Norway - Full Moon 237 - 12/25/15
Hans Stenøien & Sugarfoot
Tonight We Bloom
Crispin Glover Records
Tonight We Bloom is guitar-pop/rock singer/songwriter Hans Stenøien's latest baby. This album was 'conceived' with Sugarfoot, as Hans recorded and created the songs together
with the country-pop/rock band Sugarfoot. Sugarfoot are Øyvind Holm (on guitar/vocals, formerly of Dipsomaniacs and Deleted Waveform Gatherings), Hogne
Galåen (on guitar/vocals, ex-Deleted Waveform Gatherings and Føfftemand), Bent Sæther (on bass/backing vox, of Motorpsycho), Even Granås (on drums/backing vox), Roar
Øien (pedal steel), and Thomas Henriksen (organ/piano, ex-Dipsomaniacs). Let's check out their bloom - its radiance, luster, sheen, glow, and colour.
Tonight We Bloom was produced by Bent Sæther, who's become a veteran artist and producer around Norway. Stenøien and Sæther know each other from way back, to the
wee early 90s when Bent had just started his Motorpsycho vehicle and Hans formed his band Epinastic Movements - who released the Block Songs 12" in 1991, and the CD mini-album Rapid
in 1993 (both on the Pop Eye label). After a long musical hiatus, Hans returned with his Gravity Pulls project and the full album Flood in 2012
(holding some of the old songs from the Epinastic days -- even some of the players/collaborators from the 'old days' was around, such as keyboard player/producer Lars Lien). Flood was
pulled by the 'singles' "Want You" and "Burning Bush" but seemed to be a too clever, and a too straight-sounding take on the guitar pop/rock formula (the raw "Star" was my favourite
track). This time around Hans has gotten himself a more loose and chilled, organic sounding backing band. Sugarfoot are clever and skilled, but they manage to add a chill feel/vibe to the
songs, plus, of course, a whole lot of comforting harmonies.
Tonight We Bloom holds eleven tracks and kicks off with the catchy "Lake Superior", which is one of the album's two 'singles' ("Spandrels Of San Marco" is the second). Hans wanted to
(or had in mind) songs and an album somewhat more 'energetic and rocking, almost up the post-punk' alley, but his songs met Sugarfoot's big, airy, pretty harmonies and the disarming sound of
Pedal steel guitar, Hans (and Sugarfoot) said to Adressa.no. The resulting songs lands softly back in the late 80s/90s guitar pop-rock landscape. Think R.E.M., Matthew Sweet, Grant McLennan
and Robert Forster, a softer Sugar/Bob Mould, a more up-speed Wilco, or a more poppy Jayhawks, or The The (in Matt Johnson's most 'American' period). Maybe even a rougher, rockier Prefab
Sprout (or maybe not). However, Tonight We Bloom holds a number of catchy, well-performed and well-arranged songs. The album is a comfortable listen, but it is not an innovative or
groundbreaking album. This isn't the purpose or goal either, I guess. The best songs (to my ears) are the two singles plus the closing "There Is No Big other".
PS! The vinyl comes on blue marbled vinyl and has a die-cut cover (limited edition! You'd better run, run, run to your local vinyl pusher).
Copyright © 2015 Håvard Oppøyen