Sweden

GRAPELL: SULTRY SOUL OF SWEDEN
October 10, 2016 8:22 am

Have you heard Love Chamber, the sexy (and sax-y) EP from Swedish duo Grapell? If your answer is no, scroll down a couple paragraphs and click play on that Spotify list. If your answer is yes, you (or your girlfriend) are probably already pregnant. Congratulations, and please don’t contact us for child support payments.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS shared some transatlantic correspondence with magic men Emil Erstrand and Nils Nygårdh, to find out how Love Chamber came to be.

You recently released your Love Chamber EP. What can you tell us about its creation?

Emil: We wanted the EP to have a real thread and to feel coherent, so all of the songs were written and recorded in a relatively short period of time. We used the same approach for all the songs and I think our vision was clearer this time compared to before. We also tried to keep things simple, to see the songs for what they are: quite straightforward love songs.

Is there anything you learned during the production of the EP that you wish you had known going into it?

Nils: One song got lost on the way due some technical problems, so we ended up not using that one. We couldn’t bother to record it again. But it did give us space for another track.

Emil: Since we do everything ourselves we learn things all the time. I hope and think we are getting better at what we’re doing with every release.

Do you have any music videos coming out for any of your new songs?

Emil: Yes, we do! We’ve got a really sweet video for our song Some Places coming out really soon. It’s directed and produced by the great Johan Stolpe.

How much input do you have on the creation of something like that?

Nils: This time we had an pretty clear idea about what we wanted the song to “look like”. So we gave the director our ideas of the setup from the start. And then he created his vision from that.

Can you explain the significance of using a photo of politician Gerda Antti for the cover of “Some Places”?

Emil: There really is no certain significance…We just like the picture of Gerda, especially combined with the picture of Walter (which is the cover of Arrow). I think they’ve got a really good vibe and an almost iconic feel. Alongside each other, the portraits somehow capture what the EP is about. Also, the pictures were taken by my grandfather.

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What are your favorite places in Stockholm for seeing live music?

Emil: I really don’t know. I don’t feel like there are too many obvious venues for live music in Stockholm these days. And very soon one of the better ones, called Debaser Medis, is closing. I do like a place called Cirkus – it would be really nice to play there in the future!

Nils: I recently found a new place actually. Its in the basement of the Scala Theatre and its called Lönnkrogen. Its a small venue and a feel of going back to the nightclubs in the 20s.

Are there any bands in Stockholm you feel deserve more attention?

Nils: Sonjagon is a Swedish band that had a lot of influence on us. The don’t play so much anymore unfortunately, once a year maybe. But their music is out there and should be listened to. Especially the debut album Arches.

Emil: Yes, and all of the bands signed to Strangers Candy of course.

 

To hear more of this amazing Swedish band, follow them on Facebook here,

SCHOOL ’94 EXPLORES NEW DIRECTIONS IN “BOUND” EP
June 10, 2016 12:35 pm

The music of Swedish 4-piece band School ’94 builds an ethereal soundscape, incorporating driving pop-rhythms and cascading synth, characteristic of classic indie/dream pop. That said, the music doesn’t leave you with a shoegazed wall-of-sound sensation. 

The tonalities are crisp, and the transitions are easy to follow. You almost find yourself waiting for the music to reach an apex, and when the sonic wave breaks, you settle back into the song and Alice Botéus’s propulsive vocals. 

School ’94 hails from Gothenburg, Sweden and is a part of Luxury Records. On Jun. 8th of this year the band released Bound, a six track EP, which includes the popular single “Common Sense.” If purchased through Bandcamp, you receive unlimited streaming of the EP through the Bandcamp App, as well as the option for a quality download in MP3 and FLAC file formats. 

Listening to “Bound,” it’s clear that the band has evolved from their 2014 EP Like You, which is rooted in more characteristically indie, subdued melodies that leave you with a sensation similar to bands like The Drums. Even so, this initial sound behooves School ’94 in the early part of their progression as a band.

In Bound, especially in the EP’s title-track, School ’94 embraces the rock element in their music, drawing on heavy-hitting riffs and a sound that flits around the edges of garage rock bands like Fuzz

Still definitely rooted in indie origins, School ’94 is exploring the edges of the dream pop and alt-rock genres. Their sound is buoyant and refreshing in a realm that many bands get stuck in a rut of repetition and imitation.

School ’94 provides a contrast with the more spirited tracks on the EP with songs like “We Turned Out To Be Lovers,” which emphasizes mellow, bass-centric tones. The sweeping vocals and gentle melodies pick you up and carry you through the song, as if the music is preparing you to dive into the next track. 

“Bound” just feels natural, like the band is giving us an insight into their world, rather than forcing out a particular style of music. 

The EP is available online where you can also buy a 12’’ heavy sided vinyl that contains both the “Bound” EP (side A), and the “Like You” EP (side B).

NAVET: SWEDEN’S ELECTRO-POP RAVE CONTINUES
May 3, 2016 11:09 am

I don’t know why but Sweden has this knack for pumping out great electro pop and deep techno artists (I’m not complaining), but Navet is one of the newest artists to emerge from that unique musical production line. ABBA, Ace of Base and Basshunter are a few of the huge famous Swedish artists and groups that have made worldwide impact and I see a lot of potential in Navet that could take them on a similar path.

The electronic world is filled with drops, dub-step, computer-obliterating-Transformers-Movie-noises and speaker-busting sounds that will make your grandparents drop their heads in shame. I personally like this music, but as is with most electronic and pop, it may not be the most sophisticated music. Dillon Francis, Diplo, Deadmau5 and Skrillex are the leading artists with club smashing hits, but there is a need for more relaxed electronic music. Navet’s pursuit is to deliver the next level of the electronic experience that even you, grandma, will like. Something more than a build, a drop and mind-bending dub-step.

In 2010, Julia Ögren, Josef Hermansson and Anders Ahlin started Navet with their EP Four Times One For Love which had some success allowing them the room to grow a lot more with their album S/T, hitting in top spots in German and Swedish iTunes’ electronic music charts. After years, we finally get their next slick single, “Companions.” 

Navet is like a bottle of Porter Robinson, Lana Del Rey and Birdy, shaken and strained for your next workout session. There is so much good here, it is hard to say where to begin. Navet is intelligent with their electronic music, I mean really freaking intelligent with it. I have been listening to a vast amount of deep electronic since my early teens and there is a lot of rehashed garbage after so many years, but Navet stands apart with the few others that use the electronic synth pads and pianos as a master of any other instrument. Their synths and long pads are beautifully atmospheric while their fast, more melodic parts are creatively varied to make the songs feel epic, upbeat and graceful all at the same time.

Julia’s voice has that confidence and pure talent reminiscent of Lana Del Rey’s intense voice. And yet she also sounds superbly thoughtful and innocent like Birdy. “Radiance” from S/T is a great example of what Julia can provide; perfectly mellow notes to melt in the background when necessary, and other times bold and proud to make the music fade away.

“Companions” is a smart mix of new beats and sounds that rival fellow Swedish artist Avicii’s various hits. Navet’s full album S/T has a great mix of electronic pop that reminds me of Purity Ring by being experimental with various effects and stepping out of the average EDM that’s played at any given club. They are never afraid to be themselves and never try to be anything they are not, which is nice compared to the radio’s hip-hop/pop bog of repeated formulas and styles.

With strong vocals and smart, creative electro music, I hope to see them make it to the top charts of the US and the world, one strong female led electro anthem at a time.

JOHAN ANGERGÅRD: SWEDEN’S INDIE-POP MASTERMIND
February 5, 2016 9:46 am

You know that unique feeling of gratification you get when you discover a new sound?  It’s an impulsive need, an addiction.  I’m constantly searching for that next infectious dose. Thankfully the freakishly endless Internet universe never ceases to deliver new sonic pathways.

Sweden’s bustling independent music scene is as robust as it gets.

Johan Angergård is the founder of Stockholm-based Labrador Records.  He’s a DJ, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and producer.  His career spans back to the early 90’s and his prolificacy is profound, having been a key component of several noteworthy bands including Acid House Kings, Club 8, Pallers, and The Legends.

Labrador specializes in a particular brand of indie-pop classified as “twee”.  Quaint, naive, cute. There’s a distinct nostalgic nod to early 80’s indie-pop bands like The Smiths and the cheerful innocence 60’s rock. But that’s where any easily drawn comparisons end.

Labrador is first and foremost, an electronic music label with a sleek,  distinctly Scandinavian twist, an off-the-cuff repertoire of bright, audacious, and irony-tinged pop.  Labrador’s sonic pallet encompasses the so-called “balearic Sound”, popularized in Ibiza night clubs in the early 90”s. A notable manifestation of Labrador’s nuanced grooves can be heard on the The Radio Dept.’s highly acclaimed 2010 record Clinging to a Scheme.   These influences are the glue that make Angergård’s vision come to life.

If you’re in need of some new tunes, Labrador’s SoundCloud is a vault of music worth excavating.  It’s crammed to the brim with singles, EPs, remixes, and playlists that encapsulate Labrador’s touchingly off-kilter world.  It feels like an exhibit curated by Angergård himself, which I suppose, is part of what makes indie labels like Labrador great.

According to Labrador’s Facebook page the label is gearing up for an exciting year with “something like a handful of new artists” releasing music.  In the meantime, his own band Club 8 released their 9th full-length album Pleasure.  The leading single, “Late Nights“, is a sleek synth-pop that defines both where Angergård comes from and also where he intends to take us next.

Alberta Cross Is Back In Town
September 15, 2015 9:31 am

Alberta Cross stopped by their adopted hometown of Brooklyn this past Monday night, as they kicked off their North American tour with Heartless Bastards, in support of their upcoming self-titled album, available in October. Petter Ericson Stakee and friends graced the stage at Music Hall of Williamsburg and the Beasts were out to welcome them. It was a packed house with a friendly vibe and the sentimental tunes had us all on the same wave.

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Stackee is a humble giant on stage, and his live set is a masterful display of musicianship. His alternative Euro rock-ness is complimented by the eclectic styles of a pedal steel, a french horn, mandolin, and heavy bass. The songs off the upcoming album are sure to tap into the manifold of music tastes in your heads. Even with some minor technical difficulties mid-set, the crowd had plenty of love and energy to bounce back at the band.

A personal highlight was when they brought it back to the early days with a toned-down yet still heavy rendition of “Low Man,” off their very first release The Thief and The Heartbreaker from 2007. It’s been quite a ride for Alberta Cross. I first heard of them through Last Call with Carson Daly back in 2010. Only three years prior, Stackee (originally from Sweden) met his musical counterpart Terry Wolfers at a bar in northeast London. One year later, they were officially calling Brooklyn home, and we’re happy to see them back around. Unfortunately, It won’t be for long.

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Make sure to check out a set when they pass through your town. These guys are true working musicians, and will be on the road all across the country and in parts of Canada (eh), for the rest of September. You won’t regret this unique blend of soul and independent rock and roll. You can find all the tour dates here!

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Grapell’s Soul Is Spilling
September 9, 2015 8:47 pm

Grapell was created from the longtime Stockholm friendship of Emil Erstrand and Nils Nygardh. The Swedish duo released their newest single “Arrows in July, and it proves they have grown into their true, smooth style this past year. There is a soulfulness to the single; the warming sax brings in the simplicity of jazz, melting it together with the dreamy pop guitar and synth. “Arrows” is a compassionate intimate song with depths of despair in the lyrics. Their first EP ‘Grapell‘ was released with Swedish indie label Strangers Candy in June 2013 and contained a folk pop feel. They quickly became one of the most popular bands in Sweden with their 3 part EP and had people all over the world start listening.  Following that came the EP “Friends in October 2014 with the loops and the synthesizer, continuously congregating new sounds to their evolving style. Still with Strangers Candy, the band is experimenting, bleeding into the consciousness of every kind of listener around the world.

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STOCKHOLM TO NYC: URBAN CONE RELEASES “POLAROID MEMORIES”
May 15, 2015 10:27 pm

Urban Cone is a band fresh out of Stockholm Sweden, and ABBA themselves would be proud of their latest electro pop release “Polaroid Memories”. The album is bright, fresh and authentic. Another Stockholm Native you may be familiar with (Tove Lo) does a feature on the track “Come Back To Me” and Urban Cone is even able to make “the saddest girl in Sweden” sound like she is dancing. Some stand-out tracks are “You Built Your House of Cards”, “Rocketman”, “We Are Skeletons” and “It’s Hard To Hate Someone You Love”.

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“You Built Your House of Cards” is basically “Fireflies” by Owl City, but all grown up. The lyrical sentiment expressed in “I want you to understand that this is over” and “you built your house out of cards” are very heavy and perfectly juxtaposed with the light and sparkly keyboard melody so the lyrics really have room to stand out.

“Rocketman” has a melody that will be stuck in your head for ages, much like the Elton John tune of the same title. This track really encapsulates the beauty of the album, because it is pop, makes you want to dance, has electronic instrumentation, yet avoids cliché.

I could show you the sky

Like a dream I will make it alive

I could show you the lights

Wish I could show you all this tonight

If I was the rocketman

This is the opening line of the song, and although it reads like a poem it is paired with an undeniably catchy melody.

“We are Skeletons” is out of the Matt & Kim camp of strong laser-beam esque keyboard with bombastic electronic drums under it. The track has a nebulous disco influence and it is easy to imagine the cast of “Girls” dancing away the night in a warehouse in Bushwick as this track plays. The boys of “Walk The Moon” would commend the song for its energy and forward-driving beat.

“It’s Hard To Hate Someone You Love” is the album’s down time and is a chilled-out hazy version of the energy and forward driving force we hear on the rest of the album. We see this dreamy shoe-gaze influence on the track “Never Gonna See You Again” as well, and the songs provide a bit of a respite from the highs of the album (“Never Gonna See You Again” sounds like Foster The People, but not boring). The lyrics on “It’s Hard To Hate Someone You Love” are quirky and relatable, while also retaining a poetic element.

All these folks that end up all alone

Do you want to be like them I said

Its so hard when you conceal your heart

I don’t want to lie to you I said

I don’t want to lie to you again baby

It’s hard to hate someone you love

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Urban Cone’s new album is the perfect soundtrack for your summer, and we the Beasts can’t wait to catch them at Bowery Ballroom opening for The Griswolds in NYC on June 18th.

Written by Alessandra Licul