By:Larm 2016 - Friday Review

After a late morning breakfast I spend much of the day sightseeing and manage to find a curry house that is very nice before heading out for the evening music session.

Friday starts with a special Sofar Sounds show, the picture might make it look like it's in someone's house but in realitiy it's the basement of a hotel. I listen to a hip-hop artist who isn't really my thing and am very happy after about ten seconds of Ida Stein is introduced as the second act...

Friday. Ida Stein. Sofar Sounds

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I'm not sure the stripped back setup that she employs here is one that Ida Stein had played with before but that doesn't matter, the pared-down, acoustic nature of the set suits her voice to the ground, allowing her ethereal whispers to silence the crowd with its blissful melancholy and intimate longing (there’s a track called “Melancholia” which sums it up).

The recorded sound I hear for the first time on my return to the UK is more electro pop in its nature but still resonates around her soft vocals and flickering synths. A new fan is found.

Sea Lion. St Edmunds Church

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For someone I first wrote about on this blog as long ago as September 2012 it’s incredibly the first time I’ve seen Sea Lion perform live and the setting, the beautiful St Edmunds Church is perfect (it’s reminiscent of St Pancras Old Church which can only be a good thing).

A short, sweet and satisfying set follows over the next twenty five minutes with tracks taken from last year’s Desolate Stars leading the way. The acoustics and the silent crowd help to bring out Linn's fragile vocal, intoxicating around naked acoustic strums and haunting melodies. 

Pale Honey. Rockefeller

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Another band I've blogged about multiple times here and finally managed to break the live duck of at By:Larm are Pale Honey, the sets a cracker too. Perfectly suited to the big Rockefeller stage the trio produce a set of punchy beats and tight guitar and the result is explosive and energetic. The highlights are arguably the tightest tracks from last year’s debut LP Youth, the title track and the propulsive “Over Your Head” and by the time it ends I’m humming the infectious riffs on the way out. 

Tina Refsnes. Crossroad Club

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This show wasn’t actually on my agenda before the festival and it wasn’t even part of the main schedule but I bumped into Tina Refsnes the day before at Siv Jakobsen’s gig and actually said hello (I’m absolutely the worst at saying hello to people, I tend not to want to impede on people’s own life – hence me walking past Jarvis Cocker earlier in the day!) and Tina then told me about the gig and I gladly tweaked my schedule to take it in.

The set is delicious and another treat, it’s great to see people like Tina, Unnveig Aas and Siv in their native country because they are playing with their traditional setups, backed by a full band of familiar musicians instead of the usual touring solo / session musician set. The full band sound here truly helps and I’m very happy with the set, a combination of twanging country blues, heartfelt ballads and stomping rockier moments that takes in all of my favourites from last year’s No One Knows That You're Lost. “I Don’t Know” and “Alaska” particuarly impress with the familiarity and association as my discovery song tingling my senses.

I don’t stop around after to say hello!

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Julia Adams. Verkstedet

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I think this is the first time I'd ever stood through an entire set in a foreign language, one that I don't even speak a word of.

Swedish artist Julia Adams is worth it though, an engaging performance of strong, shimmering electro-pop melodies and bittersweet vocals. There’s a couple of slower songs where Julia moves to a keys and these are probably my highlights although the swaggering “0400am” runs in close in this live setting.

I don’t understand the in-between song banter either and as sad as I am, I find it amusing to hear the odd English word or saying filter through. 

Pixx. St Edmunds Church

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Even though Pixx is the first UK artist I see here in Oslo, I’ve actually never heard of her before and arrive purely because of the ‘buzz’ surrounding the new 4AD signing. The church settings are certainly suited to the atmospheric blend of exotic rhythms, subtle guitars and minimal electronics and the delicious haunting vocals weave an enticing proposition. I’m not familiar with any of the tracks but I’m absorbed by the seductive combination of unhurried instrumentation and soft, hushed voice. A mental note to listen to more on my return is made.

It’s incredibly been a week since my flight already, so I have of course listened to more since, I love the floating, dreaming nature of “A Way to Say Goodbye”. The buzz seems to be justified. 

Sara Hartman. Drømmeteltet

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I think this was Sara Hartman's second show of the night, fresh from supporting Ellie Goulding somewhere else in Oslo. You can immediately tell she’s used to sharing bigger stages. An engaging lead performance from a young artist who belies her age, swaggering back and forth with gusto and armed with chorus after chorus and track after track that seems to hint at a stadium bound career.

Quite incredibly Sara starts with ‘the hit’, “Monster Guide Me Home” immediately gets the crowd going and the elation doesn’t drop throughout the half hour set.

Dolores Haze. John Dee

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Round two for Dolores Haze and it’s immediately apparent that my ‘love-in’ of yesterday was not made by alcohol intoxication. Dolores Haze are absolutely brilliant again.

