Denmark

Album Review: “Keep Your Batteries Warm” by Josa Barck

The space-time that Danish musician, Josa Barck, lives, breathes and creates within is one of vibrant sound and color. Thankfully for us, he is willing to share that universe and invites us to find a place for ourselves within it. Josa Barck is the anagram for musician/producer, Jacob Rask, who following nearly a decade of working with other Danish musicians like Alphabeat and The Broken Beats, has sought out a new niche. For him, creating music is not only his passion but a need/void he must fill.

 

Jacob Rask: “To me, it is about taking responsibility to create the world I demand to live in, and taking control over the culture. I make the music that I feel is missing and that I wish to hear. It wasn’t there before, so I had to make it myself.”

 

The classically trained musician spent five of his 15-year career with his saxophone at the Royal Danish Academy of music and in 2015, Rask released his debut record, Eurkea, in which he swapped out his saxophone for a guitar. Eureka is a collection of eight subdued and thoughtfully created tracks with gentle vocals and introspective lyrics. Race forward to 2018 where we all anxiously await the release of his sophomore full length, Keep Your Batteries Warm. This record is built from the same scaffolding of Eureka but is reinforced, decorated and draped in new rich, exciting and decadent colors that celebrate this life we live within despite the trying times we all face. When Rask was asked about the title of this new record, he gave both a short and a long answer. The short answer was simple, he liked the way those words fit and flowed together. On the contrary, the title also goes below the surface.

 

Jacob Rask: “’Keep Your Batteries Warm’ is really just my own little 2018 updated version of the old saying ‘Keep Your Powder Dry’. To be prepared for battles ahead. But to me it’s a bit more two sided. I definitely believe there is battles ahead of us, if we hope to create a better world. Not necessarily fighting in the street and such, but one way or the other…At the same time, ‘Keep Your Batteries Warm’ is about optimism and hope. And that something good is on its way. Like: ‘Hang in there, everything will be all right.’”

 

Earlier this year, he released the second single off the album, “Everybody Everywhere.” It’s a fast-paced rolling track that features a completely different vocal quality from Rask compared to Eureka. His voice demands your attention not only to the sounds he’s creating but also the lyrics and the message he is conveying to you. Over and over again he says:

“That’s what everybody wants,

That’s what everybody hunts.”

 

 

The single is the second track on the record, following “Pattern Pageantry”, a pulsing instrumental introduction. It is about the lifelong search we all endure for love and how we all feel that we need to be everywhere at once, experiencing everything all at once in order to succeed. In the words of Rask, “I recognize the search for love as a driving force behind everything I do, but I am beginning to learn, that the search of love, is not so much about chasing something I lack in my life, as it is about perceiving the love that I am slowly realizing, is everywhere all the time too.”

 

Following “Everybody Everywhere” is “Salute”, which was the first single Rask released after Eureka. These two tracks give listeners who know Josa Barck’s music something familiar to suck them into the record before he launches them unforgivingly into the rest of the album. “Clandestine” is a celebratory and trilling track, while “Everywhere at Once” is a nod back to the single, “Everyone Everywhere.” It has overlap in mood, lyricism and concept but it is a slightly more restrained iteration. It is a reminder to the listeners of the message Josa Barck is trying to convey: keep looking for love, everywhere and you will find it because it is already there.

Other tracks like “Neverhours” and “Bantam” are adventurous, dream-like works of art that pull you deep into this effervescent universe that Rask has created on Keeping Your Batteries Warm. Repetitive lyrics, chants sung in harmonies and rounds, and whimsical sound effects bring a childlike sense of joy and revel to the record. Rask really taps into that sense of wonder on “People Reflect the Weather.” The track builds slowly to a most glorious place where it hovers, and gently returns to where it started.

Keep Your Batteries Warm is due out October 19th through Tangleville Records in cooperation with Wonderwhy Music Company and Pop-Up Records. You can follow Josa Barck on Facebook, Spotify, and his official website.

A delicate piece from Another Juggle: “Shield”

“Shield” was actually born quite some time ago, back when Danish dream-poppers, Another Juggle, were working on their previous album. However, the band being the musical perfectionists they are, found patience with the track and decided that they needed to spend more time with it since unlike their other tracks, it was written in 6/8 time. Band member, Thomas Haar, told me this about how the track came to be one of the first nights in their new recording studio:

“I brought a cheesy vintage piano with me which I had just picked up (I have a habit of collecting old keyboards and synths). To begin with we used its rhythm box as a starting point for the song which helped the 6/8 to make sense without being cheesy.”

 

And what they created is anything but cheesy. This track is oozing with everything soothing that I love about Another Juggle: delicious melody, beautiful lyrics, perfect musical layering, and an overall dizzy-ingly dreamy track. “Shield” is the latest single off of Another Juggle’s upcoming record. Check it out and keep up with Another Juggle via their Facebook and Soundcloud pages.

 

 

 

Decadent electronic from Denmark: New record and single from SAVEUS

“Greatness or Madness” is one of those songs that you have to listen to all of the way through…several times. There is so much going on this track. It’s aggressive, thick, and in your face all the while Martin Hedegaard still delivers some pretty gorgeous vocals in there. Hedegaard performs under the name SAVEUS, a name that has been gathering attention in Denmark for his rich electronic sound that can be both dark and magnificent.

 

 

His debut record, Neuro, is out now on all your favorite streaming/purchasing platforms.

 

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:

 

Stream Yung’s debut record, “A Youthful Dream”, now!

Danish dream punk band, Yung, has already received a great deal of attention since the release of their EP, Alter, last year on Tough Love. Since then, the Aarhus-original four piece has been cooking up a wild and woolly collection of musical centerpieces. With only a few moments to breath on the record, Youthful Dream, is not a bedtime record. Growling vocals and fuzzy guitars encrust what are “youthful dreams.”

The album is streaming on Stereogum right now, will be out officially June 10th on Fat Possum and the band begins their tour in Brussels tomorrow!

June 7th: Brussels, BE @ Atelier
June 8th: Paris, FR @ Mecanique Ondalatoire
June 9th: Guildford, Boileroom
June 10th: Bristol, UK @ Start The Bus
June 11th Manchester, UK @ Fallow Cafe
June 12th: Glasgow, UK @ Nice’n’Sleazy
June 13th: Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
June 14th: London, UK @ Shacklewell Arms
June 16th: Brighton, UK @ Prince Albert
June 17th: Amsterdam, NL @ Black Eye Club (Oedipus Brewery)
July 1st: Toulon, FR  @ Rockorama Festival
July 16th: Haarlem, NL @ Kliko Fest,
July 17th: Leeuwarden, NL @ Welcome To The Village Festival

Pre-order Youthful Dreams from Fat Possum now.

 

Album Review: “Dance Sunshine, Dance” by Another Juggle

Another Juggle is an indie electronic band made up of four insanely talented and dedicated musicians, based out of Copenhagen, Denmark. Last year MFL had the chance to Skype interview the band and they were gracious enough to sacrifice a bit of their rehearsal time for me. The conversation started with Emil Eggert Scherrebeck (drums, synths) and Anders Cederblad Knudsen (percussion, additional vocals, guitars) but about halfway through, Thomas Haahr (guitars) joined in and finally near the end of our conversation, Nikolaj Dalsgård (vocals) showed up. We covered a lot of ground and if you’re interested in hearing/reading what we talked about, check it out here! It’s fully equipped with both text and sound bites of the interview.

 Since the release of Another Juggle’s tracks “Dance Sunshine, Dance” and “Not Now” and now the release of their full length, they’ve gained great momentum in Scandinavia and worldwide. They’ve been recognized both on the radio and the track “Not Now” found itself a spot on the “Best Songs of April 2016” Spotify playlist for Indie Underground. The band seeks inspiration for their sound from contemporary 80’s-inspired bands like Wild Nothing and Twin Shadow and bands that strike closer to home like Danish bands, The Kissaway Trail and Mew. Another Juggle’s music is doused in a reinvented 80’s sound that is truly unique to them.

This record comes from a group of musicians who care deeply about the process of writing the lyrics and music. They work painstakingly to achieve the best possible sound, rhythm and overall mood for each and every track. I could hear this drive during our interview and you can hear it in all of their songs. From start to finish, each track is carefully crafted, layered and produced in a way to give the listener the utmost joy in the experience of listening and to communicate the message and emotion of the track as purely as possible.

The record opens with my personal favorite, “Not Now.” It’s the perfect example of the flawless layering complexity between vocals and instrumentals. Everything feels right. The guitar, the synthesizers, the rise and fall in volume and the lyrics all come together to create a what I would call the perfect electronic/dream pop bit of ear candy.

 

 

Following is the title track, “Dance Sunshine, Dance”, which is equally as drenched in synthesizers in their finest form but is a bit more danceable than “Not Now.” In fact, it’s next to impossible to not dance to this track given the fact that the lyrics are begging you to dance. One aspect of this record and of the band themselves is their love of and ability with the English language. They take lyricism seriously. The poetry within their lyrics is equally as important as the instrumental aspect. They created a stunning music video for the track in collaboration with Emil’s cousin, Peter Scherrebeck Hansen.

 

The album is an amalgamation of tracks about love in all it’s beautiful and not-so-beautiful forms. The band pulls from personal experiences, wrapping their stories in synth and guitar-driven melodies. Within the track “Faceless/Demon” lies one of my favorite lyrics.

Leave me carefully, I’m someone’s son.

 This is a perspective that is difficult to have or realize when you love someone.

 “Faceless/Demon” is less of a dance-inducing track compared to others on the record but it and the previous track, “All Your Charms”, allow the listener to catch their breath and drown in the 80’s goodness.

The pace of the record picks up again with the infectious track, “Cities Crash”, and then gently brings you back down with “Climb”, a truly gorgeous piece. It’s clear the order in which tracks were put on this record is important to the band. Each track compliments the one before and after and highlights the bands’ ability to generate a record with ten truly unique tracks that still are part of something coherent and beautiful.

I congratulate Another Juggle on their debut record and can hardly wait to hear what’s next. You can find Dance Sunshine, Dance on Spotify, Bandcamp and iTunes now.

New band out of Denmark: LISS

Ever heard of Nordic soul? Liss is a group of four teenage boys based out of Aarhus, Denmark who will gladly introduce you to this style. Liss is composed of Søren Holm (vocals), Vilhelm Strange (guitar), Villads Tyrrestrup (bass), and Tobias Hansen (drums). They’ll release their debut singles “Always” and “Try”  that were produced by Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, King Krule and others) on the Copenhagen label ESCHO November 27th.

“Always” is a velvety track that rolls effortlessly over your ears:

and “Try” is equally as easy listening:

Featured Image by Alex Sturrock, courtesy of Pitch Perfect.

Stay tuned for more from this new young group!