Archive for December, 2008

See You In 2009

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

I’m out of here for a week plus of fun and sun in Key West. Enjoy the holidays. Peace out (literally).


Swedish Record Of The Year

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

I know that a lot of you out there are asking yourself; so, what’s the best Swedish record of the year then? I’m sure the Swedish press are dying to find out what a yank form Chicago considers the best and the brightest of the year. My pick for best Swedish record of the year is not an attempt to be obtuse or one up everybody else with my stellar taste and obscure choice. But the the fact is for the past 5 months there has been one record in my CD player more than any other. And with each listen their are entire worlds that open up. And that record is the new one from the acclaimed Swedish jazz pianist Bob Stenson and his trio.

The new record is called Cantando and is on ECM one of the best jazz labels for virtuostic individualistic performers. This is the label that pioneered the avant-jazz piano trio sound with works by Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and Paul Bley. I’m not sure what it is about the classic jazz piano trio (piano, bass, and drums) but when done right the interplay between the instruments, the composition and the themes of the piece are stunning (I’ve been listening to lots of Bill Evans as well). On Cantando the years of ECM recording piano trios has paid off as the recording is astounding. On a good stereo the instruments all inhabit their own space. The double-bass of Anders Jormin is a heavy weight in the room, and the various percussive elements of drummer Jon Faelt explore new horizons in the combination of jazz, world and contemporary music. But it’s the piano of Bob that centers the record. The work is meant to be heard in it’s thrilling entirety (almost 70 minutes) but if I had to select just one song I’d have to go with “A Fixed Goal” if simply for the manageable time and concise song structure.

Buy it here from Amazon.

A Fixed Goal

New song from Hajen plus a video from Knoppar Festival ;)

Friday, December 19th, 2008

I don’t usually (i.e. never) just cut and paste a press release. But in this case it’s all for a good cause and features our favorite Gothenburg songbird – Hajen.

The KNOPPAR artist Hajen recorded a x-mas song, which is called “Hajens Julsång”. This song will be only available ’till the 31th of Dec. at the KNOPPAR download store.

You can choose between 3 prices.

The whole benefits of the sales is going to the Stadsmissionen Göteborg (

(If you don’t have a pay pal account please send a mail to

So please support this action and throw a coin into the KNOPPAR collection box….and tell all your friends and your whole family about it! ;O)


I like these guys at Knoppar. Instead of waiting for someone to put together a package tour and a big festival for their artists they did it d.i.y. style in their apartment. They have a Vimeo page with videos of all their bands playing the little Knoppar Festival. Check it out.

Here’s Hajen covering Dylan’s “Moonshiner”

Hajen – Moonshiner from KNOPPAR Sweden on Vimeo.

Electronic trance from Elahid – “SBM” (plus Hanna Hirsch You Tube video from release party)

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Before I could write about the November release of Elahid and Jonperman on Stälverk they went ahead and released December’s solo debut from Elahid. Now I’m way behind on my experimental techno. Elahid’s music is part trance and part dancefloor electronic. You could dance to it, but probably only very late at night and in a very dark environment.

Here’s the first track from his new EP SBM.

SBM 01

P.S. It seems Release The Bats is helping to distribute the new Hanna Hirsch CD (reviewed here).

“Ingen Kommer Sakna Oss” performed at their release party

A mixtape and a riddim from Militia Sound Crew

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

I slipped a video by Jas The Cat & Jahmal into the mix last week. I didn’t comment on it at the time. But I liked it and went to explore the web for more about these guys. I found a website for Jahmal and his group Militia Sound Crew. This is more the reggae side of his sound with a couple mixtapes and “riddims” available on their site. Here’s a link to their new mixtape and their new “riddim”.

Voice of the Guilty Side Mixtape

Run Tings Medley

And here’s the video that started it all

First Single from The Bridal Shop’s upcoming mini album “In Fragments” (Plastilina Records, February 2009)

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

When you write 600 or so music blog posts a year it’s sometimes hard to find a way to single one out as something special. Luckily I have another platform or two when I think something is truly deserving. So today’s band/song will both appear on Songs:Illinois and be part of this month’s upcoming M.A.P. post. I can’t say enough good things about the Swedish pop band The Bridal Shop. I think they perfectly meld the sounds of electronic pop of the 80′s with shoegaze of the 90′s and indie from the 00′s. In other words they’re the complete package.

