Posts Tagged ‘jens lekman’

Luke’s Scandinavian Pop Sampler Volume 7! (August 2005)

Monday, August 1st, 2005

Click here to download a zipped file containing all 21 mp3 files and the front and back cover artwork.

1. CoStar: Yeah Right (Keep It Light, 2004)
When Even Johansen’s solo success as Magnet caused the demise of Libido, few people were watching what the other band members would do. Certainly no one expected drummer Jorgen Landhaug to “do a Dave Grohl”, put together a new band and write and record one of the most engaging and under-rated rock albums of 2004. Re-naming himself “Brighton Gay”, this Norwegian maverick roped in his former Libido bandmate Johansen to mix the majority of this album, and it has Magnet’s magic stamp all over it. This album features catchy, hook-filled rocking songs which grow on you with every listen. No two songs sound anything alike. I was right about Magnet when no-one was giving him the time of day, and I believe I’m right about CoStar too. Fantastic stuff.

2. Johan Bergqvist: Bliss (Throwaway Moments, 2004)
Johan Bergqvist’s full-length debut album delivers on the promise of his previous EP “Boy Extracting Thorn”. It lulls you with piano/voice opener “A Silent Cry For Help” before exploding into the power-pop single “Bliss” which isn’t 100 miles away from Ben Folds when he takes himself seriously. Bergqvist also delivers a disarmingly mellow interpretation of Popsicle’s powerpop classic “Hey Princess” which has been highly praised by it’s composers. More piano-based than his earlier work, this album is balanced out by having an equal number of ballads and upbeat numbers. And Johan has very kindly signed every copy he sent us. What a nice chap!

3. Moi Caprice: To The Lighthouse (You Can’t Say No Forever, 2005)
This was one of Spinguy’s discoveries, and I’m glad he found it. Moi Caprice rose to underground fame when they were the first ever unsigned band to hit no. 1 on the Danish Alternative Chart. One of two Danish bands who have gotten us excited in recent months, Moi Caprice are really hard to pigeonhole. The singer has a unique, velvety voice that’s not a million miles away from Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue. The music is mostly upbeat pop but has an other-worldliness to it that you can’t put your finger on. This album and their earlier debut release (see track 20) are two of my most played CDs of recent months.

4. The Mopeds: Refused Demoland (Fortissimo, 2005)
It’s been four years since The Mopeds released “The Land Of The Three” and while nothing IMHO can touch their 1998 debut ”The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Mopeds”, Fortissimo is a great return to form for this Malmo trio. They are studio wizards and this album is brimming with frenetic high energy power pop that bursts from the speakers from start to finish. This is one to play loud, and exclusively signed for us here at Popsicle by all three Mopeds!

5. Labrador: Freeway To Mars (Instamatic Lovelife, 2004)
This is the second album from Danish pop dude Flemming Borby and his almost-one-man-band Labrador. Spinguy reckons that this album could easily be one of the greatest all time pop recordings ever made. “Every song is like an instant long lost friend who’s company never grows old” he says. Well, I wouldn’t go quite as far as that, but if you like your Scandinavian pop light, airy and whimsical, this album is surely for you.

6. Metro Jets: Lady Gwendoline (download-only single, 2005)
You’ll be forgiven for not realizing that Metro Jets had released a second single, seeing as it was a download-only affair on a Swedish website that even I had trouble navigating my way around. So Magnus kindly let me share the track with you on this sampler, and it’s a real corker of a song. While it lacks the immediate-pop-heaven-hookiness of “The Morning Show”, it’s a delightful piano-based 70’s influenced romp with cascading vocal harmonies that would put a smile on Brian Wilson’s face. Lord only knows what these guys will come up with next!

7. Girlfriend: Blank (Opening Nights, 2001)
Girlfriend is the other Danish band we’ve only just discovered. Spinguy was horrified to find that you couldn’t get their albums anywhere, so we decided to stock both this one and their just-released “Blue Sky Love Scene” (see track 19). They have in common with Moi Caprice an unusual lead singer, but Girlfriend are a more straight-up pop/rock band who have clearly been listening to all the right guitar bands of the last ten years. I actually hear a lot of The Motorhomes in their sound, which can only be a good thing. These guys have been in heavy rotation here at Popsicle HQ lately.

