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October 2013

LIVE REVIEW: Iceland Airwaves Day 1, 30.10.2013

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Leaves: A lot of changes have development in this band since they played their first gig at Airwaves 2001. They were so close to world-wide popularity when they released their first album, Breath, in 2002 but something was missing and maybe has been ever since. 

It was rather obvious that Leaves haven’t been performing a lot lately when they stepped on the stage. The members looked a bit stiff and stressed but still cool, and there is no doubt that these guys are professional performers.

I went to see Leaves play because of my love for Breath and also some of their stuff from The Angela Test and We Are Shadows. Most of the songs they performed were from their newest album, See You In the Afterglow, and for me that was a bummer and I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one in the hall with that opinion. Still they put on a good show and they performed the songs well. The singer, Arnar Guðjónsson, has a great high pitch voice and sounds a lot like Matthew Bellamy from Muse. The show was good but if they had just played two old classics and added a little bit of passion, it could have been so much better. Also, I have to add that having the keys on playback is not cool. 2,5*/5*

soley by  Magnús Elvar Jónsson

Sóley: It was really crowded and there was obviously a lot of excitement in the audience to see Sóley perform. Even though some were standing 100 meters from the stage when she performed the whole audience was brought close when she raised her sensitive voice. She flirted at the microphone and told silly jokes between songs, which made the show more fun to watch. All through her set she got complete silence from the audience and everyone’s attention was on her. As she pointed out during the show, it was obviously Wednesday. The show peaked in the last two songs when she performed “Pretty Face” and “I’ll Drown” with remarkable looping skills. Sóleys career as a solo artist is still rising and soon she will have a tighter set. When that happens, it will be even more interesting to see her perform. 3*/5*

Photo by Alexander Matukhno

Samaris: I was on my way to see Mammút play at Harpan when I heard the tripping heavy beats of Samaris coming from the next room.  I don’t regret sticking my head in to the hall to see if I was missing something good because I would have. There was no way I was leaving this concert after the first song. Their setup consists of the singer Jófríður sounding a lot like Björk, computer musician Þórður and clarinet player Áslaug, who had to be replaced during this show. This combination brings something special to the air and watching them perform is pure pleasure. Þórður provided dope, heavy electronic beats which fit Jófríðurs voice perfectly and her weird performance style makes it even more interesting. Songs that stood out were “Hljóma þú” and remixed version of the song “Viltu Vitrast”. Already having made a magnificent show they topped the performance with their well-known hit “Góða Tungl” which made the audiences obviously happy. 4*/5*

Retro Stefson

Retro Stefson: There is always so much energy in the air when this band goes on stage. This time they were supported by Hermigervill. Retro Stefson alone can provide some good grooves but with Hermigervill onboard the funky grooves they showed off were irresistible. They played the set on full speed almost without stopping and mixed the songs together making it even more fun to watch and listen. The singer of the band Unnsteinn made an entertaining performance directing the crowd and telling them to move left, right, up and down. His brother, Logi Pedro, meanwhile was slapping the bass like a maniac. The end of their gig was brilliant when they jammed between “Qween” and “She Said,” then ending it with “Glow” which made the crowd go wild. Suddenly it didn’t feel like Wednesday. 4*/5*

emiliana torrini by Rúnar Sigurður Sigurjónsson

Emilíana Torrini: She sometimes has a way of making her shows personal and touching. This show was one of them. She talked a lot about her new born baby boy and said that he had inspired her recent work. Emilíana brought six band members with her to back her up, but still she dominated the stage with her outstanding voice. She was always smiling and giggling during the gig and dedicating songs to her child and the audience. The beginning of her show was very powerful and set a good mood to the audience. As songs went by a little bit of power was missing but she made up for that when she got her encore and performed “Sunnyroad” and “Jungle Drum”. 3,5*/5*

All photos via Iceland Airwaves.

ARTICLE: Robert Glasper, not just the man behind the keys

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It’s practically almost easier to mention who Robert Glasper has not worked with. Coming from a jazz background, there is off course all of those that would ring a bell in those circles, but what might come as a surprise to the average listener is that Glasper also has collaborated with a broad segment of contemporary urban and pop artists, ranging from The Roots to Solange and Q-tip.

