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Roskilde Festival 2012 | Last years highlights

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Jack White (Photo by Tom Spray)

Jack White

Jack White (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Cure

The Cure (Photo by Tom Spray)

Refused

Refused (Photo by Tom Spray)

First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit (Photo by Tom Spray)

Daughter

Daughter (Photo by Tom Spray)

Scenes

Scenes (Photo by Tom Spray)

Wiz Khelifa

Wiz Khalifa (Photo by Tom Spray)

Trash Talk

Trash Talk (Photo by Tom Spray)

ASAP Rocky

A$AP Rocky (Photo by Tom Spray)

Bon Iver

Bon Iver (Photo by Tom Spray)

M83

M83 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Julia Holter

Julia Holter (Photo by Tom Spray)

Yelawolf

Yelawolf (Photo by Tom Spray)

Scenes

Scenes (Photo by Tom Spray)

Celebral Ballzy

Celebral Ballzy (Photo by Tom Spray)

Big K.R.I.T

Big K.R.I.T (Photo by Tom Spray)

Tune Yards

Tune-Yards (Photo by Tom Spray)

Santigold

Santigold (Photo by Tom Spray)

Araab Muzik

Araab Muzik (Photo by Tom Spray)

CPH CoL

CPH Col (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Vaccines

The Vaccines (Photo by Tom Spray)

I Got You On Tape

I Got You On Tape (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Shins

The Shins (Photo by Tom Spray)

Friendly Fires

Friendly Fires (Photo by Tom Spray)

Roskilde Festival 2013 | The Line Up So Far….

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In light of Roskilde Festival’s announcement this morning, at Here Today we thought we’d go to the trouble of compiling a list of the “must see” acts that’ll be performing at this years festival. The full line up is set to be released on the 18th April 2013 but until then heres a list of some of the bands we highly recommend seeing.

Sigur Ros – One of the most highly anticipated acts to play Roskilde this year and an early announcement for the festival organisers. After the release of their 6th studio album ‘Valtari’ the band went on a world wide tour playing most major cities across Europe only to miss out Copenhagen (the highest populated city of Icelander’s outside of Iceland), meaning they had something special up their sleeve and after just announcing they’ll be releasing ‘Kveikur’ in June 2013, their set on the Orange Stage is set up to be an extremely special concert.

Stage prediction: Orange

 

King Krule – Playing under the moniker of King Krule, 18 year old, Archy Marshall paints a picture in his songs of what its like to grow up in this generation in London, UK. He’s been labeled as the Joe Strummer of the 21st century and was recently nominated in the prestigious BBC Sound Of 2013.

Stage prediction: Odeon

 

Animal Collective – Trippy projections, inflatable caves, giant fluorescent teeth….all feature in the world Animal Collective have created themselves on their latest tour. The experimental psychedelic outfit will bring a similar visual set to Roskilde health permitting, they’ve recently had to cancel their US tour due to illness. Fingers crossed!

Stage prediction: Arena

 

Savages – London based all female post-punk/rock band Savages formed in 2011 and quickly rised from the underground scene having gained a reputation with their intense raw live shows. They’re set to release their debut album late 2013.

Stage prediction: Pavilion

 

Crystal Castles – Over the past 5 years electro duo Crystal Castles have been creating festival dance anthems but are better known for their live shows, you’ll generally find Ethan Kath hunched over his synths while Alice Glass is either found reclusively curled up onstage sipping on a bottle of vodka between performing epileptic dance moves or stage diving.

Stage prediction: Arena

 

The National – Last time the band played Roskilde Festival in 2010 to an over flowing tent at Arena, 2013 will surely see them play to the masses at the Orange stage. They’re a band that have seen an increase in popularity since releasing a string of critically acclaimed albums including ‘Alligator’, ‘Boxer’, ‘High Violet’ and are due to release ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ in late May, featuring guest appearances from Sufjan Stevens, St Vincent, Sharon Van Etten and Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry. Perhaps we’ll see a collaboration at Roskilde Festival?

Stage prediction: Orange

 

Danny Brown – Exuberant Detroit rapper Danny Brown released his debut album ‘The Hybrid’ in 2010 launching him into the lime light of the US rap scene, his follow up ‘XXX’ was voted #1 hip-hop album of the year by Spin. He’s collaborated with several rap artists including A$AP Rocky and Das Racist. On his next album ‘Old’ (scheduled for release late summer) A$AP Rocky has returned the favour collaborating on said album along with Schoolboy Q, Ab-soul, Kitty and Purity Ring.

Stage prediction: Cosmopolitan

 

Highasakite – After already breaking out of their native Norway, the early part of 2013 has seen the band playing world wide showcases taking them to Eurosonic, By: Larm, SXSW etc. They’re debut EP ‘In And Out Of Weeks’ was release at the start of March, lead single from the EP “Indian Summer” and received praise from both Pitchfork and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.

Stage prediction: Pavilion

 

THE WILDCARD! 

Daft Punk – There was a lot of speculation in January 2013 as to whether Daft Punk will be playing live shows in 2013, several fake announcements were made tipping them to play at Primavera, Wireless and Roskilde to name a few. They appear to remain at the top of most festival goers wish list. Since then theres been a lot of static, until last week when they announced the release of a new album ‘Random Access Memories’ which is set to be released 21st May 2013. If they manage to book the French electronic duo this is what to expect………….

Stage prediction: Orange

 

Roskilde Festival 2012 | Day 3

in Photos by

Celebral Ballzy

Celebral Ballzy (Photo by Tom Spray)

 

Julia Holter
Julia Holter (Photo by Tom Spray)

 

First Aid Kit
First Aid Kit (Photo by Tom Spray)

 

Tune Yards
tUnE-yArDs (Photo by Tom Spray)

 

Refused
Refused (Photo by Tom Spray)

 

M83
M83 (Photo by Tom Spray)

 

Bon Iver
Bon Iver (Photo by Tom Spray)

 

FEATURE: How Copenhagen Music Venues are Coping with COVID Closures

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Kurdish musician Mizgin performs at Alice Copenhagen as part of their summer concert series.

