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Strangers/Lovers: Side A


Little Daggers Records

Adopting a novel approach to her debut album release is DAGNY. Having written an impressive number of tracks, two hundred and fifty to be precise, in addition to taking part in numerous sessions and recording studios the world over, the singer-songwriter Dagny (full name Dagny Norvoll Sandvik) entered Livingroom Studios in Oslo during 2019 to finalise the tracks for the first half of debut album ‘Strangers/Lovers: Side A’. Seeking a common thread throughout the album, the aforementioned “novel approach” was taken as a result of sifting through eighteen months of work and realising that all songs from this period were good enough to make the cut for the debut record; hence the debut album being split in two for two separate releases. Focusing on the first half of the record, ‘Strangers/Lovers: Side A’ is full of pop songs that are bright as they are bristling with intelligence. Such examples can be garnered from the gradual awakening that is ‘Come Over’, to sleek electronic beats steering ‘Somebody’ and its joyous realisation of love echoed by its words. What goes up however, also tends to come down as the emotions suggest during the tail end of this debut record, best served by honest admissions of ‘Let Me Cry’. An exceptionally good start is ‘Strangers/Lovers: Side A’ and one that, no doubt, will become even more clearer once its imminent second side is released.

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Falsehoods (EP)

Terrible Love


The future of Terrible Love remains unclear, with truly little information surfacing from the band’s social media pages. That said, the latest breaking news concerns brand-new EP ‘Falsehoods’, issued (For the moment?) as a digital only release. The new material is welcome news, despite a clear statement from the band that the tracks are DEMOS carefully selected from a still unfinished/unreleased full-length album. With much credit owed to Sam Manville for tidying up, mixing an mastering the songs featured on ‘Falsehoods’, it is difficult to accept that these tracks are not the finished articles because the quality is of a high calibre and worthy of an official CD/vinyl release. Likely financial constraints have taken their toll here, not to mention the unprecedented times society is undergoing, but no matter as fans of post-hardcore, post-punk and alternative music in general will lap these up. Beginning with the lone-skeletal guitar chords of ‘Dose’, which soon morphs into second-track ‘Come To Harm’; that has all the feel of a demo during its opening bars, only to unfold into a thunderous, guitar-driven song with melodic passages and red-raw vocals. Whether it is an individual or agency at the centre of ‘History Will Not Be Kind’ is open to interpretation, but either way makes for compelling listening in addition to the more considered approach of the song musically. Concluding with the excellent and forceful ‘Maw’ that signposts feelings of angst concerning the unusual times society is experiencing, Terrible Love fire enough flares during ‘Falsehoods’ signalling for life to be given to this EP, which is warranted considering the quality on display and therefore persuasive enough for any suitors listening to officially release the long overdue album. Trying times indeed.

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Sweet Nothings (Single)

Seed Husk


Testament that alternative indie guitar rock is not a dying art can be heard via latest single from alternative rockers Seed Husk and ‘Sweet Nothings’. Continuing a run of recent new recordings before a full-blown album not too far down the pipeline, the new release speaks of a fracturing relationship that is about to free fall with rivalling sides expressing their views where honest admissions are given and the regret that comes with this as one dissected example shows: “I can admit I overdid it, Some brutal wind went over me”. The accompanying video directed by Nora Niemispelto supporting ‘Sweet Nothings’ has a darkened fairy-tale quality reminiscent of Radiohead’s gothic trip into blackened woodland of ‘There, There’, and thus falling in line with the reference points Seed Husk continue to pick away at circa 80s-90s alternative bands. It’s the layers Seed Husk build into their songs with ‘Sweet Nothings’ being no exception from this rule where chirping, echoing guitars are present one moment only to run a more ragged course along with tumbling drums and impassioned vocals stressing the anxiety felt at the heart of this song. If ‘Sweet Nothings’ is the sound of what is to come regarding the band’s impending sophomore LP, then the long wait will be utterly worth it.

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Paying For More (Single)

Jo Below

Inverse Records

Flipping through the catalogue of rock music’s past, and then applying their own modern twist on the genre, is Finnish (alt) rockers Jo Below. Surfacing in 2017, the four-piece band quickly got to work writing and recording tracks that will feature as part of a forthcoming EP scheduled for release in September 2020. Providing a flavour of this upcoming record is the track ‘Paying For More’, which is available now via all good digital streaming platforms. The song itself is an energetic rocker that melds the previously mentioned influence of traditional rock music, but with something more modern where rock and punk music fuse and produce something akin to the likes of Blink-182 largely due to the melodic passages appearing in various places of ‘Paying For More’. From such a confident beginning, the anticipation for the rest of Jo Below’s debut EP is greatly anticipated when that arrives this autumn.

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Glass Island

Richard Luke

Moderna Records

Happening purely by chance only recently, the artist and compositions of Richard Luke entered the office at FLW via news of a remix of last year’s ‘Glass Island’ recording. With 2019’s ‘Glass Island’ also being a fresh set of recordings to this very music paper, a request was wired to the pianist/instrumentalist for a chance to experience, first-hand, the tracks making up this sophomore album. With ‘Glass Island’ displaying the singular name Richard Luke, the truth unveils, once liner notes are perused, a second and yet equal main staple of this recording by the name of Amira Bedrush-McDonald. Providing plenty of bittersweet moments and added tension by means of violin and partnering the chief vehicle of piano driving this long player, immediate impressions suggest ‘Glass Island’ is a record filled with much melancholy. That said, it is a beautiful sadness and deeply touching as it grips the senses between its teeth from the initial notes of ‘Everything A Reason’ to the concluding steps of ‘Breathe’. It’s cinematic in its visions as well as intimate where songs build brick by brick and provide optimism via such delights as ‘Silent Story’ and the all-to-brief ‘Last Call’, which captivates via a weaving spell of strings and piano. However, this short moment of beauty flowers into something far greater (‘Freda’) where tears cascade in unision to the delicate sounds peddled by the two musicians at work here, giving way to much reflection and bring to mind Scotland’s romantic poets’ The Bathers circa ‘Sunpowder’ minus the vocals on this occasion of course. There is simply no fault with the second offering coming from the stable that is Richard Luke (and Amira Bedrush-McDonald) because ‘Glass Island’ is an album to break the strongest of hearts yet also provide reasons for optimism that all is not lost. A true work of art.

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Less One Knows

Benjamin Finger

Dead Definition

Appropriate really considering the title of Norwegian Benjamin Finger’s album ‘Less One Knows’ that there is no press information accompanying this latest release and, therefore, leaving any theories and conclusions solely at the feet of the individual. An album wide open to interpretation therefore, and leap into a blackened wilderness, but most certainly not into the unknown considering Famous Last Words’ previous commentary on the works of Benjamin Finger. That said, ‘Less One Knows’ removes those comfy slippers Mr Finger was becoming accustomed with and immediately throws a U-turn where sounds were previously ethereal, wispy and largely communicating in electronic jargon, and replaced by such examples as the opening cacophony of noise illustrated by ‘Open Phase’. It is the start of this journey and it is one trying to remove itself from the confined space it finds itself in. It is the sound of a traffic jam in rush hour largely demonstrated by use of guitar. It is this very instrument that shapes and steers this new record and sounds somewhat alien when considering previous albums of Benjamin Finger. It is an angry record in several places given the hardened, charcoaled textures of ‘Screaming Mind’ where one can visualise sheets of rain beating down, to one that has been listening to and taking notes of post-rock and shoegaze. More specifically, the ghost of Joy Division is a reference point given the heavy melancholy of captivating ‘Bothered Earwaves’. Something has certainly shifted in the sea of sounds when it comes to Benjamin Finger because ‘Less One Knows’, in all of its details, is a record attempting to make sense of an episode that provides no comfort, only sadness, where memories surface and fade from thought and illustrated compellingly from start to finish via mainly electric guitar and, more or less, a first on this very manor, strong(ER) use of vocals where direct commentary between artist and audience is almost given, but then that would be a disservice to the title and overall context of this magnificent body of work. Sometimes in life, ‘Less One Knows’ really does provide more consolation.

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Climate (Single)


Rylos Music

Another release that rightly feels the urge to address the current environmental issues that are constantly in the media right now. The band in question is Rylos who hail from Helsinki in Finland and their new single, appropriately titled, ‘Climate’ is a rather catchy affair. With its sound crossing borders between alternative rock and hard rock, ‘Climate’ introduces itself via tumbling drums, buzzing guitars and near-operatic vocals, before taking a moment to catch its breath and then continue its journey with a hard-hitting message to basically take care of this planet. ‘Climate’ was recorded at Astia Studio with Anssi Kippo in early January 2020, and it’s recorded completely using analogue recording technology. With the band adding to the mix new bassist, Riina Suikkanen, it looks like 2020 is going to be a serious year for Rylos judging by the energy and addictive qualities of latest single ‘Climate’ that combines its efforts equally between being a compelling tune and one with a conscience.

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Hold My Hand


Eilean Records

Limited to a mere 130 copies is the new album from Ecovillage. ‘Hold My Hand’ is the latest creation from collaborators Emil Holmstrom and Peter Wikstrom. Despite working together since 2001 on different music projects, it wasn’t until 2006 that the pair decided to set up Ecovillage after a period of travelling around South Asia and being inspired greatly as a result of this trip. With several albums already to their name, Ecovillage issue album number six, ‘Hold My Hand’, with a “less is more attitude” that sees the creative duo let go of any past constraints in terms of creating their music and allow for a more minimalist approach. Such working conditions in terms of ‘Hold My Hand’ are evident from the beautiful artwork with its bright colours gracing its cover where nature is expressed in a patchwork/jigsaw effect, to the ambient music flowing from its contents. If you’re searching for peace and tranquillity then you’ve come to the right place as ‘Remember The Sky’ opens a doorway to a quiet corner of the world where there is a secluded beach and only nature’s inhabitants for company set to a gentle acoustic guitar and the barest sound of a piano. Other tracks such as ‘Heaven In Your Eyes’ offer a more melancholic feel yet capture the senses equally with its cello taking a star turn, only for the mood to swing via the liquid gold impression of ‘Novus Lux’. There’s a fine balance created by Ecovillage and ‘Hold My Hand’, where the cello often brings out the darker atmospherics lingering in the background, but there remains much light as well and therefore capturing the different moods no doubt experienced when the previously mentioned journey helped to inspire this latest album.

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Eilean Records

Described as an “experimental sound artist” is offthesky (all lowercase). Such a label is a fitting description once the contents of latest album ‘Illuminate’ begins to unravel its tapestry of piano, synths, percussion, cello, oboe, viola, violin, sax and pretty much the whole kitchen sink (!), where it soon becomes apparent that much thought and attention to detail has been considered. This becomes clearer once the background details of current album ‘Illuminate’ reveal that it began its inception during autumn 2017 and was spread out in terms of its recordings with stints in Denver and Kentucky and the European destinations of Latvia and Poland. It wasn’t until two years later that the recording of ‘Illuminate’ was completed. With offthesky presented as the solo work of Michael Jason Corder, the new album includes a variety of musicians who offer their skills. As often with Eilean Records, the music is often a purely instrumental affair, but every now and again you will hear the faintest of vocals, something of which is utilised during ‘Illuminate’. As mentioned already, the sounds are often experimental and lean towards ethereal sounding compositions (‘Eyes Like Isles’) or moody reflective numbers such as ‘Future Fire’, held together by a compelling saxophone. There is often the suggestion of late-night wonders under moonlit skies (depending on your interpretation of course) via dreamy ‘Neon Aeon’ and more tense ‘Monomystic’ with its shades of folk music. Having released a mammoth number of albums, latest addition ‘Illuminate’ is another strong and moving record to add to the catalogue of offthesky.

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Eilean Records

Clocking up an impressive eight studio albums is Seabuckthorn otherwise known as Andy Cartwright. With latest album ‘Crossing’ finding a home at Eilean Records, Seabuckthorn gets to showcase fourteen new tracks of instrumental passages. Beginning with ‘Crossing’ where its use of bowed resonator guitar certainly grabs all of the attention as it vibrates loudly and can still be heard echoing faintly on occasions during the following, yet far quieter, ‘Premonition. The picking, sliding and scratching of strings continues and blossoms to fuller effect during the daylight breaking ‘The Cloud And The Redness’. As mentioned, with fourteen tracks to fall on, there is much to consume here, and for Seabuckthorn to explore, which shows via the faint synths and use of bow grinding across strings, albeit in the same faint sounding manner, and allowing for much reflection during ‘The Observatory’. ‘The After Quiet’ offers something quite different with its sounds illuminating like a flashing beacon cast adrift at sea. The introduction of banjo and percussion (‘Cleanse’) adds further dimensions to the overall sounds and reveals further talents of the musicianship of Seabuckthorn. ‘Crossing’ is an album that requires repeat listens due to the detail on display, but once these details become more known, you will not be able to let this album go.

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Surface Textures

Andrew Tasselmyer

Eilean Records

Far from being a newcomer to a corner of the music world that exists on a diet of field recordings, samples, electronics and numerous other instruments when called for, American Andrew Tasselmyer sees his latest creation ‘Surface Textures’ released via Eilean Records. Going to great lengths to capture the sounds included on ‘Surface Textures’ with visits to Japan, China, Europe and the USA between 2017 and 2018, there is a sense of a journey captured here that is attempting to recall the past. Whether that is a means to unravel certain memories that continue to perplex or relive happier times then that is a matter for the artist at the centre of this record to workout. But what does transpire is a series of atmospheric tracks that suggest moments where surface noises aid suggestions of memories felt, such as the darker tone of ‘From Out The Depths’, and then lead to clearer paths (‘Nara Sunset’) although (and interestingly) the murkier shades of any such fog never fully dissipates. A fourth outing for Andrew Tasselmyer with latest album ‘Surface Textures’ and it is one that will really get under your skin for numerous good reasons.

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El Mar De Junio

Ciro Berenguer

Eilean Records

Strictly limited to 130 copies, latest album ‘El Mar De Junio’ (‘The Sea Of June’) from Argentinian Ciro Berenguer sees the musical composer and guitarist set out his stall in a combined use of field recordings, electronics, loops and electric guitar that results in much sound experimentation. With the sound decibels barely rising above three and the approach to the majority of tracks being minimalist at best, it remains an interesting collection of atmospheric tracks that can shine gloriously in a moment (‘Antu’) as well as remain touching and tender during others (‘Camino Al Espinillo’, ‘Luz Entre Los Bosques’). With the album taking its time to bear fruit, and finally being completed during the summer and autumn of 2017, ‘El Mar De Junio’ brings together six years’ worth of memories and emotions (Ciro Berenguer now resides in Barcelona, Spain) that are transformed into a collage of sounds that quietly go about their business and offer moments of genuine beauty.

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