Torgeir Waldemar, new album – No Offending Borders

No Offending Borders by Torgeir WaldemarTorgeir Waldemar took the Norwegian people and music press by surprise with his eponymous debut album in 2014. Who had thought that the black-clad, longhaired and bearded man would deliver an album that captivated and moved us as much as it did. An acoustic masterpiece that sounded like it came straight from the rehearsal room of a young troubadour from Laurel Canyon in the seventies.

While his previous album cultivated a pure, acoustic sound, we get more rock music this time, and for Torgeir Waldemar nothing is more natural. With his background as a guitar hero in various rock bands, it was only a question of time before distorted tones would assert themselves in his solo career. No Offending Borders is a gloriously composite work with both dead honest acoustic laments and grandiose rock songs.

But the record is so much more than that, and for Torgeir this is a document that shows the seriousness we meet in our everyday lives. Both on the personal level, with relationships that falls apart and the loss of loved ones, but also on a national and global level, with refugee crises, suicide statistics and the weakest members of our society. You may have guessed it already, but this is a solemn record.

If you’re afraid that Torgeir Waldemar has turned away from what he presented on his debut album, you can relax. Here we get acoustic folk songs like “Falling Rain (Link Wray)”, “Island Bliss” and “Souls on a String”, but the album also contains more intense rock songs like “Summer In Toulouse”, “Sylvia (Southern People)” and “Among the Low”.

Aesthetically, it’s also consistent from beginning to end – nothing at all is done by chance here. The historical lines that are drawn in the cover design, are also meant to point back to ourselves and to make us conscious of our past, so that we won’t make the same mistakes again. The cover of the single “Souls on a String” featured a photo of the decorated carrier pigeon from World War I, Cher Ami. It saved a whole British company during the war, when the British were caught in a battle, without any food or ammunition. Cher Ami was sent away, and taken under fire by the enemy, but finally delivered the message that saved the British troops.

The chair on the cover of No Offending Borders is from Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand. This is the chair that Wilhelm II, the King of Prussia and Emperor of Germany, was sitting in when he was told that World War I had started. Wilhelm II was a friend of Norway and spent much time on the west coast in the early 1900s. What would you have done if you were sitting in that chair and received that message? Sit down, think thoroughly about it, while you’re listening to No Offending Borders.

No Offending Borders by Torgeir Waldemar is scheduled for release on Jansen Plateproduksjon on 17th March.

The Blue Aeroplanes release new album Welcome, Stranger!

The Blue Aeroplanes release new album, Welcome, Stranger!
The Blue Aeroplanes new album – Welcome, Stranger!

The Blue Aeroplanes release a new studio album – Welcome, Stranger! this month and follow their twelfth studio album with a UK tour.

After a recent performance at the BBC Radio 6 Festival, playing at Stewart Lee’s request at the last ATP and a standout live session for Marc Riley debuting this new material, The Blue Aeroplanes are set to return with a first album in nearly seven years

Here Is The Heart Of All Wild Things‘ from the album Welcome, Stranger!

The Blue Aeroplanes’ unique amalgam of rock, folk, poetry, punk, dance and art has been an acknowledged influence on a wide range of bands including REM and Radiohead. Combining pop smarts with serious weirdness, they have released almost thirty albums on various labels, several of which have charted in the UK Top 40 and the US Alternative Top 10.

Their 1990 album ‘Swagger’ was ‘Rock Album Of The Year’ in many publications including The Sunday Times. Ex-members have gone on to play with Massive Attack, Suede, Placebo, Goldfrapp and Primal Scream, while for many years they shared multi-instrumentalist Ian Kearey with folk legends the Oyster Band. They remain the only group to have been banned from The Rainbow Lounge, Lemmy’s favourite hangout, and been invited to play at the Hay-On-Wye Literary Festival.

Elvis Festival‘ from from the album Welcome, Stranger!

Never having split up, The Blue Aeroplanes are not actually a part of the ‘trip down memory lane’ nostalgia euphoria that appears to have every band from the 1980s reforming; and ‘Welcome, Stranger!’ is a contemporary-sounding statement from a genuinely independent and creative band.

For Welcome Stranger! original members Gerard Langley (vocals), John Langley (drums) and sometimes ‘dancer’ Wojtek Dmochowski are joined by Gerard Starkie, Chris Sharp, Bec Jevons and Mike Youe.

The Blue AeroplanesThe Blue Aeroplanes UK Tour 2017

LIVERPOOL
O2 Academy 2 Liverpool
Wed, 11/01/17

MANCHESTER
Manchester Ruby Lounge
Thu, 12/01/17

NEWCASTLE
O2 Academy 2 Newcastle
Fri, 13/01/17

EDINBURGH
Voodoo Rooms
Sat, 14/01/17

GLASGOW
Stereo, Glasgow
Sun, 15/01/17

NOTTINGHAM
Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Wed, 18/01/17

LONDON
O2 Academy Islington
Sat, 21/01/17

OXFORD
The Cellar
Wed, 25/01/17

SHEFFIELD
Sheffield Leadmill
Thu, 26/01/17

NORWICH
Norwich Arts Centre
Fri, 27/01/17

BRIGHTON
Patterns
Sat, 28/01/17

EXETER
The Cavern, Exeter
Sun, 29/01/17

The Blue Aeroplanes release studio album Welcome, Stranger!

Amen 2 by Mikko Joensuu – One of the Best Albums of 2016

Amen 2 by Mikko Joensuu
Amen 2 by Mikko Joensuu

Amen 2 is the second instalment of Mikko Joensuu’s proposed soul-searching trilogy.

Mikko Joensuu was brought up with strong religious overtones. But in the seven years prior to the release Amen 1, he suffered with depression and loneliness. Whereas the first album is Mikko Joensuu coming to terms with the idea that God was no longer a part of his life, Amen 2 recounts a complicated person losing their religion and looking for understanding in a new way of thinking.

On Amen 1 Mikko Joensuu uses the sadness of alt country and a voice full of pain and fragility, at times reminiscent of Gram Parsons, on songs like ‘Warning Signs‘ explaining the doubt of his religious convictions.


Warning Sign from Amen 1

Amen 2 starts with the powerful, driving ‘Drop Me Down‘. From the initial hum, the fragile voice is all that remains from the first album. ‘Drop Me Down’ begins “Starts out with a silent word, with a voice that can now be heard”. This is a beautiful song that builds as it drives, forward on a journey from A to B. Piano, strings and fragile voice embrace a sadness. Drums and guitar build, lifting the song into anthemic realms of celebration. Over the course of seven minutes’Drop Me Down’ continues rolling forward, gathering momentum and power.


Drop Me Down from Amen 2

Whereas on Amen 1 the singer-songwriter from North Finland was sitting alone on the porch of his small cabin by the lake, staring into the water and strumming his acoustic guitar, on Amen 2 he gets up and walks into the forest to celebrate a new found freedom, rising out of depression and confusion with a forward-looking hope.

But as Mikko Joensuu explains,

“There’s a certain balance to be found between an overwhelming joy towards the beauty of life and living, and not really knowing if the mind will collapse into the abyss again. On Amen 2 the light is definitely present, although it is more interested in observing emotions and thoughts than setting them in stone.”

On Amen 2 Joensuu explores euphoric long tracks inhabiting a similar musical territory as My Bloody Valentine’s shoegazer melodies and the space gospel of Spiritualized, infused with a sprinkle of The Jesus & Mary Chain on tracks like ‘There Used To Be A Darkness‘. It is a step into the light, in every respect, and a record that is built on the feeling of relief and acceptance.


