scandinavian posts

Fredrika Stahl

Monday, December 21st, 2009 by Julija

jazz // pop // chanson

The repertoire of Swedish singer-songwriter Fredrika Stahl consists of elegant jazz compositions and dreamy vocal textures. “Monumental Mismatch”, the opening track of Tributaries (2008), possesses this certain element of playfulness and simplicity that works so well with Fredrika’s flirtatious jazz approach. Accompanied by accordion and delicate piano arrangements, lyrical “Pourquoi Pas Moi” is a true homage to French chanson, while her yearning vocals bring to mind the critically acclaimed Lisa Ekdahl.

Gentle jazz for a wintry afternoon.
Fredrika Stahl – Monumental Mismatch
Fredrika Stahl – Pourquoi Pas Moi
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Thursday, December 10th, 2009 by Julija

swedish pop // singer-songwriter

Laleh’s album, Me and Simon (2009), shines with pure pop energy and good fun. There are no experimental edges for avant pop lovers, yet there are enough memorable melodies and clever hooks to keep your attention. Iranian-Swedish artist Laleh crafts vibrant pop songs, sweet lullabies and ballads, sung mostly in English with the occasional French and Persian (not to be confused with Arabic) ear candy. Laleh’s stand-out track and my personal favourite is “Simon Says”. With its lovely arrangements, subtle multi-layered vocals and playful lyrics, this one you will carry and hum for the rest of the day.

Strong melody and a somewhat naive quirkiness.
Laleh – Simon Says

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Ólafur Arnalds

Monday, October 19th, 2009 by Kyle


Less we spoke, more we listened. “The Light” is directed by Esteban Diácono for Ólafur Arnalds‘s Found Songs. Seven pieces recorded during seven days at his apartment in Reykjavík with piano, strings, twitter and flickr.

Gentle fireworks.
Ólafur Arnalds – Ljósið
Ólafur Arnalds – Raein
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Lay Low

Sunday, October 11th, 2009 by Julija

blues // folk

Singer-songwriter Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir, a.k.a. Lay Low, has been named as one of the most promising new artists back in her home country Iceland. On her album Farewell Good Night’s Sleep (2009) Lay Low captures the essence of blues, country and folk, concocting them all into music that feels like a perfect soundtrack for a cross country road trip. One of the album’s highlights, “Last Time Around”, unfolds sweetly with her soft crooning, melancholic bluesy sound and a hint of Iceland and Nashville in it.

Country-tinged Icelandic love song.

Lay Low – Last Time Around
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Thursday, October 8th, 2009 by Julija

folktronica // swedish experimental

Fredrik Karlsson, a.k.a. Solander, a part of Aurgasm-featured Fredrik, has his own solo project and it’s the one project you were all waiting to hear about, without even knowing it. Similar to Fredrik’s compositions, Solander’s debut Since We Are Pigeons (2009) carries a distinct Scandinavian, unique yet familiar sound. The album infuses hushed vocals, fragile strings arrangements and warm electronics with just a hint of experimentalia. In “Looking For Gold” Solander slowly builds up the mood by layering off-beat guitar with beautiful orchestration and hypnotic vocal harmonies. Definitely one of the most promising indie projects coming from Sweden this year.

Strong, captivating melody.
Solander – Looking For Gold

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Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 by Julija

vocal electronica // experimental pop

Katrine Ottosen’s album Fall Down (2008) is a debut that should not be left unnoticed despite the flood of DYI Indie artists. The Copenhagen-based musician who records under the name CALLmeKAT takes the listener with a distinctly Scandinavian sound: melancholic, floating and intense. Fall Down shifts between the experimental and the somewhat urban dream-pop, recalling the fragility of Stina Nordenstam and the edgy mysterious soundscapes of such artists as Klima and Sol Seppy.

From sharp to dreamy electronic arrangements.
CALLmeKAT – Do Your Trick
CALLmeKAT – Flower In The Night
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Sunday, April 19th, 2009 by Paul Irish

swing-jazz // balkan // swedish hiphop

“Django guitar, windy street swing; music for both art directors and for your mother” is how MOVITS! describe their sound. Well-known in Sweden, but unheard of elsewhere, they fold together elements of 1930’s big band swing, roma swing and rhythm & blues, then drop hiphop vocals on top for some serious energetic firepower. The ability to seamlessly interweave a number of genres reminds me of The Cat Empire, but while MOVITS! could relax on their catchy beats, they expertly drop variations (i.e. 2:00 in the video above) that’ll keep you smiling throughout the song.

Music for art directors and your mother
MOVITS! – Äppelknyckarjazz
MOVITS! – Swing För Hyresgästföreningen
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Wednesday, March 11th, 2009 by Julija

swedish folktronica // experimental

Fredrik, a six-piece Malmö-based ensemble, embodies some of the finest Scandinavian experimental pop aesthetics: captivating melodies, rich layered arrangements and complicated charming instrumentation evoking the sound of Sigur Ros and Efterklang. Without overloading the compositions, Fredrik builds layer upon layer of atmospheric, melodically overpowering and somewhat mystical soundscapes. The title track of the album “Na Na Ni” ranges from warm waves of melancholy and hypnotic repetitive chanting to haunting harmonies.

From quiet to powerful experimental arrangements.
Fredrik – Na Na Ni
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Theresa Andersson

Sunday, December 7th, 2008 by Julija

folk // singer-songwriter

Recorded in New Orleans with fellow Swede, producer Tobias Fröberg, Theresa Andersson’s album Hummingbird, Go! (2008) delivers a distinctive Swedish pop sound alongside a soulful southern vibe. Well-crafted retro-pop number “Birds Fly Away” showcases Theresa’s multi-instrumental skills as she uses everything from the looping vocals, violin, catchy hand claps to the funky drum sample of Smokey Johnson. DIY to the extreme, in her song “The Waltz” Theresa actually plays water-filled soda pop bottles in her kitchen.

Incredibly fresh, quirky folk melodies.
Theresa Andersson – Birds Fly Away
Theresa Andersson – The Waltz
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Amanda Jenssen

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008 by Paul Irish

pop // soul

Last summer I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Stockholm, Sweden. The music scene is incredibly active there, but if you go expecting to see some DJs or global acts you know, you might be a bit surprised; the country produces so much music that it’s pretty self-sustaining. Amanda Jenssen emerged out of their Idol 2007 competition and just scored a #1 spot on the charts with this track, and yet, there’s hardly any coverage outside of Scandinavia. The chorus has an obvious pop sensibility, but her soul-driven vibe (think: Amy Winehouse) is showcased in the verses. (Thx, Christofer!)

Strong, soulful, and Swedish pop music.
Amanda Jenssen – Do You Love Me?