UMA 2009 - The Nominees

author PP date 14/05/09

Formed just under a year ago, Underground Music Awards is a brand new establishment in the Danish music scene. It was founded on the principle of advancing and strengthening the musical foundations in Denmark. The people behind UMA believe (rightfully) that the underground music scene in Denmark is not being paid the attention that it deserves despite the large number of talented artists in a wide range of different musical genres, and UMA's goal is therefore to place the best of these artists in spotlight through an awards ceremony. The idea is to bring together the audience and a large bunch of non-established Danish bands and artists in a win-win situation: the best artists receive exposure to a large crowd of people, and the fans are able to discover new gems in the national scene that they had no idea existed. That's why you won't see big name bands like Hatesphere, Volbeat or The Psyke Project participating, as these acts have more or less 'made it' not just nationally, but also internationally. This show is all about those small acts still on their early steps of building their career.

The night of the awards show has been designed to differentiate itself from the traditional awards ceremonies often seen in the mainstream media. The show will take place on June 13th (Saturday) at Pumpehuset, right in the center of Copenhagen, where the event won't just consist of awards being dealt out to the winning artists; the night will also see live performances from all winning artists. My understanding of how things will go down is that the whole event is a bit of a hybird: half live show, half awards ceremony of some sorts. Sounds pretty exciting, eh?

UMA has decided to divide the Danish music scene into six genres (alternative, electronica, hip-hop, metal, rock, pop), and from each genre five or six artists have been nominated for the final showdown on June 13th. In the first stage of the contest, bands and artists were allowed to freely apply for a nomination - all that was required from them was to provide a Myspace URL and two to three tracks on which they wished to be judged on. The amount of applications to the contest was overwhelming, with hundreds upon hundreds of bands and artists deciding to try their luck in the diverse genre categories. The initial selection and sorting was been handled by the people behind UMA until around fifteen or so of the most promising artists were left in each genre. Thereafter, it was time to consult an expert panel in each genre, a group of people with enough expertise in the genre to know what's hot and what's not, who placed the 15 artists in a rank order and submitted their ranking back to UMA. A quick vote count took place and wupti, here we are, with five or six nominees from each genre. You can find more information on everything on their official website.

Considering how hip-hop, electronica and pop aren't likely to interest any readers of Rockfreaks.net, I've decided to focus only on the alternative, rock and metal genres here. Yours truly and TL participated in the metal expert panel among a number of other people.

Rock

1. The Defectors

"The Defectors pull rigor mortified riffs and horror hooks from outta the darkest depths of Satan’s belly in order to shake up your listening space and trash your hi-fi. Bruised and Satisfied is the 4th The Defectors album and their bitching brew of slamming Farfisa drenched graveyard garage punk never sounded meaner… or better for that matter. Excellent music for driving by the way...all the way… baby…UGH!" (Biography)

Judged on: "Mr. Flavio" & "All I Want"

2. Mr. Sanguine

"Mr. Sanguine recorded and released, completely on his own, the album Midnight Memories in 2006, under the name Rasmus Jarby. Jarby created the epic work’s 11 songs while living in simple circumstances in Harlem, New York City. Midnight Memories was awarded the demo of the month by the Danish music magazine Gaffa, which described the genre as 'symphonic post-grunge.'" (Biography)

Judged on: "Flavourless The White" & "Gristle N' Bones"

3. Bel Espirit

"Bel Esprit is melodic, playful and passionate ROCK, free spirited, visionary and soulful FOLK, imaginative, surprising and original song writing, scientific, experimental and adventurous storytelling, emotional, puzzled and wondrous POP, affectionate, innovative beats, spiced with a dynamic performance.With their unique style and sound the audience is introduced to catchy tunes, thorough compositions and integrated accompaniment. This band rocks, folks and pops!" (Gaffa)

Judged on: "Hula Girl" & "Dead Wrong"

4. Highway Child

"Highway Child is for everyone addicted to classic rock – all the good old stuff from MC5 to AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. The lads are already an experienced and hardened live band – and despite sold-out shows, an album recorded and ready, and rave mentions in the underground, they still have no record deal. This band should end up in the same league as the best garage rock bands of our time." (Roskilde Festival)

Judged on: Any track.

