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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…


Released Out now

 

Beach Buns (Single)

Cloroform

Kaada Recordings

Having spent the best part of six years in hibernation, Norwegian three-piece, Cloroform, show that they’re ready for the next phase in their recording career with brand new single ‘Beach Buns’. The truth is that all three band members – comprising of John Erik Kaada, Børge Fjordheim and Øyvind Storesund – have been busy with other activities involving solo projects, film compositions and moonlighting for other artists including the likes of Kaisers Orchestra, Morten Abel and Sivert Høyem. Kick-starting 2016 off with the cheekily named and out-of-season single, ‘Beach Buns’, the first offering from their upcoming long player, Cloroform show that they have lost none of their eccentricity and unpredictability when it comes to their creative output as ‘Beach Buns’ is a somewhat slippery character to define. The closest indication, however, is the presence of QOTSA entwined in the driving (stoner) rhythm underpinning the song, whereas the rest is open to numerous interpretations as small fragments of electronica, handclapping and interchanging vocals add their contributions, making this an intriguing appetizer until the main course later this spring.


Released Out now

 

North

Jonathan Kawchuk

Eilean Records

Finding new ways of expressing himself through different sounds is all in a day’s work for instrumentalist, Jonathan Kawchuk. Hailing from Canada, this architect of sound has explored various parts of the globe in order to achieve a broad source of sounds, whether from individual movement or the natural elements playing their part. Having worked previously on albums for artists Nico Muhly and Ben Frost, as well as serving as an assistant sound technician for the Philip Glass Ensemble, Kawchuk has more than served his apprenticeship by acquiring enough experience to produce an album that is entirely his own work. Such a time has arrived as ‘North’ offers a palette of different sound textures, captured (interestingly) in the Norwegian forests and various other places in Canada, Iceland, Israel, Portugal and the UK. With the album being recorded between 2013 – 2014, and mixing and mastering handled by Paul Evans, ‘North’ represents Kawchuk’s vision, retold through fragments of sound patched together. From the quivering and often fleeting drafts of noise where use of cello and, more frequently, piano dictate during the opening ‘Right Into You’, the mood throughout ‘North’ is often changeable, and therefore reflective of its natural surrounds. Such varying tones can be heard in the darker shades of the tracks ‘Aware’ and ‘Overhang’, with the latter piece possessing an edgy backdrop via a distant yet noticeable recurring beat (quite possibly the ‘actual heartbeats’ described by the album’s liner notes). A compelling experience made with care and the closest attention to detail, ‘North’ is the perfect start for Jonathan Kawchuk as he embarks on his solo recording career.


Released Out now

 

Different Paths (Single)

Matchstick Men

Holier Than Thou Records

With Matchstick Men’s new single arriving at Famous last Words (FLW) recently, and knowing next to nothing about this band from Liverpool, the immediate feeling before hearing a single note of ‘Different Paths’ was of 90s era baggy and Britpop. The truth of the matter is far from such a prediction, as Matchstick Men forge a sound that is far closer to American (alternative) rock than anything resembling a Merseyside influence when considering what has gone before. Country of origin aside, Matchstick Men deliver the goods in fine style with the ballad-esque ‘Different Paths’. With this new single acting as a precursor to the band’s forthcoming sophomore long player, ‘From Our Own Ashes’, it certainly bodes well for what’s to come as lead vocalist, Lewis Wright, offers a reason for one to confront their fears by way of a compelling voice, that is enhanced via Iain Forsyth’s backing vocal and tight musicianship from the band in general. More Goo Goo Dolls than anything resembling CAST for example, Matchstick Men is certainly taking a different route, but one that serves the contents of ‘Different Paths’ perfectly.


Released Out now

 

Leave Everything Move Out

Craig Ward

Wardism

The highly productive Craig Ward returns for a second solo jaunt with latest album, ‘Leave Everything Move Out’. After dropping in and out of this current project, the former dEUS guitarist finally found the appetite to complete the task by writing and recording the five instrumentals on offer here. With the barebones of this record having started as far back as 2009, when Craig Ward was in the middle of a sabbatical year in North America, the creative drive to recover a previous attempt at recording ‘Leave Everything Move Out’ managed to find its way back to this artist. To aid this newly found impetus, Craig Ward enlisted friend and producer, David Odlum, as well as being fortunate to receive Lottery funding from Creative Scotland to help pay the bills. After such a lengthy duration to get to the point where ‘Leave Everything Move Out’ finally gets to air it contents in the public sphere is no doubt of great relief to Craig Ward, and all those who caught wind of the initial foundations of this project and therefore waiting in anticipation for its release. You will not be disappointed as the five compositions of ‘Leave Everything Move Out’ are built of sturdy materials, with their architect patiently applying the layers whether beginning with synths or guitar and drums. ‘New Haven’ is one such example where the faintest waft of electronica gives way to a repetitive piano pattern and a glistening guitar sound that is trademark Explosions in the Sky, only for Craig Ward to develop it further by adding a slight Celtic influence accompanied by a semi-military procession beat. From such a strong opening ‘Addict’ applies considerable weight by looping a firm guitar and solid drum sound that becomes increasingly raw nearing its end. The closing ‘Trinity’ contains aspects of the former ‘New Haven’, but where that song appeared to take its time, ‘Trinity’ is more direct with the guitar(s) forceful and on the verge of breaking into a melodic sound. ‘Leave Everything Move Out’ is an accomplished achievement, and one that was wisely resumed by Craig Ward after nearly discarding it altogether.


Released Out now

 

Until The Morning Comes

Richard Ginns

Eilean Records

Beautifully packaged, with artwork by Cameron Robbins and mastering handled by Fletcher McDermott, is the latest album, ‘Until The Morning Comes’, by musician Richard Ginns. What sounds like an attempt to capture the smallest of sounds, Ginns proves a master of his craft where the vibrations of the acoustic guitar strings can be heard once plucked, for example, down to the fizzing static of background atmospherics that surround all of us. By opening with ‘Threads Of Light And The Quiet Hum’ the intimacy created by capturing numerous sounds, such as the faint trickle of water and the creaking of furniture, produces a sense of wonder as it does unease in the listener because it generates of feeling of prying on the privacy of this particular individual or household. This of course does not detract Ginns, who continues to weave an instrumental spell that attempts to capture any nuances of human behaviour, as well as the environment, through varying degrees of sounds that are often the thinnest of threads and where, for example, (sun)light is breaking through the darkest and coldest of winters (other descriptions available such is this record’s ability to generate different moods). It’s an expertly controlled lo-fi record that offers much beauty as it does melancholy in its sonic textures, rendering ‘Until The Morning Comes’ a worthy addition to Ginns’ recorded output.



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