Welcome to Nordic Music Scene, which is dedicated to reviews and news of artists from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and their associated territories, focusing on indie artists and labels.
This month, we have a brief overview of the 20th Øya Festival in Oslo, Norway, with a link to the full review, likewise a link to an interview with ex-Katzenjammer star Marianne Sveen, some electronic experimentation from Sweden, a new star is born, half a ghostly duo goes solo and another female vocalist – this time a metal one – chances her arm at a TV talent show.
In this edition: Hanne Hukkelberg, Eberson, FAP, Øya Festival Oslo, Marianne Sveen, Vera Hotsauce, Aztek, Deportees, Tuvaband, Moyka, Mia Berg, Jacob Faurholt, Moddi, Johanna Kuvaja, I See Rivers, The Needs, Majro ft.Summer Heart, Pink Chameleons, Helax, Comminor, Phogg, Sofia Talvik, Molly Hammar ft. Kim Cesarion, Sløtface, Floor Jansen.
Sections: New Singles/Singles from previously featured artists/Festivals/Interviews/News.
Singles, EPs and albums are rated out of 10.
No sound-bites, No B-S, just honest opinion.
(Norway) Hanne Hukkelberg – The Young and Bold I
Hanne Hukkelberg celebrates 15 years as an artist with her album Birthmark released on August 16th on her own label, Hukkelberg Music. The Norwegian Grammy winner has done it all, appearing at many of the world’s leading festivals and performing at the personal invitation of a host of big names.
Birthmark is reported to be a self-produced series of intimate minimalist snapshots, focussing on global issues and the imminent anxiety that comes with being a mother in a digital age, gaining solace from having written the album on her grandmother’s piano, despite lingering sensations of insecurity, naïveté, aging, hormones, science, faith, youth and climate change. It is largely a vocal composition, heightened by sparse instrumentation and brevity, in contrast to what she calls her “chaotic, maximalist” previous albums.
“I’m 40 years old and my personality has changed” she says, “I’m in the middle of a process right now, searching for the one I have become. The birthmark is mine (it’s on her left leg)” and reminds me of who I am and the time that has passed. Birthmark is a reminder that we can’t take human perspective away from where we are as a culture. It’s supposed to be there, we will always be human and we will always be changing. We can’t just become machines.”
An attractive feature of Hukkelberg’s work to me is that she can be experimental without losing the thread, by which I mean hanging onto a tune. It’s something her peers – the likes of Newsom, Björk, Holter and so on don’t always do, not to mention the heavy duty electronic droners. Here, she employs all manner of percussive and vocal effects, samples and stop-start mechanisms, together with the high soprano voice that belongs to a panoply of aspiring 18-year old Scandi-pop artists, as she ruminates on how difficult it can be for young people today to have any certainty about anything, let alone make the many choices that confront them daily. “How could you know, how could you know?” she pleads repeatedly in the chorus.
The trick is that she can do it through a song the deep content of which you could simply ignore and just hum it to yourself all day long.
Just one question. Is that grammatically correct? ‘The Young and Bold I’? Not ‘me’?
(Sweden) FAP – Kraftresa
We have featured quite a lot of electronic and experimental music and EDM recently, partly courtesy of the five-woman show at the Manchester International Festival, which was opened by Sweden’s Klara Lewis (see NMS #17).
FAP is an “experimental glitch” duo originating from the steel town of Sandviken in central Sweden but now active in Stockholm. At least one of the duo, the guitar maestro Stefan Aronsson, is active in other bands that have featured in NMS, such as Terminal Function and Baron Bane.
FAP’s marine thematic debut album Malekasino Dondolo from 2006 was nominated for “Electronica of the Year” at Manifest the following year. In addition to touring extensively, FAP has also exhibited audio-visual art. Most notable is the work ‘Sound Music’ from 2007. In 2017, the group began publishing parts of their ‘single’ ‘Metal in Swedish’, which is actually an album released as a series of singles.
In the midst of the pressing summer heat, FAP has released the 22-minute long, ambient ‘Kraftresa’, which loosely translates as ‘power trip’ – the ninth instalment of the single series.
FAP’s musical identity can be described as “an unconventional experimental beat landscape; a soundtrack for singularity or a completely autonomous extraterrestrial ambient.” ‘Kraftresa’ “will move the listener from a safe place to a more precarious place where machine rhythms and organically floating beats will either give the listener a sense of total relaxation or devastation.”
