This record is born out of love, love for music, love for traditional songs and love of playing. You can hear that the players really enjoy what they’re doing and it passes over to us listeners. There is a thriving americana/country scene in Norway and quite a few bands are emerging. Not all of them are traditionalists or pure country performers, but there are elements of what Gram Parsons called “Cosmic Music” in much of the new music.
I’ve written about Olav Larsen and his different projects on several occasions(link1, link2,link3, link4). He really carry a torch for this kind of music. I have never seen Aaslandbros live, but have checked them out on Youtube and Spotify, they are a very fine band and shouldn’t be looked at as “just another tribute band”. They are much more than that. By the way, I have seen Erlend Aasland in concert many times, he is involved in so many projects that your bound to catch him on a stage somewhere. He is a fantastic musician. It is a joy to finally hear him sing on an album.
Follow the Drinking Gourd:
Follow The Drinking Gourd was used by an Underground Railroad operative to encode escape instructions and a map (and first published in 1928). These directions then enabled fleeing slaves to make their way north from Mobile, Alabama to the Ohio River and freedom. The drinking gourd refers to the hollowed out gourd used by slaves as water dipper. But here it is a metaphor for the Big Dipper star formation, which points to Polaris, the Pole Star, and North. A map to freedom, so to speak. It has been done hundreds of times and it is a feat to make it sound fresh and poignant again, but Aaslandbros and Olav Larsen does.
From the press kit for Drunkards, Misfits and Losers:
A late summer night in 2012 singer and songwriter Olav Larsen sent the following to Aaslandbros:
I’ve seen your band , Aaslandbros, live on several occasions. I must say, I’m really impressed by the way you honor the late great Johnny Cash. Erlend Aasland’s voice, the rhythm section together with Erlend’s guitar playing is extremely good. I cannot stop thinking about this. Wouldn’t it be interesting to collaborate? I’ve got some unfinished songs laying about that could be the basis for a musical marriage between Aaslandbros and me. If it fits, and I can not see why not, we should share this music with people in the form of a record (EP) and some concerts. I envision some kind of “Boom Chicka Boom Rocka Fucking Billy” with lyrics paying tribute to the drunkards, the misfits and the losers. Are you in?
Aasland Brothers answered: Yes.
19th Sept 2013 Olav Larsen & Aaslandbros went into Egersound studio together with Eirik Bekkeheien. When they came out,the 21. Sep they had recorded four songs live in studio live i studio. The results are on the new EP, Drunkards, Misfits & Losers.
The record sounds like it would sound if Felice Brothers, Johnny Cash and Stan Ridgeway (Wall of Voodoo) threw a party. Dark, fun and very well done.
If I should make an ordered list of the songs i would do it like this:
No Good Reason
Follow the drinking gourd
I am what I am
and Maria #5 (I haven’t quite cracked this one yet, but I expect I will soon…)
Great contrasting voices with Olav and Erlend and the lyrics and music just fits. One of the finest songs of the year on my list.
Let us keep our fingers crossed for a full album with Aaslandbros in the near future (and hopefully with Olav Larsen).
Produced, played and sung by Olav Larsen and Aaslandbros.
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Eirik Bekkeheien.
Beautiful cover design: Camilla Rosenlund.
The Aaslandbros are Christoffer, Erlend & Jørgen Aasland and Kenneth Andersen.
Drunkards, Misfits & Losers is available as a digital release on several streaming services and on iTunes.
I could not find any live clips of the songs from the EP, but here is a fine cover of Springsteen’s Highway Patrolman: