Welcome to my Scandinavian Pop Sampler archive page

December 17th, 2009 by admin

I started the sampler CD about ten years ago when I started selling obscure Swedish pop CDs online. I realized I was into a lot of great music that my customers hadn’t heard of, so I started putting together a sampler CD I could give away with each order. I burned, printed and gave away hundreds of these CDs. The cover art was a collage of all the album covers the songs were taken from, and the back cover had a detailed tracklist. The response was phenomenal. After a while people started telling me my samplers were among their favourite CDs, and of course I was generating fans and sales of artists that people otherwise wouldn’t have heard of.

The first few CDs were my “Swedish Pop Sampler” before I started featuring more music from Norway and Denmark and I switched from “Swedish” to “Scandinavian”, but I kept the habit of featuring one artist on each sampler from somewhere completely different. Around volume five I started including a note about each artist/track, as you’ll see below.

Of course this was long before the days of music downloading and podcasting. If I was starting this now, they wouldn’t be CDs, but the format worked for a long time, and since I’ve just put the finishing touches to volume ten I decided it was time to put them all in one place, available for everyone to enjoy.

Putting this page together has made me feel nostalgic about a time that while only a few years ago, feels like much longer. A time when you’d order a CD from a faraway country and be delighted when it would show up weeks later, when you’d almost forgotten about ordering it. I’ve read a lot of peoples’ thoughts on what they mourn about the old ways of consuming music, but for me, it was always coming home to a package on the floor from Sweden or Japan, with strange stamps on it and wondering “now what did I order?”. Opening the package, slipping the disc into my CD player (to listen to it, NOT to rip it to itunes!), poring over the booklet with its lyrics, pictures and unpronounceable Scandinavian names. I used to love that. Now it’s all but gone.

Itunes and my ipod became more convenient than buying CDs and once I’ve ripped something to itunes I seldom play the CD anyway, so why not just cut out the middle man and download the songs? But I know that I’ve lost some of my innocence along the way, that the new way of acquiring music has put some strange barrier or distance between me and the music. As I listen back to these sampler CDs I can still remember discovering each album the old-fashioned way, and I feel a strange sense of loss for an experience that downloading mp3 files just can’t re-create.

I also know that as an artist myself, there’s someone somewhere downloading my tunes who, just like me, would once have been happy to order the CD and have it arrive in the mail. If you are one of those people, be sure to download the booklet of my last album here. It has loads of great pictures, song lyrics, sleeve notes, and an abundance of unpronounceable Swedish names!

Anyway, here they are – Luke’s Scandinavian pop sampler CDs volumes one to ten. 221 songs from approximately 215 different albums. If you’ve navigated your way to this page, I can’t imagine that you won’t find a new favourite artist or three here. For the authentic sampler CD experience, print off and cut out the front and back artwork (included in each zip file), burn a CD and put all ten volumes on your shelf. The spines are all different colours. They look cool.

If you are the artist or artist representative behind any of this music and this page has put your knickers in a twist, drop me a line and we’ll talk.

I can be reached at info (at) popsiclerecordings (dot) com.

You can visit my Scandinavian pop webshop Popsicle here and you can hear my most recent album, recorded in Sweden with members of Beagle (Magnus) and Brainpool (Christoffer and Jens), and Nick Drake’s string arranger Robert Kirby at http://lukejackson.bandcamp.com/

Luke’s Scandinavian Pop Sampler Volume 10! (December 2009)

December 1st, 2009 by admin

Click here to download a zipped file containing all 20 mp3 files and the front and back cover artwork.

1. The Genuine Fakes: I Don’t Want It (Five Audio Commercials EP, 2009)
Johan Bergqvist’s two solo albums have been long-time favourites here at Popsicle HQ, and his collaborative project The Genuine Fakes is producing some of the best power pop to come out of Sweden in a long time.

2. A-ha: Foot Of The Mountain (Foot Of The Mountain, 2009)
Norway’s favourite sons have announced that the tour to support this album will be their last, and they are to split up late next year. All this on the heels of their best album in almost ten years.

3. A Camp: Stronger Than Jesus (Colonia, 2009)
When Nina Persson isn’t making records with The Cardigans she can be found recording and touring under the A Camp banner with her American husband Nathan Larson (Shudder To Think) and genius Swedish producer/guitarist and Atomic Swing founder Niclas Frisk.

4. Moonbabies: Take Me to the Ballroom (Rufus Remix) (net release, 2009)
This showed up in my inbox a few months back. Japanese DJ Rufus took this sublime slice of Swedish indiepop and made it sound like Life-era Cardigans. A-B it with the original Moonbabies track…it’s amazing what this guy did with this song.

5. Annie: I know Your Girlfriend Hates Me (Don’t Stop, 2009)
Norwegian DJ/pop diva Annie’s 2004 debut Anniemal was a tongue-in-cheek bubblegum pop classic, and after some extensive record label nightmares, the follow-up album “Don’t Stop” came out independently in October.

6. John Me: Run (I Am John, 2009)
The Motorhomes were one of my favourite bands of recent years, so I kept my eye on the various members when the band split up in 2004, and I set up a myspace page for them when their website disappeared (http://www.myspace.com/themotorhomes). I certainly wasn’t expecting singer Mattias Edlund to show up this year signed to Epic Records under the moniker John Me. The album doesn’t appear to have made much of a splash, but it has some great tracks on it.

7. The Sounds: No One Sleeps When I’m Awake (Crossing The Rubicon, 2009)
The Sounds weren’t really on my radar prior to this album. I saw their name around but just wasn’t getting into much of the 80’s retro sounds of bands like them and The Killers. Then I heard this single from their last album and it blew me away. This is one of the best choruses I’ve heard in years.

8. The Men: Pack Up Your Memories (Four Good Men and True, 2010)
This just showed up last week. The Men are Southern Swedish maximum R&B purists whose authentic mid-60’s sound is honed in the studio by genius producer Christoffer Lundquist at his all-analogue Aerosol Grey Machine studio. This track is taken from their third album, due for release in February 2010.

9. Envelope: Open Window (Open Roads Lonely Trains, 2008)
I was a big fan of this Danish band’s 2001 indie debut album ‘Stay’ and I stumbled upon the follow-up earlier this year. It turns out it’s pretty much a solo venture by Copenhagen singer/songwriter Christoffer Hoyer, and this latest album has some killer tracks on it, like this one.

10. Buffalo: All I Wanna Do (single, 2009)
Anyone who follows my samplers knows that Norway’s Costar are one of my favourite bands. They were based in London for many years, but a move to Australia has found the band’s frontman and songwriter Jorgen Landhaug re-inventing himself in a couple of different musical guises, including this brand new one, which is quite excellent.

11. Atomic Swing: The Flasher (The Broken Habanas, 2006)
It blows my mind that even in the information age I can still not hear about a new album release by a favourite Swedish pop band. Case in point, I only just found out that Niclas Frisk reunited Atomic Swing three years ago and put out this phenomenal album.

12. Spencer: Screw The World Police (The Big Politician EP, 2006)
Spencer’s Regular De Luxe stands as one of the most underrated Swedish pop albums of the 90’s. I had thought they’d disappeared altogether until earlier this year when they found me on myspace and I was delighted to learn that they hadn’t split up at all. They haven’t exactly been prolific, but there’s a three track EP from three years ago which you can download for free from their website thegoodones.se, and this is one of those tracks.

13. Peter and the Penguins: She Took Me By Surprise (How To Choose a Sweetheart, 2009)
Norway’s Peter and the Penguins have been on my radar for some time, so this full-length album release earlier this year was much anticipated. What The Men do for the sounds of London circa 1965, Peter and Co. do for the sounds of Liverpool with their Rickenbacker-fuelled Beatlesesque harmonies.

14. Per Gessle: Doesn’t Make Sense (Live in London – May, 2009)
Here’s a treat. I was in London earlier this year and caught this concert by Roxette dude Per Gessle and his band. This song from Per’s last album Party Crasher was a real highlight, especially with the mellifluous Helena Josefsson of Sandy Mouche on backing vocals and the build at the end which is just magic. The show was being recorded for broadcast on Sirius XM radio, so I stole this snippet from the broadcast for this sampler. There’s plenty more like this on Per’s new ‘Gessle Over Europe’ live album.

15. Dylan Mondegreen: We Cannot Falter (The World Spins On, 2009)
Børge Sildnes’ second album under the name Dylan Mondegreen is as delightful a ray of indiepop sunshine as his 2007 debut While I Walk You Home which holds the record as the best selling CD at my Popsicle Webshop. I dance my nine month old daughter to sleep to this album. She has impeccable taste in music, of course.

16. Citizen K: She Says (Somewhere Up North, 2009)
Citizen K is the vehicle of Swedish singer/songwriter Klas Qvist whose bio amusingly suggests he’s not sure who his father is because his Mother had brief affairs with George Harrison, Brian Jones, Syd Barrett, Keith Moon, Dennis Wilson and Frank Zappa in November 1965. In reality what we have here is a display of phenomenal song-craft which grows on you with each listen.

17. Jay-Jay Johanson: Wonder Wonders (Self-Portrait, 2009)
Jay-Jay Johanson has made some of the most interesting music to come out of Sweden for the last ten years. With his falsetto croon and trip-hop beats, he sounds like no one else. Self-Portrait is his seventh album and by far his darkest and most impenetrable work. Perfect music for grey winter days.

18. Röyksopp featuring Robyn: The Girl And The Robot (Junior, 2009)
‘Junior’ is a return to form after the mildly disappointing 2005 effort ‘The Understanding’ from this Norwegian electronica duo. The album benefits from a bunch of female guest vocalists, including The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson, Lykke Li, the sublime Anneli Drecker and this track featuring the brilliant Robyn.

19. Moi Caprice: The Town & The City (The Past Is A Foreign Country, 2009)
Another of our favourite bands at Popsicle Heights is Denmark’s Moi Caprice. Their newest release is a double CD set in a fold-out digipack. Disc one is entitled ‘All We Fear Is Love’ and features 14 of their best tracks plus two new songs. Disc two is called ‘The Past Is A Foreign Country’ and features newly recorded re-workings of some of their best tracks, all of which are vastly different from the originals. A great introduction to this fascinating band.

20. Kings of Convenience: Me in You (Declaration of Dependence, 2009)
There’s something effortless about this new Kings Of Convenience album. Even on a first listen it’s like greeting an old friend. This Norwegian duo have gone back to basics, dispensing with the drums and returning to the core of their sound…two acoustic guitars and two beautiful voices singing in harmony. Perfection.

Luke’s Scandinavian Pop Sampler Volume 9! (December 2008)

December 1st, 2008 by admin

Click here to download a zipped file containing all 22 mp3 files and the front and back cover artwork.

1. Magnet: Let It Snow (Minus EP, 2004)
We open the sampler by going back a few years and sampling what is as close to “Christmas cheer” as one might expect to hear from our favourite morose Norwegian, Even Johansen AKA Magnet.

2. Luke Jackson: Come Tomorrow (…And Then Some, 2008)
OK, I’m not Swedish, but everyone else on my new record is. Count ‘em…12 Swedes! And me.

3. Billie The Vision & The Dancers: Someday Somehow (I Used to Wander These Streets, 2008)
Billie are in my bad books for sending me damaged CDs and not responding when I complained. I won’t be stocking their CDs again, so if you’ve ever wanted to buy their CDs, now’s the time! It breaks my heart…I love them, but I’m trying to run a business here dammit 🙁

4. Frank Hammersland: Don’t Wanna Bring You Down (So Easily Distracted, 2007)
This might just be my favourite album from Frank…solo, Popium, Pogo Pops or otherwise. It’s THAT good.

5. Tim Christensen: Love Is A Matter Of… (Secrets On Parade, 2000)
I discovered Tim Christensen earlier this year and his first two albums are phenomenal. They’re also REALLY hard to get a hold of, so here are two of his best songs to help you decide if it’s worth the trek to Copenhagen (it is).

6. Moi Caprice: Rising And Falling Points Of Dust (We Had Faces Then, 2008)
A new Moi Caprice album is an event here at Popsicle HQ, and their fourth effort builds on the remarkable foundation they have established since their 2003 debut.

7. Orphan Songs: Epitaphs (Orphan Songs, 2008)
Essentially a solo project for Carl-Otto Johansson who reflects here (amongst other things) on the break-up of his former band Eyedrop by assembling the “Orphan Songs” the break-up left behind.

8. Rhys Marsh And The Autumn Ghost: Can’t Stop The Dreaming (The Fragile State Of Inbetween, 2008)
Pieced together in studios around the world, this Norwegian Brit released the dreamiest slice of progressive pop I’ve heard in ages. Much of it wouldn’t be out of place on the first Duncan Sheik album which is one of my all-time favourites.

9. Artisokka: Seabed (Seabed, 2008)
This Finnish band weave elements of jazz, lounge and pop folk into their delicate songs. Quite otherworldly.

10. Labrador: Can Not Say You’re Out (Caleidoscope Aeroplane, 2008)
Flemming Borby traveled to a studio in Cuba to record his new album and played with a bunch of local musicians there. The results are self-evident…possibly his finest work to date.

11. Vibeke Saugestad: Meant To Be With You (The World Famous Hat Trick, 2008)
Oslo’s first lady of power pop goes indie (with back-up from The Yum Yums) and delivers the bubblegum record of the year.

12. The Charade: Keeping Up Appearances (Keeping Up Appearances, 2008)
The Charade go from strength to strength with this, their third album in as many years.

13. Private Jets: Investigate (Jet Sounds, 2008)
Stockholm’s Private Jets took six years to follow up their debut EP with an album that Beach Boys and Jellyfish fans will love.

14. Carpark North: Human (All Things To All People, 2005)
Another Danish album that’s impossible to find. The video for this single is possibly my favourite of recent times: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTYJgyCZ0nQ

15. Michael Møller: This Little Lady (Every Streetcar’s Got A Name – An Album About Sex And Desire, 2007)
Released last year, this was the debut solo album from the lead singer of Moi Caprice, and it’s a brooding and ambitious song cycle on the nature of love and sex which clearly worships at the altar of Leonard Cohen. Great stuff.

16. Annabella: Rogue Waves (Say Goodnight, 2008)
One of Popsicle’s few concessions to non-Scandinavian artists, this Texan husband and wife duo might just have produced their masterpiece.

17. Jay-Jay Johanson: She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (The Long Term Physical Effects Are Not Yet Known, 2007)
Sweden’s finest trip-hop crooner bounces back from 2005’s lackluster “Rush” with his finest effort since “Tattoo”.

18. Tim Christensen: Surfing The Surface (Honeyburst, 2003)
Here’s another track from Tim Christensen. Denmark’s answer to Jeff Buckley? He just might be.

19. Orphan Songs: America (Orphan Songs, 2008)
I love this album so much I decided to feature it twice.

20. Luke Jackson: A Little Voice (…And Then Some, 2008)
I thought it only right to showcase the flipside of my new album with a ballad. Strings arranged and conducted by Robert Kirby (Nick Drake, Elvis Costello, John Cale etc.)

21. Twin Piloda: Not Invented (Brother Jona, 2009)
The third album from Sweden’s Måns Wieslander is a sublime collection of pop songs, realized by producer Ola Frick of the Moonbabies. Not available yet, this is a teaser for the release next year.

22. Vibeke Saugestad: Christmas Is Calling Me Home (From All Of Me Christmas EP, 2008)
A beautiful cut from Vibeke’s new Christmas EP to round out the sampler. Killer.

Luke’s Scandinavian Pop Sampler Volume 8! (August 2007)

August 1st, 2007 by admin

Click here to download a zipped file containing all 23 mp3 files and the front and back cover artwork.

1. Costar: Good Morning Sunshine (Exit, 2007)
Costar’s debut album was an undiscovered gem a few years back. Their follow-up “Exit” is a fantastic album of deceptively simple, beautifully-conceived powerpop/rock. In my little world, this track is the feel-good hit of the Summer.

2. Moi Caprice: The Town And The City (The Art Of Kissing Properly, 2006)
Moi Caprice are one of our best-selling artists at Popsicle and their third album capitalizes on the artistic experimentations of the first two. Sure, they’re an acquired taste but once you get a taste for them, they’re hard to live without.

