Racing Heart
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Racing Heart

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Folk Rock




"WATCH: Racing Heart’s Skype Recording of “This Pretty Mistake”"

Mathias Tjønn of Racing Heart has recently released his adorable duet “This Pretty Mistake” with MeaningLess Emphasis on Vimeo. The two meet up for a Skype session where the stellar audio makes up for the webcam quality.

Racing Heart is touring the West Coast this summer after their debut release Walk Beside that Ghost. Dates are listed below.

Racing Heart Tour Dates

22, Rockwood Music Hall – New York, NY
27, Rogue & Peasant – Seattle, WA
28, The Waypost – Portland OR
29, Metronome Coffee – Tacoma, WA
31, Silverlake Lounge – Los Angeles, CA

1, El Rio – San Francisco, CA
4, Café Racer – Seattle, WA - Filter Magazine

"Immaculately Put Together"

If you were to judge the packaging of Racing Heart’s To Walk Beside That Ghost, you might come away with an image of cheapness and amateurness: the digipack is constructed of flimsy recycled bootleg-quality cardboard, and no effort has been made to hide the high fibre content. However, once you make it to the actual CD, you realize that the album is meticulously crafted and quite well produced—a striking image removed from the cover art, printed on the same plain brown colour that grocery bags come in. The album was apparently recorded in Brooklyn on Eddie Van Halen’s old 16-track analog tape machine, but it sounds almost digital and pristine. If you listen to opening cut “This Pretty Mistake” on a 5.1 surround sound stereo system, the vocals have a certain clarity in the centre speaker while an autoharp pings sharply in the very left speaker. A lot of work has actually gone into the making of the album in terms of construction, so it’s kind of a shame that the packaging looks so hastily put together, probably deterring would-be listeners from the gentle folksy strums created by Norway’s Mathias Tjønn into a genuinely affecting and startling (though somewhat flawed) artistic statement.

Made with the backing members of both St. Vincent and Sufjan Stevens’ bands, To Walk Beside That Ghost is a retro-infused indie folk album, taking cues from the music of the 1960s, ‘70s and early ‘80s. On the short, less than a minute “Et Ønske, Et Håp”, Tjønn multi-tracks his vocals into unaccompanied-by-instrumentation harmonies that recalls the work of the classic era of the Beach Boys. The synthesizers on “Photos” have a very Joe Jackson circa Night and Day feel to them as well. Add to that the use of keyboards that sound like Mellotrons lifted from prog-rock giants Yes on “Emma”, and you have an album that is a reference map to all things that have come before. In spite of such flourishes, To Walk Beside That Ghost sounds fresh and original, though the album sometimes lapses into James Taylor style lite-folk territory (snooze), and a large part of that originality has to do with Tjønn’s vocals itself. At times, Tjønn has a very blue-eyed soul cadence and timbre, and if you close your eyes listening to some of these songs—“Emma” in particular—you could swear that the ghost being talked about here is one of Michael Jackson. Tjønn’s singing is sweet and powerful, giving the album a certain amount of heft and gravity. Helping things considerably, too, is the aforementioned use of indie-world renowned musicians: there are parts of To Walk Beside That Ghost that are very reminiscent of Stevens’ two 50 States albums in tone and musicality. The generous use of autoharp also shares a similarity with the music and muse of Joanna Newsom.

Where To Walk Beside That Ghost lags a bit is in Tjønn’s lyrics. Being a young man, some of his concerns here come off as high school poetry full of angst and over-repetition. Proof? The album actually opens with the overwrought line: “I bled dry my heart for you”. The choruses of “This Pretty Mistake” consist solely of the titular line repeated at least six times around, which seems a bit lazy and as though the singer-songwriter didn’t have much of import to say. That all said, To Walk Beside That Ghost, as noted above, has a key strength beyond the expressive emoting of Tjønn’s singing: it is immaculately put together. In fact, the record almost feels like a producer’s showcase – the kind of album record store employees might throw onto their hi-fis to showcase the features of the stereos they’re selling to would-be buyers. Strings, horns and woodwinds practically swirl around “Turn Around” to head-spinning effect and the aforementioned “Et Ønske, Et Håp” stands tall with its angelic layered voices.