At the start there’s two girls on stage with them, a Shampoo meets Clueless pairing who add even more enthusiasm to the first track, as if that was possible. Their half hour set disappears, once more, in an instant, a blur of gritty power, grungy guitars, handclaps and boundless fun. I grab a t-shirt shortly after. It costs the same price as a beer.

The Prettiots. Rockefeller

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The t-shirt buying means I arrive upstairs at Rockefeller as The Prettiots are playing but soon another new band to follow is found. I should have probably checked out the American trio before as they released a record very recently via Rough Trade. That record Funs Cool is where most of the tracks are sourced from – although a set highlight “Blow It” – which I wrongly think is called “Blow Him” until I catch the band again the next day (which changes the meaning of the track somewhat!!) is not.

I imagine The Prettiots are a bit of a Marmite band, love them or hate them, songs about adolescent boy-chasing, boy-dissing, moving to LA and so on all wrapped up in sugary harmonies, strong bass rhyhtms, ukulele and incredibly funny anecdotes. I love it.

By:Larm 2016 Preview - Ten Acts to See

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I'm very much looking forward to my maiden trip to Norway next week. The reason is simple, By:Larm 2016 has a quite incredible line-up of talent. I’m excited to see lots of acts I’ve never seen before and a few I have amongst some no doubt new, spur of the moment discoveries in venues and a City that is new to me but looks sensational. The festival runs from 2nd – 5th March around Oslo and I’m hoping beer comes priced reasonably!

I'm sure I'll get my fill of sights in too - a boat trip on Oslo Fjord and Sognsvann Lake are my current essential trips (if you can do them in freezing conditions that is - the forecast is set as cold and snow!). As a newbie it would be great to know of any treats that I must do during my four days in Oslo so if you’ve visited Oslo before please let me know of anything.

The rest of this post will list ten acts I have down to check-out at the festival next week. Most will come as no surprise to long-time readers of this blog. I could easily have listen more too such is the depth of the line-up. There's a few unavoidable clashes ahead! 

If you've any further recommendations, shout-out below. Hopefully see you in Oslo?!

ARY - FACEBOOK

·         Rockefeller presented by BI

Thu, March 3, 10:30 PM > 11:00 PM

·         Drømmeteltet

Sat, March 5, 1:30 AM > 2:00 AM

Ary, surely a potential future star armed with an intriguing, show-stopping vocal and music that could just as easily fill a dance-floor as a late-night neon-lit drive. Her gorgeous, icy and emotive vocal will no doubt see her billed as this years Aurora (including by me) but if you listen to “Telescope” you can truly sense the magic, a glistening glow of shimmering, atmospheric bliss. I can’t wait to sample it and more live.

MONICA HELDAL - FACEBOOK

·         Rockefeller presented by BI

Thu, March 3, 8:30 PM > 9:00 PM

·         St. Edmunds Church

Sat, March 5, 10:00 PM > 10:30 PM

One of the acts I’ve seen before in London, Monica Heldal has this style of guitar playing and vocal that will totally enchant you. Her voice is filled with an exquisite tone and delivers emotion by the gallon, her tracks vary from country-leaning folk to rocking blues riffs with flourishing instrumentation and the result is simply devine. Her playing in a church promises to be a must-see. 

DAGNY - FACEBOOK

·         Rockefeller presented by BI

Thu, March 3, 11:30 PM > 12:00 AM

·         Drømmeteltet

Fri, March 4, 10:30 PM > 11:00 PM

Dagny’s debut single "Backbeat” catapulted her to the attention of many blogs around the world, a ridiculously infectious pop song full of vibrant, upbeat melody, captivating vocals and youthful exuberance. 

PALE HONEY - FACEBOOK

·         Mono

Thu, March 3, 9:00 PM > 9:30 PM

·         Rockefeller presented by BI

Fri, March 4, 8:30 PM > 9:00 PM

Last years’ Youth was Pale Honey’s debut album and after missing a couple of London shows I’m looking forward to breaking my live duck in Oslo. That release was a collision of part introspective darkness and propulsive (yet minimal) pop melody that draws you into a dreamy, idyllic world before hitting you with the odd thud of abrasive noise. That’s exactly my sort of thing.

SUSANNA - FACEBOOK

St. Edmunds Church

Fri, March 4, 7:00 PM > 7:30 PM

I’d not heard of Susanna before a few weeks ago and the track “Burning Sea” (although she has a comprehensive discography behind her). The track is the first heard from her forthcoming LP Triangle but I love what I heard straight away, wrapping me up in a similar sense of foreboding darkness to Anna Von Hausswolff (well the track does start with the line ‘I belong to the darkness’) as droning keys and howling instrumentation collide with Susanna’s crystalline vocal. If it’s all this good, consider me smitten.

SIV JAKOBSEN - FACEBOOK

·         Mono

Thu, March 3, 6:00 PM > 6:30 PM

·         St. Edmunds Church

Sat, March 5, 9:00 PM > 9:30 PM

Siv Jakobsen, as I’ve documented here before, was one my favourite discoveries of 2015 and the Norwegian singer-songwriter's track "How We Used to Love" one of my favourite tracks of the year, easily one of most beautiful, affecting tracks of recent time. Each carefully placed space and each finger-plucked melody adds to its emotional power, complete with bruised vocal and strings drenched in sadness, the result brings tingles each and every time I hear it – and that’s been often this year.

On her seven track EP The Lingering Siv has clearly taken influence from the beautiful yet chilly landscapes that surround her home, a sparse yet natural beauty and intimacy that pulls you deep into a magical world of romanticism and memories that you never want to leave. 

EERA - FACEBOOK

·         Revolver

Thu, March 3, 9:30 PM > 10:00 PM

·         NRK P3 Sentrum Scene

Fri, March 4, 9:00 PM > 9:30 PM

EERA is the new project of Anna Lena (formerly recording under the name Anna Lena and the Orchids) who re-imagines herself with "White Water", a track which is both familiar and new to fans of her earlier project and one that offers a bewitching introduction to newcomers.

Anna is blessed with an evocative, haunting vocal that seeps into your consciousness, natural and melancholic it slowly unwinds amongst chugging guitars, steady percussion and beautifully poetic lyrics. Nothing too much seems to have changed, that's until we reach the end of the verse and searing guitars transport the listener to St Vincent territory before calming once more, this bubbling flow continues until the tracks conclusion offering a confident, polished introduction to an artist whose time to step out of the shadows has surely come.

CHINAH - FACEBOOK

·         Gamla

Fri, March 4, 9:30 PM > 10:00 PM

·         Rockefeller presented by BI

Sat, March 5, 9:30 PM > 10:00 PM

I’m absolute sucker for glistening, cinematic electro pop filled with a gorgeous vocal and that’s exactly what you can expect from Copenhagen’s Chinah. "We Go Back" is speckled with smouldering vocals and glittery, restrained synth pop melody that harks straight from the eighties. It's irresistible too, add kaleidoscopic guitar licks and retro keyboards to sweetly alluring choruses and the result is this smooth, nostalgic triumph. 

ALICE BOMAN - FACEBOOK

·         St. Edmunds Church

Fri, March 4, 9:00 PM > 9:30 PM

·         Rockefeller presented by BI

Sat, March 5, 12:30 AM > 1:00 AM

Alice Boman is one of those artists I seem to feature here every time she releases a new track, if you press play on any one of her tracks you'll soon understand why. Her voice is a killer. Alice’s music heads straight for the heart. Her two EP’s far offering stark and fragile piano-led ballads full of haunting, echoey atmosphere and Alice's sweetly-hushed vocals, the result is an intimate, bare-boned experience capable of bringing you close to tears.

SARA HARTMAN - FACEBOOK

Drømmeteltet

Fri, March 4, 11:30 PM > 12:00 AM

Sara Hartman, a Berlin-based, US-born singer-songwriter hits the ground running on her immaculate single “Monster Lead Me Home”, a flawless piano-pop gem which propels rich, powerful vocals and sparkling instrumentation to results that excite for the teenagers’ future ahead.

Pale Honey #2 - Over Your Head

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Gothenburg’s (I want to come back to your wonderful city) Pale Honey (Tuva Lodmark and Nella Daltrey) released their debut album earlier this year via Bolero Recordings after being thrust into the attention of blogs like this by the wonderful "Youth". A newly (ish) released video for the albums opening track “Over Your Head” gives me sufficient reason to dip back into their compelling sound.

“Over Your Head” sums up much of the album, a collision of part introspective darkness and propulsive (yet minimal) pop melody that almost draws you into a dreamy, idyllic world before hitting you with the odd thud of abrasive noise, on the video, there’s beautifully, smooth vocals and bubbling, escalating beats which all play out whilst the pair play a game of golf and take a stroll through a rather nice looking woodland area. As you do. 

Pale Honey - Youth

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Pale Honey introduce (to my ears at least, their website tells me their was a previously released EP Fiction which I'll check out in due course) themselves with the wonderful "Youth", a track which starts with minimalistic casio-tone synth rhythms that makes you think you are heading into dream-pop territory but is soon sent off course with the addition of some roaring, abrasive guitar riffs, precise beats and a perfectly controlled vocal, intensity and power collide and the result is compulsive.

Hailing from Gothenburg, the duo are about to head off on a European tour which will hit London, May 20th at The Islington.