Tag: Stockholm Sweden

Earlier this summer,  I wrote about the Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan, and as you may recall, the band has a unique backstory: Comprised of Michell Serrano (vocals), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Carlos Amigo (percussion) Juan Jose Espindola (drums) and Arvid Sjöö (guitar), the band features one native Swede — Sjöö — while the the other members emigrated from South America. And with the the release of their furious and incendiary full-length debut Caballo Negro, the Stockholm-based quartet quickly received attention for a sound that meshes Latin music — in particular, Latin rhythm, percussion and groove that’s part of the musical and cultural heritage of Serrano, Gonzalez, Amigo and Espiondola — with the blistering garage rock and punk of Thee Oh Sees, At the Drive-In and Death from Above 1979.

Swedish Cobra, the band’s forthcoming Daniel Bengtson-produced sophomore album is slated for a September 7, 2018 release, and the album reportedly finds the band capturing their raw and raucous live sound on record — with the five bandmembers recording in the same room, live to tape at Bengtson’s Studio Rymden, and with minimal takes and overdubs. As the band’s Michell Serrano says in press notes, “You can hear that on the album. it’s quite raw and very intense.” Interestingly, the material balances blistering fury with an experimental sensibility with the band expanding upon their sound — partially as a result of each individual band member’s role becoming more fluid, and partially through the employment of instrumentation beyond the usual punk rock/garage rock arrangements. “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” Serrano explains. “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”

Lyrically speaking, the album is purportedly the most personal they’ve written to date — and although it’s not overtly political charged, the material does focus on their day-to-day reality, from partying excessively to moments of deep introspection, with each individual member contributing idea. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this. Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things – like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden – it’s relatable in any other country, I think,” Maikel Gonzalez says in press notes.

Swedish Cobra‘s first two singles, the furious and swirling psych punk/surf punk “Whiplash” and the mid-tempo, 90s grunge rock-inspired “Two Steps Back,” were urgent and passionate — but to me there was something sobering about the material, especially in light of a heightened age of nationalism, racism and xenophobia. Cultural exchange has inspired new takes on the familiar, new modes of thinking, new foods, new words — and more importantly, deeper empathy and understanding of our neighbors, of those men women and others from far away.  Interestingly, “Last Love Supreme,” Swedish Cobra‘s latest single is a swooning mid-tempo ballad with soaring hooks and explosive blasts of feedback that sounds — to my ears at least — as though it drew from mariachi, psych rock and garage rock simultaneously, thanks in part to a classic quiet, loud, quiet song structure.

Certainly, from the album’s first three singles, Swedish Cobra may arguably be one of the year’s most unique, passionate and downright interesting albums, and possibly one of the most necessary of any genre, because it affirms what can happen when diverse people and ideas intermingle and influence each other, and perhaps more important that we should protect and honor the immigrant and what they bring.

 

 

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New Video: Introducing the Atmospheric and Brooding Sounds of Stockholm’s Sweden

Mark Ephraim is a Detroit, MI-born, Stockholm, Sweden-based producer, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and the creative mastermind behind post-punk project BadSkum, a project that features Ephraim collaborating with a rotating cast of local musicians, which when asked, Ephraim says “I stopped keeping anyone in a band with me too long because they always end up dying or plotting to kick me out.” Interestingly enough, the project can trace its origins to Ephraim relocating to Sweden after spending 16 years in New York as a producer and artist, developing his sound.

Ephraim’s latest single “Super Moon” is a slow-burning and atmospheric track that recalls Forget Yourself, Uninvited, Like the Clouds and Untitled #23-era The Church, as its centered around looping, shimmering guitar chords, and a propulsive yet somewhat easygoing backbeat and Ephraim’s crooning vocals.

Shot, directed and edited by Stellan Von Reybekiel, the recently released video was shot on an old VHS camcorder using an old tape that had old Friends taped on it; in fact, you could see a brief glimpse of Ross a the end. As Ephraim says of the video, “style plays a big part in the visual aspect of BadSkum. Every video is a bit like a comment on my past travels of experiences.” For “Turnstile Lovers,” he wore a Sudanese high school uniform he picked up from a friend who lived in Khartoum, and a handmade leopard track suit from Amman Jordan for “Proud Mary.” In this video, the Detroit-born, Stockholm-based producer, singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist wore a sale rack Century 21 suit he had purchased to attend the Grammys, after receiving a nod for this work on Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP. Throughout the video, we see Ephraim preening and getting himself together and brooding over grainy and shaky VHS tape — and it manages to add to the song’s eerie air. 

Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan is a rather unique band — with a unique backstory. Comprised of Michell Serrano (vocals), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Carlos Amigo (percussion) Juan Jose Espindola (drums) and Arvid Sjöö (guitar), the band features one native Swede — Sjöö — while the the other members relocated from South America. And with the release of their furious and incendiary full-length debut Caballo Negro, the Stockholm-based quintet quickly received attention for a signature sound that meshes elements of Latin music, in particular, Latin rhythm, percussion and groove that would have been part of musical and cultural heritage of Serrano, Gonzalez, Amigo and Espiondola while pairing it with the blistering guitar punk of Thee Oh Sees, At the Drive-In and Death from Above 1979.

Slated for a September 7, 2018 release the Stockholm, Sweden-based punk rock act’s highly-anticipated Daniel Bengtson-produced sophomore album Swedish Cobra finds the band capturing their raw and raucous live sound on record — with all five of the band recording live to tape at Bengtson’s Studio Rymden, and with minimal takes and overdubs. As the band’s Michell Serrano says in press notes, “You can hear that on the album. it’s quite raw and very intense.” And while reportedly being the most blistering effort the band has released to date, it’s also interestingly enough the most experimental one as well, as the members of the band’s roles became much more fluid. Additionally, the album finds the Swedish punk rock band expanding their sound through the use of different instrumentation to the usual punk rock arraignments. “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” Serrano explains. “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”

Additionally, the album lyrically reportedly is the most personal while not being the most overly political as it deals with the bandmembers’ everyday reality — and unsurprisingly, each individual member contributed lyrical ideas to the whole. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this. Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things – like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden – it’s relatable in any other country, I think,” Maikel Gonzalez says in press notes.

To build up buzz for the new album, Sudakistan has released two singles from Swedish Cobra. First is the furious, jangling and swirling psych punk/surf punk “Whiplash” which is centered around Serrano’s howls, pedal effected guitars and tons of feedback, thunderous drumming, subtle bits of Latin percussion — and in some way, the song reminds me a bit of The Black Angels, complete with a swaggering sense of menace and an expansive song structure. Second is the mid-tempo ballad “Two Steps Back” a track that finds the band employing a 90s grunge rock song structure — alternating quiet, loud, quiet sections with a raise-your-beer-in-the-air-and-shout-along worthy hook, blistering power chords and Latin percussion. And while passionate and urgent, there’s something sobering about the material in a heightened age of nationalism, racism, xenophobia and sexism. Cultural exchange and openness has brought about new takes on the familiar, new modes of thinking, new foods, new words and perhaps more important empathy and understanding. Goddamn it, before we completely head off the rails, we need quite a bit more of that these days.

New Video: Acclaimed Alt Pop Artist Vilde Releases Tense and Unsettling Visuals for “Warm Milk”

Best known as the frontman of British-based indie act Kins, the Melbourne, Australia-born and now Stockholm, Sweden-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer Thomas Savage received attention with his solo recording project Vilde, which found Savage’s sound and overall aesthetic drawing from Radiohead, Wild Beasts, TV on the Radio, BØRNS and Tim Hecker — but with a warm take to the moody atmospherics that he dubbed “study-dance.” Now, if you had been frequenting this site last year, you may recall that Savage’s full-length debut eschewed the traditional album release format in which an artist releases a few singles, then puts out an album several months later; rather, much like JOVM mainstays The Raveonettes and Rene Lopez, he released a new single off the album every single month, and one of those singles, the Kid A-era Radiohead-like “Maintain” was a bit more of an uptempo affair with arpeggiated synth chords, a propulsive rhythm section and Savage’s plaintive, falsetto vocals floating over an icy mix.

Thud is Savage’s first proper album, and the album which is slated for a July 13, 2018 release found the Australian-born, Swedish-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer superimposing the album’s overarching themes onto the material’s lyrics — and as he explains in press notes, that was an altogether much more natural process. “I hadn’t any idea for a theme in the beginning, the conscious element in the process is quite limited. It’s mostly reliant upon feeling resonance in the words rather than a specific line of thought. Sometimes I bring in more conscious thinking, but if I really succeed, they somehow manage to fall into linear coherency. I’m in it for the feeling of experiencing and what poured out of me afterwards, rather than attempting to express any sort of certainty. If I was certain about something, I supposed it’d be better as a novel.” Interestingly, throughout the writing and recording of the album, there was a recurrent element — “our relationship to technology and social media. I feel like the record almost became a plea for people to down their phones and speak to each other, or to just sit and think,” Savage adds. “But if this is the future for us, one should just accept it right?”

“Warm Milk,” Thud’s latest single is centered around a propulsive, motorik-like groove, shuffling beats, shimmering electronics and Savage’s plaintive vocals — but unlike his previously released material, not only does the song bring Peter Gabriel 3 and Security-era Peter Gabriel, Barbarossa and others to my mind (at least to my ears), it’s a deeply unsettling track meant to evoke the creeping dread and anxiety of being alone — and yet, when we’re constantly plugged into the digital realm, we’re always alone and never truly connecting with others.

Created by Elin Ghersinich and Thomas Savage, the recently released video is claustrophobic and unsettling as its centered around imagery of liquids being poured — at one point, the aforementioned white milk but cut with footage of Savage shot in an tightly cropped closeups in a dark, almost dungeon-like bathroom, full of self-loathing, regret and desperate loneliness. When we see Savage, it’s much like seeing a man struggling with his own warped, fractured psyche and emotions — and losing.

With the release of his 2016 debut EP, the Stockholm, Sweden-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Otto Niklasson Elmerås received attention nationally and internationally for material that centered around 60s inspired melodies and intricate musical arrangements. Elmerås’ full-length debut Mono is slated for a June 14, 2018 release through Birds Will Sing For You Records, and the album’s latest single is the swooning love song “Wrong Side of the Road.” Upon first listen, the song will further cement the Swedish singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s growing reputation for writing songs centered around intricate, Beatles-like melodies; in fact, for the most part Elmerås’ latest single sounds deeply indebted to Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles. But interestingly enough, the song reveals an artist, who’s subtly expanding upon his sound, as he incorporates 70s influences to create a song that’s sincere, carefully crafted and yet incredibly anachronistic.

 

New Video: Introducing The Gorgeous and Atmospheric Visuals and Sounds of Stockholm’s boerd

Bård Ericson is an up-and-coming Stockholm, Sweden-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and electronic music artist, whose recent solo recording project boerd is heavily influenced from a stint playing double bass with the Swedish Royal Opera, Swedish Radio Symphony and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, as well as drawing from the likes of Burial, Bibio, and Aphex Twin — and with boerd, Ericson has received attention for a delicate sound that pushes the boundaries of atmospheric electronica, with a painterly attention to detail and texture. In fact, as you’ll hear on “Blind,” the latest single off his forthcoming mini-album, Static is a slow-burning and spectral track featuring twinkling synths, shuffling drums, bursts of strummed guitar paired with aching yet dreamy vocals fed through layers upon layers of vocoder, that evoke a feeling of transience — of accepting the fact that both good and bad things in one’s life often find a way to fade away. And as a result, the song possesses the dull yet palpable ache of regret and lost chances.

Directed and edited by Bård Ericsson and starring Olle Darmell and Susanna Risberg, the recently released video for “Blind” features a couple driving in car, as a larger metaphor for a relationship. “I thought driving a car with someone could be a metaphor for a relationship,” Ericson says in press notes. “You’re not always sure where you’re going or when (and if) you’ll arrive somewhere, etc. The song is about a relationship that’s not in complete balance, where something is a bit off. It’s a song about feeling vulnerable, which can really suck but also bring you close to someone. Rather than having the video tell a specific storyline, I tried to capture that bittersweet mix of uncertainty, vulnerability and affection.” Interestingly, the video’s director — Ericson, himself — sits in the backseat observing and singling the song’s lyrics. Throughout the video, there’s an obvious sense that there’s something wrong with the relationship, and they don’t quite know what to do about it or how to get out of it without hurting themselves or the other. 

Renowned electronic music label Anjunadeep Records will be releasing Static on April 6, 2018.  

With the release of their politically charged, fourth, full-length album Running Out of Love, the Stockholm, Sweden-based pop duo The Radio Dept., comprised of Johan Duncanson and Martin Carlberg earned praise from the likes of NPR, PitchforkThe Atlantic and others. Building upon a growing profile, the Swedish pop duo recently released their latest single, the jangling and yearning “Your True Name,” which the band noting that the “song is about faith in a way, not divine but utopian, believing in something that will probably never be. And it’s about falling short, sometimes with your goal just barely out of reach.” As a result, the song manages to be simultaneously optimistic yet bittersweet  — all while reminding us that life is often about hoping for something, trying to achieve it, getting knocked down and getting back up to go for it again. (Interestingly, the single is the first release from the band’s own label, Just So!)

The members of The Radio Dept. will be embarking on a Stateside tour that begins on January 29, 2018 in Los Angeles and includes a February 3, 2018 stop at Warsaw. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates

1/29: Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre

1/30: San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore

2/1: Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall

2/2: Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre

2/3: Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw

2/4: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer

New Video: The Psychedelic and Lynchian-like Visuals for Norma’s “S.A.D.”

