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Interview: Tacocat Talk Touring, Birth Control, and Powerpuff Girls

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tacocat band

Seattle quartet Tacocat have brought the raucousness of Riot Grrl back with a wickedly barbed sense of humor. The band, comprised of singer Emily Nokes, bassist Bree McKenna, drummer Lelah Maupin, and guitarist Eric Randall, rolls feel-good punk together with lyrics reflecting life for girls, whether that means periods, cat-calling, or childhood obsessions with horses.

The band records at a pretty steady rate. Their new album, Lost Time, was released on Subpop subsidiary Hardly Art in April, and it seems like the only interruption to recording is an extensive round of touring.

“We’re trying to figure out when we want to write some more songs before recording our next…anything,” says Lelah.

“You have to schedule the free time, too, so you’re not like, ‘Our next album is about what the back of the van looks like,’” says Emily.

Tacocat are as hilarious in conversation as they are on record. The three women have an energetic dynamic, often finishing thoughts and jokes for each other. Eric, meanwhile, chimes in occasionally, mostly quiet but clearly listening actively to fit in his own jibes. We sat down with them before their show at Huset back in May when, in addition to life on the road, they talked about ’90s TV reboots, emergency contraception, and why it can be okay to read YouTube comments.

You’ve been on tour for a month now?

Emily: This is actually our second. We had a US tour for a month, and then we were home for 24 hours just to take the flight to London. We’ve basically been on tour for two months.

Lelah: It’s becoming a little bit blurry. You guys were talking about Oslo this morning, and I was like, “Nope.” That was two days ago? I was like, I can’t remember two days ago. What was that?

But you give me the details and I’m like, “Oh yeah!” But you say “Oslo,” and I’m like, “No.”

What are some of the highlights?

Lelah: Every day there’s a highlight! Like Sweden was so incredible. We’ve been in Sweden twice on this tour. The people are wonderful to talk to and they treat you really well.

Emily: Shorndorf, Germany was really sweet as well, with food and nice people just being like, “what do you need! What do you need!”

Bree: It’s nice to be treated well when you’re traveling and so far from home.

Emily: The US is not like that.

Bree: The US doesn’t accommodate bands quite so well. It’s like, “here’s two drink tickets for bad beer.” Since we’re a little fragile from touring so much, it’s just nice to have. I think European culture is a little more respectful of art.

Lelah: We played in Geneva, Switzerland. We played this really big club that’s also a cultural center. Afterwards they were like, “Do you guys want to go upstairs? There’s a DJ.” There was a whole other club with a party happening. And I’m like, “Oh, a DJ. I know what to expect: Some dance music or electronic music.” Nope! We go to this club and the person DJing is 80 years old —

Bree: And he’s dancing like crazy to merengue.

Emily: They were merengue records from the 1920s.

Bree: It was exactly what you’d think of when you think of what an old man would want to party to. Everyone was dancing and having a great time.

Lelah: Yeah, it was amazing!

You write really hilarious, smart lyrics. For starters, “Dana Scully” —

All: Yay!

Emily: She’s my favorite.

Have you seen the reboot?

Emily: I have! Wasn’t that good. There were a few that were really good, I thought. Or just well-done campiness. They tried to cram too much weird stuff into the last episode, it’s like a movie.

Eric: That stupid Lumineer’s song.

Emily: Yeah, that was the most ham-fisted music I ever heard in my life.

Eric: Also, longer than the song actually is! They must have looped it.

Do you think it’s Scully or Gillian Anderson that’s the feminist icon?

Emily: I think it’s Gillian by way of Scully. Actually, I think that she made her like that, probably. Because I know that she was supposed to be a sex symbol, and even the very first episode of The X-Files there’s a scene [where] she’s running in the rain and you can see through her blouse. She’s an FBI agent and it’s like, “Hmmm white bra.”

Then both the writers for the show and I think Gillian Anderson were like, “Just make her smarter.” And she’s the smartest person on the whole show.

Bree: This is something really interesting that Emily told me about: The spike in young girls’ interest in science and law enforcement.

Emily: Yeah, it’s called the Scully Effect.

Bree: Because how many role models do we have that are like, “We’re quirky or sexy” — she’s just so straight.

Emily: They went into the hard sciences, and there’s a direct correlation to her character.

My sister wanted to go into the FBI because of Silence of the Lambs

Emily: That’s a similar kind of character, too. I feel like that sort of severe woman — or not even severe, she’s just not hysterical, which is usually how they put men and women together. Mulder is hysterical, she’s not.

Bree: I think that’s what made their dynamic so interesting: I know women with more Sully vibes, they’re always clinical about their thinking, rational, logical. That’s very much not represented like that.

A lot of your songs address serious subjects with a great sense of humor. How do you make a song about birth control like “Plan A Plan B,” for example, funny?

Emily: I think that’s just how we talk. All of our conversations about this kind of stuff are like — we’re not very serious about it together, or in real life, so it’s how we write songs together.

Bree: I remember, we were in class one day, and we were like, “Isn’t it funny that it’s called Plan B? What was your Plan A? Haha.”

Emily: It’s true! “Some guy who looked nice? I don’t know! Classmate?”

Bree: Plan A is, “He’s cute. Let me ask him out.” Then it’s like, “Plan B.”

Emily: You’re like, “There’s no way it’s going to be more than dinner — Plan B.”

That could be a really excellent advertising campaign. But then they tell you that you should just have it in your house, because shit happens.

Lelah: I feel like the only time it was ever in my house was one of my roommates somehow acquired —

Emily: Planned Parenthood would give you like 10 —

Lelah: I think she was going to make a mobile out of them. You know, one of those things you put above a crib.

Bree: There was a while I was going to Planned Parenthood and they were like, “Let me send you home with some Plan B pills.”

Emily: But they do it for every female, they give you two so if you live in a house with more than one woman you have like a gift basket of it.

Bree: But there was a while I was like, “My partner is a female,” and they were like, “Oh I’m just going to give you these just in case.” I’m like, “okay.” I’ve got so many Plan B boxes, I’m like, “Who needs ‘em? I got ‘em!” I’ve had people hit me up, though. I think they get burned out. They’re like, “You still got those Plan B boxes?” — “Yeah, don’t worry about it. You don’t have to go anywhere, just down the block.”

Emily: Dealer.

How did you end up recording the theme for the new Powerpuff Girls?

Bree: Some writers on staff at Cartoon Network were Tacocat fans, and then a lawyer called us and said, “Hey, the writers want you to do it.” He was really funny. They do mood boards, and they were like, “We want the theme song to be like Tacocat vibes.” He was like, “I didn’t know what that was. I looked it up and I found a meme of ‘Tacocat spelled backwards is tacocat,’ so I guess they want it to be like this vibe. I don’t really get what they’re going to do.” They’re like, “No, it’s a band.”

Emily: So we have a theme song now. It’s really funny.

Bree: It’s funny because their composer flew up and gave us sheet music, and we were like, “We can’t read that.” So we compromised. It’s a funny process.

Lelah: It was so weird. It’s the most professional thing we’ve ever done.

Bree: We’re a punk band. We’re not used to working with people who have composers giving us sheet music.

Emily: But he wasn’t used to us, either. He was used to studio musicians, so he thought we were going to be like — click track drums! It has to be exactly 30 seconds long!

Lelah: It’s the only time I’ve ever recorded to a click.

Were you fans of the show?

Lelah: Oh yeah. It’s a great show. It really is. We were in LA on tour, and they were like, “Oh you’re in LA? Wanna pop by?” So we met everybody and they showed us an episode before it ever aired. I cried.

Emily: Yeah, it was so good. It’s really well written.

Bree: I love the new show. The reboot is amazing, and it’s awesome to be a part of it.

Emily: We got to go around and meet every single person who worked on the show, which was nuts. There was one woman whose only job was to draw hands. All the different hands in different action poses of them holding things is all her. There was one person who does all the backgrounds, so she was just doodling, making a couch and a face. I can’t imagine how much work goes into that.

It’s all very high-tech, but they still had a ton of people on deck. I think that they didn’t want to disappoint the old-school fans either. There’s a couple changes to the way their hair ties are, the way their dresses are, and people were like, [gasp!]. It looks exactly the same to me, but as for those nerdy super fans —

Lelah: The day they released just the theme song, it was a YouTube video of just the intro, and we were like, “Oh my God, this is so exciting!” and we shared it, and we were looking at the comments, like you do — you’re not supposed to, but we did — and 99% of them were these really intense fans being like, “What’s up with that bow? It’s different. I hate the new bow!”

“Well, they don’t hate the song. This is cool.”

Bree: I was really surprised about the bow thing. People were losing their minds about these details.

Similarly, the outcry about the Ghostbuster’s reboot from people saying it’s ruining their childhoods.

Emily: You can have both. There can be an old one and a new one. You can choose and you can not even pay attention to it. You can not watch it.

Eric: But there’s women in it!

Emily: Women just aren’t funny.

Eric: Women ruin everything.

INTERVIEW: Greg Fox on Guardian Alien, Ex Eye, and Roskilde

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Fox Millions Duo live roskilde festival

Greg Fox (right) performing with Fox Millions Duo. Photo by Morten Krogh.

Drummer Greg Fox is the sort of performer whose name comes up in a variety of contexts. Though perhaps most often associated with Liturgy, the human drum machine is also currently playing with Guardian Alien — his one-time solo project, which is currently a duo including Alexandra Drewchin of Eartheater — and Ex Eye, a new band formed with Colin Stetson. He also has an ongoing pairing with fellow drummer Kid Millions of Oneida known as Fox Millions Duo.

It probably shouldn’t be surprising that Fox’s appearance at this year’s Roskilde Festival wasn’t limited to one set. But when you consider how exhausting a festival can be for a mere spectator, Fox’s three performances over as many days with as many bands is damn impressive. Unsurprisingly, Fox was difficult to track down between sets, but he answered a few questions for us via email after the festival.

