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One of the big things that got me deeper into Swedish/Scandinavian rock way back when was explosive, guitar-heavy indierock. Fireside, Starmarket, Him Kerosene, KVLR - these are the bands that caught my interest and had me pouring through liner notes looking for more names to track down. Sadly, that scene is nowhere near as strong these days though there are a few who keep the fire burning: The End Will Be Kicks, Seven Feet Four, Aerial Convoj plus young upstarts like Traktor and today's post subjects The Sound O.E. The band has been lurking in the shadows for a couple years now, but it wasn't until very recently that they seemed to rise above and the new three-song EP "Me and Laureline" proves it. The screechy sprechstimme delivery of the verses might be a bit much for some, but remember that what they're doing is essentially sloganeering - the words are meant to be heard loud and clear. It's call & response; a call to action. When the harmonies of the chorus come in, the intentions are indisputable. The Sound O.E know exactly what they're doing. I think the arrangement could still be tightened up a bit, but I like what they're doing and definitely look forward to hearing more.
The Sound O.E - New bankruptcy
Norwegian label Dead Letter Records has signed The Rooph and will be releasing their debut album "The rats of October philharmonics" on January 29. The band is described as Fireside with a touch of Placebo or Interpol. Listen here for yourself: http://www.myspace.com/therooph
I hereby decree that the 2006 most improved artist award goes to Nikola Sarcevic for his album "Roll roll and flee". The Millencolin frontman's first solo album "Lock-sport-krock" in 2004 sounded like little more than a few leftover songs from his main band, slowed down and performed acoustically. It felt much more like a vanity project as opposed to an artist struggling to break free from the expectations and constraints of his regular band. However, all that has changed with the new record - Nikola has finally discovered the nuance required to take his material to the next level. He sounds much more comfortable performing in a country/folk idiom, never forced or contrived. I can't say whether or not he'll have a strong solo career ahead of him like his peer Kristofer Åström (who released his first solo record "Go, went, gone" in 1998 after four albums with Fireside), but listening to songs like the one I've posted today, it's not hard to imagine. I'm impressed.
Nikola Sarcevic - Love is trouble
Fireside claims to be working on new material: http://www.firesidemusic.com/news.asp?ID=194
Hard to believe that Kristofer Åström's debut solo album "Go, went, gone" is already eight years old. It's funny how the years just seem to slip away like that. It remains to be seen whether Kris will keep pushing on with Fireside - I suspect we have yet to hear the last of them - but we can rest assured knowing that his solo career will continue to be fruitful for many years to come. From his humble start as a mopey boy with his heart on his sleeve (as in today's mp3 pick), to his more recent and much darker and deeper work (see the "Black valley" EP), Kristofer Åström has firmly established himself as one of Sweden's most accomplished singer/songwriters. I know it's probably brutally hot everywhere else in the world today, but this somber song works nicely with the cool grey morning we've got going up here in the Pacific Northwest. Don't worry - it sounds just as good in the sunshine too.
Buy Kristofer Åström CDs and mp3s: [click here]
Extra credit: new (old) Kristofer Åström videos just posted at myspace: [click here]
Kristofer Åström and Hidden Truck - Poor young man's heart
Finnish act Disco Ensemble is spreading their tentacles into Europe and has signed a worldwide deal (excluding Finland where they remain on Fullsteam) with Universal Records. They recently re-recorded four songs from the "First aid kit album with Pelle Gunnerfeldt (Fireside, The Hives, etc.) and Michael Ilbert (The Hellacopters, Cardigans, etc.) in Sweden for a special European rerelease in August. The single "Black euro" comes out first on August 4 and the full-length follows on August 18. And that's not all - the band will also release "We might fall apart" as a 7" single in the UK on July 3 simultaneously with a release in their home country of Finland. For the record, "We might..." is probably my favorite DE song that I've heard, but that's not necessarily saying that much.
Having recently received a large box of Fireside classics for the distro (among other Startracks back-catalogue titles), I figure it's a good time to revisit the band. The band made a huge impression on me when I first heard "Elite" back in 2000 and I immediately went and devoured their entire discography. 1995's "Do not tailgate" was impressive enough that Rick Rubin signed the band to his American Recordings label and got them on the Lollapalooza tour. Unfortunately they never quite took off and were subsequently dropped, but that doesn't mean the album isn't worth listening to. Yeah, they were biting Quicksand's poppy post-hardcore sound pretty damn hard, but you know what? I think that Fireside did it better. They've also kept it up to this day, though sadly, to diminishing returns. This particular track I've posted today is the closer from "Do not tailgate" and is a perfect end-piece for the album. Utilizing recycled lyrics from earlier songs over droning waves of guitars, the song reflects back to the music that preceded it and forms it into something new and beautiful. It stands just fine on its own, even without hearing everything that's lead up to it.
Fireside - Not in my palace
I got a nice big package of stuff yesterday from Startracks that I'll be adding to the store soon. Not only do I finally have the latest CDs from Tiger Lou (the "Nixon" CDS) and Kristofer Åström ("Black valley" EP), but I've also got a nice selection of back-catalogue stuff from the mighty Fireside and more! Sweet! Go shopping: [click here]
Hets are something of a Swedish indie "supergroup", with members from Laakso, Doktor Kosmos, Fireside and Moneybrother. With those bands in mind, you don't really expect Hets to play Swedish punk sung in Swedish, but that's exactly what they do. Everyone seems to mention Mattias Alkberg BD when they talk about Hets and I can see why, since Hets do sound like MABD (although I don't think MABD should be the only people allowed to make punk music sung in their native language). Living in London, it's not every day I get to witness a concert like this, so perhaps I'm overreacting slightly, but I really enjoyed this show and I think I will now look into getting my hands on Hets' album (I assume and hope that the punk ethos is reflected in the price of their CD).
- Simon Tagestam
Swedish singer/songwriter Britta Persson reports that her debut full-length album "Top quality bones and a little terrorist" is done and will be released in August via Bonnier Amigo. The recording features many esteemed guests, such as Kristofer Åström, Per Nordmark (Fireside), Mattias Friberg (Logh) and more. Listen to three songs and help her choose the first single: http://www.brittapersson.com/
Fireside has added a second show in Japan on March 3 at Eggman in Tokyo.