For the past month, much of my time (and I assume the time of many other music-interested Scandinavians as well) has been devoted to festivals, and there's been more than a few memorable gigs. A personal highlight for me was during the Way Out West festival in Gothenburg when I had the privilege to see one of the finest Nordic artists right now, Jens Lekman, perform an intimate set in his backyard where he showcased material from his upcoming record I Know What Love Isn't. I Know What Love Isn't is set for release on September 3 and it’s quite possibly Lekman's finest moment; a collection of absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful and affecting songs. In mid-August Lekman unveiled the video for his second single from the LP, and the record's title track. Watch it below.
Keeping things in the Gothenburg area of the Nordic music world we've got quite the opposite of an established artist like Lekman; the shoegaze-punks in Westkust. Westkust released their debut EP Junk earlier this summer and the four tracks long EP is surely one of the finest debuts of the year with its mix of shoegazy dream pop and catchy punk rock. If there's any justice Westkust should as respected as the Stockholm punks in Holograms, whose self-titled LP has been garnering positive reviews all over this summer. Listen to Junk opener 'Surf' below, and head over to their Bandcamp to hear the full thing.
Continuing we've got another brand new act, namely the twin sisters in Saint Lou Lou – a mysterious sister-duo raised in Sweden and Australia who just released their debut single 'Maybe You' via Kitsuné. 'Maybe You' is another piece of Scandinavian pop gold, and judging by it Saint Lou Lou will have an exceedingly bright future ahead of them. Give it a listen below.
Back to more established artists then...
Surely no one has missed the fact that Niki & The Dove released their excellent debut LP Instinct in May in the UK/Europe (at least not anyone likely to read this - I've been raving about them all year). Now in August, the record was finally released in the US thanks to Sub Pop and with it came a brand new bonus track titled 'The Beach' - and it's easily good enough to have been included on the album - a huge 80s inspired pop song, and just what you'd expect from Niki & The Dove. Give it a listen below.
Following the return of Taken By Trees and Jens Lekman earlier this summer, August saw the return of another heavyweight in Swedish indie - namely Sarah Assbring or El Perro Del Mar as she is known. Assbring is set to release her fifth record Pale Fire in November via Memphis Industries in Europe, The Control Group in the US and via INGRID in Scandinavia (INGRID is the newly started artist collective and record label by Lykke Li, Peter, Bjorn & John, Miike Snow + more). Listen to the first (and very good) single 'Walk On By' below.
As per usual we've got a few bonuses, this time it's two lesser known Swedish acts that focus on a different type of music than what's usually covered in this column - and different from what Sweden and the Nordic is usually known for. EP's Trailer Park is the project of songwriter Eric Palmqwist and they’re set to release their new self-titled LP later this fall, but lead single 'Another Sun' is available already - and it's a gorgeous folk-pop tune that wouldn’t be out of place in 1969. We've also got Stockholm psych act The Janitors who just release their new EP, which is titled Head Honcho, and the absolutely highlight of the EP is the twelve and a half minute long EP centerpiece 'A Bow', which is available below together with 'Another Sun'.