How was your Roskilde experience?

I enjoyed Roskilde. It is a huge, overwhelming festival, so luckily the backstage area for artists was very hospitable. The food was great and it was easy to relax back there.

How do you prepare for three days of shows with three different projects?

Regarding preparation, there isn’t much to it, really. More than anything I try to prepare for presenting a full set for the audience. Seventy-five minutes is longer than most sets I tend to play, so there was some thought and planning given to what material to play and how to structure the sets. The nature of Fox / Millions duo and Guardian Alien involve more improvisation within a predesigned structure, so clearly outlining those structures was the main aspect of the preparation. For Ex Eye, it’s a matter of playing the material we have been writing, so not much to do before that set besides stretch!

How did you end up playing with Ex Eye?

Colin and I had been talking about doing a “heavy” project together for a while, both of us being fans of what you might consider various forms of extreme music. Shazhad [Ismaily] has been a longtime friend and collaborator, and one of my favorite people to play and travel with, so him being in the project was a no brainer, and Toby [Summerfield] is an old friend and collaborator many times over of Colin’s, so at his suggestion Toby came on board. That’s it really. We just wanted to start a new project, so we did!

Fox Millions Duo is a fairly unique set up. What inspired the project?

What inspired the duo is mainly just Kid and I really enjoying each others’ playing and company. We have a good time together. We were asked once to do a “drum off” as an opening act for a Lightning Bolt show, and instead we decided to come up with something collaborative. And it just went from there. I think we will definitely be making another record soon.

Guardian Alien has been through a few incarnations now. Is it going to continue to evolve?

I don’t know if i can speak to any kind of permanence regarding anything at all, so it’s hard to say – but I definitely enjoy the current duo lineup of Guardian Alien. Yes we have been working on new material, using new instruments and technologies, and we are very excited about what we have been creating together.

How is Guardian Alien different from your other work?

Guardian is different than other work that I do because Alex is my partner in the non-musical realm first and foremost, so the collaboration is obviously different than it is with other people. We know each other extremely well, for better and for worse, and we also love each other very much — and we share our lives with each other. So in many ways doing Guardian as a duo with her is really joyous and fun, and in other ways it can be very challenging. But I think that challenge makes for better creative outcomes.

VIDEO: First Hate – “Holiday”

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First Hate will be embarking on Roskilde Festival exactly a week today when they headline the Countdown stage on Monday 27th June, as a summer treat they’ve released new single “Holiday”. The track plus the video for the track was composed and directed while on the road in China earlier this spring. Speaking about the single, frontman Anton Falck Gansted had this to say about the process of writing and directing.

“I wrote the song and started producing it while we were riding on trains & airplanes across China. Driving through smog polluted valleys and endless forests of skyscrapers, it gave this odd impression of being in a parallel dystopic dimension somewhere in the future. The music was supposed to be the soundtrack of looking back to before the end of the world to times where mankind hadn’t already destroyed the planet. When we came back to Copenhagen and finished the track it ended up being about looking back at life and remembering the good times, times when you’re in a new relationship or for me just thinking back to the times when myself and Joakim first met and spent our first summer together.”

“This new track is kind of the warm up before we start recording our debut album, we did a lot of things differently this time, working with some good friends and talented people (Patrick Kociszewski & Bastian Emil) who recorded bass and drums for us. In the end it’s a holiday track and we’ve had to have fun making it.“

“The video is a bunch of homemade videos we shot while on our tour in China last month. Fused with some photo booth shots of me singing in front of the computer. It’s a way for us to be able to look back at these times and remember them once we’ve grown up.”

Live dates:
27.06.2016 – Roskilde Festival, Roskilde, DK
08.07.2016 – Le Point Ephemere, Paris, FR (Tickets)
09.07.2016 – SCP Festival, London, UK (Tickets)
21.07.2016 – Boomtown, Gent, BEL (Tickets)
12.08.2016 – Sodabar, San Diego, USA
13.08.2016 – Berserktown, LA, USA
15.08.2016 – Empty Bottle, Chicago, USA
17.08.2016 – Nothing Changes, New York, USA
14.09.2016 – The Waiting Room, London, UK
15.09.2016 – Wharf Chambers, Leeds, UK
16.09.2016 – The Lughole, Sheffield, UK
17.09.2016 – Jumpin Jacks, Newcastle, UK
29.09.2016 – Atlas, Aarhus, DK (Tickets)
30.09.2016 – Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DK (Tickets)
05.11.2016 – Cønjuntø Vacíø Festival, Barcelona, ESP

Watch the video for “Holiday” below:

LIVE REVIEW: John Carpenter, DR Koncerthus, 30.05.16

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John Carpenter performing live at DR Koncerthuset

Photos by James Hjertholm (jameshjertholm.com)

People really love John Carpenter. From those of us huddled high up in the gods (or as Americans call them, the nosebleed seats) to the chosen few with a front-row view, there is a buzz of real anticipation. The lights go down, a band walks on, and the applause begins. Not for the band, though. The applause is for Assault on Precinct 13, The Thing, Escape from New York, Halloween, They Live. I bet a few nostalgics were even applauding The Fog (sorry, not I: even 12 year old me thought that enchanted mist appearing on radar was dumb, no matter how many zombie pirates lurked within it).

And at the center of it, the man himself: the trademark mustache, long white hair, black clothes and playful grin. Not many directors get to bask in such direct, wordless admiration as they revisit what amounts to almost their entire working life. Nor does he shy away it. You get the sense that John Carpenter is sharing his films and music with the enthusiasm of a fan rather than a creator. There is much impish fun to be had in horror, as he demonstrates when the entire band dons matching black sunglasses during their rendition of the theme to They Live.

There is a fundamental question lurking around the concert hall this evening: does the music stand up on its own? The large screen that acts as a backdrop for Carpenter and the band gives you something of a hint: the music is accompanied by clips from his films, but rather than functioning simply as support for the music, the visuals end up dominating attention. During songs from his Lost Themes albums, the screen remains blank, reinforcing the feeling that something is missing.

John Carpenter

Is that such a scathing criticism of Carpenter’s musical output? Or is it instead a testament to how well his music combined with his movies? My own problem with the Lost Themes is that they fundamentally misunderstand the appeal of his soundtracks. Yes, the trademark synth sounds are there, but at least in the live setting, the guitars and drums detract from the alien, inhuman quality that we admire in his earlier work. And when you do add guitar and drums to John Carpenter, you can either sound like Mogwai (great) or like, well, a John Carpenter cover band.

Perhaps the problem is exactly that his music has been so influential. We have seen it transmuted over the years in a variety of interesting ways, to the point that there isn’t much that he himself can add. But at the end of the night, despite some irritation with the guitar playing and the drum levels, the main thought in my head was that I need to watch a lot more of JC’s films.

LIVE REVIEW: Fat White Family, Loppen, 24.05.16

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Fat White Family performing live at Loppen (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Photos: Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

My ears are still ringing. I am, like most people who go to gigs regularly, terrified by the possibility of chronic tinnitus, but I will say this: if anyone is going to force me to perpetually hear an irritating, high-pitched whine, it might as well be the Fat White Family.

The Family’s fortunes have risen considerably over the past couple of years, with two albums, several collaborations, endless tour dates and a substantial body count of managers and musicians in their wake. It is no secret that they have had more than their fair share of turmoil, but what the music press relishes in depicting as their excess and scandalous behaviour, can be more accurately described as sheer dedication. In spite of injury, anger, arguments and exhaustion, the Family plows mercilessly on.

Fat White Family

From the first menacing bass riff of their latest single, Tinfoil Deathstar, the band appear at home in Loppen. The venue’s size is a great leveler, forcing any act that plays there to stand or fall on their ability to merge with the audience. Frontman Lias Saudi is always up for some sweaty merging, and it isn’t long before the whole band is topless and spitting pieces of their torn lungs into the microphones. Some have observed that their latest album, Songs for Our Mothers, is less sonically abrasive than its predecessor. You’d never have guessed it.

For a band that thrives on unhinged energy, it is the quieter moments that show Fat White Family at their most confrontational. Garden of the Numb sees Saudi and Saul Adamczewski duet a dirge-like country hate anthem. Lines like “You sycophantic weasel-minded whores / You would sell your mother’s cunt to open doors” work all the better because they are quietly growled rather than screamed. Ice-cold hatred is infinitely more terrifying than hot anger.

But the Family isn’t going to end on a downer. No, nothing ends a show like the rockabilly madness of “Bomb Disneyland”. And as Saudi incites the crowd into the sweatiest, filthiest mosh pit, you can’t help but grin at the appropriateness of being in Denmark when a band screams “dirty-bomb Legoland” at you.

INTERVIEW: Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals

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Ben Harper (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Photos by Morten Aargaard Krogh

Ben Harper never keeps fans waiting long. A quick glance back at just the last five years would reveal three albums, solo and with different collaborators. Which is why fans will know how special it is for Harper to be recording with the Innocent Criminals again for the first time since 2007. The album, Call It What It Is, has the familiarity of Harper’s cross-genre pop, shifting styles from track to track.

While recording for Call It What It Is began in January of 2015, the title track first appeared in Harper’s live set in 2014.

“It was one of the first ones I wrote and said, ‘Oh! Innocent Criminals. Put it away,’” he told us on a visit to Copenhagen in February. “But I couldn’t hold it. ‘I gotta play it. I can’t wait.’”

The song addresses the shootings of unarmed black men by police officers in the United States. “I’ve had enough reaction to it to know it’s a hot button,” he says. “Didn’t know I had so many conservative fans, actually. Oh…I’m singing to them, too. Or they found it, but I’m not really the type of artist you stumble on. Either you know me or you don’t.”

If you know Harper, then you know he isn’t one to shy away from the political. But as he readily explained, Call It What It Is also has plenty of room for lighter pleasures.

Call It What It Is is out 8 April on Stax Records.

Ben Harper (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh / mortenkrogh.com)

 

How did you end up working with Innocent Criminals again?

Couldn’t wait any longer. We had waited too long already, and it felt like there was a great window in all of our schedules and all of our creative longings and [we were] able to actually do it.

Did the songs come first or the idea to work together?

Songs came first. I had a pile of songs, and then I insisted that those guys bring me songs, because maybe in the past, not only would I not have been on the lookout for it, but maybe I wouldn’t have been open to it at all. And that hopefully represents my growth in a way that this can be a different experience with this band.

So was it a more collaborative album?

I think it’s the most we’ve done. We were starting to be collaborative with records past, but this is by far the most collaborative Innocent Criminal record ever made.

Which songs in particular reflect that collaboration?

This isn’t just a dummy answer: All of them. All the guys are credited as writers on all the songs. But it’s one thing when I write a song, and then they help me produce it and bring it to life. That’s the songs coming from me. The songs that came from outside my own pile of songs are “Deeper and Deeper,” which the guitar player, Michael Ward, brought that to me and he and I finished it; “Finding Our Way,” was brought to me — reggae tune — by Oliver Charles, the drummer and then he and I finished that one; and then “How Dark is Gone” was brought by Jason, the keyboard player and Leon Mobley, the percussionist. That one really caught me off guard. That one might be the most different song, not only on the record, but that I’ve ever recorded.

What was the recording process like?

It was like none other this time. Because when you’re young, you’re barreling through walls. Objectivity is not a word that is inherent in youth. Not for me. You don’t need it, you’re just throwing it out there, you’re making it. And I still would like to think I have that same recklessness, that nature, but at this stage and age, I need distance as clarity, as objectivity, to hear what I’m doing. Doing something and hearing what you’re doing aren’t always looking each other straight in the eye. In other words, what you’re doing, and what you think you’re doing aren’t always the same. And I didn’t want to look back on this record five years later and say, “Oh why didn’t I…”

And maybe everyone says that on every record about little things. But I needed the distance as objectivity. So I recorded for a week, go away for a month, go away for two months, and wouldn’t hear it. We’d work for a week, and we’d disappear. Some bands nowadays, a week means one song. We’re musicians first. The greatest jazz records that you’ve ever [heard] were recorded in a day, two days, three days. When I say we worked six, seven days in the studio, that’s like three-four songs we were making.

Also, musicians have a terrible habit of thinking everything they do is good. Which I’ve grown out of. Go away for two months, come back, press play, and either be incredibly motivated by certain songs, or incredibly disappointed by others, and then start digging deep. And that’s what brought out this record. Which I’m hearing clearly and am very proud of, if you don’t mind me saying that. I don’t usually say that about my own work, but what I’m doing and what I think I’m doing are the same thing.

I understand that there’s a contingent — “Pink Balloon,” “Remember When Sex Was Dirty,” that might not be your thing. I’ve always said, “If you don’t like a Ben Harper song, go to the next one.” But I love rock. I love rock ’n’ roll, I love the liberation, I love the freedom of it, and if you don’t like the story about the little girl and her pink balloon having fun, then that’s on you. If you don’t want to hear something rock, then I can’t help, but I’m not going to not do it because I’m worried about what you’re going to think. Just like I would never want you to worry about what I’m going to think with your artistic output.

Ben Harper (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh / mortenkrogh.com)

So “Pink Balloon” is about a little girl and her balloon?

Any dad who has a little girl and has tried to take a pink balloon from their kid and tie it to their waist knows what a fight it is just to get it out of her hand.

It was kind of pushed over the finish line by just the Banksy little girl with the pink balloon. It’s so moving, that image. And I said, “How can I get a musical version of that Banksy pink balloon while also thinking about my own daughters?”

Going back to your reflective process, were there any songs that you knew immediately would work?

“Remember When Sex Was Dirty” was like that. Certain songs need to surprise you and scare you. If you’re really clear on what you’ve done, I think art should surprise you as much in the future as it does the first time you see it and hear it. A song needs to pull you in right away so that you can kind of feel, see, and embrace. But a song should challenge the senses, I think, and reveal itself.

With that said, “Goodbye to You” is one of the songs on this record that — it’s just a cacophonous symphony of percussion and weaving melodies in and out. “I don’t like this, I don’t like this, oh! Okay! Now I know where we’re going with this song.” “Goodbye to You” and “How Dark is Gone” are just complete experiments. They dragged us kicking and screaming, they just hovered there, daring us to complete them. And I didn’t give up on them, where some songs you come back to and just know. And those didn’t make the record. The ones that I would come back to and go, “Oh yeah!”: “Sex Was Dirty,” “Pink Balloon,” “Shine,” even “Deeper and Deeper,” there was no question once that was going. “How Dark is Gone” put up a fight. “Finding Our Way,” the reggae tune, put up a fight. “Goodbye to You” we did three other versions, but that one, the cacophonous one, just pulled you through a dark hole. That was the one we finally settled on. So some were willing participants and some really put up a battle.

