Month: March 2018

Interview: Danish band, Mom & Bear, release debut record (TODAY!)

Today, Danish alt rock band, Mom & Bear, have released their debut record, Bury Your Dead, on Celebration Records.  Jens Rahbek Johansen, the main man behind the band, helped me get a closer look at the record by answering some of my questions (full list of contributing musicians: Jens Rahbek Johansen, Torben Guldager Rasmussen, Morten Findshøj, Jacob Abildgaard, Ian Gregersen, Nina O. Christensen, Stine Steendorph Petersen, Veronika Krøll Voetmann). Check it out!

 

MFL: I understand this record has been somewhat in the making for six years. Music, and in a bigger sense, the world, have changed in the last six years. How has Mom & Bear evolved over that time both in a songwriting sense and as a band?

Mom & Bear has never been a band per se. It has been more of an ever-evolving music project. It started out as something I just wanted to do for fun, but at the core of this was a sense of staying true to the music – a no compromises kind of thing. The music and lyrics I wrote were to be my best – and in the beginning, it was just me experimenting in my studio. But there comes a point when you need the input and opinion of others. And that’s when I started to look around for musicians in my network that I held a high respect for – and I asked them if they wanted to join in and help me on this project.
I hesitate to call us a band in the classical sense, though – with 4 or so guys (or girls) contributing equally to the musicmaking process. In that sense Mom & Bear is still a music project revolving around my music and lyrics and thus, ultimately, a solo project. The other members bring sheer quality by their talent – and hence my music would definitely not have been the same without them.

 

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MFL: Along those lines, are there common themes in Mom & Bear that have held together over the past several years? If so, what are they?

I don’t know… That would probably be the shared love of music and the constant urge to pour it out.

I went through a personal crisis during that period – I had a daughter and she turned out to be sick, and that was quite the fist in the face of former dreams of parenthood.
I have always played music and it has always served as kind of a place to vent whatever demons I was struggling with. During this period, I became aware of an urge to make something for my daughter – something she could pick up and say ‘Hey, my dad made this – this a kind of reflection of him’ – in a way to show her who I am. So, this record kind of grew out of these facts put together.

MFL: Where is Mom & Bear based out of and does the music scene and general culture surrounding the band influence sound and content?

Mom & Bear is based in a relatively small town (by American standards) in the middle of Denmark. The music scene in DK is relatively small by comparison, and I believe that there is no longer such a thing as a true original – everything is influenced by something else. But the way you choose to mix up the various influences could make it original. And I think that’s what I’ve aimed for – that the sound was original in its own right, but recognizable – struck a core of recognition.

MFL: Bury Your Dead has a considerably dark undertone overall. However, I wouldn’t call the collective sound of the record dark. The content and sound are in contrast it seems. Can you discuss this?

The contrasts are very much on purpose. I love to play with contrasts and the emotions those contrasts awake in the listener. Dark and gloomy is my thing, but at the same time, this was not the only thing I wanted to convey. That even though times may seem dark, there’s almost always a flicker of light somewhere, too.
And then contrasts are just fun to play with – it can confuse you and make you curious, and annoy you too – exactly as I am in person!

 

 

 

 

MFL: If not addressed already, is there a particular message you would like to convey to your listeners through Bury Your Dead?

I don’t really work that way. The music is king. But if I had to say something to that end, the message of the album would be not to fear what might seem dark and gloomy so much. The album is in that way a reflection of my personal journey – a rite of passage – from insecurity and frail attempts to the freedom in the acceptance of who I am, dark, contrasted and not perfect – but no longer striving to be anything but what I am.

 

MFL: What are some of the oldest tracks on the record? To you, do they sound different than tracks that were written closer to release?

Some tracks have been under way for 6 years – and obviously my songwriting has evolved during that time so that now I’m more concerned with what I think of the song and not what my surroundings think. Guess that’s part of getting older too – not relying too much on the words of others. I seem more fearless now in my writing somehow. If you compare Talking to Zee and How I Lost Your Respect the former is the oldest – and to me that track seems a bit more fearful both in writing and arrangement than the latter.

 

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MFL: Now that the debut record is out, do you feel like you’ve gained momentum? What’s next?

The next album is already very much in the making – preproduction’s in progress and we expect to start recordings this winter.

And to look for new and exciting liaisons, new collaborators and to forge new musical boundaries! Yeah, pretty much..

 

Big thank you to Nicki Bladt of Celebration Records for facilitating, to Jens for taking the time to answer my questions, and to the band as a whole for making music ❤

Be sure to get your copy of the record and follow Mom & Bear on Spotify and Facebook.

Photo Credit for all images: Bobby Mandrup

 

 

 

 

Delicious synth pop from Another Juggle: “Fuzzy”

Danish synth poppers, Another Juggle, are at it again. I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing these fellows over Skype a couple of years ago (check it out here) and reviewed their previous release, Dance Sunshine, Dance (check out the review here). What I learned about these musicians is that they are perfectionists in the most beautiful way. Every note has a purpose, every strum of the guitar expertly timed. If you listen to their music with this in mind, you will understand. To give themselves a true challenge, they chose to reinterpret Grant Lee Buffalo’s 1993 track, “Fuzzy.” The original track lays the ground perfectly for Another Juggle’s gorgeous synth wave. Their interpretation adds new punctuation to the track but does not make it unfamiliar. To add to the excitement, esteemed recording engineer, Nicolas Vernhes (The War on Drugs, Deerhunter, Wild Nothing, Animal Collective among others), mixed the track.

Another Juggle had this to say about the new track:

“Fuzzy is an indie gem that has been lying well hidden since the band Grant Lee Buffalo released it 25 years ago in 1993. It has not been forgotten, but it´s certainly not everyone who knows this song. We think the song is just perfect and ready for a new interpretation. As a follow up on our previous album, ‘Dance Sunshine, Dance’, we wanted to raise our ambition even higher and made a list of the producers and mixers which we would most like to work with. Nicholas was on top of that list. We are very pleased and proud to present the first single and are looking forward to presenting more songs towards the full album release by the end of 2018.”

Check it out:

 

 

If you’re curious about the original track, here it is:

 

Album Review: “Sweet ’17 Singles” by Twin Peaks

ALERT BOZEMAN MUSIC-LISTENERS – TWIN PEAKS WILL BE PERFORMING AT THE RIALTO THIS TUESDAY MARCH 20TH. BE THERE OR BE…YOU KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!! TICKETS HERE!

Twin Peaks’ previous release, Down in Heaven (2016 Grand Jury), was the theme music to my spring of 2016. You can check out my review of that record here! Last year, the fellas spent the latter half of the year slowly releasing a couple of songs at a time from their latest release, Sweet ’17 Singles (2018 Grand Jury). These guys are known for delivering tracks that clearly display not only their skills as diverse songwriters, but as musicians that just make music for the fun of it. Much of their music is laced with a sense of the joy that comes with making music, despite the content of the track. The first release from Sweet ’17 Singles, “Tossing Tears”, is an insanely catchy track with infectious guitar licks, fantastic piano, backup female vocals (Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham of Ohmme) a weepy violin bit (Macie Stewart of Ohmme) and a group sing-a-long of “Na na nas” at the end. The track itself isn’t overly energetic and though it seems to be about the confusing nature of relationships, there is a brightness to it that is undeniably owned by Twin Peaks. “Tossing Tears” is hands down, a favorite of mine and one I surely look forward to hearing live when they visit Bozeman this coming March 20th.
Check it:

 

 

In stark contrast, “Tossing Tears” is followed by “Under the Pines.” It opens with a glorious “WOOP”, smattered with many more those throughout, and decorated with brass that gives it a real get-down-and-dance feel. Again, throwing listeners for a loop, the entire meat section of the record takes things down a notch. “Sun and the Trees” warms up gently with a good 45 seconds or so of instrumental to really let the mellow sink in. Many of the tracks are more swayers than a bouncers and head bobbers, each one packaged with that fuzzy twang that brings the warmth in Twin Peaks’ music. That warmth is what makes their music so approachable. What they’re doing doesn’t sound complex or overdone but at the same time, it’s not lacking. An excellent example is the more bare, stripped down track, “Fat Chance.” It’s the minimalist representative on the record. Later on in the record is another favorite of mine, “The Meadow.” It and the closing track, “We Will Not Make It (Not Without You)”, are the slow burners of the album. You must wait patiently through a majority of the closing track to get to the vocals that kick in in the end.

 

Sweet ’17 Singles is overall more mellow and simplistic than Down in Heaven. It really highlights who these guys are as songwriters, musicians and downright humans. If you need some easy listening that allows you to not get overly emotionally invested or try too hard to dig deep into the meaning of it all, this is the record for you. You can purchase the record on iTunes, Amazon, your local record store (Bozeman – Cactus Records) or the band’s website.

 

You can catch Twin Peaks touring with The Districts this spring.

 

 

They’ll be playing at Bozeman’s newest music venue, The Rialto (tickets here), this coming Tuesday, March 20th.