter– and you’ll find me likewise @#DervSwerve
Norwegian modernist collective Pom Poko have just released their third single ‘It’s a Trap’ accompanied by an impressive avant-garde ‘toon visual, the work of Olav Fangel Jamtveit, brother of the band’s vocalist, Ragnhild FJ.
A song about release and arrival, letting go to achieve self-awareness, ‘It’s a Trap’ is a quirky, punchy little sherbet that fizzes with pops of 90’s post-punk with more than a hint of glam psych. Without doubt the track benefits from the experimental nous and masterly hand of Highasakite‘s Kristoffer Lo, a man who knows his way around more than a few instruments. Adding his trademark guitar, brass and a.n.other sounds to the mix, Lo has taken Pom Poko’s sound in a more experimental and diverse direction, giving the original live jam the same depth and texture he brings to all his collaborations.
While the instrumental backdrop has some sharp edges, it is chasmed by sufficient wide spaces to counter-balance the intensity. As usual, vocal duties of the infinitely starlit variety are carried off with effortless ease by Ragnhild Fangel Jamtveit and if her previous live vocal performances are the benchmark to go by, Pom Poko’s two gigs at Trondheim Callingshould be something else and then some more! During TC the band will also perform a live sesh for P3’s Ruben. Unfortunately for me it’s happening on the Wednesday, ahead of my arrival ‘on scene’.
In addition to their saffron shot nocturnal cartoon visual accompaniment, Pom Poko have adorned their single with the cutest, candy-coloured artwork by Norwegian illustrator Erlend Pederwhich you can see here! The floral bedecked character is as yet to be identified!
In other news, Pom Poko have made it to the Urort Final 2017 (a Norwegian national award for promising emerging artists); if you like what you hear, you can vote for Pom Poko to win this prestigious award, here. #doit
It is a testament to their punky quirkiness that Pom Poko give their facebook page “unofficial status” – hook up with it here to touch base with the band and keep up to speed with their lives at Trondheim Calling and their Urort escapades!
The future is definitely as bright as the characters in their ‘It’s a Trap’ video for this effervescent four-piece – I hope you’ll join me in wishing them all the luck in the world – for Trondheim Calling, for Urort and we-ell, for the future.
‘It’s a Trap’ is available now via Phonofile – http://phonofile.link/its-a-trap . Watch the captivating fam-made visual here.
James Blunt gives his detractors the 2-fingers in latest single, ‘Love Me Better’.
Lifted from his upcoming album ‘The Afterlove’ which is set for release on March 24th through Atlantic Records, ‘Love Me Better’ marks a new departure for the platinum selling artist. Produced by American singer Ryan Tedder(One Republic), a respected songwriter in his own right (Madonna, U2, Adele) its interstitial arc curves through a spectrum of slick R&B before exploding into vibrant uptempo pop.
While reflective lyrics are raw and forthright, they are also both critical and self-critical. Shaped in the humourous fold that is trademark Blunt, they take a side-swipe at the Blunt detractors whilst dabbling in some heartfelt emosh. Fusing high-end R&B with uptown pop, the song, which hinges on catchy beats and gyrating synths, cruises seamlessly through stop-start tempo changes, giving it both a striking rhythm and refreshing vibe.
Coming ahead of his fifth album on which James worked with a diverse cohort including Ed Sheeran and MoZella, the track marks a progressive shift in both sound and style for the ‘You’re Beautiful’ star.
Later this year, November to be exact, will see James Blunt embark on an UK ‘The Afterlove Tour’. A list of dates together with links to pre-order the upcoming album are detailed below. For further information check out James Blunt’s Facebook page.
To listen to ‘Love me Better‘ in full, click onto Spotify here:-
Sandvika natives, Einar Stray Orchestra are to indie music what the Divine Comedyare to alt-pop. In fact, with his suave baritone and predilection for quirky, on-point lyrics and gregarious, orchestral manoeuvres, Einar Stray is for all intents and purposes, the Norwegian Neil Hannon. Tbh, I can’t help fantasising about what spectacular sonic soap-operas the pairing of Stray with Hannon could magic-up … ah, one can dream.
Einar Stray’s five-piece ‘orchestra’, for orchestral they are, have just released ‘As Far As I’m Concerned‘ the second single from their upcoming album set for a 2017 release via Sinnbus & Toothfairy. The follow-up to 2016’s ‘Penny For Your Thoughts’, it’s a lavish affair, awash with resplendent string sequences, bright vivacious melodies and smoothly manoeuvred time changes underpinned by dynamic contributions from the R/S.
Vocally, the sweet lightness of Ofelia Østrem Ossum’s soft mezzo is the perfect foil for the dark shade of Stray’s rich baritone, while lyrically, this cleverly worded opus centres on the theme of the fear of change. “The fear of turning into someone the old you despite. The fear of throwing your life away going in the wrong direction. Moving forward can be terrifying – yet it’s the only way.”
