Your tears don't shake my world like Britney Spears.

Sweden

ON ROTATION: Nina Persson – Animal Heart

nina
Nina Persson‘s debut solo album “Animal Heart” has been a Pop Labyrinth favorite since its release in February. Now that the sun is out, it feels like the right time to revisit the soaring title track. “Animal Heart” sees The Cardigans/A Camp frontwoman at her ’80s synth-pop new wave mode, and rest assured, it’s a fantastic song injected with wildlife metaphors, heartfelt melodies, and of course, her unmistakable voice. The one-shot music video filmed at her Harlem neighborhood features back-up dancers, confetti, and costume changes, all in one quick walk to grab some milk! It looks like great fun without appearing too rehearsed. And her belting at the last chorus – she’s still got me after all these years.

 

WATCH: Nina Persson – Animal Heart

 

Nina Persson is playing a show at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn this Wednesday, 4/16, for which you can buy tickets here.

Buy the album, out now on The End Records.
More on Nina.


LISTEN: Rasmus Faber – Indian Summer (feat. Frida Sundemo)

frida

Frida Sundemo reunites with fellow Swedish DJ Rasmus Faber on the his new single “Indian Summer”. The two has previously worked together for an EP back in 2011, and the chemistry continues on this uplifting EDM number, with Frida’s vocals cleverly chopped, screwed, and entwined in the ‘drop’. American radio might be playing that generic remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness, but I’d rather hear this blast loud in a car. This needs to blow up!

 

 

The single is out in the UK on September 16.

More on Rasmus Faber.
More on Frida Sundemo.


Popforward: Postiljonen

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Postiljonen is the next big Swedish export, and they have delivered a stunning debut album in “Skyer”. I can only describe the Stockholm-based trio’s music as panoramic, multi-textured road-trip synth-pop. The ’80s synth and sax riffs are larger than life, while wispy, murmuring vocals are mixed like an afterdream, hazy and unobtrusive, interspersed with dialogue samples from unidentified, possibly non-existent films. As is the case with shoegazing dream-pop, due of its unique construct, you probably won’t remember much of the lyrics or melodies, but there’s enough ear candy to keep coming back and peel at the layers. The 10-track album is short and sweet, with the more upbeat numbers (Supreme, We Raise Our Hearts, Skying High) sequenced in between ambient, filmic ones (Rivers, Plastic Panorama). There is also an unlikely, spectral cover take on Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know”, gloomily retitled as “All That We Had Is Lost”. “Atlantis” – the current single – makes a perfect album closer, thanks to its monster saxophone action and a nocturnal, melancholic back-of-a-taxi-cab mood. If you like M83, or The Naked And Famous, then Postiljonen’s widescreen after-hours pop is for you.

You can stream the entire album for free on Soundcloud.

Check out the music video for Atlantis below, and album highlight “We Raise Our Hearts”.

 

 

STREAM: Postiljonen – We Raise Our Hearts

 

Buy their music, out on Best Fit Recordings.
More on Postiljonen.


LISTEN: Frida Sundemo – Snow (Immanu El Remix)

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Frida Sundemo ended 2012 on a high, having got the blogosphere a-buzzin’ with the brilliant single “Indigo”. Now she’s ready to kickstart 2013 with another taster, “Snow”. However, for now “Snow” is only available on Spotify in Scandinavia (damn those pesky region restrictions!). Fortunately, Swedish postrock band Immanu El have uploaded their beautiful slow-burning remix of the track for us non-Swedes to enjoy. It showcases another side of her – melancholy, downbeat, but blissful, not unlike her compatriot Lykke Li. And of course it’s only natural for a Swede to sing about snow. I wonder what the original sounds like, is it a electro stomper, or an introspective downtempo number à la Royksopp?

 

 

More on Frida.


Popforward: Frida Sundemo

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Frida Sundemo was previous known as simply Frida in Japan. The breezy-cutesy bossa-nova-tinged songs from her 2010 debut album “Dear, Let It Out” managed to strike a chord with the Japanese audience. Granted, she was not the first Swede indie girl to conquer Japan. Two years later, she has stunningly reinvented herself as Frida Sundemo, the next big Swedish synth-pop starlet.
“Indigo” is the kind of song that came out of nowhere and catch you by surprise. Her sweet vocals against the aggro synth backdrop made for a striking combo. It’s clear she has graduated from the same School of Pop as Robyn, Lykke Li, and Tove Styrke. It’s electro-pop perfection that only the Swedes can effortlessly offer in spades.

 

 

 

And here’s a different side from her early career, the sweet lounge ditty “Towers”:

 
One of the most promising acts for 2013? I think so.

More on Frida.


Popforward: Chart Music

Chart Music is the new joint project of Le Prix and Roger Gunnarsson, both of whom have worked with Sally Shapiro, Johan Agebjörn, Cloetta Paris and Queen of Hearts. If you don’t know any of those names, educate yourself. If you do, then you probably know what to expect. The first song from the Stockholm-based duo is “When You Lied”, featuring Viktor Ginner on vocals, and it’s a gorgeous piece of melancholy heart-on-sleeve anorak twee-pop blub-a-thon. Influences include italo disco, ’80s synth-pop and John Hughes films. If you don’t feel something when the middle eight’s instrumental breakdown glides in, then you sir need to check your pulse!

 

STREAM: Chart Music – When You Lied

 

An accompanying video was made of clips from obscure 1986 teen flick Lucas. Prepared to get your sad eyes on.

 

Swedes.
Buy the single on iTunes.
More on Chart Music.


REMIXED: Acid House Kings’ “This Heart Is A Stone” Revisited By Friends And Fans

Swedish indie-pop veterans Acid House Kings have been enjoying a resurgence lately. They just reissued most of their back catalogue, as well as invited friends and fans to remix their most popular track “This Heart is a Stone” (it was on a Korean ice cream commercial featuring Drew Barrymore don’t cha know). Out of the whopping number of 12 remixes, here are my two cherry picks. The Perfect Nines mix goes for the jangly C86 Sarah Records sound which I adore, while the Sunny Intervals opt for relaxing Sunday-morning vibes. Both give a fresh take on the original without straying too far from its roots. Have a lovely listen below.

 

MP3: Acid House Kings – This Heart is a Stone (Perfect Nines Mix)

STREAM: Acid House Kings – This Heart is a Stone (Sunny Intervals Remix)

 

Stream the entire collection of mixes on Labrador’s Soundcloud.
More on Acid House Kings.


MP3: Fibes, Oh Fibes! – Cerahtonia (feat. Icona Pop)

Fibes, Oh Fibes! are one of those Swedish indie bands that have been around for a while and kind of got lost in my shuffle, but this will soon change, judging by the arrival of their comeback single “Cerahtonia”. Produced by Pontus Winberg of Miike Snow, and featuring vocals from the two lovely ladies of Icona Pop, “Cerahtonia” is a celebratory, sun-kissed indie pop confection with infectious “ba-ba-ba” hooks that should cheer you right up in no time. Their new album, entitled “Album”, is expected in April 2013. Download a free MP3 below, or grab a hefty WAV file here if you’re inclined.

 

MP3: Fibes, Oh Fibes! – Cerahtonia (feat. Icona Pop)

 

More on Fibes, Oh Fibes!


Catching Up With… First Aid Kit

A lot is happening in First Aid Kit‘s world. First, the Söderberg sisters will be featuring on several tracks of the new album “The Fire and The Flame” by Blood Music, aka fellow Swede Karl-Jonas Winqvist. The lead single, “Glad That You Called”, is a charming, laidback twee-folk duet, with a cute music video of the three frolicking about in a big greenhouse.

 

 

STREAM: Blood Music feat. First Aid Kit – Glad That You Called

Secondly, the indie-folk duo has recently released a iTunes Sessions live album, featuring this harmonious cover of Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot.”

 

STREAM: First Aid Kit – Dancing Barefoot (Patti Smith Cover)

 

Last but not least, their excellent album “The Lion’s Roar” will get a Limited Edition boxset edition come October 2, with 2 bonus b-sides and one brand new track/single, “Wolf”. Here’s the kaleidoscopic, forest-based video for it.

 

STREAM: First Aid Kit – Wolf

 

Have I mentioned the girls are performing in New York tonight and tomorrow too? As I said, a lot is happening in First Aid Kit’s world, and deservingly so.

Buy “Glad That You Called”.
Pre-order “The Lion’s Roar” limited edition.
Buy their iTunes Sessions live album.
More on First Aid Kit.
More on Blood Music.


Popforward: Saint Lou Lou

Mysterious Aussie/Swedish twin duo Saint Lou Lou managed to win me over with just one perfect little gem of downtempo dream-pop. “Maybe You”, their first and only song to date, is a sublime synth-pop ballad with an ’80s-indebted ‘quiet storm’ vibe. It’s melancholy yet hopeful, subdued yet tender. It’s the kind of track you can imagine yourself hearing on the radio in the back of a taxi cab on a rainy late-summer night. In fact, I’m surprised they didn’t add thunderstorm sound effects to the intro, so I guess I’ll make do with an open tab of Rainymood.com.
The music video is a gorgeous, sensually-shot black-and-white slo-mo affair. Watch it below, and check out some excellent remixes after the jump.

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NEW VIDEO: Tove Styrke feat. Gnucci Banana – Bad Time For A Good Time

Tove Styrke proves that Swedish popstars are not above Western sales-boosting tactics, by adding a rapper feature for the single version of “Bad Time For A Good Time”. However, it’s one of the rare cases where the amped up version is actually an improvement on the original. Even though I never heard of this Gnucci Banana before and she gives me unpleasant Karmin vibes, she did a good job of giving more oomph to the track. Tove’s vocals on the album version sounds too polite to match the brattiness of the production. Is it me or is this more of an Icona Pop song? This suits them down to a tee, considering both Tove and Icona Pop share the same producer Patrik Berger. Check out the budget music video below, and stream the original version after the jump.

 

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NEW VIDEO: Rebecca & Fiona – Dance

For some reasons, I always assumed Rebecca & Fiona‘s music to be more bubblegum/clubby, what with their collaboratons with the likes of Kaskade and Adrian Lux. With that said, I’m glad I gave their new single a chance, because “Dance” actually falls more on the side of Fever Ray or iamamiwhoami. It’s nocturnal electro-pop the way I like – with an insidious bassline, beautiful synthetic strings and a slow-burning atmosphere throughout. The restraint in execution here is quite masterful, ’cause it doesn’t have to be raved up all the time. The moodily-lit visuals are a great complement to the track, too. It does make you wanna stop the car in the middle of a desolate road at night and dance away to oblivion, which is not advisable though. Check out the video & the track below. And yes, they’re Swedes.

 

 

STREAM: Rebecca & Fiona – Dance

“Dance” is off their debut album “I Love You, Man”, released in 2011.
More on Rebecca & Fiona.


Frida Hyvönen Goes Disco With New Single “Terribly Dark”

Frida Hyvönen is known as the serious indie artist type, but for her comeback single “Terribly Dark”, the Swede singer/songwriter has decided to turn to intergalactic disco and ABBA for inspiration. The risk paid off, in the form of properly amazing Scandinavian pop. Somehow she managed to make the infamous Swedish winter sound so fun and effervescent. “It’s so terribly dark here. I’d put myself on fire if I find a spark,” she grimly sings, in contrast to the shoulder-shaking disco beats and vintage synths. The song starts off slow but trust me, by the time it’s over, that hook will NOT leave your head. The music video is a simple, Fever-Ray-ish black-and-white performance-based piece, and it looks like she’s channeling Madonna in “Nothing Really Matters” with those herky jerky moves!

 

 

STREAM: Frida Hyvönen – Terribly Dark (Radio Edit)

The single is out now in Sweden. The new album “To The Soul” drops April 18.

More on Frida.


