Derv’s Voyage of Discovery – NotSoWeekly Newsletter (Vol 3)

 

Dublin 200717
Photo: Derval Mc Cloat

Greetings peoples and apologies for ‘le silence’. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Thing is, I’ve been transitioning into a ‘career’ as a full-time writer and as with any big upheaval, it’s been more than a little life-changing to say the least. Anyway, hey ho, we’re there now! Que sera sera!

Okay, so in a WAY busier than average early Summer season, there’s a shed load of music n’ news for ‘you/me/us’ to get acquainted with; so no dilly dallying, let’s get straight to it and kick off Vol 3 (in case you missed it, here’s a link to Vol 2)

First up y’all, a dash of fan-girling. Long time ‘admiree’ of the blog, Dorset gal Gris-de-Lin, has been hi-bindering around the Antipodes and Europodes with one Gemma Ray. Within a hair’s breadth of their return from a gander around Oz/New Z, the pair along with Andy Zammit high-tailed it off to swan around Switzerland and Germany finishing up at Berlin’s Baustelle Neues Schloss (if anyone cares to tell me what that means, I’m all ears) and to prove it, we have a photo!

If you still don’t know how damned-fine a singer/musician Gemma is, then feast your senses on this short live film taken during a recent gig in Rome.

As per, our newsletter is accessorised by a bejewelled Spotify playlist, in which you’ll find sonic samples from both the G’s.

Now unless you’ve been living in a dark cave on the Outer Hebrides or were turned into a frog by the the local branch of your witches coven, you’ll be aware of the biggest tour in town passing through an arena near you. Derv was lucky enough to get to see Radiohead play a packed out 3Arena, Dublin the week of #OKNOTOK and the 20th anniv of OK Computer.

It was, a boiling cauldron in which the frenergetic roars of the crowd reverberated thricefold off the gigantic dome-like ceilings.  Radiohead (11, 886, 308 likes on FB and counting) were magnificent in voice, instrumentation, performance and form.

They were, as we would say, in fine fettle, with frontman Thom Yorke gyrating like a buck hare with St. Vitus’ dance with all of the verve and flexibility of a man half his age.  Stage right, (Here’s) Jonny was enacting his very own version of The Bends (over the keyboards), while stage left gave us the ever statuesque Ed vocalising stunning renditions of falsetto harmonies to Yorke’s lead.

It was without doubt the best live performance by any music act/artist I have ever witnessed. The only downsides were:-

  1. Being physically assaulted by the Corkonian nutjob standing to the left of me – if you’re reading this, I don’t bruise that easily!
  2. Being physically assaulted by the oversized fully stuffed totebag on the right hand shoulder of the guy with the jigging legs in front of me, Cheers
  3. Being physically assaulted by the 40+degrees indoor temperatures – it was like a sweaty hellish furnace. White top, bad move 😦
  4. The very noticeable absence of a certain Creep from the setlist

So, for those of us who didn’t get to see their first ever smash performed live ‘in person’, here’s Radiohead performing the Pablo Honey anthem live at Glastonbury (where they were rockin’ but not as rollin’ as they were in Dublin!!).

THE MAJESTIC, THE MEDIOCRE, AND THE MEH!

There are so many new releases zipping around the stratosphere right now that in order for us to catch up, the easiest thing to do is to emulate them and accelerate at high speed.

Harry Styles Harry Styles (Album) – “And tonight Matthew, I’m gonna be David Bowie/Beck/Prince”. On your bike mate. A poor man’s Robbie Williams without the songwriting talent of Guy Chambers. DerVerdict – Dreadful tosh that borders on identity theft. Run. Very Fast.

Alison Moyet Other (Album) – Alison Moyet has created an album of sheer beauty, an undiluted joy that navigates rivers of lyrical poesy and soars, like the Essex singer’s voice, through an abundance of musical melodrama.

Eloquent, elegant and eschewing the jazz-pop style which became her post-’80s signature, Other is a masterpiece. An adventure through a lyrical wonderland set against a backdrop of well-matured, modern day electronica. DerVerdict – If you only buy one record …  PS See the 5min vid below of Alison discussing the album.

The Strypes Spitting Image (Album) – The Strypes, who made their ‘world debut’ on the Studio 4 stage of Ireland’s grand-dame of talk shows, the Late Late, are a band steeped in the youthful yore of The Beatles, Elvis Costello and some other band that’s hanging onto the tip of my tongue for dear life (when I shake them off I’ll let you know). Or is it the shades of James Honeyman Scott’s helter skelter guitar style?

Either way, Spitting Image ups the ante, a bold yet natural move for a young band previously known for their Bo Diddley R&B meets proto-punk vibes.  If you’re familiar with the works of Tilbrook/Difford/Holland aka Squeeze, (I Need A Break From) Holidays will resonate. DerVerdict – A Must buy, for sure.

Broken Social Scene – Stay Happy (Single). There are similarities here with Norwegian band Broen (when they’re not lurch-rappin’). Toronto natives Broken Social Scene have a new album in the post – Hug of Thunder – which should arrive on your doormat 7th July (via City Slang). Ahead of its release, the multi-faceted Canadian outfit have dropped lush single Stay Happy.

Opening with a vocal lifted straight out of Barbarella and a melody floating through a tropical night sky, the track rapidly transitions into a melodramatic fanfare of funky beats, swaggering bass and glorious choral harmonies, all with a twist of lush shiny brass.  More to follow! DerVerdict – Yeah baby!

Broen – You (Detective) (Single). Speaking of Broen, BBC radio and most recently Lauren Laverne, appear to have fallen in love with this track. It’s a serious ramp up from their previous outings, a maturing of what was previously a sound somewhat in slight disarray or a style reaching out for its place in an ever changing musical landscape.  With You, Broen have nailed a sound that does justice to their redoubtable talent.  DerVerdict – Dive In!

Nick HaywardMountaintop/Baby Blue Sky (Double A). No your eyes are not deceiving you.  Yes, this is Nick ‘Haircut 100 – Fantastic Day’ Hayward and he has returned to the fold with new music, a new signature style and new specs. Mountaintop is Everley Bros gone yeehaw Bluegrass, while Baby Blue Sky casts a few backwards glances to the 80s whilst nestling in a predominantly easy listening Tom Petty-esque pop-rock landscape.

Nick Hayward’s new album Woodland Echoes is due out later this Summer. DerVerdict – No set stylistic pattern makes it difficult to gauge which audience Hayward is aiming for! TBC

NEWS IN BRIEF – RELEASES IN #SPEEDOS

August RosenbaumNebula (Single). An absolute heavyweight of an instrumental set on classical-Spanish pillars, performed with emotive aplomb. Curious, dark and exceptionally imaginative. DerVerdict – Worth exploring. 

Depeche ModeGoing Backwards (Single). Oooh, just for a minute there, I thought the mighty Mode had crossed back to days of yore and greatness. That said, there are shades of old in here. Stylistically, Going Backwards somewhat does just that, sitting somewhere around Ultra/Exciter territory. DerVerdict – Hardcore fans will love it, Wilder diehards will pour scorn. Plus ca change.

OtherkinReact (Single). While still brimful of clangour, sass and swagger, and with a white-hot guitar solo in the mix, React sees flame-throwing Irish rockers Otherkin actually take it down a few notches into Strokes-like territory.

With the announcement of a debut album, OK, and a seemingly endless list of European tour dates (starts Newcastle 30th September – ends Dublin’s Button Factory 15th December), Otherkin’s flame is set to continue to burn througout the rest of 2017. DerVerdict – #musicyouneedtohear

MO Nights with You (Single). The Danish singer has flatlined with this hapless, hookless shank of vacant pop. DerVerdict – Nope.

Spring BreakersShaking Hands (Single). Yet another new Norwegian musical spin-off sees Ludvig Moon frontman Anders Killerud (to whom I believe congratulations are in order!!) pair up with Panda Panda co-lead Hakon Kjenstad. Their dreamy debut single Shaking Hands is released under the Spring Breakers moniker. Think sitting inside a slowly spinning top made of marshmallow and cloud. DerVerdit – Yup!

MotionsSay Goodbye/Coincide (Double A). Released on 29th June, this Double A marks the third release from Dublin duo, Dave Nulty and Tom Daly.  It also marks a seismic shift in the quality of both their songwriting and arranging, with Coincide a serious contender for alt-rock anthem of the Summer. Fans of the Gahan Condemnation vocal will be transfixed. DerVerdict – Ones to Watch. Closely.

FESTIVALE!

Festival season is once again upon us and with Body & Soul and Glastonbury now relegated to the blurry mists of hazy memories, we look forward to more upcoming carnivalesque soujourns in muddy/grassy/lumpy fields eating falafel/burgers/<<insert rude word>> whilst quaffing endless gallons of caffeinated drinks/alcoholic drinks/<<insert rude word>>.  Festis to look out for in the coming weeks are, (you couldn’t make this up!) …

Latitude – UK – 13th – 16th July – Headline acts incl The 1975, Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons, along with other stalwarts such as Goldfrapp, Placebo and our own Imelda May.

Longitude – IRL – 14th – 16th July – Headline acts incl Stormzy, The Weekend, and ditto Mumford, as well as homies Picture This, Aine Cahill & Bitch Falcon.

Other festivals hitting a field near you this July are :- Noisily (Leicester) 6th – 9th July, BST Hyde Park (London) 1st to 9th July, Citadel (London) 16th July, Tramlines (Sheffield) 21st – 23rd July, and the one I’d go to if I had my way – Afropunk Fest (London) 22nd – 23rd July which features the wonderful Lianne le Havas along with NAO and Thundercat. For ticket info, click on the festival name.

FRESH ON THE NET!

Last week was one of the best weeks for new music that we’ve had on #FOTN in yonks.  Much to my delight silken voiced Aislinn Logan ran away with the public vote.  Alongside her you’ll find gems from Hydromag, The Hangmen, Perks and so much, much more. If you’re an emerging artist, up and coming musician, do please check out our site and give serious thoughts to uploading your music to our Dropbox. Tune into the latest faves here –

http://freshonthenet.co.uk/2017/06/faves246/

And finally, finishing up with some GOOD NEWS VIBES!

