|Fortress Round My Heart
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Born and raised in the icy Norwegian stillness of the Arctic Circle, Ida Maria brought a new cool to the top of the pops when her first single release in the UK, "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" hit #13 on the national chart and sent her debut album, FORTRESS ROUND MY HEART straight inside the Top 40.
FORTRESS ROUND MY HEART - which drew 4 star UK reviews in Q magazine and The Guardian - has now been signed to Mercury Records, and will be distributed by Fontana in a close collaboration with a March 24th digital release. "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" was officially released as a digital single in the U.S. earlier this week (on February 24th). Ida Maria's song "Oh My God" will be used in all the Gossip Girl promos for this season. Originally airing 2/23, the promos will continue for months ahead!
On the heels of her 30-show, sold-out headlining UK tour in November, four critically acclaimed showcases in Los Angeles and New York, and NME's prestigious Shockwaves Awards show earlier this month - Ida Maria and her band (Stefan T?rnby on lead guitar, bassist Johannes Lindberg, drummer Olle Lundin) will play their first U.S. tour in March. Kickoff is the South By Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Confer-ence in Austin, Texas, March 18-22. Dates will continue in New Orleans, Atlanta, Washington DC, West Chester (PA), Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Boston. Ida Maria will return to the U.S. for a performance at the Coachella Festival in California on April 18th.
24-year old Ida (pronounced ee-dah) Maria grew up in Nesna, Norway, a university town of fewer than 2000 people north of the 66th latitude. When she moved to the great city of Bergen as a teen, she rubbed shoulders with everyone from metal bands to avant garde jazz musicians and bluegrass singer-songwriters. There she "discovered the inner beast that was hiding in my vocal chords." At the same time, she developed into a formidable songwriter, informed by a benign variant of synaesthesia, a rare condition in which perception in one sense mode arouses imagery from another, so that one can see sounds or hear colors, for example.
Following the success of "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked," "Oh My God" was issued as a new single, and earned a 4 star review from RollingStone.com. Time magazine placed the song at # 3 on their "Top Ten List of Everything in 2008," praising her "powerhouse voice - deep, commanding, a little masculine, exotic, too, like Nico, but with an abundance rather than an absence of feeling."
U.S. pressing of the debut album from the Norwegian Alt-Pop priestess, described as a cross between Amy Winehouse and The Strokes with a bit of Bjork and Iggy Pop thrown in for good measure. Twelve months of constant touring have built up a loyal and dedicated fanbase which will help her cross-over to the mainstream. 10 tracks including the single 'I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked'.
- Starts out good
Ida Maria is a Norwegian pop singer (who has also lived and worked in Sweden). This is her first full release. It is on the Fontana label, which also brings us acts like Swing Out Sister.
The CD sound quality is good. The CD consists of 10 songs and is under 33 minutes long, which is more than enough.
To calibrate my review: I am not a big fan of pop music. I got this CD because I thought it might be something like Bjork. I also enjoy many other styles of music, including artists like Lucinda William, Sarah Hickman and Patti Smith.
The CD starts out well with the hard driving "Oh My God". I think this song fits her vocal capabilities. The song, with its limited lyrics, does get a little repetitious, but that is a minor complaint.
The only other song I enjoyed was "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked". It isn't a great song, but it is a great notion. There are parts of the song that sound like the theme song to the old kid's TV program The Banana Splits.
On the rest of the songs, she seems to sing in affected ways, or is trying copy someone else. I don't think she is very successful at doing that.
On "Morning Light", she laughs-sings some of the chorus, ha ha ha ha ha. It sounds pretty stupid. She just screams out the lyrics through the last part of "Stella". It just isn't very pleasant. She does sort of the same thing on "Forgive Me". I guess here it is supposed to be an emotional outpouring, but it really does not sound that emotional. "in the End" is a long, droning whine.
On "Louie", she sounds like she is doing an imitation of Bjork, all throughout the song. "Keep Me Warm" reminds me of an Edie Brickell song, with the same problem of some Brickell songs, the chorus is repeated over and over way too much. "Drive Away My Heart" sounds like Lucinda Williams. "Queen of the World" reminds me of one of those Disney pop star hits, the kind of song you hear playing in the lobby of an AMC movie theater.
Some people will love this CD. I struggled to get through the whole thing, especially after the pounding my ears took during Stella....more info
- Wide variety of styles on a single CD
(1) Oh My God & (2) Morning Light - Both have a early 80's punk vibe to them
(3) I Like You So Much Better When Your Naked - Shows off the husky bottom edge of her vocal range
(4) Stella - Has a Lo-Fi sound to it that leads her to a few voice cracking highs
(5) Keep Me Warm - Smooth and slow rolling tune that will relax
(6) Forgive Me - Instrumentals were more interesting than the vocals
(7) Queen of the World - Has a folksy sound with hints of Suzanne Vega
(8) Louie - Very snappy number that will cause a nice foot tap
(9) Drive Away My Heart - The mix for this was just too busy for me to enjoy, felt jumbled
(10) In The End - An acoustic guitar track where the vocals need to have the gain trimmed some as they overpower the music
My overall impression is that this CD is a mostly pleasant dip into the Lo-Fi Folk section that is warm in places and a bit rough in others. Ida's voice has hints of Margo Timmins, from Cowboy Junkies, or Suzanne Vega on a couple of tracks...that likely hold promise for her future work. I couldn't tell she was Norwegian at all in the music as her English had a very neutral accent to it.
With a better mix on a few tracks I'd bump this up to 3.5 to 4 stars but right now it just feels a bit raw to give it that rank. As it stands "Louie" is my favorite track on this album....more info
- Not exactly "relevant" or "top tier" music. Didn't grab me...
What can I say about this album? Well, the disc itself was very pink, as were the lyrics in the foldout insert. Somehow, that's appropriate. For some reason her voice reminded me of the artist known as Pink. With the exception that Ida Maria's voice seems to crack a bit under the strain of trying to belt out some of her song. In fact, in some of them she seemed to come off more as screaming the songs at the listener than singing them.
I can't say I really found anything on this album that appealed to me or that I identified with. The songs all seemed a bit generic and the subjects didn't feel like they had any relevance to me.
It's not that it was bad, per se. I'm sure someone out there will like it. It seemed a little bit "alternative" or bordering on "grunge" rock in a few places, though not enough so that I'd lump it into either category. I don't quite know how to categorize it, and maybe that's the problem for me... I don't know where it fits into the musical landscape other than being some middle-of-the-road music. I didn't hear any tracks that made me think "I could see that being in the 'top 40,' sure!"
Reminds me of a few CDs I once picked up in the discount bin of a used CD store. Unfortunately, that may be where this album ends up. I'd probably pass on this one, and move along to Amy McDonald's recent "This is the Life" album. (Granted it's not quite in the same genre, being more folksy.) That one I could actually get into and could hear several songs being Top 40 easily. I know at least one of them has gotten a bit of play.
So, yeah, overall I'd rate this one a "library rental" or "pass."...more info
- She's Onto Something
This first effort by Norwegian singer-songwriter Ida Maria is notable for its stripped down exuberance, Ida's raspy but versatile vocals, her superb band, and her funny, ironic lyrics. If her songs are an accurate reflection of the current state of her 24 year-old life, Ida is drunk, horny and lonely a lot of the time. But she's also a keen observer of social conventions, with a distate for phoniness and conformity, and a longing for intimacy with others and a relationship with her true self. These are always relevant topics, regardless of age. Underneath her devil-may-care, indie rock persona, Ida Maria is an existentialist, tackling the big questions. With her confessional, self-deprecating irony, humor, rage and candor, plus her big vocal skills, Ida Maria reminds me of Pink, another powerful Woman of Rock.
Ida has a perfect command of English. While not exactly poetic, she has an eloquent, minimalist writing style. In "Queen of the World" she celebrates youth and freedom: "I'm the queen of the world/I bump into things/I spin around in circles/And I'm singing/Why can't I stay like this/Dear God/Let me be young/Let me stay like this..." but by the end of the song she reveals the underlying truth of the matter: "I got no plans for tomorrow...I'm free this month/Lonely this year/Lonely forever..." Aren't we all.
