With the release of singles like “Stupid” the Careful Like You Cared EP, and 2017’s full-length debut It’s a Dare, which was released through renowned Swedish label Startracks, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based indie rock/noise rock quartet, Rome Is Not A Town, comprised of Kajsa Poidnak, Susanna Brandin, Caroline Kabat, and Emma Wättring, quickly received attention from both domestic and international music media; in fact, the leading Scandinavian music magazine Gaffa gave the band nods in three categories — Best Live Act, Best Band and Best Pop/Rock Act — at last year’s Gaffa Awards. Building upon a growing international profile, the band will be making their Stateside debut with a number of sets at this year’s SXSW; but before that, to celebrate the occasion, the band released the 120 Minutes MTV-like visuals for their latest single “21/27,” which manages to nod at Sonic Youth, The Breeders and others, as the song is centered around fuzzy effects pedaled power chords, an angular bass line and propulsive backbeat that explodes into burst of fiery noise.
With the release of their first two EP’s 2016’s Sorry I Messed Up and Please Call Me Back, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based indie rock quartet Holy Now, comprised of Julia Olander, Ylva Holmdahl, Samuel von Bahr Jemth and Hampus Eiderström Swahn quickly developed a reputation as one of their homeland’s up-and-coming indie rock/guitar pop acts — and with tours across Sweden and in London, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based quartet received praise from the likes of DIY, The 405, Festivalrykten and Nöjesguiden, and others.
Building upon their growing national and international profile, “Feel It All,” will further cement Holy Now’s reputation for crafting jangling guitar pop with soaring hooks paired with plaintive and tender vocals and while clearly drawing from 80s and 90s guitar pop, like The Sundays and others, the Swedish quartet puts a subtly modern spin on it, along the lines of the likes of La Sera and others — complete with a deep yearning to feel and know everything.
Christopher Franzen is a Gothenburg, Sweden-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer, whose solo recording project Lights & Motion began back in 2012 during a frequent bout with insomnia — and during the extremely dark Scandinavian winters, Franzen took to restlessly sequestering himself in a studio, where he would spend his time writing and recording music as a way to help battle his condition, and as a much- needed emotional release. Interestingly, since Franzen has started the project, he’s been remarkably prolific releasing four cinematic, indie rock-like efforts, 2013’s Save Your Heart and Reanimation, 2015’s Chronicle and 2017’s Dear Avalanche, as well as two albums as soundtrack composer, 2014’s Dreamweaver and 2017’s Phenomenon — all of which have further cemented the Gothenburg, Sweden-based multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer’s reputation for crafting lush and cinematic material that balances a tightrope between melancholy and optimism.
In fact, Franzen’s latest effort Bloom, which be released through Deep Elm Records will continue in a similar sonic vein as its predecessors; however, thematically, the album focuses on rejuvenation and rebirth — and the album’s latest single “Vanilla Sky,” which prominently features twinkling piano keys, swirling synths, thundering drumming and power chords played through copious reverb around a soaring, arena rock-like hook that will remind some listeners of Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, M83, Sigur Ros and others. And while the song evokes a pleasant breeze on a glorious Spring day; but just underneath, the song’s warm and ethereal air, is a bittersweet note, as though there’s the brief acknowledgement of life’s fleeting and impermanent nature.
Throughout the course of the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about Geowulf, a dream pop duo, comprised of Noosa, Australia-born, longtime friends, Star Kendrick and Toma Benjamin. And although the duo currently split their time between London, UK, Gothenburg, Sweden, Berlin, Germany and Australia, the duo have known each other since the were teenagers; but their musical collaboration began in earnest when Kendrick, whose parents were also musicians, began to serious pursue music a few years ago and enlisted the help of Benjamin to flesh out her earliest demos.
After a string of successful, critically applauded singles including “Saltwater,” a track that received over 1 million Spotify streams and reached Hype Machine‘s top ten before breaking at #4 on Spotify’s US Viral Charts, “Don’t Talk About You,” which seemed to channel Mazzy Star covering Fleetwood Mac but with a lovelorn ache, and the Phil Spector meets Still Corners “Drink Too Much” among others, the critically applauded blogosphere darlings recently announced that their highly-anticipated Duncan Mills-produced full-length debut Great Big Blue is slated for a February 16, 2018 release through 37 Adventures Records. Along with that they released their latest single, the first official single from the forthcoming album, the shuffling, 60s girl group pop-like single “Hideaway,” which pairs Kendrick’s sultry cooing with a lushly layered production featuring jangling guitar chords, shimmering strings, a propulsive backbeat and soaring hooks. Unsurprisingly, there’s a careful and deliberate attention to craft that brings to mind the aforementioned Phil Spector but with subtle, modern flourishes.
Much like the duo’s previously released singles, the duo’s latest single focuses on the complications, frustrations and aches of romantic relationships — in this case, as the duo notes, “The song is about feeling like you’ve been completely transparent with someone only to realize they haven’t truly let you in.” And as a result, the song bristles with a bitter sense of betrayal and confusion underneath the gleaming and upbeat surface.
Currently comprised of founding member Stephen Lawrie and featuring members of One Unique Signal as the live performing band, the Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, UK-based psych rock/noise rock band The Telescopes originally formed back in 1987 and while inspired by the likes of Suicide, The Velvet Underground and 13th Floor Elevators — and over the course of a number of singles and nine full-length albums, including 1989’s Taste, 1992’s self-tiled album, 2002’s Third Wave, 2005’s #4, 2006’s Hungry Audio Tapes, 2008’s Infinite Suns, 2013’s HARM, 2015’s Hidden Fields and this year’s As Light Returns, the British band has developed a reputation for being arguably one of the more influential noise rock/psych rock bands of their era, seemingly influencing the work of the likes of A Place to Bury Strangers with whom they released a split 7 inch released through Fuzz Club Records, Chain of Flowers, Bambara and others.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you’d recall that the Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio Tapetown Studios along with Sound of Aarhus have developed a live video series in which they invite national, regional and internationally recognized touring bands to come into their studio during their free time to record a live session. Over the past year, Tapetown Studios and Sound of Aarhus have invited British indie rockers Ulrika Spacek, Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey, and the Bay Area-based JOVM mainstay Tim Cohen and his primary project The Fresh & Onlys. Stephen Lawrie and the members of the touring band were invited to Tapetown to record a session that featured the slow-burning, murky, feedback driven dirge “You Can’t Reach What You Hunger” a song that builds upon a tightly restrained tension until its scorching conclusion; and the forceful and stormy “Something In My Brain.”
Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio Tapetown Studios and Sound of Aarhus have developed a live video series in which they invite national, regional and internationally recognized touring bands to come into their studio during their free time to record a session — and along with that, the band would also be provided a unique glimpse of Aarhus beyond the exhausting touring routines of load-ins, soundchecks, live set, chat with strangers and friends, tear downs, pack ups, and van rides and/or flights to the next series of gigs. Now, if you’ve been frequenting recently, you’d know that Tapetown and Sound of Aarhus have invited the British indie rockers Ulrika Spacek and Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey.
Of course, throughout the past few years, I’ve written quite about Tim Cohen, woho has written, recorded and toured with a number of different bands and creative outlets, including Magic Trick, The Fresh & Onlys (with whom, he may be the best known) and as a solo artist. Interestingly, over that same period, Cohen has managed to be remarkably prolific and extremely busy: last year alone, the Bay Area-based singer/songwriter split time touring with Magic Trick and The Fresh & Onlys, worked on and recorded Magic Trick’s fourth album Other Man’s Blues, as well as his solo debut Luck Man — and he managed to balance all of that with the responsibilities of being a new father.
Released earlier this year, Wolf Lie Down is the first Fresh & Onlys effort in over three years, and the album found collaborators and bandmates Cohen and Wymond Miles (guitar, production) stripping the layered sound and feel of their last few albums while keeping the focus on Cohen’s hyper-literate yet accessible lyrics, focusing on metaphysical musings; but in the case of album title track “Wolf Lie Down,” Cohen’s vocals and lyrics are paired with the sort of arrangement that should immediately remind you of the Ramones.
Recently, Cohen, Miles and company were touring Europe and were invited to stop by Aarhus’ Tapetown Studios where they played a loose and fast live version of “Wolf Lie Down.” Check it out.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may know that the Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio Tapetown Studios and Sound of Aarhus have a long-running series in which they invite both touring bands to come into the studio for a live session; but along with that the band during their limited downtime would get a unique taste of Aarhus beyond the touring routine of load-ins, sound checks, shows, tear downs, pack ups and van rides to the next gig. Recently, Tapetown Studios and Sound of Aarhus invited Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey for a session — and the trio, comprised of Tuva Lodmark, Nelly Daltrey, and Anders Lagerfors performed “Heaviest of Storms (Devotion, Part 1)” a shimmering and moody track that reminded me quite a bit of early PJ Harvey.
Over the past 15-18 months, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based doom metal trio Monolord have added themselves to a growing list of JOVM mainstay artists, and as you may recall, the Swedish doom metal band will be releasing their third, full-length album Rust through RidingEasy Records on September 29, 2017. As the band’s Esben Willems explains of the band’s sound, “A heavy groove that contains both bombastic overkill and a lot of dynamics is what we always aim for in Monolord; in playing, in song writing and arranging, in recording.”
