Posts Tagged ‘Oslo’

Jenny Hval’s music has often looked at a woman’s place in society, and her eighth album starts in a familiar place, pondering the institution of marriage: a guy proposing at one of her gigs, as well as her own wedding. The Norwegian singer songwriter reassures us that she only got into this patriarchal construct for “contractual reasons”. But as “Classic Objects” unfolds, that sense of certainty melts away as Hval interrogates how her identity and values were formed, and what she really believes in. As weighty as that sounds, the music is loosely dubby and shimmering, and Hval finds humour, lightness and transcendence in her searching.

The glorious sophistipop of “American Coffee”—who else in pop music can make us groove to lyrics about watching The Passion of Joan of Arc while “having a UTI”?

 Female genius in pop music, subtly epic song writing. ‘American Coffee’ by Jenny Hval is taken from new album ‘Classic Objects’, out now via 4AD Records.

Composed right before lock-down ensued, Spielbergs reunited with their debut album This Is Not the End producer, Tord Øverland Knudsen, for the song. And the new track is as eruptive as their previous works. With snarling guitars, fast-paced drumming, Lead singer and guitarist Mads Baklien explains the inspiration behind the track in a press release:

“I find myself looking back a lot. Looking back in regret, looking back in anger. It leads to nothing. So I’ve decided to look forward. But the only problem is I don’t know where the fuck I’m going. So I just keep doing what I’ve always done. Going nowhere.”

Spielberg’s: Noisy indie rockers on hold, “We were really well underway and have recorded a number of songs. Unfortunately, Corona and Mads’s abscess with subsequent fistula has made things stop completely. All of 2020 has only been an endless start-stop-stop situation. Admittedly, there is no shortage of songs, we just have to have the opportunity to gather at the rehearsal and in the studio so that we can finish things,” explains the Oslo trio Spielbergs. When we started playing together, we struggled to agree on what we should be called. Well into the recording process of what ended up as our first EP, we still had no band name. We had a song called the Spielbergs song (“Ghost Boy”) in which the songtitle was inspired by Spielberg’s “Close Encounter.”

So we have to prepare ourselves for even longer waits before we can get more delightful melodic noise rockers from the band that was nominated for the towering harmonies and energetic drive on their debut album “This is Not The End” in 2019. We’d love to know more of the musical heat and the bombastic tunes in the meeting points between indie, power pop and post-hardcore punk. In 2020.

Read more about frustrations over the year 2020, lack of interest in technical things and music equipment, about how the band was misunderstood by its American fans and about great musical freedom.

Norwegian power-pop trio Spielbergs combine the finest elements of Superchunk, Jimmy Eat World and Sonic Youth and bring them to life in a way that’s as fresh as it is nostalgic. Their debut should hold a grab-bag of punk-pop treasures recently reflected by single release ‘Five On It’.


Debut album from Norway’s Spielbergs.
released February 1st, 2019

One of Americana’s biggest head-turners in 2020 hails from Norway. The Northern Belle became a blip on the Americana radar this year with “We Wither, We Bloom”. Navigating rocking, high-octane arrangements with soaring crescendos and crisp, tasty guitar tones and harmonies, the septet have often drawn comparison to 1970s-era Fleetwood Mac and others that fall within the “desert rock” aesthetic. The band ultimately creates an atmosphere all their own thanks to the efforts of powerhouse frontwoman Stine Andreassen acting as the soulful staple to their sound. Expressive, ebullient, and instantly impressionable, We Wither, We Bloom is one slick production that tastefully elevates Americana further onto the pop stage.

With their affection for words and the pure heartache in old country music, The Northern Belle have captured the attention of Oslo’s folk/country-scene. They mix traditional country with pop and Norwegian folk music, resulting in a unique musical output. The singer is a true storyteller and the instruments, especially the Hardanger fiddle and the steel guitar, enhance the melodies and tales. 

Written as an examination of personal relationships, the new album by The Northern Belle is aptly titled We Wither, We Bloom. The Norwegian septet is among the pioneers of the nordicana scene that has been gaining momentum in the US the last few years. Fronted by prolific singer-songwriter Stine Andreassen (also of folk quartet Silver Lining) and armed with pedal steel, slide guitar, lush harmonies, a string quartet and their secret weapon, the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle, The Northern Belle have developed their own unique brew of pop-oriented americana and folk music. Imagine Fleetwood Mac fronted by Jenny Lewis in a country mood.

Brimming with melodic tunes and clever lyrics, We Wither We Bloom is the band’s third studio album, albeit the first to be released internationally. Having made the difficult decision to quit her day job to pursue music, Andreassen and The Northern Belle received widespread praise and a Spellemann nomination (Norwegian Grammy) for the 2018 album
Blinding Blue Neon. In the spring of 2019, Andreassen traveled to Nashville for three months to write the follow-up. The welcoming and thriving music scene found east of the Cumberland River sparked a creative songwriting spell that resulted in this inspired collection of tracks. The distance from home allowed for new views on friends, family, love, loss and homesickness, resulting in the band’s most personal album to date.


The songs vary in tempo and style, from the melodic rocker “Gemini” to the string-laden “Born to Be a Mother”. “Remember It” is a fiery tell-off to a horrible ex (“I wanna hurt you and remember it”), “Tailor Made” is a tribute to the band’s Nudie suit-wearing heroes of the past, while “Late Bloomer” in a way sums up the album title – a song about taking time before daring to pursue music.

“I’ve struggled with the feeling of not being good enough, being labelled because I’m a woman and that I should have had kids already and that the clock is ticking. I’ve destroyed friendships and made new ones, but I’m left with feeling stronger than before because I’ve confronted the things that hurt in my songs,” says Andreassen, who has written the bulk of the album with a few contributions from local Nashville songwriters.

Constantly evolving as a band, The Northern Belle’s sound in 2020 is inspired by contemporary acts such as Erin Rae, Kacey Musgraves, Phoebe Bridgers and Marit Larsen, as well as legends such The Beach Boys, The Byrds and Glen Campbell. All resulting in a record that pays tribute to its inspirations while also showing true originality.
Released August 28th, 2020

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Nordic mellow: those two words perfectly describe the music of Oslo-based indie folk artist Siv Jakobsen. It’s apropos, since that is also the title of her 2017 debut LP. Somehow this talented singer with celestial vocals has not found global stardom yet. Perhaps the release of her next album – the aptly titled A Temporary Soothing – will help the world realize what they’ve been missing. Siv’s music is beautifully mellow, much like diary-entries – filled with unfiltered thoughts and reflections. With references to Damien Rice and Ane Brun, listening to her music is like being a fly on the wall while she sings you her secrets.

If “Fight or Flight” is your introduction to Jakobsen, you are in for a treat. She just shared this single a few days ago. The melody greets your ears with fireside warmth while her crystalline voice caresses you. Every note provides comfort. Every layer complements the rest. There is a peaceful calm to her overall style that is on par with Daughter and Ane Brun. But the beauty of Jakobsen’s sound is its sun-kissed elegance. “Fight or Flight” has a early springtime quality, imbued with the hope of better things to come while still feeling the coolness of winter. This is the perfect song for these times: a tonic for our souls. 


Siv Jakobsen should be on your radar. You simply do not encounter a voice this pure every day. A Temporary Soothing from Bandcamp is available on April 24th.


Image may contain: 5 people, people standing

“How Do You Smile?” from Closing Eyes. The track is a psych-friendly gem with a deeply grooving bass line, buzzing restrained guitars, and enjoyably dazed vocals. In the final couple minutes especially, a sprawled-out guitar tone coexists alongside the hypnotic rhythm section, as lush vocals complement; it all makes for a wholly consuming conclusion to this stellar track.

The Norwegian act is releasing their new album Eternal Fidelity on May 8th, and I’ll certainly be looking forward to it. Band member Eirik elaborates more on the album below:
“Sometimes I try very hard to hold on to something but it just feels like it’s slipping through my fingers. Ideals, dreams, identities or friendships are all things that live so strongly and easily when we’re young but often seem to lose footing as we grow older. Convictions that seem so solid can suddenly dissolve and become unresolved issues. I don’t think we’re too good at dealing with that. Mostly, Eternal Fidelity is about those feeling. It’s about trying to hold on, let go and make sense of it all. It’s about clinging to what’s important even though it might not be easy all the time.”


Band Members
 Eirik Asker Pettersen,
Magnus Asker Pettersen,
Emilie Lium Vordal, 
Anders Emil Rønning,
Jørgen Bjella, 

At first listen, “The Practice of Love”, Jenny Hval’s seventh full-length album, unspools with an almost deceptive ease. Across the eight tracks, filled with arpeggiated synth washes and the kind of lilting beats that might have drifted, loose and unmoored, from some forgotten mid-’90s trance single, The Practice of Love feels, first and foremost, compellingly humane. Given the horror and viscera of her previous album, 2016’s Blood Bitch, The Practice of Love is almost subversive in its gentleness—a deep dive into what it means to grow older, to question one’s relationship to the earth and one’s self, and to hold a magnifying glass over the notion of what intimacy can mean.