So, aside from Ed Sheeran announcing myriad Irish dates (4th – 16th May) on his upcoming 2018 live tour – tickets go on sale July 8th peeps edsheeran.com for details, the super good news is that the Other Voices Irish music festival has announced it will be departing its native Dingle shores this Summer for the riverbanks of Berlin no less.

As part of an initiative supported by the Irish Dept of Foreign Affairs & Trade in conjunction with Creative Ireland, Other Voices will host a live event at the Riverside Studios on 13th July; a satellite-event of Tech Open Air Berlin 2017.

The first in a series, this new OV project aims to both increase awareness of contemporary Irish music and artists within the German market, and strengthen what is already a solid bond with our Deutsche counterparts.

Featured artists will include New Jackson (David Kitt), Berlin-based Tom Adams, Talos, Soulé, Them There and Caoimhín Ó’Raghallaigh of The Gloaming fame.  For further details and ticket info, check here

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/other-voices-berlin-tickets-35761465506

As usual, we give you a parting gift of a specially curated Spotify playlist, below, to complement our latest rambling, shambling newsletter.  You might indulge me with a spot of straw polling below … Hope you enjoyed, and as Dave Gahan would say – “See You Next Time!”

DervSwerve x

POLL TIME ..

 

Surf’s Up! Listen: Surfalot – Everybody Needs Somebody

Surfalot Photo Toothfairy
Surfalot Photo Toothfairy

What is it about Summer 2016 that has brought about this Nordic 70’s/80’s ‘love-in’.  We’ve already been swept away on a tropical fandango by Danish producer M.I.L.K and felt the warmth of a sonic Summer breeze from Lovespeake. 

Now, joining the Ray-Ban’d ranks of these purveyors of golden hued sounds, is Surfalot.  Real name Bendik Johnsrud, Surfalot, like Pav & Co, is another sun lovin’ funkster from Sandvika, home of Norwegian retro cool, who has signed to that magical label, Toothfairy.

Following on from his first two hit singles, NRK P3 playlisted ‘Brother Brother’ and MIC favoured ‘My My Oh My’, this Sandvika surfer boy has just dropped his latest track, ‘Everybody Needs Somebody‘, and it’s a Scandi bobby dazzler.

Funked up melodies pop and ping like sun spangled acid drops, while sea-soaked splashes of synth are a cool, refreshing counter to white-hot RnB riffs.  High in an azure-hued sky, float the inviting, fun-glazed vocals of this chilled-out beachboy.

Surfalot forges sweet sun blushed sounds with a cheeky modern twist.  Breezily crafted songs that sample some of the richest elements of 70’s funk and 80’s synthpop, contemporised with a dollop of that type of 2016 harlequin pop currently in vogue with many chart big-hitters.  Think Haircut 100 sashaying with Nile Rodgers, while the Thompson Twins flirt with Coldplay in the background.

A graduate of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (also alma mater of fellow Norwegians I SEE RIVERS), Surfalot, will release his debut album later this year.  If the vari-hued rainbow strands of music he has produced so far are anything to go by, it is bound to be one richly woven, multi-coloured tapestry.

For now you can keep up to date with all Surfalot‘s seafaring shenanigans via his social media networks:  Facebook, Insta, Tumblr, YouTubeSpotify and Soundcloud.  Listen to Everybody Needs Somebody‘ here and get in touch with your inner Summer Solstice.  To stream, buy & otherwise, go here – http://phonofile.link/surfalot-everybody

Slaughter Beach Pour a Honey Glaze over Bonjour Tristesse

SB Press Photo

 “We feel like this track embodies the spirit and vibe of our past, now and future as a band. There’s always been a tang of nostalgia in our music, but we’ve never been striving for just being great at emulating our heroes of some lost golden age of music. With “Glaze” we feel as though we’ve made something that’s nostalgic and futuristic at the same time.”
And that folks, pretty much sums up the sonic look & feel of the new single just released by Danish trio, Slaughter Beach, a lo-fi indie outfit on the psychedlic go since 2013.  With several singles under their belt, the band have made both name and niche for themselves in their indigenous market with their unique blend of MorgenFrisk meets melancholy wrapped up in an intoxicating haze of retro and reverb.

New single ‘Glaze‘ is as ‘back to the future’ as music gets.  Opening with an extended “alarum” that grabs your attention by the throat, it floats off into a cloud nine landscape filled with doleful jangly loops of New Order guitars and intricate weaves of swirling synth reps, into which random electro sounds bleed psyched out colours.  These kaleidoscopically swirling many hued synth patterns make for the most sparkling prismatic bridge, which like a corps of pirouetting ballerinas, conjures up the most delightful dance sequence that slowly fades through the outro into a wistful ether.

A golden haze of trippy vocals dripping in languid reverb, adds to the overall feeling of Summery sadness evoked by the regretful lyrics … “I’ll try to keep out of your way then….this is the longest run” .

Slaughter Beach’s sound resonates with the modern ‘psychness’ of Sparklehorse, whilst giving retro nods to the likes of Sumner and Hook. Compressing honey tinged lo-fi with tight, “bonjour tristesse” guitar and sun-drenched vocal haze, gives their music a unique ‘best of both worlds’ combination.  One that results in a blissed-out, hypnotic, sepia-stained trance, filled with iridescent nostalgia.

“Lamenting a lost love, he leaves us poised at the lip of a chasm of tristesse”

Slaughter Beach is Nikolaj Westi, Mads Emil Aagaard and Hasse Mydtskov and you can find them roaming around the following social media sites … go mingle!  Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter & Tumblr.  You’ll find me lurking here.  ‘Glaze‘ is out now via the Brilliance label, and you can buy it here.

 

With ‘Cult Baby’, Ludvig Moon Have Nailed Their Sound

Foto: Simen Skari
Foto: Simen Skari

It might come as a surprise to you if I were to start a review of a song by an emerging Norwegian band, by referencing two of the biggest bands to come out of Northern Ireland.  Ash, fronted by the sweet voiced Tim Wheeler, became one of the biggest UK&I acts of the early noughties, while their fellow countrymen, Snow Patrol, with mellow toned Gary Lightbody at the helm, went on to become no less than one of the biggest indie-rock acts in the world.  How is all this relevant to a Ludvig Moon review? Well before you tune-in to the main reason that we’re here, give these two tracks a quick spin, whereafter the rest of this review should hopefully fall into place: Ash – Shining Light, Snow Patrol – Just Say Yes.

Not officially released until 27th April, ‘Cult Baby‘ is the first single to be lifted from Ludvig Moon‘s upcoming debut album. Fusing a menagerie of sounds from rock to punk-pop to indie, this is a gloriously anthemic introduction to the next chapter in this upcoming band’s career.  Following on from their 2014 eponymous EP, the band have certainly ramped it up more than a few notches, as they add a heap more fuel to what was an already inflamed, dreampop-stained, indie sound. Citing a medley of influences from Billy Corgan’s, Smashing Pumpkins, to new age experi-psychers Flaming Lips, it is clear that these exciting young musicians take the bulk of their inspo from the American alt-scene, as their sound leans heavily in the direction of the American mid-west.

Fired up with strident glories of guitar muddled through starbursts of synth flourishes, and with its melodies riding a propulsion of percussion, this is pure adrenalin rush at full throttle.   Lyrically hard-hitting, it defies, challenges, questions and explores a gamut of thought-provoking intro & extrospections, confidently delivered with heavily nuanced, impassioned vocals.

Sharing a common bond of loneliness, musical isolation and a youthful angst about what the future might bring, Ludvig Moon have pooled these inspirations and creatively hurled them into their music.  Speaking about the song, frontman Anders Killerud explains: “I wanted the song to reflect the freedom and adventure which we ourselves felt when we were making this record. We felt like we could do anything in the studio and held nothing back . It was important to me, that in spite of such personal and dark lyrics, there should be something uplifting about this track.”

So where do Ash and Snow Patrol come into the equation?  Close your eyes, open your ears and listen carefully to the vocals on ‘Cult Baby‘. Killerud’s voice is practically a perfect match for Messrs Wheeler and Lightbody, so much so, that if I didn’t know any better, I’d think he was from a few miles up the road!  Sonically, there are also strong similarities, which given the success of both Irish bands, can only be a good thing.  If Ludvig Moon can create even half the stir of either Ash or Snow Patrol, they’ll find themselves rocketing up through the charts and out into that great and wider musical unknown, without so much as breaking a sweat.

For now, in new single ‘Cult Baby‘, Ludvig Moon have nailed perfect pop hooks, explosions of melodic fireworks and passionately trenchant and pertinent themes, all of which augurs well for their forthcoming full length release.

The accompanying high energy, tense and terse ‘Cult Baby‘ visual, shot in Oslo, was directed and edited by Team Me‘s Simen Skari, with the help of Marcus Arnesen & Anders Skjærseth. Watch it here,

Cult Baby‘ is the lead track from Ludvig Moon’s upcoming debut album, which will be released on the Riot Factory label.  Get on first name terms with Ludvig Moon who are : Anders, Ole T, Herman, Kristofer, Andreas, Lydia and follow them on Facebook, Spotify and Twitter.

Apothek : Waiting for the Thunder – A Guest Review

Photo Anne Valeur
Photo Anne Valeur

Today, I’m delighted to welcome guest blogger and friend, Eddie Sweetman, to the site.  Eddie is one of my closest musical partners in crime, who I think you’ll agree, has a rather a flair for pretty hip music reviews!  Here he has penned his insightful and well informed thoughts on Apothek‘s ‘Waiting for the Thunder’, along with its accompanying visual.

Eddie is an English/German/Irish hybrid lover of music since 1975.  He adores all things electronic/bleak/dystopian and glacial from Joy Division to John Grant via Depeche Mode.  He also has a crackingly good sense of humour!

Apothek: ‘Waiting for the Thunder’

I came to this track via a very knowledgeable friend who asked me to listen and give my thoughts.  To be honest, I came with preconceived assumptions, which to Apothek’s credit, have been ripped apart at the seams.  Having no knowledge of the band at all, I did the usual YouTube, Wiki, Google searches, all of which opened my eyes and ears to this wonderfully evocative track.

I had no idea that the video was “live”, as is the track, and I much prefer this version to the original mix.  To these ears, the original mix, whilst interesting and well produced, didn’t really stand out.  I could hear Mirrors and even White Lies in the crescendo at about 3/4 the way through.  To me, it’s too uplifting, and doesn’t fit the lyrical nature of the track.  However, the live version elevates the song to above any of its peers.

