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Le Pop

Katzenjammer

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Album Review

This all-female Norwegian quartet makes wild, pulse-pounding music that's hard to categorize. Imagine some mutant blend of the B-52's, Gogol Bordello, and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France playing supersonic dance beats on acoustic instruments and you have some idea of this band's eclectic sound. Their mash-up of Gypsy madness and Balkan wedding music, rock and pop, American and Norwegian folk, and much more is played brightly, but with an underlying darkness that gives the impression of a carnival band surfing on the snowy crest of an avalanche. The quartet plays about a dozen instruments including accordion, guitar, piano, and drums in addition to balalaika and harpeleik, a 99-stringed folk zither native to Germany and Finland. Despite their impressive chops, the instrumental tracks are tight and focused, without layering up odd sounds just to show off, with lyrics that can be both macabre and playful. Unlike many musicians who are not native speakers of English, the Katzenjammer gals have a fine command of rhyme, meter, and vernacular Americanisms, adding an extra crackle to their tunes. There isn't a weak track on the disc, but several jump out at you from the first listen. "A Bar in Amsterdam" sounds like a bluegrass tune played by a Gypsy brass band, with a dark lyric and the energy of a bar full of desperate drunks at closing time. "Demon Kitty Rag," their hit from 2009, combines ragtime, clattering banjo, hot fiddling, and jubilant Andrews Sisters-like scat vocals. The title tune name-checks the Cramps, and sounds like Kate and Cindy of the B-52's fronting a Russian folk band, while "Mother Superior" is a waltz that suggests ominous 1930s German cabaret and sports one of the album's most sinister lyrics. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 2005 in Oslo, Norway

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

An all-female Norwegian quartet whose musical style is rooted in both pop/rock and country-folk, Katzenjammer made their full-length debut in 2008 with Le Pop, an album that was both critically and commercially successful. Founded in 2005 in Oslo, Norway, the quartet is comprised of multi-instrumentalists Turid Jørgensen, Solveig Heilo, Marianne Sveen, and Anne Marit Bergheim, who between them play accordion, mandolin, guitar, piano, balalaika bass, glockenspiel, trumpet, kazoo, melodica, banjo,...
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Le Pop, Katzenjammer
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