Quality And Quantity: Torgeir Waldemars - Highasakite - The Little Kicks - Fleurie

Torgeir Waldemars - Sylvia (Southern People).

Background - Torgeir Waldemar took the Norwegian people and music press by surprise with his eponymous debut album in 2014. Who had thought that the black-clad, long-haired 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.  Website here, and Facebook here.


I suppose technically 'Sylvia (Southern People)' is the B-Side to 'Summer In Toulouse' and that's a really fine song in it's own right, but I'm editor here and I get to choose my favourite! I just love this song, there's a little Neil Young and Crazy Horse about it, but so what, it's just so, so good...

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Highasakite - Golden Ticket and Samuri Swords (Acoustic Versions).

Background - Norway’s Highasakite’s release their superb ‘Acoustic Versions’ last Friday via Propeller Recordings - with the four track release showcasing their undeniable pop sensibilities, whilst specifically highlighting Ingrid Helene Håvik’s instantly recognisable, and immaculately presented vocal talents.

A stark, spellbinding release - the four tracks encompass a broad spectrum of sound palettes. Sweeping piano turns and a gloriously high reaching vocal performance stand out on EP opener ‘Samurai Swords’; elegantly swerving into the hushed beauty of the ‘Golden Ticket’ acoustic rendition - featuring Ingrid’s sumptuous zither work in its rousing chorus. Highasakite’s darker tendencies shine through on ‘Since Last Wednesday’ - with the EP culminating in a euphoric, otherworldly interpretation of ‘Leaving No Traces’ - once again presented with a backdrop of intricate piano work.


 Stripped of the multi-layered synths on sophomore album ‘Camp Echo’ - with a poignancy bereft of the dark and pummelling perplexities displayed on their usual output - Highasakite return to their more organic roots with the ‘Acoustic Versions’ EP. Featuring sprawling arrangements from accomplished pianist and band member Marte Eberson – Bachelor of Jazz, The Grieg Academy (2007-2011), Sund Folkehøgskole (2006-2007) and Foss Videregående Skole (2003-2006) – alongside the signature vocal of Ingrid Helene Håvik, a graduate of Trondheim Jazz Conservatory in her own right.


 

Recorded live from Propeller Studios in Oslo, all within a few hours, the EP calls on a selection of analogue equipment and pianos, including an Ed Seiler upright, tack piano, Bechstein Grand, pump-organ and zither. Highasakite have gone from strength-to-strength in 2016. Since its release in May, 'Camp Echo' has surpassed 13 million streams on Spotify alone and motioned a busy live schedule, including main stage headlines at Norway's five biggest festivals, alongside international routing via Glastonbury, Latitude, Hurricane and Roskilde. Website here and Facebook here.

The acoustic version of 'Golden Ticket' is accompanied by the above video which adds some real insight into the acoustic sessions. We featured the original version of 'Samuri Swords' earlier this year. I have to say all four new versions on the EP are a delight to listen to. Somehow they have managed to add depth and power, creating beautifully crafted music alongside the incredible vocals.

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The Little Kicks - Goodbye Enemies, Hello Friends.

Background - The Little Kicks have shared a video for their new single "Goodbye Enemies, Hello Friends" and announced a new album "Shake Off Your Troubles" due for release on March 3rd 2017 through Loosen Up Records.

The Little Kicks first emerged around five years ago, a young Aberdeen band with the wind in their sails. A crisp, upbeat debut album followed, laced with off-kilter indie pop worthy of comparison to early Franz Ferdinand, The Long Blondes, or even Sparks. Then, the band took some time off to reassess, re-jig their personnel, and are now ready to stake their return...

Through 2016’s political upheavals, and the loss of many a music icon, it’s been a year that many will be keen to see the back of, so it is perhaps with some foresight that The Little Kicks choose to name their 2017 album Shake Off Your Troubles. New single Goodbye Enemies, Hello Friends is in itself a nod to appreciating what you have in life, as singer Steven Milne elaborates;

“Lyrically this was the first song I wrote for the new album so it was the starting point and template for our new record in many ways. It's generally a song about being happy with your lot and appreciating what you have, and not letting anything get you down or get the better of you.  The overall sentiment is that things are going to be okay. This is echoed and in line with the title of our new record "Shake Off Your Troubles". There is a totally intentional Beatles vibe which you could say comes largely due to the name-check (and drum fill) in the last verse but I feel their influence was a natural reference point in the studio that suited the song.  The simplicity of having a heavy backbeat with melody moving on top and the drums not really changing is solid Ringo Starr. Of all the genres they covered they never really flirted with disco - so the brief sort of became “what if the Beatles went disco?” Website here and Facebook here.


If the melody, hooks and superb production don't get you with 'Goodbye Enemies, Hello Friends' then either your in the wrong place, or I had better start featuring North Korean nose flutes. This is for me, simply put, one charming indie pop song, and that's more than enough!

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Fleurie - Fire In My Bones.

Background - Nashville artist Fleurie has unveiled her music video for "Fire In My Bones," the fourth video released from her critically acclaimed EP, Arrows. "'Fire In My Bones' is a song about the inner battle for control that stems from unresolved or buried pain and shame," explains Fleurie. "This video tells the story of the little girl still alive in me, wanting acceptance for her failures, and the woman I am today fighting to reign victorious, to believe I am in control.”

Released back in September of 2015, Arrows proved to be a launching pad for the electronically-laced, cinematic, dreamy pop sound that has come to be synonymous with Fleurie. Nylon Magazine originally premiered "Fire In My Bones," citing her ability to meld a singer/songwriter approach with electronica. NPR Music highlighted the EP's second single, "Still Your Girl," saying, "...Fleurie uses heavy, jarring electronica to turn an airy pop song into something dark and downright luscious."

2016 saw the release of Fleurie's cinematic album, Love and War, which featured many songs that have received prominent placements in TV and film. "Soldier" was used in the international film trailer for Concussion starring Will Smith, "Hurts Like Hell" can be heard in MTV's Scream, and she's had multiple placements on CW's The Originals with "Breathe" and "Sirens." On top of that, she recently wrapped up a national U.S. tour alongside hip-hop artist NF.

In-between releasing Arrows, Love and War, writing for TV/film, and touring the U.S., Fleurie has begun writing and preparing for her next full-length release. Website here and Facebook here.


Third time feature this year for Fleurie on Beehive Candy, so I think it's safe to assume she ticks plenty of musical boxes for me. 'Fire In My Bones' demonstrates her creative and imaginative talent in copious amounts. The video is a fine uncluttered affair that adds some storyline to the song, however it's the music once again, that grabs and holds my attention.

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