Katzenjammer
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Katzenjammer

Oslo, Oslo County, Norway | MAJOR

Oslo, Oslo County, Norway | MAJOR
Band Pop Acoustic

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"Bonnaroo Festival: 25 Must-Hear Acts - Katzenjammer rated as # 2"

Why they matter: Four ladies who thrash banjos, pluck fiddles, and bang marching drums, garbage cans, and cookie jars (!) like Appalachian witches drunk on White Lightning. If their live set is as raucous and fun as their sound, prepare for a crazed Bonnaroo hootenanny. - Spin Magazine


"Katzenjammer in The New York Times"

Katzenjammer, the group from Oslo that David Byrne picked to open the afternoon he curated for Bonnaroo’s That Tent (there are also This and The Other), was a band of four smiling women, three with big flowers in their hair, one (they took turns) playing a bass balalaika. - The New York Times


"HMV Next Big Thing - Katzenjammer"

. - Entertainment Focus


"Cambridge Folk Festival 2011"

Norwegian glam-folk band Katzenjammer were a totally unexpected highligh - efestivals


"Katzenjammer: Le Pop"

Girl-groups seem to be a hit again. The other day we featured Sweden’s Those Dancing Days and around the same time I came across Danish quartet Giana Factory (well, a dude plays drums, but still…). Katzenjammer, a Norwegian quartet, are all female, but interestingly it’s a member of the not-so-fair sex, Mats Rybø, who’s written most of the material on this debut album (I guess he couldn’t be bothered getting his own band together).

The band he’s chosen to execute his songs is great, though. All four girls take turns on lead vocal and all are gifted multi-instrumentalists, playing a very wide variety of more or less exotic instruments like balalaika, mellotron, domra, cookie jars and garbage cans (go HERE for the full, illustrated list). Also Kaizers Orchestra’s now legendary pump-organ plays some part on ‘Le Pop’.

Musically it’s all over the place, making their band name quite fitting after a little linguistic exercise. See, “Katzenjammer” is German (Katze = cat, Jammer = distress) meaning “discordant sound”. That’s not very positive, therefore the exercise. Because when looking up “discordant” in the Thesaurus you find “inconsistent” among the synonyms, and Katzenjammer is just that. They are in fact all over the place musically, with folk the only recurring motif.

Album opener ‘A Bar In Amsterdam’ is mariachi-polka with a hysterical trumpet theme. It’s followed by ‘Tea With Cinnamon’, an infectious ompa-pop gem, and upbeat pirate sea shanty ‘Hey Ho On The Devil’s Back’. Bonus track ‘Ain’t No Thang’ is an excellent take on roots blues, ‘Wading In Deeper’ is the albums beautiful, grandiose ballad, ‘Play My Darling Play’ is bluegrass with a taste of Irish folk, while the title track’s verse reminds me a little of The Dø’s ‘Playground Hustle’ before turning poprock, folk and circus(!).

Get what I’m getting at? Then get Katzenjammer. It’s fun, dark, happy, tight, loose… and just really unique. In the most positive sense of the word.



Genre: Folkrock (and more)
Who: Katzenjammer
Title: Le Pop
Label: Propeller Recordings
Year: 2008
Country: Norway
Language: English

Recommended tracks:
A Bar In Amsterdam - Tea With Cinnamon - Le Pop - Wading In Deeper - Play My Darling Play - Ain’t No Thang - www.allscandinavian.com


"Katzenjammer: Le Pop"

So lively are the live performances by Oslo, Norway’s Katzenjammer that they’re enough to wipe the bored expression off any jaded indie scenester and replace it with a big, stupid grin. Of course, that’ll happen when you’ve got four exceptionally talented female multi-instrumentalists performing an odd, hyperactive hybrid of folk, country, cabaret, and rock loaded with gorgeous four-part harmonies, the quartet maniacally alternating lead vocals and swapping instruments, including accordion and a gigantic contrabass balalaika, in between songs. They can bring a house down with a rousing set, they’re able to avoid sounding like a novelty act by offsetting their eclectic nature with a real sense of authenticity in whatever musical style they perform, and their musical chops are undeniable. But the one question that can dog any exceptional live act is, can they translate that contagious energy onto an album?

Goodness knows Solveig Heilo, Anne Marit Bergheim, Turid Jorgensen, and Marianne Sveen try their damndest to exude that concert atmosphere on their debut, Le Pop, and indeed, the album succeeds mightily, the band’s notorious onstage ebullience palpable throughout the entire record. And considering how the adjective “busy” is a grossly understated description of Katzenjammer’s sound (around 30 instruments are listed as appearing on the record), that’s no small feat. Le Pop elicits instant comparisons to everything from Gogol Bordello to the Dixie Chicks to Kurt Weill, with even a little Carl Stalling tossed in for good measure, but with producers Mike Hartung and Kåre Chr. Vestrheim at the reins, the performances are controlled just enough to avoid flying off into a wildly erratic, Danny Elfman-style tangent. Most importantly, though, the songs themselves are good enough to not need much in the way of instrumental gimmickry.

Of course, it sure doesn’t hurt that Katzenjammer has a “fifth member” in the form of the somewhat mysterious songwriter Mats Rybø, who wrote the bulk of the material on Le Pop. Whoever he is, Rybø knows what he’s doing, as his nine songs all play to these musicians’ strengths and, most importantly, are all instantly memorable. Built around a ludicrous mariachi trumpet fanfare and even more farcical, Python-esque coconut clip-clops, “A Bar in Amsterdam” alternates madly between Balkan folk and Spaghetti Western soundtrack music, but this manic mixture is made palatable by the rich harmony vocals in the chorus. “Virginia Clemm” shamelessly delves into 1930s Weimar cabaret as Heilo sings of Edgar Allen Poe’s young wife, the lively “Play My Darling Play” is tinged with Irish folk, while the polka-tinged “To the Sea” is a stirring little shanty bolstered again by those ever-present harmonies.

Although all four band members prove to be strong lead singers, it’s Sveen who emerges as the best on this record, her three lead performances displaying some rather impressive range. She sounds perfectly at home on the unapologetically twee “Tea with Cinnamon”, but then turns right around and is just as convincing on the dark, rampaging “Hey Ho on the Devil’s Back”. And although it would be easy to dismiss “Ain’t No Thing” as a somewhat rote exercise in blues songwriting, the chameleon-like Sveen is absolutely convincing in her delivery, howling as if she’d been born and bred on the Mississippi Delta, and not somewhere near the Arctic Circle.

Gregarious, vivacious, and with just a little punk rock attitude, the likeable Norwegian label Propeller Records is on to something awfully promising in Katzenjammer, and considering the broad appeal of the music on Le Pop, it’s something that begs for wider distribution. For now, though, it’ll have to remain one of 2008’s finest hidden gems, and those of us on the other side of the Atlantic will be crossing our fingers that these four charming ladies will eventually bring that vaunted live show our way.

Adrien Begrand - PopMatters


Discography

"Le Pop" 2008
"A Kiss Before You Go" 2011

Photos

Bio


First impressions matter, as psychologists and professional headhunters will be happy to tell you for a substantial fee. If that´s the case, Katzenjammer could probably land jobs as the new four-woman executive committee at, say, some world-famous technology company known for exquisitely designed laptops and telephones.

As premier meetings go, there are very few things that can beat a night out with Katzenjammer.

The four girls from Oslo, Norway deliver their very own brand of balkan cow-punk, vaudevillian rowdiness, swamp-soaked blues and the occasional eye-moistening moment of pure beauty, all while juggling some thirty-odd different instruments between them, singing spot-less harmonies and playing silly games with the crowd.

In fact, most people enjoy their first Katzenjammer concert so much that they will come back if given half the chance, as evidenced by sold out shows at ever larger venues all over Europe, and a steadily growing community of Facebook fans.

The past couple of years have brought the Katzenjammer girls - Anne Marit, Solveig, Marianne and Turid - around the globe, touching base along the way with some of what has been the flavour and inspiration to their music all along - from balalaika-infested Murmansk nightclubs via Bavarian beer-basements to hickory-smoked backyard barbecues in Texas. They have visited Moscow, Russia and Woodford, Australia, played at David Byrne´s stage at Boonaroo in Tennessee, opened for Keane at the O2 in London - they have put the Roskilde Festival in Denmark on its head, and were the first band ever to perform four shows at the world´s largest music festival, Summerfest in Milwaukee. They have done The Great Escape in Brighton and the legendary Glastonbury Festival, entertained the NYPD at the Gramercy Theatre in New York, played many, many gigs all over Europe and North America and, of course, a Bar or two In Amsterdam.

The first half of 2011 saw Katzenjammer returning to Europe for another round of dates in Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Ireland, Scotland and the UK, while simultaneously finishing their sophomore record following 2008´s Le Pop.

The new album is called “A Kiss Before You Go” and will be out this fall, followed by yet another big tour, starting in October and running through the end of the year.

You can try to keep up with their insanely busy goings-on by following @katzenjammers on Twitter, visiting facebook.com/katzenjammerne or simply go to www.katzenjammer.com.

"This is a wild polka-pop ride that skips daintily and charmingly from folk to swing and transfixes half the crowd whilst spurring the other half to dancing like they haven’t got work in the morning." – John Bownas, virtualfestivals.com

"The best gig of my time at Glastonbury!" - Steve Lamacq, BBC