As this is the first installment in what is (hopefully) going to be a monthly occurrence it’s probably good to have a short little introduction – the idea behind this column is to cover the best in Nordic music during the past month or so, and if that sounds like your thing I’d suggest you keep reading. A short disclaimer though: I’m far from the most prominent expert on Nordic music around, but I’m a big fan and it’s what I’m currently the most excited about – there’s a truly astonishing amount of great bands and artists coming out of the Nordic countries and trying to limit it to five (or so) artists per month isn’t easy. As I’m Swedish myself I’m mostly familiar with Swedish artists (spoiler: that’s all you’re getting this month) so if you’ve noticed something I haven’t covered and should have – get in touch!

Alright, here we go…We’re going start things off with a band that’s been covered here on the 405; namely the Swedish folk-pop duo First Aid Kit which consists of the sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg. I’ve been a fan of the band since their debut EP Drunken Trees was released in 2008 and they’ve definitely come a long way since then, and on January 23 their second full-length was released in the UK via Wichita Recordings. The album is titled The Lion’s Roar and it’s definitely their most accomplished and mature work so far with, the absolute highlight being the remarkably beautiful 'Emmylou'; give it a listen and watch the beautiful video below.

Now we’ll be moving beyond what’s usually appearing on this site towards the (slightly) more obscure; Simian Ghost is a indie pop band originally from Sandviken, Sweden, and currently located in Stockholm. They will be releasing their second album Youth on March 5 in the UK via Heist or Hit Records – and they’ve been getting a lot of attention lately. So far they’ve only released the lead single 'Wolf Girl' – a wonderful little pop gem, catchy and affecting at the same time.

Listen to 'Wolf Girl' and grab an mp3 of it below, and make sure to keep an eye out for Youth - if you dig 'Wolf Girl' you’ll definitely love it – but if you don’t wanna wait that long they’ve got their debut record and last year’s Lovelorn EP available for listening on their Soundcloud page.

Moving on; one of my personal favourite acts around, and one of the most criminally underrated ones, is the Swedish singer-songwriter Markus Svensson who goes by the name The Tarantula Waltz. He has just finished the recording of his third record, but he’s been playing several of the songs live for quite some time and they’re just amazing, plus his last record Did Not Leave To Find But To Forget, To Leave Behind was one of the strongest releases of 2010. So far only two live session-styled videos have appeared from the album; for the tracks 'Scandinavian Minds' and 'Majestic Jaws', and both are quite impressive - and sounds a little more like The Tallest Man on Earth than his previous work.

The Tarantula Waltz is doing a one-off gig in London on February 4th and I’d highly recommend everyone in the area to attend – he’s a mesmerizing live performer (details here). Check out the video for 'Majestic Jaws' below, recorded in a church outside of Stockholm.

There have been quite a few impressive new bands that work within the guitar-based ‘90s indie rock area lately – Yuck and Fanzine for example – and here in Sweden we’ve got our very own in the form of Yast. Like Simian Ghost Yast hail from Sandviken but are now based in Malmö, and they’ve just released their debut single 'Believes' via Hare Tracks/Double Sun. 'Believes' is a wonderful little indie rock gem on the dreamier side of things, complete with some wonderfully airy guitars. It’s the kind of tune that would make a wonderful summer soundtrack.

To finish things up we’ve got a brand new duo from Malmö, Sweden that Oskar at No Modest Bear introduced me to last week. The project goes by the name of Badlands and consists of Niklas Tjäder from the band Vidderna (and also Korallreven’s touring guitarist as well the brother of Daniel Tjäder of Korallreven and The Radio Dept.) and Catharina Jaunviksna. So far they’ve only released one track titled 'Never Dry Out', which is taken from their upcoming EP Battles Within, and if you’re even slightly interested in Nordic electronic music this is something you need to hear (and if not, you should still press play). Battles Within is definitely looking like a must-listen.

Well that’s it for this time, thanks for reading, and if you still haven’t gotten your hunger for Nordic music quite sated there’s also an amazing new video and tune from Norway’s Team Me, a new video from Swedish pop act Vanbot and Korallreven’s released an extended version of 'Sa Sa Samoa'. Otherwise check back next month as February is looking quite good too with a new EP from The Mary Onettes (with Dan Lissvik of Studio producing) and Francis also releasing a new EP, and Taken By Trees is working on a new album as well. Stay tuned.