Their Peruvian label (I know that’s kind of a weird locale for a Swedish group) deserves kudos as well for releasing some of the best indie pop this side of Cloudberry. This song is from the band’s Plastilina Records mini album called In Fragments coming out in February of 2009.

The Ideal State
(originally released on a Happy Robots’ compilation)



Marine Thing

More of the best songs in the world from the bloggers of M.A.P. (Music Alliance Pact)

Monday, December 15th, 2008

It’s once again time for the best songs in the world. The group of contributing bloggers continues to grow for MAP as does it’s worldwide presence (recent press from Rolling Stone among others). These are songs from around the world but not world music and that’s one of the things I like about this project. This is not music that is pandering for the NPR “world music” crowd. It’s music from around the world influenced by the host countries and their local cultures but not controlled by them. Enjoy these songs, there’s a .zip file at the bottom of the page.

AMERICA – I Guess I’m Floating
Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele

26 Miles

Mississippi-based Dent May has been recording in various southern states since his formative years in high school. After going to college and refining his sound, he emerged with a new act that made use of his self-proclaimed magnificent ukulele. His pleasant pop arrangements, strong vocals and doo-wop-like vocal harmonies will appeal to anyone hoping to hear some happy music. His debut album is due out in February via Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks label. Never underestimate the ukulele.

ARGENTINA – Zona Indie
Banda de Turistas

Todo Mío El Otoño

Mágico Corazón Radiofónico is the first album by Banda de Turistas and it turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of the year. With Mario Caldato Jr. (Beastie Boys) in charge of the mixing, this song reprises the beat sound of ancient Argentine rock bands like Los Gatos.

AUSTRALIA – Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
The Philadelphia Grand Jury

Going To The Casino (Tomorrow Night)

Three long-time Sydney musicians start the funnest band to come out of the city in the past year. You might have known them in previous lives as one part Berkfinger, two parts The Sweats. Combined, they channel an updated retro rock style that somehow manages to both pay homage to Elvis and sound incredibly cool. Not an easy feat, so respect where it is due.

BRAZIL – Meio Desligado
Macaco Bong

Bananas For You All

Macaco Bong is an instrumental trio from Cuiabá, considered one of the best live acts in the country. They sound like an original mix of post-rock, alternative metal and free jazz. Their guitarist doesn’t use any pedals or effects, playing his Fender online with overdrive from the amps he uses. The band is part of Espaço Cubo, a collective that works with culture and its social aspects, starting a revolution from the underground.

CANADA – I(Heart)Music
Black Hat Brigade


Their hiccupped vocals and apocalyptic-sounding music makes bringing up Wolf Parade almost inevitable, but Black Hat Brigade make a pretty convincing argument with their self-titled EP – and particularly with Swords – that they don’t necessarily come off any the worse in the comparison.

CHILE – Super 45
Fredi Michel

Enganamí (Comeme Remix II)

One of the weirdest and most original bands from Santiago, Fredi Michel are a mix between cumbia, dub and avant pop (via Broadcast). Even though they’ve been playing for years they have only recorded a few songs and some of their friends have made some remixes, such as the one featured here. Fredi Michel have announced they will finally release their debut album next year.

DENMARK – Pastries, Peppers And Canals…
Oliver North Boy Choir


Oliver North Boy Choir are the kind of band that Denmark does spectacularly well. Signed to Danish uber-indie label Crunchy Frog, Camilla Florentz, Mikkel Max Hansen and Ivan Petersen release pieces of ethereal beauty via download only. Oh, and they don’t play live either.

ENGLAND – The Daily Growl
Jay Jay Pistolet

Golden Age

You may not call it a ‘scene’, but there’s only one degree of separation between many of London’s young bands and artists. Jay Jay Pistolet, friend of Mumford & Sons, Derek Meins and no doubt plenty others, is no exception. Not that this is important. Let JJP, who often comes across as a young English version of M Ward, be judged for himself.

