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The National

LIVE REVIEW: Haven Festival, 11-12.08.17

in Live Reviews by
Iggy Pop live at Haven Festival Copenhagen

With the disappearance of Trailer Park and Vanguard, Copenhagen has been missing a localised music festival that caters to more than just electronic music. On the face of it, this year’s Haven Festival is here to fill that void. Located in the post-industrial landscape of Refshaleøen on the outer edges of Copenhagen harbour, the festival is spread over a field (or Meadow, as they would have it) and former docks. The fetishised grittiness of the crumbling warehouses is juxtaposed by the view across the water, of the cruise ships at Langelinie, the Little Mermaid, and the custard-coloured Royal Yacht moored nearby.

The food and drink has been as much a part of the conversation in anticipation of the festival as the music, if not more so. Provided by mostly by Mikkeller and Meyers bakery, you can get all the microbrewed beer and organic barbecue you want, provided you are willing to cough up, queue for an hour and get lectured on the evils of supermarket bacon by a man in a leather apron. With a lineup including The National, Bon Iver, Feist and Iggy Pop, Haven is very consciously catering to an older, more moneyed crowd than most other Danish festivals.

Feist live at Haven Festival Copenhagen

With a unique and visually interesting setting, some of the most talked-about food in town and some big names, the worst you would expect to say about Haven is that it is expensive and a little on the dull, safe side. Unfortunately it ended up being a victim both of the weather and its own success. Funnelling crowds through a single bridge that connects the main field with the food court is hardly great crowd management, and failing to provide any shelter from the rain on Sunday hardly helped matters. This will get chalked down to inexperience, and is unlikely to do much to damage their ticket sales next year.

Friday’s lineup starts on a relatively mellow note, with folk-tinged indie from Conor Oberst and Lisa Hannigan, but in fairness all pales when compared to the main course of the entire festival, our main reason for being here at all: Iggy Pop. I have genuinely never witnessed a human being spread quite as much joy to a crowd as Professor Ignatius Pop himself, who very literally runs on stage, does a few odd pirouettes and hollers as mangled series of “fuckfuckffuckmotherfuckeerrrr” before launching into I Wanna Be Your Dog. It’s a ballsy move to have the Passenger within the first four songs of your set, but then again it’s ballsy to have not worn a shirt in about half a century. Everyone around me is sporting a perma-grin for the entire set.

Perfume Genius live at Haven Festival Copenhagen

The next day feels like a comedown from Iggy, and is certainly not improved by the rain that peppers Feist (light drizzle), Perfume Genius (moderate), and Liss (absolute fucking downpour). Feist makes the most effort to repel the weather, sometimes by claiming to see sun (sheer optimism) but mostly via her infectious good nature. Changing lyrics to celebrate three girls in the front row who are singing along to every line, or to recommend that people don’t take her words too literally (at the line “I would leave any party for you”), she almost succeeds in making us forget the rain. Mike Hadreas of Perfume Genius has increased both his profile and the size of his backing band since we last saw him at Roskilde Festival, and Liss are sounding smoother than ever.

Sets at the two main stages are staggered in such a way that every hour and a half the entire festival decamps across the bridge in one direction or the other, and our only change to eat is by missing Bon Iver entirely. The shiitake okonomiyaki is worth that omission. Unsurprisingly, the National’s closing set is all bells and whistles and guest appearances. The band’s musical core, brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner, are the cofounders of the festival alongside Claus Meyer and Mikkel Borg Bergsø, so naturally theirs is meant to be the crowning set of the festival. Joined on stage by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, This is the Kit and Kwami Liv on “I Need My Girl”, the National manage to sum up the day with the blessed absence of rain.

The National live at Haven Festival Copenhagen

Photos by Amanda Farah

Photos of the year 2014

in Photos by
The Rolling Stones (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

It has been a busy year for Here Today. During 2014 our photographers and journalists covered Roskilde FestivalNorthside FestivalTrailerpark FestivalWasn’t Born To Follow (a mini festival by Smash! Bang! Pow!), as well as over 50 live shows with artists like St. VincentSwansAngel OlsenSharon Van EttenThe War On DrugsMac DemarcoCommunionsFirst HateLower, and many more.