8. The Charade: Monday Morning (The Best Is Yet To Come, 2005)
One of the most touted Swedish pop releases of the year, The Charade has the right pedigree, featuring members of The Shermans with roots that go back to both Red Sleeping Beauty and Happydeadmen. The first time I put this particular song on I didn’t make too much of the verse, but the chorus was like slipping into a warm vat of pop custard and I was hooked. Any fans of jangly guitar pop and girly vocals will be hard put to find a warmer slice of pop sunshine this year.

9. Jens Lekman: The Opposite Of Hallelujah (The Opposite Of Hallelujah EP, 2005)
I saw Jens play a packed club here in Toronto the day this EP came out (on tiny local Toronto indie label Evil Evil). After the show he took his ukulele out onto the street, followed by half the club, and played three more songs to the assembled masses in the freezing cold on College Street! True to his previous EPs it’s a cohesive and brilliant bit of work that has tracks that will not see the light of day on any album. Brilliant use of horns, strings and his curious style make this as noteworthy as all his previous EP’s. Don’t wait until they’re gone…these are bound to become collector’s items.

10. Magnet: Believe (The Tourniquet, 2005)
This was easily my most anticipated album of the year, having loved everything this guy has ever released, and that was BEFORE I found out that my pop hero Jason Falkner was co-producing and playing all over it! Suffice to say it was worth the wait. I was surprised to find that it was a little more understated than his previous work, especially with Falkner onboard, but that’s easy to forgive when the songs are this good.

11. Daniel Saturn: Settle Down (Softly, 1998)
I was looking over the past sampler tracklists and I realized that I never featured anything from Daniel Saturn’s bedroom 8-track masterpiece debut “Softly” before. Coupled with the fact that NO-ONE has ordered it from Popsicle despite the fact that it’s the only place ON THE PLANET where you can get this CD, I figured it was time to give it a little push. Basically, If John and Paul had been born ten years later and played in Stockholm instead of Hamburg, with Bjorn and Benny instead of George and Pete, well….they might have sounded like Daniel Saturn. Oh, and all our Daniel Saturn CDs are signed by the elusive man himself.

12. Ane Brun: To Let Myself Go (A Temporary Dive, 2005)
I was taken with Ane Brun’s disarming voice and unusual songwriting and production right away, and this album is proving to be one of the best of the year. Ron Sexsmith makes an appearance too, but not on this song.

13. The Perishers: When I Fall (From Nothing To One, 2002)
I make no bones about my love of The Perishers. I’ve been hooked on these guys since I first heard this, their debut album a few years ago. I was delighted when they got picked up by Nettwerk, and I was thrilled to watch them sell 900 copies of their new album off the stage at a single concert in Toronto opening for Sarah McLachlan in May. Then I found out that Nettwerk are basically doing absolutely nothing with their debut album and decided it was my duty to make it more widely available. BOTH their albums are pure solid gold from start to finish, it’s as simple as that. I dare you not to love this band!

14. Dive: Alive (Unfortunately Dead EP, 2004)
Spinguy got his knickers all in a twist over this Danish four-piece earlier this year. He thought they were the second coming. So much so that he talked me into stocking this 4 track EP, something I don’t normally do. I get where they’re coming from with their PIL-inspired 80’s tinged sound and I love the strings on this tune. The singer has a really unusual voice which Spinguy loves and I can take or leave. Here’s hoping they do a full-length album soon so we can see what they’ve really got going on. Four songs just isn’t enough to go on…

15. Labrador: In A Blue Balloon (Goodbye Susanne, 2002)
Here’s another one that you really can’t find anywhere unless you can navigate your way around Japanese websites. Labrador’s debut album only ever came out there, and it costs an arm and a leg to import, but Spinguy threatened not to share his toys with me if I didn’t get it, and I must admit it’s a rather special little album. Flemming Borby barely changed his sound between the two albums, which won’t draw complaints from fans of this style of spacey boy/girl tweepop.

16. Holm: Tell It Like It Is (South Of The River, 2004)
Keeping up the tradition of featuring a non-Scandinavian artist on the sampler CD, I present you with Holm, a German pop crooner whose “South Of The River” album is a real treat. I don’t know if he listens to anything that came out after 1972, but let’s not hold that against him. His voice is lovely, the songs are great and his arrangements fit the music perfectly. Spinguy did an interview with him which you can read here:

17. Popium: Matters Of The Heart (Camp, 2004)
I’d like to go on record as saying that this CD was a BUGGER to get hold of. I started trying to get it the week it came, and it was in my hands, oh, about six months later. Lazy record companies aside, there are some real pop gems on this third Popium album, as you would expect. I don’t know how much touring they did behind it but they’re apparently back in the studio already working on the follow-up.

18. Girlfriend: Everyday I Wake Up (Blue Sky Love Scene, 2004)
Here’s a second cut from Girlfriend, this time from their most recent “Blue Sky Love Scene”. It’s a more ambitious album than their debut but they pull it off nicely. There’s not a duff track on it.

19. Moi Caprice: Daisies (Once Upon A Time In The North, 2003)
I think I’ve listened to this album 15 times at least in the last month. The fact that Spinguy and I are BOTH blown away by these guys should be a pretty strong indication of how great they are. I mean, listen to this track….have you ever heard anything quite like it before? I certainly haven’t.

20. Jaga Jazzist: Stardust Hotel (What We Must, 2005)
I’m going out on a bit of a limb with this selection, but I reckon that if you’re still coming back after seven sampler CDs you’ll give me a little latitude. Norwegian 10-piece instrumental “new jazz” combo Jaga Jazzist have released one of the most engaging left-field albums of the year. It’s much more guitar-heavy than their previous efforts, which is one of the reasons I like it so much, and they even dropped the “Jazzist” part of their name in recognition of their new direction, but they are still referred to by the full name in most circles. Make sure you listen to this track at least three times, and play it loud. At night. In the car.

21. Anna Ternheim: I’ll Follow You Tonight (Somebody Outside, 2004)
This album came out late last year with very little fanfare. My contact at Stockholm Records sent me a copy and I listened to it a couple of times and filed it away. Then Anna started to gather steam in the Swedish charts and I decided to have another crack at it. Like a fine wine it had matured considerably and has been in heavy rotation for the last few months. This is super introspective, sparsely arranged folk/pop with a truly unique voice. There’s a limited edition double CD with the second disc full of solo renditions and some non-album tracks.

Luke’s Scandinavian Pop Sampler Volume 6! (November 2004)

Monday, November 1st, 2004

Click here to download a zipped file containing all 23 mp3 files and the front and back cover artwork.

1. Envelope: Stay (Stay, 2001)
Envelope are a Danish band I know very little about but a sampler CD of two of their tracks that someone sent me recently blew my mind and I sat by the mailbox biting my nails for weeks until the full length album flew through the mail-box this week. it landed straight in my CD player and hasn’t been out since….sublime pop songwriting and brilliant production.

2. Moonbabies: Sun A.M. (The Orange Billboard, 2004)
This boy/girl duo from Malmo sound like no-one else. They record live instruments playing their songs and then spend months and months editing and manipulating the sounds into sprawling, beautiful, other-worldly pop symphonies. The fact that they manage to re-create the recordings live on stage is nothing short of miraculous.

3. Daniel Saturn: It Ain’t Gonna Last (Still That Same Refrain, 2003)
Daniel Saturn is one of those unsung pop maestros making ingenious solo albums in his home studio and putting them out independently to very little fanfare except to those in the know. Long sought-after by collectors, Daniel’s out of print 1998 debut “Softly” is available from Popsicle, as is this, his 2003 follow-up. Not only that but they’re both signed by Daniel! Another Popsicle exclusive!

4. Brainpool: Junk (Junk, 2004)
Finding one track to represent this sprawling double-album rock opera about 21st century urban disenchantment is simply impossible, so I shan’t even try…I just grabbed the title track. To say that the band has looked to the classic rock operas of the 1970’s for inspiration would be an understatement. While retaining a freshness and originality all their own, Brainpool have created an album that feels strangely familiar, even on a first listen, with an attention to detail and masterful production that will bring to mind memories of Tommy, Quadrophenia, The Wall and others. This is not only unlike anything else Brainpool have ever done, it is unlike anything you have ever heard!

5. Isolation Years: Nurse Hands (Cover The Distance, 2004)
Released the day I am writing this, Isolation Years’ new single is a gorgeously perfect three minute pop song. Their “It’s Golden” album was one of my top picks of last year and they appear to be going from strength to strength. Can’t wait for the new album.

6. Eyedrop: Soaked To The Bone (You And Me Vs. The Machine, 2002)
This is one of those albums that came in a couple of years ago, I gave it a cursory listen and forgot about it. Then I stumbled upon it recently and gave it a spin and thought “This is brilliant!”. Sometimes an album has to mature and sometimes we mature into an album. Five guys from Malmo, one sweet sound.

7. Gluebellies: The Benefits Of Erudition (Gluebellies, 1996)
Ditto the above. This album sat idle for at least a year after it first came in. It didn’t grab me then, but now I acknowledge it’s subtle brilliance and ability to crawl into your brain, set up a small tent and dispense indiepop gems like candy to children. This trio from college town Lund has a streamlined indiepop aesthetic that fans of The Motorhomes, Ronderlin and Starlet will likely dig. Just one CD and three singles is all they’ve released though they are threatening to do another album.

Cute 2009 note: Unbeknownst to me for years, the singer from Eyedrop and the drummer from Gluebellies are a charming couple, and here I put them together on this sampler long before they became friends of mine!

8. Airliner: Always Never (The Last Days Of August, 2003)
This Aerospace/Acid House Kings side project is a wistfully downbeat slice of electro-tinged Swedish pop. This album creeps into your brain and refuses to leave. One of those albums you really can’t listen to before 2am. Even better if you’re still listening to it as the sun comes up. I’m still only half way into totally loving this album and it gets better and better. Sublime.

9. Acid House Kings: Paris (Advantage Acid House Kings, 1998, re-release 2002)
This is the re-release of this twee-pop classic that made Sweden really take notice of Acid House Kings. Topped up with two bonus tracks, this album features some gorgeous female vocals on several tracks. Upbeat happy pop from start to finish, and if you buy it from Popsicle, it’s signed by guitarist/bassist Johan…

10. Tribeca: Solitude (Dragon Down, 2004)
This is the latest album from Claes Björklund and Lasse Lindh whose excellent solo album “You Wake Up At Sea Tac” album not only stole it’s title from a line in “Fight Club” but contained a song called “Teenage Skin” that was virtually a complete rip-off of Matthew Sweet’s “Reaching Out” from 1993’s “Altered Beast” album…it’s identical, and it’s even in the same key! But enough about that. This album of electro-tinged melancholic indiepop is the perfect vehicle for Lindh’s sultry hushed voice.

11. Flemming: Flower (We Love The Industry, 2003)
Flemming are my Dutch friend Jiggle’s band, based in Amsterdam. A lot of people dug the track from their first album that I put on volume two, and they’re back on an indie label this time with a tongue-in-cheek album title considering they were dropped from Warner right before recording it!

12. Wan Light: Awake, Drunk and Average (Let’s Wake Up Somewhere Else, 2003)
This quirky duo from Stockholm named after an old Orange Juice song play music that is truly unique. Imagine a cross between Mercury Rev and Pet Shop Boys and you’re about half way there. There are shades of late 80’s indie sounds like New Order…I could go on all day clutching at comparisons but really these guys sound like nobody else, which is high praise indeed.

13. Jens Lekman: If You Ever Need A Stranger… (When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog, 2004)
After delivering two sublime EPs earlier this year (Maple Leaves and Rocky Dennis), perhaps the most hyped Swedish indie artist of the year delivered this, his debut full-length album. It’s hard to pick one song to represent this album, since there are pretty much 11 songs in 11 different styles. So I just picked my favourite. It’s as simple as this….you’ll love Jens Lekman or you’ll hate him. There’s not much in-between. I feel the same way about triphop crooner Jay-Jay Johanson, and I love his stuff too. Give this album a few listens and it will get its hooks in you. You’ll go back again and again and you won’t be sure why. Strangely addictive.

14. Ulf Turesson: Parade (Romance, 1998)
Freewheel albums (and their former incantation The Excuse and this recently-discovered “solo” CD from their frontman Turesson) elude me in the strangest ways. I don’t normally know that they’ve been released until three or fours after the fact, and then they are impossible to track down, being released solely in Japan. I can only imagine that record company objectives led to this coming out as a solo album, since it features the complete Freewheel line-up across 10 great tracks (some upbeat, some piano ballads), as we have come to expect from these guys. Great stuff.

