Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Top 5 Norwegian Releases In 2011

I know, I know, I'm late!! I apologize but here we go again! Another year is over and... WOW, wasn't 2011 a fantastic year considering all the Norwegian releases?

And indeed we find many jewels among the releases this year and it's difficult to put them in an order, especially if you're trying to pick the 5 most exraordinary ones. However, tastes differ but you should definitely make sure to check out these Norwegian releases from 2011!

1. Hanne Kolstø - Riot Break

Combine a fantastic singer/songwriter, a sunny summerly day where one's playing acoustic guitar, the gloomy atmosphere an empty street gets during the night and lyrics to sing along and to listen to closely with bells, claps, keys, effects, guitars and some orchestral-like arrangements. What you get is this album. A great debutalbum. What makes it so good is that the songwriting itself as well as the music around was done so extremely well. Not to forget Kolstø's ability to play with the moods, not only from song to song but also during particular songs.
And it's not surprising that this album got so many good reviews: "Riot Break turns out to be both irresistibly playfull and extremely sophisticated at the same time" writes Musikknyheter. "She's one of the greatest vocalists in this country, with a husky, powerful and unique voice that itself sounds more seductive than the most things in this world" said NRK Lydverket.
If you want to read an extended version of what I'm thinking about this album, you can read my "review" on my blog. I just can say that I'm deeply in love with Riot Break!

Released: 16th of September 2011 with Karmakosmetix Records

Listen to the album on Spotify. It can be bought on CDON.eu (physically as CD or vinyl) and on iTunes (digitally).

2. Jonas Alaska - Jonas Alaska

The young talent with the great lyrics!! Spellemann-awarded as newcomer of the year. And indeed there was a lot in the press and media in general about this 23-year old boy from southern Norway. Just listen to the lyrics - I need to put preassure on that! The music is embracing the texts. It's a sensitive and genuine style of music. A sort of pop mixed with country - lots of acoustic guitar in the main-appearance of the songs combined with decent and modest percussion, drumming, keys and harmonica. Liverpool-style!! You see, Jonas is a songwriter. Maybe he's not making people aware of critical aspects of life or politics or whatever BUT he's telling stories.
All in all a good and solid debutalbum. I recommend to listen to "October" even though it might break your heart a little.
PS: I can't even tell how happy I am to have seen him live once!
Norway can be proud of Jonas!!

Released: 23rd September 2011 with Jansen Plateproduksjon
Listen to the album on Spotify. It can be bought on CDON.eu (physically as CD or vinyl) and on iTunes (digitally).

3. Lama - Endless Repeats

I have heard of Lama before. Listened to a couple of songs. It would be hard to criticize them because musically seen, they're quite flawless. Fine rock music. But, for me, the music couldn't light a fire.... until I heard Endless Repeats!! It blew me a bit away. And, personally, I think it's the whole package that has taken on me: the style - this very "clear" kind of rock with the adequate amount of guitars, drums and keys. This kind of minimalism (thinking of their album cover, for example) - you get what you need and the album won't overflood you. I must also mention their music video to "Flashes" at this point: I love it!! Just as the music or their CD-cover, the video is clear and not too much! And "Flashes" is a killer-track.
A bit oddly actually that my favourite track on the album is "One Million Times" - must have heard it a million times actually!
A fantastic and surprising album! Many thanks to you six guys in Lama!!

Released: 30th September 2011 with Spoon Train Audio

Listen to the album on Spotify. It can be bought on CDON.eu (physically as CD) and on iTunes (digitally).

4. Team Me - To The Treetops

They're young, they're loud, they're happy and they're energetic!! And what a cool debut album they released there in 2011. To me they appeared out of nothing. Suddenly they were there - a band I really just discovered last year. What I love about their music is that they create an interesting mix of pop - pop orchestral sound, actually - with parts from rock, alternative, post-rock and fill it up with bells, lots of drums and keys. This music is sooooo rich in its sound, you'll get the feeling of listening to a whole freaking orchestra even though the band is just consisting of six - still, during concerts, those six people are moving more on stage than a whole orchestra, as a matter of fact. It's a rainbow of music (or something like that) and it makes you move.
You should definitely check "Weathervanes and Chemicals" as well as "With My Hands Covering Both Of My Eyes I Am Too Scared To Have A Look At You Now" (what a title!!).
Good debutalbum with rich and energetic sound - very unique!!!

Released: 14th October 2011 with Propeller Recordings

The album can be bought on CDON.eu (physically as CD or vinyl) and on iTunes (digitally).

5. Bernt Moen - Closure

Jazz?! Now we're talking!! "Closure" is one of the three studio albums Bernt Moen (aka Massive Skills) released in 2011. Bernt Moen is a pianist with heart and soul (this can actually be heard when listening to his music). And already being this solo-pianist he has those abilities (superpowers?! something in the Norwegian water?!) that will leave you breathless and stunned. But the reason I picked "Closure" is because I really, really like this interaction between keys and drums & bass. It can be wild, it can be tender but never boring. It's the things you could always imagine but never heard. This album should be way more known, I say!!I have actually a couple of favourites on this album: Open Water, Fluid Dynamics, Transition and Momentum (---> mind-blowing).

Released: 26th August 2011 with BAM Records

Listen to the album on Spotify. It can be bought on iTunes (digitally).

Apart from the jewels I spoke about above, here a couple more albums you should check out:
Nils Petter Molvær - Baboon Moon ("Mercury Heart" is one of the most beautiful and brilliant tracks I've ever heard), Jarle Bernhoft - Solidarity Breaks (nice tracks, good album but Jarle's speciality is probably to play them live - that's what's special about him), Valkyrien Allstars - Ingen hverdag (as the previous albums is this one full of norsk-sounding fiddle music - a must have!!), Splashgirl - Pressure (check "The Other Side" - fantastic track, good album), Petter Carlsen - Clocks Don't Count, Honningbarna - La Alarmane Gå, Oslo Ess - Uleste Bøker Og Utgåtte Sko, Bernt Moen - Solopiano Vol. 1 & Solopiano Vol. 2, Ane Brun - It All Starts With One,...

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