Livstid is the rare example of a band that is actually too raging, so much so that I can't make it through the album in one sitting. It's not just wall-to-wall noise either -- there's still plenty of melody and such -- but they are absolutely relentless in their arena-crust/d-beat attack. When a track comes up on shuffle at the gym, I'm stoked (in fact, I just did a set of 30 pushups while pondering this write-up), but there's no way I'm gonna fit this into my regular listening repertoire. So consider this a hesitant recommendation -- you'll know pretty quickly whether or not you need Livstid in your life from one short sample track.
Rising represent to me the direction that Metallica should have gone post-"Black album". Heavy and bellowing, but still incredibly melodic and song-based; the exact sort of qualities that made them one of the biggest bands on the planet, albeit in a more streamlined form. Of course that did not come to pass, but we still have Rising and on their new record "To solemn ash" they take the directness of their hardcore background and put it to good use. Not a single note out of place, just straight-up head-banging riffs from front-to-back. Kinda in the same way that countrymates The Psyke Project stripped out all the bullshit to remake themselves into a brutal war-machine, except that Rising have more melodies than all-out mosh. Denmark must be sick and tired of being the Scandinavian underdogs because they sure sound pissed!
Last year I was all about ugly, apocalyptic hardcore, this year I find that a large proportion of my listening is geared towards getting (back) into industrial/synth/EBM. One group that I've been listening to lots is The Pain Machinery and while I can't post a track from their latest album "Surveillance culture" because their label politely asked me not to, I will share a track off their 2010 release "Urban survival". "Paranoise" lacks the relentless, hard-driving beats that define much of the band's sound, but it's statement of extreme military/technology paranoia is a recurring motif, a concept well-served by the noisy clatter of machines. They can be used to work for you, but they can also work against you -- it's a variation of the same dystopic vision, an ever-present theme in this particular genre and one that comes closer to reality every day. As "Surveillance culture"'s opening track "Shine" states, "We are social media / television / you carry out what we command" -- there are dark forces at work against you, if you let them.
Seems like forever since I heard some gloriously melancholic Swedish rock from a hungry up-and-comer, thank goodness there's still bands like Loud as Light around to fill the gap. A few years back you couldn't throw a rock without hitting some lukewarm Coldplay wannabe, but now that the rubble has settled on that unfortunate trend there's fewer discoveries to be made. On the other hand, it also means far less mediocre sad-sacks to suffer through, so let us rejoice in quality when it can be found! Maybe I'll even go and dust off a few of those old records from The Perishers while I'm at it...
When your bassist is also billed as "drone commander", I'm pretty much sold from the get-go. continues to champion acts that occupy the peculiar space of "drone jazz" -- see also Huntsville or the likewise excellent V. Sjöberg New Jazz Ensemble whose 2010 album "Lover man" was a serious sleeper hit -- and Splashgirl is yet another exemplary example of the genre. Unlike the stereotypical notion of jazz being focused on the individual virtuoso or even the lock-step ensemble arrangements of a big band, this is music that is primarily obsessed with mood and feeling. Dynamics, texture and space are key. More and more I'm finding this to be my go-to music when I can't decide what else to listen to as it's always perfect.
Having finally heard "Säkert! på engelska", it's no wonder that Annika Norlin was reluctant to translate her work to English. This is wordy, complicated stuff and while she did a more than admirable job making it work, it's still kinda messy at times, much like the emotional content of the material. Fitting, I suppose, though perhaps not quite as poetic as the original. Still, even less-than-stellar Annika is far, far better than most, whether it's with Säkert! or Hello Saferide or whatever else she sets her mind to, and I'm sure that all of us with lackluster Svenska skills are more than glad she took the time to bother.
Falling way behind on all the music I want to post, but a promise is a promise and I'd be seriously remiss if I didn't talk up the new EL-SD because they are absolutely one of my favorite bands right now. I kid you not, I've been jamming their demo tracks on the regular for over a year now and it's well past due I had something to share so, at long last, here is the lead track from the band's new 7" EP "Repeating patterns", due out November 30 via /. So if you're like me and you dig so-called "angular" guitar rock with discordant leads and a sharp-edged rhythm section, you'll definitely dig this. And if you're in Stockholm, you should check out the record release show at Walla Scen in Årsta on December 3 with Estroboscorpio. I know I'd be there if I could.
A Heavy Feather is David Sandström and "Caitlin Mooney" is the first single from his album "You're the lotion on darkness knuckles as it punches light in the face". The concept of David taking his hyper-literate rock songwriting (see: David Sandström Overdrive) and applying it to hyper-literate, down-tempo electronica might seem bewildering, but that's because it is. On the other hand, he's done enough stylistic left-turns over the years, from Refused to the "Grandfather" album (my favorite) to collaborating with rapper Adam Tensta, his latest venture probably shouldn't come as a surprise, and yet it's not a direction I had anticipated. I'm really not sure what to make of the song either, especially outside the context of the album as a whole. It seems an odd choice as a single, but perhaps that's by design? I wouldn't put it past him.
"The first gray slushy snow has fallen over Pajala and the rest of Torne valley, the intoxicating dance of the summer is long gone and while the fingers slowly brace the pile of bills and debt collection on the table the eyes are melancholically fixed on the desolated world outside the kitchen window. A longing away. A new start. Gene Kelly. Leslie Caron. Paris."
A couple weeks ago I mentioned that had been putting out a number of solid releases lately, but then I neglected to follow up with anything to back up such claims. To remedy that, here's the latest single "Tornionlaakso" from Pajala Truck Co., a great pop band with two singers from way far up north near the Sweden/Finnish border. It's a great song with a great emphatic delivery and, like the quote above says, great music for welcoming fall. Reminds me a bit of Marit Bergman too, in that they in no way shy away from grandiose classic pop gestures and that's something I can always appreciate. Can't say I know much about the band beyond this song, but I'll certainly be doing my best to alleviate my ignorance as the day goes on.
On the other hand, if chain-rattling industrial-noise really is your thing you can't really go wrong with Brighter Death Now for unsettling, but eminently listenable, aural chaos. I'm still waiting for my copy of the new 4xLP boxset "Very little fun" to show up, but luckily there are mp3s floating around to satiate me in the meantime.
Considering the recent demise of Dismember, it's good to know there are still bands out there churning out solid no-frills Swedish death (fucking) metal like Mr. Death. I'm all for innovation and and originality and whatever, but there's also something to be said for sticking to a genre and doing it perfectly and Mr. Death do just that. I'd even venture to say that their sophomore record "Descending through ashes" is an improvement on their totally solid debut. Also worth noting: there are few genres where the practitioners seem to improve as they get older and strangely, contrary to all expectations, death metal has proven to be an exception, alongside jazz and country. Yes, there are plenty of youngins who are able to nail that filthy old-school sound and so on, but more often than not, they end up coming off as try-hards or are sorely lacking in actual songwriting abilities. Not so with many of the other old-timers such as Mr. Death; see also US counterparts such as Disma and Immolation who are both 40+ and at the top of their game. Respect your elders!
continues to quietly release plenty of great music, regardless of whether or not anyone is paying attention, and they've been on a bit of a roll as of late. One such example would be "Sisters", a beautiful slice of pastoral pop from The Culture In Memoriam that brings to mind similar rustic works from the likes of ex-labelmates The Bear Quartet, Neil Young and so on. Usually I'm not so big on the gentle falsetto as it's often way too much of an affect for my tastes, but there are always exceptions to be made and TCIM fit the rule. The song gets better and better as it goes along too, adding more and more subtle layers of sound and orchestration. And the b-side "Vanilla wreck"? I think I might like that one even more.
Holy Moly, It's a Trap! is nine years old today! It's always weird to think back to when I first started this thing, back when there were no other websites devoted entirely to Scandinavian music (and certainly not in English!), back before Myspace and social networking, back in the time of Napster and a seemingly endless supply of free music. Naturally, times have changed quite a bit since then and while I'm thankfully no longer the sole representative of this particular niche, there's still no one else covering all the music I want to hear all in one place so I'm compelled to soldier on. So thanks to all my contributors past and present, tack till Jonas for managing the Clubnight, thanks to all the artists who keep me inspired and thanks to YOU for reading! Stubbornly I will persist for yet another year!
As for today's tune, the obvious choice would be "Nine years later" by Born Against (just as relevant today as when it was released 20 years ago), but since New York isn't in Sweden last I checked, I've got to go with Plan B and a quick perusal of my mp3 library leads me directly to Nine. Their combination of Entombed-style death'n'roll swagger and metallic hardcore was way ahead of its time, so while bands of that ilk seem to propagate nowadays in stupid amounts, let us remember back to an era when it was still sounding fresh. Did Nine ever properly get their due? Or were they forever doomed to obscurity thanks to their eminently un-Googleable name? What are those dudes up to now anyway? Bueller?
Besides industrial, the other thing I've been listening to a lot of recently is Swedish folk. Spotify has actually been a really great tool for this even if their genre tagging is less-than-stellar -- you just gotta know where to look if you wanna dig deep. For instance, how else would I know about Jonas Knutsson's various "Norrland" album collaborations with Johan Norberg? "Skaren: Norrland III" with Kraja? Maybe not as edgy as I usually go for, but it is undeniably gorgeous. Plenty more where that came from, too. Novices however, are very much encouraged to start with Hedningarna since they are (were?) an act that can do no wrong. "Tuuli", off the 1994 album "Trä" piles on the works: brilliant dense vocal harmonies, hypnotic beats, Wimme's excellent and unmistakable joik, witchy cackling and more -- everything the band is renown for, aside from their creative hurdy gurdy playing. Absolutely essential listening and a major influence on me and my interest in Scandinavian music.
The closer we get to October 31, the more inclined I am to listen to all of my creepiest industrial/noise records. Not that I don't listen to the stuff year-round and not that I haven't been listening to A LOT of industrial/EBM lately (the new Pain Machinery record is fantastic btw, review forthcoming), but I'm all for seasonable-appropriateness and Interlace remain one of the absolute best post-millennium acts in the genre. 'Tis a huge shame they never followed through with a new album after the "Nemesis" single, but maybe the members are working on something new? Please enlighten me! And enjoy this track from their stellar 2004 record "Imago".