GERMANY – Blogpartei
Mio Myo


Switch is the latest single of the Nuremberg-based quad Mio Myo. It can be seen as a description of their sound – a bit ghosty and spheric, a diversity of electronic and analog instruments, and a voice reminiscent of Thom Yorke. Their songs always deserve a second hearing.

ICELAND – I Love Icelandic Music


Vicky, previously called Vicky Pollard (named after the Little Britain character), is one of the coolest new Icelandic rock bands. The band started in November 2006 when they accidentally got together and started jamming in their hometown Hafnarfjörður. They produce a sort of poppy metal or heavy pop. In 2008, these four girls and male drummer recorded their debut album Pull Hard, which was released on the Töfrahellirinn label in October.

IRELAND – Nialler9
Sunken Foal

On Platinum Rays

The brilliantly titled Sunken Foal (think about it…) is also known as Dunk Murphy of Ambulance. After an appearance on BBC Radio 1’s Mary Ann Hobbs, his debut Fallen Arches has just been released on Planet Mu. The album is a textural, ambient, electronic-acoustic and, most of all, beguiling release of leftfield sounds.

ITALY – Polaroid

Every Waterloo

Young, talented and stylish, Scarlets play nervous and tight songs heavily influenced by new wave. They’ve just released an EP on Angle Records full of love for The Smiths, The Jam and the sharpest Brit sound. They’re definitely a name to keep an eye on in the coming months.

NEW ZEALAND – Counting The Beat

Red Panda Blues

Bearcat are one of a bunch of new New Zealand bands dabbling in folk influenced indie-pop. Apparently Bearcat is a literal translation of the Latin word for panda, and as well as naming themselves after the endangered mammal, the band have chosen to make pandas the subject of many of their songs too. Bearcat avoid the danger of this resulting in one-line-joke novelty songs by writing catchy and memorable tunes that have every chance of survival.

NORWAY – Eardrums
The Little Hands Of Asphalt

The Future

The Little Hands Of Asphalt is the solo project of Sjur Lyseid, the singer in the Norwegian indie-pop band Monzano. As TLHOA, he makes warm, sensitive folk-inspired songs, often performed with an acoustic guitar as the main instrument. Sjur Lyseid is a great storyteller and his lyrics are always worth listening to. The song we have for you is a Music Alliance Pact exclusive, taken from his forthcoming debut album Leap Years which will be released in March 2009.

Pelo Madueño

Es Hora

After his successful debut album, Ciudad Naufragio, Pelo Madueño returned this year with No Te Salves, an intimate album full of emotions. Based in Spain, Pelo shines as a songwriter and gives us a real insight into the independent scene.

PORTUGAL – Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Nuno Rancho

Not For Sale

Unready Demo is Nuno Rancho’s first solo work and you can download the other tracks on the EP for free via a link on his MySpace. In 2002, he started playing music in a band called Wheelchair and two years later he formed Kyoto. Today, besides Kyoto, Nuno Rancho still finds time to play and write for TiMaria, an electro-pop trio which has a completely different sound from his other work.

SCOTLAND – The Pop Cop

More Than You Know

The Pop Cop only ‘discovered’ Dotjr last week and we were so bowled over there was no choice but to fast-track him into this month’s Music Alliance Pact. Dotjr (pronounced dot-jay-are) is the solo project of James Reeves, a 21-year-old native of the Isle of Lewis, and his joyous, soaring music has the kind of ambitious pop sound that radio DJs fall over themselves to play. More Than You Know is epic, swooning and Christmassy. Pretty much perfect then.

SINGAPORE – I’m Waking Up To…

Some Girls

Leeson are a five-piece indie-pop band from Singapore who play a reveling cocktail of poppy, dancey tunes that will have your feet tapping and singing along to their infectious melodies.

The Black Skirts


The Black Skirts is the name used by Castel Prayon and his live band when climbing the digital music charts of Korea. In November the band’s first album, 201, was released. The first song up for promotion was Like Me and people soon heeded the title’s request. For somebody who usually isn’t too keen on being poppy, Castel Prayon sure knew what he was doing when making those songs, and Dog is an excellent example of that.

SPAIN – El Blog De La Nadadora

Momo Alper Bat Da

Richar and Mikel are from Euskadi and sing in Euskera, their own language. Their songs are inspired by The Beach Boys, Burt Bacharach, Jonathan Richman, Mikel Laboa and C86. You can download their last album, Momo Eta Beste Izaki Batzu, from their website ( Elurretan love music and want to share their songs with everyone who likes them. Is it possible? I think so.

SWEDEN – Swedesplease

Bad To The Bone

Francis take the strange blues of The Tallest Man On Earth and add a cabaret atmosphere. Debut single Bad To The Bone sounds like a transgender version of Stevie Ray Vaughn if he/she worked in a traveling eastern European circus and was channeling Tom Waits.

To download all 21 songs in one file click here:

Cool Swedish Gift Idea

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Hey (hej hej),

I’ve got only 11 large Swedesplease shirts and an XL left. There’ll be a new design once these are gone. So if you are looking for a cool Christmas gift for your Swedish indie rock fan may I suggest one of these? They are limited edition and you’ll be one of only about 100 people worldwide to have one. Order on the right sidebar and if you’re from the U.S. I’ll try to get it to you for Christmas.

Hopefully we’ll have a new look shirt with a new design (based on the new header from artist/illustrator Mike Lowry) soon.

Thanks and Merry Christmas!

Swedish Video Roundup (Jas The Cat & Jahmal, Damn, Anna Ternheim, The Balfa Doucet Brothers)

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Jas The Cat & Jahmal – Promo for upcoming mixtape

Damn – “I’m Not Going to Live A Day Without You”

Cajun music from the Swedish group The Balfa Doucet Brothers

Anna Ternheim – Summer Rain

Summer Rain

Hanna Hirsch

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

If you speak Swedish you’ll have better luck with this press release than I did.

Hanna Hirsch kommer från Stockholm och har sedan 2004 gett ut tre sjutummare. Tala svart är deras debutalbum. Musiken bär på en desperation, ett vemod och en iver som är besläktad med band som Tant Strul och Modern Lovers. Själva säger sig Hanna Hirsch vara influerade av Blondie och Discharge. Även om Hanna Hirsch är sprungna ur en punkscen kan Tala svart snarare betraktas som en popskiva, med texter som skär djupa sår. Detta är livsviktig musik.

”Så vilket vapen skulle du välja; en motorsåg eller en pistol, en gaffel, en sked, en smörkniv, en papperskant, en hårborste, eller en kudde. Välj kudden, så blir jag av med dig.”

However if you are like me and don’t read/speak a speck of Swedish you’re better off listening to these two songs off of Hanna Hisch’s new record Tala Svart. I wrote about the band here first.

If Ida Marie hadn’t been polished up like a diamond and packaged like the next big thing she’d be lucky to sound a little like this.

En andra chans

Ingen kommer sakna oss

Wailin’ Henry (a song from the film “The Gun”) plus a big Christmas mix update with Jens Lekman, Sophie Rimheden, Sophie Talvik and TIAC)

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

One of the leaders (Wailin’ Henry) of the band Strayfolk has a song in an upcoming Swedish language film. I’m a big fan of Strayfolk so I was happy to hear of this new development. Here’s the song “The Water” from the film The Gun.

The Water


The big Swedish Christmas mix update is down at the bottom of this link.

Funky Retronica from Ghostpony

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Ghostpony have sent me another track from what must be their new EP. It’s as funky as the earlier stuff I posted here.


P.S. I’ve added Metro Jets “Jingle Jangle Christmas” to the Swedesplease Christmas mix.

Instrumental music from Matti Bye

Friday, December 5th, 2008

Matti Bye creates stirring music suitable for film soundtracks that combines Swedish folk with all sorts of other influences. His new release is on the independent Swedish label Rotor Records. I haven’t written about much instrumental music like this on Swedesplease. In fact besides the experimental electronic music I can only think of one other instrumental (non-jazz) group that I’ve written about – and that is Detektivbyran. The music from Matti Bye is a distant cousin to that.

The song Departure starts out melodic enough but by the end it peaks in a dissonant crescendo that rivals modern day punk music.

You can buy his new record Drömt here or here.


P.S. Two new songs added today to the Swedish Christmas mix here.

New music from Christoper Sander and Tam Tapir via Vesper Records

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Besides the very basics (pop songs in Swedish) I’m at a loss to describe these two new songs released by Stockholm based Vesper Records. The record label itself is an enigma to me with a hodgepodge of styles represented on their roster including singer-songwriter and Swedish reggae. So it’s hard for me to get a handle of these songs for that reason, as well as that both are sung in Swedish. Both songs are soaring pop and both are from the artist’s debut records due out in early 2009.

by Tam Tapir

by Christopher Sander

My Darling You! Retrospective (plus the new video for Hello Saferide’s second single)

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

The new EP from My Darling You! on Luxury Records is delayed `til February, but for now let’s take a look back at some of their output through the years.

It’s a pretty compelling catalog even if I didn’t always go along for the ride.

taxi driver


everything alright

More than I thought you were capable of

Jump the train

Please don’t talk to me


I don’t want to put too much into this point but one of the things I find heartening about this video is the fact that Annika is so accessible. Here’s a woman that a whole generation of girls in Sweden look up to and she is as normal/dorky/plain/beautiful as the girl next door. Instead of hiring dancers she gets four of her friends to help with the video. That has to say something about the culture in Sweden and even more so about the culture of hollywood/major label stars/nashville here in the states.

“X Telling Me About The Loss Of Something Dear, At Age 16″

Portrait Painters – “Forgive Forget”

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

It seems almost criminal to follow up that excellent Christmas post with something so totally awesome. I should probably just let that puppy sink in a bit. Don’t you think? I mean I deserve a little break, don’t I?

Well the music just keeps coming I guess. The Gothenburg based pop group Portrait Painters have just released their new single “Forgive Forget” on Bonjour Recordings. The song somehow balances its epic nature with catchy hooks. Bandleader Alexander Gustafsson describes the band’s sound as “rural neu disco”. The band will start recording their debut for Bonjour in December.

Forgive Forget

P.S. New (old) songs by Komon and Strayfolk have been added to the constantly evolving Swedish Christmas mix here.

Swedish Christmas Mix (The Hives, Irene, El Perro Del Mar, Sofia Talvik, Sally Shapiro, Bobby Baby)

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Well I did it. I waited `til after Thanksgiving to post my Christmas mix. So far a lot of these songs are from last year (or years past), hell I even recycled the photo. I’ll do my best to update this mix as new songs appear. I love these songs. They are some of the best Christmas songs you’re likely to hear and for a large part they are ones I’ve dug up first. So Enjoy and Merry Christmas (three weeks early).

P.S. I’m so low tech it’s not even funny so if someone wants to create a .zip and host it somewhere be my guest and leave it in the comments.

P.P.S. If you are really hard up for more Christmas music you can check out the roots leaning Christmas sampler over at my other site Songs:Illinois here.

A Chistmas Duel
– The Hives Vs. Cyndi Lauper

Carol for The Lonely
– Sofia Talvik

Anorak Christmas
– Sally Shapiro

X-mas Carol NYC
– Parker Lewis

Oh What A Christmas
– El Perro Del Mar

Oh Sweet Christmas!
– Oh Sweet Music!

I-Pod Xmas
– Hello Saferide

Christmas On The Beach
– Irene

Holy Night
– Thomas Denver Johnsson

All These Winter Nights
– Higher Elevations

Christmas Peace
– Shade Tree

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
– Bobby Baby

This Christmas (If You Come Back)
– The Carny

A Blue Christmas
– The Perishers

Bon Jovis Jollat
– Montt Mardie

Christmas Reindeer
– The Knife

Last Christmas
– Le Sport, Montt Mardie, Mr Suitcase


Christmas Day
– Strayfolk

**Update 2**

Poetry for the Winter
– Komon (hopped up twee on adrenline)

**Update 3**

Christmas Fire
– The Deer Tracks

– Twiggy Frostbite

**Update 4**

Jingle Jangle Christmas
– Metro Jets

**Update 5**

Snodde Julen I Är
– Ish (Sophie Rimheden and CK)

Run Away With Me
– Jens Lekman

It’s Christmas But Not For You

Christmas On The Dancefloor
– Sophia and Sophia (Rimheden & Talvik)