Covercentric: Lana Del Rey Sings Mando Diao’s “Chet Baker”

Back in late 2010, when Lana Del Rey was still relatively unknown and blond, she made what was possibly her first European TV appearance on Mandio Diao‘s MTV Unplugged show. Backed by the Swedish rock band themselves, Lana gave an acoustic rendition of “Chet Baker”, an obscure 2007 b-side named after the jazz legend. The show was later released on CD/DVD, and footage of her segment has been floating around since, but I only managed to discover it a couple days ago. Her voice was a good fit for the jazz-tinged track, and it was certainly fascinating to witness the soon-to-be pop star in progress, just a year before the big break. Not that much has changed, vocally and aethestically. A lovely listen, anyhow.

 

MP3: Lana Del Rey – Chet Baker (Mando Diao Cover – MTV Unplugged)

Watch the performance here.
Listen to the original.

What I find interesting is that Juliette Lewis, who previously tweet-bashed her SNL performance, was also a guest star on the same show. I wonder if she remembers that they might actually have met before?

“Born To Die” is out now worldwide.


LISTEN: Miike Snow – Black Tin Box (feat. Lykke Li)

Miike Snow won’t stop teasing. Only within days after unveiling new single “Paddling Out”, the Swedish supergroup has now unleashed the third new track from upcoming album “Happy To You”. The Lykke-Li-featuring “Black Tin Box” sounds like the best of both worlds: pretty synths from the band and Lykke’s love for boisterous drums. It’s probably my favorite out of the three we heard so far, from what’s shaping to be a great second album.

 

STREAM: Miike Snow – Black Tin Box (feat. Lykke Li)

 

“Happy To You” drops March 27.
Visit their Soundcloud for more new tracks.
Check out their North America tourdates at Pitchfork.
More on Miike Snow.


Catching Up With… Maia Hirasawa

It occurred to me the other day that it’s been a while since I heard from Maia Hirasawa. After all, she’s responsible for one of the finest, catchiest indie pop songs ever made. So I decided to do some catching up and to my surprise, not only had the lovely Swedish/Japanese singer/songwriter relocated to Japan, she also released a new album over there last year! Her self-titled Japan-only album is a collection of new songs in English and Japanese, as well as assorted tracks from her second album and Swedish EP. The lead single “It Doesn’t Stop” also serves as a sort of introduction to the land of rising sun, and it’s classic Maia at her best – robust, bright and sprightly. The song’s bursting with life and sheer joy that it couldn’t fail to bring a stupid grin on my face. Most of all, it took me right back to 2007, when I first discovered the super talented female roster of Swede lavel Razzia Records, including Maia among Hello Saferide, Firefox AK, and Jonna Lee. Those were the days…
View the sailor-themed video for the song below – you will really dig this if you’re a fan of Regina Spektor or commercial-friendly Feist. For good measure, I’ll throw in her harp-laden cover of Ne-Yo’s “Because Of You”. As you can tell by the choice, it’s a quite old one but still sounds fantastic.

 

 

MP3: Maia Hirasawa – It Doesn’t Stop

MP3: Maia Hirasawa – Because Of You (Ne-Yo Cover)

 

Buy her music.
More on Maia.


NEW VIDEO: Firefox AK – Color The Trees

The video for Firefok AK‘s new single “Color The Trees” is out, and it is awesome! Once again Andrea Kellerman and her husband Rasmus (Tiger Lou) joined forces, but this time they got to burst out some pretty cool dance moves on surrealist CGI landscapes. This marks the third time they collaborated, which appears to be a once-in-an-album thing. “Color The Trees” is definitely one of her best songs to date, a very catchy, uptempo tune of the quality melancholic Swede electro-pop calibre, with a distinctly wintry feel. The Bjorn-Yttling-produced track springs from her third album of the same name released last year in Sweden. The album has a tentative release date on February 6 in UK, and hopefully, a Stateside release will soon follow. In the meantime, check out the great video below and download a bonus remix.

 

 


MP3: Firefox AK – Color The Trees (Ghoul Remix)

 

Buy the album.
More on Firefox AK.


