Category Archives: Northern Portrait


…that has been quite a long break! Although it seemed to me that I have been listening to music constantly, I couldn’t really concentrate on what I was listening to. Shame, really, as there’s been quite a few good things around, like the arrival of Northern Portrait‘s clear-vinyl 7″-single Life Returns To Normal (aahh… the good, old vinyl-collector’s days… 🙂 ), or the announcement of Champagne Riot‘s new EP, to be released on that wonderful Matinée label. Blog-buddy Morten has already covered those stories, so I don’t have to repeat it.

Northern Portrait – Life Returns To Normal (MP3)

Of course, the mailbox has been growing constantly as well; I managed to listen to some of the stuff (but once again, not really concentrated), and found that other blog-buddies have already been covering these stories, like Peter 1 with i am poet, or Peter 2 with iLiKETRAiNS. So instead of writing some more about the same, I’m just going to tell you that you should check out these articles and artists.

Something no indie-pop-lover should miss is the new release from Eardrums Pop, the Tiny Fireflies EP. Three beautiful songs that will make your heart smile. Go and get ’em!

There is still more stuff I’d like to cover, but with so much going on besides music, it really is hard to concentrate. Keep your fingers crossed that things might be looking up again over the next few days and weeks. In the meantime, here’s one of the most beautiful songs from 2010… aptly named Concentrate!

The Guggenheim Grotto – The Universe Is Laughing (MP3)

Pardon Me…

…I normally don’t like copy-pasting press-releases, but I have two reasons for doing it anyway today: first of all I don’t have the time to write a lenghty post, and second I can give two big thumbs up to anything that Matinée Recordings has to say about the debut album from Danes Northern Portrait. It is a damn fine piece of work, and you shouldn’t miss it under any circumstances! Here’s the pitch:

The highly anticipated debut album from popular Danish band Northern Portrait is now officially out! Following the very well received Fallen Aristocracy and Napoleon Sweetheart EPs in 2008, the band spent most of 2009 refining its live set with shows in the UK, Denmark, Germany and USA including performances at the prestigious San Francisco Popfest and Indietracks Festival.  These shows also provided an opportunity to preview some of the songs that comprise Criminal Art Lovers to favorable response.  The resulting ten track album is a triumph for the band that should help solidify their status as one of indiepop’s most loved new bands.

Lead track ‘The Münchhausen in Me’ starts things off in decidedly jangling fashion with 12-string guitars plus autoharp and glockenspiel adding a special touch to the sound. Navigating between truth and semi-truth can be a difficult thing—sometimes fainting might be the only way out.  ‘When Goodness Falls’ is an incredibly catchy song about people who are scared to remain true to themselves, and what a wonderful feeling it is to go against their will and completely, intentionally disappoint them.  Musically bright, the song is the natural heir to the Smiths classic ‘This Charming Man’.

Third track ‘Crazy’ is the only previously released song on the album, although this is a slightly different mix than the one contained on the debut single. The mix of acoustic and electric Rickenbackers jangle in all the right places and the vocals suit the music perfectly. A song that has been around since the very first days of Northern Portrait, it is a modern pop classic that has been incredibly well received for good reason.

The Operation Worked But The Patient Died’ is the sound of Northern Portrait trying to write a British Sea Power song. With a touch of The La’s and Sleeper-esque guitars, the song adds a dose of essential drama to the album. Meanwhile, superb title track ‘Criminal Art Lovers’ is a song about beatniks on picnics, busy tourists, and the comfy life…or perhaps just a not-so-good day at the office.  With nice bursts of percussion, the song builds to an extraordinarily melodic ending that will have you reaching straight for the repeat button.

Side two begins with lush guitar track ‘Life Returns To Normal.’  Lyrically the song draws upon a poem about Volvo Estate cars, perhaps providing the line “my estate will take you anywhere” a clever double meaning.  In any event, the song is another classic that will have you dancing by the end. This will serve you well as the album continues with ‘Murder Weapon’ keeping things sonically upbeat, even if the song is inspired by an article in British Vogue about women’s sophisticated cruelty towards one other when it comes to fashion and style.

What Happens Next?’ is an up-tempo and energetic song about the collision of people with completely different agendas. It is one of the earliest Northern Portrait songs, initially recorded with the two tracks that would go on to serve as lead tracks for the band’s initial EPs.  Returning to the same rhythm as ‘When Goodness Falls‘, the song is a favorite of the Northern Portrait live repertoire.

With its slow build-up and rich sound, ‘That’s When My Headaches Begin’ has a certain widescreen feel to it that takes the listener somewhere beyond the other tunes found on the album. Musically inspired by early Suede, the lyrics return to the theme from the Napoleon Sweetheart EP track ‘In An Empty Hotel‘.  Ending the record on a positive note, ‘New Favourite Moment’ is a catchy, Rickenbacker dance track with an instrumental chorus, so people won’t have to learn any lyrics and can focus on twisting their bodies instead!  Just try to resist…

Building on the amazing promise demonstrated by its two EPs, Northern Portrait have delivered the consummate debut album as ‘Criminal Art Lovers’ is the first certified album of the year contender for 2010.

So, if you made it through here, then you’re only a click away from getting your hands on Criminal Art Lovers. Of course the album is also available on amazon, emusic or itunes as a download.

Northern Portrait – New Favourite Moment (MP3)

Northern Portrait – Criminal Art Lovers (MP3)

A Champagne Portrait

How to perfect pop music? Well, a collaboration may be a good start, and when two of the best pop-projects from Denmark decide to do so, it really might come close to perfection! Champagne Riot has recruited Northern Portrait-frontman Stefan Larsen to sing the lead vocals on their next single called Ingrid Bergman. If you’re familiar with both of these bands, you will by now be as excited as I am! There’s no word about a release date so far, but a very insightful blog-post on the vision of this project. Read it here. And you Danish guys: bring on Mrs. Bergman!!! (check their current top-friends list! 🙂 )

Champagne Riot – Scandinavian Warfare (MP3)
Northern Portrait – New Favourite Moment (MP3)

New Entries…

I just wrote yesterday that the first CDs of this year have already been ordered, and today, they landed in my mailbox. That really was a quick delivery! The two CDs came from fine label Matinée Recordings, and I really don’t have much to add to Morten‘s posts about Northern Portrait‘s debut-album Criminal Art Lovers (here) and the Matinée Grand Prix sampler (here). Two collections of wonderful jangle-pop, and a perfect start into the year. Of course you can guess that I highly recommend both these albums, even more so that they come at a very reasonable price and a damn quick delivery (hell, even packages sent within Switzerland don’t get delivered that fast!). So, off to Matinée you go now, and place your oders!

Northern Portrait – New Favourite Moment (MP3)

Strawberry Whiplash – Picture Perfect (MP3)

The Guild League – Dead Hour (MP3)

This ‘N That

I was thinking about the unavoidable year-end-lists today (I’ll give you the reason for that further down below), and I remembered that I wanted to check out what two of my former best-album-winners are up to right now. Well, whilst Youth Group have announced that they will take a year off in 2010 and return in 2011, The Shins have no real news whatsoever on a new album. Sad news from both parties, I think… at least, the Shout Out Louds and Get Well Soon, two other favourites from the past years, will come up soon with new stuff. So it looks like I’m stuck with Youth Group‘s The Night Is Ours and The ShinsWincing The Night Away for another while, but that really isn’t such a bad thing as I still enjoy both albums!

Youth Group – Sorry (MP3)

The Shins – Phantom Limb (MP3)

Morten briefly mentioned Matinée Recordings in his post today, and while I’m also looking forward to some of those releases (especially Northern Portrait), I also found these two beauties on the label’s homepage. Perfectly innocent autumn-pop for this gray day!

Math And Physics Club – Darling Please Come Home (MP3)

The Windmills – Drug Autumn (MP3)

Oh yes, the reason for me thinking about year-end-lists: as you might or might not know, I’m an occasional DJ at virtual radio station Radio Schweden. The station is a community project of people from Sweden, Germany and little Switzerland. And on the following weekends, we will have a special show called – you guessed it – the Best Of 2009. Each of us was appointed two hours to fill with the songs we liked best this year, and we will broadcast these series in two parts. So this coming Friday, November 27th, at 8pm CET, one of my German friends will start with the first hour, and from 9pm, it will be my turn. Look for the MiniMix: Best Of 2009 Vol. 1! On Saturday, November 28th at the same time, my two other co-DJ’s will present their hits. In a weeks time, we will scramble these series (so I’ll probably be on with the same show on Saturday), and the week after that, we will present Volumes 2. You don’t have to keep all these dates in mind (just the first ones this weekend! 🙂 ), as I’m going to announce the schedule again here in due time. So, mark your calenders and tune in to Radio Schweden!!! (Of course, the playlist will be published here as well… somewhen in December).

Danish Double

According to a blog-entry from Caspar (the “reclusive, mysterious, Danish-born founder of Champagne Riot, and its lone member”), he has joined forces with Northern Portrait, the other great Danish indie-pop-project. Caspar will play bass on NP‘s forthcoming spring tour, and the set will probably also include some of his own songs. Still, the Champagne Riot project is in no way dead, as Caspar is still working on the next EP/album. I personally can’t wait to hear the first corporate songs of this great gathering!

Champagne Riot – Scandinavian Warfare (MP3)