Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

Monthly archive

August 2014

LIVE REVIEW: Lower, Jazzhouse, 29.08.2014

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“This is a strange set-up for a punk concert.” So says our dear photographer Morten, and to some extent he is right. I didn’t quite expect the poetry readings and the hour-long performance piece that lead up to Lower. Half an hour into the slow-burning piece, in which some blond guy shyly and ploddingly gave out lighting instructions, the mood becomes restless. But it is really a testament to the tolerance of Copenhagen audiences that they last that long. But the second part of Morten’s statement, that this is a punk gig, is the one I have problems with.

At some point the international press has to stop talking about the Danish “punk” scene. Whatever the influences of Iceage, Lower, Communions et al. might be, the sounds that emerge from these bands have quite specific reference points: the baroque post-punk of the Chameleons and the Comsat Angels, and the twisted Americana of the Bad Seeds and the Gun Club. Even the standard uniform (baggy, buttoned-up-to-the-collar shirts and waist-high jeans) is more reminiscent of 80s goth and new wave. Black Flag this ain’t.

Lower (Jazzhouse, Copenhagen)

Though their music has as much dramatic flair as any of those previously mentioned bands, something in the demeanor of Lower indicates that, however emotional or personal their music might be, they don’t take themselves too seriously. Halfway through the set guitarist Simon Formann serves the whole band, including an extra percussionist and a pianist/cellist, cocktails. The sight of frontman Adrian Toubro singing while holding a pink concoction in a lowball glass harks back to the decadent crooners of the 60s and 70s (also referenced by Iceage in their Mina-inspired “Morals” and in the video for “The Lord’s Favourite”).

Lower’s debut album, Seek Warmer Climes, is full of chiming and wiry guitars, the mid-range vocal crooning favoured by 80s darkwave bands, and drums that sound like they are falling down several flights of stairs. The rhythmic chaos of songs like “Lost Weight, Perfect Skin” are enhanced in the live setting by the extra percussionist, whose tom and snare work almost takes the band into Adam Ant territory. The added cello and piano are a clear attempt to push Lower into different territory, though by now it has almost become standard in Copenhagen, with Shiny Darkly and Iceage using classical instruments to greater or lesser degrees.

Lower (Jazzhouse, Copenhagen)

Among all ruckus of drums and guitar, Lower have a melodic heart in Tourbro’s vocal delivery, particularly evident in the glorious chorus of “Soft Option”, the standout track from their debut. It is almost impossible for me to write about Copenhagen bands without making a very long list of references (often very obvious ones), but that is not to dismiss these acts as carbon-copies of their heroes. Perhaps none of them would fit well in a chronological chart of the “progress” of pop music, but they are a reminder that the important thing is not to create a sound that has never been heard before, but to make the music sound new.

View the photos from Lowers concert here

PHOTOS: Lower | Jazzhouse, Copenhagen, 29.08.2014

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Photos: Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Lower (Jazzhouse, Copenhagen)

Lower (Jazzhouse, Copenhagen)

Lower (Jazzhouse, Copenhagen)

Lower (Jazzhouse, Copenhagen)

Lower (Jazzhouse, Copenhagen)

Lower (Jazzhouse, Copenhagen)

VIDEO: Lust For Youth – “New Boys”

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Lust For Youth have shared a video for their single “New Boys” from their third album International (Scared Bones Records).  The video was directed by Frederik Valentin and shows all the youthful surroundings of a day in the life of a young boy.

Watch the video for “New Boys” below:

VIDEO: The New Spring – “Song For Ana Mendieta”

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The New Spring aka Bastian Kallesøe has released a video for his current single “Song For Ana Mendieta” from his third album Late Bloomer which is set for release on September 15th on Tambourhinoceros.

Watch the video for “Song For Ana Mendieta” below:

Watch The New Spring perform “Song For Ana Mendieta” during our Here Today Session:

LIVE REVIEW: Jonathan Wilson | Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 19.08.2014

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Normally when visiting Lille Vega you’d think of it as a decent venue, not particularly small despite the name. But this day as Jonathan Wilson and his band stand on stage it seems strangely small, I’m not sure if they’re unusually tall any of them, or if it’s just their musical greatness that generates this contraction of the surroundings.