VIDEO: Gents – ‘Love Is Tears’

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Copenhagen duo Gents (aka Theis Vesterløkke and Niels Fejrskov Juhl) released their debut EP ‘Embrace The Future‘ in December 2015 after putting out singles “Young Again” and “Circles” throughout 2015 which received great praise in Danish media leading them to being named on several “ones to watch” lists for 2016. Their first release for this year comes in the form of a video for catchy anti-love ballad “Love Is Tear” from said EP.

Watch the video for ‘Love Is Tears’ below:

First Hate announce shows and new EP

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First Hate are ready with the long awaited follow up to 2014’s self-titled debut EP. Today (January 14th), it was announced that they’ve signed to Copenhagen label Escho and will release their second EP ‘The Mind Of A Gemini‘ on March 4th 2016. As one of the most hyped acts of 2015 was a busy year for the band touring Europe with Iceage, summer saw them play a number of festivals and they finished off the year with their own European headlining tour. Now they’re back with what has to be one of the most anticipated records of 2016. They’ll be back playing live at the beginning of March playing Lille Vega, Copenhagen (04.03) and Tape, Aarhus (05.03).

Get tickets for the Lille Vega show HERE

The Mind Of A Gemini‘ tracklisting:

  1. Infinite Horizon
  2. Warsawa
  3. The Mind Of A Gemini
  4. White Heron
  5. Trojan Horse
  6. Before

Our Top 20 Albums of 2015

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Every December the staff of Here Today meet to decide our favourite albums of the year. It’s an ugly brawl, with scars lasting well into the next Spring. This year, to save ourselves a bit of dignity, we thought we’d ask our readers to pick the best of our 20 candidates for best album. The voting will end at midnight on the 20th of December, but we will be arguing the case for each album until the final day.

[yop_poll id=”2″ tr_id=””” show_results=”-1″]

Majical Cloudz – Are You Alone?

When relationships end, it can get ugly fast. Some people lash out, and some turn it inwards. The source of heartbreak on Majical Cloudz’s Are You Alone matter far less than the overarching contemplation of what it means to be in love or alone. The down tempo album of pianos, synths, and solo vocals on this particularly lovelorn album makes it your best friend and companion for rainy days or just days when you can’t bear to face the world. And it’s still got more dignity to it than a Netflix marathon.

Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect

Protomartyr had all the makings of the next garage rock band of the minute, but there are already enough swampy vocals out there. What there isn’t enough of is the deadpan delivery that makes this band instantly recognizable. It’s as if that voice has given them license to go ever so slightly off the rails; with atypical narratives and atypical song structures, The Agent Intellect wraps its frayed ends around you and grips tightly. All the proof you need is in the second movement of “Why Does It Shake?” If that doesn’t make it a contender for song of the year, there’s no hope for any of us.

Jamie xx – In Colour

It seems ridiculous that In Colour is actually Jamie xx’s debut album as a solo artist. After two LPs with the xx, producing Gil Scott Heron’s I’m New Here, and countless remixes, finally we have a full-length album with Jamie’s name on the cover. Not that he is alone: xx bandmates Romy Croft and Oliver Sim make an appearance, as well as Young Thug and Popcaan. The result is a bright collection of down-tempo dance tunes with a nostalgic bent.

Viet Cong – Viet Cong

The Canadian quartet’s self-titled album is a soundtrack through a dystopian fairyland (and with song titles like “Pointless Experience,” “Bunker Buster,” and “Death,” that’s not really projecting). Pulled between ambient synths and math rock guitars, pulsed by deceptively understated drums,Viet Cong falls into loops that you could easily roll through for hours at a time without wanting to break out of the cycle. You’ll snap out of it, though, when the faux nice-guy vocals kick in and remind you that these guys have a fatalist streak in them. It’s definitely one of the most exciting debut albums of the year.

Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss

It’s been exciting to watch Chelsea Wolfe develop as an artist, and even more still to see how she’s harnessed the competing elements of her music in new ways. Abyss is her most balanced record yet, allowing her voice to float through quieter arrangements instead of always serving as a contrast to the intensity and harshness of the noise she works with. Songs liked “Grey Matter” hit that sweet spot of letting her voice shine over the aggression instead of in spite of it, but never let us worry for a second. Wolfe can make even the ugliest noises sound beautiful.

Sufjan Stevens  – Carrie & Lowell

Where other albums this year have distinguished themselves in their inventive production, Sufjan Steven’s seventh studio album takes the opposite approach: the instrumentation is limited, often nothing more than a finger-picked guitar, and effects are kept to a minimum. What we are left with is the deep melancholy of Stevens’ soft vocals, and his lyrics of loss. As a counterpoint to this close focus on the singer-songwriter’s emotional state, there is a limpid precision to his playing that cuts through the whole record, elevating it from naked confession to finely-wrought statement.

Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper

Noah Lennox, co-founder of Animal Collective, returned with an album that showcases his signature blend of electronic pop and off-kilter psychedelia. It’s all there: the weird tropicana, angelic Brian Wilson voice, the bouncy synths. Noise and melody intertwine until they are indistinguishable from each other, lyrics melt into chorus-laden chants. Some critics have complained that none of this is particularly new with Panda Bear, but when the results are this good, it seems like a rather minor complaint.

Mbongwana Star – From Kinshasa

From Kinshasa to the Moon: this is the trajectory declared by the Congolese 7-piece at the beginning of their debut album. The record label may have neglected to append the destination to the album title, but the rest of the world hasn’t. It’s an often-bewildering journey, full of unfamiliar pulsating rhythms and dark bass lines, that don’t conform to what we would comfortably like to call ‘afro-beat’. Acoustic elements clash with lo-fi synths, the synchopated drums countered by the regularity of the electronic beats. It’s the sound of a big, busy, alien city moving into the future: crowded, idiosyncratic, chaotic and heady.

Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

Some of us refused to believe that a member of Fleet Floxes could have a sense of humour. But say what you like about I Love You, Honeybear, it is not an album that takes itself very seriously. Josh Tillman has produced an album of nostalgic bar-ballads and folk love-hate songs suffused with bright colour and a sly wit. Perhaps what has captured the imagination of so many listeners is this odd juxtaposition between, on the one hand, Tillman’s emotional delivery and sentimental arrangements, and on the other, his withering treatment of millennial culture. It might be ridiculously mean-spirited, but if Bob Dylan’s “Idiot Wind” is anything to go by, most people are down with you insulting your former girlfriends as long as you do so in such an obvious way that it ends up biting your own ass.

Tobias Jesso Jr – Goon

Father John Misty was not the only one this year to make waves with some retro singer-songwriter nostalgia. But Tobias Jess Jr is less barroom depressive, more of a grand piano melancholic. Double-tracked vocals, minimal instrumentation, and heartfelt lyrics: it’s probably not a stretch to guess that plenty of weddings in 2016 are going to feature “Without You” on their playlist.

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

West-coast rap’s rising star exploded this year with To Pimp A Butterfly. Grandiose yet subtle, rooted yet avant-garde, the album is the perfect distillation of the best of both the old guard (Dre, Snoop, George Clinton, Ronald Isley) and the new (Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Rapsody). Full of the smoothest grooves and catchiest beats, the real strength of the album is how even the smallest details contribute to creating a vibrant, exciting whole. There is a moment at the end of “Wesley’s Theory”—when what sounds like a phone vibrating turns out to be the saxophone intro to the wild jazz of “For Free”— that perfectly sums up the level of creativity, humour and dedication that has had critics call this the definitive rap album of the decade.

Joanna Newsom – Divers

A new record from Joanna Newsom should always be considered a notable event. But if Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly can be considered a defining part of 2015, to say the same of Divers would feel faintly ridiculous. Divers is as much part of 1715 and 2215 as it is of this year. And that is what makes Newsom such a unique, fearless voice, one that can dedicate itself to the research of how humans work through and against time without even a hint of pretension. And an album whose first single opens with these lines is worthy of every accolade: “The cause is Ozymandian / the map of Sapokanikan / is sanded and bevelled / the land lone and levelled / by some unrecorded and powerful hand.”

Dick Diver – Melbourne, Florida

Sometimes what makes an album stand out is the reception it gets when you play it to other people. This year Dick Diver’s Melbourne, Florida stood out for this very reason. The sound is instantly familiar, songs distantly remembered from a past life, worming themselves back into your working memory. Those more familiar with the Aussie quartet will point out that the band have already made a name for themselves with their first three albums, but I can personally testify that everyone I’ve introduced to “Waste the Alphabet” and “Tearing the Posters Down” already has these engraved in their minds alongside the best that 80s and 90s indie pop ever produced. And don’t be fooled into taking this as twee: with song titles like “Beat Me Up (Talk To a Counsellor)”, there is a dark, caustic wit to Dick Diver that makes them worth anyone’s time.

Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness

After dazzling us with the dark, swirling chaos of Loud City Song in 2013, Julia Holter’s follow up, Have You In My Wilderness, presents itself as something of a return to the light. Gone are the dark horns and paranoid bass, replaced by harpsichord and dreamy strings. But don’t be fooled, there is still plenty of dark weirdness in Holter’s lyrics and vocal delivery. It’s just that they have been transferred into the bright, white room shown in the cover art. Opening with “Feel You” the closest thing to a pop-song Holter has ever produced, Have You In My Wilderness demonstrates a new, luxuriant side to an artist that will always be a part of Here Today’s personal pantheon.

