lørdag 28. mars 2015

Nicki Minaj feat. Drake & Lil Wayne - Truffle Butter

Minimalism, simplicity, awesomeness, attitude. These are words that sum up "Truffle Butter", a song off the bonus track edition of Nicki Minaj's latest album The Pinkprint. It features guest spots from Drake and Lil Wayne and includes a sample from Maya Jane Coles' song "What They Say", and includes everything of the super cool British DJ/producer/recording artist's sound. It's a bit creepy-sounding, nocturnal and cold. That's cold as in devoid of warmth and emotion, but simply put, it's super cool!

Lyric video

Jonas Alaska - I'm Sorry

I have fallen head over heels in love with "I'm Sorry", a track from Norwegian singer/songwriter Jonas Alaska's new album Younger, his third to date. It's a simple pop song that turns into a power pop extravaganza; towards the end it blitzes into an awesome guitar solo before going into serious grunge territory, all the while keeping an eye on the prize, a great melody that anyone would give an arm and a leg for. Simplicity, but with a twist.

Watch and listen

Jamie xx feat. Romy - Loud Places

Little by little The xx "mastermind" Jamie xx is presenting his debut solo album In Colour to be released on June 1. Three songs have been released so far, "Girl", ""Gosh" and "Sleep Sound", and today saw the release of the wonderful "Loud Places", with vocals by Jamie's fellow xx singer/guitarist Romy Madley Croft. The band's two albums, 2009's xx and 2012's Coexist, created a sound all of their own, paving way for a new breed of British artists, and Jamie's solo debut should be really exciting and interesting as well judging from the songs we've heard so far. "Loud Places" is a downbeat, nocturnal, electronic soul-pop jewel of a song, with a very atmospheric music video for added pleasure. This is extremely cool stuff!

Watch and listen

fredag 27. mars 2015

Ultravox - Hymn

Ultravox Mk. 2, meaning with Midge Ure as singer as opposed to John Foxx who fronted the band's first three records, pretty much epitomized the short-lived New Romantics movement for me. Along with acts like Simple Minds, Visage, Spandau Ballet, Human League and Duran Duran they were the soundtrack to my adolescence and, as such, incredibly important to me. Their 1982 album Quartet is really out there, pompous, loud and seriously pretentious, but I can't help loving it dearly. "Hymn" is one of its key tracks, an over-blown, over-produced monster with Ure's strained vocals doing the song no favours. I can hear its many faults, but still it's a favourite of mine. I will always cherish this song.


Sting and why he's a hero in my book - an essay

I know quite a few people who simply loathe Sting whereas I think he's an actual hero. Why? Mainly because he used to be part of The Police, but also because he's actually very good on his own. I have written an article about him for the Norwegian branch of Universal Music, discussing how he's... well, disputed or something. If you don't know any Norwegian, copy and paste into Google Translate which may or may not help you. Or simply, listen to his music.

Read the essay

Bryan Adams - Summer Of '69

Last Friday was indeed a Fabulous Friday for me as I saw Bryan Adams live on his current Reckless tour, in which he's celebrating his landmark album of 1984. You can read my impressions from the show here. One of the key tracks from Reckless and indeed my all time favourite Bryan Adams song is "Summer Of '69", a hit single that I've always loved as opposed to quite a few other songs of his - read my review for the explanation as to why I didn't care for so many of the others. Well, "Summer Of '69" was and is and always will be a fantastic song, and if you're curious about its theme I can tell you that, no, it's not about the summer of the year 1969. So, here's my pick for this week's Fabulous Friday track to celebrate the onslaught of another weekend. Be sure to check out the previous picks here.

Watch and listen

torsdag 26. mars 2015

Sondre Lerche - Thirteen

Once again, a very inspired musical choice in the Norwegian TV program Trygdekontoret, where esteemed singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche performs a lovely version of the Big Star classic "Thirteen". Lerche nails the intensity of this wonderful song about adolescent love, alone with his guitar. It's naked and simple, just as it should be. What a great song this is, and for the record the original was written by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell for Big Star's 1972 album #1 Record.

Watch and listen

California Dreamin' - a playlist

Today winter returned to Oslo - with a vengence! It's currently snowing, and snowing, and snowing, and... well, you get the picture. Mysteriously, even though all bus traffic has been halted, I got to work only five minutes late, but sitting here watching the weather outside the window really makes me want to be somewhere else. Lucky for me then that I recently made a Spotify playlist for some friends of mine who's running a travel blog, bortebra.no, with 100 songs from sunny California. Not all of them are that sunny in disposition (i.e. Ice-T's "Home Of The Bodybag"), but still... you get the drift when you put it on listening to The Mamas And The Papas, The Beach Boys, Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg, Weezer, Albert Hammond and more.


tirsdag 24. mars 2015

Shania Twain is back - read all about it

Shania Twain has been away from the spotlight a few years but is most definitely back in the ring. I have written my views on her music in an essay commisioned by Universal Music now that the live album Still The One: Live From Vegas has been released. Written in Norwegian, so there you go. Best of luck!