Never to self-important to degrade either dimension, the pianist instead forged the two into one of last year’s most remarkable records, the critically acclaimed Black Radio, and is now ready with its follow-up, logically named Black Radio 2, that might tap into an even broader audience, potentially giving Glasper the recognition he rightfully deserves.

The right album at the right time

Fed up with the lack of new thinking within the jazz community, pianist Robert Glasper and his Experiment set out with the relatively humble ambition to stir things up a little. The outcome – ‘Black Radio’ – went far beyond that, literally inscribing itself into American music history by taking home a Grammy for Best R&B Album in 2012. The conditions of the time were however also favourable as renowned trumpeter Nicholas Payton had sparkled his campaign to re-naturalise jazz music among other genres under the umbrella-term Black American Music (usually abbreviated as BAM).

Glasper nevertheless dissociated himself from this conception, diplomatically rejecting it; “I just don’t think to call it Black American Music is the way to go, because there’s a whole lot of black American music under that umbrella, and they all have names.” More so, Glasper in his own right, involuntarily came to forefront a new movement among jazz musicians, and Black Radio also marked itself as the principal work among a wave of similar projects from contemporary, coming-of-age jazz acts such as ERIMAJ, Gizmo, Lakecia Benjamin and NEXT Collective, all of whom were rounded by the popularity of urban music during the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Creativity emancipated

With most of its tracks being either covers or do-overs, much more than the lyrical content, the true innovation of Black Radio was the musical mastership of The Experiment. From Glasper’s floating finger technique and Derrick Hodge’s empathized bass play, to the adaptively march-infused drums of Chris Dave, all rounded of by jack-of-all-trade Casey Benjamin’s signature vocoder and whatnots.

That’s not to talk about what the prime roster of artists from the urban intelligentsia brings to the table; Stokley Williams breezily everting his soul on ‘Why Do We Try’, an unusually underplayed version of Bilal on David Bowie’s ‘Letter To Hermione’ and Erykah Badu’s stylish take on jazz standard ‘Afro Blue’.

The fact that the majority of the album was recorded through intense jam session over the course of 4 days, is only to be heard in how the decades of accumulated experience assembled in the studio lets their informed impulses lead the way, yet never goes astray down otherwise seductive pitfalls of irrelevance; every solo is appropriate, every improvisation on point.

A co-creational effort

Whether it was the Grammy nomination that encouraged the Experiment to further go down the R&B-path is uncertain, yet that is however what they did on their follow up, Black Radio 2, being released this week. To compensate, almost all of the material on the new record is original content, co-creatively conjured through the Experiment’s tight arrangements as the musical backdrop, setting the perfect scene for each of the featured artists’ unfolding.

A co-creational project in all regards, several of those (that include Common, Emeli Sandé and Jill Scott, among others) are participating by request from their fans, thus showcasing the mastermind of Robert Glasper not only as a composer and producer but also as a marketeer – but most of all an artist, way ahead of his time.

LIVE REVIEW: Chvrches, Lille Vega, 29.10.2013

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Let me premise this by saying that I began the evening by walking headfirst into a glass wall. That made me unhappy bunny in a crowd of smiling rodents. Nursing a red forehead, I look around and notice that half the audience seems to be made up of men with glasses and beards. Is this what the bearded listen to, Chvrches?

As the opening act begin to play I realise that Thumpers, sadly, are probably not one of the all time top ten bands named after Disney characters. The duo are joined by two keyboardist and a very enthusiastic backing vocalist and trumpeter, but I can’t help thinking that when they first formed, the drummer must have just said “I’m going to play the drum bits from Adam and the Ants songs, and you do whatever you like over it.”

As Chvrches’ lead singer Lauren Mayberry points out, this is the first headlining gig the band have played in Copenhagen since the release of their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe. Their warm reception here is unsurprising, given icy grip that synthpop has held over Scandinavia since Erik the Red first declared war on Mick Hucknall. The show is sold-out, and I can barely make out a giant LCD triangle on stage, and the bobbing head of some guy who has, for reasons unknown, decided this is the right place and decade to pogo.

