Tag Archives: Sweden

January 5, 2018 — “On a Sunday Morning” by Dead Vibrations

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “On a Sunday Morning” by Dead Vibrations (2018, from the forthcoming album Dead Vibrations)
Dead Vibrations is a noise pop/shoegaze/psych rock quartet from Stockholm. They’ve been around since 2015, but they just released their first EP Reflections last year, and they’re all set to put out their eponymous debut album on January 26 via Fuzz Club Records.

The band has already been getting a lot of good press, and this new album should push them to the front of the Scandinavian shoegaze scene. I had never heard the band before, but I got something in the mail bag suggesting a sound reminiscent of Jesus and Mary Chain, Spacemen 3, and the Seattle grunge scene of the 1990s. In today’s song, there’s a small bit that absolutely reminds me of “Nearly Lost You” by Screaming Trees. Painted with broader strokes, today’s song reminds me more of Swervedriver than of the Mary Chain. On other songs, there’s a more viscous texture, and I’m reminded of Sonic Youth. And these are all fantastic things to be reminded of.

“On a Sunday Morning” by Dead Vibrations

The part where the drums come in at 0:32 up until where the vocals come in at 1:20 is the bit that reminds me of that Screaming Trees song. Then it gets noisy and has me thinking about Mezcal Head. There’s a bridge that’s a little Sonic Youth-esque, then back to that drumbeat at around 3:40.

I like this a lot. And I love the rest of the album. The rest of the album is a little sludgier and packed a little tighter. They don’t breathe very much, but that’s okay. This is meant to be sweaty and beer-soaked.

Look for the album on January 26. You can pre-order the vinyl here. It might be kind of fun to play that record with the pitch adjusted down to make it even sludgier. Pre-order the digital version here.

You should also check out the video of the band doing this song on a rooftop:


November 14, 2017 — “Hate to Fall Asleep” by Wy

Wy

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Hate to Fall Asleep” by Wy (2017, from the album Okay).
Wy is a dark and sad dream-pop duo from Malmö, Sweden. Ebba Ågren and Michel Gustafsson formed the band in 2015, and they just released their debut album via Hybris Records. They are young and they are in love with each other. Their bio reads:

We are filled with doubt
But we have no time to be suicidal
So we kiss our wounds
And play sad guitars
Until our fingers chafe

Other than that, I know absolutely nothing about them. I stumbled upon their debut album yesterday, and somewhere I read that Wy was recommended if you like Diiv and Alvvays. I do like those bands, and even though Wy isn’t like either of those, and even though I wouldn’t make that RIYL connection, I sort of get it. If you ask me, Wy is more like the second Zola Jesus record. That’s in no small part because Ebba Ågren sounds a bit like Nika Roza Danilova (Zola Jesus).
It didn’t take long for me to fall quite hard for Wy. Each song is a little different, and each song reminds me of something else. Some bits remind me a bit of Grouper, while other bits remind me of Torres. This one reminds me a lot of Zola Jesus. This is that song:
“Hate to Fall Asleep” by Wy

The guitars on this song are noisier and more effects-laden than most of the other songs, but you’ll never catch me complaining about too much reverb or tremolo or delay on the guitars. I also like the way they treated the vocals. Somehow, Ebba’s voice is small and fragile while also being big and bold. The big picture is dark and beautiful, and it ticks a lot of boxes for me.
I hope that there will be lots more to come from this young band. For now, you can download Okay via Bandcamp here.


April 18, 2017 — “Rote Learning” by Agent Blå

Agent Blå

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Rote Learning” by Agent Blå (2017, from the forthcoming album Agent Blå).
Agent Blå is an indie pop/post-punk/”death pop” quintet from Gothenburg, Sweden. Blå translates to “blue”, and the band’s name might or might not be a reference to the chemical agent used by the US military in the Vietnam War. Agent Blue was used specifically to kill rice paddies by drying out the plants and leaving the fields unsuitable for replanting. But that’s not why we’re here tonight.

The members of the young band are all between the ages of 17 and 20. They met when Felix Skorvald (guitars), Lucas Gustavsson (guitars) and Emilie Alatalo (vocals) were in one band while Josefine Tack (bass/vocals) and Arvid Christensen (drums) were in another band competing against each other at open mic night. Eventually, they bonded over a mutual love of Joy Division and Slowdive, and they combined forces. They released a 7″ single in 2015, and they’re about to release their debut long player on June 9 via Kanine Records (US/Canada) and Luxury Records (Sweden/EU).

I just learned about the band while I was nosing around the Kanine Records website doing research on something else, and I was quite pleased with the serendipitous discovery. As it turns out, although they were under my radar, they’ve been getting high praise over here in advance of the debut album. In the band’s short iteration, they were already generating a bunch of buzz in Sweden since day one of their existence. Along the way, they got the backing of Gustav Data out of Makthaverskan, who produced the debut record.

I’ve only heard two songs from the record, and I like them both. There’s a lot that’s reminiscent of some of the terrific indie-gaze bands from the east coast of the US in the 1990s, and also some of the newer bands who have been reviving and cultivating that sound. On tonight’s song I’m specifically reminded of a less bouncy Gilded Stars and Zealous Hearts-era Velocity Girl, and also of the more contemporary Alvvays.

This is that song:
“Rote Learning” by Agent Blå

I kind of like the muffled sound, despite the fact that it cloaks Alatalo’s voice. I also really appreciate the phaser/flanger/whatever effect on the guitars layered on top of the other effects. That muffled sound is part of why I’m reminded of the great Velocity Girl. Also, Emilie Alatalo does sound a bit like Sarah Shannon. While I can’t quite make out the lyrics, I like the repeated chorus “Tell me what the fuck we’re doing…”, which is sure to be the bit that audiences sing along with.

I’ll be looking forward to the full album and I can’t wait to see what else the band has in store.

You can pre-order Agent Blå via Bandcamp here. Please note that the US LP will be titled Agent Blue, and that the Swedish/EU LP is limited to 250 copies.


September 14, 2016 — “Lifecries” by Svankropp

Svankropp

Svankropp

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Lifecries” by Svankropp (2016, from the “Lifecries” standalone digital single). The song will also, presumably, be on the forthcoming debut album this October.

Svankropp is an indie pop quartet from Norway and Sweden. They classify themselves as “a Scandinavian cyber-punk phenomenon”. There’s elements of shoegaze, noise pop, and synth pop. They say that they’re also influenced by goth, 80s glam rock, and science fiction. The band’s name translates literally from Norwegian to English as “body tail”, and I don’t know what that means. Svan translates to “swan” and kropp translates to “tail”. Mash them together and it means “body tail”. I don’t know. A vestigial tail? That’s all I can think of.

I got something in the mail bag about them a few months ago, then something else just a couple of days ago. When I got the original email, I didn’t realize that they were part of the Riot Factory family. More often than not, the new releases from that wonderful Norwegian shoegaze/dream pop label are very much in my wheelhouse. This is no different.

The two emails that I got were specifically promoting music videos that went to different songs. They’re both great songs, and the videos are both, um… strange. For me, though, it’s more about the music, and I really dig this song. If you really want to know, though, the first email was about a video for the song “Blush”. The song is good, and the video features a famous “dancing sign language interpreter” called Tommy Krångh. You can view that here. The more recent email was about a video for the song “Symphony no. _ _”. It features a bunch of footage from 1980s bodybuilding competitions. You can view that one here.

As I said, though, I’m most interested in just the music, and this song really works for me:
“Lifecries” by Svankropp

I like the samples of the bagpipes in the intro and the really drone-y guitar bit that runs throughout. It reminds me of a few of their label mates. There’s also the tumbling drums in the second half of the song. And, of course, the vocals of Emilie Storaas. I’m such a sucker for that high vocal that’s lighter than air and ever so slightly obscured by guitar effects. There’s something in her voice that makes me think of the magnificent, but very short-lived and quickly forgotten UK indie-pop/shoegaze band The Charlottes.

You can snag a download of “Lifecries” via bandcamp here. At current exchange rates, €1 is about $1.13 USD.

The only thing I know about the forthcoming debut album is that it comes out on October 7, 2016. There’s no mention of it on the Riot Factory page or on their webstore, but there’s an album teaser here. Just keep your eyes peeled, and bookmark the Riot Factory page.


August 21, 2016 — “Low and Slow” by Sofia Härdig

Sofia Härdig

Sofia Härdig

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Low and Slow” by Sofia Härdig (2016, from the forthcoming album And The Street Light Leads to The Sea).

Sofia Härdig is a Swedish multi-instrumentalist and singer. She’s been making records since 2005 and has put out five albums in that time. Her new album, And The Street Light Leads to The Sea will be released October 28. I had never heard of this woman until I got something in the mail bag about the new album, and I was quite intrigued by the list of bands she’s worked with in the past — Free Kitten, The Hellacopters, Belle and Sebastian, Lydia Lunch, David Sylvan, The Cardigans, and many more. I was also intrigued by the fact that she’s often described as “an electronica queen” and as “Sweden’s best kept secret”. On the new album, however, she’s compared to Sonic Youth and the Pixies and stuff of that ilk. People have said that it’s reminiscent of Le Tigre. These are all good things to be compared to. On this song, I’m actually reminded a bit of Sleater-Kinney.

Whatever it might remind you of, this is the first single from the forthcoming album, and I like it a lot:

“Low and Slow” by Sofia Härdig

In the first minute of the song, there’s some different stuff going on. Right out of the gate, for the first ten seconds, it sounds like a post-punk thing. After that, there’s some Sonic Youth-style guitars, and when she starts singing, I’m reminded quite a bit of S/K.

At 1:40 to 1:42, there’s a wonderful little drum fill, and I wish that it happened again, but it’s just that one time. And in a way, that makes it even more magnificent. And since I’ve already mentioned Sleater-Kinney, that sort of reminds me of that bit in “Words and Guitar”. Janet’s drumming is great, and it comes in short bursts and quick stops. However, there’s just one time during the “Take, take the words in my head” section where she plays straight through what would have normally been a pause. It’s just once, and it’s great.

All I know about the forthcoming release is the street date — October 28. I know I’ll be looking forward to it.


July 29, 2016 — “Surround” by PURS

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Surround” by PURS (2016, from a standalone single).

PURS is a fuzzy indie rock/noise rock/shoegaze quintet from London. I didn’t think that I knew anything about them when this song popped up in my Soundcloud feed a couple of weeks ago, but it turns out that I already know some of their backstory. I was waiting to see if I could learn something about them, but there’s nothing about them on the interwebs other than a few terse write-ups and this interview from the good folks over at the inimitable The Blog That Celebrates Itself. When I read that interview, something sounded a little familiar. It took a little while for me to put the pieces together, but when I finally did, it felt like finally getting the really tight lid off a jar.

A lot of people will say that PURS reminds them of the poppier side of Lush. The band says that they’re inspired by the likes of MBV, Cocteaus, Lush, PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth, and even The Smiths. It’s probably no surprise that a lot of people have written that PURS reminds them of “alternative rock” from the 90s, and I totally get that. So far, PURS has only released two songs, and I like them both a lot. It’s hard for me to get my own analogy going, but I was sort of reminded of something much more contemporary than that. I was reminded of their fellow Londoners The History of Apple Pie.

Here’s the backstory that I was already familiar with. Serra Petale (vocals/guitar) and Mattias Bhatt (drums) are also in a band called Kid Wave. Petale is Australian and Bhatt is Swedish, and they ended up playing in a London band with another Swede and an Englishman. Last October, I wrote about Kid Wave, and you can read that here.

Without further ado, here’s tonight’s song:
“Surround” by PURS

There’s definitely some Sonic Youth in that intro, and there’s also definitely some 90s pedal effects going on there. I can certainly understand why people compare them to bands from that golden age of indie rock. This is, though, slightly sexier and considerably less grimy than Sonic Youth. Less eccentric than Pavement. More fun than PJ Harvey.

Whatever the comparisons may be, I really like the two songs that I’ve heard, and I hope there’s more to come from this band.


January 21, 2016 — “Time of The Season” by Promise and The Monster

Billie Lindahl (Promise and The Monster)

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Time of The Season” by Promise and The Monster (2016, from the album Feed the Fire).

Promise and The Monster is the stage name of Stockholm-based dark indie-dream-folk songstress Billie Lindahl. She started the project in 2007 and has released two albums. After a break of more than four years, her third album —Feed The Fire— comes out tomorrow via Bella Union. It’s said that she simultaneously explores areas of light and dark, birth and death. These are not meant to be contradictory forces, but rather complimentary. And it’s all about finding the balance. She says the album’s title plays into that a little bit. Fire can kill you, but it can also give you life. So you have to keep it going and respect it.

I really don’t know anything about this project other than the glowing things that I’ve read. I first found out about it couple of months ago when I was on the Bella Union site for some other reason, and I’ve been anticipating the album release ever since. The first two albums (2007’s Transparent Knives, and 2011’s Red Tide) were released on the Swedish label Imperial Recordings, and this will be her first release for Simon Raymonde’s label.

“Feed The Fire” by Promise and The Monster

There’s something in the guitar that reminds me of Echo & The Bunnymen, but in a broad picture, this isn’t like that at all. I’m struggling to find a “sounds like” comparison, but this should certainly appeal to fans of Cocteaus and The Bunnymen.

There’s also a video for the song, which depicts some weird, mythical dream-world. I’m sure that I don’t understand the director’s vision, but here’s the video:

Feed The Fire will be available from tomorrow, and will be released on vinyl, CD, and digital. All of the pre-order details are here.


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