ESO have announced an upcoming European tour kicking off in one of my favourite cities, Vienna, on 13th April. The tour will see them play countries such as Switzerland, Belgium and the UK amongst others but alas, no Irish dates seem to be on the cards! ESO are however lined-up to play Norway’s Trondheim Calling festival and for those of you who like me will be lucky enough to grace those snowy paths from 2nd to 4th February, full details of the artist schedule and conference programme are here.
2017 also sees the release of Einar Stray Orchestra’s third album, which, if the two superb singles are indicative of its overall quality, should be pretty much splendidly symphonic, colourfully creative and in two words, beyond impressive.
Full details of ESO’s tour and their upcoming album release can be found on their Facebook page. Follow them there and on their Twitterpage to keep up to speed with their musical escapades and a possible collaboration with our own Neil Hannon (well, stranger things have happened!).
To read about my own upcoming escapades over at Trondheim Calling, check into my blog, or hang out here on FB or Twitter.
With echoes of Lush casting ‘gazey shadows on its sonic periphery, ‘The Way Home’ is an impassioned piece of stentorian grunge distilled through the psychedelic waters of indie-thrum. The latest in a line of monthly releases from London-based Heavy Heart, it’s quite the damning retrospective on the ‘annus horribilis’ that was GB 2016, especially if like 16million others, you were in the #Remain camp.
I’m no genius but my default interpretation, based on the lyrics, is that this is an indictment of Brexit and the divisions it has caused, the EU’s response to the Immigration crisis, and the collapse of the “land of the free” courtesy of King Trump and his court of clowns & chassis.
“When the kindest word is hard to find Turning on ourselves and taking sides”
The sense of determination coming from the strident guitar playing is finely counter-balanced by the dreamy delicacy of vocalist Anna’s nuanced interpretation. An interpretation that belies the thread of disaffection running through the song.
“When the kindest word is hard to find, Turning on ourselves and taking sides In the end we’re only wasting time, On each other we rely, rely, rely”
There’s plenty of fuzzed up drone and adrenalin pumping verve here to keep both psych-rock and indie lovers happy, whilst the cleverly crafted socio-political poetry should provide sufficient brain food for those who like their music ‘meaningful’. Topped off with a captivating layer of vocal gauze, the ingredients are blended effortlessly to create a powerful invitation to engage and a striking signal that there is more to explore.
Listen to ‘The Way Home’ here while you take a gander at Heavy Heart’s social diaires
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
“In the fear of being lonely I tried it all to get you back There were things you never told me Like your heart was painted black”
So run the opening lines of Berlin based alt-pop cum indie artist Farao‘s 2013 single, ‘Tell A Lie‘, a cover version of which has just been released by her fellow Nord, Therese Auneas part of a series of exclusive covers featured by the German Kultmucke publication.
Farao’s original is an even-tempered electro-pop ballad – measured, simplex, bleak in aspect with funereal organ-like synths creating a dark underbelly penetrated by tight guitar loops, jagged handclaps and a refracting click track. The Norwegian’s voice is as light as a feather and cool as a Winter’s dawn. Yet, despite the regretful melancholic sentiment that lies at the heart of the song, Farao’s beguiling vocal interpretation remains clear, poised, at times almost detached from the track’s emotional resonance.
Step forward Therese Aune with a dazzling electronic arrangement that takes the tempo and spirit of the song to another level. So delightful is this interpretation that if one didn’t know the lyrics one’s reaction would be one of instant joy! Aune’s expressive vocal dances around the words and pirouettes between light-hearted synth reps and electro-beats. It’s as uplifting and energised as Farao’s version is coolly sophisticated. Two sides of the one song, as diverse as they are impressive.
Covers are always difficult and emulating the original should be avoided at all costs. With her version of ‘Tell A Lie’ Therese Aune has taken what was obviously a deeply personal song and made it very much her own. By re-choreographing it she has put her own unique stamp on this gloriously uncomplicated complex song. Bravo.
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.
It’s been over a year since I first stumbled upon the impossibly talented Norwegian music artist Line Kasa. After a long silence on her part, and much “patience” on mine, sorry couldn’t resist, Line is making a much welcome return in the company of her long-term collaborator and cousin Halvor Nordal Strand, with their Swanlike music project. It’s quite the pleasure to bring you their new EP, ‘Years‘, a veritable sparkling treasure chest containing four diverse, thought-provoking and moving compositions.
Swanlike is the moniker for a project of moving parts, headed up by Halvor and Line. Like shifting sands, the line up is made up of whoever is involved with the latest collaborative work; its current make up is Trym Gjermundbo, Øyvind Mathisen, and Sarah Nordal Strand. Hailing from Notodden, in the southern Norwegian municipality of Telemark, this group of young, upcoming musicians have known each other for most of their lives.