There Used To Be A Darkness from Amen 2

Amen 2 by Mikko Joensuu is a truly brilliant album that deserves all the praise it receives. One of my the best albums of 2016. Now I am intrigued where Amen 3 will take us.

Mikko JoensuuAmen 2 is released on Svart Records.

Welsh indie rockers The Cradles release new single, Ideal Girl

Welsh indie rock band The Cradles are set to release their new single Ideal Girl
The Cradles

Welsh indie rock band The Cradles are set to release their new single Ideal Girl out on March 25th via Solva Records.

Ideal Girl tackles universal themes of wallowing in self-pity as one blindly searches for love and companionship. The track kicks off with a ‘Misirlou’ style surf-rock guitar riff before building into a undeniably catchy chorus akin to the likes of early Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines. There are elements of The Kinks and The Beatles circa Hamburg era, too.

Lead singer Joe Norman’s vocals water tight throughout, as he emotes an almost effortless feeling, whilst still managing to maintain a gritty yet dynamic rock sound.

[ad#cradles]

Having met at school in Cardiff in 2012, The Cradles quickly started to make a name for themselves on the local music scene in Wales. Band members Joe Norman (vocals), Kieran O’Brien (guitar), Luke Haines (bass) and brothers Toby Andrews (guitar) and Declan Andrews (drums) have been praised for their live performances in particular, cutting their teeth and honing their set while supporting the likes of Pretty Vicious and The Bohicas.

The Cradles have received support from the likes of BBC 6Music’s Tom Robinson, Radio X’s John Kennedy, BBC Radio Wales’ Adam Walton and Bethan Elfyn alongside a variety of online websites and blogs. As well as landing support slots, the five piece have also played a number of festivals including Swn Festival, X Music Festival and they will be supporting Bill Ryder-Jones this March. The Cradles are eager to show that they are not just another indie rock band, rather they are a band of unique personalities who’s mandate is to write and perform good old-fashioned rock and roll with a modern twist.

Ideal Girl by The Cradles is out on March 25th 2016 via Solva Records.

The Dirty Blonde – Sugarmilk

The Dirty Blonde - Sugarmilk
The Dirty Blonde - Sugarmilk

From a neighbourhood in Glasgow, The Dirty Blonde carry on the tradition of making great guitar pop songs, while taking inspiration from the the likes of R.E.M. and DIY heroes Ween, an early exposure to Scotland’s folk scene, and twisting in elements of Lemonheads, Husker Du and local heroes Teenage Fanclub. Also, reminiscent of the buzz gutiar heavy, sugar sweet indie rock of shoegazers like Swervedriver.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6gTQhgOhlE

Sugarmilk is a well rounded and very competent debut album. Blending indie pop sing-a-long songs like ‘Goodbye: Tiny Fractures‘ to the heavier buzzin fuzz garage rock, Husker Du influenced tracks like ‘Take You Under’ to the introspective alternative shoegaze of ‘Bottom Feeder’ and ‘Start Over’, with the rest falling somewhere in between, fusing the separate parts together into a cohesive, alt-rock debut album that stands out from the crowd.

Take You Under‘, which was released as a single earlier this year, may sound like a staple indie dance floor filler, but it’s soon elevated by Danny Gallagher’s gravel-coated vocals allied to the beautifully constructed interplay between guitars, bass and drums.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vWThHtjzBI

Never Suited You‘, my personal favourite, has that pure element of sounding familiar, and will have heads nodding and toes tapping.

Buzzin with musical energy from a young age, brothers Danny (lead vocals & guitar) and Paddy Gallagher (bass & vocals) along with Dean Canale (drums) and David Rybacki (guitar & vocals) were often kicked out of music classes at school, but refused to be discouraged as they experimented with a range of electronics, pedals and any other noise-making devices, as they attempted to push their sound to the limit.

The Dirty BlondeSugarmilk is a great album.  Full of energy, buzzin guitar, gravel vocals and sunshine smiles.  Sugarmilk is available via Two States Recording.