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Albums of the year 2014

in Blog by
Swans-To-Be-Kind

Swans – To Be Kind

After thirteen studio albums, Swans have not diluted their power or talent one bit. But somehow, since their rekindling in 2010, they have become more popular. To Be Kind is just as provocative and challenging as Swans’ early material, with half-an-hour-long songs like “Bring the Sun/Touissant Overture” and off-kilter oddities like “A Little God in My Hand”, but the sound and instrumentation has matured, becomings both less distorted and somehow more dissonant. As we witnessed in November, Swans are still a brutally loud and relentless live band, a constant provocation to audience and peers, and much loved because of it. – CC


 møMØ – NoMythologies To Follow

Karen Marie Ørsted is my hero. My braid swinging, ex-punk rocker, stage diving hero. I remember the first time I listened to one of MØ’s tracks, loading up Spotify and finding myself blasting ‘Pilgrim’ and ‘Let The Youth Go Mad’ for hours on end and wondering how one individual could contain quite so much effortless cool. She was the Danish alternative pop princess I’d been waiting for, ready to join a royal court populated by Björk, Kate Bush and Lana Del Rey. I waited for No Mythologies To Follow for over a year, as singles like ‘Glass’ and ‘XXX 88’ trickled out from MØ HQ. I was delighted to find that the debut album did not disappoint, as Ørsted shared something that was exciting, thematic, beautiful and most importantly, sounds fucking fantastic. From the first time I heard it, I knew that No Mythologies… was my album of the year. – HT


WhatIsThisHeartHow To Dress Well – What Is This Heart?

Tom Krell’s third album What Is This Heart touches on lighter subjects than his previous two albums Total Loss (2012) and Love Remains (2010). Not one to shy away from touching personal matters, the album starts off with ‘2 Years On (Shame Dream)’ and leads you softly into a journey that expands an extremely vivid personal dream about his family. ‘Face Again’ the stand out single along with ‘Repeat Pleasure’ work in his signature indie R&B coupled with stunning falsetto which leave you questioning how these tracks aren’t further up the charts. WITH takes a turn with grand orchestral ‘Pour Cyril’ before leading into cute power pop ballads ‘Very Best Friend’ and ‘Precious Love’ proving key changes are making a come back! – TS


 Angel OlsenAngel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

The most immediately striking thing about Angel Olsen is her voice, a voice that could easily croon country hits but instead lopes over scruffy, dampened guitars. Her voice alone should earn her and Burn Your Fire for No Witness a place in hearts and best-of lists, but what really makes Burn Your Fire… so special is that it’s wholly intuitive. Olsen’s second full length album is her first with a full band, and it’s the album her debut hinted she was capable of making. She hasn’t abandoned minimalist solo tracks, but she balances them against full-band arrangements. And it’s not just the range of her voice that’s striking but it’s incredible malleability; that it’s raw yet gentle, that it jumps from disaffected to emotive from one line to another, that it rasps and twangs with equal affect. And while she’s not too proud to pay homage to the ‘90s on “Forgiven/Forgotten” and “High and Wild,” these frazzled moments give way easily to stark folk ballads. The album comes down so slowly that by the time you’ve reached the hushed conclusion of “Windows” there’s a sense of catharsis. Burn Your Fire… doesn’t just leave you feeling satisfied, but completed. – AF


 sharon van ettenSharon Van Etten  – Are We There

Somewhere in Tennessee there is apparently an ex-boyfriend of Sharon Van Etten who, during their relationship, kept telling her that her music was terrible. There is a lesson to be learned here.
“Are We There” is one of those records that grows on you. There is something extremely vulnerable and honest about Sharon Van Etten’s song writing and performance on stage. Her voice has depth which is completed by the unique vocal harmonies with Heather Woods Broderick. As Sharon Van Etten told The New York Times when she released her previous album “Tramp”, she does not really consider them harmonies: “I just hear two notes at once — I just hear two melodies.” – MK


6) East India YouthTotal Strife Forever
7) IceagePlowing Into The Fields Of Love
8) Scott Walker and SunnO)))Soused
9) Tune-yardsNikki Nack
10) The War On DrugsLost In A Dream
11) Future IslandsSingles
12) Sleep Party PeopleFloating
13) FKA TwigsLP1
14) EagullsEagulls
15) St. VincentSt. Vincent
16) Alt-JThis Is All Yours
17) Wild BeastsPresent Tense
18) Mac DeMarcoSalad Days
19) Ice Cream CathedralSudden Anatomy
20) Lana Del ReyUltraviolence
21) Get Your GunThe Worrying Kind
22) SpoonThey Want My Soul
23) WarpaintWarpaint
24) Shiny DarklyLittle Earth
25) BeyoncéBeyoncé

Northside Festival 2014

in Photos by

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Mew

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A$AP Rocky

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Baby In Vain

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Baby In Vain (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

The Brian Jones Town Massacre

Brian Jones Town Massacre (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

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Röyksopp and Robyn

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Röyksopp & Robyn (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

The National

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Lana Del Rey

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Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

 

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Mount Kimbie

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Reptile Youth

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Cold Specks

Cold Specks

Pixies

Pixies

Pixies

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire

James Vincent McMorrow

James Vincent McMorrow

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Wild Beasts

Wild Beasts

Wild Beasts

Wild Beasts

Nabiha

Nabiha

Royal Blood

Royal Blood

Royal Blood

Royal Blood
The portrait of Royal Blood explained in a tweet:

 

LIVE REVIEW: NorthSide Festival Day 1, 13.06.2014

in Blog/Live Reviews by

It should’t be surprising that a sold out festival is difficult to get into. The queue to enter NorthSide stretches well past the main entrance and down around the road, the wait half an hour or more even hours after the gates open. People are in good humor despite the crush, drinking cans of beer they brought along for this inevitability.

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Reptile Youth (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

When finally inside the festival grounds in the early evening, it’s Reptile Youth who are on stage. And though it’s not the start of the festival day, it’s the perfect start to our day. Their percussive, high energy music is precisely what’s needed to get you into the spirit of the weekend. Mads Damsgaard Kristiansen is flailing across the stage, and the audience is mimicking his energy in waves of pogoing heads. He crowd surfs during “We Are the Children” before the strict “no crowd surfing” rule is enforced later in the day, and the band ends the set in an ecstatically received rendition of “Speeddance.”

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Mount Kimbie (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Mount Kimbie, in comparison, are completely chilled out. Their dark, somewhat gothic electro, suitably played as clouds offer some respite from the intense sun, is pleasantly lulling. Bolstered by a live drummer, they are a band of more equipment than people, and spend most of the set hunched over tables of electronics, even when playing guitar or bass. It’s groovy in a slightly sinister way, but it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t really translate well to a festival, at least not a large outdoor festival. Really, how much good does a smoke machine outdoors in broad daylight really do?

Franz Ferdinand (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)
Franz Ferdinand (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

It is obvious, however, that Franz Ferdinand have studied whatever textbook material there is on how to perform a festival set. Alex Kapranos packed the hour with scissor kicks and gratuitous dropping of “NorthSide” into songs. They move so seamlessly between songs that sometimes it borders on a medley. At a club or theatre show it might be disappointing to have so little interaction, but in this setting, it’s best to (as James Murphy would say) shut up and play the hits. And it’s hard to deny the appeal of the mass of dancing people or the echoing sing along of “Take Me Out.”

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Lana Del Rey (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Which is why the set from Lana Del Rey that immediately follows is a tremendous buzz kill. There is initial exuberance from the crowd — teenage boys down front forming hearts with their hands like One Direction fans, Lana descending a ladder to meet the crowd, kissing girls, signing autographs like it’s a red carpet film premiere and not a gig — but it dies down quickly. There is a lot of silence from the crowd, and total silence from Lana between most songs. It’s telling that most of the shots for the screens are extreme closeups of her face: There she looks perfect, grinning coquettishly as she sings, but the wide shots show her band exuding more energy than she does. She moves in long, graceful steps across the stage as she sings, but she doesn’t really engage. She doesn’t even tap a foot. It’s like taking a Valium; you don’t just feel sedate, you feel nothing. Lana looks like she feels nothing, too.

 

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The National (photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

And it’s not a question of genre. Goodness knows that headliners the National have their fair share of moody broody indie pop, yet they are totally compelling, even at one in the morning. It helps that singer Matt Berninger , slamming his mic stand into the stage like he’s trying to do damage. Aaron and Bryce Dessner keep pace, but don’t try to compete with Berninger crawling around to corners of the stage while singing “Abel” or nearly being sucked into the crowd when he stands up on the barricade.

Such intensity is necessary to compensate for the fair amount of nuance is lost (that is, most of the horns), but on the whole the sound at NorthSide is better than can even be optimistically hoped for at most festivals. So it’s appreciated that the National get the crowd clapping along, which is vital not only to the rest of the set but also for keeping awake and keeping warm. Those who stuck it out past two in the morning were treated to Berninger leaving the stage and security behind and wandering the crowd, nearly strangling your correspondent with a mic cable that, to the best of the tech’s efforts, couldn’t be kept over everyone’s heads. Which is certainly another way to keep people awake.

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View the gallery from Northside Festival 2014 

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