5. Art Arena

"Art Arena toys with curvy, playful guitars and pop-twinged choruses, creating a chilled out, but nonetheless intriguing indie rock sound that's more or less perfect for anyone interested in conquering the Danish music charts. The verses and choruses are all pretty catchy, but I'll just go ahead and name one exceptionally noteworthy one, namely that of "Bleeding Noise", which has some serious radio-hit material." (Rockfreaks.net)

Judged on: "Sally Lunn" & "Bleeding Nose"

Metal

1. Diamond Drive

"Diamond Drive takes influence from the last three decades of rock music within a spectrum from melodic rock to aggressive thrash, anything from Soundgarden to Lamb of God. Each member contributes a mix of creativity and a high standard of musicianship. Diamond Drive gives a powerful and energetic live performance. They produce a tight and exhilarating sound fully engaging the audience. The end result is a pure quality and an aggressive, still positive energy which unites a wide and varied fan base." (Biography)

Judged on: "Infidels" & "Traitor"

2. Fiji

"Fiji play a fiery form of hardcore influenced metalcore filled with mouth-watering guitar leads and throaty screaming. Their developed and convincing sound has previously earned them a nomination at the Danish Metal Awards and rave reviews across the Danish media. (Rockfreaks.net)

Judged on: "Cold Beers And Bleeding Ears" & "Skulls And Scars"

3. Vira

"On the one hand, the band is able to turn this metalcore cliché to its advantage by dishing it out in long, intense barrages, creating whole verses out of them and texturing them with harmonics and dissonant leads with the result that they no longer quite satisfy the definition of a breakdown, much in the vein of Meshuggah. On the other hand, there's the moshmania of "Escape", in which the breakdowns are intended as breakdowns and come in from every open window via transitions that sound a bit force-fed, especially after the groovy undercurrent, reminiscent of Hatesphere's newer produce, in the distinctly Danish sounding main riff." (Rockfreaks.net)

Judged on: "Smile" & "Release Yourself"

4. Trusted Few

"Because for every technical quality that their singer/screamer Johan lacks, he compensates it with unadulterated passion, always sounding like he is giving 110% to the songs. This is best seen in "Hold On To My Hat, I Think It's A Sin", which leaves me convinced that their recording studio can't possibly be intact after a vocal performance as passionate as that" (Rockfreaks.net)

Judged on: "You Are No Model" & "Dance Dance"

5. She Is Malignant

"She Is Malignant rose from the ashes of Danish screamo band Knife Of Liberty, and have been spending time in the studio earlier in the winter for an upcoming debut release. They've often been referenced to as the "Danish Norma Jean", and listening to their songs on Myspace it's not difficult to understand why." (Rockfreaks.net)

Judged on: "On Top Of Everything" & "We Build Redemption By Desire"

Alternative

1. Among Relatives

"Among Relatives are one of the newest indie rock hopefuls from Denmark. They've already been signed to a small indie label Atlantic Music Copenhagen, and have been spending time in the studio recording a new album to be released in the near future" (Rockfreaks.net)

Judged on: "Devils Work" & "Are You Already Giving Up"

2. Vilhelm

"Vilhelm is singer and guitarist Per Vilhelm, Julia Kjær Nielsen on backing-vocal and producer Steffen Breum who plays bass. The style is rock-country-singer/songwriter in their own kind of way with clear references to American rocktradition......whether you're feverish in the desert of Arizona or you walk around with cold feet in a dormitory in Copenhagen. Overall the expression is focused around Per Vilhelms charm and sound both in studio and livingroom. The lyrics is often illustraded as everyday-moods in a cunning and honest way." (Biography)

Judged on: "Burning Ghost" & "Send It All Away"

3. Annemarie Zimakoff

"I grew up in the country side in Jutland pretty much so far away from everything that I might as well talk to myself or sing. So I started singing to myself and soon I nicked my sisters old childrens guitar. I've always made up stories and sung them -even when I was drawing as a kid. As I got older I got more stories to tell. I hope you will listen and please tell me what you think. Your opinion is important to me. Share the songs with your friends!!" (Biography)

Judged on: "In The Dark" & "Demons"

4. CallmeKat

"Fall Down was recorded over quite a bit of time, while falling in love with sounds from beautiful keyboards, ugly keyboards, old bass guitars and drums and whatever else was sitting around the room and in the computer. sometimes a sound wasn't any of those places. then we'd create it. that's more fun anyway. there's a beat made of a noisy chair and pixie noises that are really just the sound of an old very blue organ, artificial mice dancing on the table and playing percussion or other instruments in their own subtle way, and much much more." (Biography)

Judged on: "My Sea" & "Flower In The Night"

5. Atoi

"Atoi are another delicate indie rock act from Denmark, who have received decent reviews by the mainstream Danish music press in recent years. Their silky soundscapes and relaxed sounds have earned the band a support slot for Jenny Wilson as well as a number of appearances at indie rock festivals across the country." (Rockfreaks.net)

Judged on: "My Sea" & "Flower In The Night"

And that's all the nominees for the first edition of the Underground Music Festival. All industry experts who participated in the initial selection procedure will now retreat to their caves (or offices) to vote on artists in every genre. On June 13th, the votes will have been counted and the awards ceremony will be taking place. Tickets are on sale at this location for just 90 DKK a piece. Buy yours now, and come by to support the Danish music scene. As an added incentive TL and I will be presenting the metal award to the winners, so if you wanna hear him blabber a few select words about the winning band on stage, here's your chance. See you all on June 13th.

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