Sharon van Etten

What on earth can I say about Sharon van Etten that she has not divulged in interviews (to the point that I wanted to throttle her interviewer, poking on when she was already in tears) or, of course, first and foremost, in her music.

Multi-instrumentalist, power-voiced Sharon has a knack for writing music, especially harmonies and then come the lyrics. Lyrics that tell of lost love, painful relationships, giving up herself, sacrificing herself, hit you, once you listen in as if you had a choice.

Sharon has no choice either: She must write it down, she must sing it, she must perform it as it is cathartic to her. However, lately, trouble thing of the past, it has become difficult at times to relive these overpowering experiences every night on stage.
Hence the playful banter with the audience! Thankfully she can rely on her amazing band to back her up, to pick her up, being fine-tuned not only to her music but to the whole Sharon.



Her band includes musicians who are masters of their craft:

Heather Woods Broderick (plays guitar, bass, keyboards, piano, flute, cello and sings backup and harmony). She is also a solo artist (second album: “Glider”) and works with her brother Peter Broderick (together they were for instance in “Efterklang”).

Doug Keith, originally bassist, but now plays guitar and harmonium as well.  He hails from punk and rock bands and released solo albums. The latest one was “Pony” where he is joined by Heather Woods Broderick, Zeke Hutchins (earlier drummer, now manager), Adam Granduciel and J. Mascis, no less.

Darren Jessee is the fairly new drummer with the band and a brilliant one on top of that. He also drums for Ben Folds Five and his own band Hotel Lights.

Brad Cook adds warm and precise sound with his bass. He also is part of the band Megafaun.

During the course of four albums, Sharon van Etten has gone through first proper album, first band, first big sound and first total control over album (and some fine guest musicians that include Marisa Anderson who also toured with her and Dave Hartley from Nightlands and The War on Drugs). Last month a new song was released that some of you might already have heard if you had the fortune to see her and the band live: “I don’t want to let you down“.

There will be more tour dates, so no excuses there. I am particularly looking forward to her playing so close to home to me in Liège, on the the of April 2015. This time round I might not only succumb to the brand new “Sharon van Halen” t-shirt but finally to the tissue baggie with her name on it…(yes, I might need it, nerve-tingling performances those are).

May I also draw your attention to an interview that I did with Sharon van Etten last November (yep, the booming voice is mine, the well-spoken melodious one of course is Sharon’s.)

And here’s the video for “Your love is killing me” directed by Sean Durkin featuring Carla Juri.


The indie gran (yep, me) is in a right narky mood today. Ah, the old times were so much better. When we still had to go to an actual record store (preferably 8 km away on a bike in the freezing cold) and rifle through the records and communicate (indeed) with people in the store on what kind of music they buy. None of that “other customers who bought also bought…” nonsense. We talked. And oh dear, if you missed the name of the band or the title on the radio, tough, no online playlists, no, heaven forbid, Shazam. You just had to listen more intently the next time. And at the end of  the day, you did not have sheer quantity in songs but quality. You had accumulated knowledge about the songs (through e.g. record sleeves). Natter, natter…I know…

Times are not all bad, surely. I just wish, we could have the best of both worlds. Nowadays, we can crowdfund, artists are not that dependent on labels anymore and you come across bands like CAIRO. Yes, I will come to CAIRO right now:

CAIRO are Nate Daniel, Dante Berardi, Caitlin Grieve (on violin no less) and Matt Sullivan (a real drummer with the precision of a drum machine) and they come from Toronto, Canada. Their diverse influences bind together in love, so they say and claim that they get along so well as a band.

True enough, their music sounds coherent and multi-layered. But you know that when I blog, I must be really convinced…and I am. Their album “A history of reasons” has been released in January on MapleMusicRecordings and I may warmly recommend it for their (not my idea) orchestral alt-pop.

I have their older EP “Young love” and my favourite song of it is at present “Golden cup“. Ah, the development that song takes is sheer amazement. Loving it.

Now, I feel so much better now.

Find CAIRO in all the usual places and on their website:



J.P. Kallio

On days like these, having just returned from a close to four hours carnival’s parade with lots of singing, dancing and bending down to pick up sweets, minding that the wig and feather eyelashes don’t come off, I often wonder where other people take their energy from.

One springs to mind especially and that is musician J.P. Kallio originally from Finland who lives in Dublin, Ireland. He has his roots in punk music (did I read that right?), picked up Irish traditional music like a breeze and is a singer-songwriter. So he plays sessions with Sliotar in Dublin’s Porterhouse (if you ever land in Dublin, you should go and see Sliotar – I know that I will) and pens his own songs.

Yes, he is one of those who undertook the almighty task to churn out a song per week and he continues to do so. But it is not just sheer quantity. There are profound lyrics, his unique way of guitar playing and a great voice, too.

And then, he blogs. Every day, unfailingly. About all the important stuff musicians should know. There are valuable tips on his website a plenty.

How on earth does he do it? Can his only secret be the love of music and coffee? Is it the air in Dublin?

Find out about J.P. Kallio yourself, you just need to see his website: and listen to one his songs here:

The Unthanks

Having been out to watch the Carnival’s Sunday parade (the big one of approximately 4 hours duration is tomorrow, yikes), I am already in serious need of some soothing, beautiful music – such as music by The Unthanks.

Sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank’s new album “Mount the Air” is deservedly getting praised in all the high places, so who am I to comment. Especially when you also have Martin Freeman and Robert Wyatt saying wonderful things about you? But I would simply like to express my thanks to The Unthanks (ha!).

The Unthanks first came to my attention, rather late, when they were performing at Jools Holland’s Later Show on BBC TV. They truly impressed me with their harmonies, their loyalty to folk music and by their overall down-to-earth demeanour. Now, after two years in the making, their new album “Mount the Air” is out and while I am still divulging it in all its beauty, I am already addicted (big way) to “Flutter”.

I can’t say if it is the spheric sound with loads of Portishead thrown in (with who they collaborated before) or the lyrics that make light of life or turn you melancholic about the smallness of life. Indeed, the voices, music and lyrics melt together to the very definition of the word “Flutter”.

Or is it even how they pronounce the word? In that beautiful accent? Which sort of means to me, how grounded they have remained, protruding into all styles but staying true to their own Northumberland folk tradition; playing all the big places, cavorting with the big stars and still doing singing and cooking with their fans in the local pub?

For your listening pleasure I digged out the magic incarnated that is “Flutter” with introductory chat from The Unthanks.

Thank you for being you, The Unthanks!