Sweden makes good, yah!

by E-Dub@evpl on Friday, September 19 2008, 10:59am. Viewed 939 times.

Maybe it's the lingering, not altogether positive memory of exposure to ABBA during my childhood, but Sweden has been noticeably absent from the musical map in my head all of my adult life.  Now don't get me wrong - I'm all for the occasional kitschy, light-hearted romp with a best of ABBA compilation (singing along while doing exactly that got me a speeding ticket one time...another reason my appreciation of ABBA isn't all that it might be), but the appeal is just that, kitsch.  Lots of kitsch.

But something's been brewing in that cold land for a while now, fueled, I suspect, by the highly understandable desire to make global reparations for ABBA.  Oh I kid, I kid!  (Although they probably do want to update their popular musical image...I mean, if your country was known almost exclusively for a Liberace-esque costume wearing 70s band with lots of feathered and facial hair....)

Anyway, the point is there's some great music coming out of Sweden now, I kid you not.  For instance, check out Peter Bjorn & John's Writer's Block - they have an awesome lyrical sound and infectious but not mind-invading tunes.  Where ABBA was relentlessly pop and no rock, PB&J (in addition to being a delicious sandwich) have a more varied sound that includes both rock qualities and what I like to think of as more complex pop as well - sometimes driving, sometimes lilting, sometimes atmospheric. Not an acoustic band, they do use a richer variety of instruments including Spanish guitar, tubular bells, and the oft-overlooked footsteps. 

 

See what I'm saying?  Try more of them on MySpace.

For something a little different, a little more produced but extremely creative, try Lykke Li's debut album Youth Novels (on MySpace). Or the slightly moodier, beautiful sounds of Radio Dept's Pet Grief (on MySpace).

Don't quite know what's going on in Sweden these days, but in addition to killer pancakes, they're making some great music...and all is forgiven. ;-)


Comments (4)

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WashinMyGoat wrote
on Friday, September 19 2008, 4:54pm

There are many great Swedish artists that many people are not familiar with.  I always play "Young Folks" if I find it on a Jukebox when out.  It's too catchy to not play.

Tallest Man on Earth.  His 2008 debut full length "Shallow Grave" is in my list of top 5 albums of the year.  It's rustic sounding acoustic with gravelly vocals(the dude can pick the guitar). People call it Dylan-esque.  Only problem:  It hasn't been released in the US yet, so if you want to buy it, the import comes out to about $27.  There are other ways of getting it though ;)

Jose Gonzalez.  You probably heard his cover song "Heartbeats" in the Sony Bravia commercial with the bouncy balls.  Soothing acoustic singer/songwriter stuff.  His album "Veneer" is in the EVPL catalog, and I suggest you check it out.  

The Knife.  They did the original "Heartbeats" which I mentioned previously.  It's a brother and sister electro-pop duo(don't let that turn you away, it's far more edgy than that genre describes).  Think Bjork being remixed by Depeche Mode, if Depeche Mode went on a 25 day binge of Red Bull and then decided to DJ a rave(don't let that description turn you away either, just check them out).

Refused.  This band rocked (although they are now broken up). They played angry hardcore punk with a distaste for capitalism (Irony alert: they still sold T-shirts and were signed to a record label that was financed by a major label).  Starting off similar to early-90's hardcore bands from the US, they reinvented their sound to be even angrier but also innovative and excellent musicians.  If you like any sort of hard rock, you owe it to yourself to check out "Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent" and "The Shape of Punk to Come." It doesn't cuddle you like radio rock, but it doesn't alienate you like metal. It's hard to believe their final album came out 10 years ago, as it sounds more fresh and new than most modern hardcore.  

Yay Sweden!

GHomes wrote
on Monday, September 22 2008, 7:50pm

Nice post! Glad the library has this kind of music, keep it up.

on Wednesday, October 22 2008, 11:51am

I'm a karaoke fan, so whilst looking at the screenshots for an upcoming karaoke videogame I recognized one of em.  Took me a while to remember where!

http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/l/lips/default.htm 

kiya@evpl wrote
on Tuesday, November 18 2008, 4:01pm

A friend sent me this video of Christian Falk, featuring Robyn, which seems to fit here: www.youtube.com/watch

I liked the music, and the video, which is much more effective than the video on Robyn's own release of the song.