Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

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March 2014

VIDEO: First Aid Kit share album teaser

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Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit have shared a teaser video for their new album Stay Gold which is out June 10th on Columbia Records. The album will be the follow up to 2012’s The Lion’s Roar, along with the new album details the girls have announced summer tour dates across Europe and North America, Scandinavian date can be seen below:

July 6th – Turku, Finland – Ruisrock
July 10th – Traena, Norway – Traenafestivalen
July 12th – Karlskrona, Sweden – Hasslofestivalen
July 18th – Tønsberg, Norway – Slottsjfell

LIVE REVIEW: Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit, Lille Vega, 30.03.2014

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Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit are not particularly slick, but then again, I don’t think they intend to be. Johnny tunes up on arrival onstage and after almost every track; he plays the occasional dumb note, and his accordion playing ‘Sussex Wit’ sister Lillie loudly asks “Joe” to “turn down the cello”, rather than doing the pointing down routine usually favoured for communication onstage. This, along with the straw blonde hair of the frontman and the amount of enthusiastic arm and hip movement coming from the audience, all gives off something of the village hall/local pub/dress rehearsal feel. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s neither professional nor dynamic. From the folk band’s opening with ‘The Ghost Of Donahue’, to the awkward encore finish of ‘Eyeless in Holloway’, am I remotely spell bound or in any way captivated by the performance? Nope. Does that matter? To me, yes, but to the hysterical middle aged women beside me (two of many) wailing in approval, absolutely not.

Of course, if you put all that aside, it’s rather a nice show. The folky tracks are feel good and Flynn’s voice is powerful. He proves his talent at multiple levels, not only as a singer, but as he swaps from electric guitar to a trumpet for a chorus riff on the blues infused ‘Howl’. In ‘Barnacled Warship’ he moves effortlessly between violin and vocals. Despite being only around two thirds full, the Lille Vega audience are loud and enthusiastic. The hand clapping is a near constant, giving the gig a cosy, positive vibe.

But after a while, it all gets rather tedious. Flynn’s tracks are repetitive, and there’s nothing that deviates from the typical folk pop formula. There is no experimentation or interesting solo, the melodies all sound the same, and after not too long, I’m seriously struggling to determine one song from the next. The copy cat nature makes them all turn into one long blur of vocals, drum and cello. It’s a 90 minute set with a three track encore, and I’m really starting to fidget after an hour. A spirit deficient gig might work at the pub, but for a group that’s been recording and performing music since 2007, the Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit show is seriously lacking in spark. It is, with the best intention, ‘nice’ (boring might be a bit harsh). But then who am I to judge? Looks like the howling female fans are two steps away from taking off their knickers.

LIVE REVIEW: Angel Olsen, Ideal Bar, 30.03.2014

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There’s something almost intimidating about Angel Olsen’s stage presence. Her expression doesn’t change throughout her set. No matter how heart-rending a lyric or how much she strains her voice, she is unflinching, barely shifting her weight from one foot to another. The only change in her steely gaze is an odd glazing over of her eyes that suggests tiredness, before coming back into focus. The only time she looks down is on the songs where she picks her guitar instead of strumming. It’s a testament to how confident she is, and how naturally her abilities must come to her.

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And for how stoic her expression is, the performance is quite moving, as though all the potential dynamics from her body have been channeled into her vocals. Without being fried by the reverb of her albums, her voice is incredibly powerful, vacillating from rock belters over frizzy guitars to a countrified warbling within a matter of notes.

She has the sold-out room captivated, a hot silence hanging in the air. “It’s so quiet in here. I know some of you are farting in here right now,” Olsen says in what is really her only attempt at stage banter. But oh thank goodness it is so quiet, especially when Olsen’s band leaves her alone with her guitar for the final quarter of the set. There her voice carries over gaps in the guitar, with no other sound to compete with it. During “Iota” that her voice quakes as though she could burst into tears at any second, only to be instantly pulled back under control. It’s almost shocking that it’s the same performer who had shouted the outro of “Forgiven/Forgotten” only half an hour earlier. Olsen is the kind of performer who can skip the chit chat because she can knock you sideways with her voice. If others figure this out, she won’t be playing tiny spaces like Ideal Bar again.

VIEW THE FULL PHOTO GALLERY HERE 

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Angel Olsen | Ideal Bar, Copenhagen, 30.03.2014

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Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh

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LIVE REVIEW: The Robert Glasper Experiment, DR Koncerthuset, 28.03.2014

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It could easily have been a mission impossible for Robert Glasper to render the music from two of recent years’ most groundbreaking albums within crossover jazz, namely his Black Radio and the sophomore Black Radio 2. Featuring a who’s who of artists from American urban intelligentsia (Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Norah Jones to name but a few), the two records are predominantly vocal-based, making it not only an expensive but also unviable setup to take on tour.

Out of necessity – and intelligence – Glasper had therefore stripped it down to only include the instrumentation, but as the attentive listener would know, it is an equally as integral part of the Black Radio universe – if not more. With an original constellation of Chris Dave, Derrick Hodge and Casey Benjamin (all of whom have went on to pursue their individual careers) in addition to Glasper himself, the accumulated experience of The Experiment is equivalent to that of any jazz legend, and even the fact that only the two latter were present this night in Copenhagen, did not compromise the expressiveness.

Coming on stage as casual as only a cool cat can with a toothpick in his mouth and a tongue-in-cheek look, Glasper and his entourage – this night made up of Mark Colenburg, Burniss Earl Travis (filling in for Derrick Hodge, who was doing his own gig in D.C.) and aforementioned Benjamin – effortlessly proved that they could counterbalance the vocal polyphony of the albums, as the quartet almost spoke in unison. Musically, that is.

Thus the consecutive arrangements gave the illusion of an ongoing playlist as if it had been an album(!), but also necessitated the musicians to take breaks between one another, allowing for the showcase of each of them individually and in intelligent interplay with Glasper. Especially the symbiotic mutuality between Glasper’s floating finger technique and Colenburgs accentuated march drums worked as a testimony to the notion of ‘two minds, one thought’, exemplified in the intermezzo that led up to the powerful rendition of ‘Let It Ride’.

Yet vocoder virtuoso Casey Benjamin caught most of the attention as a man that literally lives and breathes music. Along with the rest of the band he gave a surprising cover of last year’s megahit ‘Get Lucky’, that avoided the pitfall of making just another jazzified version that many have already opted at, and instead remained faithful to the original by solely adding some minor chords, consequently revealing the poetry of postmodern pop music when stripped of its mask (or space helmet).

As can be seen, the structure of the night was more like that of a jazz than R&B-concert, with integrated solos and jams, letting the instruments take front stage. Being that it was Friday night, the dramaturgy could have called for a climax, but instead the audience were invited to participate in a multi-plot story with downbeats in the history of African-American music, that in addition to the abovementioned also included a reinterpretation of Bill Wither’s classic ‘Lovely Day’, the compulsory Dilla tribute that started out in Billie Holiday’s ‘Body and Soul’ and took turns to ‘Smell’s Like Teen Spirit’ before a tour de force performance of The Experiment’s own breakthrough hit ‘All Matter’ as encore.

In many ways also a mission impossible, as the Danish crowd supposedly would know more of the mainstream Robert Glasper than the jazzy discography of his, but instead of choosing the ‘easy’ option to play the Black Radio-repertoire back to back, he and his Experiment employed the challenging tactic of inviting the audience in by the backdoor to let them perceive the music from the inside out rather than the opposite – as one would usually do when listening to the radio. For the same reason, the unproportionally high degree of white noise in Koncerthuset did not interfere with the Black Radio, as it had its own frequency this night.

INTRODUCING: Novo Amor

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Attention all ambient folkophiles, you’re in luck. Novo Amor is the brainchild of British multi-instrumentalist Ali Lacey, whose simple acoustic tracks are packed with beautiful, melancholy goodness. Lacey perfectly channels musical inspiration Justin Vernon with whispering falsetto vocals and echoing, shimmery background tones. For the cinematically inclined, the video for top track ‘Holland’ has a grey and windswept pebble beach setting with Lacey giving one of the most believable music video performances by an artist ever. Some even better news? Debut EP Drift and single ‘From Gold’ are both available for free download from the Novo Amor website.

