Aurora Aksnes, better known as simply Aurora, seems to come from another world. But the expressive Norwegian singer landed at the Lincoln Theatre for a very earthbound headlining tour recently.
Norwegian singer-songwriter Thomas Dybdahl brought his soothing folk sound to DC for a solo performance at Songbyrd Music House recently. A small yet enthusiastic and devoted crowd welcomed Thomas to the dimly-lit stage in the basement venue at Songbyrd.
Last fall, Danish pop star MØ released When I Was Young (a new EP), and then she announced a joint North American tour with Norwegian producer Cashmere Cat. The duo booked a date at 9:30 Club on Monday, Jan. 22, and that sold out — so they booked a second date on Tuesday, Jan. 23. You can win tickets to go with Parklife DC!
Aurora Aksnes was fighting a cold. But she was feeling scrappy, and her voice sounded strong, so she barreled ahead at the 9:30 Club Monday night.
At one point, the petite but determined Norwegian songstress shook her fist in defiance, as if to rally against her cold although she was truly rallying against emotional distress, as depicted in many of the songs from her debut album, All of My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend, released by Glassnote Records earlier this year.
Earlier this year, petite Aurora Aksnes gathered a large crowd into booming U Street Music Hall for a show packed with big ideas.
This time around, Aurora, the sensational Norwegian singer-songwriter, is performing at an appropriately larger venue, where the stage at the 9:30 Club is sure to provide a better platform for her artistic expression and the accompanying concert hall a better space for large crowds.
So come out on Monday, Oct. 31, to see Aurora as she sings, bounces, dances, and pantomimes along to the darkly glorious songs of her debut album, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend, released in March by Decca Records and Glassnote.
Following songs like “Runaway,” “Half the World Away” (an Oasis cover!), “Conqueror,” and others, Aurora released a sixth single, “I Went Too Far,” from the new album. You know an album has legs when it can support six singles!
Watch the official music video for “I Went Too Far” by Aurora on YouTube:
Parklife DC reviewed Aurora at U Street Music Hall on April 21. (Revisit our full review and pictures here.) After seeing her, I said, “Although petite in size, the Norwegian folk popstar, who goes by only her first name, has a big voice that fits her ambitious songs of flight or fight. She also has a habit of physically moving where her music takes her. This somewhat off-kilter acting out of her own words and melodies might readily draw some comparisons to her fellow Scandinavian artist Bjork.”
I added, “Aurora’s folk pop is as spritely as she is, but it does carry dark overtones of struggling to find yourself, to be free, or to fight.”
You’ll want to be free for this show on Monday! Tickets are available online.
Ten years ago, the undeniable album of the year was Dying to Say This to You by The Sounds.
It was the second album from the Swedish quintet, and it blasted a whole in the existential dance floors of our lives with its unabashed new wave power. And for a while, lead singer Maja Ivarsson was the It Girl and everything was good – that hair! that voice! that attitude! those high kicks! (Hey, she’s got a Modesty Blaise tattoo, you know!) Being Swedish never looked so good. (…and that’s saying something — being Swedish always looked good, right?)
The Sounds will tour to mark the 10th anniversary of Dying to Say This to You, and they will stop at the 9:30 Club on Monday, Nov. 28 as part of that tour.
Need I ask? Watch the official music video for “Tony the Beat” by The Sounds (guest starring Steve Aoki!) on YouTube:
Here at Parklife DC, we also are big admirers of keyboardist/ guitarist/ songwriter/ wunderkind Jesper Anderberg, who I had the pleasure of interviewing in 2013 when The Sounds last toured the United States. (Read that interview at We Love DC!)
“We realized earlier this year that it was 10 years ago that we released our album Dying to Say This to You and embarked on a journey that took us on tour around the world for almost two years straight,” said the band in a statement to fans. “This was a magical time in our lives and we shared it with so many of you. Now we like you have gotten a little older, some have gotten married, had children, and it has been many years since we’ve hit the road.”
The tour launches Nov. 15 in Salt Lake City, and it visits the 9:30 Club on Nov. 28. Zipper Club and My Jerusalem are along for support. It’s going to be amaaaaazing! Tickets are available online!
Aurora Aksnes is a powerfully expressive performer.
Although petite in size, the Norwegian folk popstar, who goes by only her first name, has a big voice that fits her ambitious songs of flight or fight. She also has a habit of physically moving where her music takes her. This somewhat off-kilter acting out of her own words and melodies might readily draw some comparisons to her fellow Scandinavian artist Bjork.
Norwegian singer Aurora Aksnes has been taking the US airwaves by storm with the release of her debut full-length album, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend (released March 11 via Decca Records), and her subsequent television appearances leading up to a North American tour that stops at U Street Music Hall on Thursday, April 21.
To no one’s surprise, our local show has sold out! And those who have tickets will enjoy the 19-year-old Aurora’s lyrically rich art-pop sensibilities. She likes to sing in metaphors relating to battles with songs like “Conquerer” and “Warrior” and often takes a look at the dark side of the human condition with songs like “Running with the Wolves,” a song of escape, and “Murder Song (5,4,3,2,1),” a story of a mercy killing perhaps but ultimately about loss.
Ultimately, where Aurora makes her mark, however, is with her voice, unique in its haunting timber.
Watch the official music video for “Conquerer” by Aurora on YouTube:
Said Aurora in press notes on the song, “I know that I’m very sensitive. In many ways, I’m weak. But if you’re weak, you’re also very strong. Because you need to work a bit harder to survive as well… You have to find the conqueror in yourself at first, I think. That’s what I think about in the song. It’s just a person who hasn’t realized that yet. That person is still trying to find the conqueror in someone else. You have to find the conqueror in yourself to land on your own feet. You are the only one you need to survive. Then other people will make your life a good life as well. It’s important to be strong in yourself.”
Singer/songwriter Tor Miller from New York opens for Aurora. The show is sold out.
w/ Tor Miller
U Street Music Hall
Thursday, April 21
On her debut album Till It’s All Forgotten, Farao sings the song “Bodies” in a haunting manner over layered instrumentation that sometimes sounds like a train gaining speed. Lyrically, the song about trust, or the lack thereof, in a relationship, and the churning music adds some punch to the words.
In live performance, the native Norwegian herself gravitates toward acoustic instruments, leaving her synths to a touring bandmate. The result is much less urgent, giving the lyrics more room to breathe. In so doing, Farao, born Kari Jahnsen, emphasizes the mesmerizing quality of her voice.
Farao treated a half-full room to such a delivery at U Street Music Hall on Wednesday night, touring in support of Till It’s All Forgotten, which was released earlier this month, as the opening act for UK punk trio The Cribs.
Watch Farao perform “Bodies” for Le Bruit des Graviers on Sept. 4, 2015:
On the album, another song — “Fragments” — starts out almost like a chiptune but then blossoms into layers of instruments and voice as Farao paces herself alongside the music. Singing in almost a hushed nursery rhyme style, she uses repetition of words to mirror what is happening instrumentally to pleasing effect. The song is about not being able to see the full picture with its refrain “If you don’t believe me, no one will.”
It’s also a song ready-made for performance as its appealing structure translates well to the stage.
Watch Farao play “Fragments” live at Træna Festival 2014, published July 16 2014:
Although Farao plays many different instruments, seeing her live is truly the best opportunity to listen to her voice, which she uses to good effect in concert.
Up until last night, Farao was touring at the opening act for The Cribs. Now, she has three more dates in the United States without them — tonight in Portsmouth, NH, and Tuesday in Los Angeles and Wednesday in San Francisco. She’s a worthy opener and well worth contemplating if she happens to perform solo.
Norwegian artist Jenny Hval may offer a totem for the modern DC working woman with the cover of her new album, Apocalypse, girl, which depicts a woman slumped over a medicine ball, apparently having collapsed, disconnected with the task at hand.
On the album, Jenny actually seems very connected to her surroundings, eerily so! Her songs amble along with dreampop reflections as she sometimes narrates her thoughts and at other times sings gently. The experimental nature of her albums is reflected in her videos, including the latest for the track “Sabbath,” at first glance a disjointed collection of memories but more accurately a small treatise on questions of identity.
The video features bandmates Jenny (vocals, synth), Håvard Volden (electronics), Annie Bielski (performance artist and Apocalypse, girl cover model) and Zia Anger (visual enhancement), and it was shot entirely on Zia’s iPhone during a recent tour of Europe.
Watch the video for Jenny Hval’s “Sabbath” on YouTube:
Tracks like “Sabbath” put the “dream” in Jenny’s dreampop, and the dream isn’t always the most lucid although it’s often concerned with sex. She launches a US tour in support of the album later in August, and the tour makes a stop at DC9 on Wednesday, Sept. 9. Seattle singer-songwriter Briana Marela opens for Jenny.
Listen to Apocalypse, girl, out now on Sacred Bones, via Soundcloud: