Urban disorder, Rockefeller
«Oh my gosh what fun!»
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Believe it or not, Thursday is a historic day in music history. Two members of Norway’s biggest rap boy band UNDERGRUNN of all time are making their solo career debut in Bylarm. First: Marstein. Possibly Jo Almaas Marstein, born 2002. Maybe “the one with the bangs” if you’re that familiar with the members of UNDERGRUNN. And just to preempt the end of the review: God, so much fun!
But it starts pompously. to put it mildly. To the tunes of Carls Orff’s monumental “Carmina Burana” and pirouettes on the Rockefeller stage with a female ballet dancer. But hey, maybe that’s how it should be when you’ve hit 20 million Spotify plays by the time you’re 20. Because UNDERGRUNN is a kind of shock phenomenon in Norwegian music life. Extremely popular. And while it’s certainly possible to argue that the guys from UNDERGRUNN’s good-boy rap is a little too light and easy, that the “cultural elite” references are funny especially to the rap-loving cultural elite, it’s impossible to argue with the fact. sabla is also fun.
“Nobody’s heard these songs yet,” says Marstein, rattling off one future chart-topper after another. The first tracks are a bit more emotional, anonymous and Cezinando-like than Marstein UNDERGRUNN tends to be, but fans, fear not! Little by little, the beats become more and more unique and thus the party factor increases. The songs are in a familiar Italian inspired style with names like “In paradiso” and “Lorenzo”. In the end, he ends up with two potential megahits, one about “designers and drugs” and the other about “cheese, cookies, Frida Kahlo and me.” “Mmmmm, more cookies,” she raps. And you just have to give up. I also love cheese, crackers and obviously now Marstein.
Roll the dice 4
That little mirror on the wall, what’s the hottest here in Norway? The answer is that, oddly enough, you could say, among other things, Norwegian folk music in its modern form. Ævestaden uses age-old traditional instruments like the lyre, dulcimer, harmonica and langeleik, throws in some electronic sounds and sings about Spotify and the devil.
What’s not really to like?
In the cup competitions, they were a little more traditional than on the last record “Jag är sein iggen” (2022). At times it feels like being transported to an eighties recording of “Mio, min Mio”, both in terms of sound and the band’s hair welding. Eir Vatn Strøm, Levina Storåkern and Kenneth Lien sing clear and distinct like a trickling brook father, while strings rattle like soft rain on a windowpane. It’s beautiful. It’s fascinating. It’s hypnotic. It’s actually a bit too hypnotic.
So hypnotic that at one point it becomes monotonous and almost lulls us to sleep. It’s a shame because when they play the hymn “God help us to live here like this” it’s so strong and beautiful that it makes even me, a staunch atheist, think we’re wasting a great musical opportunity if we don’t take advantage of it. of our anthemic heritage in the wider public. Here, “Lindmo” needs to know its visiting time.
Roll the dice 3
City Disturbance: Vulkan Arena
No, but hey, is it Bylarm or a completely normal rehearsal night in Gjøvik? Now, it’s true that Evig Ferie plays relaxed, fun guitar-loving indie rock with a surf vibe and good atmosphere, but at the Vulkan arena it was just too relaxed and sloppy to live up to the expectations that naturally arise when you’re a bunch of sunny songs Mac DeMarco/Ariel Pink/ Tame Impala style on Spotify. It rattles like an old folk wagon, and it doesn’t help that the vocals, nicely underplayed on the record, are barely audible in all the confusion. Okay, well, it’s warm and soft and cozy like a warm late summer day. However, it gets a little too annoyingly muddled when it’s announced that “this is a brand new song we’ve never played live before” – and then the intro skips.
Roll the dice 4
City Alarm: John Dee
Hell, I said that UNDERGRUNN’s solo career number two debut was going to offer something completely different than a solo career number one debut. Jon Ranes. Possibly Loverboy. Possibly “the guy with the half-length curls” if you’re that familiar with the members of UNDERGRUNN. For him to deliver something completely different from what he usually does has been on the cards for a long time. “He wants to be the Norwegian Håkan Hellstrøm,” said a music industry guy I spoke to before the concert, and quite rightly he had a band and a guitar around his neck. The list is supplemented by references such as Cornelis Vreeswijk’s Some Walk with Broken Shoes. The lyrics talk about love life and blue feelings. Jon Ranes moves confidently in Chris Holsten/Sebastian Zalo/Sondre Justad land. It’s an emotive song for kids with a grandiose pop score specially made for Spotify – and it’s going to work like hell.
However, like John Dee’s appearance on stage last Friday night, it’s also, surprisingly, a bit too easy, a bit too simple and actually a bit too anonymous. Obviously, songs made specifically for sing-alongs probably need to be listened to a few times before sitting down. Also, when she sings “I was young” I instantly think of Jahn Teigen, which can strictly be a good thing or a bad thing. The album will be released next Friday, he announces, and it’s just a matter of getting ready, because there’s no doubt that Jon Ranes will dominate radio charts, Spotify playlists and youth rooms from now on.