‘Music for Spaceports’ might be a handy strapline for this lengthy hyper-IDM exploration, which, having lulled you into a false sense of security, explodes into intergalactic warfare at roughly the half way point. As someone said, “Machines have taken over and this is their soundtrack.”
Kraftresa was released on July 26th, 2019 on Stupid Dream Records.
(Norway) Tuvaband – I Entered the Void
Tuvaband is an artist I was invited to check out in Norway for the Øya Festival but unfortunately got the message too late.
Tuvaband is the solo project of Tuva Hellum Marschhäuser, a Norwegian singer, songwriter and producer from Norway, currently based in Berlin. Tuvaband released her debut album, Soft Drop, in the autumn of 2018. In 2019 she will release her second album introducing the more powerful live sound together with which she has become associated. It is said the new album sounds like a blend of her previously released music, her live sound, and grunge. Last year she toured Europe with artists like Mogli and First Aid Kit and has played festivals like SXSW, SPOT, Eurosonic and The Great Escape.
She’s had good reviews in the UK and from as far away as Australia and listening to this track you can hear why. She promotes herself on Facebook as ‘Music for your funeral?’ and there is something disturbing about the song, especially in the heavily distorted vocal and lyric that makes up the first third of it. In that section it could be the soundtrack to the Korova milk bar scene in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and she might have been drinking Moloko Vellocets herself. She’s another stage beyond Kate Bush in her weirder moments.
An intriguing artist, let’s see what the album brings.
(Norway) Moyka – Bones
Moyka (Monika Engeseth) is another artist I wish I’d caught at the Øya Festival but it wasn’t to be. Sometimes you know you’ve come across an artist who is going on to big things, and quickly. I wasn’t sure which track of hers to play. All of those sent to me as samples are excellent. And so far she’s only released two singles, with another one coming in September and an EP in October.
Her music is synth-driven (with a Jean Michel Jarre vibe at times), uniformly melodic with a few surprises thrown in and, according to the PR, nods to Norwegian artists Røyksopp and Susanne Sundfør. That is high praise indeed but I’d add more as I detected hints of Aurora and Highasakite (the new version) as well. In fact she’s a fusion of much that’s good in Norway right now.
She’s also a trained producer, having immersed herself in synth-based sounds for the full period of her course.
I understand she’s been nominated for the prestigious Anchor Awards at the Reeperbahn festival this year and that she will be supporting Norway’s current Pop Queen Sigrid this autumn. That’s a meteoric rise by anyone’s standards and especially by someone who looks so young, although she is 21.
‘Bones’ is a song about love, loss and the creative energy that loss can produce.
(Norway) Mia Berg – You Decided
Oslo-originating Mia Berg has been hiding her music from most people until relatively recently, maintaining that it should remain personal, for her alone. But she decided to lift the veil in 2018, revealing the single ‘Hurry’, and then ‘Grow’ in 2019, revealing what has been described as a ‘guitar&B’/neo-soul amalgam.
Now, having played both the showcase by:Larm event and Øyafestivalen Mia makes her return with ‘You Decided’, on which she playfully vents her frustration towards an apathetic other-half when in a relationship. We seem to have featured several songs with that subject recently. Mia releases her debut EP this month.
Her inspiration comes from Solange and Bon Iver.
It’s a song of three halves, Gary. In the first section and the final one which reprises it, it never really seems to get going and if you look at the Soundcloud chart while you’re listening to it, it looks like a view of Manhattan, all skyscrapers and canyons. But that isn’t a criticism. She manages to find that perfect R&B/hip-hop combination that Natasha Bedingfield did on ‘These Words’. Then in the middle section she pops it up a bit with a strong synth riff. It’s a tune alright. The only disappointment is a non-ending when she had plenty of ammunition for a song in which she’s “venting her frustration” at someone who refuses to acknowledge their own faults.
I find it difficult to imagine this not getting airplay in the UK.
‘You Decided’ is available on all platforms from August 16th via Tik Records.
(Denmark) Jacob Faurholt – Hide from the Dark
Jacob Faurholt is one of Denmark’s most prolific songwriters and has released more than 10 albums, both solo and under the moniker Crystal Shipsss – a more experimental project. The nine songs on his forthcoming album Shake Off The Fear (September 6th) cover well-known themes from Faurholt’s own musical output. He writes about life, love and the anxieties that come with them, with nods to the likes of Daniel Johnston, Conor Oberst, and Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous.
He writes intriguing songs of personal angst. On the album the subjects covered include images from a vacation in Spain combined with the fear of flying and losing your mind and your loved ones; and the loss of a childhood friend in a Scandinavian ferry disaster in 1990. Songs that cherish life while recognising its frailty.
‘Hide from the Dark’ is the third and last single from the album. It’s a duet with his wife and, he says, “one of the albums more quiet moments.” The song, like the album, was recorded in a “trailer wagon studio” in his hometown of Aarhus, with local musicians. It was then mixed in Canada by Andy Magoffin (Great Lake Swimmers, Royal City).
Well, you won’t be putting it on at a party – though you might do with some of Jacob’s other songs – but if you’re in the mood for some quiet introspection and rumination on the human condition, it’s perfect.
(Finland) Johanna Kuvaja – Shower
In an edition that is dominated by Norway it’s nice to have a representative from Finland. We don’t get nearly enough of them. And it’s a debut song as well.
‘Shower’, is by Johanna Kuvaja, a music teacher from Tampere. The track was inspired by a long-distance relationship with an Australian lover and composed during the peak of their relationship (I’m not quite sure exactly what that means).
There’s a whole host of big name pop stars offered as ‘for fans of’ in Johanna’s case, such as Kylie Minogue, Aqua, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, Mariah Carey, and S Club 7. And the mixing of the song was by Sefi Carmel, who has worked with David Bowie, Phil Collins, Bruno Mars, Michael Buble, Massive Attack and Birdy.
An impressive list. So is it that good? Let’s start with what it reminds me of – 1980’s British pop, the sort of thing that might have been offered as a Eurovision entry but which was beaten by Bucks Fizz or Belle and the Devotions. It’s catchy, tuneful and upbeat. It’s just a bit naff because of that historical connection.
(Norway) The Needs – Hey Wake Up
The Norwegian punks were another band I managed to miss at the Øya festival. Where did all the time go? And these guys actually are from the Tøyen area of Oslo where the festival is held. I don’t really think you can call ‘Hey Wake Up’ punk, there are all sorts of influences in it, from pure pop to shoe gaze and it’s tuneful from start to finish with a strong chorus.
Formed by metal band Kvelertak’s guitarist Maciek Ofstad and two-time Norwegian Grammy winner Bendik Brænne, The Needs are releasing their debut album on September 6th 2019 via Jansen Records. The line-up is completed by Brænne’s older brother and former scientist Mattis, the drummer Nills Jørgen Nilsen, who last has spent the 10 years setting stages on fire with Honningbarna and Knut-Oscar Nymo of punk rockers Oslo Ess. That’s quite a collection of styles in one band.
This, the band’s debut single, is inspired by the adrenaline withdrawal that professional musicians experience between tours – days spent on the beaches, time spent with loyal dogs.
‘Hey Wake Up’ was available from Friday 23rd August.
(Sweden) Majro ft.Summer Heart – Yeah Alright
MAJRO is the Swedish 24-year old songwriter and producer Myra Granberg. Following the release of her Debut EP ‘Heartbreak/Britney’ earlier this year, she has been getting airplay on Scandinavian radio and generating interest in the press.
On her new track ‘Yeah Alright’, she is joined by the Swedish songwriter and producer Summer Heart (David Alexander), who has been featured several times in NMS.
‘Yeah Alright’ was created on a cold day towards the end of January this year and inspired by the image of American summer college parties.
I can’t say hand on heart that I found the title attractive but then again I didn’t with OutKast’s ‘Hey Ya!’ but that didn’t do too badly did it?
It’s one of those summery Scandi-pop songs they seem to do better than everyone else, taking over where Mungo Jerry left off. Especially when they write them in winter.
(Finland) Pink Chameleons – Melting Face
Pink Chameleons have released their second single, ‘Melting Face’ featuring backing vocals from Plastic Tones’ Tytti Roto. The song promotes the notion of looking forward rather than looking back and reminiscing. ‘Melting Face’ is also the first track from Pink Chameleons’ debut EP which arrives via the Soliti label this autumn.
Pink Chameleons are a new three-piece band fronted by Black Lizard’s Paltsa-Kai Salama (Vocals & Guitar) with Antti Sauli (Bass) and Ville Hopponen (Drums). The band posit themselves as a Garage/Blues/Country Band, whose work encompasses everything from The Stooges to Waylon Jennings – with their own contemporary stamp on proceedings.
If the flowers look a bit sad in this lyric video it’s because of a spell of cold wet weather just before it was filmed but as they say it actually looks better for it.
Well, I don’t know about The Stooges and Waylon Jennings, I thought Polyphonic Spree had struck up. After a couple of plays it’s still a little one dimensional but perfectly listenable.
(Sweden) Helax – Tell Me, Tell Me
Now here’s one that is close to my heart for several reasons. Helax is John Alexander Ericson, once keyboardist with Alberta Cross and now one half of the dream pop duo The Ghost of Helags, which we’ve featured and supported on a couple of occasions. Helags, Alex, Helax, yes I like that.
Moreover, ‘Tell Me, Tell Me’ is from his debut EP, released on August 30th via Misty Music Sweden. The four-track project was inspired by one of my favourite places, Hamburg’s red-light district (well, as it is now, it has cleaned up its act a bit!) and his nocturnal walks down the harbour.
Proving he has many strings to his bow, ‘Tell Me, Tell Me’ is a dance track but a rather superior one that you can simply listen to if you prefer and part of that is down to the soothing female voice, which I’m certain belongs to Teresa Woischiski, the other half of Helags.
(Sweden) Phogg – Pearls
Actually, this should have been a premiere of a new single, ‘EATR’ by Phogg but unfortunately its September 12th release date didn’t tally with the NMS publication date. So instead we’re offering a recent single instead, ‘Pearls’.
With their debut EP ‘Zun, Stein & Graaf’, which came out in 2017, Phogg established themselves on the Swedish psych-pop stage. 2018 was largely spent on gigs around Stockholm and recording their debut album ‘Slices’ that was released in June 2018.
‘Pearls’ is inspired by Elizabeth Eden, a transsexual woman who is perhaps best known as the wife of John Wojtowicz, a famous bank robber (played by Al Pacino in ‘Dog Day Afternoon’). The song is about self-realisation, overcoming demons from one’s past and carrying one’s suffering like pearls around one’s neck. The intense parts represent the pain and hurt that Elizabeth needed to endure as a trans person.
It turns out to be a more complex track than I’d expected the few ‘intense’ parts quickly giving way to pleasantly tuneful sections structured more like a prog song. I’m looking forward to the next one already.
(Sweden) Sofia Talvik – Blood Moon
Melancholic Swedish Americana. Not unique but fairly rare.
‘Blood Moon’ is from Sofia Talvik’s forthcoming album Paws of a Bear, which will be released on September 27th on Makaki Music, her own label.
Originally from Sweden’s west coast she has quite a history, having performed at festivals ranging from Lollapalooza to SXSW, opened for Maria McKee & David Duchovny, and she has collaborated with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, as well as Tobias Fröberg (Peter Bjorn and John), who produced her 2008 LP ‘Jonestown’. She’s primarily a live artist and has taken her music across Europe and through 47 U.S. states channelling the American sound through her Nordic roots to create her own brand of Americana.
On the new album Talvik will “gaze upon her life’s journey, carefully weighing each chapter”. Lead single ‘Take Me Home’ recently debuted in the top ten on the U.S. Folk Radio Charts, offering a hint of what’s to come.
On different tracks she addresses the current U.S. political climate (‘Pharaohs & Friends’) and on ‘Die Alone’ she reveals what it’s like to be bombarded with questions regarding her choice not to have children. On this recently released track, ‘Blood Moon,’ she deals with the wildfires which have raged through the west of the U.S. It could be extrapolated to encompass the Amazonian fires as well, I suppose.
I wouldn’t have automatically associated languid steel guitar with an environmental protest song but it seems to work quite well, especially as she personalises it with the repeated line “You’re so far away” suggesting the isolation felt when one of these events rips through a neighbourhood.
Singles from previously featured artists
(Norway) Eberson – Someone Who Cares
Back in December (NMS #9) we featured the father/daughter duo of Jon and Marte Eberson, with a track from their debut album.
Now they are back with a new single, and one that wasn’t on the album, hinting perhaps that a second album may be on the way.
It can’t come soon enough for me. Father is renowned in Norwegian jazz circles while daughter is perhaps not recognised as widely as she should be for her contribution to several bands including Highasakite and her new one, Löv although that is still very much a work in progress.
‘Someone Who Cares’ was written by Marte, and produced and arranged by her father, Roar Nilsen and herself.
I had to listen twice to ‘Someone Who Cares’ to appreciate the subtle twists and turns in this song that expresses the simple desire to be cherished, with Marte kicking it off with a dark, contralto voice I didn’t know she had, before morphing into the soprano one everyone recognises. Underscoring the stripped back track is some lavish guitar work from Pop before Marte takes over with the sort of expansive piano over synths that she would have been familiar with at Highasakite and then Jon rounds it off with an acoustic guitar solo.
This is a rare combination indeed, indie-pop synths, piano, subtle reflective vocals and the frills of one of Scandinavia’s top guitarists in one package.
I hope we have the opportunity to hear them live over here before too long.
Note: Spotify offers both the Radio Edit and the fuller version.
(Sweden) Vera Hotsauce – One Time
Vera Hotsauce has turned up a couple of times in NMS, first with ‘Daddy’, which was on a mixtape dealing with themes of exposure and abandonment and which was very good, and then on another mixtape with ‘Hey Boy’, which wasn’t.
‘One Time’ is different again and is about “wanting something so bad even though you know it’s not gonna go anywhere, you just really hope that it might. Every time you go down that road, you tell yourself “this is the last time”, but it always happens again.”
The key line is “we would only do it one time (not again), and we got drunk and took a cab back, to my bed’.
It’s presented in a slightly 1980’s manner, at least where the synth accompaniment is concerned. Still not reaching the heights of ‘Daddy’ but infinitely better than ‘Hey Boy’, which she admitted was not about anything in particular.
There is the possibility of a debut full-length album later this year.
‘One Time’ was available on all platforms from 16th August 2019 via TEN MUSIC GROUP/Moving Castle.
(Denmark) Aztek – Delirious
NMS featured Aztek a couple of editions ago. A band out of Denmark’s second city and ‘music capital’, Aarhus, and Aalborg, the previously-reviewed song, ‘Darkest Hour’, didn’t live down to its name and ‘Delirious’ is equally upbeat. And ‘summery’.
Perhaps a little repetitive, (and as with the previous single, a bit more va-va-voom wouldn’t be amiss and a little more imagination in the guitar break, which again is similar to the comment I made last time out), the positive vibe more than makes up for it.
(Sweden) Deportees – Covered in Dreams
Deportees is an indie rock trio from Umeå, a remote city in the far north, and NMS featured their debut international single ‘Bright Eyes’, a few issues ago. They are regarded as one of Sweden’s best kept musical secrets.
They’re an award-winning band, having previously picked up a couple of Swedish Grammys, for two of their albums. Now they have unveiled a video for their current single ‘Covered in Dreams’ which is taken from their first full UK album release, ‘All Future’, which will be released on October 11th.
Despite its remote location and unwelcoming weather, Umeå has proven to be a perfect pasture for creativity. In the 1990’s, its musical trademark was the vegan hardcore punk scene starring bands like Refused. The brothers Peder and Anders Stenberg alongside Thomas Hedlund, were transformed by this vibrant subculture. They named themselves Deportees and drew influences from diverse artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Prince and The Band.
With the album All Future the UK finally gets its chance to experience Deportees’ melancholic sound.
Shot in the countryside surrounding Stockholm, the video for ‘Covered in Dreams’ was directed by Mauri Chifflet and stars dancers Mari Raudsepp (also the choreographer) & Martin Hendrikse.
You know immediately this band has style in spades. It’s a song I’d expect hear on UK radio while I’m working in the morning which means mainstream Radio 2. But with a radio edit please, it is a little long.
Stand by for news of upcoming UK shows.
(Norway) Moddi – New Dawn
NMS #14 was our introduction to Moddi, whose new single, ‘New Dawn’, was released on August 23rd. It’s another from his forthcoming (and fifth) album Like in 1968, (September 13th, 2019, Propeller Recordings).
