In a special guest post this week we have Andy from Nordic Music Review giving us his tips on which new songs we should be checking out. Andy has A LOT of music knowledge when it comes to the Nordic region – with seven years writing for his brilliant website!
Here is Andy’s new Nordic release recommendations:
August is normally a quiet month for new releases, but this year has been unusually busy, particularly from Finland for some reason.
If you like noisier stuff try the excellent single ‘Irrational’ from a new name to me, Volar, but it’s great to see Finnish songwriter Astrid Swan back, as she prepares for the release of her new album ‘D/Other’ in October.
Her latest single release from that album is entitled ‘Not Your Mom’, a subtle and expressive track which once again demonstrates this incredible ability that Astrid has to write powerful, emotive songs that are also really accessible and easy to listen to – and that’s not always easy to do. She’s also been explaining more about the album, which has been conceived and written over 5 years:
“Mothers sleep at night. In their sleep they cannot mother but they go away into dreams, just like the kids they tucked into bed in the evening.
For that moment mothers are adrift in the world. In the morning mothers are back. Their secret dreams renew them and make them better in the day.”
If I wrote an album about my dreams it would be based around failing accountancy exams (I’ve never studied the subject) and being repeatedly chased around fields by a scarecrow, but Finnish band Sagastrophe haven’t considered such oddities in their new debut album ‘Strange Dreams’, the highlight of which for me is the catchy ‘Dreamer Kids’.
The trio are influenced by the likes of Blue Öyster Cult, Lana Del Rey, Tori Amos, and you should certainly be able to hear that in their music. Saga Sutela’s vocals are a highlight, particularly in ‘Dreamer Kids’, which has a quirky feel, melodically teasing and for an independently produced and released album, these guys produce a lovely sound.
Norwegian based anti-folk band Gypsy Chicken also reference dreams in their new single ‘Nostalgia’, but it needs some translation as the track is half written in Polish, which is where joint vocalist Asia was born.
The story of how the Tromsø duo got together remains my favourite band formation story ever, which you can read (at length) about in this interview here with Nordic Music Review.
Anyway, new song ‘Nostalgia’ is softer than previous releases (less ‘anti’ folk, more ‘pro’ folk) and it opens slowly, but develops beautifully and when the two contrasting vocalists combine towards the end, it’ll hopefully give you the same gorgeous goosebump-inducing sensation that I experienced when first listening to it.
Tromsø might be a relatively small place, but it’s packed full of interesting musicians, with both Neon Apartments and A Million Pineapples releasing new tracks – the latter even joining with big hitting Norwegian Indie Pop band Team Me for upbeat new song ‘Crowd in the Middle’.
Neon Apartments have been around for a couple of years, but new single ‘In Tombs’ is a huge step up from their previously released material, with hints in their new sound of bands such as Arcade Fire and even the German project Get Well Soon. ‘In Tombs’ is definitely one of my favourite tracks of the year, anthemic melodic sections switch to more subtle instrumentals, yet the whole thing is cohesive, interesting and that little bit different.
Icelandic songwriter and producer Róshildur has released a lovely track entitled ‘Keysa/bremsa’, and I’m looking forward to the full EP release due soon.
In the meantime the more established Àsgeir has released his new EP ‘The Sky is Painted Gray Today’, a softly textured and thoughtful set of tracks, inspired lyrically by his father, the author Einar Georg Einarsson. Along the way he’s been working with John Grant and Pétur Ben to fine tune the sound, and as expected the result is an impressive collection of tracks, the highlight of which for me is the intense ‘Sunday Drive’, telling the story of a horrific accident as a child where he released the handbrake of his fathers car when he was alone inside it.
Danish producer Anders Trentemøller probably doesn’t need much introduction, but his remix of Loa & Koan’s track ‘J.P. And The End of the World’ is particularly welcomed, mainly because it has introduced me to the original, and the band itself – which comprise 2 Danes and a Swede.
They describe their music as “a rendezvous between lo-fi and pop”, and both versions of the track are worth checking out.
Quite rightly Trentemøller has kept the clever string arrangements, but the vocals are a real highlight too, distinct sounding and always persuasive. They’ve only released one other track, so with the attention of artists such as Trentemøller, the future certainly looks bright for them.
Guest Feature by Andy Wors
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