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Tack så mycket for the music, Sverige

March 15th, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

The centre of the Indie music universe is turning out to be Sweden. It started a decade ago with the international emergence of the Cardigans. Today the likes of the idiosyncratic Jens Lekman, the Shout Out Louds, and Peter Bjorn & John contribute to the country”s fertile music landscape.

And then there is Hello Saferide (Annika Norlin), whose one-and-a-half albums have created a measure of Internet buzz. Sparsely instrumentated, sometimes it”s just an acoustic guitar and handclaps, Hello Saferide has an infectious, often quirky and sometimes very pretty sound that belies the often dark lyrics (such as the ill-wishes addressed to an ex-boyfriend on “Valentine”s Day“).

Hello Saferide”s quest for love finds expression in unexpected ways, be it the benign stalker in “High School Stalker“ or the resolution for the “shitty”new year of getting together with a chap who doesn”t know it yet (“2006″), or the interrogation in “The Quiz”. On other songs, she tries to reconnect with an old confidante (“Long Lost Penpal”). “My Best Friend” (video here) expresses the wish that she and the eponymous pal could be lesbians so that they could be lovers (a sweet sentiment, but imagine a guy telling his straight best friend that he wishes they could be gay together. Even postfacing such a statement with a heartfelt “MAAN” probably wouldn”t save the friendship, the enormity of the compliment notwithstanding).

The instant classic is “The Quiz” (listen to it here, video here), a catchy acoustic number with utterly enchanting lyrics. She states her appreciation for a romantic prospect “” he is attentive, made the effort to clean up the bathroom, cooks good soup, and has fine taste in music (Townes van Zandt, Jens Lekman, Rickie Lee Jones), though perhaps he should not display his full set of Star Wars Special Edition DVDs too prominently “” before introducing her compatibility quiz. Her fear of feet and concomitant request that socks be worn at all times would, alas, kill off any romantic notions the lopvely Annika and I might entertain ““ unless my non-fragrant, beautifully shaped and perfectly smooth feet might help her conquer that very strange phobia”¦

Hello Saferide – My Best Friend
Hello Saferide – High School Stalker
Hello Saferide – Valentine”s Day
Hello Saferide – If I Don’t Write This Song, Someone I Love Will Die
Hello Saferide – San Francisco

Salem al Fakir explores pop and soul genres in a unique manner. The voice may need some getting used to, but the talent is immediately apparent. One minute you listen to the “˜70s soul throwback “Good Song”, which recalls The Spinners, next you may hear a celtic prog gig which would not be amiss on a Gabriel-era Genesis LP. It”s all innovative and great fun.

Salem al Faikr – Good Song.mp3

Believe the hype: 29-member group I”m From Barcelona are quite excellent in their genre of twee indie-pop, If you can handle songs about treehouses (or tweehouses) or oversleeping on a Monday. Listen to it in the wrong mood and you might hate it. But give it another chance, and be rewarded by an exuberance that creates the brand of giddy happiness one might experience when drinking a cold raspberry soda after a good game of football at a satisfying picnic in a lovely park on a hot day.

I’m From Barcelona – Oversleeping

The album of 2007 awards at Any Major Dude HQ has an early contender in Loney, Noir by the idiosyncratically named Loney, Dear (real name Emil Svanängen, who features on the I”m From Barcelona album). Imagine Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie turning into a multi-dubbing Brian Wilson after OD-ing on Arcade Fire, and you might get a vague idea of Loney Dear”s wondrous music. The songs on this apparently home-produced album typically begin softly before building up into a everything-but-the-kitchen-sink crescendo. It should result in discordant racket, instead the listener is immersed in sounds of astonishing beauty.

Loney, Dear – No One Can Win
Loney, Dear – Carrying A Stone

Herman Düne might sound like a geography teacher, but is in fact a group. “I Wish That I Could See You Soon” sounds like the illegitimate lovechild of Van Morrison”s “Brown Eyed Girl” and any number of Desmond Dekker songs “” and it”s glorious. Listen also to “This Summer”, also on 2006″s Giant album, which evokes lazy days in lush sunshine in the Carribbean ““ just the sound to hear a song about “the lithium fucking with your brain”.

Herman Düne – I Wish I Could See You Soon.mp3

Download also:
Sambassadeur – Between The Lines
Sambassadeur – New Moon
Sambassadeur – Kate
The Radio Dept – The Worst Taste In Music (video here)
The Radio Dept – Against The Tide

More about Swedish Indie music, with free MP3s, at Hello Sur

Loads of Scandinavian downloads here (including Loney, Dear’s astonishing “I Am John”)

  1. Liz
    March 15th, 2007 at 15:36 | #1

    I never realised how much chicky from Hello Saferide looked like Alanis Morisette. What’s Swedish for isn’t it ironic?

  2. Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop
    March 15th, 2007 at 17:02 | #2

    Also check out the wonderful Ane Brun, who I saw here in DC two night ago playing at the Swedish Embassy. As you’d expect from a good social democracy, it was nicely subsidised at just 5 bucks a ticket. She was introduced by the bloke who must have the world’s cushiest job – the embassy’s Cultural Consular.That was followed last night by one of your faves, Maria Taylor, which I blogged (and raved) about briefly this morning.

  3. Any major dude with half a heart surely would tell you, my friend
    March 16th, 2007 at 08:38 | #3

    Ironisk, ironically enough.

  4. Jane
    May 1st, 2008 at 13:56 | #4

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