Sitting in the courtyard on Nørre Allé between Union and Alice on a sunny Saturday is a nice way to pass an afternoon. Mizgin is playing energetic Kurdish folk music from a small stage. People are seated comfortably in rows, clapping along, and enjoying their drinks from a bar set up in front of the entrance to Alice. 

The concert is part of a summer series of shows with an audience capacity of 50 people, spaced at a government-mandated safe distance with clear guidelines posted on every table. It’s Alice’s way of making up for what has been months of no live music — and an effort to deal with an uncertain future for live music.

“It’s a fine line of doing something that doesn’t feel awkward and doesn’t feel forced but at the same time is where you can go and enjoy yourself and engage with music and feel it’s an actual concert,” says Rasmus Steffensen, who is is responsible for PR and communications at Alice.

Since mid-March we have been wondering what post-lockdown, post-COVID life will look like. Post-lockdown, many businesses businesses around Denmark have resumed normal operations. The music industry, however, is in for a long haul struggle. 

Festivals asked attendees to keep their tickets until next year and sold support wristbands to fundraise in the short term. Bands and labels have been able to ask fans directly to buy music and merch and have released bonus material and streamed performances. But bands can’t tour right now, and concerts can only be held under very strict conditions, whether it’s the summer series approach taken by Alice, the ad hoc jazz festival held at Huset, or drive-in concerts.

What will become of local venues?

The number of people allowed to gather is being raised at regular intervals and Copenhagen venues are eyeing September with the hope of operating under normal conditions, but permissions for music venues and night clubs are still unclear.

The only thing we know right now is that we are in the Phase 4 opening,” says Ditte Sig Kramer, Head of Communications for Vega. “We don’t know what that means, basically.” 

Vega, which includes Store Vega, Lille Vega, and Ideal Bar, is trying to rebook concerts at three different room capacities without clear guidance on what those limits will be. Early drafts from the Minister of Culture have suggested standing room capacity for a concert will be about 10% of the norm, and seated capacity at 40%.

“In Store Vega, it means we would be able to accommodate 160 people,” says Kramer. “Usually we sell 1550 tickets. It’s the same in our smaller venues, in Lille Vega and Ideal Bar. It’s not the final draft we have seen, but basically, this is what we know right now. We’re not able to go through with one out of ten. It means we would have the same concert ten times in a row for the tickets we’ve already sold for everyone to get their concert. We would lose so much money.”

Alice, though a smaller venue, is uncertain as to whether they are small enough to be allowed to operate at full capacity or if social distancing rules will limit them.

“We’ve postponed some concerts and one of these shows is already sold out,” says Steffensen. “Do we have to cancel the show because it’s too popular? Do we have to move it to a bigger venue where people can sit with some distance to each other? There’s a lot of unanswered questions in this.”

Everyone we spoke to for this article accepts the importance of meeting new health standards so that concerts can continue and be safe for everyone. But a lack of clarity on what those standards will be has made all planning very tenuous.

“Of course this situation is nobody’s fault, and we are willing to share our part in taking responsibility for health, but basically, when we are out of 2020, we will have no money left. And that’s really critical,”says Kramer. “We entered 2020 in a really good state. We sold a lot of tickets already, had a really strong program for both the spring and the fall, so it’s really frustrating that by the end of this year we will not have much money left. It’s really complicated because we’re a big business and it’s a lot of money we spend on just rent and we have a lot of employees and everything that comes with running a big venue like this. So we’re just looking into some cloudy thing right now. We don’t know what will happen.”

In early March, Vega attempted to keep their shows going while adhering to restrictions by splitting concerts into two performances so that all ticket holders could see the performances they paid for. This tactic came to an abrupt end on March 11, when the lockdown took effect between sets. Big Thief, the band performing that night, played a few songs for fans who missed out on the sidewalk outside of Store Vega.

Delayed openings and gradual reopenings

For Vanløse-based venue Stairway, the lockdown has meant not only rescheduling concerts, but rescheduling their opening night: The venue was meant to open on March 27.

“It’s a life lesson in hard work to open a venue in this time,” says Jeppe Greve who books Stairway. “We have rescheduled all of the concerts we had planned. The Danish things are going to happen in the fall, and most of the international acts that we had booked will be rescheduled for 2021.”

Stairway find themselves doing the math on venue capacities even before a single set has been played on their stage.

“It’s a weird calculation because it’s hard for us to break even if we’re going to downscale the capacity,” says Greve. “The room is not that big. It can easily fit 350 people, but it’s just a square, there’s no balcony. If we are to downscale it to 50-60 people, it’s going to be really tough to do shows financially. It still costs money just to open.”

Even as venues reopen, there is still a question of whether there will be any bands to book. Though the coronavirus seems to largely be under control in Denmark, such is not the case everywhere, and international bands are facing quarantines, reluctant tour insurers, and new capacity limits that will make it harder to turn a profit.

“A lot of these bands, especially the American bands, when they come to Europe, they play maybe 20 shows,” notes Kramer. “So everyone is trying to reschedule a whole new tour and that takes a lot of work. Right now, there’s a travel ban for Americans into Europe. We don’t know about that. It looks easier within the European countries, but still, it’s really expensive to tour and right now it’s not really possible anywhere to have concerts at a capacity where it’s financially sustainable to plan a tour. So I guess we won’t be seeing any international bands really in Denmark for the rest of the year. We can of course hope that things will turn out differently, but it’s what I expect.”

