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Archive for the ‘The Aller Værste!’ Category

karl2SOUNDTRACK: BRASS BED-Tiny Desk Concert #339 (February 24, 2014).

brass bedI expected Brass Bed to be a goofy band because of the snapshot image of them singing into toy microphones.  I was initially disappointed by how normal they were, but I was soon won over by their interesting floating sound. They have this overall trippy underwater vibe (which seems to be accomplished by a bowed slide guitar). This is especially notable on “Yellow Bursts of Age” their best song in the set.  Later the guitar solo is echoey and also underwatery. It’s a very wild sound for a fairly simple song.

They tell a funny story about being from Louisiana and encountering Washington DC snow and (of course) not having an ice scraper (although they did have bag of sand).

“Cold Chicory” is an upbeat sounding song musically although it is kind of a bummer lyrically, but again there’s the great sound of the bow on the slide guitar and the echoey lead guitar. “Please Don’t Go” is a slow song—with more interesting effects from singing into that slide guitar.

The plastic mikes do come out in the last song “Have to be Fine” in which they sing into the echoey mikes for the intro (with very nice harmonies).  They sing the intro for about a minute, and then the slide guitar player takes lead vocals on this simple but pretty song (I don’t know any of their names).

At the end, the NPR folks gave them an honorary NPR ice scraper.

[READ: June 24, 2014] My Struggle Book Three

boyhoodI read an excerpt of Book Three just a few weeks ago.  And in the post about it I said I wouldn’t be reading this book for quite some time.  But then the book unexpectedly came across my desk and I couldn’t resist grabbing it while it was here.  So it appears that I will now have to wait well over a year before Book 4 (which is, I think about 1,000 pages–yipes).  I also see that Book Three is fully called “Boyhood Island” in Britain.

At the end of Book Two, Karl Ove was more or less caught up to the present–writing about what he was then up to (with a few years gap, of course).  So it makes sense that this book is about his childhood–showing us how he came to be the man he is.

The book, amusingly enough, starts off with memories that he cannot possibly remember, and he even says as much.  He is using memories of his parents and piecing together pictures from when he was an infant.  In 1970, (Karl Ove was born in 1968) his family moved to the island of Tromøy tromo(and check out the idyllic picture that Wikipedia had).  This is where Karl Ove spent his (rather traumatic) formative years.  Their island is small, so he knows everyone in his school, but there are some amenities around like the Fina station and the B-Max, and there’s lots of soccer to be played and bikes to be ridden.

Things seem normal at first–he runs and plays with his friends, there is ample green space to run around in, and they have boats to sail on.  And we meet two of Karl Ove’s earliest friends: Geir and Trond (so many people are named in the book, I’m very curious to know if any of them remember him).  In an early scene they chase the end of a rainbow looking for a pot of gold (and have a discussion about what happens to it when the rainbow vanishes (the boys even play a prank on Karl Ove that they actually found the pot,a dn while he doesn’t initially fall for it, he is compelled to go back and they tease him).

But the looming figure here and throughout the book is Karl Ove’s father, who, at least according to Karl Ove’s memory, is pretty much a monstrous dick.  He is demanding and exacting, unforgiving and seemingly uncaring.  He is either bipolar or a drunk, jumping from goofy to outright rage in a mater of seconds.  Karl Ove and his brother Yngve fear him unconditionally and, by the end of the book they both seem to hate him.  The scene where their dad tries and fails to teach Karl Ove to swim is heartbreaking, especially when the dad goes home and tells their mom right in front of him “He’s frightened of water.”  There are dozens of instances of fear and intimidation (often accompanied by a wrenching of Karl Ove’s ear).  Like when Karl Ove turns on the TV for his grandparents (he wasn’t allowed to touch the TV but he wanted to do something nice for them).  After a few minutes, the TV fizzed out and, naturally, he was blamed for it and sent to bed without supper (after some minor physical abuse). (more…)

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CV1_TNY_02_17_14Columbo_spine.inddSOUNDTRACK: THE ALLER VÆRSTE!-Materialtretthet (1980).

matThe Aller Værste! were a Norwegian new waves/punk band with elements of ska thrown in.  I only know of them because of this story, but I decided to check out some of their stuff since it is so relevant to the story.

This was their debut album, which has been ranked as the number 6 best Norwegian album of all time (by Morgenbladet, a Norwegian weekly newspaper).  The album opens with lounge piano and trombone before breaking into a ska-inflected “Du sklei meg så nær innpå livet.”  Lead singer Chris Erichsen sings in some unusually deep voices (some of which seem comical) in “Dødelige drifter.”  “Døgnflue” is a two-minute punk blast with a loud Farfisa organ running throughout.

“Bare du som passer på” has a distinctly Clash feel in the vocals.  “For dem betyr det lite” is powered by that organ sound, while “Bare en vanlig fyr” is very guitar heavy (and may have a different singer).  This is probably my favorite song on the album, there’s some great sections in it.

This sound of punk sensibility with a prominent organ (an vocals in Norwegian) really make The Aller Værste! stand out in 80s rock.  “Må ha deg” has some interesting backing vocals and sounds like a Clash inspired ska song (with more crazy vocals).  It has a slow instrumental section with a twangy guitar solo.

“Igjen” is 90 seconds of punk (but not very harsh punk).  The next few songs are all about 3 and a half minutes long.  “Bare ikke nok” has call and response vocals and an unexpected beat.  “Hong Kong” slows the sound down, with a prominent bass riff.  “De invalide” is an upbeat song with horns.  “Hekt” has some dissonant guitar over almost funky bass and a serious breakdown at the end.  “Discodrøv” has very fast drums as it opens, but it turns into a rollicking song with disco bass and big horns.

“Oppvekst” follows those horns with some fast (ska-like) guitars.  “Materialtretthet” opens with some great, wild bass and continues wit a very fast-paced song.  This is another favorite (it’s interesting that the title track is also one of the shorter songs on the record).  “Menneskelig svikt” sounds quite raw, with echoey distant guitars and vocals.  “Blank” is the final song on the album (reissues have added more tracks).  It has a distant echoey harmonica acting as a melancholy sound behind the vocals.

I hope that Karl Ove’s book somehow gets this disc in print, I’d like to listen to it on more than YouTube.

There’s a live version of the song mentioned at the end of the story here:

[READ: June 11, 2014] “Come Together”

I know that this is an excerpt form the third part of My Struggle which I plan to read in say six or eight months.  But I decided to read it anyway in part because I was intrigued by the cover picture, which is of a record sleeve with a man on a bicycle and the wheel is the inner label of an album.  That, coupled with the title “Come Together” made it pretty apparent that this would be about music.   And so it was.

As I said, this is excerpted from Karl Ove’s third book in the My Struggle series, which is called Boyhood.  I’m intrigued that this book is set in his teenage years since the first two were set much later–it actually felt like Book 2 caught us up to the present).  At any rate, this is one small section (chock full of details) about being young and being in love with music and with girls. (more…)

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