Album title track and first official single “Rust,” featured guest spots from Mondo Drag‘s John Gamino on keys and Beastmaker’s Trevor Church, who contributes an incredible guitar solo towards the end of the song — with the single further cementing the trio’s reputation for crafting slow-burning, sludgy, doom metal; but upon repeated listens, the single revealed a band that has subtly expanded upon their sound and songwriting. “Where Death Meets the Sea,” Rust’s second single continued in a similar vein as its predecessor but with an oceanic heft, as sludgy power chords and thundering drumming were placed within a slow burning yet expansive song structure.
“Dear Lucifer,” Rust’s third and latest single while continuing along the veins of its two preceding singles, in the sense that the track is a slow-burning, sludgy dirge but if you pay close attention, you’ll notice that the song possesses a subtle nuance, as it reveals some incredibly dexterous guitar work and psychedelic-tinged guitar solo — all while evoking hot blasts of sulfur, before its hazy, feedback and distorted filled coda. And although the song may reveal a psych rock influence, it still retains a sense of impending doom.
With the release of her first two singles “Sleep,” which was released last year and “Strangers,” which was released earlier this year, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based singer/songwriter Sarah Klang quickly received praise from critics across the blogosphere for achingly melancholy material, reminiscent of Roy Orbison and Jeff Buckley, and others — and interestingly, the Gothenburg-based singer/songwriter is influenced Barbra Streisand and ambient electronica while visually, she’s frequently pictured in old bridal dresses with cheap plastic flowers, creating the appearance that she’s been left at the altar, and doesn’t quite know how to handle the growing sense of embarrassment, shame, humiliation and hurt that have just overcome her.
“Left Me On Fire,” Klang’s latest single continues a long-time collaboration with writer/producer Kevin Anderson and was mixed by Thom Monahan, who was worked with Pernice Brothers, Devandra Banhart, Vetiver, Beachwood Sparks and others, and much like the preceding singles is an achingly soulful yet delicate ballad based around Klang’s bluesy crooning singing a song that was written and inspired by the “. . . vacuum you feel after a break-up,” Klang explains in press notes. “You continue your life but you are burned. For me the song is about moving forward with your life, while still in love with the person who broke your heart, and nothing will ever be the same from that moment on.” Klang’s latest single will further her growing reputation as “the saddest girl in Sweden,” in part for crafting spectral and aching ballads, coming from the bitter, uneasiness and messiness of lived-in experience.
Now, if you had been frequenting this site over the past year, you’d recall that I’ve written quite a bit about Geowulf, a dream pop duo, comprised of Noosa, Australia-born Star Kendrick and Toma Benjamin and although currently the duo split their time between London, UK, Gothenburg, Sweden and Berlin, Germany, their musical project can trace its origins to Benjamin’s and Kendrick’s long-time friendship, a friendship that they can trace to when they were both in their teams; however, their musical collaboration began in earnest when Kendrick, whose parents were also professional musicians, began to seriously pursue music a few years ago, and enlisted the help of her closest friend to flesh out her early demos.
With the release of their debut single “Saltwater” Kendrick and Benjamin quickly saw attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere as the single received over 1 million Spotify streams and reached Hype Machine‘s top ten before breaking at #4 on Spotify’s US Viral Charts. The Australian-born, European-based duo followed up on the buzz of their debut with the release of “Don’t Talk About You,” a single that channeled Fleetwood Mac and Mazzy Star as Kendrick’s gorgeously ethereal vocals were paired with lush, shimmering and jangling guitar chords, but underneath the self-assured, 70s AM Rock vibes was a lovelorn ache. As the duo’s Star Kendrick explained in press notes at the time, “This song went through a geographical and creative metamorphosis over almost two years. We originally wrote it in Copenhagen, demo’ed it in Stockholm and then revisited it recently when Toma and I were both in London. I guess the song speaks for itself but ultimately it falls in the good ol’ ‘wanting-something-that-ain’t-good-for-you’ vein …”
The duo’s latest single “Drink Too Much” is arguably one of the duo’s most playful and subversively upbeat songs they’ve released to date, as it features jangling guitars, twinkling keys, propulsive drumming and an anthemic, soaring hook to create a sound and aesthetic that nods at Phil Spector and Still Corners while nodding at something much darker; in fact, as the duo explain in press notes, the song is ultimately about “bulk red wine + tired relationships = bad news, baby” but below the surface is the sense that ghosts haunt and linger when we’re at our most vulnerable.
The recently released video for “Drink Too Much” is cinematic and feverish vision, featuring the duo at the pool of a resort — but instead of being surrounded by the expected young, lithe, buxom and beautiful, the duo is surrounded by a collection of middle-aged retirees with way too much time on their hands. And while initially suggesting a slowly creeping dread, the video turns mischievously surreal as the members of the duo lead a poolside dance party; but underneath there’s a wistfulness for the passing of yet another summer.