About two years ago, my sister bought me Sigur Rós’s DVD, Heima, for Christmas. The two-disc package includes both live videos and a full-length documentary of the band as they toured their home country of Iceland, playing intimate and uplifting sets for the locals. What struck me most, aside from the gorgeous, untouched landscapes that cover the island, was the disarming beauty of the Icelandic people. Fresh-faced, wide-eyed, and healthy, the attendees of the concerts complemented perfectly the ethereal music that Sigur Rós creates.
No, this isn’t propaganda for the Aryan Nation, and obviously Icelanders aren’t the only beautiful people in the world (<3 u Parminder Nagra). But watching that film sparked my affection (fetish?) for Swedes, Norgwegians, Danes, Finns, and Icelanders. These people are just fuckin gorgeous, and their music is outstanding.
Scandinavian bands are best known for indie pop, including such heavy-hitters as Jens Lekman, Shout Out Louds, Peter Bjorn and John, I’m from Barcelona, Sondre Lerche, Mew, Lykke Li, El Perro del Mar, and others! There’s more to the region than just ABBA and The Hives.
The Mary Onettes are Swedish, and their brand of dream pop brings to mind ’80s and ’90s shoegazers the Jesus and Mary Chain or Cocteau Twins. Their new album, Islands, instantly reminded me of their contemporary counterparts, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Both are saturated in saccharin-sweet textures, perfect to soundtrack your next roadtrip or John Hughes-style teen movie. It’s cool to borrow aesthetics from the ’80s now–there was some legitimately good fuckin music made back then and I guess people are just now embracing it in a non-ironic way. Hot trackzzz are “Puzzles” and “The Disappearance of My Youth.” Look for them at preview rack #20.
Moving south, The Raveonettes (pronounced like ‘Ravenettes,’ pretend there’s no ‘o’) are a dynamic Danish duo. Much of what I said about the Mary Onettes applies here as well, but there seems to be a bit more of a dark vibe peppered throughout many of the tracks on In and Out of Control. Lead single “Last Dance” sounds pretty ’80s, but more like the Go-Go’s than the Cure. Hot cutzzz are “Last Dance,” “Heart of Stone,” and “Breaking into Cars.” Preview rack #3.
Finally, all this “ettes” talk made me think of another band currently impacting the KZUU charts, The Ettes. They’re not Scandinavian, and they don’t play dreamy pop, but they kick a not-insignificant amount of butt/ass. They’re two girls and a guy who play punky, garage-y rock quickly and energetically. Decent, but not amazing. Try a track or three off their latest, Do You Want Power? Preview rack #119.