Read the essay here

søndag 22. mars 2015

Jon McLaughlin - You Can Never Go Back

Pop singer/songwriter Jon McLaughlin, not to be confused with jazz guitarist John McLaughlin, was totally unknown to me until this afternoon when a friend of mine asked me to check out his song "You Can Never Go Back". And boy do I like it! An Electric Light Orchestra-inspired song that evens namechecks Kublai Khan's summer capital Xanadu just like ELO did with Olivia Newton-John in 1980, and sports a fabulous power poppish guitar solo that puts me in mind of New Radicals' awesome "You Get What You Give". The song is lifted off McLaughlin's second album, 2008's OK Now. Love it!


HIT ALERT! Chic feat. Nile Rodgers with The Martinez Brothers - I'll Be There

After his amazing guest spot on Daft Punk's masterpiece Random Access Memories two years ago legendary disco producer, guitarist and Chic co-founder Nile Rodgers is back in vogue. Gone for a few years, but definitely not forgotten, his contribution to "Get Lucky" and others songs on the album gathered a lot of attention and he's currently recording a solo album, as well as having put Chic back together for a new album. It will be issued in June and titled It's About Time, cleverly titled as it's Chic's first new album in 23 years. "I'll Be There" is the fantastic first single, and it pretty much sounds like they never stopped playing. The song and its accompanying video bridges the gap between past and present with lines like "I don't wanna live in the past but it's a nice place to visit" and archive footage put together with recent shots of the band on stage, and a fan - played by the American fashion model Karlie Kloss - playing some classic albums before going to the club to see Chic perform. It's About Time will most certainly be THE disco album of 2015.

Watch and listen

lørdag 21. mars 2015

Bryan Adams Reckless show reviewed - it's all about rock'n'roll

In recent years I have done a bit of musical soul searching, debating with myself as to whether or not my previous years as a "professional" music critic really had as much merit as I once thought. The obvious answer - when you pose such a question in the first place - is "probably not". What I'm getting at is that as a music critic you have a certain set of favourite acts, musical preferences and maybe even certain musical values, and more importantly, you have quite a few of the same that doesn't fit the norm and that you love to hate.

Bryan Adams is that guy that any music critic that enjoy, say... Bruce Springsteen, Dave Edmunds or Steve Earle - and let's not forget Ryan Adams - love to hate. True, I still get a rash when I hear "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)", but lately I have come to "understand" Bryan Adams' music on another level, one that simply says "this is fun".

That was my attitude towards the 55 year old Canadian rocker before the show he did in the concert hall Oslo Spektrum last night, and that is still my attitude today, even more so actually.

Foto: Helge Mikalsen
What Adams does on his current tour is celebrating the 30th anniversary of his 1984 breakthrough album Reckless. Touring with a tight band that is all about the music, he enters the stage with a smile, going straight into the song "Reckless", the title track that never was as it was left off the album and emerged last autumn as one of several bonus tracks on the remastered anniversary editions of Reckless. He may not go for the jugular right from the start, but on the second song, the album's opening track "One Night Love Affair", it's evident that this evening will be about rock'n'roll in its simplest, most basic guise. The next song is "She's Only Happy When She's Dancin" followed by "Run To You", and everything is perfect. We will get what we are here for, a night of fun, nothing more and nothing less, even if the next song, another outtake named "The Boys Night Out" may be a little less impressive.

OK then, time to reflect a bit further about my views on Bryan Adams and his music. What strikes me is that although I'm really not that familiar with these songs, mostly having shunned them because I used to despise Adams, they (mostly) appear to be instantly familiar, instantly recognizable and to a certain degree gorgeously fun and dead catchy. The backing band known as The Dudes Of Leisure is amazingly tight, the sound is perfect and everything boils down to the fact that all five musicians seem to be having a great time themselves. I'm sure that this is what it's been about for Adams throughout his entire career, the joy of playing in a rock'n'roll band with musicians that are your friends and that know you as well as you know them, both in a musical sense as well as a personal one. Adams and fellow guitar slinger Keith Scott go at the job like there's no tomorrow, and the bass and drums, played by Norm Fisher and Mickey Curry respectively, is as tight as they come. The perfect band is then complimented by keyboardist Gary Breit whose job is to add mostly subtle layers of depth to the songs. This is rock'n'roll in its most basic and carefree form, not like the locomotive that is Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath, but more like the train wreck that is AC/DC or ZZ Top.

Adams' best power ballad, "Heaven", takes the proceedings down a notch, or wait. Does it really? For the first few stanzas Adams leaves the singing to the audience that knows it by heart and ecstatically shouts out the lyrics before Adams finally decides to help out. Then it's down to the nitty gritty again as the band explodes into a frenetic "Kids Wanna Rock", which sounds like ZZ Top at speed. Adams and Scott then have a bit of fun with "It's Only Love", originally a duet with Tina Turner, a guest spot that Adams then acknowledges with a certain degree of attitude after having finished the song, implying that upon the time of the record's release Turner was a huge star on the back of her Private Dancer album whereas he was not. "It's Only Love" helped him to become a star as well.

The band is not following the album's original chronology, but who cares. What follows next are "Long Gone", "Somebody", "Ain't Gonna Cry", and finally my all time favourite Bryan Adams song, "Summer Of '69", a song that I've always loved and never been afraid to admit. This is pure brilliance.

There's one last Reckless outtake, "Too Hot To Handle", before he's going for the inevitable "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)". Thankfully, this is where I have decided on a trip to the bathroom without knowing what was in store so I miss half of it. Next up is "If Ya Wanna Be Bad , Ya Gotta Be Good", a song that first appeared on the 1997 live album MTV Unplugged and this is where he needs a woman to dance for him, spotting a good-looking blonde in a see-through top among the audience, slightly embarrassing her, but she bravely dances throughout the song with the spotlight on her the entire time. Then it's "Cut Like A Knife" and the guy beside me is leaving, having heard the songs that he came to hear.

The rest of us stay, and thank God for that. There is still something of a hit parade to come, and we are treated to "Can't Stop This Thing We Started" which is a great pop song, as is "When You're Gone", the duet he did with Mel B of Spice Girls on the 1998 album On A Day Like Today. He performs it alone with an acoustic guitar as his only help, and it's a great sing-a-long moment. The rest of the show is a little hodge-podge in nature, but mostly fun. Among the highlights are "18 Til I Die", "Cloud Number Nine" and the wonderful "She Knows Me" (alone again), the only Adams-penned song on his recent covers album Tracks Of My Years, which is his best song in years.

He ends the show alone, with "She Knows Me", the Cuts Like A Knife track "Straight From The Heart" and a surprisingly good version of the dreaded "All For Love", leaving the audience highly pleased, yours truly most definitely included. It may not have been an evening for the history books, but boy was it a lot of fun! I would love to see this band again, and hopefully I will.

Mark Knopfler - an essay

On commision for Universal Music I have written an essay about the esteemed Mark Knopfler, who just happens to be the only (as far as I know) rock star who's had a dinosaur named in his honour. As he's just released his excellent new album Tracker I have taken a look back on his career. Apologies to those that don't know any Norwegian. For you I can only recommend some classes or at least utilizing Google Translate. Also, I have added a playlist with my favourite Knopfler tracks, from "Down To The Waterline" and onwards. Enjoy!

Read the essay


fredag 20. mars 2015

Alan Jackson feat. Jimmy Buffett - It's Five O'Clock Somewhere

It's always five o'clock somewhere, and today it's even Fabulous Friday. Country singer Alan Jackson enlisted Jimmy Buffett to help him out towards the end of this incredible party song and you'll soon know why, as Jackson's blending him perfectly into the song. It's already a good party but when we enter Buffett's fictional paradise Margaritaville it gets even better. If this doesn't get you in a good mood, nothing will. But remember - play it loud!

Check out previous Fabulous Friday entries here.

onsdag 18. mars 2015

Tobias Jesso Jr. - How Could You Babe

Tobias Jesso Jr. is a Vancouver singer/songwriter who puts me in mind of the best of pop music. His piano-led ballads are pure Paul McCartney, and naturally then they're pretty good. "How Could You Babe" is a wonderful song off his debut album Goon that is out this week. A name for the future, I'm sure.

Watch and listen

tirsdag 17. mars 2015

St. Patrick's Day special playlist

"Oh Katherine, take my hand, I've got three pounds and change, and I'll sing you songs of love again, and when I get too drunk to sing, we'll walk in the Irish rain."
Well, it's Saint Patrick's Day again and so we celebrate with this fabulous playlist featuring a whopping 75 songs that are Irish or very closely related to Ireland. The above lyric is an excerpt from the American bluegrass band California and their jubilant tribute to the green island of Eire. It sounds at least as Irish as more well-known songs present on the list, such as "Whiskey In The Jar", "Seven Drunken Nights" or "Carrickfergus", so it'll do nicely. It perfectly describes the true Irish staples love, lack of money, song, drunkenness and bad weather in a few lines.
You will find a lot of proper Irish classics though, old and new, and a few more recorded by foreigners such as Bruce Springsteen and Norwegian sibling duo Eriksen. They nail traditional Irish songs "Mrs. McGrath" and "The Water Is Wide" as if these songs were part of their DNA. Happy St. Patrick's Day and, as they say, Sláinte!

mandag 16. mars 2015

Of Monsters And Men - Crystals

Here's the brand new single by the wonderful Icelandic band Of Monsters And Men. They enjoyed international success with 2011's debut album My Head Is An Animal and the single "Little Talks", and finally they're back with new music. "Crystals" is the first single from the upcoming June album Beneath The Skin and bodes really well. It sounds like a natural progression and a continuation of their jubilant sound that's now even bigger than before. Follow the link below to read a bit about the album and to see the lyric video for "Crystals", a truly wonderful song.

Lyric video

søndag 15. mars 2015

Arcade Fire - Reflektor

As I've fallen in love with Arcade Fire multi-instrumentalist Will Butler's first solo album Policy, I felt like going back to his band's 2013 album Reflektor and the title track with its fantastic music video. Here's what I wrote upon the time of release:

Art rock as dance music? That's where Arcade Fire go on their brand new single, "Reflektor", the title track of their forthcoming album to be released towards the end of October. Sung both in English and French and produced by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, it sounds like... well, a cross between Talking Heads and Laurie Anderson, the early singles of Australian rockers Hunters & Collectors, quite a bit of LCD Soundsystem of course, and, fabulously and surprisingly, a bit like Daft Punk. And of course themselves, but that goes without saying. Also, David Bowie guests, entering the song at close to the five minute mark of a song that's more than seven brilliant minutes long. What is the wonderful reality is that "Reflektor" may be one of this year's very best songs. I'm completely infatuated and in total awe. This is soooooo good, and from a band I've been a bit adament about. No more. I am so looking forward to the album! Also, the video is fantastic, directed by Anton Corbijn. 

Watch and listen

The Blue Nile - Tinseltown Is In The Rain

"Tinseltown Is In The Rain" is probably the most famous song by Glasgow's wonderful group The Blue Nile, the ensemble that only comes together rarely to record beautiful, ethereal music unlike anything else but still remaining pop. It was featured on their celebrated 1984 debut album A Walk Across The Rooftops, but featured here is a live 1996 version as performed on the TV show Later With Jools Holland at the time of their third album, Peace At Last. Stunning, of course.

Watch and listen

lørdag 14. mars 2015

Frank Zappa - Joe's Garage

I have to admit, I've never been a huge Frank Zappa fan. That in itself is probably an affront to all the dedicated Zappa fans out there, who are, as a general rule, more or less crazy. But what can you do? I fail to see the true genius here, but I still admire him as the uncompromising musician, songwriter and artist that he was. Without people like Frank Zappa, the world would be a decidedly duller and less interesting place. "Joe's Garage" (the song) is definitely one of his most accessible compositions, the second track on his concept album of the same name, that was released in two batches, act 1 in September 1979, and acts 2 and 3 as a double LP in November of the same year. They were all banded together for the CD reissue in 1987. I'll leave all the trivia of Joe's Garage to its Wikipedia page, but will just say that the six minute track is an adventerous journey into doo wop meets rock territory, with an inventive dose of special effects to liven up the day. Great song!


U2 - Stay (Faraway, So Close!)

The U2 album Zooropa, released in 1993, was a kind of companion album to their masterful 1991 album Achtung Baby. Nowhere near as good, it did have a few good songs, chief amongst them was "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)". Originally it was written with Frank Sinatra in mind, but never got that far. The full story on the song can be read on Wikipedia, and it's pretty interesting, so I'll leave anyone interested to go there. Me, I'll stick with the actual song and the accompanying music video below which is fantastic, directed by none other than Wim Wenders, and featuring several of the actors from Wings Of Desire.

Watch and listen

Bob Woodruff - The Year We Tried To Kill The Pain

Happy birthday to Bob Woodruff who turns 53 today! Woodruff is blessed with an ability to write some truly extraordinary songs, but after two records things fell apart for him. His debut album Dreams & Saturday Nights (1994) and Desire Road (1997) are absolute favourites of mine, but a combination of bad luck, bad advice, a sick mother and a nasty heroin habit almost led to destruction and death. Well, he's back. After having released a "lost" record in 2011, he returned with a brand new one two years later, named after one of the best songs he's written, The Year We Tried To Kill The Pain. The album was a mix of old songs in newly recorded versions and newly written songs, and hopefully he's working his way towards another album as we speak. Featured here is the original version of the stunning "The Year We Tried To Kill The Pain" off his debut album. A true favourite of mine and quite the contender for best country rock song of the 1990's. Once more, happy birthday, Bob!


fredag 13. mars 2015

Highasakite - Rocket Man

I've said it before, and I will most likely say it again and again - there is no TV show on earth with more inspired musical choices than the Norwegian program Trygdekontoret. They keep inviting interesting acts having them perform surprising covers, and this week was yet another highlight. The band Highasakite is Norway's most popular band at the moment having sold quite a lot of their recent Silent Treatment album that has achieved - so far - a truly impressive 57 weeks running on the national album chart. Now they have been to the Trygdekontoret studio to perform a fabulous, eerie version of the Elton John classic. And I have never considered this before, but the band probably took their name from this song. I'm stunned!

Watch and listen

Charmed - My Heart Goes Boom

It's Fabulous Friday and as we'll find out tomorrow which song will represent Norway in this year's Eurovision Song Contest we're looking back to the year 2000 and the girl trio Charmed that entered the contest with a dead catchy Motown pastiche called "My Heart Goes Boom". It was not a great success, but not that bad either as it got to number 11 out of 24 participants. Charmed was, unsurprisingly, a short-lived act. They recorded one album in the wake of "My Heart Goes Boom" and then they went boom too. Still, this is a great song.

Also, you should listen to previous Fabulous Friday entries. They are gathered here.

Watch and listen

torsdag 12. mars 2015

Dingus feat. Alexander Lindbäck vs. One Direction - Fireproof

Norwegian alt country band Dingus has recorded a surprising cover of the One Direction song "Fireproof" in an attempt to reach a younger and slightly more female audience. The plan will probably not succeed, but they have done a great version of the song off the boy band's latest album Four, and it's almost twice as long. The original, which I had not heard until today, is a dead catchy, up tempo pop song, and the Dingus version is a slow, harmony-filled country waltz, featuring added vocals by Alexander Lindbäck of Seven Doors Hotel "fame". Lindbäck says he thinks the Dingus version is better and slower, and at least he's right about it being slower. I actually like both versions a lot. This is simply a great song. I wish I could credit one songwriter though, but there are five of them, including two of the One Direction members. I know a few people who can write a great song by themselves, but let's leave that aside. "Fireproof" is a good song, and that's that!

Tomorrow evening Dingus will be playing the Oslo club Revolver, and Lindbäck will attend to sing along on "Fireproof". Details here. Unfortunately, there's no word on any upcoming One Direction shows in town.

Dingus version

One Direction version

Al Di Meola to Norway - ultimate playlist here

Larvik Gitar Festival is a small festival with some big names. The last weekend in March the quaint little town in the south of Norway will turn into guitar heaven for a few select people. The big draw this year is the legendary American jazz/fusion guitarist Al Di Meola, and this is actually huge, a booking to be proud of. At least to one of the organizers, Atle Rasmussen, who has dreamt of booking Di Meola since they started out six years ago. Last year he went to see Di Meola play in Hamar with his fellow organizer Anders Buaas and spoke to him after the show. According to Rasmussen this may be the reason why they finally succeeded in securing Di Meola for their small festival. Only 500 people will be able to see him on the festival's last day, but they are in for a treat. Rasmussen has compiled a short playlist with his favourite Al Di Meola tracks for the listening pleasure of those who are interested, and you should be. Although not the kind of music I normally listen to, it's easy for me to understand why guitar players and fans alike are so fascinated with Al Di Meola. He's one of the world's most respected guitar players and, may I add, quite inventive as well.

Other acts this year are Knut Reiersrud & Iver Kleive, Andy Timmons Band and Freak Kitchen. Check out their website here.

Spotify playlist

Al Di Meola flanked by organizers Anders Buaas (left) and Atle Rasmussen.

onsdag 11. mars 2015

Stiff Little Fingers - Nobody's Hero

Today is a very, very sad day. One of the best independent book shops in the world, or possibly the best, Tronsmo in little, insignificant Oslo, has lost the lease for their premises and must move and most likely close and quit what they have spent more than 40 years establishing. This is a book shop frequented by people like Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg and many other "alternative" voices, and this all makes me want to play some loud, angry old school punk. A song I really love is Belfast band Stiff Little Fingers' 1980 single "Nobody's Hero", released around the time that I discovered Tronsmo, which has been some sort of second home for me, and a better place for education than any school ever were. All hope is not lost, but it does not look good. Anyway, here's Stiff Little Fingers. Play it loud!

Watch and listen

Will Butler - Anna

Arcade Fire multiinstrumentalist Will Butler released his debut solo album Policy this week. It's a short, eight song set, varied as you please, with punk rock, synth pop and big balladry influences all over the place, in a kind of schizophrenic record that somehow makes total sense. "Anna" is the album's lead single, an amazing pop song that marries synth pop, soul and rockabilly in a strange, but really cool fashion. An amazing track, as good as anything by Arcade Fire. Having said that it would have been a perfect addition to their last record Reflektor.

Watch and listen

tirsdag 10. mars 2015

Ane Brun - Directions

Today Norwegian singer/songwriter Ane Brun has released her brand new single "Directions", a hypnotic, mesmerizing song written, not on piano or guitar as she usually does, but on a mobile app. According to Norwegian radio channel NRK P3 she sketched the song to the rhythm samples in the app, then added the bassline and voice. The result is absolutely brilliant, and this is where I'd like to add for the benefit of all those that suggest that the human aspect is lacking from today's music with all the available technology that supposedly makes it "cold", that "Directions" is in every way organic-sounding and utterly beautiful. The humanity and warmth is here in spades, and the song marks a brand new direction for Brun. She has also directed her own video to go with the song, in which she's dancing throughout the three minutes it lasts. A perfect fit for a deeply fascinating song. "Directions" is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Watch and listen

mandag 9. mars 2015

Michael Jackson - Black Or White

After Off The Wall (1979), Thriller (1982) and Bad (1987), without producer Quincy Jones by his side, Michael Jackson had a hard time following this trio of pop masterpieces. Dangerous, released in 1991, still had a few gems, chief amongst them the first single "Black Or White". Bill Bottrell's awesome guitar riff (not played by Slash as many seem to think) is basically what gets the song going and it pumps through it as if there's no tomorrow, and the rhythm patterns further nails the track, making it one of the best songs among Jackson's later output. It also features a short rap segment performed by L.T.B. that was very much of its time. The video cost I don't know how many million dollars to produce and is amazingly directed by John Landis, who also made the famous "Thriller" video some years earlier.

Watch and listen

Van Morrison feat. Mark Knopfler - Irish Heartbeat

Van Morrison's forthcoming album Duets: Re-Working The Catalogue is exactly that, a record on which Van the Man sings a selection of his old songs as duets with different guests. So far, two songs have been made available - "Real Real Gone" as an amazing duet with Michael Bublé and "Some Piece Of Mind" with the late, great Bobby Womack - and today a third track was put online, a version of "Irish Heartbeat", the title track from Morrison and The Chieftains' collaborative 1988 album, this time around with Mark Knopfler. This is the third time Morrison records it though, as it first appeared in 1983 on his album Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart.


Hør hele Daniel Kvammens debutalbum nå

Endelig kan du høre hele Daniel Kvammens debutplate Fremad i alle retninga. Den er ikke i salg før fredag, men fra i dag kan den streames i sin helhet på WiMP. Jeg har spilt singlen "Du fortenar ein som meg" flere ganger enn jeg kan telle i vinter, og jeg har vært så heldig å kunne høre albumet i noen uker nå også. Fine, fine, FINE ting.

Mange vil nok dra kjensel på "Ingen vega utenom" som var Daniels debutsingle høsten 2013, men da i en annen versjon. Nå er den spilt inn på nytt så den bedre kler lydbildet på Fremad i alle retninga, som er ypperlig kjørt i havn av Even Ormestad kjent fra Jaga Jazzist. Ved siden av "Du fortenar ein som meg" er min favoritt på albumet det avsluttende tittelkuttet, en aldeles griselekker, stillfaren og underfundig liten ballade om det å dra fra hjembygda for å satse på noe større, men aldri gi slipp på hvor du kommer fra. I Daniel Kvammens tilfelle er dette Geilo i Hallingdal, og bygda har grunn til å være stolt av ham. Bravo!

Hør platen

Carly Rae Jepsen - I Really Like You

Carly Rae Jepsen's new single "I Really Like You" may be a lightweight song. Feelgood, but nowhere near as good as "Call Me Maybe" was. The video though? Woohoo! It features Tom Hanks as some sort of elder celebrity (himself perhaps?) that wakes up, gets out, lip-syncing his way through town, meeting strangers wanting to get selfies with him and so on and so forth. Eventually he meets up with Jepsen, and towards the end, as they're both dancing in the street with a lot of other people, even Justin Bieber pops up. Have a look for yourself, it's an amazing video!