Popforward: Serenades

So it’s that jolly time of the year when new original festive songs are in demand again. Up-and-coming Swedish duo Serenades has stepped up to the challenge by releasing a holiday-themed song as their first single. However, “Come Home” is not so much about Christmas itself, but rather a lament about the non-festivity of a one-man holiday. And they sugarcoat the depressing sentiment with lovely sun-kissed melodies that Swedes can seemingly do in their sleep. Serenades’ music falls in the same subgenre of chill, tropical, Instagrammed ’80s pop that The Tough Alliance and Gypsy & The Cat also frequent. While their sound’s not entirely original, it’s done beautifully, and there’s enough room for another band in that niche. Curiously, they are signed to Cherrytree Records, Lady Gaga’s label, so undoubtedly we’ll be hearing a lot more from them in 2012. Watch/stream “Come Home” right below.

 

 

STREAM: Serenades – Come Home

 

A 4-track EP is out now, including a remix by Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn and John.

Buy “Come Home” the EP.
Check out more of their tracks on Soundcloud.
Grab free download “Oceans” over here.
More on Serenades.


NEW SINGLE: The Good Natured – Video Voyeur

The Good Natured have been on the verge of breaking through for quite some time now, and this week, they are back with not just one, but TWO brand new tunes. After premiering the video their collaboration with Swedish DJ Adrian Lux “Alive” a couple days, the previously Popforwarded band has now unleashed what’s possibly the best thing they’ve put their name to. I assure you that I’m not just tossing out hyperbole when I say that their new single “Video Voyeur” is INSANELY BRILLIANT.
Produced by Patrik Berger (Robyn, Tove Styrke, Those Dancing Days), it is pop at its finest. An adrenaline rush in song form, it embodies a tapestry of vocals and hooks after hooks, and then suddenly breathes out at the middle eight for a cascade of Kraftwerk-ian synths before one last big chorus. Clocking in just 3 minutes and 19 seconds, it is an slightly exhausting but thrilling listen. It’s maximalist pop with an unconventional structure, done properly with sharp energy. I simply can’t get enough of it.
The band has now skillfully carved a trademark sound: dark and intense electro goth pop, with a modern spin on ’80s influences instead of just plain mimicry. Watch the fairly straightforward peformance video below, and see if you agree with me.

To make it even better, the band is giving the track away as a free download! Amazing.

MP3: The Good Natured – Video Voyeur

And here is their dance collab with Adrian Lux, “Alive”. Sarah McIntosh’s voice certainly gives some bite to what might be just another generic rave-pop tune without her.


STREAM: Adrian Lux ft. The Good Natured – Alive

2012 shall be an exciting year for The Good Natured. Watch them closely.

Buy “Alive” on iTunes.
More on The Good Natured.
More on Adrian Lux.


LISTEN: First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

I was first introduced to First Aid Kit via their sublime performance of “You’re Not Coming Home Tonight” on Youtube. Two years have passed since then, the Söderberg sisters had gone on to release a debut album, as well as recorded a single for Jack White‘s boutique label Third Man Records, which is a quite impressive feat. While they surely both have grown and matured much, two things remain the same: their world-weary, melancholy folk harmonies, and their habit of hanging out in forests. Their upcoming sophomore album, “The Lion’s Roar”, was recorded in Nebraska, promising a full-band sound, and the lead single of the same name might in fact be the best thing I’ve heard from the duo so far. It still astounds me to hear these two Swedish girls sing the blues like they were born and raised in the South all their lives. Age and geography ain’t got nothing on them! If you’re a follower of the nu-folk wave of Fleet Foxes or Bon Iver, you’re in for a treat. Watch the gorgeous music video for “The Lion’s Roar”, or stream the radio edit right below.

 

 


STREAM: First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar (Radio Edit)

 

The new single is out now. The album drops on January 24th, 2012 via Wichita Recordings.
More on First Aid Kit.