It is uncanny when a live band manage to sound exactly like their records, and though this should be a compliment to Mayberry’s distinctively shrill vocals, I can’t help wondering what’s the point of aiming for that kind of perfection. But this is what Chvrches fans want to hear, and as Mayberry advises us to keep hydrated in the tropical climate of Lille Vega, I’m slightly ashamed at my cynicism and wonder if, on a day when I don’t career into transparent walls, I too could enjoy listening to a  hyper-faithful rendition of “Gun” or “The Mother We Share”. Well no, let’s be honest, that’s not going to happen.

INTRODUCING: Only Real

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It seems the inevitable meeting of surf rock and hip-hop has been a long time coming, so it’s surprising that 22-year-old Niall Gavin’s Only Real sounds so refreshing. Without taking into consideration his attempts to cross genres, Only Real still writes a better reverby guitar riff than your average faux surf indie band. Instead of fey, slacker verses framing his catchy choruses, Gavin lets hip-hop rhymes flow at a rapid-fire pace and backs them with cooed harmonies, all distinctly flavored by his West London accent. The combination of sunshine and grit creates a kind of psychic dissonance — a little breeziness wafting through a bit of weariness.

Only Real’s EP, Days in the City, was released this month as a download and on 12″ vinyl. He also has a single, “Backseat Kissers,” available as a 7″.

Hear new track from Broken Twin – “Sun Has Gone”

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Broken Twin aka Majke Voss Romme has shared a new track “Sun Has Gone”, the lead single from her full length debut album set to be released on Wilco label ANTI- in 2014. Broken Twin is about to embark on a European tour with Daughter, you can catch her next at Store Vega, Copenhagen on November 8th.

NOVEMBER (* = w/ Daughter)
01 Ottersum, Roepaen
02 Groningen, De Oosterpoort
03 Cologne, Gloria*
04 Nijmegen, Doornroosje *
05 Brussels, AB*
07 Hamburg, Uebel & Gefaehrlich*
08 Copenhagen, Vega*
09 Stockholm, Strand*
11 Berlin, Postbahnhof*
12 Prague, Rock Café *
13 Munich, Freiheiz *
15 Bologna, Covo *
17 Luxembourg, Den Atelier*
18 Amsterdam, Paradiso*
20 Paris, Trabendo*
21 Rennes, Antipode*
22 Nantes, Stereolux*
23 Clermont Ferrand, Coop de Mai *
26 Lyon, Marche Gare*
28 Barcelona, Sala Apolo *
29 Madrid, Penelope *

DECEMBER
05 London, Servant Jazz Quarters

Hear new Shiny Darkly track “Dead Stars”

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Shiny Darkly have shared new track “Dead Stars” their lead single from the new three track EP out November 11th, it’ll serve as a teaser before the release of their full length debut album which is scheduled for release January 27th. The band are set to play Iceland Airwaves this coming weekend where Here Today will be present with daily reports from Reykjavik, read our guide on the Icelandic festival and the Icelandic bands you should be sure to catch HERE

Listen to the track below:

Spotlight On: Iceland Airwaves 2013

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Since 1999, the Iceland Airwaves festival has been early Christmas for every music enthusiast in Iceland. We may not have the muddy campsite or 60,000 people jumping up and down in front of the Orange Stage, but what we do have is more stages, more bands, and more to drink. To be accurate, 221 bands will perform this year on 13 different stages downtown in Reykjavík at Iceland Airwaves. The number of stages isn’t a problem because the next show you want to see is never more than two songs away.
When Iceland Airwaves approaches every Icelandic musician gets goosebumps just thinking about the festival. It’s the time of the year when Icelandic music goes all in. For domestic bands the festival is a springboard to the world. Many music agents and reporters come to the festival hoping to find something new to show their bosses, and bands hope to make the headlines.

A band doesn’t need to have a radio hit on their résumé to get a gig at Airwaves; if the band can play and someone will show up they are good to go.

In the last few years many Icelandic artists have had great success. The gap between selling a few copies of rare albums at a local store in Reykjavík and playing at a festival for 50,000 is getting smaller. Of Monsters and Men is probably a good example of that. For that reason, more foreign people are starting to show an interest in visiting the festival. It’s frustrating for Icelanders that it can be hard to get one of those 7,000 tickets. But for those who were too late or too broke to buy a ticket there is an off-venue schedule with many big artists who play for free.

Iceland Airwaves is not all about the natives. Artists from all over the world visit the festival. Many great bands have made their appearances at the festival, for example: TV On the Radio, Fatboy Slim, Hot Chip, Florence and the Machine, Bloc Party, and Flaming Lips. This year 64 foreign artists will perform, most of them from USA, Canada, England, and Sweden. The biggest act, no doubt, is Kraftwerk in 3D, however you have to buy an extra ticket to see their show. Other exiting artists playing this year are the long living Yo La Tengo, Jagwar Ma, Mac Demarco, Gold Panda, Fucked Up and AlunaGeorge.
It is not just the bands that make Iceland Airwaves such a good gathering; the atmosphere is one of a kind. Even though you are freezing in a long queue, the show has started, and you lost one shoe, you’re still in a good mood. Let’s take a look at what the fuss is all about.

 

FM Belfast

FM Belfast

The Iceland Airwaves festival in 2006 marked a breaking point in FM Belfast’s orbit. The couple Lóa Hjálmtýsdóttir and Árni Hlöðversson were in need of more people for their performance at the festival and were joined by Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason (founding member of múm), Árni Vilhjálmsson and part time member Björn Kristjánsson (also known as Borko). Together they have made two albums; How To Make Friends (2008) and Don’t Want Sleep (2011). Their main ingredient is hyper electronic pop music that is almost impossible not to dance to. If you intend to see FM Belfast live you should not make any plans afterwards that involve using a lot of energy. These kids will show you no mercy: They will suck all the energy out of you, and make sure that your toes will get stepped on.

 

Retro Stefson

Retro Stefson

If you are used to saying to the bartender, “just bring me something funky, fresh and exotic,” Retro Stefson is definitely your type of cocktail. They mix together various music genres and the outcome is universal summertime dance music with lyrics in Icelandic, English, Portuguese and French. Retro Stefson was formed in 2006 by frontman Unnsteinn Manuel and his brother Logi Pedro. The setup is completed with five former schoolmates. The band’s first album, Montana, was released in 2009, in 2010 Kimbabwe made the spotlight, and last year their self-titled album came out. All of these albums have included many singles which have gained them unstoppable airplay and uncountable number-one hits in Iceland. In spite of their young age, Retro Stefson has gained a large fan base in Iceland and they have started to get noticed outside the country. They have played in every Iceland Airwaves festival since 2006 and 2013 will be no exception.

 –
Ojba Rasta

Ojba Rasta

In 2009 Icelandic reggae gave birth to its second offspring named Ojba Rasta. There had been no tradition for reggae music in Iceland before Hjálmar made their appearance in 2004, so Ojba Rasta was very welcome in the club. All their songs are in Icelandic except for their biggest hit, “Jolly Good”. They released their self titled debut album in 2012, and this month their second album Friður hit stores. Ojba Rasta has eleven band members including a dub-master, organist, guitarist, bassist and several wind instrument players. This mingling of instruments brings their live shows to a higher level, and  audiences float in the groovy atmosphere that they create on stage.

 

Sóley

Soley

Originally performing around the world with the indie band Seaber, she has now discovered that she can just do it by herself. Sóley is more popular than her band ever was and she is gaining a lot of fans in Europe. Her debut EP, Theater Island, was released in 2010, and was followed the year after with the studio album We Sink. Sóley is a multi-instrumentalist supported by a drummer and a guitarist/keyboardist. Her songs contain distant simple beats, beautiful piano strokes, and Sóley’s seductive voice which should be able to calm all the stressful nerves in your body.

 

Ásgeir

Ásgeir

He made a huge appearance in the Icelandic music scene last year, topping the charts on every radio station in Iceland. He appeared out of nowhere with the singles “Sumargestur” and “Leyndarmál”. Suddenly he made the album Dýrð í Dauðaþögn and won four awards at the Icelandic Music Awards. It is safe to say that he is the most popular artist in Iceland these days. The music is melodic folk, singing in a high pitch, sounding a lot like Bon Iver and making it hard to sing along. Ásgeir used his father’s poems as lyrics for his album.  In spite of his young age and the popularity he has gained (especially from young girls), he has kept unobtrusive and says that this popularity has surprised him and that he just goes with the flow, not trying to impress anyone. Still he got John Grant to translate his lyrics to English to adjust a bigger market. His English version of Dýrð í Dauðaþögn will be released in January next year.

 

múm

mum

Active since 1997, múm have released seven records. Their debut, Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today is OK, came out in 2000, and their latest, Smilewound, was released last month (with a bonus track featuring Kyle Minogue). Bringing together electronic beats and melodies from founding members Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason (FM Belfast), they are supported with classical tones and instruments played by their fellow band members (including Ólöf Arnalds). Following up their album, the band has been playing gigs and festivals both in Asia and Europe. múms’ live shows is always a great experience. The loudness can be surprising compared to how comfortable and quiet their music sounds in the speakers at home. They are often accompanied by a dozen of people who help them put together the show which can be fun and energetic and sometimes feels like a jam session rather than a concert.

 

Ólafur Arnalds

Ólafur Arnalds

He might not be the first artist who comes to mind when think of a music festival, but the gig he’ll be performing will be something special and different from all the other acts on Iceland Airwaves this year. Backed by The Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Ólafur will perform a special show which you will need to buy an extra ticket to see. He will be performing the best from his career, which includes three studio albums: The first one, Eulogy for Evolution, was released in 2007 when Ólafur was only 20 years old. His latest, For Now I Am Winter, came out earlier this year. Ólafur is known for mixing classical music with ambient/electronic pop and the combination is mature experimental beauty.

Scarlet Chives share new mixtape ‘Norweigan Roads & Mountains’

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Scarlet Chives have shared a mixtape put together from their recent tour of Norway and Denmark entitled Norweigan Roads & Mountains, the track listing includes Fuck Buttons, Portishead, Daughter and Brian Eno to name drop a few. They’ve made the mixtape available to stream and download via their Soundcloud.

Track list:
01. Broadcast – I Found The F
02. Fuck Buttons – The Red wing
03. Portishead – Chase The Tear
04. Clark – Com Touch
05. White Noise – Love Without Sound
06. Zammuto – Idiom Wind
07. Daughter – Smother
08. Vinyl Williams – Higher Worlds
09. Flaamingos – Walk A Wire
10. Brian Eno – Emerald And Stone

Listen to the mixtape in full below:

Efterklang share two new videos for “Between The Walls” and “Black Summer”

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Efterklang have shared two new videos for Piramida tracks, “Between The Walls” and “Black Summer”. The video for “Black Summer” is directed by Kevan Funk and Benjamin Loeb and “Between the Walls” was directed by Sebastian Birk.

Watch the video for “Between The Walls” below:

Watch the video for “Black Summer” below:

LIVE REVIEW: Julianna Barwick, Jazzhouse, 20.10.2013

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There was a question looming of how Julianna Barwick’s atmospheric music would translate as a live performance. Her ethereal voice, largely wordless lyrics, and airy songs are so unobtrusive that it never seemed likely that Barwick would overwhelm a room with the force of her personality. And standing behind her keyboard, reaching across to twist knobs on her sampler and occasionally swaying behind her microphone, this is the case. Her accompanist for most of her set, guitarist Scott Bell, is equally benign.

It is interesting to watch Barwick build a track, looping layer upon layer of her own voice, and how effective her sporadic piano playing is. What is evident is her overwhelming vocal control, and the strength and clarity of her voice, which is necessary for her loops to work at all. But the fascination wears off before too long.

Julianna Barwick (Photo by Tom Spray)

It is not unreasonable to believe that her voice is compelling enough to make her live show worth seeing, in spite of her physically stagnant performance. What is achieved is a sort zen-like state, conducive to meditation — or truthfully, were the chairs more comfortable, to sleep. It’s very peaceful and very pretty, but there is a limit to how engaging it can be.

With this in mind, Barwick has video rolling on a screen behind her. The images — of a seagull, of waves crashing, of a woman (possibly Barwick herself) clad in a lace dress, floating in water, tangled up in tulle — though intriguing, are incidental. The footage keeps rolling even between songs, and begins to repeat itself three quarters of the way through her set.

Her set is brief, coming in under an hour, including the encore. But it’s sufficient. If you missed it, you’ll likely get just as much pleasure out of buying a copy of her latest album, and curling up at home with it, a cup of tea, and a good book.

VIEW THE FULL LIVE GALLERY HERE

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