We have put together a selection of the best photos of the year 2014. It has not been easy. Some stood out, though, like the picture below of Perfect Pussy; a picture that captures the raw energy of the show while still being very carefully composed and a perfect example of Henry Cartier Bresson’s concept of the decisive moment.

Perfect Pussy (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh / mortenkrogh.com)Perfect Pussy | Wasn´t Born To Follow, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Another amazing photo is the one of Damon Albarn (by Tom Spray) spitting water at the audience at Roskilde Festival. The crowd, the big empty space and the solitary figure (Damon) at the edge of the stage in a defiant stance; it is a picture with allegorical qualities, one that can make you mind wander.

Damon Albarn (Photo by Tom Spray)

Damon Albarn | Roskilde Festival, Arena Stage (Photo by Tom Spray)

Then there is Morten Aagaard Krogh‘s photograph of the The Rolling Stones (at the top of this post) from when the band played the legendary Orange Stage at Roskilde Festival, a stage that has come to symbolize the festival. The Orange Stage was originally made for The Rolling Stones’s 1976 Summer tour, but in 1978 it was sold to Roskilde Festival. For the first time since 1976 The Rolling Stones where reunited with their old stage. It was also the first time they played Roskilde Festival. James Hjertholm’s photo of Hexis’s leadsinger Filip Andersen is also very powerful and last, but not least, there is a whole gallery of photos (at the bottom of the page) that are equally great.

Hexis (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Hexis | Roskilde Festival, Rising Stage (Photo by James Hjertholm)

See the gallery with Here Today’s photos of the year 2014 below.

The gallery features photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com), Tom Spray (tom-spray.com), James Hjertholm (jameshjertholm.com), Ivan Boll (ivanrb.dk) and Jonas Bang (jonasbang.com).

All images are copyright of the individual photographers.

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 

Photos of the year 2013

in Blog/Photos by

The Hives

The Hives, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 31.01.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

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The Men, Stengade, Copenhagen, 21.03.2013 (Photo by Morten Krogh)

The Soft Moon, Loppen, Copenhagen, 30.03.2013 (Photo by Morten Krogh)

Shout Out Louds, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 09.04.2013 (Photo by Hilmar Darri Flygenring)

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Folkeklubben, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 25.04.2013 (Photo by Morten Krogh)

Autre Ne Veut

Autre Ne Veut, Rust, Copenhagen, 23.04.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Daughter

Daughter, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 10.04.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Japandroids

Japandroids, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 03.04.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Jake Bugg

Jake Bugg, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 02.04.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Palma Violets

Palma Violets, BETA, Copenhagen, 31.03.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Schultz and Forever

Schultz and Forever, DR Byen, Copenhagen, 03.03.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Araab Muzik

Araab Muzik, KB3, Copenhagen, 08.03.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Metz

Metz, Ideal Bar, Copenhagen, 04.03.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Crystal Castles

Crystal Castles, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 02.03.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Cody

Cody, Store Vega, 01.03.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Widowspeak

Widowspeak, Loppen, Copenhagen, 08.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Øresundsfestival 2013

Øresundsfestival, Malmö, 10.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Øresundsfestival 2013

The Eclectic Moniker, Øresundsfestival, Malmö, 10.05.2013 (Photo by James Hjertholm)

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Broke, Øresundsfestival, Malmö, 11.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

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MØ, Øresundsfestival, Malmö, 11.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Øresundsfestival 2013

Iceage, Øresundsfestival, Malmö, 11.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Øresundsfestival 2013

The White Album, Øresundsfestival, Malmö, 11.05.2013 (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen, Parken, Copenhagen, 14.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Bring Me The Horizon

Bring Me The Horizon, Amager Bio, Copenhagen, 18.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Beach Fossils

Beach Fossils, Stengade, Copenhagen, 21.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Nick Cave

Nick Cave, Optimus Primavera Sound, Porto, 31.05.2013 (Photo by Janye Yong)

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Blur, Optimus Primavera Sound, Porto, 31.05.2013 (Photo by Janye Yong)

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Grizzly Bear, Optimus Primavera Sound, Porto, 01.06.2013 (Photo by Janye Yong)

A$AP Rocky (Photo by Tom Spray)

A$AP Rocky, Falconer Salen, Copenhagen, 11.06.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Mew (Photo by Tom Spray)

Mew, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 12.06.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National, Loppen, Copenhagen, 20.06.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Trash Talk (Photo by Tom Spray)

Trash Talk, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 27.06.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Drenge (Photo by Tom Spray)

Drenge, Roskilde Festival, 04.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Savages (Photo by Tom Spray)

Savages, Roskilde Festival, 04.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Slipknot (Photo by Tom Spray)

Slipknot crowd, Roskilde Festival, 04.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Animal Collective (Photo by Tom Spray)

Animal Collective, Roskilde Festival, 04.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Metz (Photo by Tom Spray)

Metz, Roskilde Festival, 05.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

EL-P (Photo by Tom Spray)

EL-P, Roskilde Festival, 05.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Iceage (Photo by Tom Spray)

Iceage, Roskilde Festival, 06.07.2013

Action Bronson (Photo by Tom Spray)

Action Bronson, Roskilde Festival, 06.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National, Roskilde Festival, 06.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Metallica (Photo by Tom Spray)

Metallica, Roskilde Festival, 06.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Sigur Ros (Photo by Tom Spray)

Sigur Ros, Roskilde Festival, 06.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

James Blake (Photo by Tom Spray)

James Blake, Roskilde Festival, 07.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (Photo by Tom Spray)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Roskilde Festival, 07.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Queens Of The Stone Age (Photo by Tom Spray)

Queens Of The Stone Age, Roskilde Festival, 07.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Kraftwerk (Photo by Tom Spray)

Kraftwerk, Roskilde Festival, 07.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Kraftwerk (Photo by Tom Spray)

Kraftwerk crowd, Roskilde Festival, 07.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

John Legend (Photo by Tom Spray)

John Legend, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 16.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Sleep Party People (Photo by Tom Spray)

Sleep Party People, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 27.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

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

The Smashing Pumpkins, Falconer Salen, 31.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

OFF Festival

OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

AlunaGeorge, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

AlunaGeorge, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Cloud Nothing, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Cloud Nothings, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Scenes, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Julia Holter, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Julia Holter, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Walkmen, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Walkmen, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Autre Ne Veut, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Autre Ne Veut, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Japandroids, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Japandroids crowd, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

We draw A, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

We draw A, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Fucked Up, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Fucked Up, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

My Bloody Valentine, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

My Bloody Valentine, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Japandroids, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Japandroids, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor Photos by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen, 07.08.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

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Ice Cream Cathedral, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 07.08.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Haim

Haim, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 07.08.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Tame Impala - Photo by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Tame Impala, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 09.08.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Dirty Beaches - Photo by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Dirty Beaches, Copenhagen, 11.08.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Mikal Cronin - Photo by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Mikal Cronin, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 11.08.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Ducktails - Photo by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Ducktails, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 11.08.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

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Trans Metro Express, Strøm Festival, 13.08.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

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The Haxan Cloak, Cisternerne, Copenhagen, 14.08.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

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Ice Cream Cathedral, Malmo Festival, Road Trip, 17.08.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

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Baby In Vain, Malmo Festival, Road Trip, 17.08.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

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David Byrne & St Vincent, Falconer Salen, Copenhagen, 22.08.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

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MS MR, Rust, Copenhagen, 28.08.2013 (Photo by Ivan Boll)

Matthew E. White (Photo by Jen Tse)

Matthew E. White, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 09.09.2013 (Photo by Jen Tse)

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A Place To Bury Strangers, Loppen, Copenhagen, 24.09.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Delorean (Photo by Jen Tse)

Delorean, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 25.09.2013 (Photo by Jen Tse)

Editors (Photo by Tom Spray)

Editors, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 26.09.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

MGMT (Photo by Jen Tse)

MGMT, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 01.10.2013 (Photo by Jen Tse)

James Blake (Photo by James Hjertholm)

James Blake crowd, Falconer Salen, Copenhagen, 06.10.2013 (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Baby In Vain (Photo by Jen Tse)

Baby In Vain, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 04.10.2013 (Photo by Jen Tse)

Washed Out - Photo by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Washed Out, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 09.10.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Foals (Photo by Tom Spray)

Foals, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 15.10.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Julianna Barwick (Photo by Tom Spray)

Julianna Barwick, Jazzhouse, Copenhagen, 20.10.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Biffy Clyro by Jen Tse

Biffy Clyro, Den Grå Hal, Copenhagen, 01.11.2013 (Photo by Jen Tse)

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The National, Forum, Copenhagen, 02.11.2013 (Photo by James Hjertholm)

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Julia Holter, Jazzhouse, Copenhagen, 05.11.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

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Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Falconer Salen, Copenhagen, 08.11.2013 (Photo by Jonas Bang)

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The Woken Trees, UK tour (Photo by Jonas Bang)

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Crystal Stilts, Stengade, Copenhagen, 14.11.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

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Fuck Buttons, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 16.11.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Volcano Choir (Photo by Tom Spray)

Volcano Choir, Amager Bio, Copenhagen, 18.11.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Youth Lagoon (Photo by Jen Tse)

Youth Lagoon, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 20.11.2013 (Photo by Jen Tse)

EL-P and Killer Mike (Photo by Tom Spray)

EL-P and Killer Mike, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 20.11.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Tallest Man On Earth (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Tallest Man On Earth, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 21.11.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Get Your Gun (Photo by Jonas Bang)

Get Your Gun, Russia/Estonia tour, fall 2013 (Photo by Jonas Bang)

Trentemøller (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Trentemøller, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 22.11.2013 (Photo by James Hjertholm)

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Blouse, Loppen, Copenhagen, 26.11.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

MØ (Photo by James Hjertholm)

MØ, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 28.11.2013 (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Queens Of The Stone Age (Photo Jen Tse)

Queens Of The Stone Age, Forum, Copenhagen, 29.11.2013 (Photo by Jen Tse)

Destroyer (Photo by Ivan Boll)

Destroyer, Jazzhouse, Copenhagen, 03.12.2013 (Photo by Ivan Boll)

Kurt Vile (Photo by Ivan Boll)

Kurt Vile, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 05.12.2013 (Photo by Ivan Boll)

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Oh Land, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 12.12.2013 (Photo by Ivan Boll)

Cut Copy (Photo by Tom Spray)

Cut Copy, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 13.12.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Albums of the year 2013

in Blog by

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1. Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety

Arthur Ashin’s second album oozes emotional intensity throughout, with the album title perfectly summing up Ashin’s emotions while writing this album. Whether its about the anxiety of calling his grandmother for fear of her death (“Counting”), dealing with hitting his 30’s (“Gonna Die”) or going through a break-up (“World War”). Starting off with “Play By Play”/“Counting”/“Promises”/“Ego Free, Sex Free”, Anxiety has to be one of the strongest back-to-back hit filled albums released for a while. From start to finish this is an album to you can listen to whether its a Friday night ready to go out on the town or on a relaxing Sunday morning nursing a hangover as Ashin soothes you with his alt-R’n’B.

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 2. My Bloody Valentinem b v

If you say you’ve been waiting 22 years for this record, you’re lying. Even the most faithful of My Bloody Valentine fans gave up hope of ever seeing another release from the band long ago. When this album was released in February with little ceremony and an ordering process that temporarily broke the internet, there should have been no shock that it wasn’t another Loveless. Instead we’ve been treated to unexpected guitar solos, unexpected guitar-free compositions, more of Bilinda Butcher’s beautiful voice, and a few genuine what-the-fuck-is-that-sound moments. If you say this album wasn’t worth a two-decade period of absence, you’re lying.

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3. IceageYou’re Nothing

Still pissed off, still drawing heavily on post-punk angularity and tinny black metal bleakness, Denmark’s finest return with a more diverse album than their debut. The fast tracks still explode with spit and bile (“Ecstasy”,“Coalition”), but interspersed are moments of slow, muddy thuds (“Morals”), and even the odd Hüsker Du-influenced riff (“In Haze”).  Iceage are lads of impeccable taste, whose energy elevates them out of the mire of influences that so often burdens hardcore bands. The “New Way of Danish Fuck You” might not be so new any more, but with any luck, it is far from over.

 

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Vampire Weekend

4. Vampire WeekendModern Vampires Of The City

With this album, Ezra Koenig and his gang have progressed from the afro-pop elements of earlier days to a more diverse soundscape. Evident in the infectious pop tune ‘Step’, the playful ‘Ya Hey’ with manipulated chipmunk-voices and the beautiful vocal harmonies on ‘Obvious Bicycle’. The different textures are quite seductive and ‘MVotC’ has been a recurrent visitor on my record player. On top of that Ezra Koenig has a way with lyrics that really enthrals me: ”The harpsichord is broken/The television’s fried/The city’s getting hotter than a country in decline” from ‘Finger Snap’ is a line you don’t hear everyday. A great album that showcases a great band’s development.