Covercentric: Lykke Li Sings The “Unchained Melody”

When Lykke Li was on tour down under, she popped by Triple J HQ for an acoustic live session. For the station’s “Like A Version” segment which is basically an Aussie version of Live Lounge, she delivered a haunting cover of The Righteous Brothers‘ 1965 classic “Unchained Melody”. The perennially brooding Swede’s got that uncanny ability to sing like she’s alone in a cavernous cathedral, even if she’s just sitting comfily in a studio. With this melancholy performance, Lykke has officially joined the Melody cover club, previously inhabited by the likes of Gareth Gates, Clay Aiken and Air Supply. I quite like how she bluntly answered “No” when asked if she likes the movie “Ghost”. Lykke’s got no love for claymaking doomed lovers! Listen to her version below, and grab it for free if you like.

 


MP3: Lykke Li – Unchained Melody (Righteous Brothers Cover)

Watch her whole set on Triple J’s website.
Buy her recent iTunes Session album.
More on Lykke Li.


LISTEN: Amanda Mair – Doubt

Truth be told, I should have posted this track two days ago, when I wasn’t busy playing it on repeat. A fuller and poppier affair than her first track “House”, Amanda Mair‘s second single “Doubt” is without a doubt the type of indie Swede-pop number I adore: beautifully sung and arranged, addictive and infectious. She’s got a voice beyond her years, while still retaining traces of a wide-eyed youth on the brink of adulthood. Keep in mind, she’s only 16 years of age! With two amazing songs out of two, Amanda is raising the bar very high indeed.

 


Download a free mp3 of the track here.

 

The digital single is out on October 10. Be patient, the album’s slated for an early 2012 release.
More on Mair.


Covercentric: Robyn Covers Coldplay For Live Lounge

Fresh off the oven, here is Robyn‘s cover of Coldplay’s “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall”, which just aired on Radio 1’s Live Lounge with Fearne Cotton today. At first I thought it was an odd choice, as I think the original is not quite one of Coldplay’s finest moments, but I really do like Robyn’s synthy take of it. Then again, like Coldplay, she has always proudly worn her heart on sleeve. You see, it’s a good thing tears never show in a pouring waterfall… (okay that needs a bit work). I have ripped both the cover and the live performance of “Call Your Girlfriend” for your convenience. Download away!

 


MP3: Robyn – Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall (Coldplay Cover)

MP3: Robyn – Call Your Girlfriend (Live Lounge)

I’m glad Radio 1 is supporting the new single, she deserves another bonafide hit. Have you seen the Greg James parody of the video yet? Good viral promotion!

As a bonus, I’ll throw in her earlier Live Lounge acoustic performance of “Dancing On My Own”. It’s a shame it wasn’t included on Body Talk to complete the acoustic trilogy. You can find it on the Live Lounge Vol. 5 comp, though.

MP3: Robyn – Dancing On My Own (Acoustic Live)

Robyn is currently on tour with Katy Perry in the US.

Buy the album.
More on Robyn.


Popforward: Niki & The Dove

On the contrary to the misleading promo pic above, Niki & The Dove are not literally Niki and a dove. No one in the band’s named Niki either, how confusing! The Swedish band has been making the rounds with their off-kilter pop tunes, but what I previously heard did not make me a full-time believer yet. That was until “Gentle Roar”, undoubtedly their best offer so far. With its pounding beats and earthy, pagan-like chants, the track feels esoteric and eerie, but it’s their big POP moment, as opposed to earlier tracks which only seemed to teasingly teeter around that territory. I dare you to sit still while listening to this. It’s a wicked monster of a song. If you have an ear for fantastically weird Scandinavian music like The Knife, Fever Ray, Jenny Wilson or Lykke Li, then Niki & The Dove should be your cup of tea. “Gentle Roar” is on their new “12 single “The Fox”, out now on Sub Pop. You can stream it below and grab the great Mylo remix on the way.

Niki & The Dove – Gentle Roar

MP3: Niki & The Dove – Gentle Roar (Mylo Remix)

Stream “The Fox” EP, and more of her music.
More about Niki & The Dove.