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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’.


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.


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!


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’.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Released Out now

 

Kill Em With Kindness (Single)

Slutface

Propeller Recordings

Much will be made of the band’s name no doubt, but once you get past the ten minute discussion there is an engaging tune to be heard here with ‘Kill Em With Kindness’. Consisting of largely a pop influence but with references to indie and punk music, Slutface combine the lot to draw the listener in hook, line, and sinker with an irresistible beat that has been championed by the likes of Annie Mac over at BBC Radio 1. With this latest single being the follow up to the previous ‘Shave My Head’ that received radio recognition in the band’s home country of Norway, Slutface look set to add to their growing popularity with the single ‘Kill Em With Kindness’ and  imminent tour of the UK. Look out!


Released Out now

 

Headache

Trupa Trupa

Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records

After receiving a tip-off recently by somebody closely associated with Polish indie band Trupa Trupa and their third album release ‘Headache’, the information given proved highly reliable because what you get here is an intriguing combination of alternative rock with dabs of psychedelia and tales of a darkly twisted nature. With the album having been recorded at Dickie Dreams studio in Gdansk, Poland, Trupa Trupa set their songs to tape and ended up with eleven numbers that have been garnering attention throughout Europe. With Grzegorz Kwiatkowski leading the line in a combined effort of singing and spoken word that sometimes sounds off-kilter, and deliberately so when placed next to the harsh instrumentation of the opening ‘Snow’ for example, it may take a while for others to acclimatise to such methods of expression. The unconventional vocal of the aforementioned ‘Snow’ is not duplicated however, but developed in other ways that shows up ‘Headache’ as record that challenges itself creatively, by continually pushing itself judging by the shifting moods of the songs. Such a suggestion can be ascertained from the cloud of paranoia hanging over ‘Halleyesonme’, with added grey by way of synths and a stony drum beat, only to finally find its emotional release via the ensuing ‘Sky Is Falling’ that starts off peaceful enough, before Grzegorz Kwiatkowski finds his voice that is! With ‘Sacrifice’ providing a comedown of sorts with its dishevelled appearance and hazy rhythm bringing to mind Syd Barrett, and The Beatles experiments with psychedelia. Further on, ‘Give ‘Em All’ is Trupa Trupa having the final say, but deceptively wrapped in a warm fuzzy haze that is a delight to hear in the same way that ‘Rise and Fall’ allows for a few drops of sweetness in its vocals and instruments. Deeply immersed in their work and remaining steadfast to their beliefs and vision , Trupa Trupa triumph greatly with their third long player ‘Headache’, that sets up a number of challenges for the listener, as well as providing moments of sheer beauty and wonderment, the kind of which is all too scarce these days.


Released Out now

 

Diamond Light (Single)

The Cheaters

Artwood Records

Former Spellemann’s winners, The Cheaters, return to the fray armed with a new single, ‘Diamond Light’, which is taken from the band’s soon-to-be released album, ‘Hooked!’. With the title of The Cheaters’ single being borrowed from the same name for the Diamond Light Source science facility located in Oxfordshire (UK), the energy required to source one of the laser beams in question appears to have transmitted to this three-piece band as the single, ‘Diamond Light’, rattles along at some pace with a pounding backbeat and roaring guitars. Surprisingly, the song never derails considering its anxious energy, but this is the skill at the centre of the band as The Cheaters weave all of the components tightly together and, in the process, give off a memorable indie pop melody. From this corner, the release date for The Cheaters’ ‘Hooked!’ can’t arrive soon enough considering the initial excitement this latest single has generated. Now, to address those Interpol comparisons…



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