... Hush?

. . . Hush?

Big country: They're cowpokes from Copenhagen, the Raveonettes of the rodeo, Denmark's answer to Tammy 'n' George, but without the divorce. Their new single, If You Go Breaking My Heart, sounds like Dolly Parton getting long- overdue revenge on Jolene for stealing her man. It's from their debut album, A Lifetime, finally getting its release round these here parts, having already topped the Danish charts and made stars of these two American music obsessives from the small town of Randers. Hush sound like all your favourite country, pop and West Coast rock stars from the 1970s. Their song Lovestruck features on the new Volkwagen ad - it didn't do fellow Scandinavian Jose Gonzalez any harm, and it should get pundits making some noise about this Danish duo.

Quiet riot: Michael Hartmann wasn't always into quiet, country-tinged tunes. High-decibel heavy metal riffola was his bag, and his love of LA speed-metal led him to head for the US in search of serious noise. It didn't take long for him to get bored with metal music and its limited sonic palette. "I wanted to do something that was more real and had more subtlety and nuance," he says, Think of the gentler, contemporary West Coast sounds of Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles. So he turned the amp down from 11 and headed back to Denmark. Meanwhile, 17-year-old Dorthe Gerlach was strumming her acoustic guitar and dreaming of becoming the next Melanie, busking songs from her parents' record collection, which included Suzanne Vega and Tracy Chapman. "My dad heard her busking in the town square and said I should go check her out," says Michael.

Islands in the stream: When Michael heard Dorthe's wistful warble, he fell in love and asked her to be his musical companion. Eventually she agreed to come to his studio and look at his equalizer, and also lay down a track or two. "It was magical," recalls Dorthe, referring to the immediate chemistry between the two. They immediately recruited musicians for a seven-piece band and hit the road. Alas, they failed to make much noise, and the others fell by the wayside, leaving Michael and Dorthe alone (and properly in love) to pursue their easy-listening dream.


Enjoy the silence: With a new, sparse sound, Hush played well-received gigs in Nashville and London, then hit the Danish charts with single If I Was. Universal in Denmark took a chance and signed up the duo; the risk was rewarded when A Lifetime hit the top of the Danish charts last year. "We don't sound like anybody else in Denmark, which is why at first they didn't know what to make of us," says Michael. "We're very influenced by American music, and I guess geographically our music floats somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, halfway between Copenhagen and Nashville."

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist