By:Larm 2016 - Saturday Review

After staying out until 3am dancing to all manner of funk and soul in Mono, I’m actually surprised I’m capable of running ten miles early on Saturday. I decide to run to Sognsvann Lake and take in some beautiful views and its frozen lake. After running four miles straight up hill that is. It’s fair to say I wish I checked the course profile before starting! I get the tram back rather than slalom down and watch some Premier League football - there's quite a few Man City fans in Oslo for no apparent reason it seems - before starting the final night of By:Larm. It’s flown by.


Saturday. The Prettiots. Mono


Saturday night starts exactly the way Friday finished, with US trio The Prettiots and in Mono. The stage here is much smaller and intimate than last night's, the chemistry between the band is apparent throughout and their personality shines through as the crowd lap up their witty, youthful, self-deprecating tales of high school woes wrapped up in pretty harmonies and boundless energy.  

Holly Macve. St Edmunds Chruch


To church next, for a quite brilliant run of acts at St Edmunds.

This is the first time I’ve seen Holly Macve after posting about her here last year with the stop you in your tracks demo "The Corner Of My Mind". The performance matches her and the venue, bewitching. A picture of timeless beauty as over the next half an hour Holly transports the listener with her mystical, darkly hued atmosphere. Her voice is incredible, a devastating tone that quavers slowly, deliberately around twanging country melodies and later against striking keys as Holly makes use of the venue’s piano. Let's finish with a cliché, If you were looking up the definition of gorgeous, you’d probably find a picture of this set.

Siv Jakobsen. St Edmunds Chruch


I’m not sure there is much else I can say about Siv Jakobsen. Her show at Mono two days earlier (which I wrote more comprehensively about here) wins my ‘show of the festival’ award because it’s the first time I get to experience Siv backed by a string quartet. The environment here at St Edmunds is much more suitable and the result is beguiling. I’m often closing my eyes to take in every exquisite note.

The good news is that on my on return home Siv announces a set of UK dates (dates over on GFP to save me typing!), I cannot imagine them being as incredible as these two backed by this string quarter but you should go and see her nonetheless. This is real talent.

I'm posting an exquisite new remix (you probably know I don't like remixes) of one my favourite tracks from her EP, The Lingering, "Bullet". This though is beautiful, it's Siv of course, but it's sparse, crystallize and the ending has strings which makes you want to release your every inner feeling. It sums up these two sets just lovely.  

Monica Heldal. St Edmunds Chruch


I leave the church after Siv to go to the bathroom – it’s the finer details – and there is a massive queue to get back in, so I miss perhaps a track of Monica Heldal before I’m finally back inside and have a view near the back of the exquisite venue. The acoustics are great though and I’m intoxicated once more as Monica weaves through tracks taken from Boy to the North and her forthcoming follow-up.

Both the familiar and the new are divine with her pure vocals entwined around intricate guitar melodies. It’s the same duo set up I’d seen Monica play last year in London, apparently the day before her show was with a full band. The church setting though calls for simplicity and the result is magical.

Emma Acs. Revolver


Just around the corner in Revolver is Emma Acs. I actually head here because it’s right next to the church, my schedule has a gap in it and I’m intrigued about the act that followed Emma (I actually left after two songs of them – naming no names!). She is a complete unknown to me but quickly has me shuffling near the front of the small stage for a better view – Norwegian men are tall and seemingly like to be front and centre!

The show is nothing short of a revelation, as I put on my Twitter account, a bonkers, nostalgic psyche, alt-pop sound filled with cascading instrumentation and off-kilter vocals – it’s haphazard, messy and brilliant. The six of them on stage (I think) are packed in close because of the small stage but they are having fun. A lot of fun. Emma the most. She reminds me of Bowie’s Ziggy with her red hair, piercing stares and never still exuberance. She threatens to spill into the audience on more than an occasion, its infectious, smile-inducing and I’m wondering quite how I’d never heard of Emma Acs until this very moment.

When I get back to the UK I work out why, sure you can get a few tracks on Youtube and Soundcloud but there is nothing officially available here from the Copenhagen artist. I hope it’s part of a scheme for a launch here at a later date, this is the sort bat-shit, brilliantly crazy pop that is ready made for British audiences. Listen to “Magnetic Field” if you don’t believe me. A vinyl has been ordered! 

Alice Boman. Rockefeller


Later at Rockefeller it’s Alice Boman, I’d earlier expressed concerns about the venue placing to my friend. 'Alice should be playing in a church or small venue and not at half midnight on Saturday night in a huge venue' I said (to be fair she did play the church the day before but I was elsewhere) and when just Alice comes out to play a solo version of “Waiting” I am further worried but then I take a glance behind and there is sizable crowd and on the whole they pay Alice the credit she deserves and don’t turn into the rowdy rabble that you’d expect in the UK.

Soon a full band joins Alice and they play tracks taken from her two EP’s and some new ones from a release we’ll hopefully hear about soon.  Sure it would be better in the aforementioned venue, her sparse and intimate music is suitable to dimly-lit, flickering venues and not million pound light shows but she pulls it off creditably and provides a pleasant ending to my inaugural By:Larm.

In quick summation, a rather apt photo. See you next you Oslo?

Alice Boman #6 - Red Eyes


You probably noticed the World Cup started yesterday. I spent my evening like pretty much everyone else, watching the game in the hope of a great footballing spectacle from Brazil only to find myself increasing cheering for Croatia as the decisions of the referee continued to impact the result. With England kicking off on Saturday on a pitch that looks utterly horrific, I can only imagine the things I'll be shouting at my TV then... 

The obvious side effect of my increased exposure to football is a decrease in gig attendance (until Glastonbury at least and unless anyone has a spare DeLorean hanging around), yesterday saw me miss an artist I've been meaning to catch up with again for a little while and whom I also missed at The Great Escape due to clashes, Alice Boman. She played at the lovely St Pancras Old Church, the setting was sure to be a match made in heaven...

Yet, as if she knew I was eager for more music from her (her EP II was released just last week and is available via Rough Trade), I popped onto soundcloud before bed and there waiting for me (and the whole Internet) was a track from Alice, a cover of the War on Drugs song "Red Eyes".

It sees Alice add her typical intimacy and stark piano chords to the track, stripped bare of the originals buoyant melody and sparkling synths with the emphasis put firmly onto her haunting vocals, here front and centre; turning a Springsteen-esque rocker into a sad-pop lullaby is something Alice Boman can seemingly do at will, beauty awaits below.

Alice Boman #5 - Lead Me


Alice Boman is another of those artists I seem to feature here everytime she releases a new track, if you press play on the video below you'll soon understand why. "Lead Me" is taken from Alice's forthcoming EP II and is beautiful. That would probably be enough for some blogs but I do like to add a paragraph of waffle...

"Lead Me", here recorded live in a beautifully lit kitchen, is much like Alice's tracks before it, heading straight for the heart, an intimate, delicate tale of the trials of love, backed solely by softening keys "Lead Me" is possibly the brightest moment we've heard from Alice so far, it's the perfect way to start your long weekend.

I've also included the newly released video for a track I've covered previously, the equally gorgeous "Over" taken from the same release. A release you'll probably want (and luckily for you, can have by pressing on this link).


Alice Boman #4 - Over


Alice Boman's new track "Over" starts off with a line which encapsulates the feeling I get when I listen to her exquisite music; "You know I need the darkness, just as much I as I need the light". A few words that bring together her minimal beats and longing piano chords, part ghostly, haunting mood and crystalline beauty thanks to Alice's tender, devastating vocal delivery. It's sure to touch you on the inside.

As I mentioned last week, Alice plays The Great Escape this forthcoming weekend and she also has a show with the wonderful Jenny Hval on June 3rd (details). The same day sees her EP II released via Happy Death, something that you can pre-order now at Rough Trade.

Alice Boman #3 - What


On 2013's Skisser EP Alice Boman introduced herself as someone to take seriously, armed with a set of bedroom recordings, plaintive piano chords and a beautifully hushed voice she produced one the most beautiful moments of last year with "Waiting". She returned this week with news of her next EP (handily entitled EP II) and the good news is simple for those who fell under her spell (and newcomers too), "What" offers an equally beautiful experience.

The track immediately seduces, a stark and fragile piano-led ballad full of haunting, echoey atmosphere and Alice's sweetly-hushed vocals, the result is an intimate, bare-boned listen capable of bringing you close to tears.

EP II is released June 3rd via Happy Death and there's good news for fellow gig goers too as Alice was announced amongst the latest additions to The Great Escape festival line-up in May. She's on my list of must-sees.

Alice Boman #2 - Skiss 3


Another of my 'Tips for 2014' now, Alice Boman is set to release a brand new EP in the Spring but first we're treated to a final hurrah for her debut Skisser...

"Skiss 3" gives latecomers a perfect insight to the haunting intimacy of her bedroom recordings, the track sees an echoed piano melody matched by Alice's fragile vocals and sends chills through you with a natural sense of stark beauty.

The follow up can't come soon enough.

Skisser is available on download / 10" vinyl (with a bonus track) now via Adrian Recordings.

Tips For 2014 #1 - Alice Boman

Welcome to the start of my 'list' posts. Following from yesterdays Blog Sound shortlist. It's December so I figure I'm allowed... I'm a geek and statto and I bloody love lists even if I know not everyone does, I've read some tips (and albums, which I'll be concentrating on next week) I agree with and some I don't, that's the nature of the beast...

Over the past couple of years I've always featured a recap of the acts I picked the year before but this year I've decided not to do the same. There are a few reasons, duplication, time and a desire to just look forward with my 'tips'. For those of you interested I'll list my thirteen acts for 2013 next. Alice Jemima, Bird, Daughter, Embers, Emily and the Woods, Fear of Men, Haim, Let's Buy Happiness, Novella, Pins, Savages, SeaWitches & September Girls. Altogether a mixed bag of results occurred.

For 2014 I've decided to just do ten tips which is a few less than the previous couple of years. My tips aren't who'll sell the most albums or who'll be Drowned in Sound's favourite act of the year, simply ten acts/artists that I think are likely to produce some of the best music in 2014. To avoid complete duplication with last years acts (I could easily feature the nine artists that never released their debut in 2013 again) I've taken the decision to exclude previous tips rather than simply repeat them again. So of course I still bloody love Embers and think they'll produce an incredible record but they won't feature on this list. The same can be said for September Girls, Novella etc etc.

The only other criteria for inclusion is my own personal taste. Anyway, less waffle, more music and onwards with tip one (the other nine will follow at a rate of two a day in alphabetical order), the incredible Alice Boman...

Alice Boman was a discovery half way through the year just as summer was coming to the boil and I was posting summery, fuzzy indie-pop. Her intimate whispers and delicate piano sparkles are anything but that and perfect to reach for now as we're all wrapped in blankets to keep away the chill.

My introduction to Alice was probably the same as yours, a track so good that it will make you stop what you are doing and give it your full attention, "Waiting". Easily one of the best tracks of the year and one with the most devastating opening line; "I want you more than I need you, I need you so bad"... Taken from Alice's debut EP Skisser, recorded in her Malmö bedroom with the resultant five tracks (six on the following vinyl release) excelling in a natural sense of fragile, stark beauty that shimmer with a frosty chill that touch at emotions seldom touched. "Skiss 8" comes close to matching "Waiting" too with its repeated cries of "I've been looking for you, been looking for you, all over"..

I later caught Alice live at Servants Jazz Quarters where she found the venues piano perfectly suiting to her needs and played a short but spine-tingling performance that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, a few new tracks hinted at future brilliance and I'm sure I'm not alone in the queue to hear more.

Skisser is available now on 10" vinyl via Adrian Recordings.

Alice Boman – New Music "Introducing"


After a couple of typically fuzzy posts comes something that's brought me to my knees, so devastatingly beautiful is the debut EP of Alice Boman, a singer/songwriter from Malmo.

"Waiting" was the track that did it to me, a noticeably home recorded sound (you can literally hear the cassette tape hiss) only adds to the wholly emotive and absorbing journey with Alice's hushed whispers and delicate piano sparkles creating a sound that is unbearably sad yet overwhelmingly gorgeous and absorbing.

The track is taken from Alice's debut EP "Skisser" ("Sketches" in Swedish) which was released May 30th via Adrian Recordings, the other four tracks are similarly stark, wonderful dreamscapes. Three of the tracks are numbered rather than named, each intimate, naturally fragile and majestic with "What Are You Searching For" closing this spine-tingling release with more forlorn, aching wonder.

I'd not heard of Alice Boman until a post on Kalamitat yesterday so thanks for the discovery must go to them.