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Hooked!

Released 5 February

 

Hooked!

The Cheaters

Artwood Records

It was only just over a year ago that Vestfold three-piece, The Cheaters, picked up their prize gong for best rock album under the Norwegian equivalent of the Grammys with the Spellemannprisen. With that award sitting proudly on The Cheaters’ mantelpiece at home for their ‘Rites of Spring’ long player, the indie-rock trio were soon spurred into action with new songs arriving thick and fast in preparation for their third album. ‘Hooked’ is the end result and sees the light of day on the band’s own label Artwood Records. With the previous album’s formula proving effective (see earlier), The Cheaters called on the production skills of Erlend Mokkelbost (JR Ewing, Montée) to aid the band in their quest to capture the sounds they were after. With elements of post-punk combined with indie rock, ‘Hooked’ throws up an energetic ride packed with tight rhythms and full of melodic touches, the kind of which were present during recent single ‘Diamond Light’. Elsewhere, the drumroll intro of ‘Voodoo Eyes’ sets up a dark and jagged canvass of sounds with lead singer Øyvind Skarsbø sounding convincingly woozy with his words. The actual track ‘Hooked!’ is a spikey little number, full of attitude and perfectly expressed via a clapping beat and serrated guitar. A similar approach can be heard during ‘Just Like You’, only there is a bit more chaos suggested here, as demonstrated by the clash of instruments and (wonderfully) bitter tone of the lyrics, that not everything is so harmonious at home. With an impending European tour on the horizon, The Cheaters are certainly set to go with these firecrackers making up the contents of ‘Hooked!’ because it shows a band at the very top of their game with no hint of faltering. A class act indeed!


Nothing Out Of Nothing

Released 5 February

 

Nothing Out Of Nothing

Slap Betty

Inverse Records / Secret Entertainment

The opening segment of the press release that accompanied Finnish rockers Slap Betty’s new album ‘Nothing Out of Nothing’ caused a great deal of mirth at Famous Last Words (FLW). The source of such merriment was, ‘The band that often cuts electricity returns with their second album’ which has affected other artists such as Backyard Babies, not to mention a few festival appearances as well! With a sound that’s too hot to handle therefore, Slap Betty deliver an honest set of rock tunes mixed with fragments of punk and even older rock and roll. Such examples of this can be found right at the doorstep of this new release with the socio-political commentary of ‘World We Leave Behind’ that is equally tough and gritty in sound, and complete with a persuasive vocal which gives the impression of having been left to soak overnight in bourbon. With the band being made up of Teemu (vocal/guitar), Juuso (drums), Juhana (guitar) and Antti (bass), Slap Betty continue to deliver rhythmically tight numbers with ‘List Of The Things I Hate’ and ‘Fill My Cup’. It’s not all foot to the floor stompers, however, as Slap Betty tone things down a bit with the melodic tones of ‘Perfect’, and reflective stance of closing track ‘Shame’. Whilst their activities outside of the recording studio might be prone to accidents, there is nothing calamitous about ‘Nothing Out Of Nothing’ as Slap Betty pull out all the stops to ensure that album number two is a roaring success.


It Can Only Be So Good

Released 5 February

 

It Can Only Be So Good (Single)

Sancho Panzer

Untitled

Fishing exercises are all well and good, but when listening to Exeter based Sancho Panzer’s new single, there might be something worthwhile here. ‘It Can Only Be So Good’ falls into the category of post-punk yet has an air of straight rock about it as well. With the band having won Rocksound’s Battle of the Bands back in 2007, it has taken some time for the band to hone their sound to the point where debut albums are fully realised. Such a feat has been achieved by Sancho Panzer as the band steady themselves for their first album release this spring, with the title set in place, ‘Your Own Accord’. Back to the single as the self-belief is definitely evident as ‘It Can Only Be Good’ pulls away at some speed, and really carried by some excellent guitar work and charming team vocals that are enough to warrant further investigation when that debut album arrives.


Oh Lisa

Released 5 February

 

Oh Lisa (Single)

Label

Safe & Sound Recordings

Interesting one this. Knowing next to nothing about Norwegian band Label and their previous single ‘Oslo So Slow’ which, apparently, was a summer smash on these shores, the band return with a new offering by the name, ‘Oh Lisa’. Expecting a strong alt. country twang to reverberate from the speakers considering the record label involved, Label’s sound is far from any such associations with said genre. In fact, ‘Oh Lisa’ is built of earlier Californian pop and rock, with a definite breezy feel attached to it that also suggests a more up-to-date indie(ish) vibe that veers towards the likes of The Magic Numbers for example. With the single recorded at Crystal Canyon Studios in Oslo and produced by Anders Møller, who also serves as the drummer for this single, ‘Oh Lisa’ is the kind of intelligent pop music that should be infiltrating the nation’s airwaves on a more regular basis as it has all the right ingredients with its melodic hooks and smart lyrics. It looks like Label has another hit single on their hands with ‘Oh Lisa’.


Daphne

Released 5 February

 

Daphne (Single)

Grandmother Corn

Secret Entertainment

There is suggestion of tongue planted firmly in cheek when it comes to Grandmother Corn and their predominantly rock inspired sounds. That’s not to infer that this Finnish trio do not take their music seriously because they most certainly do, it’s more that Grandmother Corn understand that humour can be an important aspect of rock and roll and if you can inject a slice of this into your music, then why the heck not! Where Grandmother Corn makes use of such a medium is via the band’s visuals, whether in appearance live up on stage or through video imagery. New single ‘Daphne’ makes use of the latter, with its video revealing the band’s eccentricities – the angelic dress code for starters – which is topped off with add-on choir vocals during the song’s fadeout, but it is the loose jangle of the song’s rhythm that is a little bit blues, funk and rock with a definite pinch of early Stones’ that really captures one’s attention. With lyrics drumming up images of the American south with references to various inshore waters, corn fed diets and subtle religious connotations, Grandmother Corn is definitely a rare breed, and one that is living by their own rules as ‘Daphne’ indicates.


Pil & Bue

Released 29 January

 

Forget The Past, Let’s Worry About The Future

Pil & Bue

Name Music

Pil & Bue (Bow & Arrow) consists of Petter Carlsen (vocals/guitar) and Aleksander Kostopoulos (drums/percussion). The duo made a name for themselves after their debut album release, ‘Push Start Button (Level 1)’ (2014) picked up widespread acclaim in their home country of Norway. Back with a new album in 2016, Pil & Bue aim to continue where they left off with latest release ‘Forget The Past, Let’s Worry About The Future’. Consisting of six tracks, the songs are fairly lengthy and knit together influences ranging from indie rock, prog and shoegaze, and veer towards artists such as Sigur Ros, Mars Volta and Radiohead in terms of the experimentation supplied. Recorded at Oslo Klang, and with production credits going to Rudi Nikolaisen, Pil & Bue set out their intentions from the start in an onslaught of crunching guitars and a pounding drumbeat that is almost military in sound. From this  point onwards, the songs often remain gritty in nature with ‘Shakkakakka’ sounding grungy and distorted and one of the candidates purporting to Pil & Bue’s recurring lyrical theme concerning women facing suppression, and the agonies and injustices this brings each and every day. ‘Fire’ is the first lengthy sonic exploration with Carlsen’s guitar searching and probing throughout, and accompanied by a hollow rattle of percussion via Kostopoulos that picks up at various intervals depending on the highs and lows expressed during the song. ‘Nevermind’ is more concise yet equally compelling as it retains a tight rhythm, before tackling the epic in scope and brooding ‘Afterlife’. ‘Forget The Past, Let’s Worry About The Future’ is a credit to its two creators, and a reminder that the independent (indie) music scene is still worth investigating, because there’s enough creativity explored in the six tracks given, that it would take others two albums or more to reach such levels. Welcome back Pil & Bue!


When Love Is Alive

Released 22 January

 

When Love Is Alive (Single)

BLØSH

Julia Julia Records

BLØSH is a duo from Madrid (Spain) and Skjetten (Norway) who look set to unleash their debut album next month. In the meantime, the single ‘When Love Is Alive’ is a taster of what’s to come with singer and cellist Teresa Bernabe and guitarist Jørgen Berg Svela working a sophisticated indie pop song that is skyward bound with the dreamy qualities of its melody. With this current single featuring Siri Nilsen, who also lends a hand in relation to the forthcoming album that also includes the talent of Hanne Kolstø, the duo of BLØSH remain in good company. The decision to pursue this creative venture is beginning to look very promising for BLØSH, and it might just be that their other duties of working with fellow artists such as Mikhael Paskalev, Depedro (Calexico),Lillebjørn Nilsen, Jonas Alaska, and Bow to Each Other could well be a thing of the past if BLØSH can repeat the same formula found with this rather magnificent effort, ‘When Love Is Alive’.


Change Nothing

Released Out now

 

Change Nothing EP

Terrible Love

Bandcamp

With the demise of Bastions, Goodtime Boys and Grappler, members from each of these bands decided to congregate and discuss the potential for a new line-up to address their concerns ranging from personal issues, cultural blandness, and the general sense of apathy among the present generation. A decision was therefore made to form a new band under the name Terrible Love, in order to tackle some of these worries but, more importantly, keep the creative flame burning. The first release from this new outfit is the EP ‘Change Nothing’; five tracks that fly out of the traps in a mixture of coiled anxiety and bristling energy such as the frantic ‘Mt. Misery’ where the drums certainly take centre stage, to the EP’s title song that is to be exalted for its honesty with, “Expectations in myself that were never in reach” and the realisation that there are certain battles in life that you really can’t win. With plans for live dates and a possible 12″ record later in the year, Terrible Love is certainly not going to admit defeat in the wake of this EP finally coming to fruition, and the sense that these five tracks really could change a few opinions if given the chance.


Basic CMYK

Released 22 January

 

Apologize (Single)

Margaret Berger

Berger / Phonofile

The return of Margaret Berger with the single ‘Apologize’ has been a long time coming after the victory at the Norwegian MGP and consecutive participation at the Eurovision. Add to that list working as a music panellist for television, and cooperation with underground pop trio F A.C.E, and then Margaret Berger’s absence from the music scene gains more explanation. With her own record label in place (Berger / Phonofile), and a collaborative partnership with Adriane Leinsworth and Anders Kjær, the latter of whom produced ‘Apologize’, Berger has lost none of her desire to succeed in a competitive pop environment, but it seems to have come at a personal cost judging by the sentiments expressed throughout this comeback single. Closer examination shows that ‘Apologize’ runs to a slow, moody electronic tempo, and presents an emotionally naked Berger who is not afraid to recognise her own faults as well as addressing the other reasons for the breakdown in question. It’s a rousing comeback in more ways than one from this Norwegian artist, and one not likely to be repeated in terms of the lyrics considering their open nature. The next step in Margaret Berger’s career is definitely one to keep an eye on.


Black

Released Out now

 

Black (Single)

Anne Lene Hägglund

Diger

Under the impression that this was a new artist until further research revealed that the former Trondheim resident, Anne Lene Hägglund, has been here before with two previously recorded outputs; namely ‘Bird Cherry Grove’ and ‘Onboard’. With this in mind, the single ‘Black’ provides the second impression of the forthcoming album ‘Coming Up Tails’, after the first single, ‘Tell Me (How It’s Like To Be Insane)’ being released last year. With one or two pointers held by the song title to the nature of the subject matter on offer here, with an overall suggestion being made of a fresh start during the song itself, Anne Lene Hägglund begins in a wispy vocal that is reminiscent of Norwegian artist Maria Solheim, before taking ‘Black’ on a musical journey largely fuelled by electronic synths that raise this song to near epic proportions towards its end. It’s a stirring three minutes of dark, reflective indie pop, and one that raises the curiosity levels for that imminent third album release.


The Rise Of Beesus

Released Out now

 

The Rise of Beesus

Beesus

New Sonic Records / Goodfellas

With the formation of this group going as far back as 2010, Beesus, consisting of band members Touis (vocals), Pootchie (guitar), Mutt (bass) and Mudd (drums), held dreams of performing their take on alternative-metal and fuzz rock which inspired them greatly from The Melvins through to Mudhoney. Fast-forward and those early visions have now become a reality, as this Italian four piece is ready with a debut album in hand, which is currently being promoted throughout Europe with a number of live dates. To summarise, ‘The Rise of Beesus’ is described adequately by the band’s vocalist Touis who says, “The name Beesus is a depiction of the human will to create and destroy…” which certainly transmits to the band’s overall sound where songs build themselves up, only to come tumbling back down in a barrage of noise. The title track certainly prescribes to such a theory by steadily opening out, guitars straining, and then followed by a sludge-infested beat that gathers momentum nearing its chaotic end. From such a fine start, Beesus show that they have more than one trick in their musical closet by way of ’6ft Under Box’ with its mesmerising sonic offshoots and the light waltz of its guitars that eventually run out room due to crashing into to the appropriately named ‘Stonerslam’. With Beesus having recorded this album live at Wolf Recording Studio, the signs are certainly audible during the slower pace of ‘Kusa’ where improvisation has been used in the vocals, and likewise the shift in gear of the instruments during ‘Sonic Doom / Stoner Youth’. ‘The Rise of Beesus’ is a clear indication of a long-held vision that has finally come to life in a mass of drawn out noise full of stoner rock and sludge metal riffs, but one that is willing to experiment with different methods in order to get there. It looks like Beesus has all of the components in place to take this one step further when the next album is ready for production.


Wild One

Released Out now

 

Wild One (Single)

Kari Harneshaug

Harneshaug Music

The description ‘haunting beauty’ is quite possibly a much overused expression, but when it comes to Kari Harneshaug’s latest single, ‘Wild One’, it’s one that has surely been reserved for this Norwegian songstress. One listen of this second single from the upcoming album, ‘We Were Closer To End’, is enough to arrest one’s senses into submission, such are the alluring qualities of Harneshaug’s voice set to an atmospheric backdrop where guitar(s) shimmer and keys are lightly applied. With song lyrics cutting deep yet remaining smart enough to not give the game away, it’s left to a momentary lapse in the instrumentation, by way of a stray guitar and a squall of feedback that nearly lifts the lid on the tension at the heart of this song, and therefore exposing itself for everyone to see. If the rest of the contents of the forthcoming long player match the arresting qualities shown here, then Kari Harneshaug is in for a very good year indeed.



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