While Halvor does most of the composing, lyrics and vocal arrangements are down to Line, with the remaining instrumental duties being picked up by the other three members. The current line up has been playing and recording together for some time now and the ‘Years’ EP is a testament not just to their tightness as a unit, but to their relative ease with each other as a musical partnership.
While project founders Halvor and Line have long been admirers of each other’s music, their first love was for English supers, Radiohead. Speaking about key musical influences Haldor explains: “Everyone in the band loves Radiohead. Line and I are both massive fans. Also, James Blake’s debut album was a turning point for me. I was, and am, so drawn to his approach to electronic music – with negative space, minimalistic instrumentation and gospel and r&b-influences in the London electronic sound. There are too many to mention but some of my other inspirations are, Frank Ocean, Burial, Jon Hopkins, Røyksopp, Arca, Bon Iver, and Cashmere Cat.
Drawn away from the strum of guitars to the pulsing world of electronica on first hearing Radiohead’s experimental opus Kid A, Halvor developed a fascination for “the sound shaping possibilities in working with synths and computers” and says moving to electronic music was a natural progression.
Inspiration for the the EP came out of a night of spinning Sia and Røyksopp tunes. Their positive, party vibe triggered the opening note-sequence around which the song ‘June‘ was written. Swanlike craft their songs by using the well-worn ‘forwards-backwards’ system, as geographic location and availability aren’t always in sync and once the music to the single was laid down and Line had added the vocals, the song was finished off with Øyvind Mathisen on the mixing desk of his Oslo studio.
The opening track and possibly the strongest song on the EP ‘June‘, is a heart-melting, stirring track about holding onto a good but passionless relationship for all the wrong reasons. With comfort and security comes guilt and frustration, feelings which Line Kasa’s exquisite vocal tenderly conveys with just the right amount of raw emotion. While there may be few sparks in this impassive relationship, the instrumental is practically iridescent. Windswept, radiant synths lines wrap around Line’s vocal in a landscape populated by the shadowy, dark spaces of disappointment and self-entrapment.
While most Norwegian electronica falls foul to the “icy”, “cold” and “frosted” labels, there is such a glow of warmth from Line Kasa’s clear vocal that when blended with such petillant synths, it melts whatever icy edges there are to be had on the instrumental accompaniment.
Delight follows delight as the EP moves onto the bewitching ‘Stones’, which has a slightly more rugged, edgy electronic vibe. A slow electro-ballad it comes with the twist of a mad scientist instrumental. A surprising side-order to its otherwise dreamy, hypnotic feel. At 5.22 it comes in on the ‘extended side’ but it’s a well arranged, imaginative journey through a diverse electronic landscape that should be to the taste of most hard-core electro-fans. Unlike the more contemporary ‘June’, ‘Stones’ was recorded a while backin Trondheim, with the help of Erlend Elveseen.
Similarly, next up ‘New Years’, is an antecedent to the newer compositions on the EP being recorded some years back with Sjur Lyseid. Speaking about ‘New Years’ Line explains: “(It’s) a song about feeling empty and having a hard time coping with the stuff in life that is supposed to feel good.” Spacious, stark, melancholic, there is an almost funereal quality to this track. An organ-like quality to the keys to which sombre bass-clarinet conjures a somewhat pious or reverent atmosphere while angelic harmonies counter the solemnity of the track’s musical foundation.
Book-ending the EP is a small slice of Norwegian delicacy, entitled ‘4’. With existential themes at its heart and mourning in its soul, it ponders why, years after losing someone who was an integral part of our lives, certain inescapable questions still involuntarily float to the surface of the mind. Of the song’s brevity Line comments: “I think one of the reasons why this song is so short is that the message is clear and there’s nothing more to say; these questions will never get an answer.”
Notwithstanding its doleful lyrical theme, the song’s pulsing instrumental and energetic percussive beat have a rather catchy rhythm that belie its inner melancholia.
The overriding sense of disappointment, despondency, and confusion that stems from the EPs lyrical content, is perfectly counter-balanced not just by the delightful tenderness and emotional honesty of Line Kasa’s poised vocal, but also by the imaginatively choreographed electronica that underpins it. Kudos to Strand for pulling off a flawless blend of gloaming and dawn with his ingenious line in synth composition and arrangement. The addition of drums and in particular the bass-clarinet, give texture and personality to what could so easily have been “ice-capped” electro-sounds, albeit sounds spun with some golden wizardry.
‘Years’ is a rather beautiful and stirring EP, skillfully orchestrated, and arranged with precision symmetry. A journey of dark and light, it is a confident, meticulous, intense and fascinating production that should provide Swanlike with a solid foundation from which to move forward and forge a full album.
You can follow Swanlike on Facebook. They play Skien 20.11 and Notodden 22.11 and Oslo in early 2017 tbc. A video for June is on the way, so keep your eyes peeled. Stream ‘Years’ here – links for downloads below.