SUNTURNS are a Norwegian super-group devoted to Christmas, featuring members of Making Marks, Moddi, The Little Hands Of Asphalt, Monzano and Einar Stray Orchestra.
The new Sunturns album Christmas II is not a normal Christmas album. Consisting of 10 original Christmas songs and one Ramones cover, five of Oslo’s finest singers, musicians and songwriters join forces once again to portray their take on Christmas. The songs, inspired by everything from My Bloody Valentine to A-ha, sung both English and Norwegian, delves in to Christmas, combined with family fights, death, emptiness, an amateur tennis champion, expensive beer, the axial tilt, shopping malls, nostalgia and forgiveness. Shimmering guitars, snow filled piano lines, gentle strings, springy vocals and dynamic drums – all steady conducted by Sunturns’ very own Sjur Lyseid in the producer’s seat.
While 2011’s debut was full of humorous, festive charm Christmas, Christmas II is a much darker and more adult affair. The bands’ all along gravitas is clear throughout: the sound is more mature, more electric and tighter. Having written none of the songs on the first album, youngest band member Einar Stray can claim credit for half the Christmas II songs, while Ola Innset has successfully written his first Christmas songs in Norwegian.
The album was recorded in the summer of 2015 deep in the woods of Sweden in the legendary Silence Studio, with guest appearances from Ofelia and Hanna of the Einar Stray Orchestra providing string accompaniment.
The Axial Tilt is the first track taken from the album, reflecting on the eventual parting of December’s despair as the sun finally turns and the days start to get longer.
Would You is released as a single on October 31st, just as the lonely and desperate winter nights draw in as you reflect on your teenage emo self.
Sunni is a piano ballad that evolves in to a post-rock tune about meeting a girl called Sunniva, and is the final single taken from Christmas II, released on the 21st of November.
And all good Christmas albums need a murder ballad about an amateur tennis champion in Bergen, right? [Mount Kenya]
Sunturns consist of Eivind Almhjell (Psyence Fiction/Monzano), Jørgen Nordby (Moddi/Making Marks), Sjur Lyseid (The Little Hands Of Asphalt), Ola Innset (Making Marks) and Einar Stray (Einar Stray Orchestra/Moddi).
The band christened themselves Sunturns, harking back to the pre-Christian celebrations marking the winter solstice; the point the dark Norwegian days start to fall back and give way to the light. The seasonal band formed back in 2011, under the direction of Oslo based label Spoon Train. They immediately recorded and released their debut album Christmas to rave critics among Norwegian press, and went on tour in Norway and England to spread their somewhat different Christmas gospel. With both serious and humorous songs about many of the holiday’s backsides, the album became a hit record amongst indie fans both in Norway and abroad. The single The Sun Turns was listed on Norwegian radio station NRK P3’s official Christmas list and has been played heavily every December since. Sunturns’ come together once a year for an annual Christmas show in Oslo, and is for many a dear festive tradition.
New album Christmas II is released on vinyl, alongside 2011’s album Christmas on vinyl for the very first time, in a double LP package in a gatefold sleeve, including a download code of both albums. 18 original Sunturns tracks and covers of Low’s Just Like Christmas, Swearing At Motorists’ Losing Mine and The Ramones’ Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight) make up this double album package.
“Sunturns can perhaps be labeled an indie supergroup – or not just an indie super group, but a Christmas indie supergroup. It’s something as rare as a full-time Christmas band and is comprised of some of the best musicians from the Oslo indie scene, with members from bands such as mylittlepony, Monzano and The Little Hands of Asphalt. They sing about both the nice and the more melancholic sides of Christmas.” The Guardian
“The two albums have different moods though: Christmas I is the more indiepop set, from the jam-like modpop of ‘The Sun Turns’ to the charming, coltish ‘Hallelujah (Christmas Is Here)’ with its Band Aid echoes and the joyfully melodic ‘Summer For Christmas’. It also includes a cover of Swearing At Motorist’s ‘Losing Mine’ and a much darker and intense version of Low’s ‘Just Like Christmas’. Christmas II is a much gloomier affair (like the day after Boxing Day when those pesky relatives still show no sign of leaving). Opening track ‘Sunni’ is a widescreen affair, layered and complex with lots of piano, while the album ends with their cover of Ramones’ ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)’, which here is just slow piano and regret-wracked voice. Indiepop fans will enjoy the albums and the contrast of the two records – the naïve charm of Christmas I balanced by the more mature reflections of Christmas II – means that all sides of Christmas are represented.” SoundsXP
“All in all, we can’t think of a better soundtrack for your Christmas” JaJaJa
“You see, while the songs spin around Christmas ideas, they still have this emotional draw in the lyrics, drawing from personal experiences around the holiday. Honestly, if you didn’t hear the word Christmas, you’d likely just fall in love with the song. It’s heartwarming, both lyrically and musically.” Austin Town Hall
“Split into two sides — a light side and a dark, honouring the idiosyncrasies of the season’s forced fun — this record consists of many original Christmas songs played by members of classic Norwegian bands, bringing them together for Live Aid-esque harmonies, flashy pianos, giddy guitar riffs and super sweet-laced balladry. The first side of the record redeems itself with a cover of Low’s “Just Like Christmas”; they take the most miserable band’s jolliest song and make it melancholy as fuck — with the numbed dual vocals and miserable chimes, it sounds just short of Johnny Foreigner.” Norman Records
““Would You” reminds me of the best parts of The Stars… the layered vocals, the rising music, the drama. Beautiful. “The Axis Tilt” is a wonderful piece of songwriting, and that voice has to be Sjur Lyseid, right? He’s got a way with a turn of phrase, and boy can he work in some basic physics into a song!” Christmas Underground
“tracks like Looks Like Styrofoam and The Axial Tilt cross rare, uncharted Christmas territory” The Skinny
“its swelling, orchestral melodically dreamy lead track ‘Would You’” God Is In The TV
Syd Svenskan [Swedish]