Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Francis: Turning A Hand + Follow Me Home

Falun based quintet Francis has been called Sweden's best kept secret - hopefully that will change as the word spreads about their intoxicating sound. Founded a full decade ago in Mora, only Petra Mases - who provides the utterly gorgeous vocals - and guitarist Petter Nygårdh remain of the original line up; newer members are Paulina Mellkvist (bass), Oscar Bond (keys) and Jerker Krumlinde (guitar).

The debut album 'Lekomberg, We Were Kin' was released in 2011; the EP 'This Must Be Blood' followed in 2012. On February 5 they dropped the full-length 'Marathon', containing eleven tracks. The album was recorded in two stages: the first close to home in the picturesque village of Gagnef (very Lord of the Rings), the second in Brooklyn with acclaimed producer Nicolas Vernhes (Animal Collective, Bjørk, and more).

Two excellent videos have been published to accompany the outstanding songs "Turning a Hand" and "Follow Me Home"; the first directed by Malin Norberg, the latter by Johan Stolpe.

There are two gigs coming up in Sweden this week: February 12 in Stockholm and February 13 in Gothenburg. Between April 20 and April 30 ten shows are scheduled around Germany: they start off in Hamburg and finish up in Leipzig,

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Junior Boys: Over It

Greenspan & Didemus 

Canadian duo Junior Boys dropped the eleven-track full-length 'Big Black Coat' February 5, their first studio album since 2011 and the first one released by renowned German label City Slang, based in Berlin where Matt Didemus has relocated to; Jeremy Greenspan remains in Hamilton, Ontario. It would appear the changes have made the boys better than ever because the second single "Over It" is simply perfect.

The two have a very busy North America/UK/continental Europe tour schedule this winter/spring: they kicked it off this week in Canada and wrap it up April 9 in Toronto. A June 12 festival appearance in Victoria Park, London has also been announced and more summer gigs are sure to be added later.

The video was directed by fellow Canadian creative Lee Skinner.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Lukas Graham: 7 Years

Daugaard (keys), Lukas (vocals) Magnum (bass), Lovestick (drums)

As a Dane living in Southern California, I have to say it was pretty trippy to hear a Danish band on L.A. radio station KKRQ the other day. The quartet Lukas Graham takes its name after 27-year-old frontman Lukas Forchhammer as well as his Irish father Eugene Graham who lived and worked in Copenhagen's famous 'Freetown Christiania' community until his death at age 61 in the fall of 2012, the year his son hit it big in Europe.

The fourteen-track debut full-length 'Lukas Graham' dropped that same year in Europe; its cover was used again in 2015 for the follow up twelve-track album, nicknamed the 'Blue Album' and also self-titled.  March 25 will see a worldwide release of the eleven-track 'Lukas Graham' album; the songs are almost exclusively taken from the ''Blue Album'.

The band's huge international hit and the opening track on the coming worldwide release "7 Years" is a moving tale thanks to its poignant lyrics and flawless vocals; it is accompanied by an excellent b/w video by NYC based Danish director Rene Sascha Johannsen.

No shows in Denmark or elsewhere are currently scheduled, but that is bound to change after March 25 so be sure to check their FB page for tour updates.

NOTE: The art work used for the album covers is a 1992 painting by Danish painter Lars Helweg who based it on a b/w nude photo of Swedish movie star Anita Ekberg (famous for her small but pivotal role in Fellini's classic 1960 film La Dolce Vita) published in Playboy Magazine in 1956.  Helweg's painting was previously used by Danish hard rock band September for their 1995 debut album; also their last. The original still hangs at Cafe Wilder, a stone's throw from Christiania; its title is 'The Lady with the Bottles'.

NOTE: iTunes cropped the image so that only the woman's face is shown. For the March 25 album release, Warner Brothers has opted for what might be termed semi-censorship, using a doctored version featuring a young boy standing in front of the painting in an art museum setting, a security guard to his left.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Max Richter: Path 5 + Dream 13 + Dream 3

Today's post features music somewhat different than what I normally blog about here on The Nightfly: three tracks by acclaimed German-British composer/producer Max Richter, all taken off the one-hour work 'from Sleep' (his 31-track album 'Sleep' is no less than eight hours long; it should be noted that it does not contain the seven tracks found on 'from Sleep'.)

Featuring stunning vocals by renowned British soprano Grace Davidson, "Path 5" is my favorite of the three, as is the accompanying video by award winning film maker Yulia Mahr, creative director at Studio Richter Mahr; she also created the clips that accompany the instrumental tracks "Dream 13" and "Dream 3".

Grace Davidson will be performing May 14 - 29 with Richter at seven UK concerts (two of these are at the Barbican in London; one has already sold out): on the program is 'from Sleep' as well as 'The Blue Notebooks', his 2004 album.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Phlake: Pregnant + So Faded + Like You

Despite having been introduced four years ago by mutual friends, it took a while for established producer Jonathan Elkær to officially team up with then unknown singer Mads Bo to create music that began to generate well-deserved buzz in their native Denmark last year. Going by the name Phlake, the two were signed to Sony Music which released two singles in May and September: the über chill "So Faded" and the flawless "Pregnant". A third excellent track "I Like You" will be included on the debut EP, set to drop this year. All of the duo's lyrics are co-written by multi-talented Gisli Gislason, also based in Copenhagen.

Phlake has a show coming up February 12 at Stars in Vordingborg. October 28 and 29 they have two prestigious gigs at Train in Århus and Store Vega in Copenhagen, respectively. A number of additional dates will no doubt be announced on their Facebook page as we get further into 2016.

I'm also posting a outstanding live stripped-down performance of "So Faded", recorded in Copenhagen June 10, 2015 as part of the ongoing intimate concert series Sofar (Songs From A Room).

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Aurora: Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)

I became familiar with Norwegian artist Aurora a year ago, and although I definitely took note, it wasn't until I watched the live stream of the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo on December 11 last year that I truly became a fan. The night was packed with stellar contributions by Kygo, a-ha, Mø and more, but when the 19-year-old sang her original composition 'Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)', expertly accompanied by fellow Bergen singer-songwriter Odd Martin Skålnes on acoustic guitar, you could hear a pin drop, the melody and lyrics filling the large space as she told her haunting tale, one which easily holds a candle to those penned by two of her biggest idols, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan.

Aurora´s 12-track debut full-length 'All My Demons Greeting Me As a Friend' drops March 11; a deluxe edition containing 17 tracks will also be available.

She has a string of shows lined up in the UK, continental Europe, and the U.S. between February and May. NOTE: She'll also be performing at the Roskilde Festival (June 25 - July 2.)

Update February 2: ten additional UK dates have been scheduled between October 3 and October 16.

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie: Lazarus + Heroes

David Robert Jones, age eight, 1955, Bromley, Greater London

I was as surprised as anyone when I read the news that David Bowie died from liver cancer yesterday, only two days after his 69th birthday; the same day he released his twenty-fifth studio album 'Blackstar'.  Utterly unique and a bona fide genius, he created a treasure trove of music throughout five decades, an accomplishment hard to fathom.

For this blog post I chose an early school picture rather than a photo showing one of his many fascinating recording/stage personas because it freezes a moment in time when not even lil David Jones could have predicted the brilliant career of David Bowie. Or could he? Is that why he's smiling?

The beautiful second single "Lazarus" dropped December 17 and is a fitting swan song from Bowie. The stellar video, published January 7, was directed by Johan Renck (who also directed the clip that accompanies the first single "Blackstar".)

Everyone has their favorite Bowie songs: mine is "Heroes" and so I am also posting his classic from 1977.