Real Ones, splendid ones

Among us astrologers the signs are considered clear: now that Mercury aligns with Pluto, Real Ones approach their breakthrough. A more prosaic indication is the Norwegian folk-rock band’s recent pocketing of the by:Larm award. The award, which consists of 250 000 (nok) worth of advertisement and cash, is meant to furnish bands with the muscle needed for the last push to make it big. Hence it is awarded to those deemed “nearly there”, or at least in a favourable position.

Real Ones på Mono (Foto: Mono)

Real Ones is such a band; for a long time they’ve been running parallel to this demarcation line, perfecting their art and execution rather than opting for quick fixes. And they stand forth as a band almost like no other; they are simply so overwhelmingly professional. And this mastery of execution opens up for the music itself in a way most performers cannot achieve. When the con-cert is something completely mastered, then the art itself stands forth, both in the songs themselves but also in the form of leeway for personal virtuousness. Real ones bring to the stage what most bands have to confine to the studio, i.e., delivering the exact music they want to convey, giving the audience the real thing, merging ‘real’ as in live, with ‘real’ as in the essence of their music.

And it is this essence; the strength of their songs, that forms the foundation of their special enterprise, for professionalism without content to match it becomes only sterile and utterly incapable of striking that special nerve with the audience, that nerve which belongs to music alone. Real Ones are the opposite of this; it is exactly the keen ability to find and nurture the magic of music, again and again and in various forms, that makes them a band we should be grateful for. It is very rare indeed to find a group that comes across as wholehearted as these five old friends from Bergen. True to the magic of music, open to its many forms, and committed to conveying it in its brilliance and complexity, they have worked hard for twelve years to live up to a standard few even contemplate.

Folk-rock based, but with subsidiaries flowing in from many different expressions, not least eastern timbres and psychedelia, Real Ones manage to fuse a nebulous thing into something immediately captivating yet truly original, and also transparent and clear. Meeting these parameters is a sign of greatness, no less, for so often they are contradictory traits. And despite their exquisite musicianship it is the song-writing; the melodies and the inner essence of the music, that inspires most. One gets that rare yet unmistakable feeling: in the grand historical vortex of coincidence and chance we come across occurrences that we think could not have been otherwise: the Beatles could never have remained in obscurity, and Jesus would probably have done something grand even if he hadn’t quite made it to Son of God. Real Ones bring out this feeling because they’re just so goddamn good, and their music so luminously strong, that it’s inconceivable that they should not ascend into the true limelight.

All reviews and responses point the same way, at home and abroad, and it’s been accumulating now for many years. The status these guys have among the press and the music business is almost unprecedented; their path is one with not a single wrong-footed move; with splendid albums following each other and a live reputation that has reached, and breeched, the ceiling.

A group of childhood friends these boys have played under their name of Real Ones for twelve years now. Yes they have taken their time, as if knowing that when their moment comes they will be ready to hold on to their success and popularity, by virtue of the whole hearted excellence they have built up. They have been more occupied with touring America and Europe than hitting the front pages back home. A wise sentiment one would think, for a band with close ties to American musical traditions, but with a flare of freshness the Americans seem to find alien and intoxication. Already a two-time performer at the grand SXSW festival in Texas, their concert last year brought out such musings from American critics: here’s something very American but more ingenious and fresher and freer in nature than most of the brilliant performers of folk and Americana. And in relation to this it has to be said, that real Ones have always had a love for that more British eclectic whimsicality of the folk than the typical, compounded Americana flavour.

Anyway; Real Ones are soon going back to SXSW again, and this time they will be expected. The by:Larm award comes at the best time imaginable -this is indeed the thought behind it- for a new album is soon complete and in the string of brilliant recordings from this outfit one must hope, for the sake of artistic justice, that the extra push will tilt this album, and thus this band, into the sphere of limelight and fame.

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