Wednesday, 7 December 2016

World Tour

l-r: Yung; The Good, The Bad; Agnes Obel; Pale Honey
Week 14 - The Nordic Countries (part one)

No problems finding music from this part of the world. Yep, we're in northern Europe - Scandinavia to be precise. Well, I think so. You see, what exactly constitutes Scandinavia? Officially it's just Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Ah, but what of Finland, you ask? Or Iceland? That's what I used to think, but apparently... oh look, it's complicated. Wiki explains it quite well. Anyway, that's why I've termed this part of our trip 'The Nordic Countries' to ensure accuracy.

I should also point out that Iceland is not a destination this time around - I have something lined up for 2017 which will take us there regularly. Oh, and Greenland was featured a couple weeks back. Right, so where were we? Ah yes, leaving Germany. It takes 5½ hours to drive from Münster to our next destination, Denmark's second-biggest city Aarhus. Denmark is home to the Raveonettes, one of my very favourite bands. They're perhaps a little too well-known to feature in this series. I have found a couple lesser-known acts for you though. Yung  are very highly-rated by SWC, who called Nobody Cares from 2015's 'Alter' EP "probably the finest thing released last year." They released their third full-length album back in June called 'A Youthful Dream' which is also very good. A Stain is the closing track on 'Alter', and is superb, while Pills is a highlight from the current album.

Now, Denmark consists of the peninsula of Jutland (the bit attached to the European mainland at the border with Germany) and an archipelago of 443 islands. The largest of these islands, Zealand, is where we will find the Danish capital Copenhagen. We can actually take a train there as there are two bridges and a tunnel that cross the Storebælt Strait, and it'll take less than three hours.

The Good The Bad "hail from a nuclear bunker in Copenhagen", or so they claim. Their sound is best described as 60s garage-surf with a bit of, erm, adult titillation thrown in for good measure. The video for 030 is so saucy, you have to log in and verify your age on You Tube to see it! As this is a family blog (*ahem*) I'm not posting it here, but if you want to watch it, here's a link. Be warned, it's totally NSFW! In the meantime, here's an alternative from their second album, 2009's 'From 018-033'.

As you may have gathered, all their songs are numbered rather than titled. They are currently working on their fourth album which will probably begin with a song called 051. How do I know that? Well, their third album was called 'From 034-050' and featured songs numbered from 034 to 050. See what they did there? So here's a rather good song from that one.

While we're in Copenhagen, I want to introduce you to Agnes Obel, a quite wonderful artist who treads a wire between pop, folk and classical genres most delightfully. She released her third album just a few weeks ago. Here's a track from it, followed by an MP3 of one of her earlier tunes.

Another train, another bridge. This one is really famous, too. Linking Copenhagen in Denmark to the city of Malmö in Sweden is the Øresund Bridge. It is the longest combined rail and road bridge in Europe and was the setting for the hit drama series The Bridge. It is also the bridge inferred in the Manic Street Preachers track Take Me To The Bridge. Now, it doesn't get us all the way to Sweden on its own; the first third of the 12km journey is by under-sea tunnel to the Danish island of Amager where we pick up the bridge. Once we get to the other side, our journey continues north up Sweden's west coast.

Anyway - as you know Sweden is one of the world's most musically rich nations. In fact, it is the third biggest music exporter in the world (after the US and the UK). Some of my fave bands come from Sweden - First Aid Kit, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, The Wannadies to name but three. I'll probably feature the country in more detail at a later point, but for now, I thought I should at least pay a flying visit if only to catch Pale Honey.

Here are a couple of young ladies from Gothenburg who made one of the best debut albums of last year, and apparently they have some new stuff to hurl at us. I say hurl because they're not going to do it gently! The first track to emerge from the new record is called Real Thing, and the spooky video seems to be inspired by Stranger Things which I haven't got around to watching yet, but will do so once I've got through all six series of House... So here's that vid, plus a track from that brilliant self-titled debut.

More Nordic excursions next week.


  1. I, of course, would never be tempted to click on that link from the good the bad, but I must have read somewhere that girl is really into the guitar! Another great trip, and from one of my favorite places for music on the planet.

  2. As Brian says a shed load of good music coming out of this part of the world
    Obviously I can't comment on the video!

  3. Great stuff again, I suppose, but I'm at work currently, so I can't tell before I get home. Also: I know what "MILF" stands for, but what does "NSFW" mean, please?

    My colleague at work, who is responsible for Scandinavia and also for all countries east of Germany, including Asia, she puts every, and I mean EVERY order, into her 'Scandinavia' - folder. Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland ... it's all Scandinavia to her, so basically every country to can throw a stone into some kind of water from ... and the rest she styles as "East Block". So there you are, it's not complicated, you just have to have some principles, as wrong as they may be!

    1. NSFW = Not Suitable For Work. In other words - if your boss finds you watching this, you're in a spot of bother!
      I hope no one asks what MILF stands for...

  4. Agnes Obel gets a lot of support from 6Music, but other than her, these are all new names to me - and what a cracking selection they are. A fabulous entry in the series Robster.

  5. Just watched that video. At home obvs.