As Hval describes it, the album charts its own particular geography, a landscape in which multiple voices engage and disperse, and the question of connectedness—or lack thereof—hangs suspended in the architecture of every song. It is,an album about “seeing things from above—almost like looking straight down into the ground, all of these vibrant forest landscapes, the type of nature where you might find a porn magazine at a certain place in the woods and everyone would know where it was, but even that would just become rotting paper, eventually melting into the ground.”

“Look at these trees/ Look at this grass/ Look at those clouds … Study this/ And ask yourself/ Where is God?” Leave it to Jenny Hval to open an album with words that could’ve been lifted from a self-help mindfulness exercise and turn them into an existential reckoning. The Practice Of Love grapples with all kinds of questions, as any of Hval’s work does. But at the same time as Hval remains thought-provoking, she’s now housed these meditations in futuristic pop songs like “High Alice” and “Ashes To Ashes,” locating an accessibility and infectiousness we might not have ever expected from her. The Practice Of Love is a thing of shimmering beauty throughout, but perhaps this is its most moving takeaway: constant searching leading to new thoughts and new sounds, history and memory and life lived stoking yet another evolution.

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

Saints and Sebastian Stories

Upon relocating to Oslo for college, two longtime friends from Norway’s northern fringe discovered a powerful musical chemistry. As Konradsen, Jenny Marie Sabel and Eirik Vildgren deliver an artful new spin on tender coffeehouse indie, infusing it with flashes of folk and post-rock and avant-R&B without wavering from their distinct voice. Their debut “Saints And Sebastian Stories” is spellbinding, like encountering an old friend in a dream and discovering they have superpowers.

Konradsen, the duo of vocalist and pianist Jenny Marie Sabel and multi-instrumentalist Eirik Vildgren, trace their roots to the far north of Norway, where the black night of winter is backlit by the neon glow of the Northern Lights. It’s a fitting metaphor for the music the pair crafts, where tradition meets innovation, and the natural world expresses its astral filament.

Inspired by the traditional songs and hymns Sabel sang with her family as a child, the duo’s debut album ‘Saints and Sebastian Stories’ weaves Sabel’s soulful and transportive vocals with field recordings and samples of ambient sounds, filtered through a modern pop filter. Voices of past and present dance over minimalist piano, atmospheric electronics, programmed beats and organic horns, forming a delicate sonic narrative centered on family and community that reflects the arc of their musical journey.

Taken from their debut LP ‘Saints and Sebastian Stories” – out October 25th, 2019, Cascine Records

Ē press picture

Describing themselves as a ‘lo-pop’ band, Oslo’s Ē formed when Ingvild Nærum (Are You Having Fun Yet) and Chiara Cavallari (FOAMMM) decided to join forces—Cavallari playing guitar and lending some vocals while Nærum takes charge of lead vocals and drums. With the addition of Sigrun Sæbø Åland (Hysj) on bass, Ē’s full line-up crystallised, and the band have just released their debut EP, snappily titled ĒP, via Bergen-based indie label Eget Selskap.

Thematically, the EP deals with the frightening size of the contemporary, globalised world, as well as the coping mechanisms we might employ to deal with it. This is supported by a loose and intuitive sound that focuses more on the feel of the music rather than any technical wizardry. “Instrumentally, we just try to run with what feels cool and exciting,” the band explain, “and even a bit silly.” The result is something at once thoughtful and organic, Ē’s double-punch of reflective and ramshackle.

Opening with lead single ‘Afraid of the Ocean’, ĒP throws you headlong into Ē’s distinctive world, carved out of retro-pop textures and supported by a relatable fixation on loneliness and insignificance. “Hiding in the dark,” they sing, “put a fence around my heart / it’s better to isolate / than sit around and wait, for someone to care.”

‘If You Asked’ is far heavier, a needling darkness pulsing at the edges of the track, portraying the insidious dread that marks the contemporary moment. Things switch up again on ‘Doing Stuff Alone’, the deadpan attitude bringing to mind the straight-faced humour of Patio in its way of transforming the mundane into the ridiculous through nothing but tone. “I’m always too much, but still not enough,” they sing, “when I’m surrounded I feel so excessive […] so I’m doing stuff alone.”

Closer ‘Now and Then I Feel Destroyed’ is something of an amalgamation of the dark and peppy style, twinkling with mischievous wit and anchored by a brooding weight. The song is indicative of ĒP and Ē as a whole, straining beneath the alienation of living today, fighting back with a self-awareness as though cynicism is not some negative force but rather a method of self-preservation.

ĒP is out now via Eget Selskap Records.

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,

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