William Hut is a Norwegian indie/rock musician , formerly lead vocalist of Norwegian Grammy award winning Poor Rich Ones and solo since 2001.His most successful solo album was 2007's Nightfall which included the single Take It Easy. William released his most recent album Hafnir Games at the end of 2016 recorded in Norway and Iceland ; a little research reveals that Hafnir is a small village and the location of the earliest evidence of settlement in Iceland.
First track 'Two Different Ways' has a bright guitar melody and William's distinctive vocals which are reminiscent of Avi Buffalo or Death Cab's Ben Gibbard. The relaxed groove and big choruses continue through the first half of the album, special mention must go to 'Bliss' with it's ear-worm chorus “Show me where the wind will blow, The water flow and the crops will grow.”
The album's mood changes halfway through on 'What If I', with its simple stripped- back guitar, percussion and vocals. There's another abrupt mood change in the more electronic dash of 80's drums sounds of 'The Racetrack'. William delivers a credible impression of Michael Stipe on my personal favourite 'Balcony View' which would sit comfortably on any of the good late period REM albums.
An album of lovely, relaxed grooves for a perfect lazy Sunday morning listening treat.
I don’t suppose many of us have a great amount of Norwegian rock music in our collections - maybe A-Ha or Kings of Convenience ? Well, I’m pleased therefore to introduce you to Torgeir Waldemar who is to release his second album called 'No Offending Borders' on 17th March.
The eponymous debut album dropped in 2014, and was labeled an acoustic masterpiece on it’s release, however the press release promises a more diverse sound on the follow up.
This doesn’t seem quite true when track one starts - a gorgeous acoustic little number with added harmonica called 'Falling Rain' (Link Wray), and thoughts turn to a Norwegian Bob Dylan.
Track two however, is where the first surprise hits, the eight minute rocker called 'Summer in Toulouse', channelling Neil Young with it’s crunching guitars and pounding rhythm section. This is the definition of exhilarating, and the song is up there with one of my tracks of the year so far.
Waldemar states that "the album exists as a statement of the seriousness we meet in our everyday lives, from relationships breaking down to the global refugee crisis, and all points in between", so it’s fair to expect this to be a solemn album, but despite the subject matter, this is a deeply musical and dynamic album, beautifully produced and highly resonant.
'Island Bliss' and 'Souls On A String' are further delicate, acoustic folk songs that sit comfortably between the rock and roll, and just add to the albums appeal.
Album highlight is 'Sylvia (Southern People)', in which Waldemar again leans on classic Neil Young for style and rhythm, but who cares when this is the result. Stunning track.
Vocally, Waldemar is reminiscent of Father John Misty, his electric guitar playing is Neil Young like, and there are moments of Bob Dylan on his quieter acoustic moments, yet the sound is all his own. I’ve played this album (loud) indoors, on headphones, and whilst driving, and it seems to fit all occasions, it’s that good.
I hope this proves to be a breakout album for Waldemar, and he becomes recognised beyond his native Norway because this is a serious talent that deserves the kind of audience the aforementioned artists get.
Well I don’t know much about Lyle Christine, he comes from Glasgow (good start). ‘Duff Steer’ seems to be his eighth album and he is a great guitarist.
‘Duff Steer’ out on 20th March and is a straight between the eyes grunge rocker. I would imagine a power trio swamped in the influences of Rory Gallagher, Nivana and a touch of Thin Lizzy. Just under forty minutes, there is no lapse in the power throughout. The guitar riffs and solos are sonic heaven!
Lyle’s own press sheet claim’s “this is his strongest album to date despite the fact there are two sh*t songs on it". On listening I can’t find those particular two songs, for an aging rocker like myself it’s just best to stick this album on and turn up the the volume!
We also had a quick chat with Lyle to fill in the gaps;
Hi Lyle, how’s Glasgow treating you today?
It’s a bit drizzly, it’s a bit dreary, but we’re all still out in the streets, holding hands and wishing for a brighter tomorrow.
The BBC 6 music festival is coming to town shortly, does that help local musicians in anyway?
I think so, it should be good for venues, good for bands – I like 6 Music, Shaun Keaveny wakes me up each morning (my radio alarm clock, not him in person), so I’d be more attracted to a festival supported by that station, certainly more than a tour supported by the likes of Radio 1. Being a Southsider in Glasgow, it’s nice to see venues such as Glad Café and Rum Shack included in the festivities.
New Album ‘Duff Steer’, who is in the band and where/when was the album recorded?
The band is.... only me, all on my lonesome. I’ve been a solo recording musician for almost 10 years now, although it’s entirely possible I’ll get back with a full group at some point in the future. Duff Steer was recorded over 2016/2017, backing tracks laid down in my home studio, vocals recorded at Dixon Street studios in Glasgow.
This looks to be your eighth album and your first was 2007? Has your sound changed over the years and how do you feel you have grown as a musician in that time?