The previous single, ‘Kriegspiel’ was a little out of the ordinary in that its theme was support for Frode Berg, a Norwegian citizen who had been arrested on espionage charges in Russia and who was facing a long prison sentence. Unfortunately, he subsequently got one – 14 years in a strict regime labour camp.
I was quite impressed with Kriegspiel’ and almost awarded it 9/10. So what of ‘New Dawn’? Quite a different song, a slow-burning ballad with a banjo the main instrument by the sound of it, and with the melancholic approach that might have applied to the previous single, but which wasn’t. But his choice of subject matter is consistently shock worthy. This one is a song about how we tend to use our language to hide away unpleasant truths and is a duet with Hollow Hearts-vocalist Ida Løvheim.
‘New Dawn’ is inspired and is built on real military metaphors which have been used by Norwegian politicians about the country’s participation in the wars in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq. The artwork for it, which is a photo taken by Odd Andersen and which is this edition’s main photograph, illustrates the point; we believe we’re looking at a beautiful sunrise (a new dawn) over the town of Mosul in Iraq, but in reality we’re looking at a burning oil well after what is left after the U.S. military ‘Operation New Dawn’. Hmm. I don’t think it was the Americans who fired the oil wells, Moddi.
It’s only to be expected, I suppose. Moddi was an activist before he was a songwriter and that was evident in his previous project ‘Unsongs’ – a collection of banned songs across the world.
As it builds towards the finish a plethora of instrumentation, including orchestral, is introduced. His voice, meanwhile, is much the same as on Kriegspiel’; somewhere between Donovan and Labi Siffre.
It’s a high-quality song, written and performed by a high quality artist who should be much better known in the UK than he is. While I don’t necessarily agree with his politics I adopt the same attitude here as I did recently with Little Scream, whose single ‘Dear Leader’ seemed to suggest Americans should take to armed conflict to unseat the government. As if they haven’t got enough armed conflict to be going on with it. But her song was very well structured musically and much the same applies here.
(Norway) I See Rivers – Collide
NMS goes to press just as this latest single from I See Rivers is released. The trio is in the process of making their highly anticipated debut album due for an independent release in spring 2020 with the support of PRS for Music Foundation, the BBC Launchpad and their dedicated fans through Kickstarter.
I’ve commented, as have all other reviewers, on their highly harmonic ‘float pop’ sound but this is completely different, far more experimental than anything we’ve heard before.
They say, “The themes of ‘Collide’ are of conflict and reconciliation, turbulence and transparency. In contrast to the familiar voices and relatable lyrics, the production of the song is both more contemporary and more adventurous than our previous releases, focusing more on creating space using a combination of gritty, acoustic sounds and sweeping, synthesised elements.”
I couldn’t have put it better and, to be honest I think it’s the right move for them. While there was nothing wrong at all with their previous material an entire album of it could have been perhaps a little too twee. ‘Collide’ tests them a whole lot more and promises a far more challenging album both for them and the listener.
(Sweden) Comminor – L.A. – I Luv it!
Here with their third single of 2019 is the Västerås punk, grunge, rap (it’s all here) band Comminor, once again stepping well outside the box. Their new single, ‘L.A. – I LUV IT!’, “is about the ups and downs of being on tour – being bipolar and chronically depressed. It’s about the euphoria and those pitch black moments when you think you can’t go on, but your loved ones got you back.”
Guitarist/producer Victor Holm says, “it’s the song I always wanted to write” and he did so with singer Johanna Berndtsson. ”It’s a song about sunsets, young love, discovering new places, loud music… and poor judgement. It’s about the highs and lows of being on tour, being in a band and all the crazy wonderful people you get to meet while doing what you love.”
This release precedes that of their new album Answering Machine for Broken Dreams on September 24th (Comedia), after which the band will tour Europe.
This is the Comminor I remember from when I saw them live a couple of years ago. All action, and no quarter asked or given. Bring it on.
(Sweden) Molly Hammar ft. Kim Cesarion – Show Me
I’m tempted to say that Molly and fellow Swede Kim Cesarion have given birth to a new single but I’m not that cruel.
Molly Hammar is an RnB star from Stockholm whom we’ve featured previously, and here she has teamed up with fellow Swedish artist Kim to release their co-written duet ’Show Me’ on August 9th via Cosmos Music. ‘Show Me’ is the third single from Molly’s forthcoming EP to be released this autumn and follows hit singles ‘No Place like Me’ featuring Big Narstie (a song which I panned solely for his contribution) and ‘WORDS’.