Musically this is straight-ahead garage rock, with somewhat free-form song structure. On first hearing it sounded a bit amorphous, but after a couple of listenings I got into her catchy hooks and the driving or lilting tempos that complement her lyrics. Ida can scream with the best of them, but has a really good voice that she can use in any way she likes. The opener, "Oh My God," shows off her vocal skills and is also an amazing mantra about fear, artifice and awareness.
If she doesn't burn out, and I don't think she will -- Ida Maria has a big future. My only complaint is that the musical side of her writing is a bit weak, but that may also be a reflection of my personal bias. Being an old hippie, I don't listen to current rock very often, preferring more arranged, melodic music. But Ida Maria is so smart and witty that it was fun to get inside her quirky head, filled with blunt insights and observations. After all, who among us hasn't thought: "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked"?...more info
- The Album Doesn't Live Up to the Single.
"I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked", the first single from Ida Maria's "Fortress Round My Heart", is one of those energetic pop songs so infused with sexuality that it is hard not to notice. The single is good catchy pop with a rock edge, and it left me wanting to hear more from Maria.
Unfortunately, once I had the whole album, I was left a little wanting. There are a few very good songs on Fortress such as "Forgive Me" and the folksy final song "In the End"; but, the album is uneven and some of the songs are just plain trite pop drivel.
I would suggest giving the album a whole listen, then handpick the songs you like and avoid the complete collection....more info
- Not my cup of tea...but not bad...
I love a good beat, unique sound and edgy lyrics...but I really need a tune to go with it. I'm sure that some younger set crowd loves this sort of music, but growing up in the 80's, I'm more drawn to happy upbeat music.
The lack of a "song" within the song turned me off to this CD, and it was really difficult to get through the whole thing. I will give it to my kids, a younger generation who might be more open to this sort of thing....more info
- Encouraging debut suitable for fans of pop-punk a la PJ, Bjork, the Strokes
Ida Maria is a Scandanavian import who has crafted a sound with her debut album "Fortress 'Round My Heart" reminiscent of a cross between The Strokes and PJ Harvey. It is a very energetic pop-punk album that would be well suited to road trips. While I don't think she's yet as good as either of those other acts, there are some very good tracks on the disc, mixed with some ho-hum songs. Overall, it's a very encouraging first album.
Some standout tracks:
1 - Oh My God - A tumbling, propulsive track bristling with energy, but retaining enough melody to be enjoyable in a non-punk way.
2 - Morning Light - Quite reminiscent of the Strokes, especially the guitar EFX pedals. Organs add a nice depth to the track.
7 - Queen Of The World - a curiously affecting anthem about the sort of young 20-something woman who cultivates a whimsical attitude towards life. I'm sure you've met one or two in your lifetime. The portrait should be instantly recognizable.
8 - Louie - catchy and melodic song about finding a place to stay for the night.
The themes of the album, to my ear: jilted love, being young, inadequate men, god (mainly as an object of exclamation, nothing deeper than that), whimsy.
As I've said several times, if you like the Strokes, this is an album to consider. Some of the tracks both musically and thematically sound like the female counterparts to the Strokes' snarky male brio. Other comparisons besides PJ and Bjork might be Sleater-Kinney, Bif Naked, or Liz Phair. For $8, you could do a LOT worse....more info
- Invigorating (3.5 stars)
Ida Maria is sort of the lovechild of Liz Phair and Dead Milkmen- great guitars, simple arrangements, funny songs, and powerful, edgy vocals that are loud and unapologetic.
While I don't think I'll call this one of my favorite CDs of all time, I do love Ida Maria' voice. In a world where over-polished and over-produced vocals are suddenly all over everything, it's so refreshing to listen to a musician just belt out her songs.
On first listen, "Fortress 'Round My Heart" reminded me of Liz Phair's "Exile in Guyville". Both CDs sort of have the same raw, completely unpolished, honest quality. However, I still listen to "Guyville" regularly and I don't think "Fortress 'Round My Heart" will still be in my CD player in 15 years. Maybe that's a good thing, though- Maria can work her way up to a more cohesive sound. I'm still pining away for Liz Phair to make a great comeback album...
But for right this moment, "Fortress 'Round My Heart" is the sort of CD that makes you want to get up and jump around. The single "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" is definitely going on my iPod. You've most likely heard it already and not realized it. Unfortunately, it's one of the better songs on the CD, but I won't write Ida off yet. Her voice alone is enough to warrant interest in her career and her future music....more info
- It's like a cross between X's Exene Cervenka and Bjork with some angst!
The first studio album from Norwegian rock musician Ida Maria (Ida Maria B?rli Siversten). The popular artist who won two national musical competitions in Norway has had considerable success in Europe and has toured through Europe, Australia and the United States. But what is most amazing about this artist is that she's a talented lyricist, composer and musician.
Her first rock album "Fortress 'round My Heart" are tracks with a wide range of emotion and musical ferocity. Released in March 2009 in the US, the album has been out since 2008 in Europe and features five of her released singles.
The album starts off with her first single "Oh My God" which is an exciting and addictive rock track that doesn't have that many lyrics, in fact lyrics are quite repetitive but she manages to make things work. Overall, a track featuring great music and good use of lyrical repetition.
The second track "Morning Light" is one of those tracks that have a Sugarcubes style of vibe but Ida Maria's lyrical bluntness in this track and her ability to incorporate her laughs gives this song a devilish, yet delightful feel. An enjoyable track.
The third track "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" is Ida Maria's fifth CD single from the album and features a fun rock n' roll sex song.
The fourth track "Stella" is Ida Maria's third CD single from the album about using money to buy some drugs and sharing that time with prostitute named Stella and wanting to give her the world for one night. A mid-tempo track.
The fifth track is more of a after-breakup, wallowing in self-pity type of ballad titled "Keep Me Warm" about how nicotine and coffee becomes one's friend in the light and not wanting to do anything for the person that you were once together with.
The sixth track "Forgive Me" is a track about being with a person who doesn't treat you well. Another angsty track from Ida Maria.
The seventh track "Queen of the World" is the fourth CD single from the album and features Ida Maria wanting whiskey and to kill her innocence and overall a fun, enjoyable vibrant song about not knowing how things are going to go tomorrow but just enjoying the happiness at that moment.
The eighth track "Louie" is a song about being kicked out and hoping Louie would have a room for that person. While the ninth track "Drive Away My Heart" is the second single from the album and features a person who will love a person no matter how badly they are treated.
The final tenth track "In the End" features an acoustic guitar track which has a poetic feel to the lyrics and about being in love and being grateful to a person and hope that in the end, they meet again.
The CD insert is a five folded piece with the lyrics on one side and pictures of Ida Maria and production credits on the other end.
Listening to Ida Maria, it's like a combination of X's Exene Cervenka with old, classic Bjork, punk and pop with chiming guitars coinciding together with raspy vocals with lyrics filled with angst, bewilderment and life's happiness and f'd up moments. "Fortress 'round My Heart" is a short album at 32 minutes long but overall, definitely an artist to keep your eye on....more info
This isn't really my type of music, but I figured I'd give it a shot through the vine program. It is simple, mostly fast-paced, guitar-oriented pop. Ida has a very raw, almost raspy voice at times but it is good for a unique style. I actually like her voice; it is one of the better elements of the album. There's nothing terribly groundbreaking here musically, and some of the songs can get repetitive very quickly such as the opening track "Oh My God;" You will get sick of those three words after about 10 seconds. "Forgive Me" was initially my favorite track, with that very energetic opening, but after a few listens is just seems to meld into the rest of the album unnoticed. "In the End" is the slowest and longest track; I really wish I could enjoy this song but it feels empty, heartless, and uninspired.
This album barely scrapes by a half-hour of material, which I usually don't care about, but it surely highlights the lack of originality here. In fact, a half-hour is almost too long when so many of the songs are this repetitive and unmemorable.
Personally, I don't think this album has the power to hold my attention to this artist whatsoever, or even listen to the album beyond writing this review. I know music doesn't have to be deep or complex to be enjoyable, but I have a lot of stuff that is really simple that is much better than this. Many of the songs here sound very similar and just don't have soul poured into them which is necessary to be a memorable artist....more info