theeurocentric

Posts Tagged ‘Norway’

Have You Heard: Kings of Convenience

In Norway on September 22, 2009 at 5:07 pm

We’re going to stay in Scandinavia this week, with the charming indie pop duo Kings of Convenience. Childhood friends Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe have been creating music together since their teenage years in the band Skog, though they didn’t find success until their debut album as the Kings of Convenience, 2001’s Quiet Is the New Loud. They are set to release their third studio album, Declaration of Dependence, on October 20; it is their first album in five years. The lead single is titled “Boat Behind”, and several songs on the new record feature Canadian indie songstress Leslie Feist on back-up vocals.

The band emphasizes subdued vocals, lush instrumentation, and hyper-literate lyrics. Often described as Norway’s answer to Simon & Garfunkel, the duo blends the aesthetics of early Belle & Sebastian with their own bossa nova influenced folk. Songs range from quiet and introspective (“Homesick”, “Parallel Lines”) to more poppy and upbeat (“I’d Rather Dance With You”, “Love is No Big Truth”). If “Boat Behind” is indicative of the rest of their latest album, they’re not planning on making any new or radical changes to their tried-and-true formula. The acoustic guitars are once again in the foreground, and the elegant harmonies and orchestral flourishes remain firmly intact.

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Max Manus

In Norway on September 22, 2009 at 5:04 pm

maxmanus

Continuing with the international selection at the recent Toronto Film Festival, Norway’s answer to WWII action flicks comes in the form of Max Manus. The film, co-directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, tells the true story of one of Norway’s most famous resistance fighters of World War II. It covers Manus’ life from the Winter War in the USSR to peacetime in 1945, with the bulk of the World War II and Nazi occupation of Norway in between.

Though it has yet to see a stateside release, it received glowing reviews in its native country and went on to be nominated for eleven Amanda Awards (the Norwegian Oscars), winning seven including Best Film, Best Actor for Aksel Hennie, and Best Supporting Actress for Agnes Kittelsen. The film was one of the largest productions in Norwegian history, costing NOK 55 million (roughly $9.3 million) and employing nearly four thousand extras and behind the scenes workers. It’s 2008 premiere was a major event, with King Harald V and Gunnar Sønsteby (a resistance fighter portrayed in the film) in attendance. By the end of its theatrical run it had made over $15 million at the box office, beating out such international hits as The Dark Knight, Quantum of Solace, and Wall-E (the only film to best it, incidentally, was the ABBA musical Mammia Mia!). The film will likely be Norway’s submission to the 2010 Academy Awards, and should it secure a nomination, will make it into US theaters sometime early next year.