We are back again with another fantastic guest post from Andy at Nordic Music Review – he has some great recommendations this week to check out and also if you want to listen to more of his recommendations check out his playlist which you can find HERE.
As always these updates feature tracks from the last couple of weeks, as sometimes it takes a while for new releases to find their way over the North Sea. Icelandic artist MIMRA released her song ‘Sister’ some 10 days ago now, and it’s an impressive release from the former London Goldsmith College student, who’s been writing her fusion of jazz, folk and pop since 2014 – including an album in 2017.
‘Sister’ shows how her songwriting has matured, the track switching between evocative piano and dramatic swells of instrumentation, all carried along by MIMRA’s quirky melodies and jazz-tinged vocals. It’s an enjoyable listen, and the song builds powerfully at the end.
Swedish trio Hangar Nord released their self-titled debut album a couple of weeks ago, and I’m intrigued by their mix of rock, folk, psych, and prog styles. Their music has this soft, laid-back elegance and warmth, with an obvious high quality of musicianship on show, and when they ‘nail’ a song the effect is really powerful. The highlight of the album for me is ‘A Thousand Years From Now’, but they did release that as a single a few months ago, so the next best is ‘Parachutes’, a timeless 60s melody that leads into a stand-out chorus with lyrics ‘If we’re heading for a fall, no parachute will save us all’. This is really well-written music, and lovers of rock music across different decades should enjoy the album.
There’s no particular secret to getting my attention to write about new releases, just mail me telling me that an artist is influenced by Sufjan Stevens and The Tallest Man On Earth and I fall for it straight away. Latest on the Sufjan / Tallest Man conveyor belt is Norwegian musician Mathias Gundhus, and for sure there are a lot of Nordic artists releasing music like ‘Wooden Bones’, but Mathias has a lovely natural fluid songwriting style, with a warm melody accompanying the flowing acoustic guitar. This is best listened to with the volume turned up, so you can really hear the subtleties of expression.
There is a new live performance of the song being released, but it’s not quite out yet, so here’s an older version at the always excellent Sofar Sounds.
Mathias Gundhus might not write ‘loud’ music, but it’s positively ‘symphonic metal’ compared to Swedish songwriter Sea Lion, who writes music so very quiet and introspective, yet through the stillness, there’s a power to it that I find really compelling. ‘moonshiner’ is the 1st single from a forthcoming new album called ‘Chimes’ that she wrote and recorded in the Spring, somewhat inevitably from a small cabin in the woods on the west coast of Sweden.
It’s a typically intense Sea Lion track, not as melodic as others I feature, but she creates an atmosphere that implores the listener to stop and take in her sparse and stripped-back musical world.
I do like bands that fuse genres together, and you’ll be able to hear both punk and folk influences in the new release from Swedish outfit Crash Nomada, a band that has been performing together for over 10 years. They’ll celebrate this by releasing a new album early next year, but in the meantime, we’re offered a single today entitled ‘Lyser upp allt’ (‘Lights Up Everything’), an anthemic upbeat track combining electric guitars with a folk-inspired violin – there are even hints of New Model Army (at least their violin featured tracks) in the darker sections.
The idea behind the song is apparently, ‘if everything around you seems dark, look again, you may be the light.” It’s a good message and they’re an entertaining band live I suspect, as shown by them playing a raw unplugged version of the track – outside a cabin in the forest, much to the annoyance I suspect of Sea Lion, who was trying to record inside it.
I’m trying to cover as many genres as possible in these features, and mentioning Symphonic Metal reminds me I’ve not yet covered any metal of the Death or Black variety either – I’m tempted by the new album by Finnish band Bodybag Garibaldi simply because of their name alone. But Post Rock is a style I’m much more comfortable with, and Swedish duo Ambia have released an interesting track entitled ‘Soon’, which I’ve had pretty much on repeat all week.
At just 6 minutes it’s relatively short compared to other similar releases, and for sure they don’t hit the level of blistering intensity that my favorite Finnish post-rock artist Ghosts On TV reaches, but I really like the sound of the guitars and the different phases of the track, and I’m looking forward to their debut EP because their early tracks are very promising indeed.
Guest Feature by Andy Wors
Follow our Spotify Playlist to see what music we have covered on our journey with Nordic Watchlist: