Tag Archive: Stockholm


Sweden Calling

Mire Kay

This past weekend, I dropped by one of the local bars to hear one of my favorite French bands The Limiñanas (whose 2010 debut on Trouble In Mind is a must have for fans of Serge Gainsbourg, French psychedelia, or the idea of Jacqueline Taïeb on acid). And while I gave my usually stifled inner Francophile a chance to get out and stretch his legs a bit, a friend introduced me to a friend of hers and we had a nice chat about Ingmar Bergman and is Lars Von Trier a creative genius or a sadistic nutcase, etc. Which is to say that, at one point, they mentioned they were thinking of traveling to Sweden in the next year and did I know any bands they should check out while they’re there.

It’s a question which is, as most of you know, nearly impossible to answer. Yes, of course there are good Swedish bands that everyone should check out. There are hundreds of them. It’s probably not far from the truth to say that you could walk into just about any club in Stockholm or Gothenburg or Malmö on just about any given night and you’ll probably hear something good. Some cases in point:

It’s actually been several months since Lissi Dancefloor Disaster contacted me. And, unless you followed the TIH Tumblr for those two weeks or so that I actually made an effort to keep it updated, then I’ve been remiss in sharing their music with you. And, in all honesty, I’ve kind of been beating myself up over it since then. From the moment I began playing the video for “Glowing Hearts” (the single at the time), I experienced a sense of instant familiarity. And by the second video – “Oh My God” – it was as if I’d gone back to the endless stacks of albums in my library and pulled out a long forgotten favorite, only to rediscover (as I have so often done) why I loved it so much in the first place. Check it out. You’ll see what I mean. And, while you’re there, give their remixes a spin as well.

It isn’t quite right to call their music electropop – it’s really more like electronic indiepop (or, as one of their tracks—my favorite—is labeled on Soundcloud: “electropopdancewhatever”). One thing is for sure, if listening to these songs does not make you want to dance wildly about the room, it’s probably because you know you’re surrounded on all sides by high voltage invisible electric fences.

And on the other end of the spectrum, there’s Mire Kay, an indie folk duo featuring Emelie Molin and Victoria Skoglund, formerly of the band Audrey. It’s understandable if listening to their ethereal, effervescent debut EP Fortress, calls to mind our old friends (and recent Swedish breakout duo) First Aid Kit. After all, their new video for “So You Learned” was directed by Mats Udd who’s also done videos for First Aid Kit (not to mention the video for Those Dancing Days’ single “Fuckarias” [swoon]). But, if you listen closely to the vocal delivery, especially on tracks like “Sea Monster” [free download on Bandcamp] you might pick up on traces of Emiliana Torrini – as if someone had gone in and removed all the electronics from Love in the Time of Science. With the elegant richness of their standard guitar and cello instrumentation bolstered occasionally by banjo and bare bones percussion, Mire Kay have crafted a hypnotic, enchanting debut that beckons the listener away – much like the video below – to the water and wild to be willingly lost forever.

Who are they? First Aid Kit! And aren’t they cute?  Eric’s going to need a first aid kit for his heart!  (I’m so clever…)

I’ve been really slacking on my reviews lately.   I need to sit down and write some album reviews, but recently I haven’t had enough time or emotional energy for that (story of my life).  Also, my job pretty much equals staring at a computer screen all day.  I know, I know, no excuses.  I will write some bonafide album reviews ASAP.  In the meantime, I am trying desperately not to let you down.

So, for tonight, another EP I cannot purchase on iTunes because it is Swedish.  So I will see what I can do on Amazon.  But for now, check out First Aid Kit’s myspace.  They aim for the hearts, not the charts!  And that, my friends,  is the best thing a band can do.  Writing and playing good music also helps.

First Aid Kit is a lovely indie folk two-piece: sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg.  You’ll be charmed at the first acoustic lilt of “You’re  Not Coming Home Tonight,” especially as the girls’ voices blend into lovely, melancholic harmonies.  Klara and Johanna’s voices are an awesome combination of playful, rich passion, and their cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” shows this off beautifully, especially at the end with “I don’t know what I have done, I’m turning myself into a demon.”  Honestly, I like the Fleet Foxes and everything, and even though they are overrated, I understand why they are–because they’re creative and wonderful, obviously–but I like First Aid Kit’s cover better than the original.  They downplay the acoustics and emphasize the vocals, which are strong and full of character.  If you haven’t already noticed, I really love when singers know how to use their voices in creative ways, almost as actors.   Maybe this comes from studying classical music for so long, but in any case, it reflects the singer’s own passion, talent, and all  in all just makes them a whole lot more interesting to listen to.  You can hear another example of this in “Jagadamba You Might”–the girls’ moody ooh’s and aah’s lead into almost-scat, and still fit the eery folk perfectly.  Finally, “Cross Oceans” is not to be forgotten, with its rhythm-based acoustics.  Despite the moodiness of their tracks, something about First Aid Kit is still uplifting.

If you don’t already love Swedish music, start here.  I know I’ll be keeping my eyes out for First Aid Kit to be more readily available in the States.  For now, here’s the Fleet Foxes cover.  Leave your comments and let us know what you think–better than the original?

Catching up with Ce-ci-ci-cilia

First, do me a favor and try out these links and tell me if they work: theindiehandbook.co.uk and theindiehandbook.net. You should automatically be redirected to this page, but it has only worked on half of the machines I have tried so far. (If anyone can explain this to me, please do.)

So, anyway, where was I….Oh, yeah!

I love Sweden! It’s gorgeous (as are the people), they design some of the sexiest furniture I have ever seen, and once, in Göteborg, I found dark chocolate infused with Earl Grey tea. Now, I’m not quite prepared to live there (no offense, but walking around at 21h45 in broad daylight kinda freaks me out) but the unbelievable music is almost enough to make me change my mind. (Third largest exporter of pop music in the world, Sweden is, after the US and the UK.) They have provided us with a lot of great music over the years (the Cardigans; Peter, Bjorn, and John; ok, fine, ABBA, too), but I don’t think any has struck me the way Hari and Aino have.

Hari and Aino came up on my last.fm playlist about a months ago and I liked it. Then, last week, I heard “On my usual catch up with Cecilia” and I am telling you all, I have not been this excited about a band since I first heard The School three weeks ago (if you listen to them both, you should have no trouble telling which direction my tastes are trending these days). I loved it so much that, after listening to their MySpace on repeat for two hours (and “Cecilia” at least a dozen times), I bought their self-titled CD which doesn’t even have “Cecilia” on it (you can download the track by clicking here: \”On my usual catch up with Cecilia\”, however, and several other tracks are available for free on MySpace and last.fm).

“Cecilia” (from the digital compilation put out by eardrumsmusic.com called Birdsongs,Beesongs–volume A available here for free) is admittedly a wee bit bouncier than the other tracks (I believe the technical term is “twee as f*ck”), but they will all make you smile. And they all feature Andrea Dahlkild’s stunning vocals (a cross between the color of Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer and the laid back delivery of Linnea Jönsson from Those Dancing Days, though Andrea’s phrasing is far more relaxed and natural), nice, clean, pseudo C86 guitar, and, wait for it, GLOCKENSPIEL!!! (actually, it could be a xylophone, it is definitely a mallet struck idiophone; I’ll let the band correct me if I’m wrong).

Ladies and gentlemen, listen to this. Listen to it now. This is Friday music, folks. And today is FRIDAY! I guarantee, you will be hooked from the moment you hear Andrea linger on the name “Ce-ci-ci-ciliaaa”. What more could you want?

Also, word around the Twitterverse is that Hari and Aino would like to make a trip out to the States to play some shows. If you love what you hear (and you will), go to MySpace or Twitter or Facebook or wherever and tell them how much you want them to come here. If you don’t love it, just tell them how much I want them to play here.

And download the Birdsongs, Beesongs compilation. It also includes another favorite band of mine, Mockingbird, Wish Me Luck. Also, did I mention it’s free?

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