Holly Herndon – Platform

If there’s an album that would be ridiculous to listen to in any analogue format, it’s Holly Herndon’s Platform. This collection of glitchy digital compositions captures the often-overlooked joys and perils of living through computers. Herndon has taken the Knife’s school of heavily-effected vocals to new extremes, sounding more like a computer that is trying to reconstruct music from a broken hard-drive. If that sounds a little off-putting, one can only respond that this is the whole point, but that is not to say that songs like “Chorus” and “Morning Sun” aren’t almost danceable. It’s just that they re-create what it’s like to listen to dance music on headphones, whilst browsing the internet: fractured, distracted, introverted. And it’s about time that we focused on the way that most of us listen to music day to day.

Blur – The Magic Whip

Since their reunion in 2009, Blur have peeked their heads around the corner every so often with a tour and a new single to make their existence more than a nostalgia trip. The Magic Whip, however, is the first real evidence that there is intention left in them. They’re a band whose members have gone in different directions in the last 10 years and brought those experiences back with them, but remember what it is everyone loves about them. Crunchy, abstract guitar solos? Check. Moody broody ballads? Check. Big, joyful singalong choruses? Check. Any memory of Britpop? Successfully traded for the here and now. Rather than argue that this is the best album of their career, it’s more apt to appreciate that this is exactly the record you would hope they would make now.

Jenny Hval – Apocalypse, Girl

It’s taken five albums, but with Apocalypse, Girl Jenny Hval has finally found a way to skip down the weird/accessible line with just the right balance. The Norwegian singer (who is one fourth Danish) got us all grooving to references to breast cancer and soft dicks, sneaking in feminist and anti-capitalist declarations with admirable wit. Her avant garde pop is a patchwork of electronic music, chilled beats, spoken word and gentle vocals. And yeah, you do feel a little dirty singing along to some of it (most of it?), but a huge part of Hval’s appeal is that she never forgets that the most effectively subversive music is, at its heart, fun.

Various Artists – Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs by Karen Dalton

Karen Dalton was a literally unsung hero of the New York folk scene in the 60s. She released a couple of albums of covers, but was too affected by anxiety to keep recording, and never shared any of the songs she wrote herself. Fast forward to 20 years after her death and her songs are seeing the light of day, albeit through the interpretations of other artists. While Sharon Van Etten had chords for the title track, other artists had only lyrics to work with, making this album a collection of songs by artists like Julia Holter, Marissa Nadler, Isobel Campbell, and Josphine Foster, with lyrics by Dalton. The lineup alone should make Remembering Mountains an overlooked gem, but the thread of Dalton’s work tying the songs together makes it truly special.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BBNZIKlMpw

New Order – Music Complete

New Order have existed under that name in various incarnations for 35 years, but they still hold a place as the quintessential party band for the types of kids who don’t get invited to a lot of parties. Music Complete will definitely get you dancing, and the loss of Peter Hook means that there’s something really genuine in the laments of broken relationships (and with such a distinctive style, Hook is actually pretty easy to copy). Plus the guest appearances from Iggy Pop, La Roux, and Brandon Flowers also bring in unique sinister vocals, over the top pop shine, and a kind of meta-New Order interpretation respectively.

Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett is one of those artists that you really feel you could be friends with. She has no trouble relating the mundane in life with a dry delivery and a sense of humor that holds your interest. On Sometimes, she’s learned to use that voice to convey a deeper sense of ennui, as on “Depreston” and even hint at unexpected emotions other than boredom in “Dead Fox” before amping things back up with “No One Really Cares If  You Don’t Go to the Party.” And that’s really why Courtney Barnett could be our pal; she’ll tell crazy stories and entertain a full room, but probably spend the next two weeks hiding at home. We can get behind that.

Photos of the year 2015

in Blog/Photos by
Father John Misty

Photos by Tom Spray, Morten Aagaard Krogh and Amanda Farah

Every year Here Today’s talented photographers capture a little piece of the magic of live performances around Denmark. As the end of 2015 draws closer we’d like to revisit some of the best pictures to have been featured this year, and ask you to vote for the best. Add your email and one lucky voter will win a print copy of the top voted picture of 2015.

Voting ends at midnight on December the 20th.

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Photo by Tom Spray
Deafheaven – Photo by Tom Spray
Photo by Tom Spray
The Tallest Man On Earth – Photo by Tom Spray
Photo by Tom Spray
Run The Jewels – Photo by Tom Spray
Photo by Tom Spray
Foxygen – Photo by Tom Spray
Iceage (Photo by Tom Spray)
Iceage – Photo by Tom Spray

 

Photo by Tom Spray
Paul McCartney – Photo by Tom Spray
Belle and Sebastian. Photo by Amanda Farah
Belle and Sebastian. Photo by Amanda Farah
Viet Cong (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)
Viet Cong – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
St. Vincent (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)
St. Vincent – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Future Islands - Photo Morten Aagaard Krogh
Future Islands – Photo Morten Aagaard Krogh
Photo by Morten Krogh
Bob Hund – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Fat White Family photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Fat White Family – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Father John Misty (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)
Father John Misty – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Ought (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)
Ought – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

 

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