One thing is for sure, they are great musicians (tall or not) and it feels almost unnecessary to notice because they know it! Starting off with the opening track from Wilson’s second album ‘Fanfare’, including a long dramatic intro, everyone is faced against the stage. The spartanic lights allow Wilson to remain strange and incognito in the shade of his Stetson, but when the first lines gently slip off his tongue he is naked as ever: “Uh let me love you, it’s all that I can do, I’d like to touch you, Uh I’m in love with you”. Somehow this lyrical pathos makes the audience stop breathing for a while though it’s just on the tip of being too banal.

Like his lyrics Wilson’s music is just really classic. And American. He has not been afraid to step into a musical folk-country-blues- rock tradition alongside immortalised fellas like Dylan and Young whom to many are the only true rulers of the sacred American rock lands. But the gentle spirit (!) of Wilson adds new blood to these old fields and a sold out show in Copenhagen is a proof that spiritual and classic rock songs still have cultural relevance. For sure the bass player has not given up on the old days looking as if he just wandered out of Woodstock ’69 – the long hair on top of a tie dye t-shirt together with an electric bass really completed the look.

There’s not done a lot of talking between the songs, mostly guitar changing and tuning to get the sound right, which for the band has great importance – you can see they are perfectionists. The bringing of an monstrous lesley for the Hammond B3 tells the same story. And the sound is impeccable, every detail reaches the eardrums from the stroked cymbals to the twelve stringed guitar. However, the sound has to be perfect for a guitar virtuous like Jonathan Wilson who during every song reveals his magnificent guitar playing in long solos. The organ player shows off some pretty remarkable skills on the brown B3, and it’s not only a language for connoisseurs that’s spoken from the old wooden box, you can tell by the overwhelming applauses at the end of each solo. Especially ‘Angel’ comes off beautiful in an extended version spiced up with various crescendo solos.

Time flies by when you’re entertained and the set’s two hours duration doesn’t strike me as a long time at any point. The slow and riff based ‘Valley of the silver moon’ closes the evening as a manifestation of Jonathan Wilson and his band’s superiority. I am standing close to the stage, yes, but the final applause is the loudest I’ve heard at Lille Vega so far.

PHOTOS: Mac DeMarco | Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 18.08.2014

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Photos by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Mac DeMarco (Photo by Tom Spray)

Mac DeMarco (Photo by Tom Spray)

Mac DeMarco (Photo by Tom Spray)

Mac DeMarco (Photo by Tom Spray)

LIVE REVIEW: Mac DeMarco | Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 18.08.2014

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”It’s impossible. People love him. It’s been sold out for months”. A friend texted me right before the show because he wouldn’t be able to make it. And he was completely right – people love Mac DeMarco. It couldn’t be said more accurate. The courtyard of Pumpehuset is filled with people an hour before the show and as Schultz & Forever take the stage a loyal crowd congregate to listen to a small set of songs before the main act.

Schultz and Forever (Photo by Tom Spray)

Schultz & Forever’s psychedelic pop tunes soothes the listener into a cool and dreamy universe where twangy guitar melodies and playful porno-synth intricate the characteristic voice of lead singer Jonathan Schultz. The five guys have their guitars hanging tight under their chins, but they play with a loose attitude without losing the grasp of performing well. An ideal choice of support.

Mac DeMarco (Photo by Tom Spray)
The entrance of Mac DeMarco and his bandmates suggests that we’re going to have a party – with armfuls of beer and the cap turned backwards on top of a grin DeMarco proclaims that this is a rock n roll show. Opening with a couple of newer songs and instantly kicking off a vibrating vibe in the crowd his words suddenly gain meaning (despite the actual musical gap between DeMarco and rock n roll in a generic sense). The joy of playing music is evident when looking at the band dancing around onstage while bursting out abrupt screams of joy.

Mac DeMarco (Photo by Tom Spray)

There is something very infantile about Mac DeMarco, both his music and his being – he maintains an unspoiled and somehow naive approach to being a musician, though his career is a professional one by now. However, it seems like it’s his kind of artistic credo to just have fun and so far it’s been enough for everyone.
The setlist consists both older songs and songs from the newest release Salad days. His tracks live are very similar to the record but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes you just want to hear good songs played well. One of the older ones ‘Ode to Viceroy’ comes of as this night’s favorite with a reverb surf-guitar phrasing around the mantra of Viceroy cigarettes. But DeMarco is not an inresponsible young kid who glorifies the choice of smoking, he enlightens us about its sad consequenses just before lighting up a smoke. (No remarks!)

Mac DeMarco (Photo by Tom Spray)
Demarco’s show’s are known for being unpredictable and free spirited, so when a young guy is invited on stage to crowdsurf it doesn’t surprise me, neither does it when DeMarco does the same thing all the way to the bar and back again. But that he managed to bring a full pint to the stage while crowdsurfing is just magnificent.

As the audience yells for an encore and the band rejoins us undressed with sweaty torsos I don’t know exactly what to expect for an encore, but Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ surely wasn’t on my list. The band’s weird version of Bob Marley’s ‘Jammin” earlier in the show is nothing in comparison to these last fifteen minutes – guitarsolos en masse and Hetfield “yarling” coalesced in a noisy inferno. It is true what they say about Demarco’s shows; they are controversial and everything but conformal. I don’t know what more you could ask of rock concert on a Monday night, if anything maybe a little less guitar solos at the end!

Mac DeMarco (Photo by Tom Spray)

LIVE REVIEW: Deafheaven, BETA 11.08.2014

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It is appropriate to the band playing tonight that the audience arriving at Beta are greeted by a food stall, a children’s blow-up pool and a dj booth playing a mix of Sonic Youth and metal tunes. Deafheaven is one of those bands that reviewers and music journalists love to adorn with baroque epithets (“blackgaze”, “post-black-metal-shoegaze”, bla bla), but one thing we can state with certainty is that the band’s diversity of influences has brought them appeal that spans far wider than any other contemporary American metal band.

To say that the venue is sold-out is a little misleading, given Beta’s limited dimensions, but the small size brings with it a select and dedicated audience, ready to bliss out or rock hard, whatever the evening requires. Different reactions to the music give a good idea of the mindset of the listener: the obvious metalheads headbang in time with the black metal-inspired double kick drum, whereas those of us with leanings towards shoegaze and post-rock tend to nod along at half-time, focusing more on the waves of alternately distorted and reverb-laden guitars.

Deafheaven (Photo by Tom Spray)

Coming at the end of a long summer tour, there is a touch of uncharacteristic tiredness to the band, and frontman George Clarke’s wide-eyed intensity comes off as a little contrived. But this criticism is limited: one has to remember that Deafheaven do not have thick layers of corpse-paint to hide behind. For all its elegant album covers and posters, the band does not indulge in myth-making outside of its music, and even in the cramped conditions of Beta, and muffled by much-needed earplugs, the long form majesty of it is undeniable. Standing so close to the band, I am mesmerized by Daniel Tracy’s impeccable drumming. Even in the hectic intensity of a song like “The Pecan Tree”, it manages to flow with a paradoxically light precision. And that is not something you will ever get at a traditional shoegaze concert.

Deafheaven (Photo by Tom Spray)

The only moment of doubt comes with new track “From the Kettle Onto the Coil”, which for my tastes engages too much in the clichés of metal rather than subverting them (the breakdown in the middle being a particularly flagrant example of this), before essentially morphing into a cover of Slowdive’s “Alison”. The song sounds like a parody of Deafheaven, an attempt to replicate their music by a band who has only heard of them through clunky music press prose (“like a cross between Mayhem and Chapterhouse.” That one, thankfully, is made up). If anything, though, it serves to prove how, in Sunbather, Deafheaven are normally able to transcend the awkward juxtapositions of genre.

The set is short both in terms of time (just under an hour) and number of songs (five), but the decision to keep things brief, given the length of the actual songs, is a good one. No band can maintain this kind of mood for much longer without watering it down. And given the strange territories that other black-metal-influenced bands in the US are venturing into (Wolves in the Throne Room’s Celestite being a prime example), we must hope Deafheaven never go down the road to dilution.

Deafheaven (Photo by Tom Spray)

PHOTOS: Deafheaven | Beta, Copenhagen, 11.08.2014

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Deafheaven (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photos by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Deafheaven (Photo by Tom Spray)

Deafheaven (Photo by Tom Spray)

Deafheaven (Photo by Tom Spray)

Deafheaven (Photo by Tom Spray)

Deafheaven (Photo by Tom Spray)

Deafheaven (Photo by Tom Spray)

Deafheaven (Photo by Tom Spray)

Deafheaven (Photo by Tom Spray)

Deafheaven (Photo by Tom Spray)

AUDIO: Schultz and Forever – “Silvia”

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Schultz and Forever‘s EP “Celine” got massive attention in 2013 with critics naming him one of the most promising new acts in Danish music. Today Schultz and Forever released a new single “Silvia”. Like with the previous single “P.O.V.” Schultz and Forever takes the listener down a psychedelic path, one we will get the chance to explore even further, when the new EP arrives in October and Schultz and Forever goes on tour.

 

 

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