Posts Tagged ‘kings of convenience’

Luke’s Scandinavian Pop Sampler Volume 10! (December 2009)

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Click here to download a zipped file containing all 20 mp3 files and the front and back cover artwork.

1. The Genuine Fakes: I Don’t Want It (Five Audio Commercials EP, 2009)
Johan Bergqvist’s two solo albums have been long-time favourites here at Popsicle HQ, and his collaborative project The Genuine Fakes is producing some of the best power pop to come out of Sweden in a long time.

2. A-ha: Foot Of The Mountain (Foot Of The Mountain, 2009)
Norway’s favourite sons have announced that the tour to support this album will be their last, and they are to split up late next year. All this on the heels of their best album in almost ten years.

3. A Camp: Stronger Than Jesus (Colonia, 2009)
When Nina Persson isn’t making records with The Cardigans she can be found recording and touring under the A Camp banner with her American husband Nathan Larson (Shudder To Think) and genius Swedish producer/guitarist and Atomic Swing founder Niclas Frisk.

4. Moonbabies: Take Me to the Ballroom (Rufus Remix) (net release, 2009)
This showed up in my inbox a few months back. Japanese DJ Rufus took this sublime slice of Swedish indiepop and made it sound like Life-era Cardigans. A-B it with the original Moonbabies track…it’s amazing what this guy did with this song.

5. Annie: I know Your Girlfriend Hates Me (Don’t Stop, 2009)
Norwegian DJ/pop diva Annie’s 2004 debut Anniemal was a tongue-in-cheek bubblegum pop classic, and after some extensive record label nightmares, the follow-up album “Don’t Stop” came out independently in October.

6. John Me: Run (I Am John, 2009)
The Motorhomes were one of my favourite bands of recent years, so I kept my eye on the various members when the band split up in 2004, and I set up a myspace page for them when their website disappeared (http://www.myspace.com/themotorhomes). I certainly wasn’t expecting singer Mattias Edlund to show up this year signed to Epic Records under the moniker John Me. The album doesn’t appear to have made much of a splash, but it has some great tracks on it.

7. The Sounds: No One Sleeps When I’m Awake (Crossing The Rubicon, 2009)
The Sounds weren’t really on my radar prior to this album. I saw their name around but just wasn’t getting into much of the 80’s retro sounds of bands like them and The Killers. Then I heard this single from their last album and it blew me away. This is one of the best choruses I’ve heard in years.

8. The Men: Pack Up Your Memories (Four Good Men and True, 2010)
This just showed up last week. The Men are Southern Swedish maximum R&B purists whose authentic mid-60’s sound is honed in the studio by genius producer Christoffer Lundquist at his all-analogue Aerosol Grey Machine studio. This track is taken from their third album, due for release in February 2010.

9. Envelope: Open Window (Open Roads Lonely Trains, 2008)
I was a big fan of this Danish band’s 2001 indie debut album ‘Stay’ and I stumbled upon the follow-up earlier this year. It turns out it’s pretty much a solo venture by Copenhagen singer/songwriter Christoffer Hoyer, and this latest album has some killer tracks on it, like this one.

10. Buffalo: All I Wanna Do (single, 2009)
Anyone who follows my samplers knows that Norway’s Costar are one of my favourite bands. They were based in London for many years, but a move to Australia has found the band’s frontman and songwriter Jorgen Landhaug re-inventing himself in a couple of different musical guises, including this brand new one, which is quite excellent.

11. Atomic Swing: The Flasher (The Broken Habanas, 2006)
It blows my mind that even in the information age I can still not hear about a new album release by a favourite Swedish pop band. Case in point, I only just found out that Niclas Frisk reunited Atomic Swing three years ago and put out this phenomenal album.

12. Spencer: Screw The World Police (The Big Politician EP, 2006)
Spencer’s Regular De Luxe stands as one of the most underrated Swedish pop albums of the 90’s. I had thought they’d disappeared altogether until earlier this year when they found me on myspace and I was delighted to learn that they hadn’t split up at all. They haven’t exactly been prolific, but there’s a three track EP from three years ago which you can download for free from their website thegoodones.se, and this is one of those tracks.

13. Peter and the Penguins: She Took Me By Surprise (How To Choose a Sweetheart, 2009)
Norway’s Peter and the Penguins have been on my radar for some time, so this full-length album release earlier this year was much anticipated. What The Men do for the sounds of London circa 1965, Peter and Co. do for the sounds of Liverpool with their Rickenbacker-fuelled Beatlesesque harmonies.

14. Per Gessle: Doesn’t Make Sense (Live in London – May, 2009)
Here’s a treat. I was in London earlier this year and caught this concert by Roxette dude Per Gessle and his band. This song from Per’s last album Party Crasher was a real highlight, especially with the mellifluous Helena Josefsson of Sandy Mouche on backing vocals and the build at the end which is just magic. The show was being recorded for broadcast on Sirius XM radio, so I stole this snippet from the broadcast for this sampler. There’s plenty more like this on Per’s new ‘Gessle Over Europe’ live album.

15. Dylan Mondegreen: We Cannot Falter (The World Spins On, 2009)
Børge Sildnes’ second album under the name Dylan Mondegreen is as delightful a ray of indiepop sunshine as his 2007 debut While I Walk You Home which holds the record as the best selling CD at my Popsicle Webshop. I dance my nine month old daughter to sleep to this album. She has impeccable taste in music, of course.

16. Citizen K: She Says (Somewhere Up North, 2009)
Citizen K is the vehicle of Swedish singer/songwriter Klas Qvist whose bio amusingly suggests he’s not sure who his father is because his Mother had brief affairs with George Harrison, Brian Jones, Syd Barrett, Keith Moon, Dennis Wilson and Frank Zappa in November 1965. In reality what we have here is a display of phenomenal song-craft which grows on you with each listen.

17. Jay-Jay Johanson: Wonder Wonders (Self-Portrait, 2009)
Jay-Jay Johanson has made some of the most interesting music to come out of Sweden for the last ten years. With his falsetto croon and trip-hop beats, he sounds like no one else. Self-Portrait is his seventh album and by far his darkest and most impenetrable work. Perfect music for grey winter days.

18. Röyksopp featuring Robyn: The Girl And The Robot (Junior, 2009)
‘Junior’ is a return to form after the mildly disappointing 2005 effort ‘The Understanding’ from this Norwegian electronica duo. The album benefits from a bunch of female guest vocalists, including The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson, Lykke Li, the sublime Anneli Drecker and this track featuring the brilliant Robyn.

19. Moi Caprice: The Town & The City (The Past Is A Foreign Country, 2009)
Another of our favourite bands at Popsicle Heights is Denmark’s Moi Caprice. Their newest release is a double CD set in a fold-out digipack. Disc one is entitled ‘All We Fear Is Love’ and features 14 of their best tracks plus two new songs. Disc two is called ‘The Past Is A Foreign Country’ and features newly recorded re-workings of some of their best tracks, all of which are vastly different from the originals. A great introduction to this fascinating band.

20. Kings of Convenience: Me in You (Declaration of Dependence, 2009)
There’s something effortless about this new Kings Of Convenience album. Even on a first listen it’s like greeting an old friend. This Norwegian duo have gone back to basics, dispensing with the drums and returning to the core of their sound…two acoustic guitars and two beautiful voices singing in harmony. Perfection.

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….