Watch and listen

søndag 8. mars 2015

Sade - Cherish The Day

One of my all time favourite female singers, Helen Folasade Adu, more commonly known as Sade Adu, lead singer of the band Sade, sings more beautifully than most, and the band's songs are delicately structured compositions where pop and jazz meet and head for higher territory. There is an elegance to their songs rarely if ever found in popular music with Sade's silky smooth voice lying perfectly over subtle musicianship and ever so cool arrangements. I've never seen the band in the flesh, but I've seen a couple of their concert films, and they are remarkable. I'd really, really love to see them some day. For now though, we're headed for one of many classic videos, the beautifully shot "Cherish The Day", in black and white, with Sade on top of a New York City skyscraper, and as this song is off 1992's Love Deluxe album you can also see the Twin Towers in the background. An amazing song!

Watch and listen

Warren Zevon - Hasten Down The Wind

One of the best singer/songwriters to ever record a song, Warren Zevon wrote some truly amazing songs throughout his career. "Hasten Down The Wind" is among is his best known songs and appeared on his absolutely fantastic eponymous major label debut in 1976 along with tracks like "Desperadoes Under The Eaves", "Mohammed's Radio" and "Carmelita". Linda Ronstadt also made it the title track of her seventh solo album that same year, and her version is also, naturally, astounding. Here though, is the man himself.


What if... there were to be a High Fidelity sequel?

"What would happen in a High Fidelity sequel?", Nick Hornby muses in a new essay published exclusively by Billboard. As his seminal novel turns 20 this year the British author discusses the improbability of him actually writing a sequel and also how the record stores of today compares to those of 1995. Are the mean clerks still out there, "sneering at your bad choices"? Read and find out.

Read essay

lørdag 7. mars 2015

George Harrison - My Sweet Lord

It's hard to tire of "My Sweet Lord", George Harrison's wonderful pop song and hymn to Krishna. Its call for peace and love is timeless and the fact that it also asks for the abondonment of religious sectarianism doesn't hurt at all. Harrison was found guilty in subconsciously ripping off the 1963 hit "He's So Fine" by The Chiffons and written by Ronnie Mack, but that aside it's still a great, great composition. It was released in 1970 as the first single from his triple album All Things Must Pass.


The Waterboys - We Will Not Be Lovers

Ha! Yesterday I bought tickets to see The Waterboys in Oslo in October. That's really something I look forward to as I haven't seen Mike Scott and his band perform live since 1986. That's right, a long time ago, and before their most famous and possibly best record, the extraordinary Fisherman's Blues from 1988 that was assembled from well over 100 different songs recorded over a two and a half year period. Here is the wonderful, seven minute "We Will Not Be Lovers", one of Scott's many brilliant songs. The folk rock on this album was both a surprising and in some weird way a natural continuation of Scott's musical journey. Listen to Steve Wickham's fiddle on this track, and you're hooked. It's such a great song, and hopefully it will be in their live set come October. Fingers crossed!


Electric Light Orchestra - Yours Truly 2095

ELO's 1981 concept album Time is generally not regarded as among their best, on the contrary rather. That doesn't concern me much though. I love the album that tells the story of a man from the 1980's finding himself of a sudden in the year 2095, unable to return to his previous life, and all the wonders he's encountering. "Yours Truly, 2095" sees the hapless protagonist writing a letter back home to his girlfriend/wife, telling her "I met someone who looks a lot like you, she does the things you do, but she is an IBM" and, later, "she's also a telephone". The future looked a lot different in 1981 than it does today...


fredag 6. mars 2015

An essay about The Jam's Setting Sons

In 1979 The Jam released their groundbreaking album Setting Sons, fronted as they were by a 22 year old Paul Weller finding his voice. It's an undisputed masterpiece that I have written an essay about on commision from Universal Music's office in Norway - in Norwegian. Check it out anyway with Google Translate as your possible new best friend, or if nothing else, listen to the album. Access in the link below.

Read and listen

The Mavericks - Dance The Night Away

Wehey! It's Fabulous Friday again and I so wanted to hear a Mavericks song. The reformed Florida country band has just released an awesome new album titled Mono which is SO much better than the 2013 comeback album In Time, but for the Fab Friday entry we really want to head for classic territory, going for the party classic "Dance The Night Away" from the 1998 album Trampolene. The video is of course great fun too. Have a look at this, then head over to my previous Fabulous Friday pickings.