Largely inspired by NEU! and Faust, as well as Spiritualized and Spacemen 3, the Stockholm, Sweden-based trio Norma, comprised Erik Vallin, Love Martinsen, and Petter Bendelin formed in a living room in 2007, watching David Lynch movies while experimenting with pedal steel guitars, vintage organs and synthesizers. As the story goes, after a while, the trio started rehearsing in a bomb shelter and eventually developed a bigger, heavier sound, which wound up on their debut effort Book of Norma. Several years later, the band followed that up with their 2013 sophomore effort, The Invisible Mother. Over the past few years, they’ve developed a reputation for being deliberate — and over a decade since their formation, the band will be releasing their third, full-length album sometime in 2018. 

“S.A.D,” the yet-untitled album’s first single features a prerequisite, chugging motorik groove paired with shimmering, pedal effected guitars and a soaring hook to create a song that reminds me quite a bit of Join the Dots-era TOY — but interestingly enough, the song is both about seasonal affective disorder and a character that the band has dubbed Neil, a figure that appears during the darkest season, and attempts to thwart you as you go about your daily life. As the band explains, “. . . We probably all have our personal devils, wherever we want them or not, it’s just about learning how to live with them. It may be quite difficult to get a daily life working as it is and it will not be easier to discuss economics, logistics or food when Neil creeps along your spine and says he’s going to shoot you in your leg.”

Edited by Frederick Stewart Holm and featuring photography by the band and Najda von Bahr with scenography, costumes and makeup by Emila Esping, the recently recently video for “S.A.D.” follows Neil, a vagabond-like character as he travels the countryside in a custom built jalopy to the kindergarten where he entertains kids as a clown/entertainer. Eventually, he disappears into a dream where he floats among planets, fishes and laser lights in a Lynchian and psychedelic nightmare. 

New Video: Up-and-Coming, Swedish-born Producer SQRD Releases Swooning and Nostalgic Visuals for New Single “Would Run Wild”

With the release of his critically acclaimed 2016 EP Gold, the up-and-coming Swedish-born, electronic music producer and electronic music artist SQRD, who splits his time between Berlin and Stockholm received attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere for a sound that effortlessly blended lo-fi, analog electronics within textured and nuanced compositions. Interestingly, over the past few years, the up-and-coming producer has spent his time honing and refining his sound, and his latest single “Would Run Wild” finds the Swedish-born producer leaning towards an industrial-leaning production as layers of propulsive, arpeggiated synths, thumping beats and metallic clang and clatter and razor sharp yet infectious hook are paired with heavily vocodered vocals. While simultaneously nodding at classic, 80s synth pop (i.e., Depeche Mode), early hip-hop, and contemporary electro pop (i.e., Summer Heart, Washed Out and others), the song swoons with a nostalgic yearning for a past just out of reach. 

Directed by Kevin Vinh Doan, the trippy and gorgeously shot,recently released video for “Would Run Wild” follows a young woman, who’s longing for an urgent and passionate love, which ends with the presumed overdose of her lover. And throughout the video, she encounters lingering ghosts and memories within every single step. 

With the release of their debut EP in 2013, Dream Lake, the Stockholm, Sweden-based dream pop duo comprised of Isabella Svärdstam (vocals) and multi-instrumentalist Niklas Willar Lidholm (production and instrumentation) received attention for crafting ethereal and incredibly catchy pop songs, and for being among a small group of internationally recognized Swedish electro pop/dream pop acts. Since then, the duo have released a number of singles, including critically applauded singles “Let Us Stay In The Light” and “World Of Dreams,” as well as their highly-anticipated full-length debut Lux, which was released earlier this year. And from the album’s latest single “Crystals,” the single — and in turn, the album — further cement the duo’s reputation of nostalgic and  cinematic pop with soaring hooks paired with shimmering and arpeggiated synths, and Svärdstam’s achingly tender and ethereal vocals; but interestingly enough, the song possesses an underlying intimacy as it focuses on a romantic couple, who may be either space travelers who have landed on a strange, new planet of a glorious, and blissfully endless summer of raining crystals — or a Dadaesque dreamscape. No matter, it’s a song to get lost in and contemplate one’s existence and being in love in an enormous universe.

 

As the duo’s Niklas Willar Lidholm explains in press notes “‘Crystals’ is about looking into another person’s universe –letting your emotion speak and becoming one with the moment. We should live and love today because tomorrow, it could all be gone.”