Norway - Full Moon 171 - 08/24/10
I Was A King
I Was A King have been quite successful in their rather short existence, gaining lots of good press for their recordings so far, and playing with prolific names from
the indie/jazz world. Frontman (main king) Frode Strømstad is the brains and motor of the band, with Anne Lise Frøkedal (of Harrys Gym) as an important
sidekicktress. Old Friends (as a title) is maybe meant for the returning musicians and fans.
Some three years ago I Was A King released their debut (mini), Losing Something Good for Something Better (labelled 'Royally brilliant', and given 8 out of 10
points by NME. The Guardian said; 'Norwegian wunderkind Strømstad takes ol' lankhair's ramshackle rock and squeezes it through a dream pop filter... If Alan McGee
hadn't wound down Creation, this lot would have been first in the queue to sign on the dotted line.') Last year saw the release of their full length, self-titled debut
album, featuring collaborations from notabilities such as Sufjan Stevens, Daniel Smith (Danielson), Gary Olson (Ladybug Transistor),
and Emil Nikolaisen (Serena Maneesh). The album was recorded at Olson's Marlborough Farms (Brooklyn, NY) by gents Smith and Olson, and mixed by Nick Terry (Primal Scream,
The Libertines, Klaxons, +). Another release from recent years' new wave of Christian pop/rock, it seemed, even doing a cover of Larry Normann - the GODfather of Christian
Old Friends is once again a Danielson related record, as it's (mainly) recorded (at Familyre Recording Studio, New Jersey, plus some sessions at Fugleben studio,
Oslo - engineered by Miss Frøkedal) and produced by Daniel Smith and Brian McTear (Kurt Vile, Danielson, ++), copyrighted to Smith's New Jerusalem firm. Among
the players we find John Ringhofer (AKA Half-handed Cloud), Kevin Shea, Josh Stamper, Emil Nikolaisen, Elin K. Smith ('Mrs Danielson'), Ted Velykis (The Ladytron, on singing
saw!). Music-wise Strømstad is located in the 60s tradition blended with the indie-pop scene of the 1980s-90s. Last year's album was more distorted and up (or down)
the alley of the old shoegazers like My Bloody Valentine, merging into Dinosaur jr-like guitars, and jingly sound like vintage Teenage Fanclub (even with a song called
"Norman Bleik"), Guided By Voices, or Apples In Stereo. Old Friends is cleaner, more laid-back, and broader sounding than their debut. This not meaning that I prefer
one over the other.
When I saw I Was A King during last year's Øya-festival I wasn't all to impressed. By spinning this album, as well as the debut album, I'm pretty sure I'll recognise
the next platter from I Was A King as an 'old friend'.
Copyright © 2010 Håvard Oppøyen