Posts Tagged ‘Norway’

Norwegian avant-garde musician Jenny Hval has announced a new album, “The Practice of Love”, and shared its first single, “Ashes to Ashes.” The Practice of Love is due out September 13 via Sacred Bones.

The album is the follow-up to her acclaimed 2016 album, Blood Bitch, and her 2018 EP, The Long Sleep. The album features guest vocalists Vivian Wang, Laura Jean Englert, and Félicia Atkinson. The title The Practice of Love was partially inspired by Valie Export’s 1985 film of the same name.

Hval had this to say about the album in a press release: “This all sounds very clichéd, like a standard greeting card expression. But for me, love, and the practice of love, has been deeply tied to the feeling of otherness. Love as a theme in art has been the domain of the canonized, big artists, and I have always seen myself as a minor character, a voice that speaks of other things. But in the last few years I have wanted to take a closer look at the practice of otherness, this fragile performance, and how it can express love, intimacy, empathy and desire. I have wanted to ask bigger, wider, kind of idiotic questions like: What is our job as a member of the human race? Do we have to accept this job, and if we don’t, does the pressure to be normal ever stop?”

From ‘The Practice of Love,’ out September. 13th, 2019.

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Originating from the windswept, moody southwestern coast of Norway, I Was A King are living proof that the sweetest pop songs may be cultivated and thrive in the oddest places. The band is led by singers and guitarists Frode Strømstad and Anne Lise Frøkedal, whose united vocals are said to melt into one extraterrestrial voice.

Their new album “Slow Century” is the result of a close collaboration with producer Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub). A collection of instantly classic power pop tunes that have been written, recorded – even pressed on vinyl – in the picturesque town of Egersund. Describing the tension between thirsting for new adventures and the comfort of everyday small town life, the songs combine brisk energy with comforting nostalgia.

“I think they’re definitely informed by R.E.M. and Robyn Hitchcock. Robyn actually produced one of their earlier records, and they were Robyn’s backup band on-and-off for a while. So I think that’s how we all became aware of them. They’re based in Oslo and also a small town southwest of Norway called Egersund. The leader of the band, Frode Strømstad, he was barely around when [R.E.M. and the Dream Syndicate were] first put together. For him to be making records with Scott McCaughey [in the supergroup the No Ones] and Robyn produce his records.

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On its journey through musical landscapes of quality indie pop, I Was A King has evoked the 
enthusiasm of – and collaborated with the likes of – Robyn Hitchcock, Daniel Smith (Danielson) and Sufjan Stevens.
Their music has been widely acclaimed by critics in Norway, as well as in the US and UK. While perpetuating the legacy of icons like The Byrds, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub and The Beatles, 
they keep playing by their own rules on each release, combining music history with a modern 
perspective.

released March 8th, 2019

Norwegian pop star Aurora Aksnes, or just AURORA, has an unusual fearlessness. The story is that, as a child, Aksnes discovered an electric piano in the attic of her family’s home in Os, near Bergen. She started writing songs with a narrative orientation, Leonard Cohen a hero. After a school performance, Aksnes‘ friends shared Puppet online, leading Aksnes to court management deals. The singer-songwriter developed an individualistic, atmospheric and romantic electro-folk sound, attracting a fandom she calls her “warriors”. Aksnes broke out with Runaway. In 2016, she presented a debut album, All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend. Aksnes captivated critics by inverting Nick Cave with Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1), like a gothic Robyn cosplaying Arya Stark. Ironically, she enjoyed a UK hit with a cover of Oasis’ Half The World Away, cut for a department store Christmas ad.

Yet Aksnes has remained instinctively independent. She self-produces, demoing at home, or liaises with trusted studio cohorts. “I feel like the more people are involved in my art, the worse it gets,” Aksnes ponders. “I’m quite kooky in the way I write my own music, because I feel like I have everything inside of me already and that I don’t need anyone to get anything out… I scare people away sometimes, from coming with ideas, ’cause I’m so clear in my own vision.”

Last September, Aksnes dropped a surprise album, Infections Of A Different Kind (Step 1) – the first of two parts. The title song, about having faith amid global volatility and existentialist angst, was pivotal. Aksnes had been “feeling quite tired” and “uninspirational” following a hectic 2016. “I remember I didn’t really have any idea of what to do next – which is very strange for me, because I always know what to do next.”

Aksnes, 22, has long admitted to being “shy”, but she loves to talk. “You learn how to interact with people ’cause you have to meet, like, a million people a year.”

it was the lead single, Queendom, which generated buzz. Aksnes described Queendom as a bop inclusive of the “introverts”. But, more a song of fire than ice, Queendom is an empowering anthem, too. “I got a lot of amazing feedback,”.

Queendom is about celebrating all the differences in us. It’s about celebrating the women and the children and animals and the men also. The quiet ones and the introverts, where they can sing and be seen. It’s about the shy people and the lonely people and I hope it can be a place where we can come and be lonely together and then not be lonely anymore.

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The Other End have been labeled «… one of the most exciting new bands from Scandinavia», and got international praise for their cutting edge sound and exploration of slowcore and dark indie pop when entering the music scene in Norway in 2018.

The release of their 5-track debut-EP saw them being signed by Just Isn’t Music (Ninja Tune) and earned them a spot at ØYA 2018. Super World Indie Tunes hailed the EP as . one of the finest records you’ll hear this year». The EP was recorded live in studio together with renowned producer Iver Sandøy (Enslaved, Wardruna).

Ida Knoph-Solholm and Alexander Breidvik make music for 4 a.m. drives and headphones worn surreptitiously under blankets. But really, there’s no bad setting for music this spare, haunting and gorgeous. The central ingredients in “Far From Home” couldn’t be simpler: Knopf-Solholm sets her huge, radiant voice against crystalline guitar lines that hang heavy in the air. Though other instruments make their way into the mix, there’s not a superfluous sound to be found.

Vocals, bass guitar: Ida Knoph-Solholm Guitar, bass drum, backing vocals: Alexander Breidvik

Debut EP out March 16th 2018!

Girl in Red

Oslo, Norway-based bedroom pop artist Marie Ulven has been releasing music as Girl in Red since 2016. Her intimate songs intertwine sweetness and melancholy with a fuzzy nostalgic aesthetic. The most resonant of them address her sexuality as a young queer person with endearing directness; “Girls” is the kind of song I wish was around when I was in high school, while both “We Fell in Love in October” and its video are soaked in the pangs of adolescent love.

Girl in Red just released a new single, “Watch You Sleep,” which you can listen , along with some of her other songs. She’s hitting the road on tour in May, mostly in Europe,

Orions Belte (Photo Credit: Julia Marie Naglestad)

Is it blues? Is it world music? Is it underground pop? You can choose whichever you want, it’s not important for Orions Belte to be pigeonholed. They’re playing instrumental music inspired by Nigerian 70’s rock, postcards from the French Riviera, Formula One races at the Monza track in Italy, Eclectic and unique – are you able to “hear” how it sounds? . Sitting somewhere between gloriously Scandinavian psychedelia and long lost Nigerian fuzz rock from the 70s, the band’s crate-digging tendencies is matching to some stellar songcraft.

Led by Øyvind Blomstrøm and Chris Holm, the band’s debut album ‘Mint’ occupies a world of its own, heavy-duty instrumental fare that effortlessly breaks new boundaries.

‘Atlantic Surfing’ is a dazzling piece of guitar music, all sharp corners, unexpected reverses, and curious effects.

The animated video is engrossing as well, using illustrations design by Steph Hope. Lurid colours with a DIY feel, ‘Atlantic Surfing’ seems to encapsulate Orions Belte in one three minute chunk.

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The follow-up to Jenny Hval’s acclaimed 2016 album Blood Bitch is The Long Sleep, an adventurous new EP that sees the Norwegian multidisciplinary artist embracing an instinctive, even subconscious, approach to creating meaning. In contrast to Hval’s more explicitly conceptual work, The Long Sleep foregrounds the act of composition itself, letting the melodies and structures reveal the other elements of the songs. All of the songs on the EP recycle the same compositional motives, but manipulate them into very different shapes that take them further and further out of their original, “life-like” context.

Hval recorded The Long Sleep with longtime collaborator Håvard Volden and producer Lasse Marhaug, along with an ace new supporting cast of talented players from the jazz world — Kyrre Laastad on percussion, Anja Lauvdal on piano, Espen Reinertsen on saxophone, and Eivind Lønning on trumpet. Hval calls them some of her favorite contemporary musicians, and their musical background helps to give the songs on The Long Sleep their intuitive, improvised feel.

Releases May 25th, 2018

The follow-up to Jenny Hval’s acclaimed 2016 album Blood Bitch is The Long Sleep, an adventurous new EP that sees the Norwegian multidisciplinary artist embracing an instinctive, even subconscious, approach to creating meaning. In contrast to Hval’s more explicitly conceptual work, The Long Sleep foregrounds the act of composition itself, letting the melodies and structures reveal the other elements of the songs. All of the songs on the EP recycle the same compositional motives, but manipulate them into very different shapes that take them further and further out of their original, “life-like” context.

Hval recorded The Long Sleep with longtime collaborator Håvard Volden and producer Lasse Marhaug, along with an ace new supporting cast of talented players from the jazz world — Kyrre Laastad on percussion, Anja Lauvdal on piano, Espen Reinertsen on saxophone, and Eivind Lønning on trumpet. Hval calls them some of her favorite contemporary musicians, and their musical background helps to give the songs on The Long Sleep their intuitive, improvised feel.

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The Other End release the new single ‘Far From Home‘. The hypnotic and haunting melody hooked me after the first listen. The single comes off their EP which is set to be released on vinyl in March. The duo from Norway describe themselves as indie slow core, and come from the same pond that brought us artists like Aurora and Sigrid. While you can catch the indie act gigging around Bergen, I see their new EP bringing them to new places.

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Slotface sit in the middle of the street

From performing for inmates in a Norwegian jail chapel to hitting up the Art Rock festival stage straight from a hospital ward, Sløtface don’t do things by halves. Informed, intellectual, badass and upfront, the young band from Norway’s Stavanger have not only made waves thanks to their pop punk hooks and sharp, relatable lyrics, but also their steadfast belief that a band can do more than just make music.

That approach has already afforded them some rare experiences, like, as lead singer and songwriter Haley Shea puts it, their own version of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison performance. “That was our reference point,” she says.

“We did a government-funded tour of these Norwegian high schools that have this cultural program and the inmates at this prison receive the same high school education, so obviously they have the rights to the same cultural exchange program. We played in their chapel in the prison to like 30 inmates who were between 18 and 60 years old. We had no idea what to expect, but it was really interesting. It was a really special experience.”

Intimate performances have been the group’s preferred gig of choice since they spent their formative years kicking around Stavanger, cutting their teeth as Slutface (before social media censorship prompted a slight name change). An obsession with classic high school movies meant it was a natural step for the band to smash out sets at parties whenever possible, and they came to love the tight confines of Norwegian living rooms.

But regardless where in the world they play, Shea is just happy if they reach like-minded people, bring them together and – most importantly – entertain them.

“Obviously it’s really fun to play big stages with, you know, thousands of people, but we still enjoy a really sweaty atmosphere, whether it’s at a tent at a festival or club, just because you’re closer to people and you can feel their energy levels.

“But then we did Sløtface karaoke,” she laughs, “as the closing slot at this big Norwegian festival where we were the band and the audience members came up and sang. We had like five or six people up onstage at all times and that felt like it was a giant house party – one with like 2,000 people.”

She pauses for a moment; reflects. “When we go to a show, we want to be entertained, have a really good time and make friends with other fans, so we hope that that’s what people get out of listening to our band and coming to our shows. We are kind of being inspired by each other, and by all of the cool things that young people all over the world are doing to make the world a better place.”

This month Shea, along with guitarist Tor-Arne Vikingstad, bassist Lasse Lokøy and drummer Halvard Skeie Wiencke, get to broaden their reach even further as they head to all corners of the globe, playing their first shows on our soil just before the release of their debut album Try Not To Freak Out.

The anticipation is high on both sides. “We’re really excited. It’s also the farthest away from home we’ve ever played; it’s like the exact opposite of the world from where we live.”

When it comes to their live show set-up, Shea and her bandmates embrace their punk sensibilities, and they like to use gigs as a chance to let loose. “We’ve always tried to lean as close towards a punk live show and a punk aesthetic as we can,” she says.

“People use their stage personas for different things, but they also provide a chance to release a lot of anger and frustration. That’s kind of what I use those stage performances for: to be like the gassiest, angriest version of myself; the person that I can’t really be in real life because I want people to like me too much. Onstage it doesn’t really matter if you piss a few people off.”

Try Not To Freak Out is a pure, undiluted expression of the band’s intentions, an album that melds the Scandinavian hard rock and metal scene’s trademark energy and intensity with the pop sensibility Sweden has been championing over the last few decades.

With each member bringing demos to jamming sessions, the group built the record from cherry-picked parts, trying a swathe of different directions before Shea began carving out the lyrics. Indeed, it’s their differing musical tastes that she attributes to the idiosyncrasies on the record, although at the end of the day, Freak Out takes the nostalgic, familiar hum of American high school movies and makes it the band’s own.

That’s not even to mention the lyrics, which seem more nuanced and referential than those that carried Empire Records, their 2016 EP. Lead single and feminist pop opener ‘Magazine’ makes clear Shea’s intentions as a songwriter from the very outset.

“Patti Smith would never put up with this shit,” she snarls, the song going on to challenge the patriarchy while both addressing and rubbishing societal pressures. There is a reason, after all, Shea has been called the heir apparent to musicians like Kathleen Hanna and PIL-era Johnny Rotten.

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There are times when the record slows – when Shea takes the time to address her intense, often anxious thought patterns, as on mid-record stand out ‘Night Guilt’.

Part of the reason that Shea can talk about anxiety so honestly is that she still finds herself hounded by it. Some might think that success and acclaim have a calming effect on shattered nerves, but often the opposite is the case, and Shea still has to fight hard to conquer her negative thought spirals.

“Some days it’s really, really tough,” she says. “When you work really hard on something, you want it to be the best that it can be, and you get that sort of fear about not quite meeting expectations that you have for yourself.

“So there were days when I was really struggling with anxiety and then had to sing a song about anxiety. That was a little bit tough.”

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