Steffensen agrees. “A lot of agencies don’t want to build up a tour,” he says. “Le Guess Who? is canceled and we have a lot of spillover from events like that in the autumn because a lot of bands build up their whole tour around a few of these festivals. I think a lot of these acts we would usually get in autumn we will simply not be offered because they will not be going on tour when a festival like that is canceled.”

Though no disrespect is meant towards local talent, the consensus is that Copenhagen venues cannot survive on booking Danish bands alone — no more than Danish bands can earn a living by only playing shows in Copenhagen. 

“We are definitely rethinking how to do shows to attract people because I don’t believe that we can just go and book a Danish act and 350 people will show up,” says Greve. “Most of the acts that we reached out to already have shows in Copenhagen because they’re rescheduled. They can’t play that many shows in Copenhagen — no Danish band can do that — especially not the type of bands that we’re looking at. If we are going to climb the ladder a bit and do big shows, then the risk is relatively high, and we really need to have steady nerves to do that. At a capacity of 350, it’s an easy calculation of how much we can spend on an artist and still make money. Especially if people are already booked for Lille Vega and Pumpehuset in the fall. Not that many Danish bands can do Pumpehuset and then do Vanløse.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAzs7hlBbUD/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

“There’s a lot of talk in Denmark that now we have to be in solidarity with the Danish artists, we have to present more Danish music,” says Steffensen. “Well, that might be the case for a while, but definitely it shouldn’t affect our overall ambition to reflect a global world. We don’t take quite as huge a risk when we open the doors as a huge concert hall. We have that advantage that we are small but we have the disadvantage that we have a very international program and can’t recreate our profile with local acts in the same way some other venues might be able to do. It might change our profile for a while, we might not take quite as many risks with overseas bands, but we will try as good as we can to get back to that when we can.”

Vega, which dedicates about 60% of their programming to international bands, is optimistic about the short term prospects of an all-Danish program. 

“It feels like there is a golden era for Danish music at the moment. There’s so much good Danish music coming out in recent years,” says Kramer. “We can program a lot of Danish artists and we’re happy to do that, but in the long term, we will need bands. It’s in our DNA that we present more than half of our program as international. We’re located in the middle of Copenhagen and we feel like we are an international venue with of course a strong Danish profile also and with a lot of emerging artists from the Danish music scene. Right now we just want to be able to open and present a lot of Danish music and then let’s see when we have some international bands playing.”

Holding tickets for someday

If crowds are allowed to return to venues, the demand is there. Would-be concert goers are not only keeping their tickets for postponed dates but also buying them for future dates.

The good thing that we see, even though we’re closed, is that people are really buying tickets for when we announce shows for the late fall,” says Kramer. “I have a feeling that people are really eager to get out and see shows and really want to support live music.”

“We managed to keep a lot of the program just with new dates,” Steffensen says of Alice’s bookings. “In general the audience and the musicians have been very supportive and very understanding of the situation. I know everyone is kind of in the same boat and it’s the same everywhere around, but I think in terms of people just keeping their ticket for the show when it’s moved to a new date that people have been very nice and supportive.”

It’s heartening that fans of live music have been supporting the venues they love, but buying and keeping tickets isn’t necessarily enough to support live music in its current state. And if venues can only open and operate at a limited capacity, they will not be able to recover quickly. 

“At the moment, venues are bleeding,” says Greve. “I’m relatively sure that we’re going to survive this because we haven’t even opened yet. We didn’t have to rebook 50 shows. I could imagine that other venues really are having a hard time at the moment. There needs to be some kind of funding otherwise we’ll see that within a year some venues will be closed down.”

Kramer agrees that venues need more than help from fans. She cites the recent, successful campaign in the UK for a bailout of cultural spaces as a model to be followed in Denmark. “Of course the situation is not as critical as in the UK,” she says, “but we’re getting close.”

The Danish government has extended support to businesses that have been forced to close during lockdown in the form of salary compensation for employees and tax breaks among other things. But these measures assume that venues will be able to resume business as normal when they reopen — not reduce their paying guests by 60-90%. Even tourism, once considered the industry with the bleakest outlook, is slowly creeping back with popular attractions reopening and increasingly available flights. Live music faces many of the same challenges of travel and large gatherings that tourism does, but there has yet to be a specific package to support venues. Even the cobbled-together bailout of SAS features some support from the Danish government. Alice and Stairway both receive funding from the Copenhagen municipality among other sources. Vega also receives some amount of government funding, though it is not their primary source of revenue. 

Because audiences haven’t had many opportunities to see live music yet — and certainly not on a large scale — there is also the question of how people will initially feel about going to concerts indoors with large numbers of people.

“So far, it’s not so much a question of if we will come through this urgent crisis,” says Steffensen “but of course the big question is how will it affect the industry we work with, how will it affect the pattern of the audience and how they will go to shows in the future? I think it will have a long-term effect that we simply cannot predict at the moment. In a strange way I think we might have an advantage as a smaller venue. I think people maybe will start to look more for small scale events. But of course all of this is pure speculation. But we can see that people are definitely waiting and they’re happy to have something to look forward to, so I don’t think that people will stop appreciating going to a concert.”

Copenhangen music venue Alice during their summer concert series during the coronavirus lockdown.
Seated gig-goers, clear signposting, and a picket fence to protect the stage at Alice’s summer series.

How venues proceed will be determined by what’s allowed come September, but the consensus is that bands and venues cannot return to booking and promoting shows as they  were as recently as early March.

“I hope inside of Europe there will be a focus on a bit more of a sustainable way of touring,” says Steffensen. “There is a growing awareness that has been bigger with the corona situation that we have to think of this in a different way. Because we present music from Africa, from Asia, many other places, flying will of course still be an integrated part of the touring industry, and we have to deal with that in some way or another. It’s definitely very important for us that we can still present music from these parts of the world.”

Kramer, however, notes that while the coronavirus has rightly been the focus of public policy the last few months, it has drawn attention away from another looming crisis: Brexit.

“We don’t talk so much about it right now because of corona, but the situation is that from January 1 if they don’t find a solution or negotiate some deal, then it will be really, really difficult for the British bands to come play in the rest of Europe,” she says. “If the situation is that you need to have a visa, it gets complicated and for smaller bands who don’t have the money to get these visas, there will be a lot of bands we will not be able to see here. That’s also a problem in the ecosystem of international bands touring in Europe. It doesn’t have that much focus right now, but January 1 is coming very soon.”

How concert goers can help

While much of the future of live music in Copenhagen relies on a contained epidemic and the attention of politicians, regular gig-goers can also support the spaces they love. Everyone we spoke with agrees that keeping tickets purchased for shows that have been postponed is a huge help, as is buying tickets for upcoming gigs. Alice has their membership program and an online shop selling t-shirts and old gig posters, Vega also has merch for sale, and Loppen has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help fill gaps. But everyone we spoke to sees more public-facing, community-oriented solutions as part of venues’ long term health and survival.

There’s of course buying tickets, that is the main thing because it tells us that there is a crowd when we open up again that will come and visit,” says Kramer. “But also, speak out that venues and festivals are important to people’s everyday lives. It’s not just granted that Vega or other venues important venues in Copenhagen and the rest of Denmark are there. Speak out to politicians that venues are important to you and your everyday life.”

Greve understands how gigs and show spaces are an important part of daily life; much of Stairway’s strategy for their planned opening September 3 centers around working with existing communities.

“We’re here to do stuff with people in Copenhagen and we’re really interested in working together with different groups of people who want to do shows,” he says. “It’s the way that we’re doing shows at Underværket. We’re really getting in connection with groups that wouldn’t necessarily attend a show. It’s a bit unconventional for venues to do it that way, but to us it makes a lot of sense to work not only with agencies but also with small DIY groups who are interested in music and culture in general, because they usually are super well organized and they’re really having a lot of knowledge about certain genres and which bands to book.”

Steffensen agrees that people need to be constantly reminded of the value of music and venues, especially after having a break from them. “I think it’s super important that we keep on talking about the importance of this,” he says. He also feels that using a community to spread the word about a venue can be as valuable as buying a ticket.

“As soon as things open up, it’s cool if you buy a ticket for a show, but maybe also think about it as a present for another person,” he says. “Give them a present of live music, not only because of the money we get from it but also it’s a great way to get new people to discover a place like this. I still think Alice is a quite unknown place in Copenhagen, even for people who would theoretically be interested in the music profile, people who go to Roskilde and hear an African group or some experimental music there. 

“The support of actual music fans who talk to their friends about music is a better way to reach new people,” he continues. “In the future, we will need all the support we can get from that. I really hope that when venues like Alice can reopen that people will remember to stay curious about discovering new artists. It’s not so difficult to sell tickets to a Thurston Moore show but there are a lot of other shows that are very difficult to sell tickets to and we still think it’s super important that we keep doing these kinds of shows because that’s a part of why a place like Alice needs to be in Copenhagen. People stay curious and I think that’s the best thing to do. And they can support us, but I think they will find they can also give themselves an unexpected present.”

Albums of the Year 2019

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Image result for cate le bon reward

Cate Le Bon
Reward

Having strayed from her signature guitar style into more textural, synth-based compositions, Cate Le Bon has found new ways to highlight her cool voice. Mostly down-tempo, occasionally punctuated by brass instruments, it’s a different approach but continues Le Bon’s quirky inclinations. We’re not entirely sure why this album is the album that made the world realize how wonderful she is, but are glad everyone else has caught up. 

Image result for kim gordon no home record

Kim Gordon
No Home Record

On her long-awaited solo debut, Kim Gordon taps into the Sonic Youth-style alt-rock that she built her career on. A little left-field but still catchy, Gordon calls on strong rhythms, whispered and raspy vocal deliveries, and a broader range of dynamics than much of her recent work. But when she does lean into the noise she’s so well versed in, it takes on weirdly soothing, meditative qualities.

Image result for lizzo cuz i love you album cover

Lizzo
Cuz I Love You

It was a good year for albums about the end of the world. But if you wanted an album that actually made you feel good about yourself, Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You was it. This was the album for Lizzo to lean fully into being a pop singer, and the result is full of celebration and killer hooks. Whether she’s telling a boy off, contemplating running the world, or just feeling herself for being fabulous, Lizzo’s party is the party we want to go to.

Image result for alexander tucker guild of the asbestos weaver

Alexander Tucker
Guild of the Asbestos Weaver

Anyone familiar with Tucker’s work as Grumbling Fur (together with Daniel O’Sullivan) will instantly recognise his signature kitchen-sink-sci-fi. On opener “Energy Alphas” a warm, buzzy bass drone weaves around Tucker’s plain-but-sweet chants and hissing drum machines. Formally minimalist but rich in texture (particularly with the treated strings that appear throughout the rest of the record), Guild of the Asbestos Weaver is a beautifully enigmatic haven.

Image result for jenny hval the practice of love

Jenny Hval
The Practice of Love

Jenny Hval’s latest work still features her airy, laid-back vocals and meditative synth-pop, but these are brought into a more conversational setting, juxtaposed with spoken word sections and snippets of interviews with other female artists. “High Alice” and “Ashes to Ashes” have that late night mixture of elation and anxiety previously found in “Female Vampire”, but the central and eponymous track somehow manages to achieve a similar effect by layering voices speaking over and against and through each other.

Image may contain: mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

Fat White Family
Serfs Up!

The excesses and controversies of the Family have always overshadowed their music, but since moving out of London and playing in several off-shoot bands, they are back armed with cartloads of bangers. Opener “Feet” is pure Pet Shop Boy histrionic dance anthem with a pounding synth line and a string section, whereas “Tastes Good With the Money” shows a lighter side, with a glam stomp and Baxter Dury channelling a cockney Serge Gainsburg.

Image result for aldous harding designer

Aldous Harding
Designer

If you listen to Designer distractedly it might simply come across as pleasant, but if you have ever seen Aldous Harding play live you’ll know there is a taught energy undercutting all her work. Wide open eyes, a twitch at the edges of the mouth, something off-kilter with the laid-back vocals. You can hear it in the broken shuffle of “Designer”, and in the quiet background noises of “Damn”.

Big Thief
U.F.O.F

The first of Big Thief’s ambitious two-album release for the year, U.F.O.F. has all of the delicate qualities associated with their work. What feels significant is that frontwoman Adrienne Lenker has found a way to convey intimacy beyond fragility. Still vulnerable, but with a new sense of strength, U.F.O.F. will pull you in as close as you’ll let it.

Here Today’s Top 10 Albums of 2018

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Oneohtrix Point Never — Age Of

Image result for oneohtrix point never age of

From the techno-pastoralism of its opening titular track, Age Of presents itself as altogether different direction in the career of OPN’s Daniel Lopatin. Amid his characteristic hauntological sketches there are some of his most direct approaches towards straight-forward songwriting. The result, in the RnB of “The Station” and the sparse ballad of “Black Snow”, sounds like pop music from a much stranger and darker dimension. 

Trembling Bells — Dungeness

Image result for trembling bells dungeness

Since 2018 also marks the departure of the Lavinia Blackwall’s towering soprano from Scottish folk weirdos Trembling Bells, it is worth also remembering this, the last record from that lineup, and one of their absolute best. From the folk-rock of “Christ’s Entry into Govan” to the Anatolian funk of “Devil in Dungeness”, they pull no punches and the result is glorious.

Connan Mockasin — Jassbusters

Image result for jassbusters

Ostensibly a concept album about the relationship between a music teacher and his pupil, Connan Mockasin’s third album, Jassbusters, takes the surrealistic sexuality of his previous works in a more pared-back, intimate direction. However louche and languid tracks like “Charlotte’s Thong” and “Con Conn Was Impatient” might be, they are kept alive by the taught wire of longing that is his slide guitar playing.

Janelle Monáe — Dirty Computer

The personal is very political on Janelle Monáe’s sharp look at modern life and modern love. Monáe owns every aspect of her race, womanhood, sexuality, and humanity, drawing clear lines about who is welcome and who needs to wise up. She’s taken the time to empower those who need lifting up and educate the rest on one hell of a groovy record. And given the way the world is turning, it’s likely we’ll be grooving to it for years to come.

Gazelle Twin — Pastoral

In her new album, Elizabeth Bernholz, aka Gazelle Twin, takes a satirical shot a England that is both terrifying and bizarre. But also highly original. The cover makes you think of romantic landscape paintings and classical recordings rotting away at flea markets. But there’s a twist to it, because Gazelle Twin is the jester who mixes it all up: Looped flutes, backward politics, Brexit, scary technologies and neo-nationalism. Pastoral is like her previous album Unflesh, a conceptual with a snearing bite. 

Courtney Barnett — Tell Me How You Really Feel

Somewhere along the line Courtney Barnett got labeled as slacker rock and people have refused to back down from it, regardless of how ill-fitting it is. Her second full length album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, however, is not only more thoughtful in its guitar rock arrangements and vocal dynamics than she’s given credit for, but is by turns lyrically sensitive, angry, and socially aware. So show some respect, because Barnett gave us an album to rally around emotionally as well as rock out. And that’s no slouch.

Marianne Faithfull — Negative Capability

Marianne Faithfull has at age 71 made an album that rightfully belongs on the same shelf as Leonard Cohen’s I Want It Darker, Johnny Cash’s American Recordings series, and David Bowie’s Blackstar. It’s a haunting yet beautiful album that touches upon themes of death, love, and loneliness. She calls it the most honest record she ever made. We agree.

Idles — Joy as an Act of Resistance

These are tough times and 2018 needed an album entitled Joy as an Act of Resistance. Idles made it. The album was made on the bleak back-drop of creeping fascism, Brexit, a stillborn child, and alcohol abuse, but it is, as the title implies, an act of resistance. The album is the follow up to Idles’ promising debut Brutalism and it delivers raw, undiluted punk spirit from start to end.

Superorganism — Superorganism

We all need a little weird pop in our lives, and the self-titled debut from Superorganism is precisely the kind of weird we want in the world. The art school pop group led by a Japanese American teenager with a perfect deadpan delivery strikes the right balance of neon and sparkly, insightful without trying to hard, and perfectly absurd. They seem like the band kind of band that has the potential to create great art within a decade, but if this is all they ever leave us with, our lives are richer for it.

Low — Double Negative

Double Negative shakes you to the core with its haunting vocals and eerie layers of fuzz. It’s extraordinary that a band can make the album of their career 25 years in, but Low’s Double Negative is the kind of record that could only be born of years of close collaboration and the creeping influence of a drone side project. This is a record that has revived Low in our consciousness beyond their legacy and into the intensity of the present.

BONUS: Jenny Hval — The Long Sleep EP

As it’s an EP and not a full album, The Long Sleep hasn’t earned an official spot on our list. But Jenny Hval wrote the best hook of her career and ticked it in a sprawling, romantic musing on death, then tuck that away into 20 minutes of slowly morphing variations on a theme. It’s a weird call from a different corner of the universe, one we simply couldn’t ignore.

LIVE REVIEW: Gnod, Loppen, 01.06.17

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Gnod live at Loppen Copenhagen

The evening begins with three of us buying t-shirts. Normally you’d wait till the end of the night to buy one, maybe as a sign of appreciation in the afterglow of a gig. But expectations are high and Gnod’s t-shirts just happen to be particularly good. Mine features a morose black and white portrait and urges “Trepanation for the National Health”, whereas my companions opt for the more timely “JUST SAY NO TO THE PSYCHO RIGHT-WING CAPITALIST FASCIST INDUSTRIAL DEATH MACHINE”. Perfect for their visit to Scotland in an election week.

It might not be the most pithy album title, but JUST SAY NO TO THE PSYCHO RIGHT-WING CAPITALIST FASCIST INDUSTRIAL DEATH MACHINE (I’m just copy-pasting it now to piss you off) truly delivers the brutality and urgency it promises. With this release Gnod have downplayed their more psychedelic and meandering side in favour of bloody-minded noise.

Things start noisily enough with opener Mai Mai Mai, whose violent take on ambient electronics recalls a Dario Argento-influenced Vatican Shadow. Gnod on the other hand have no time for atmospherics. With two bassists and a particularly heroic drummer providing the real power behind the punch, the Mancunian collective tear through their new material with no pause and no respite. Album opener “Bodies for Money” has even the most subdued in the audience on the edge of mutiny, with its jurassic riff of descending chords.

Even in their new bare-boned incarnation, Gnod still manage to evoke their more psychedelic and cosmic influences, arriving there through sheer repetition. In the final minutes of closer “Stick in the Wheel”, one guitarist becomes so involved in the beat that he abandons his instrument and just starts jumping up and down on stage. You could probably find something symbolic in that, but the only take you really need to leave with is that Gnod are so good live that they end up mesmerising themselves.

Here Today’s Albums of the Year of 2016

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We’re not going to spend time talking about what a brutal year 2016 was for music lovers. Regardless of what genre you favor, 2016 was a year that took someone away from you. And while that might be the most immediately enduring sentiment about the past year, it’s necessary to take strength in the incredible music that was released this year. In the past 12 months, we’ve been blown away by newcomers and watched artists we’ve been rooting for all along come into their own. We’ve welcomed back old friends and received beautiful goodbyes from heroes. It’s because it’s been such an extraordinarily, musically rich year that we’ve made it through at all. These are our favorites:

Angel Olsen Live in Copenhagen

Angel Olsen
MY WOMAN
[Jagjaguwar]

It’s two short years ago that Angel Olsen first captured our hears, but she’s come a long way from her minimalist, finger-picked solo guitar tracks. On MY WOMAN, Angel builds out her dreamiest moments into vast washes of rumbling guitar with vague memories of folk somewhere in the distance. This hasn’t stopped her from writing snappy pop songs or experimenting with synthesizers. Her vocals are just as moving as ever, but where quiet whispers were once her stock and trade, there is real evidence that Angel could be a leading rock vocalist of her generation.

And that’s what is so exciting about both Angel and this record: On MY WOMAN, she shows not only that an understanding of what she does so well, but that her own potential is limitless. More to the point, we can see now that she’s ambitious enough to follow that potential it wherever it takes her. — AF

Puce Mary (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Puce Mary
The Spiral
[Posh Isolation]

When Puce Mary released The Spiral, her third LP, she played a release concert at Mayhem, and the performance she gave is a serious contender to being the most intense of 2016. Stripped of the insane decibels, Puce Mary’s confrontational yet trance-like stage appearance, the lights and the smoke, The Spiral is still a captivating experience. The eight tracks on the album are very distinct, yet they blend together forming a whole that sucks you in as it progresses. Puce Mary is a master of contrasts, her music is brutal yet subtle, even fragile, and even though compositions are industrial, her music feels alive like an organism.

Last but not least:  It sounds amazing. The noise, the textures, the strange field recordings, the distorted vocals. The Spiral is an intense and demanding record, but also truly inspiring and in it’s own, complex way beautiful. — MAK

Mitski live Copenhagen Loppen

Mitski
Puberty 2
[Dead Oceans]

While it seemed as though she appeared from nowhere to make us get in touch with our feelings, Mitski has been toiling away for years now. Her fourth album, Puberty 2, perfectly combines her prolific efforts with a youthful perspective and energy and just enough life experience to make you believe her. The album is full of subtle bleeps and horn flourishes, but watching her play stripped back versions of the album was a highlight of the year.

It takes a good amount of self-awareness to call your album Puberty 2, and so much of its charm is her unabashed willingness to be awkward — which somehow also makes her the coolest girl in the room. You will feel like Mitski just gets you, and you’re probably giving yourself too much credit. We definitely understand the impulse, though. — AF

Kanye West
The Life of Pablo
[GOOD]

The Life of Pablo is a tricky, slippery thing of an album. Less of an album, really, than a saga, an half year long event tracking the evolution of an album. But really, it’s just a collection of some very good tracks by a producer who, whatever else he might be, is also touched by genius. From Nina Simone and Arthur Russel, via Chicago house, to Frank Ocean and Desiigner, Kanye’s sample palette is as diverse, crazy and unique as ever.

In 2013 Kanye West marked the death of physical media with the cover of Yeesus, an “open casket to CDs”. That was an album full of energy joyous destruction. It seems fitting that with The Life of Pablo, Ye confronts us with the direct evidence of the technical and emotional demands of the new dominant technology. Keep it loopy. — CC

Cate Le Bon live

Cate Le Bon
Crab Day
[Drag City]

There is a feeling of kinship that runs through Cate Le Bon’s music, that if you yourself have ever toed the line between interesting and just strange leads her to sound identifiable even in her most abstract images. Le Bon is a master of oddball pop songs, with her ramshackle style of guitar playing and many unique turns of phrase.

Crab Day demonstrates the same dry vocal delivery that has always set her apart and given her music so much personality, but this time she’s pushed herself and her sound to new depths. She’s stretch her vocal range and brought a new emotional connection to her songs, which is emphasized in her commitment to her visual lyrics. She’s also introduced some legitimate guitar solos to her work. Album closer “What’s Not Mine” stretches to seven minutes of everything we find charmingly off kilter about Cate Le Bon’s music, which is to say, it’s perfect. — AF

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

Fat White Family
Songs for Our Mothers
[Fat Possum]

Few bands are able to channel hatred with the pure intensity and conviction of the Fat White Family. If this is their “difficult second album”, the difficulty lies more in their own physiological limitations, rather than in a lack of ideas or direction. Songs for Our Mothers promised to “dance to the beat of human hatred”, but little did we know back in January the degree to which that emotion would imprint itself in 2016.

Harold Shipman, Ike Turner, Goebbels: the gleeful offensiveness of the cast goes hand in hand with a deeper moral outrage, as the Family wrap themselves further and further in darkness, with only their humour and some wicked riffs for support. There’s no knowing what the next year will bring, but we can only hope the Fat White Family will be around, in some form, to rage against it. — CC

Jenny Hval
Blood Bitch
[Sacred Bones]

On the face of it, this is a synthpop album about female vampires. But anyone approaching Jenny Hval’s latest album with the expectation of a thematically-coherent concept album clearly hasn’t been paying attention. Jenny’s dark and aloof sense of humour are present in all her work, and particularly on stage, and this year’s effort manages to be a lot stranger than it promised to be.

Though there are undeniably some very lush synth pieces on this record, particularly in its two singles, “Female Vampire” and “Conceptual Romance”, we don’t necessarily rush to Jenny for her tunes, but rather for the oddities that surround them. A moment of creepy melancholy in “Untamed Region” (I told you she was funny) is punctuated by a clip of documentarian Adam Curtis talking about the helpless confusion that seems to characterise our era. Jenny Hval isn’t pretending to guide us out of that confusion, but what she builds upon it well worth the listen.

— CC

PJ Harvey
The Hope Six Demolition Project
[Island Recordings]

The Hope Six Demolition Project is the follow up to the Mercury Prize winning album Let England Shake, and PJ Harvey continues along the same lines collaborating with Mick Harvey, John Parish, Flood and documentary photographer/filmaker Seamus Murphy. But this time she has taken a more conceptual approach and adopted a role as a sort of singer/songwriter journalist reporting from her travels to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington D.C. This also applies to the recording process, that was framed as a performance open to the public. While some critics have expressed skepticism about the mix of music and reporting, we applaud her exploration of music as vehicle for change, and together with the albums distinct sound, musical quality and her impressive live performance this earns her a place on our list.

Honorable Mentions

Marissa Nadler – Strangers

Nick Cave – Skeleton Tree

Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression

Kevin Morby – Singing Saw

Tindersticks – The Waiting Room

Danny Brown – Antrocity Exhibition

Lambchop – Fotus

Frank Ocean – Blonde

Factory Floor – 2525

Holy Fuck – Congrats

Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos

A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service

LIVE REVIEW: Roskilde Festival 2016, Day 4, 02.07.2016

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Guardian Alien — Pavilion

We didn’t know exactly what to expect from Guardian Alien as the band is constantly changing. Once the solo project of Greg Fox (of Friday’s Fox Millions Duo), the current incarnation has him paired with guitarist and vocalist Alexandra Drewchin with each of them queuing up tracks from laptops.

guardian alien live roskilde festival
Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Though Guardian Alien is nominally thought of as Fox’s project, Drewchin steals the show. It’s not just that as the guitarist she’s more mobile than the drummer — her vocals have a wacky range between her natural soprano and an evil vocal effect, her guitar playing uses effects that make it look like an optical illusion, and she’s twisting her body in an awe-inspiring way. When she bends over backwards and sings while facing the crowd upside-down it proves to be particular popular. When faced with addressing the crowd through heavily reverbed vocals or heavily distorted vocals, she often opts for the demonically distorted vocals. She’s fucking with us, she wants us to know it, and it’s hilarious.

There’s not much more that can be said about Fox’s drumming that we haven’t already said, but this current combination for Guardian Alien belies a playfulness that contrasts nicely with the weight of the music. It’s a little bit tribal, a little bit demonic, and perhaps the most concrete project he’s working on right now. — AF

Gojira – Arena

After touring their latest album, “Magma”, apparently French metallers Gojira have been on a bit of a break. “We’re really rusty” claims frontman Joe Duplantier, whose facial hair today makes him look remarkably like Alan Rickman playing the Sheriff of Nottingham in that shit Robin Hood movie. That’s not a diss, it’s a solid look. Either way, evidently Gojira’s definition of ‘rusty’ is brutally unforgiving. The 1/32-note kick-drum tears through the audience, driving the business-suited gentleman next to me to froth at the mouth with glee. The metal audience at Roskilde will always be a minority, but they definitely get their fill. And if nothing else, they did a solid job of drowning out the sound of Dizzy Miss Lizzy from the Orange Stage. And for that I shall be eternally grateful. – CC

gojira live roskilde festival
Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Cate Le Bon — Pavilion

Cate Le Bon plays whimsical pop songs that she delivers with a dry voice (think of “dry” in the same positive light as when it’s used to describe wines). Her vocals live are note-perfect to their recordings, which is precisely what we were hoping for. The only disappointment is that she doesn’t have more small talk between songs, because she speaks with the same delightful lilt as she sings.

cate le bon live roskilde festival
Photo by Tom Spray

Le Bon’s set is mostly comprised of songs from her latest album, Crab Day, which in addition to allowing her to hit the high notes also have her backing band shuffling around instruments. There are times when the bass is too high in the mix, and this drowns out the keyboard in particular, but there is plenty of ramshackle guitar to propel things forward.

And though the aforementioned dryness of Le Bon’s voice is a huge selling point, it is not without emotion. Highlights from the set included “What’s Not Mine” and “Are You With Me Now,” which, for all their forthrightness, leave us wandering back out into the cloudy Saturday in a slightly ruminative state. — AF

New Order — Arena

New Order were always going to be a bit of a wild card, the legacy band that doesn’t want to be a legacy band and doesn’t want to play by the rules. The obvious choice would be for them open their set with a hit, and instead they choose “Singularity” from last year’s album, Music Complete.

new order live roskilde festival
Photo by Tom Spray

While there were some reminders that the band do in fact have a new album, they were forthcoming with singles from throughout their back catalogue, with tracks new and old complemented by stunning short films. The vocals could have been louder, and it was a little difficult to understand Bernard Sumner’s lyrics and his between-song quips. Still, it’s hard to describe the collective euphoria of a packed tent of people singing and dancing along to “Blue Monday” — except for the band themselves, who played to the new wave parody of standing stock still despite the energy of the people in front of them.

After we walked away from the crowd, having been told that “Temptation” was all they had to offer and jabbering about how bands don’t play encores at festivals and anyway New Order had a reputation for not playing encores at all, we heard the cheers erupting from the tent and the opening bass line of “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Needless to say, we made our way back to Arena very quickly. Several people told us afterward that they were moved to tears, and at least one of us feels no shame to count herself amongst them. — AF

LCD Soundsystem – Orange

It has been a day of highs and lows. Guardian Alien’s thrilling set in the early afternoon, friends in tears over New Order’s encore, and crucially, having to witness Italy lose to penalties against Germany. But all is not over: I am in the pit at Orange Stage, about to see LCD Soundsystem.

Five years ago the band had bid the world farewell with an already legendary three-hour show in Madison Square Garden. Their return this year was greeted both with enthusiasm and a fair bit of scepticism. After all, why invalidate such a brilliant swansong? But as soon as the band begin to trickle onto the stage to the beat of “Us V Them”, the answer seems self-evident: because it’s simply too fun to stop.

LCD Soundsystem - Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

The set itself flawlessly balances material from all periods of the band’s existence, including a personal favourite, the caustic and hilarious “Losing My Edge”. There is a triumphal, assured quality to everything James Murphy and his merry companions do on stage. From this vantage point you can see his expression as he grins and gurns at the band with his back to the audience. They’re all drinking champagne, playing some of the best dance music made in the last twenty years. For the first few songs it looks like they are playing more for each other than anyone out in the fields of Roskilde. But eventually Murphy looks to the audience and professes his surprise and gratitude that so many people have stayed on in spite of the cold and the mud. Suddenly what looked like arrogance begins to resemble more a genuine joy for the music.

Perhaps LCD Soundsystem’s greatest legacy will be their ability to both narrate and enact the pleasure of music as a shared experience. The ability to be both incisive and fun. But to me, they shall forever more be remembered as the band that gave birth to the first ever Here Today editorial dance party. – CC

LIVE REVIEW: Laibach, DR Koncerthuset, 16.01.2016

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Laibach (photo by Johannes Leszinski)

Photos by Johannes Leszinski

It’s hard to know what to expect of a Laibach show, even halfway through a Laibach show. Despite over 30 years as a band, they are a group whose reputation has surpassed their work and music, who are synonymous with fascist satire and singer Milan Fras’s strange headwear. Their performance at DR Koncerthuset was more minimalist than expected, and grandiose because of the pageantry managed with such a barebones set up.

Laibach photo by Johannes Leszinski

The focus of the drama is obviously Fras and his voice that sounds more than anything akin to Tuvan throat singing, especially when contrasted so extremely with Mina Špiler’s soprano. It’s in their movements: standing stock still when not singing, holding out their arms when they are singing like church choir directors, or the drummer crashing cymbals together with huge flourishes.

The first half is sweeping, slightly spacey ambient electronic, splintered by the vocal pairing. It’s unexpected when it’s interrupted by a fifteen-minute intermission that leads to, in the words of their pre-recorded voice over, something completely different. Let’s hand this over to John Oliver for a moment:

And he did.

It was an overstatement to bill the night as “Laibach play The Sound of Music,” as the posters did, when this was limited to four songs. And it was a little predictable that they were all arranged as Špiler accompanied by a piano before synth, drums, and Fras joining in (with the exception of “My Favorite Things,” which Fras sang alone while the items he describes in the song flashed on the screen behind him in the most consumerist manner possible).

But then things shift back from this strange diversion — as it really can only be thought of, whether or not it was what was advertised — to Laibach’s own work. Though a song like “the Whistleblowers” could fit in just as easily as a weird showtune (in the context of what we’ve just seen), there’s still the feeling that we’ve shifted to somewhere else yet again. Not ambient, not militaristic, not overtly satirical, and the most fascinating part is, if this kept going all evening, surely the tone would continue to change.

Laibach photo by Johannes Leszinski

After the encore, and before people can quite get through the studio doors, the John Oliver clip flashes up on the screen. It’s intercut with the band presumably in North Korea, and the suggestion that maybe their trip didn’t go especially well. But we’ll find out soon; the documentary will be out later this year.

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