LIVE REVIEW: Mogwai, DR Koncerthus, 25.03.2014

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Even after eight studio albums and three soundtrack albums, the love and enthusiasm Mogwai engender from their audience is surprising. The idea that an instrumental band could ever become quite as big as this would be thought of as ridiculous outside of the odd 1960s novelty tune. But Mogwai are very much the lads of post-rock, who have made a career of giving songs ridiculous titles (reading the tracklist of any Mogwai album is a pleasure all in itself), wearing the same jeans and trainer combo, and concluding every live song with “Thanks, cheers, thanks a lot.” Having released both the soundtrack to French horror-series, Les Revenants, and a studio album, Rave Tapes, in just one year, anticipation is high.

The main concert hall at DR Koncerthus, with its asymmetric juxtapositions of balconies, as if several ships had collided around the stage, provides Mogwai with a suitably concentrated, if off-kilter, space. The seats are certainly welcome during Pye Corner Audio’s set, which consists of long-form electronic pieces. Though some of his last tracks contain rather more keyboard noodling than I’m comfortable with, some of his first songs have a wonderful eeriness, like having a slow panic attack on a bus, on a rainy Friday night.

The stage features the double-eye and purple hexagons from the cover of Rave Tapes, looking halfway between a set from a 60s sci-fi flick and an Illuminati convention.

Opening with “Heard About You Last Night”, one of Rave Tapes more ‘classic’ sounding tracks, Mogwai steer a course that gives equal time to tracks from their latest LP as well as older material. It is testament to the sheer breadth and size of their back catalogue that they can have a song as majestic as “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m dead” as their second song. Throughout, the five-piece swap instruments, are handed an endless series of guitars, and are periodically joined by long-time collaborator, the novelist and multi-instrumentalist Luke Sutherland.

No concessions are made to this being a venue designed for classical music. Mogwai are loud, tinnitus-inducing, Glaswegian audio-saboteurs, who entice you with delicate guitar lines before kicking the living shit out of your eardrums. “Rano Pano” sees the band battle with each other’s distorted guitar drones, kept in line by a strict drumbeat, while the solo to “How to be a Werewolf” bursts joyfully through the other guitar layers.

In these moments it seems almost a pity that we are sat down. Around me are pockets of metalheads awkwardly headbanging while leaning forwards in their seats. But much like Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Tivoli, the seating arrangement means that the audience can more readily accept longer and quieter songs. It’s certainly one way to make sure no-one irritates you by being too tall or attached to their phone. God bless seats. Now I feel old.

VIEW THE FULL LIVE GALLERY HERE

LIVE REVIEW: Ólöf Arnalds, Ideal Bar, 25.03.2014

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On a horrible, windy, rainy night following so closely on the heels of lovely, warm weather, Ideal Bar feels especially welcoming, and Ólöf Arnalds feels like the perfect performer to distract from the nastiness outside. The múm member’s elfin soprano and finger-picked guitar are, even at their most melancholic, infused with the brightness of spring. She is cheerful and playful from the outset, cracking jokes that she “tunes because she cares” when her between song prep takes longer than she would like.

Though most of her set is in English, Arnald still manages to work in a few Icelandic songs, as well as caving to what she refers to as the temptation to sing a song taught to her during Danish classes in elementary school. There are also covers from Arthur Russell and Caetano Veloso which emphasize how unique her style of songwriting is — the way her fingers scuttle up and down the fretboard, how her vocals are drawn out in such a way that minimizes her accent and allows her to warble on wordless notes. But there is something charming in hearing her lilt clobber the “better, better, better” outro of “Maria Bethânia.”

Then again, charm seems to be why people are here, sitting so quietly that Arnalds finds it worthy of a comment. That’s part of the reason why things feel so comfortable, even when she stumbles halfway into a song and needs to start again, even when she’s laughing at her inability to wrap up her final song, “German Fields.” She isn’t flustered, so we aren’t flustered. We’re all friends here.

Mogwai | DR Koncerthus, Copenhagen, 25.03.2014

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Photos by James Hjertholm (www.jameshjertholm.com)

Mogwai (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Mogwai (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Mogwai (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Mogwai (Photo by James Hjertholm)

AUDIO: Lust For Youth – “Epoetin Alfa”

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Lust For Youth have shared new single “Epoetin Alfa” from their forth album International which is set for release June 10th on Sacred Bones Records.

Listen to “Epoetin Alfa” below:

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