Reviewing a couple of Swedish-related albums over the last week (Drakkar Nowhere and Centralstödet) reminded me of how many great bands have come from that country in the past. Here are fifteen that I thought of off the top of my head, with apologies to the many more great ones that I could have included. Enjoy!
Rise Again by Hills
Regular readers will need no introduction to Hills, one of my absolute favourite bands. A band that I first found through its ‘Master Sleeps‘ album (click on album title to read my review from 2014), the opener of which ‘Rise Again’ sets the set up brilliantly…one of those tracks I never tire of no matter how many times I play it.
Rock För Kropp Och Själ – Part 2 by Träd Gräs Och Stenar
Träd Gräs Och Stenar are one of those bands that send many psych fans misty eyed at its very mention. Along with their forebears Pärson Sound, International Harvester and Harvester they put down a canon of music that sounds as amazing today as when it was first recorded over forty years ago, and continues to influence musicians to this day. In fact many of the bands featured here are openly indebted to these ‘Progg’ pioneers.
Signalfel by Centralstödet
“Centralstödet is…[a] band from Sweden that has just blown me away as soon as I heard it. Hailing from Gothenburg it is a four-piece, comprising Ulrik Lindblom and Daniel Johansson (guitar), Joni Huttunen (bass), and Jonas Fredlund, (drums). I think its fair to say that, as much as any bands I’ve heard recently Centralstödet are clearly influenced by 1970s progg bands such as Träd, Gräs och Stenar, Parson Sound and Flasket Brinner.”
For a full review of the EP click here.
They Worshipped Cats by Les Big Byrd
“Overall this is an album that feels like it has its roots in the 80s with all of the things that dates so much of 80s music these days stripped out. Then add in a healthy dose of Spiritualized, and you begin to get the idea. It is more electronica than guitar-based rock, more Krautrock than space-rock, more realistic than abstract, and more groovy than dissonant.”
Two years after first hearing it I still love this album (and really dig the cover), for the full review click here.
How Could This Be Why? by Drakkar Nowhere
“While recording on the Phenomenal Handclap Band’s amazing debut album back in 2009 [Daniel] Collás began collaborating with Diamond Nights’ guitarist/ vocalist Morgan Phalen, who also appears on that album. Getting together in Stockholm, where Phalen lives, the pair began putting together material that has emerged as a, to my knowledge, pretty unique mix of funk and soul with Swedish psych/ prog all brought together in a smoothly produced album that surprises and confounds every bit as much as it soothes and cajoles.”
For the full review click here.
Oblivion by Yuri Gagarin
“In ‘At The Centre Of All Infinity’ Yuri Gagarin have shown that, collectively, they are masters of the sonic universe that they have created. It’s a huge expanse of mind-fucking loveliness that I for one want to spend as much time in as possible.”
For the full album review click here.
Down On The Beach by Union Carbide Productions
I really like Union Carbide Productions because of its great blend of Stooges punk/ garage with more progressive forms of psychedelic rock. For me there are some missing links being joined here in a way that is more raw that a lot of the Swedish progg bands, but more stretched out that a lot of the band’s contemporaries (it was active from 1986-1993). Three of the band’s members went on to form The Soundtrack of our Lives.
Space Normal Speed by Lamagaia
Writing about Lamagaia’s ‘Lamagaius‘ I wrote: “This one-track 28 minute album was originally recorded in 2012, and has previously only seen a very limited cassette release the following year, Lamagaia itself was founded in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2010. Three years later from that comes a self-released vinyl edition limited to 300 copies, and for the majority of us, for whom this is our first chance to hear it, I have to say it has been worth the wait.”
‘Space Normal Speed’ is a 2014 single release by ace Swedish label Höga Nord.
Bosses Låt by Fläsket Brinner
It’s difficult to explain Fläsket Brinner’s music without listening to it. Contemporaries of the likes of Träd Gräs och Stenar, it was an improvisational group that drew on folk, jazz and psychedelic influences to produce what can only be described as some really beautiful sonic journeys. The band re-formed in the early 2000s and continue to play together, see its website.
Desert Cruiser by Truckfighters
Truckfighters were formed in 2001 and have been pounding out brilliant fuzzed out stoner/ desert rock ever since. The band brought out “Live In London’ on their own Fuzzorama Records earlier this year, and have a new album, ‘V’, out at the end of this month.
Alarms by Goat
Goat are one of the most successful bands in this current era of psych bands. Putting out a series of recordings that at the same time defies and confirms their Swedish heritage the band has developed a unique sound that has crossed over into other areas, most notably world music. There is a new Goat album out this Autumn (on Rocket/ Sub Pop) of which this is the first track to be released.
Long Way Back by The Janitors
“Drone Head is an amazing album, from the beginning of the intro ‘Worker Drone Queen’ you know that you are not only in for some amazing music, but you are going to come out with your brain fried too. Moving straight into ‘Do It Again’ we are off in a heavy psych odyssey with fuzzy guitar interlinking with clicks and drones. It is dark, it is bleak, but it is also funky: a pretty difficult feat to pull off. ‘Long Way Back’ is also a great track which really showcases the band’s pop sensibilities while never detracting from the job in hand of delivering the power and the distortion.”
I first found The Janitors in 2014, and wrote this about the band.
Emp by Uran GBG
I bloody love this track and play it at least once a month. The whole album is well worth checking out, another great Höga Nord release.
Dale Gas by Sudakistan
PNKSLM is another great Swedish record label that puts out loads of psych/ punk records, of which Sudakistan are probably my favourites. I really like the band’s fusion punk/ psych/ latino sounds which come together in one super exciting mix.
Hörsägen by Flowers Must Die
“…is a band that seems to be very much a product of the great Swedish psychedelic tradition producing well put together yet improvised music that I find to be a very satisfactory contemporary exponent of that which has gone before. If I had to place the band in the current Swedish scene Hills would probably be Flowers Must Die’s closest musical compadres but are most definitely not in the shadow of that great band and worthy of their own place.”
For the full piece on Flowers Must Die, click here. This track is from the band’s third LP on Kommun 2.
You can find my other writing for Backseat Mafia here.