February 23, 2010

Live at By:Larm - Serena-Maneesh

Serena-Maneesh frontman/vocalist/songwriter Emil Nikolaisen has several times personally declared to be one of Norway's biggest My Bloody Valentine fans. He shares Kevin Shield's big love for beautiful, haunting melodies hidden in layer upon layer of intense noise, and the Norwegian band's acclaimed 2005 self-titled debut album was clearly influenced by MBV's 1991 masterpiece Loveless.

Far from being just another one of the endless amount of MBV clones out there, however, Serena-Maneesh stands on its own, with Nikolaisen's impressive songwriting and guitar play impressing everyone from Pitchfork to Oasis, the Dandy Warhols and Nine Inch Nails. Not a small feat for a band from Oslo, Norway! Serena-Maneesh acted as openers for the three aforementioned three bands in 2005-2007 tours of theirs, following their debut album's huge success. It's been somewhat quiet around the band since then, but they are now set to finally release their sophomore album next month.

The band's By:Larm show was an opportunity for the band to showcase to anticipating journalists, fans and music industry representatives exactly what they have been working on for the past five years. Despite this however, and the relatively short time allocated to their show (with an 1.15 AM start ...), Nikolaisen walked on stage exclaiming "I know this is a party for the music industry, but looks like we've got some music fans here too! Good." and proceeded to play several old fan favorites to please the crowd. And judging by this night's performance, Nikolaisen and his bandmates are shoegazers only by genre - the charismatic and energetic frontman never once stared down at his chucks, but instead played with intense passion and rocked the audience like a true rockstar.

The new material that eventually was played sounded promising. Less experimental, less introverted and less Loveless, and more accessible, straightforward pop songs. Coated with just the appropriate amount of noise and guitar solos, these new tracks worked well. You can listen to one of them, called Reprobate, right here – or watch a video of the band performing it live on a Norwegian TV show.

SM2 – Abyss in B Minor is out on March 23 in the U.S., and the day before in Europe. In less than two weeks, the band leaves the cold winter snow of Oslo, Norway for a one-month tour all across North America - check out the tour dates and catch Nikolaisen and friends just as they bless the world with their first record in five years!

(photos courtesy of Eskil V)

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