3. Montt Mardié: Set Sail Tomorrow (Clocks/Pretender, 2007)
Montt Mardié’s latest release is a phenomenal double album of chamber pop, the second disc featuring a slew of special guests like Jens Lekman, Andreas Mattsson (Popsicle), Hello Saferide and more. Hey, doesn’t the start of this intro remind you Giorgio Moroder’s theme song to Electric Dreams?

4. Billie The Vision & The Dancers: I Saw You On TV (Where The Ocean Meets My Hand, 2007)
Pablo is back! BTV’s third album is a sublime slice of janglepop sunshine. There’s a good reason these guys are our best-selling band…their music just makes you feel so good!.

5. Andreas Mattsson: It’s Easier To Handle All Your Friends (The Lawlessness of the Ruling Classes, 2006)
The former Popsicle frontman has taken things down a gear since his “Sweet Chariots” album of a few years back. Here he presents a mellower side not dissimilar to the mellower side of the last two Popsicle albums. His masterful songwriter and beautiful voice always take centre stage.

6. Dylan Mondegreen: Girl In Grass (While I Walk You Home, 2007)
One of our most anticipated new releases in years (and from an unknown artist as well!), this guy found us on myspace a year or so ago, and we instantly fell in love with the feelgood Summer vibe of this early work-in-progress version of the debut single from the album.

7. Ronderlin: Wake Up (The Great Investigation, 2007)
We were a little worried about this one. After all, Ronderlin’s 2003 debut was a total masterpiece, but this follow-up doesn’t disappoint, with a mix of tracks that capture their sound and great melodies, but clearly strike into some new territory both vocally and musically.

8. Suburban Kids With Biblical Names: Parakit (#3, 2005)
This is taken from the long playing debut from this unique Swedish duo and includes their previous two brilliant singles along with 10 entirely new tracks. Quirky like only the Swedes can be, this album evokes Swedish classics Eggstone and more recent influences like Isolation Years.

9. Tiger Baby: At Least I’m Honest (Noise Around Me, 2006)
Let’s get a bit more electronic with this excellent group from Copenhagen. While it beats, throbs and pulses, a pop vein is still there and the sultry vocals of Pernille Pang are as sweet.

10. The Lovekevins: Eurovision (Vs. The Snow, 2007)
Melding live instruments with beats and found sounds, this long awaited debut album is one of the most musical and infectious albums we’ve heard in years. Add to that the great packaging and glossy full color lyric booklet and it’s one of this years treasures.

11. Dorian Gray: This Boy That Girl (Hazel Grove 07:46, 2005)
Dorian Gray are old favourites here at Popsicle with their infectious blend of guitar-driven melodic pop combined with glam influences. This second album is not a huge departure from their superb debut, well…if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!.

12. The Radio Dept: The Worst Taste In Music (Pet Grief, 2006)
This brilliant album sheds a lot of the fuzz and reverb from 2003’s “Lesser Matters”, but none of the heartbreaking melodies and earnest, impassioned music. The band’s sound benefits from the change, making this their most accessible work.

13. Steric: Make Believe (No Way Back, 2007)
Steric’s debut album delivers eleven pop songs inspired by the likes of Prefab Sprout and the Style Council, sung and played with a smooth lead vocal, crispy guitars and ingenious horn arrangements, not un-like a Danish Burt Bacharach – simple, elegant and stylish.

14. Helena Josefsson: Never Never (My Dynamo) (Dynamo, 2007)
Helena rose to prominence as the brains behind the two excellent Sandy Mouche albums (and as Per Gessle’s prominent backing singer), and her debut long-player sees her treading a path with a sound that falls somewhere between Kate Bush and Bjork, if a little more accessible than both those artists.

15. Mocca: You Don’t Even Know Me (Colours, 2007)
As regular listeners know, I always feature one non-Scandinavian band on the sampler, and Indonesia’s Mocca have proved to one of our best-selling acts with their jazz-tinged tweepop Summer sounds.

16. Pelle Carlberg: I Love You, You Imbecile (In A Nutshell, 2007)
The former Edson frontman’s second solo album is a sheer delight, full of his unique irony and song-craft, it is possibly his most “pop” oriented work and a great Summer album.

17. Daniel Saturn: It’s Running Through My Fingers (Lakehill Soccer Association, 2006)
One of our favourite artists here at Popsicle, Daniel kept us waiting a long time for this third album and it’s a gem from start to finish, with superb piano-based songwriting and Daniel’s magical Beatlesesque harmonies.

18. Acid House Kings (feat. Magnus Carlsson): Will You Love Me In The Morning? (Everyone Sings Along With Acid House Kings, 2006)
We have a bunch of AHK EPs in stock, but this one is a real treat. The band invited a few of their favourite arists like Magnus Carlson, Lasse Lindh and Montt Mardié to record “karaoke cover versions” of songs from their last album.

19. Popium: Anchor Down (The Miniature Mile, 2006)
This is the fourth album from Norway’s Popium featuring former Pogo Pops leader Frank Hammersland, and it’s a brilliant collection of light and breezy pop songs that could just be the best work the group have ever done.

20. Punky’s Dilemma: Shooting Stars (Echelon, 2006)
This represents the first proper release from the brilliant Malmo trio. Previously we only had teaser clips on the Sound Of Young Sweden samplers, now they’re given us a proper 5 track EP to cherish. It’s so good, it made Spinguy heady.

21. Ferns: Disaster Strikes Again (On Botany, 2007)
OK, I lied, there are TWO non-Scandinavian acts on this sampler. We can’t help it…Fruit Records who brought us the Mocca albums have some great stuff, and Ferns have that dreamy tweepop sound that almost always only ever comes out of Sweden, and in this case…Malaysia.

22. Favorita: Well, It’s Only Pain (Favorita, 2007)
Favorita’s long lost album finally gets an official release this year, courtesy of yours truly. I’m releasing it because I still believe it’s one of the finest powerpop/rock albums of the last 20 years and it deserves to be heard. So buy it. Please. Pretty please.

23. Vapnet: Färjemansleden (Jag Vet Hur Man Väntar, 2006)
Another sampler tradition is to include a band that sings in Swedish. This album (“I Know How To Wait”) is so engaging and poptastic it crosses all boundaries regardless of language.

Luke’s Scandinavian Pop Sampler Volume 7! (August 2005)

August 1st, 2005 by admin

Click here to download a zipped file containing all 21 mp3 files and the front and back cover artwork.

1. CoStar: Yeah Right (Keep It Light, 2004)
When Even Johansen’s solo success as Magnet caused the demise of Libido, few people were watching what the other band members would do. Certainly no one expected drummer Jorgen Landhaug to “do a Dave Grohl”, put together a new band and write and record one of the most engaging and under-rated rock albums of 2004. Re-naming himself “Brighton Gay”, this Norwegian maverick roped in his former Libido bandmate Johansen to mix the majority of this album, and it has Magnet’s magic stamp all over it. This album features catchy, hook-filled rocking songs which grow on you with every listen. No two songs sound anything alike. I was right about Magnet when no-one was giving him the time of day, and I believe I’m right about CoStar too. Fantastic stuff.

2. Johan Bergqvist: Bliss (Throwaway Moments, 2004)
Johan Bergqvist’s full-length debut album delivers on the promise of his previous EP “Boy Extracting Thorn”. It lulls you with piano/voice opener “A Silent Cry For Help” before exploding into the power-pop single “Bliss” which isn’t 100 miles away from Ben Folds when he takes himself seriously. Bergqvist also delivers a disarmingly mellow interpretation of Popsicle’s powerpop classic “Hey Princess” which has been highly praised by it’s composers. More piano-based than his earlier work, this album is balanced out by having an equal number of ballads and upbeat numbers. And Johan has very kindly signed every copy he sent us. What a nice chap!

3. Moi Caprice: To The Lighthouse (You Can’t Say No Forever, 2005)
This was one of Spinguy’s discoveries, and I’m glad he found it. Moi Caprice rose to underground fame when they were the first ever unsigned band to hit no. 1 on the Danish Alternative Chart. One of two Danish bands who have gotten us excited in recent months, Moi Caprice are really hard to pigeonhole. The singer has a unique, velvety voice that’s not a million miles away from Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue. The music is mostly upbeat pop but has an other-worldliness to it that you can’t put your finger on. This album and their earlier debut release (see track 20) are two of my most played CDs of recent months.

4. The Mopeds: Refused Demoland (Fortissimo, 2005)
It’s been four years since The Mopeds released “The Land Of The Three” and while nothing IMHO can touch their 1998 debut ”The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Mopeds”, Fortissimo is a great return to form for this Malmo trio. They are studio wizards and this album is brimming with frenetic high energy power pop that bursts from the speakers from start to finish. This is one to play loud, and exclusively signed for us here at Popsicle by all three Mopeds!

5. Labrador: Freeway To Mars (Instamatic Lovelife, 2004)
This is the second album from Danish pop dude Flemming Borby and his almost-one-man-band Labrador. Spinguy reckons that this album could easily be one of the greatest all time pop recordings ever made. “Every song is like an instant long lost friend who’s company never grows old” he says. Well, I wouldn’t go quite as far as that, but if you like your Scandinavian pop light, airy and whimsical, this album is surely for you.

6. Metro Jets: Lady Gwendoline (download-only single, 2005)
You’ll be forgiven for not realizing that Metro Jets had released a second single, seeing as it was a download-only affair on a Swedish website that even I had trouble navigating my way around. So Magnus kindly let me share the track with you on this sampler, and it’s a real corker of a song. While it lacks the immediate-pop-heaven-hookiness of “The Morning Show”, it’s a delightful piano-based 70’s influenced romp with cascading vocal harmonies that would put a smile on Brian Wilson’s face. Lord only knows what these guys will come up with next!

7. Girlfriend: Blank (Opening Nights, 2001)
Girlfriend is the other Danish band we’ve only just discovered. Spinguy was horrified to find that you couldn’t get their albums anywhere, so we decided to stock both this one and their just-released “Blue Sky Love Scene” (see track 19). They have in common with Moi Caprice an unusual lead singer, but Girlfriend are a more straight-up pop/rock band who have clearly been listening to all the right guitar bands of the last ten years. I actually hear a lot of The Motorhomes in their sound, which can only be a good thing. These guys have been in heavy rotation here at Popsicle HQ lately.

8. The Charade: Monday Morning (The Best Is Yet To Come, 2005)
One of the most touted Swedish pop releases of the year, The Charade has the right pedigree, featuring members of The Shermans with roots that go back to both Red Sleeping Beauty and Happydeadmen. The first time I put this particular song on I didn’t make too much of the verse, but the chorus was like slipping into a warm vat of pop custard and I was hooked. Any fans of jangly guitar pop and girly vocals will be hard put to find a warmer slice of pop sunshine this year.

9. Jens Lekman: The Opposite Of Hallelujah (The Opposite Of Hallelujah EP, 2005)
I saw Jens play a packed club here in Toronto the day this EP came out (on tiny local Toronto indie label Evil Evil). After the show he took his ukulele out onto the street, followed by half the club, and played three more songs to the assembled masses in the freezing cold on College Street! True to his previous EPs it’s a cohesive and brilliant bit of work that has tracks that will not see the light of day on any album. Brilliant use of horns, strings and his curious style make this as noteworthy as all his previous EP’s. Don’t wait until they’re gone…these are bound to become collector’s items.

10. Magnet: Believe (The Tourniquet, 2005)
This was easily my most anticipated album of the year, having loved everything this guy has ever released, and that was BEFORE I found out that my pop hero Jason Falkner was co-producing and playing all over it! Suffice to say it was worth the wait. I was surprised to find that it was a little more understated than his previous work, especially with Falkner onboard, but that’s easy to forgive when the songs are this good.

11. Daniel Saturn: Settle Down (Softly, 1998)
I was looking over the past sampler tracklists and I realized that I never featured anything from Daniel Saturn’s bedroom 8-track masterpiece debut “Softly” before. Coupled with the fact that NO-ONE has ordered it from Popsicle despite the fact that it’s the only place ON THE PLANET where you can get this CD, I figured it was time to give it a little push. Basically, If John and Paul had been born ten years later and played in Stockholm instead of Hamburg, with Bjorn and Benny instead of George and Pete, well….they might have sounded like Daniel Saturn. Oh, and all our Daniel Saturn CDs are signed by the elusive man himself.

12. Ane Brun: To Let Myself Go (A Temporary Dive, 2005)
I was taken with Ane Brun’s disarming voice and unusual songwriting and production right away, and this album is proving to be one of the best of the year. Ron Sexsmith makes an appearance too, but not on this song.

13. The Perishers: When I Fall (From Nothing To One, 2002)
I make no bones about my love of The Perishers. I’ve been hooked on these guys since I first heard this, their debut album a few years ago. I was delighted when they got picked up by Nettwerk, and I was thrilled to watch them sell 900 copies of their new album off the stage at a single concert in Toronto opening for Sarah McLachlan in May. Then I found out that Nettwerk are basically doing absolutely nothing with their debut album and decided it was my duty to make it more widely available. BOTH their albums are pure solid gold from start to finish, it’s as simple as that. I dare you not to love this band!

14. Dive: Alive (Unfortunately Dead EP, 2004)
Spinguy got his knickers all in a twist over this Danish four-piece earlier this year. He thought they were the second coming. So much so that he talked me into stocking this 4 track EP, something I don’t normally do. I get where they’re coming from with their PIL-inspired 80’s tinged sound and I love the strings on this tune. The singer has a really unusual voice which Spinguy loves and I can take or leave. Here’s hoping they do a full-length album soon so we can see what they’ve really got going on. Four songs just isn’t enough to go on…

15. Labrador: In A Blue Balloon (Goodbye Susanne, 2002)
Here’s another one that you really can’t find anywhere unless you can navigate your way around Japanese websites. Labrador’s debut album only ever came out there, and it costs an arm and a leg to import, but Spinguy threatened not to share his toys with me if I didn’t get it, and I must admit it’s a rather special little album. Flemming Borby barely changed his sound between the two albums, which won’t draw complaints from fans of this style of spacey boy/girl tweepop.

16. Holm: Tell It Like It Is (South Of The River, 2004)
Keeping up the tradition of featuring a non-Scandinavian artist on the sampler CD, I present you with Holm, a German pop crooner whose “South Of The River” album is a real treat. I don’t know if he listens to anything that came out after 1972, but let’s not hold that against him. His voice is lovely, the songs are great and his arrangements fit the music perfectly. Spinguy did an interview with him which you can read here: http://www.indiespinzone.com/bands/holm.html

17. Popium: Matters Of The Heart (Camp, 2004)
I’d like to go on record as saying that this CD was a BUGGER to get hold of. I started trying to get it the week it came, and it was in my hands, oh, about six months later. Lazy record companies aside, there are some real pop gems on this third Popium album, as you would expect. I don’t know how much touring they did behind it but they’re apparently back in the studio already working on the follow-up.

18. Girlfriend: Everyday I Wake Up (Blue Sky Love Scene, 2004)
Here’s a second cut from Girlfriend, this time from their most recent “Blue Sky Love Scene”. It’s a more ambitious album than their debut but they pull it off nicely. There’s not a duff track on it.

19. Moi Caprice: Daisies (Once Upon A Time In The North, 2003)
I think I’ve listened to this album 15 times at least in the last month. The fact that Spinguy and I are BOTH blown away by these guys should be a pretty strong indication of how great they are. I mean, listen to this track….have you ever heard anything quite like it before? I certainly haven’t.

20. Jaga Jazzist: Stardust Hotel (What We Must, 2005)
I’m going out on a bit of a limb with this selection, but I reckon that if you’re still coming back after seven sampler CDs you’ll give me a little latitude. Norwegian 10-piece instrumental “new jazz” combo Jaga Jazzist have released one of the most engaging left-field albums of the year. It’s much more guitar-heavy than their previous efforts, which is one of the reasons I like it so much, and they even dropped the “Jazzist” part of their name in recognition of their new direction, but they are still referred to by the full name in most circles. Make sure you listen to this track at least three times, and play it loud. At night. In the car.

21. Anna Ternheim: I’ll Follow You Tonight (Somebody Outside, 2004)
This album came out late last year with very little fanfare. My contact at Stockholm Records sent me a copy and I listened to it a couple of times and filed it away. Then Anna started to gather steam in the Swedish charts and I decided to have another crack at it. Like a fine wine it had matured considerably and has been in heavy rotation for the last few months. This is super introspective, sparsely arranged folk/pop with a truly unique voice. There’s a limited edition double CD with the second disc full of solo renditions and some non-album tracks.