15. Douglas Heart: Komplex (I Could See The Smallest Things, 2004)
Douglas Heart have been likened to the first Stone Roses album and My Bloody Valentine circa “Isn’t Anything”, although singer Malin Dahlberg sounds more like a less annoying version of the singer from the Cranberries. This is seriously spacey pop that will take you places, especially if you have the right transportation. A tasty little five track EP.

16. Kristoffer Jonzon: Drom Dig Bort (Du Ar Gud EP, 2004)
It’s been a while since I’ve put anything Swedish-language on the sampler, so here’s the first of two. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Jonzon is the brains behind close-harmony power poppers The Pendletones. Of course, I can’t understand a word of what he’s singing here, and for all I care he could be professing his desire to disembowel a goat with a rusty spoon with those sweet Beach Boys-esque harmonies and that lilting piano! A cute-as-a-button EP with four slices of unique Swedish pop.

17. Baxter: My Day (About This, 2002)
Although this album came out in 2002, it took me two years to track it down, and it takes its place as one of top albums of the year. I changed my mind 5 or 6 times about which track to include on this mix, they are just all so damn good. Fans of Baxter’s incredible 1998 debut will need no convincing. This album moves in a slightly more “electronic” direction with a bit more in the way of beats, and Nina Ramsby’s haunting voice right up front where it belongs. It retains the darker edge of their debut album, making it indispensable 4am headphones listening.

18. [Ingenting]: Ingenting Duger (Ingenting Duger, 2004)
On a couple of the mellower tracks on this album, [Ingenting] remind me a little of Sigur Ros. [Ingenting] sing in Swedish and Sigur Ros sing in their own made up gobbledygook, but it’s really all the same to me. Any music that’s good enough to keep me coming back despite not understanding a thing that’s being sung can’t be bad! This is one of those mellow tracks. For something more upbeat, listen to the sample on Popsicle.

19. Aerospace: Summer Days Are Forever (The Bright Idea Called Soul, 2001)
This is a jangly guitar-pop affair that fans of Acid House Kings and the mellower Happydeadmen material will appreciate. It is inherently Swedish in execution and has a lilting 60’s/70’s soft rock approach. This band has been favourably compared to Belle and Sebastian in the Swedish press.

20. Kristofer Åström: The Wild (Loupita, 2004)
I love this guy’s solo work, which is musically a world away from what he does with his band Fireside who are sort of a melodic hardcore band. On his solo albums, Åström is quiet and reflective with barebones production highlighting the fragility of his song structure. A few songs are upbeat, but by and large this is an album to put on late at night (again!) and chill out to. Produced in four days, this album is so laid back that on one song he even breaks a string and leaves it on the album!

21. Savoy: (Savoy, 2004)
Ask me why I’ve never included Savoy on my sampler CDs before and I’ll look at you with a blank expression. This husband and wife a-ha side-project has been churning out great albums since 1996, and on this, their self-titled fifth album, they are on top form with a more laid-back sound than any of their previous efforts. Lauren’s vocals feature more prominently than ever before, and though I love Paul’s voice, this album works really well this way.

22. Kings Of Convenience: Cayman Islands (Riot On An Empty Street, 2004)
The three year wait between albums was well worth it as “Riot” sees this exceptional Norwegian duo shake loose of the intimate vibe of the material that had seen them through one indie and one major label album, across a span of over four years. There’s still much of the familiar KoC sound here, but they break new ground on tracks like the tongue-in-cheek “I’d Rather Dance With You” (track down the CD single with the video for the cutest clip you will see all year!). Presuming a lot of you already have this, I am including a rare acoustic session version of “Cayman Islands” here. The album version features a full string arrangement.

23. Chasing Dorotea: The Anchor Song (Chasing Dorotea, 2002)
Not all of this album is as mellow as this cut, but I couldn’t resist putting this song on here for the “Wow! does that girl ever sound like Stina Nordenstam!” factor. Chasing Dorotea is the brainchild of Christopher Sander who writes these exquisite three minute introspective pop songs. Actually, a lot of this album is more upbeat pop, but not so much that it doesn’t work at 2am. What is it with me and 2am. I guess it’s when I do my best listening….