The clarity and full-bodiedness of the production do a lot to mask the flaws of the record, by and large, and you also have to admit that the songwriting itself in strictly musical terms is generally solid. Noth - PopMatters

"Racing Heart Fetes the Release of its U.S debut"

"Norwegian-American indie trio Racing Heart fetes the release of its U.S. debut, a lovely, mellow collection of folk-pop songs titled To Walk Beside That Ghost." - Time Out New York

"To Walk Beside That Ghost marks an unforgettable entrance for Racing Heart"

Summary: Swelling with gorgeous melodies and consuming depth, To Walk Beside That Ghost marks an unforgettable entrance for Racing Heart.

To an extent, I’ve always felt like indie albums were measured by their ability to defy convention. As a member of what was once a select community, if you could take an idea and make it rougher around the edges – weirder – without crossing the line into complete hysteria, you were the envy of your competition. Just look at the way bands such as The Microphones, Animal Collective, and Broken Social Scene made unique imprints over the past decade. It wasn’t just that their music satisfied some vague definition by which the genre adheres to, they actually blazed a path that nobody else could follow. Something that was relatively inaccessible, very interesting sounding, and most importantly, theirs. I think “indie” has become a kind of umbrella term recently, frequently used to describe any artist that wields an acoustic guitar or seems halfway genuine. As bands everywhere strive to become 2012’s Mumford & Sons, or to craft the ideal song for a touching movie scene, the pool of those not feigning genuineness seems to dwindle by the day. It’s almost as if, in a way, being genuine isn’t even genuine anymore. Now it takes a truly unique idea, or an old idea put in an entirely new perspective, to truly capture people’s attention. That’s where Racing Heart steps in, with a debut in To Walk Beside That Ghost that may not be a trailblazer, but is wholeheartedly authentic enough to distinguish Racing Heart as a band worth watching in the future and worth enjoying right now.

I’m not saying that this is a generation defining album, or that it pioneers never-before-heard musical territory, but To Walk Beside That Ghost is quite simply the answer to everything that this new breed of mainstream indie bands has been missing. It is tangibly emotional – not manufactured emotion, but raw and candid. Its approach never feels strained, but instead flourishes through Mathias Tjonn’s Thom Yorke-meets-Win Butler style of vocals. There is nary a weak song on the album, as even the shortest tracks play a key role in orchestrating the album’s impeccable flow. ‘Et Onske, et Hap’, for example, passes by rather inconspicuously with a vocals-only, lyrically trim (title is chanted repeatedly) performance, but it serves as the perfect bridge between ‘The War’ and ‘Emma’ – two cornerstones on an album filled with gems. The prior may be one of the best songs of the year so far, dwelling in a mysterious atmosphere of acoustic picking, strings, and tremendously varied vocals from the band’s multi-talented frontman. The lyrics are also noteworthy here, as they are throughout the entire record’s span, offering up lines such as, “There’s a hole in your heart where the love seeps in, there’s a hole in my heart where it all flows out.” Perhaps the most impressive moment on paper comes in ‘Emma’, in which Tjonn professes, “Where our language lacks words, that empty space is yours.” In an album overflowing with emotive, relationship-based poetry, the line still manages to stand out as an example of Tjonn’s potential heights.

The majority of To Walk Beside That Ghost masters the balance between slow-burning ballads and mid-tempo songs, and in that way it was never intended to be an upbeat album. That’s okay though, because despite its noticeable fixation on one approach to pace, there is never a moment of ill-conceived redundancy. Even though the record is stripped down to its bare bones in terms of production, there is still a plethora of instrumental variety that is utilized far enough apart and in enough moderation to highlight the qualities of each track. ‘This Pretty Mistake’ opens thing sup with just an acoustic guitar, but the song (as with much of the album) is driven by the strength of Tjonn’s vocals. ‘Turn Around’ features a string/horn combination during the outro that lends the album a sense of elegance at just the -

"To Walk Beside that Ghost - Reviewed"

“To Walk Beside that Ghost is a soundtrack to life, a tribute to good vocal harmonies, and a blast from the past. It not only keeps listeners audibly occupied, but creates a mental motion picture with you in the director’s chair.” - Vantage Magazine

"Hear Racing Heart's Lovesick Indie-Folk Ode 'Emma'"

'To Walk Beside that Ghost,' out April 20, features members of St. Vincent and Sufjan Stevens' bands

For Emma, forever ago: "So many days have come and gone," Racing Heart mourns on "Emma," from the Brooklyn-based indie-folk group's debut album To Walk Beside that Ghost, due out April 20 on Movemountains. Oslo transplant and prime creative force Mathias Tjønn's distant muse feels just as irrevocably lost as Justin Vernon's, though this chamber-pop construction's elaborate wash of harmonies more closely recalls Grizzly Bear, Local Natives, or even Maps & Atlases. Members of St. Vincent and Sufjan Stevens' bands, in fact, contributed to the album's recording.

There's an intricate allure in the interplay between Racing Hearts' rippling auto-harp, precisely shaded drumming, and queasy analogue synths. But the head-spinning moment on "Emma" is the chorus, where multiple voices join in singing the title character's name. One other "Emma" comes to mind, the one whose house Britain's mild-mannered twee-pop luminaries the Field Mice used to visit. Her house was vacant, but still somehow "Emma's"; or, as Racing Heart puts it, "Where our language lacks words / That empty space is yours."

- SPIN Magazine - SPIN Magazine


To Walk Beside that Ghost (2012)



The short version is that Racing Heart play indie folk, but try instead to imagine the earnest yearnings of American golden era pop music, the earthiness of the English folk revival and the searching spirit of contemporary Scandinavian indie rock, and you’ll have a better idea of what the music sounds like. These are ten songs that set out to accomplish something, finding themselves somewhere in the soundscapes that many of today’s Brooklyn-based bands are busy exploring, with lush vocal harmonies that lead your thoughts (and your ears) to the 1960’s and 70’s.

To Walk Beside that Ghost (out April 20th on Movemountains) was in fact written and recorded by Racing Heart in just Brooklyn, with members from St. Vincent and Sufjan Stevens’ bands joining them in the studio. Centred on the soft acoustics of voice, finger-picked guitar, autoharp, upright bass and drums, but embellished and expanded upon by both analogue synthesizers, a string quartet and brass trio (the stated goal always being that each sound must serve the song and not just act as decoration) this album carries with it inspiration from many different musical decades.

Mostly recorded on what is rumored to be Eddie Van Halen’s old 16-track analog tape machine (adding perhaps the ghosts of blistering guitar solos past to the mix as well), simplicity and sense of purpose was key when recording To Walk Beside that Ghost. The music was committed to tape by living, breathing musicians playing as a group in the same room, or huddled around a single microphone when singing background vocals.

Written after songwriter and prime mover in Racing Heart, Mathias Tjønn relocated to New York from Oslo, Norway (with stops in Rome - to study archaeology - São Paulo and Buenos Aires - to study music and language - and Boston - to study guitar), the songs they recorded together are informed by both the struggles and the stolen moments of joy that come from relocating to this equal parts mythical and maddening city, caught in the midst of an economic downturn and the grey-weather days that followed.

To Walk Beside that Ghost revolves around the difficulties of allowing the past to be the past, as well as the chance encounters that await us on that long and winding road towards mastering the art of letting go. Those ghosts in the album title are the people, the places and the feelings we’ve left behind, yet they still doggedly stick by us on our travels.