Bleak and stark, it demands repeated listening to pick out the subtleties within the arrangement.  At 1.20 the sequencer just merges within the melody, at 2.02 the double piano chord (I think!) descends with an impending sense of doom.  There’s a sense of fragility underpinning the stark electronics, which is mesmerising.  It reminds me of ‘No Harm’ by Editors, another track stripped back and initially reliant on minimal electronic arrangement.  It is also held together by a beautiful vocal delivery, as is this.  In Apothek’s case, the vocal captivates and isolates the listener and any song that has the line “Play your lousy game and kill me” needs to be heard and understood.

The video, produced by Nils Martin Larsen, was shot in an abandoned warehouse in Norway, which apparently, was the scene of many 90s raves.  The juxtaposition between that and the empty room “imprisoning” the band heightens the desolation of the subject matter and drags your attention back to the simplicity of the song.

I came to Apothek a bit meh … I left a fan.

 ‘Waiting For The Thunder’ is out now – taken from Apothek’s forthcoming debut LP, released 2016 via Propeller Recordings. 

Karokh Share Technicolour Punk Funk, ‘Boogies’ [Premiere]

Karokh
Photo Rat MIller (Rröödd Vveé)

Norwegian septet, Karokh, are unveiling their new single, ‘Boogies’ here today. 

Inspired by a myriad influences, incorporating multitudinous styles and comprising a diverse membership, Karokh is an eclectic experimental combo creating a rainbow sound unlike anything you’ve heard before.

Jazz Alumni of the famed Norwegian Academy of Music, home of adept musicianship and virtuoso techniques, that imbues its with proteges drive and passion, Karokh is a multi-talented, highly skilled outfit whose musical ingenuity knows no bounds.

Previous single, ‘Poke’ was an experimental journey through the mountains of Norway and the New Orleans delta, ending with a brief sojourn in Ipanema with Ari Up as tour guide.  Their new single ‘Boogies’ is similarly multicultural, taking sounds from Middle England, ‘Dreadlock Holiday’, Norwegian psych and a bicycle bell, topped of with a vocal in the best tradition of renowned poetry “slammer”, the late great Maggie Estepp.

It starts with a trumpet call washed with marimba and jungle beats, moves into some 10cc Mod Caribbean style riffs, and then amid some spacious slide-wonk and electronic interference, comes the “spoken word” style vocal.  The track bursts into a melange of sounds -psych rushes, extended rocky guitar instrumentals, Tubeway Army choruses, and squishy & spiralling synths.  Some repetition of the intro sequence is followed by a fusion of distracted trumpet, insistent drumming, and a very groovy Beatnik bass bring the track to a close.  You can hear what the band have to say about ‘Boogies’ in conversation below, but first, without further ado, here is the new Karokh single, ‘Boogies’, out now via NO FOREVERS.

Karokh is  comprised of musicians from various outfits such as Monkey Plot, Bendik, Girl, and ICH BIN N ! NTENDO, and its roll call looks a bit like this:

Ina Sagstuen – vocals, Thomas Husmo Litleskare – trumpet, Christian Winther – guitar, Jonas Cambien – synthesizers,  Jan K Hovland – synthesizers,  Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard – bass and Jan Martin Gismervik – drums.

Interested to find out what brought this eclectic combo together, how they found their sound, what exactly makes Karokh tick, and most importantly, to get the skinny on new single, ‘Boogies’, and upcoming album, ‘Needle, Thread and Nail Polish’, I put on my investigative journalist hat and got down to shooting the breeze of curiosity with vocalist Ina Sagstuen and trumpeter Thomas Husmo Litleskare, who had kindly agreed to take some time out of their uber hectic schedule to fill in the blanks.  Here’s how the conversation went …

Karokh comprises seven members of four different bands.  Tell me, why did you all decide to come together to form Karokh? Just how and when did that come about?

Thomas: Actually, Karokh came into existence because we were all students in the same year at the jazz/improv department at the Norwegian  Academy of Music. We had ensemble classes together, and found that we came up with interesting stuff as a group. It sounded quite weird at first (at least to us now)… a lot more jazzy weird. But our expression has developed constantly along with our personal musical development.

Ina: My perception is that the surroundings of our existence together,  musically and socially, made it possible for us to experiment without inhibitions and limitations in the rehearsal room. We were with each other all the time, and we also spent a lot of time playing together.  During that time anything was possible.  Everyone was young, dumb, fresh, hungry and without shame, Amen! And I firmly believe that many of the interesting projects that are going on in the underground music scene in Oslo derive from the freedom that we had and used at that time.

I’ve been listening to some of your music and your style is a most unusual one, very like a large musical cocktail, a muddle of many ingredients. Is that just how things worked out or did you deliberately tease out this all inclusive, incredibly diverse sound to accommodate all the individual member contributions?

Thomas: Things have happened as a result of trying out a lot of ideas, making mistakes, finding out what sounds good – and what really doesn’t – as part of the process. I guess what makes the sound so unusual is the fact that we are quite different musicians in many ways: we play in all the different kinds of bands you can imagine. But we still share some important aesthetic values and the appreciation of unconventional solutions. In a way, Karokh has been a sort of sanctuary where we can meet and let out a lot of strange and cool ideas.

Ina: I think the most important thing is to find a good balance between being open-minded and selective. In that way you can find inspiration through anything, not only music, and use the elements that you like to create something new. I think you have to improvise with the tools that you have and the impulses you get, and in this group of people, kind of randomly put together, those impulses derive from everything from classical music, acoustic jazz, pop, contemporary music, noise, experimental rock, punk, new wave and so forth. Somehow all this has been combined in Karokh.

Well it’s evident that with such an eclectic sound there are a myriad influences being brought to the creative process.  I guess the question is how much you have opened up to allowing these divergent inspos to formulate your sound.  After that it’s down to approach and interpretation.

Thomas: This relates to what I was getting into regarding style; our expression has been moulded and shaped through a lot of jamming and experimentation. Most of the tunes on «Needle, thread…» are results of hours of jamming on ideas, digging away and turning every possible stone to see what we can make of the material.

Karokh Press Image1
Photo Morten Espeland

So was your approach to recording more predetermined than organic and freeform? 

Thomas: Studio-wise we had very clear ideas regarding the forms of the songs before we recorded them, and they’re a lot stricter than people seem to think.

Ina: When it comes to recording our material, we try to be strict on the basic structure of the song and the roles of the instruments which is usually predetermined before we start recording. After that we can play around with the material, for example by doing dubs and adds and different little instrumentals.

Ok, so it’s pretty predetermined then, but with a door left open for possible change. Does to the same apply to structuring your songs, do you use a strict formula?

Ina: The base structures of the songs are kind of set and nailed down, but some things may vary. The tempo and the intensity of the songs are different from time to time. In live settings especially, I’ve experienced instruments being “bent” as it were, chords being played with different twists and improv of material to the extent that sometimes there`s three different tunings and an extra bar here and there, a longer solo or out of sync instrumental between two songs.  You just have to listen, make clear statements to lead the way or relax and follow.

You describe your style as “alternative rock” but there are a lot of other rich  sounds and styles in there – from Jazz to Afro-Caribbean to Indie. Do you like the idea of keeping your “style” open to interpretation?

Thomas: Like you say, there are a lot of elements from a lot of different styles in our music. We don’t put it much into consideration, we just play what we think is cool. We had some discussions regarding what genre we should claim to play. We should just name our own genre, basically. Which genre would you say we play?

Haha, I made some notes when I was listening to your music earlier and some of the words I wrote down were, Africa, Jamaica, Middle England, Jazz, Funk, Punk, Wonk and Bicycle Bell.  I think now might be an appropriate time to invent a new genre.  I’m going to christen it #Rainbow. 

Cover Art Ida Kristine Gismervik Hatleskog
Cover Art Ida Kristine Gismervik Hatleskog

Ina, your vocal style is incredibly unique – you’re more like a storyteller or performer than a singer/vocalist, though that’s not to say that you don’t vocalise in the singing sense. Do you see yourself more as performer than vocalist and what led you to adopt this style?

Ina: I think it just derives from a general interest of music. I never looked at my voice as the answer, but more as a tool. If that makes sense. I did some serious studying of my instrument, and the opportunities it has. Touching the extremes of genres, styles, timbers, sounds, effects, lyric and musical languages. It is important for me to be a versatile musician and interaction is central to my artistry. In projects like Karokh, I try to step out of the role as a front figure and use the voice as a worthy instrument, playing on and around the others improvising with words, rhythm and melody. I have  different attitudes towards lyrics. Sometimes it’s the words that matter, other times its just the sound of it or the rhythm of a sentence. In Karokh everything revolves around the sound of our music and the instrumentation.

Aesthetically, I have some problems with expressionism in vocals.  I’m a fan of an unpolished, real and with a «from the gut» sound.  Some sources of inspiration for this have been: Nico, Nick Drake, Beck, Portishead, Arto Lindsay, early RHCP, Jeff Buckley, Nina Simone, Tom Waits, Bon Iver…

Now, to the main event.  What is your new single ‘Boogies’ about and where did the inspo come from?   

Ina: ‘Boogies’ is a drowsy disco song that only God knows where came from, and I can resonate with it.  I think it was made from a jam we did around a sketch one of us played during rehearsal. It was around the time when some of us had watched this documentary «Kill Your Idols» which was about “No Wave” – a short-lived avant-garde music, performance art, video art and contemporary art scene that was going down in New York in the late 70`s. I think some of the “don’t play” but “DO” your instrument kinda performance, punky but funky attitude of that scene probably inspired  «Boogies».

It’s synthesizer weirdness, accompanied by a punk comp, repetitive and driving rhythms, beat song.

What is it about? … Just to embrace your own darkness or brightness and be as young as you feel. Freak out!

Finally, tell me, what exactly do you want your music to convey to the listener – what should they look out for when playing Karokh’s music?

Ina: I want the listener to feel challenged but included, frightened but happy, to feel swallowed by the sound yet want to dance like a ‘high on life’ hippie.

Get your dancin’ shoes on and get ‘high on life’ y’all …

‘Boogies’ is out today via the NO FOREVERS record label, as well as Spotify, Tidal and iTunes (you’ll find the details on the NO FOREVERS FB page).  Karokh’s album, “Needle, Thread and Nail Polish” is due for release on 18th March.  Follow Karokh on Facebook and their official website.  Follow DervSwerve on Facebook.

Trondheim Calling – New Music Focus : Tellef Raabe

Erik André Nes Photography
Erik André Nes Photography

ARTIST:   TELLEF RAABE

LABEL:   RIOT FACTORY

DISCOGRAPHY:

2012 (DEBUT) STRANGER THAN THE REST (RAABE RECORDS)

2014 (EP) OF SMITH’S FRIENDS (RAABE RECORDS)

2015 (SINGLES)  DEAR APHRODITE (RF), FAYE DUNAWAY (RF), 1+1+1 (RF),    (EP)GYMNOPAEDIA

2016 (SINGLE) KILL ‘EM WITH KINDNESS (JAN)

TC SET:  SATURDAY Dokkhuset– 00.30

SEE: http://trondheimcalling.no/artister/tellef-raabe/

The release of Tellef Raabe’s latest single, ‘Flying on the Ground’ is a timely coincidence, coming as it does in the midst of our Trondheim themed series.  Tellef is  TCs closing headline act, wrapping the festival with his live set, late into Saturday night and the wee hours of Sunday!

It is a bizarre fact that every time I play a track by Tellef Raabe, the depth and sonorousness of his voice still catch me by surprise.  Raabe has an exquisitely rich baritone voice and alongside Susanne Sundfor, quite possibly the clearest diction & pronunciation with which I have heard any Norwegian vocalist sing.  His bio doesn’t tell me if he’s had his voice trained – but if he hasn’t, then that makes his perfect pitch and breath control all the more astonishing.

‘Flying on the Ground’ his new single, is a very 80s oriented Euro electro-pop/dance track, choc full of catchy hooks, dreamy melodies and swathes of electronica, with delicious female harmonies courtesy of the protagonists sister, Sigrid Raabe.  Tellef writes his own songs and given the highly romantic nature of the lyrics, one must assume that he is a man who is in love with love, or at least the sentiment.

‘Flying on the Ground’ is a delightful love song, with a sweet uplifting nature and a catchy rhythmical beat.  A romantic flight of fancy, it whisks me off at high speed on a virtual Eurostar bullet train back to late 80s France, azure blue skies, dazzling sun shining down on fields of golden wheat, a warm breeze perfumed by wildflowers and …

In demand by arty types to compose for both film and theatre, Tellef is also busy working on his debut album as well as doing a short EU tour. As I said at the outset, the tour includes a stint at Trondheim, and in a few days time, this will afford me the opportunity of seeing this consummate and hugely talented singer/songwriter perform live with his touring 5-piece band.  I have a strong feeling it will be a total pleasure!

Tellef’s new single, ‘Flying on the Ground’ in on release now via Riot Factory and available for download via Bandcamp.  Tellef plays the headline set at Trondheim Calling on Saturday 6th February – see here for tickets.

You can keep up to speed with Tellef’s music and gig news on his website, Facebook and Twitter.

Check out the schedule dates for Tellef’s ‘Idiographic Tour’ …

06.02 Trondheim Calling

21.02 Nordklang, St. Gallen, CH

01.04 Parkteateret, Oslo

02.04 Samfundet, Trondheim

07.04 Hulen, Bergen

Single Review : Slutface ‘Kill em with Kindness’

Kill em with Kindness

” … Break out the old cliches, clear space on your front page,  Good stories sell more than you will ever do …”

Norwegian #nextbigthings Slutface, have just dropped their second single, and what a musical volte face this one has turned out to be!  If you created a ‘supergroup” that included members of The Strokes and Johnny Marr, with Gwen Stefani up front, and asked them to produce a piercing indie-pop hit with a bit of turbo exhaust – the resultant tune would be something of the ilk of ‘Kill em with Kindness’.

Slutface is Haley Shea (vocals), Lasse Lokøy (bass), Halvard Skeie Wiencke (drums) & Tor-Arne Vikingstad (guitar).  Their sonic stance thus far has been riot grrrl tinged with neo-punk and a dash of garage, so producing ‘Kill ’em with Kindness’, with its radio friendly pop undertones, is a broadening  of their musical horizons.  At this early stage in the game, it is good to see Slutface testing the musical waters rather than pigeon-holing themselves into a single genre or sound that could ultimately see them stuck in a musical rut further on down the road.  The ability to diversify it key to a longevity in the a music industry with a low boredom threshold and short memory.

With Shea continuing song writing duties, it is not surprising that once again the gender issue rears its head.  Shea is fast becoming a “gen mill” vocal tour-de-force in the campaign not just for gender based equality,  but for equality across the board.  Needless to say, this isn’t just her (Shea’s) message alone – frankly, her lyrics would be pretty pointless not to mention hypocritical, if Slutface, did not fully stand behind them as one unified whole.

” … You’ve seen it all before, Madonnas of the world, Crawl across broken glass …”

‘Kill ’em with Kindness’ is ‘I Will Survive’ modern stylee – a song with which upcoming female musicians can serenade their detractors in the male dominated music press!  This anthem for “survivors” gives a none too polite two fingers, to the inane, dull-witted misogyny normally directed by flaccid media dullards at “she-merging” music artists as they try to kick the shit out of the musical glass ceiling, held so firmly in place by the “brothers”!

Slutface convey a very clear message which should resonate with their diverse network/geography of followers, especially as most of their digital gen fan-base make up a growing groundswell currently moving steadfastly towards change.

Musically ‘Kill ‘Em With Kindness’ is punchy, catchy and energetic.  It comprises gated guitars a la Marr, urgent scratchy riffs and stylishly exuberant pop driven bass lines all set off by some pretty pacy, dynamic drumming. Shea’s vocal is pure American rock-pop, but her razor-sharp tone is such that it cuts through the softer, poppier edges of her delivery. An energetically performed, spirited “pop” song, with catchy hooks and urgent addictive beats, it is sure to set sparks alight across the airwaves, if not across the desks of some neanderthal media types!

Funked up and gated out, this punk meets pop anthem makes for pretty addictive listening, and with its ‘of the moment’ lyrical messaging, ‘Kill ’em with Kindness’ should resonate with enough clued-in music fans to do well across Nordic/Euro/UK Charts.

‘Kill ‘Em With Kindness’ drops ahead of Slutface’s appearance at the renowned Trondheim Calling Festival and their UK Tour with Fufanu. It’s out now via Propeller Recordings – you can check it out, along with their full tour dates, below.

 You can follow Slutface via various social media – Facebook, Twitter, Insta

FUFANU UK TOUR DATES
W/ SPECIAL GUESTS SLUTFACE

25 FEB | Shipping Forecast, Liverpool
26 FEB | Headrow House, Leeds
28 FEB | Nice N Sleazy, Glasgow
29 FEB | Head Of Steam, Newcastle
01 MAR | Sebright Arms, London
Tickets via AXS.com / Seetickets.com

NY16 Sweeps Up YE15 – No.2. Sauropod ‘Headphones’ – SINGLE

Sauropod

Another wee fish to have slipped through the end of year sonic net was ‘Headphones’ by Oslo based trio Sauropod.

Sauropod are like a Nordic Nirvana infused with some DNA from Mudhoney and The Slits.  Equal parts grunge and neo-punk, their musical pattern comprises peaks of energetic melodica and frenzied “noize”, and troughs of dense quietude.

‘Headphones’ is the second single from forthcoming album ‘Roaring at the Storm’ due for release via Norwegian indie label, Riot Factory, on 22nd January.

Short and explosively sweet with an acrid coating, this brief but to the point sonic grenade is a fast and furious punk belter that would have been perfectly at home on an X-Ray Spex setlist back in the day.

Perfectly synched strident bass and feverish guitar wield their thunder alongside a vibrant vocal whirlwind.  Set amidst a storm of crashing percussion they come together to create the most glorious noisefest.

Kamilla Waal Larsen’s infectious vocal is in the realm of Poly Styrene with the swagger of Johnny Rotten.  In fact truth be told, she’s like a modern day Annabella Lwin (go google) with that same raw, untameable range brimful of youthful defiance and witty mock-petulance.

Sauropod have honed their sound in such a way as to allow it to retain it’s”untamed spirit”.   Theirs is a sound carefully crafted without constraint, something which works to the advantage of such a wild and free spirited track as ‘Headphones’ .  This succinct, eruptive sonic bomb, makes for one short, sharp, shock of a radical, compelling and invigorating listen.

Roaring at the Storm’ is scheduled for release on 22nd January via Riot Factory.

You can follow Sauropod on Facebook and Spotify.

‘When All Else Fails’, there’s Classic Rock!! #NRWY

NRWY

Bit of classic rock for you for a change!

Yes folks, today we present ‘When All Else Fails’ by Norwegian rockers, NRWY (no prizes for guessing how that is pronounced).

There’s no sparkling synths, dreamy vocals or bouncing electro-pulses. What there is lots of though, is scorching guitars, thumping drums and thrumming bass, topped off with a confident, strong vocal.

These guys allegedly sound like NIN – I couldn’t tell you – I’ve never listened to NIN in my life.  What they DO sound like to me is a cross between Manic Street Preachers on ‘Found that Soul’ and a meld of ‘old-style’ Rainbow and ‘new stylee’ Queens of the Stone Age.

NRWY is a five-piece made up of Erik Grov, Per Christian Grov, Sjur Vidar Lilleås, Jonatan Uranes and Lill Katrin Bødal.  They’ve been around for a while, developing their sound and song-writing style, and it would now appear that they have hit upon the right balance with this their latest production.

“When All Else Fails” is NRWY’s fourth single from upcoming album “Not Now”, scheduled for release in February 2016, via indie label, NO FOREVERS.  It was produced by Roar Nilsen and mixed by ‘Mr Klaxons’ Nick Terry.  What’s more interesting, is that it was mastered by Dave Collins of, cough, Queens of the Stone Age fame! Coincidence?  Hmm. The resultant sound from this new collab of metal maestros, is one with more edge, weight and definition.  #Sharp.

‘When All Else Fails’ is a very strong track, with a lot of bloody good guitar playing and a powerfully performed vocal.  It’s an old-school classic rock song with a twenty first century feel.  And folks, that can’t be a bad thing!

“When All Else Fails” will is available online from today, here.