Watch and listen

torsdag 5. mars 2015

Drew Holcomb And The Neighbors - Here We Go

Medicine, the awesome new record by Drew Holcomb And The Neighbors, is full of great tunes. The single "Here We Go" is currently getting some attention, possibly due to its video, a ridiculously offbeat performance video in which the band dress up at everything you've ever wanted to be in a costume party and several things you probably haven't wanted to dress up as too. The song is a laidback, Jack Johnson-style feelgood tune, just drifting along like a carefree summer breeze. It's absolutely lovely!

Watch and listen

Talk Talk - Tomorrow Started

Although well-loved and quite popular when they existed, Mark Hollis and Talk Talk's posthumous standing is larger than life, much due to their two final albums, experimental and wildly adventurous sonic masterpieces Spirit Of Eden and Laughing Stock. It's hard to find much wrong with an album like 1984's It's My Life either. "Tomorrow Started" is just one of those deeply felt, atmospheric songs that led up to the more minimalistic approach of the latter albums, really, truly beautiful in all respects. Here's a live version from Montreux in 1986, that adds one and a half minute to the studio version. That in fact means it's one and a half minute better than the studio version.

Watch and listen

onsdag 4. mars 2015

Marina And The Diamonds - Forget

Welsh singer/songwriter Marina Lambrini Diamanis is preparing her third album Froot fronting Marina And The Diamonds. She writes commercial pop music of high quality, and are known for awesome songs like "How To Be A Heartbreaker", "I Am Not A Robot" and the recent "Happy". "Forget" was released today, and it sure sounds like another hit. Great song and THAT voice. I love it!

Watch and listen

Lars Vaular & Elisabeth Carew - Even If The Rain

Trygdekontoret continues with the most inspired musical choices on Norwegian television, employing artists of every stripe to (mostly) do covers, many of them quite surprising. Yesterday saw hip hop singer Lars Vaular and r'n'b diva Elisabeth Carew sing "Even If The Rain", a cover of the short-lived hip hop trio Flava To Da Bone's 1995 hit single. The new version doesn't stray very far from the original, but it was pretty cool that this great pop song was picked up anyway. Keep them coming, Thomas Seltzer!

Watch and listen

mandag 2. mars 2015

Bloodhound Gang - The Bad Touch

Stupid, but oh so catchy! Bloodhound Gang's 1999 single "The Bad Touch" is a party classic, mixing a great pop melody, 80's style synth riffs and uh... "racy" lyrics. All in good fun though, if not in the best of taste.

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Tom Russell strikes again with The Rose Of Roscrae

The forthcoming double CD The Rose Of Roscrae is singer/songwriter Tom Russell's third installment in the trilogy that started with The Man From God Knows Where in 1999 and continued with the mysterious Hotwalker in 2005. In theory at least, The Rose Of Roscrae seems like the most ambitious of all his albums, in what is soon to become a 40 year long recording career. On two discs there are a total of 52 tracks that are linked together, telling a story of Irish immigrants to the American West. There are several guest artists here, such as Gretchen Peters, Augie Meyers, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and David Olney, and Russell have also incorporated the voices of American icons such as Johnny Cash, Lead Belly and the poet Walt Whitman. The Rose Of Roscrae will be released on April 13, but you can see a promo reel for the album below to get an idea of what to expect. Me? I'm ecstatic! Can't wait!

Watch and listen

søndag 1. mars 2015

Erlend Øye - Bad Guy Now

Off last year's beautiful Legao album, I've fallen in love with "Bad Guy Now", a song in which Erlend Øye sings about how we cruellly manipulate other people, as seen from different points of view. For the album he armed himself with the Icelandic reggae band Hjalmar as backing musicians, who on this particular song proves they can perform sunny-sounding, Californian-style west coast pop equally good. The melody is of course killer, as Øye really has a knack for those. If anyone can pick a great tune out of a hat, it's definitely him.


Kaleo - All The Pretty Girls

This week my wife visited her Icelandic family and came home yesterday with some new names for me to check out. The best of the bunch were Kaleo, a young band that's supposedly really popular in Iceland. Their eponymous debut album from 2013 reached the number one spot at home, and now they are heading out, playing on SXSW in Austin later this month. They should have everything going for them there, as their music is wonderful folk-pop, slightly reminscent of bands like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers. Their latest single "All The Pretty Girls" is simply amazing. Unfortunately that's the only song to be found in Spotify and WiMP, but check out some other videos on YouTube if you're interested. Anyway, start with "All The Pretty Girls" by following the link below. Great video too!

Watch and listen