A GUEST POSTING by MARTIN ELLIOT
(Our Swedish Correspondent)
I guess this mail has become a bit of a tradition, that I summarize last year from a Swedish music POV. As we all know 2020 went down as a year we’d probably most want to forget as quick as possible, very true also for us. I started working at home from last week of February, returning from the Milan area the same night as the first reports came of COVID-19 cases found in 10 smaller towns south of Milan… Immediate quarantine, and then remote working since. Soon celebrating a full year at the dining table. Pros, it’s been many a good year since I played so many of my vinyl records, and I’ve been much more physical active than normal, not spending time commuting – lost 5 kg so far! Cons, well most of all a non existent social life and a limited variation in environment I see.
Musically it became a bit of an in-between year here on the Eastern front, a lot of things postponed, delayed or just taking forever to complete with artists isolated (and not all enjoying being locked down in solitude). I’ve managed to scramble out a couple of decent tracks though, well in my eyes at least, for an EP of the best Swedish music from 2020.
Without further ado, let’s go.
1. Pale Honey – Bad Thing.
Just before Christmas Pale Honey dropped their 3rd album, and what an album it turned out to be. Ten sparkling, raw and self assured tunes. Highly recommended!
2. Kite – Hand Out The Drugs.
The synth-duo Kite has a history of releasing 4 to 5 track EP’s, six so far, rather than full length albums but 2020 saw them release three 7″ singles instead. All of them very good, Hand Out The Drugs was the last of the three, with a title apt for a year needing escape.
3. Twice A Man – Rain Of Shame.
T A M has been active for about 40 years now, they started in the late 70’s as Cosmic Overdose and then became Twice A Man. They have shifted between more pop oriented electronic music to music for plays or art exhibitions. Last year saw them release the album On The Other Side Of The Mirror, a darker version of their more pop oriented side and to me one of their best releases so far.
4. Kapitalet – En Förlorad Värld (A Lost World).
In Swedish, won’t make much sense for most of the TVV readers (sorry), but over here it had importance – since it was the first (and so far only) new song written and performed by one of the forming members of Kent. Kent was the biggest band over here for several years (their 2nd album and ALL 9 following studio albums has been number 1 here, one of the albums stayed 85 (!!) weeks in the charts) and when they March 2016 in a brilliant way announced their last album and tour the same year people cried.
The track isn’t too far away from what Kent sounded like the last few years, lyrically a bit more political, but didn’t make even close the impact in the charts as Kent used to do.
5. ionnalee – Mouth’s Open Sea (Kronologi version).
Jonna Lee Nilsson celebrated 10 years as multimedia artist last year by releasing a collection of reworked or re-recorded songs from her ionnalee and iamamiwhoami aliases. (Some of you might remember she’s been included also earlier years.) Open Sea was originally on 2019’s Remember The Future, this is still trademark ionnalee electronics, but a darker, more focused and beat driven version than the original.
6. Kleerup – I Hang On To My Vertigo (featuring Freddie Wadling).
Yes, the old Ruper Hine classic, by the same Kleerup that made Robyn into an international star with the track With Every Heartbeat. Kleerup has had some tough years suffering from drug addictions but seems to be back in shape. Last year saw the release of his album “2”, working with artists like AlunaGeorge and Rebecca&Fiona – and dusting off an older recording with Swedish punk legend Freddie Wadling.
Freddie sadly died summer of 2016 after a hard and destructive life. Maybe contradictary to his destructive life he was musically very active, at one time he was member of 12 different bands at the same time giving room for his varied creative styles. He played with The Leather Nun, Cortex and Blue For Two to mention the potentially more known bands outside our borders.
Pale Honey – Set Me Free. I add this as bonus track for mainly two reasons; firstly it’s against the laws of mixtapes to include more than one song of the same band and secondly this was actually released late 2019 even if the album came a full year later – but I just can’t not let you hear the best indie dance intro since Fools Gold…
From the dining table, thanks for listening.
JC adds..…I always look forward to Martin’s end of year round-up as there’s inevitably something in there that grabs may attention, and this year is no different. The two Pale Honey tracks are already on heavy rotation and I’m always grateful to hear more of ionnalee.