This production revolves around the fact that both are romantics and were inevitably going to write a love song. “I hope that people who listen to the song will join us in spreading loving vibes to the world,” she says. Aw.
Actually, I think Kim is a better choice for her than the rapper. A classically trained musician he made his breakthrough in 2013 with his debut single ‘Undressed’, a track that has amassed more than 24 million YouTube views.
I’m not really taken by modern RnB as I may have said before but I’ll happily buy into this one. It’s snappy, upbeat, the vibe is good from start to finish and the slight raspiness in her voice early on is quite a turn on.
The next few months will see Molly Hammar complete a short summer tour in Sweden and release the (second) EP that “finds Molly baring her soul on the dynamic within relationships, her own identity and lost nights out in London.”
(Norway) Sløtface – Stuff
Alexei Sayle had a comedy series in the late 1980s and early 1990s called ‘Stuff’, in which “that fat bastard Alexei Sayle dissects the universe and life as we know it” according to its own introduction.
I’m not sure what Stavanger-based pop-punk quartet Sløtface’s intention was with this song although vocalist Haley Shea does make an attempt at dissecting her own life; it’s quite different from anything they’ve recorded before to my knowledge.
Their recent comeback single ‘Telepathetic’ was very much in the Sløtface mould. ‘Stuff’ isn’t.
Haley Shea says, “’Stuff’ is my attempt at an honest breakup song. It’s just about all the stuff that’s left over after a relationship, especially if you live with someone, that you might have memories associated with that suddenly become painful, and how that slowly fades until the pain is gone and the stuff is just stuff again. It’s also about how great those fresh starts can be, and how you find a way back to yourself, when it’s just yourself.”
There are two constants carried over from previously: Shea’s wry observations – she certainly has a way with words – and Lasse Lokøy’s rambling bass lines. But the main melody isn’t as strong as usual – I’ve identified them before as a band that finds a tune in every single song – and in some parts there’s no melody to speak of. And then it just fades out at the end in a way I’ve never heard from Sløtface prior to this song.
So it’s quite experimental and I wait to see what fans make of it.
Having spent the last couple of years relentlessly touring their impressive debut album ‘Try Not To Freak Out’, the band have been sharing new material over the last couple of months, potentially teasing an upcoming body of work. Alongside Odd Martin Skålnes (Sigrid, Aurora, just about everybody in Norway), the new songs mark the first time the band have worked as co-producers. More details about further upcoming music from the band will be available soon.
They have a European tour in the autumn including eight UK dates:
Nov 21st – Electric Ballroom, London – SOLD OUT
Nov 22nd – SWX, Bristol
Nov 23rd – Academy 2, Birmingham
Nov 25th – Stylus, Leeds
Nov 26th – The Garage, Glasgow
Nov 28th – The Riverside, Newcastle
Nov 29th – Academy 2, Manchester
Nov 30th – The Loft, Southampton
Festival review – Øya Festival
Where: Oslo, Norway
When: August 6-10, 2019
Oslo’s Øya Festival turned 20 this year, breaking through the 100,000 crowd barrier. The sixth Øya at Tøyen Parken, a 20-minute stroll out of the city centre, was blessed by good weather, at least until the last day, when the heavens opened.
The event featured four of the 12 bands on the UK’s Mercury Prize shortlist (of which three were seen and heard by your reviewer).
The full review can be found here: http://www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk/2019/08/16/festival-report-oya-festival-norway/
A few comments from it:
Thea Hjelmeland. “All the time the music was powerful, appealing and melodic and delivered vocally by someone who takes her work very seriously. Worth watching out for again, once she nails her direction.”
James Blake. “…the simple piano riff he was playing could have belonged to a funeral.”
IDLES. “Well, to me, they’re plastic punk. I don’t buy it. It seems manufactured. But they can turn in a dramatic, highly watchable set, I’ll give them that, and the drummer is their star man.”
The Cure. ”Indeed, when the familiar strains of ‘Friday, I’m in Love’ and ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ finally rang out well into the extended encore to the extended set it was almost as if a cure had been found for The Cure.”
Misty Coast. “Once the trio became a quartet it was as if they’d been plugged into the National Grid as the power and volume was ramped up. Misty Coast is regarded as being ‘dream pop/shoe gaze’ but live they are one hell of a rock band and another revelation at this festival.”
Soccer Mommy. “What I don’t understand about Sophie Allison is her pre- and –post stage demeanour. During the sound check she looked like she’d prefer to be anywhere else and walking back to the artists’ area later she looked like she’d been told she had a week to live. The contrast with her easy-going stage persona was staggering.”
Christine and the Queens. “She is tremendously talented…my point is does she really need those dancers? For me personally they added little…Her best song was, as ever, ‘Saint Claude’ …and she did no dancing to it whatsoever. She just stood there and sang it, perfectly.”
Robyn “The Queen of Pop” as Christine aptly described her.
Lil Halima. “Silky, soulful and sexy in her own way, she purrs through her set of electronic R&B songs with ease, the only distraction being what she is wearing. It looks like one of those plastic rain ponchos they’re hiring out for a couple of quid.”
slowthai. “As I made my way off Vindfruen hill along with a lot of other people the rant intensified to a crescendo…20 minutes later I could still hear him f**king himself stupid from the delegates’ area half a mile away.”
black midi. “At least these London, Brit School educated, experimentalist boys can play their instruments; indeed they are highly proficient at it. But actually that’s the problem. They know they can and there’s a tad too much showboating. “
Pom Poko. “Their set was an absolute delight and the most entertaining of the entire festival by a distance. Next time they are here they will headline Amfiet, the main stage, guaranteed. I often rate a band by the way in which they can raise expectations musically, then back off, then unexpectedly deliver a manic climax. Great artists like Arcade Fire and Anna Calvi know how to do it. Pom Poko wrote the manual on it.”
Marianne Sveen in conversation
While in Oslo, apart from taking a short diversion north to a town called Jessheim to see one quarter of Katzenjammer in action (Sol Heilo), I also took the opportunity to interview another quarter of the all-girl band, one who, like Sol, is now preparing to launch a solo career, Marianne Sveen. She has an interesting and heartwarming story to tell. See http://www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk/2019/08/15/in-conversation-marianne-sveen/?fbclid=IwAR02FchUY-7aKH6ZjYRswJrc7vModwRT55gzO9md7Fp4HojYdKJn1AvN90Q
(Finland/Netherlands) – Metal singer Floor Jansen stars in TV talent show
NMS has on several occasions featured serious artists who have appeared on TV ‘talent’ shows, allowing them to show a side of their talents you might not otherwise see.
This time it is the turn of Floor Jansen, vocalist with Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish, to perform, on the imaginatively-titled ‘Beste Zangers’ in her native Holland. This programme is similar in format to a Norwegian one, ‘Hver gang vi møtes’ which took place earlier this year and in which artists had to sing each other’s songs, being judged by a panel and by the general public.
Having said that, Floor is singing ‘Vilja Lied’ here, Hanna’s aria from Franz Lehár’s opera, ‘Die Lustige Witwe’ (‘The Merry Widow’); I’m not sure what that is all about.
Amazingly, it appears that Jansen is little-known in her own country which is surprising since prior to Nightwish her two previous bands, After Forever and ReVamp (which she founded) were both Dutch. Since joining Nightwish in 2012 she moved to Finland. Nightwish is currently recording its eighth studio album for release next spring.
While Floor Jansen did have a year of operatic training and does occasionally perform in opera, there’s something special about this performance. Unfortunately the video ends abruptly; it appears her colleagues and competitors on the show went ballistic in their praise immediately afterwards.
Many people might conclude that she is perhaps the most technically gifted of any female singer in contemporary popular music. Or of either gender, for that matter.
I certainly think she’s in with a shout for such an accolade. The one thing that stops me awarding it here is that one of her predecessors in Nightwish, and a founding member, Tarja Turunen (1996-2005), who is still very active recording and performing as a solo artist, is even better.
The only thing that concerns me about this is that if I was a big-shot A&R man in London or Los Angeles watching this I’d be on the ‘phone to Floor Jansen within the hour. While her motive in going on the show was apparently to publicise the symphonic metal genre, she may have ended up publicising herself instead.
And in her day job…
Main photo: Øya Festival, Vindfruen Stage: Steffen Rikenberg.