 

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factory floor

5. Factory FloorFactory Floor

“Turn it up”. Take their advice: Factory Floor’s first album is a commanding blend of instinct and control, the human and mechanical. The trio’s double LP draws as much on minimalist, New York disco as it does on Throbbing Gristle, resulting in tracks whose power lies in the combination of cold synth lines, ghostly voices, and infectious beats (drummer Gabe respects, as we should all do, the mythical cowbell).

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds Push The Sky Away

6. Nick Cave and The Bad SeedsPush The Sky Away

Push The Sky Away is Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 15th studio album. The first album, where Nick Cave is the only remaining member of the original line-up, and also a masterful example of the growing collaboration between multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis and Nick Cave. After the end of the loud and noisy Grinderman, which in large parts consists of the same people as The Bad Seeds, Push The Sky Away can be seen as return to a more quiet expression that makes you recall albums like The Boatmans Call. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds was formed thirty years ago; Push The Sky Away is a promise of many more years of great music to come.

juliaholterlcs

7. Julia HolterLoud City Song

Loud City Song is the third album in as many years by LA-based Julia Holter. As with her earlier albums, the classically trained artists has found inspiration in artworks from the past – this time the 1958 musical Gigi. The album is diverse, yet very coherent, and Julia Holter manages to breed new life and sounds into a classical instrumentation of horns, strings, piano and drums. Loud City Song is atmospheric; it feels more accessible than her earlier albums (that are also great) without losing the playfulness and experimentation.

As she explains Loud City Song began with the end of her second album Ekstasis; more precisely the song Maxim’s III. The song need it’s own album, she thought, and what an album it got!

national-trouble-will-find-me

8. The NationalTrouble Will Find Me

High Violet was always going to be a tough album to follow up for the Cincinnati quintet, however, I had the same thought with some of their previous albums Alligator and Boxer, they seem to effortlessly write albums start to finish that are hard hitting and grab you in a way no other band can. Trouble Will Find Me gives us an insight into the life Matt Berninger has settled into in his more mature years having admitting “…I didn’t care what the songs were going to be about, or if they were going to seem depressing, or cool, or whatever”, even so, they still manage to roll out the hits with tracks such as, “Don’t Swallow The Cap”, “Sea Of Love” and “Graceless”. 

 

Ed Harcourt

9. Ed HarcourtBack Into The Woods

In the 12 years since Ed Harcourt released his Mercury Prize-nominated debut, he’s explored all complexities for the conveyance of his baroque pop style. So if he decides to strip things back, he must be certain of himself. Recorded in just six hours at Abbey Road Studios in London, Back Into the Woods is the kind of natural, unadorned performance you can only get away with if the songs are really that strong.

At its core, most of the album is just Harcourt at his piano or guitar, and a natural warmth that emanates from the instruments, in lovely contrast to the husky timbre of his voice.

queens-of-the-stone-age-like-clockwork

10. Queens Of The Stone Age….Like Clockwork

Frontman Josh Homme was sidelined for months after complications from a routine surgery, and …Like Clockwork is the manifestation of him literally getting back on his feet. If a little strife provides good inspiration, then it’s no wonder this is QOTSA’s strongest album in years. It’s equal parts brutal and creepy, with tracks like “If I Had a Tail” marking Homme as heir apparent to Scott Walker. Dave Grohl plays a bulk of the drums, and there are guest spots from Trent Reznor, Mark Lanegan, and Elton John. If you haven’t paid much attention to QOTSA in recent years, …Like Clockwork will make you regret ever counting them out.

kanyewestyeezus

11. Kanye WestYeezus

Yeezus‘ bookends feel like a follow on from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a time when he was going through darker periods of his life after the death of his mother and a break up, to his current life with Kim Kardashian with “Bound 2”. If this is anything to go by we can expect the follow-up to Yeezus to be an R’n’B love album…….yeah right! The album contains unmatched production qualities with tracks that will make Kanye’s live set for years to come as he rolls out the albums other hits, “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves”.

Sigur Ros

12. Sigur RósKveikur

In tribute to Jonsi’s made up language, “hopelandic”, I have retranslated my review in six different languages, resulting in some nonsense they can be proud of:

“Finally ROS Sigur dark, interesting bass lines and shiny surfaces with just the ignition Mogwai album in Iceland felt a huge area, sounds more and more electronic sound plan. Browse all Vacuum guitar violin, or Jónsi is much better able to withstand it.”

In English, Sigur Rós have returned with a power that had largely dispersed in their later recordings. The tweeness has been replaced by darker and heavier electronic sounds, undercut by Jonsi’s distinctive vocal style.

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09-18-Discs-Trentemoller-Lost-1024x1024

13. TrentemøllerLost

Trentemøller has gradually shifted away from the more overt, techno style of electronica towards grander, more cinematic compositions. Lost is a sweeping, sometimes broody, cinematic work that prioritizes subtlety. It’s definitely an album made more for headphones than stereos, and maybe it’s most conducive to quiet moments of reflection, but ultimately, it is beautiful. And with appearances from Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, Low’s Mimi Parker, and the Drum’s Jonny Pierce, Lost might prove to be one of those gateway albums that lures unsuspecting rockists into the dark underbelly of electronic music.

Blood Orange

14. Blood OrangeCupid Deluxe

There is a good reason why Devonté Hynes is the producer in quest these days. The Englishman’s musical sensibilities are as sophisticated as a cat walking through a dollhouse, knowing exactly where to place the paws without compromising the arrangements, that is perfectly balanced between the cheesy and the chic – just as if the aesthetic of the 80’s was taken to contemporary society. Exactly the 80’s are along with New York the main point of reference for the album, which combines the best of the decade (New Romanticism, Golden Age Hip-Hop and New Jack Swing) with a who’s who of Brooklyn-socialites such as David Longstreith (Dirty Projectors) and his fiancé Samantha Urbani (Friends). Cupid Deluxe is in many ways the preliminary redemption of Hynes’ vast talent.

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These-New-Puritans-Field-of-Reeds

15. These New Puritans – Fields Of Reeds

Taking inspiration from classical and experimental composers of the 20th century, Benjamin Britten foremost among them, These New Puritans may not be the most light-hearted or humorous of bands, but Fields of Reeds is the culmination of the band’s unique and exacting approach to music. Singling out songs from this tightly woven work may be counterproductive, but “Organ Eternal” signals the power TNP can generate from a simple, “Tubular Bells”-like riff. Don’t think progressive, Fields of Reeds has the best claim this year on the title of “timeless”.

 

overgrown

16. James Blake – Overgrown

Last year, when I told people James Blake was Dubstep, they refused to accept the fact. Whilst ‘Overgrown’ is hardly at Skrillex’s level on the ‘drop the beat’ scale (yuck), it’s a lot closer than the artist’s debut. Blake’s talent means one can never tire of ‘Overgrown”s multiple layers; it has an extraordinary power to be at once very personal, whilst the electronic framework makes it like the grown up echo of a dance album. It’s about when the songs bite, just like a “Digital Lion”. See “Retrograde” for reference. What that boy does with a piano, a vocal warble and a computer is just insane. No wonder that Mercury Prize ended up in his hands.

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Arcade Fire (2013) Reflektor LP Vinyl Record Album 1

17. Arcade FireReflektor

Alongside countless other fans, I was impatiently awaiting the release of the fourth album by the Canadian seven-piece. A release that consolidates Arcade Fire’s position as one of the greatest indie bands on the planet. ‘Reflektor’ shows a more up-beat side to the band, in the disco-tinged title track, ‘We Exist’ and ‘It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)’, alongside rock anthems like ‘Normal Person’ and ‘Joan of Arc’. Utter magnificence that keeps growing on me, fuelled by Win Butler’s intense vocal delivery.

With a playing span of 75 minutes the band’s typical epic scope remains constant and this album is another brilliant addition to an awe-inspiring catalogue.

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Darkside Psychic

(18) DarksidePsychic 

Described as “rock’s cosmic outer edges through the immersive, body-moving framework of 21st-century house and techno”, upon the release of Psychic, Nicolas Jarr and Dave Harrington’s debut album brought a breath of fresh air to the electronic music scene in 2013, just as Jarr has previously done with his solo venture. Post-rock riffs and downbeat electronica dominates Psychic. Tracks such as “Paper Trails” has glimpses of Jarr’s solo work vocally, although admittedly containing a denser and more textured sound. Darkside have left us hungry for more as they continue to take the album on the road in 2014.

cate le bon

19. Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum

The always-evolving Cate Le Bon found sunshine in California and a more stripped-back sound for her third full length. The Velvet Underground influence on Mug Museum should smack anyone over the head, even if s/he hasn’t gone on a Lou Reed listening binge following his death. Le Bon’s sparse, minimally-produced album has easy sing alongs, a few moments of total chaos, a duet with Perfume Genius, and stays just on the right side of that vaguely surfy vibe to distinguish her from every other band that has hit the reverb a little too hard. Mug Museum is 2013’s best palate cleanser.

arcticam

20. Arctic Monkeys – AM

“Who the F*ck are the Arctic Monkeys?” Only kidding! Perhaps you didn’t see enough of the Arctic Monkeys on every music magazine’s front page and website this summer? Never fear, they’re gonna be on every end of year list. With very good reason. The Sheffield band’s fifth studio album was an absolute masterpiece from those first two drum whacks of “Do I Wanna Know?”, (a song which also possesses one of the best rock riffs of all time), to the dreamy, track twelve cover of John Cooper Clark’s poem, “I Wanna Be Yours”. The pace is sickingly fluctuating, but the adrenaline is never wavering. It also produced a video of Alex Turner wandering around London pretending to be drunk and hallucinating about kebab salesmen humping, so who can complain?

LIVE REVIEW: The National, Forum, 02.11.2013

in Live Reviews by

Four months ago, The National sold out Loppen. Capacity: 400. This evening, they sold out Forum, reputedly their biggest venue to date. According to the website, Forum can hold 8500 people. Though this is obviously a considerable milestone for the band, something is lost in a venue this size. Despite the name, the National, even in their most grandiose moments, have always channelled their power with intense intimacy.

Openers This Is the Kit are the first victims to the room. The volume is too low, and the band has to fight against the chatter from the back with nothing more than banjo, bass and guitar. This doesn’t seem to faze lead singer Kate Stables at all, as her voice slowly starts to fill the place with impressive power and delicacy. “Earthquake” in particular has a great groove that thumbs its nose at the stupidly big venue.

The introduction to the National is a giant projection, a live-stream of the band hanging out in the dressing room, before casually strolling towards the stage. I’m not sure if this is cleverly self-deprecating or insulting the audience, who impatiently look on as lead singer Matt Berninger checks his phone.

National 4

This is a gig of two distinct parts. The first half left me cold, partly because I am not a fan of their latest album, Trouble Will Find Me, but certainly also due to the weirdness, which the band openly acknowledge, of playing in Forum. Opener “I Should Live in Salt” has people singing along, but it feels diluted, like another band trying to write a National song. But the evening picks up rapidly as they move on to material from Boxer and High Violet, and as Berninger downs more and more wine. Everything centres on him, and it becomes apparent that he has decided on a way to counteract the lack of intimacy, and it involves broken screaming and liberal misuse of liquids.

I’ve been waiting most of the evening to hear “England”. It is probably the most suited to the surroundings, a heavy burden of a song, which takes flight thanks to a small brass section. A string quartet lurks in the back, inaudible, for which I am thankful. Towards the end Berninger, still singing, takes a walk among the crowd, followed by a cameraman and some guy from security awkwardly trying to drag the seemingly endless mic cable. You have to hand it to Matt, for all his moody walking to and fro on stage, he understands how to overcome any barriers with his audience.

As the band closes with an acoustic rendition of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” (“This is probably the largest venue we’ve ever tried this at”), the strangeness of the concert is at its most apparent, but so is its ultimate success. The National are a good band. One slightly boring album and one huge venue won’t change that.

VIEW THE FULL LIVE GALLERY HERE 

The National | Forum, Copenhagen, 02.11.2013

in Photos by

Photos by James Hjertholm (www.jameshjertholm.com)

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The National | Roskilde Festival, Orange, 06.07.2013

in Photos by

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

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National | Loppen, Copenhagen, 20.06.2013

in Photos by

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

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

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