So, my first solo record in 2007 was Why Doesn’t My Album Sounds As Loud As Everyone Else’s?, and back then I wanted to try out a fairly heavy-digital sound, with layered drum machines, distorted synths, and guitars overdriven with digital clipping. But really, that was more a one-off experiment – at heart, I’m a guy who likes good guitar sounds, good guitar songs – for example, I really like the style and production of Kurt Vile’s album B'lieve I'm Goin Down... (2015), the opening track Pretty Pimpin sounds amazing. The thing is, when you’re a recording musician who is also your own engineer/producer, it’s really tempting to throw on synths, or techno drum beats, or 5 track guitar solos. And I like that freedom to experiment, but it costs time and doesn’t always work. The one consistent thing about my albums is, each record usually has a couple of songs that don’t work, but I leave them on – good, bad or indifferent, publish and be damned. Then move on to the next one.
Any live dates planned to promote the new record?
Only press promotion for the new record at the moment, mainly to satisfy my ego without having to go outside.
Is music full time for you or is there a day job as well?
Well, let’s put it this way – my income from Spotify royalties for December 2016 was 5p. That’s right, five pence. Read it and weep, wage slaves.
What was the first album you bought and where from?
It was To the Extreme by Vanilla Ice, 1990. I was 10 years old. My sister also took me to see Vanilla Ice that year in Edinburgh. After the show, she looked ill and said “I have never seen so many pelvic thrusts in my whole life”. My next purchase, one year later, was Nevermind along with ACDC’s For Those About To Rock. You can hear all three of those influences in everything I’ve ever done.
One piece of advice for new guitarists just starting out today?
Trade in those guitars for shovels.
Duff Steer will be available here:
Writing a review of a bands’ debut album can go two ways - the first is that there has been loads of hype and press and you can’t help to be influenced by what you read and hear, and secondly, and in this case, you know nothing about the band and personnel and start with a clean slate.
Even their own website gives little away regarding the band - who are they ? Where are they from ? And more importantly, what does the album sound like ?
The seven track (mini) album clocks in at only thirty nine minutes, and according to the press release, takes it’s influences from just about everywhere - college rock, brit pop and shoegaze, and builds on them to create something new. Produced by James Bragg, who has also worked with Gengahr, it’s true that there are influences all over this album, whilst also sounding fresh and original at the same time.
Closing track, the nearly eight minute 'Where Wild Flowers Grow Fondly', is an almost prog rock opus to new beginnings, featuring a Supper’s Ready style , hypnotic couple of minute drum section, while synth bleeps and squiggles ebb and flow over it. Stunning. It’s the drumming on this album that actually stands out for me, and none more so that on I Take The River, very reminiscent of the National on About Today, driving the song in just the right direction.
The really rather lovely 'Ohio' appears to have been the spark around which the album was written and started life as an acoustic demo. The version that made the album however is a very different beast - a sweeping, widescreen epic of a song, again underpinned with emphatic drums, my only disappointment being that it finishes far too abruptly.
The seven minute 'Show Me Magic' starts in a very relaxed manner, and could have come off any of Mark Knopfler’s recent solo albums, before those drums again propel the song along to a very different beat.
This is an enigmatic album which reveals more on each listen, and even after double figure listens, I still haven’t got a proper grip of it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, there are influences everywhere, and virtually every one of the seven tracks reminds me of other bands, but the whole adds up to more of the sum of it’s parts. I really like this album and I really like this band. It’s left me hungry to hear more from them, and find out more about them, especially that drummer.
The Hold Steady front man releases 3rd solo effort We All Want The Same Things on Partisan Records, following on from 2015’s Faith In the Future. Named after a line from the song God In Chicago, the title refers to the basic human needs that remain constant however turbulent or changeable the world gets. Never more so than the current climate.
Finn is a very literary songwriter, very much in the same mould as Willy Vlautin, and this his 3rd solo album, has done that rare thing; combining compelling storytelling with strong melodic tunes - are you listening Mark Kozelek.....?
These are stories about everyday folk, doing everyday things and just living their lives - nothing extraordinary or indeed ordinary about them, but Finn has the ability to make everything sound fascinating.
The aforementioned, beautiful, God In Chicago is Finn talking over plaintive piano before being joined on vocals by a female voice as the 2 of them are on a road trip to Chicago.
The poppy Preludes acts as first single from the song collection, and is the most autobiographical detailing his return from college and trying to figure out his own place in the world and his future - very much fitting in with the rest of the character studies on the album.
Best song title on the album must go to Birds Trapped in the Airport, and is a jaunty little number and again Finn is joined on vocals by the female voice.
It Hits When It Hits, is a contemplative, brooding track with the title referring to the fact that you can’t ever plan for love...
Finn has created an expansive world view, and a vision of the States that draws you into the minutae of everyday life, with even the final words on the last song imploring us to take care of ourselves. Every song is a wordy story, each of which could be expanded into a novel, but most importantly, the songs can be listened to without having to hang on every word, as the melodies are strong enough to stand up on their own.
The world is a better place with songwriters like Craig Finn, and this might just be his best album yet.