Emilie Nicolas returns with new single Sky

When I first discovered Emilie Nicolas, I was blown away. That was almost three years ago now, and I can’t believe where the time has gone. The good news is she’s back with a new single, Sky, and it’s every bit as wonderful as her previous work.

Nicolas has one of those ethereal Norwegian voices that I just can’t live without. The work she put in on her debut album, Like I’m A Warrior, was superb. I was only able to get hold of it through a friend in Oslo, who sent me the CD. I just wish her managers would expose her to a wider audience, because she’s got such a wonderful talent, it deserves to be heard far and wide. Very little is available to listen to in Australia, which sucks big time for those without contacts in Norway.

However, 2016 sounds like it was a rough one for the young songstress. After the success of that debut album, driven in part by her brilliant cover of Pstereo, she was forced to go into hiding somewhat and cancel a bunch of shows because of illness.

According to her Facebook page, she’s slowly getting better and can’t wait to get back into the swing of things in 2017. We wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her back on stage fitter and stronger and with new material to obsess over.

 

Get high with Highasakite’s Golden Ticket

Norwegian indie band Highasakite are getting set to release their new album, Camp Echo, which is due out on 20 May. This weekend, they played a track from it, Golden Ticket, live for the first time on local chat show Lindmo.

It’s a slight departure musically from what we’ve been used to from these guys, with some pretty heavy and poppy synths in the chorus. But the subject matter is, as ever, a little melancholy.

Expect to hear a few more snippets from the new record over the next fortnight before its release. It should be a belter.

Maria Mena slays Sam Smith

When it comes to covers, you can either get it hopelessly wrong, or you can get it beautifully right. No prizes for guessing which side of that fence we think Norway’s Maria Mena falls with this version of Sam Smith’s Stay With Me.

For those of you unfamiliar with Mena’s talents, she’s been a thing since the mid-2000s, releasing her first album, Another Phase, in 2002 at the age of 16. A second album, Mellow, followed in 2004 which got her some serious attention across Europe. It was a bit Alanis Morissette, poppy with a slight edge to it, and set her up as an artist capable of hitting the charts and radio on a consistent basis.

Let’s face it, anyone that can sing the words “fuck you” like an angel is worth your attention, and that angel is Mena for sure.

Since then, she’s progressed superbly and recently released a new single called I Don’t Want To See You With Her, maintaining her habit of writing super honest lyrics to go along with some achingly catchy pop melodies.

This one is off a new album Growing Pains, which is set to be released in a few days’ time.

Of Monsters And Men have new stuff

Of Monsters And Men - Crystals

Of Monsters And Men – Crystals

It’s been a while since we heard anything new from Of Monsters And Men, but the Icelandic masters of the singalong are back with a new single, Crystals, and a new album Beneath The Skin. Take a look here.

The album is available on iTunes now, and I’ll be reviewing it, probably excitedly, as soon as I get a chance.

Emilie Nicolas releases Fail but can only succeed

Emilie Nicolas

Emilie Nicolas … packing a punch.

Many of you will know I’m already obsessed with Norwegian songstress Emilie Nicolas. I recently received the gift of her album, Like I’m A Warrior, which is absolutely outstanding, but unfortnately unavailable outside of Norway, it seems. Luckily I have friends in northern places.

Today, she posted one of the tracks on her SoundCloud page. Entitled Fail, it is anything but. A power-packed punch to the senses, it’s nothing short of awesome and shows a more aggressive side to Nicolas’s outrageous talents.

This young girl is already making waves in her native Norway. With tunes like this, there is no reason to think she won’t surf thoses waves successfully to other corners of the globe. Let’s hope so, because she is something special.

REVIEW: Highasakite – Silent Treatment

Highasakite - Silent Treatment

Highasakite – Silent Treatment.

We have another contender for Light+Shade‘s Album Of The Year already, and we’re not even halfway through 2014. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a good musical vintage.

Highasakite might not be a familiar name to some of you, but I’ve been reasonably in love with these Norwegians since hearing their self-titled 2012 EP. I caught them live at Iceland Airwaves that same year, sung along whole-heartedly to the best track from that EP, Indian Summer, and left in hope of hearing a whole lot more. Thankfully, just a few weeks ago, they delivered, and they delivered in spades.

Silent Treatment is the band’s first long-playerand while it has that certain Scandinavian air about it that so pleases me, it’s also pretty unique, largely because of Ingrid Helene Håvik’s unfailing ability to sing a song with breathtaking beauty. The compositions are excellent, too. Some are heavy on the electronics, others more on folksy banjos and accordions. Some are bright, some are sombre. There is country, jazz and pop. The rhythms vary delightfully from song to song. It’s a sweet collection, ordered perfectly, which isn’t something we often say about records in the digital age.

Highasakite formed out of the Trondheim Jazz Conservatory, like Emilie Nicolas, who I also wrote glowingly about recently. It seems to be a good place to learn the craft.

Håvik’s opening lines “Lover, where do you live?” ooze from the speakers with such breathy seduction that you’re immediately hooked. A sweeping and aching ballad follows. It’s an almost perfect start. “It would be nice to come home to a couch, and a stove, and a backyard,” she adds before calling out the song’s title again, Lover, Where Do You Live?

From this we transition into bouncier sounds. Drummer Trond Bersu’s influence becomes clearer the more you listen, too. As the co-founder and writer of the band’s music, he creates some sensational beats upon which Håvik’s vocals can bounce effortlessly. Since Last Wednesday proves the point, with a tribal flare somehow matched with folk overtones. It’s a bit Of Monsters And Men, but somehow more mature. Leaving No Traces follows a similar theme but with a Middle Eastern flavour. But it’s from track four where things really start to ripen.

Hiroshima, by far my pick of the album’s 12 tracks, is a marvellous tune. It builds gradually from what sounds like an air-powered organ into a driving, hypnotic rhythms. Brighter blips come in as we move deeper into the track, Håvik singing about carelessly walking around in Heaven having lost the Earth she so loved to human folly of the type Hiroshima became so infamous for. To that end, the wall of sound that takes the track to its conclusion is just superb. There is a stack of layers to the music by this point and it’s all quite overwhelming. But as if to save us from exploding like an atomic bomb ourselves, the blinding sounds dissipate and we’re left only with Håvik’s haunting “nanananas”.

My Only Crime follows, a lullaby or sorts, before we enter electronic-indie territory again for a rather dark track I, The Hand Grenade. Another rhythmic intro launches us into Darth Vader, a song that will certainly have crowds bouncing and singing along when this record is toured.

Iran is a cracker, very tribal again, almost like the soundtrack to an old Western, with Native American overtones throughout. Quite what it’s about is beyond me, but “I’d bring some booze, and go on a bender” is an inspired line in the context of a strict Muslim country, especially when it’s followed by “and I’ll befriend a married man”. Influences like Kate Bush pop out here, too. There are some extreme vocal gymnastics to admire.

Indians, as they became known in American, get a mention in The Man On The Ferry as we near the album’s denouement. Science And Blood Tests is another sensational demonstration of Håvik’s abilities. She almost yodels through the outro, but not in a cheesy Sound Of Music hills way. It’s more like morning birdsong. Really lovely and soothing.

We hit raw country on the penultimate When You Have Gone before the jazz that brought Håvik and Bersu together closes things out in the form of God Is A Banquet. You can imagine hearing this in a smokey club while sipping on a single malt, pained expressions on the musicians before you.

I really love this album. While only one song clearly stands out for me, the others prop it up with real strength. Listen, and enjoy. There are few bands out there with the versatility of Highasakite.