Tag Archives: Sweden

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.


09.28.2015 — “Tattoo” by Missa

Missa

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Tattoo” by Missa (2015, from the forthcoming EP Genisis).

Missa is a dream pop recording project from Stockholm. I’m presuming that it’s primarily the work of one woman. The only thing I know about this project is that she/they have been signed to Delicious Demon Records, which is the Stockholm label founded by the girls from Taxi Taxi. The only other band on that label is the Stockholm dreamgaze trio Swap Babies. That Swap Babies EP is likely to be under a lot of people’s radars, but it’s one of my favorite EPs of the year.

I learned about Missa last night because Twitter suggested that I follow them, based on the fact that I follow Nonta (from yesterday’s song of the day). Often, these “you should follow x because you follow y” suggestions bear rotten fruit, but this was a good one. As soon as I saw the connection to Taxi Taxi, and even before I listened, I was convinced that this is for me.

I’m reminded quite a bit of the glorious, but short-lived boutique label Bedazzled Records. They operated in DC in the 1990s and focused on stuff that sat squarely between goth and dream pop. I’m especially reminded of Siddal.

“Tattoo” by Missa

There isn’t anything about this on the Delicious Demon “website”, so there isn’t a pre-order or anything like that, but the EP is scheduled for release on Thursday. Check the Missa tumblr here for details on October 1.


09.17.2015 — “If My Baby” by Sea Lion

Linn Osterberg (aka Sea Lion)

If you only listen to one song today, make it “If My Baby” by Sea Lion (2015, from the album Desolate Stars).

Sea Lion is the indie-folk recording project of Linn Osterberg, who is from Gothenberg. Sweden. I don’t know anything about her background, and I stumbled upon her music when a song popped up in my Soundcloud feed while I was researching some other band.

The first thing that popped into my head when I started listening to this song was that the music sounds a lot like What Would The Community Think-era Cat Power. Osterberg’s vocals are much higher, and less greasy than Chan Marshall’s, though. More like what might happen if Kristin Anna Valtysdottir (former frontwoman of the Icelandic folktronica band múm) provided vocals for Cat Power.

What I do know is that Sea Lion released a pair of EPs last year, and the debut long player came out on August 28 via Turnstile Music.

“If My Baby” by Sea Lion

I think it’s less obvious on other songs, but the guitar on this sounds like it actually is Chan Marshall. I’ve heard a couple of other songs where the whole package sounds like Mazzy Star. And I’ve got no complaints about that.

You can buy Desolate Stars digitally via Amazon here.


%d bloggers like this: