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The Local’s top Swedish music acts for 2015

Sweden has a global reputation for exporting music for the masses, from DJ Avicii to folk group First Aid Kit. But who are the next acts showing international potential? We asked The Local's music guru Paul Connolly.

The Local's top Swedish music acts for 2015
Naomi Pilgrim in concert in Stockholm. Photo: TT

Sweden’s status as the world’s third largest pop music exporter was celebrated recently when PostNord, Sweden’s postal service, announced a new line of stamps featuring electro-dance icon Robyn, folk band First Aid Kit, DJ Avicii, soul singer Seinabo Sey and mega-producer/songwriter Max Martin (the man behind the hits of mega stars including Taylor Swift and Britney Spears).

But who will be next to break through internationally?

Last year, our main tip was Tove Lo who in 2014 began playing in tiny venues and ended the year supporting Katy Perry on her world tour and enjoying a global smash hit with Habits (first talked about on The Local back in 2013).

Lo's debut album, Queen Of The Clouds, even reached number 14 in the US album charts – similar success is expected when the album is released in the UK this month.

This year Zara Larsson and AronChupa will almost certainly emulate Lo’s success and enjoy some US chart action.

But what about further down the ladder? 

Predicting surefire success is almost impossible so what follows is a list of acts who float our boat. They may never become huge but they will release some terrific music in 2015.

1. Nadya

Born in Jönköping to Iranian parents, Nadia "Nadya" Kardar Tehran previously played in punk and hip-hop bands. Those genres’ energy and anger have certainly suffused her music as a solo artist, but there is majesty here too – Refugee may be searing but it’s also utterly magnificent. She’s been likened to the UK’s M.I.A. M.I.A. should be so lucky.

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2. AnnaMelina

AnnaMelina doesn’t like to blow her own trumpet. In fact this 21-year-old purveyor of electronica R&B probably disdains trumpets. So we will bring her to your attention instead. She writes all about the bits of love in between the dizzy beginnings and the sorry end. And she does it so very well.

3. Julia Vero 

Vero makes big-boned pop songs that probably have slimmer older brothers and sisters that were born in the 1980s. It’s not all retro, though – there’s a knowing contemporary ear at work here, as evidenced by the dirty synths. Polished but not smug.

4. The Amazing

A name like The Amazing demands that you be good. Luckily, this Stockholm band peddle the kind of dreamy but focused rustic rock that has had people slavering over the likes of My Morning Jacket and Fleet Foxes. Seriously amazing stuff.

5. Naomi Pilgrim

Pilgrim could be forgiven for thinking that she’s been somewhat left behind by the likes of Seinabo Sey and Mapei, Sweden’s premier new soul stars. She may need to add a lick of her own personality to her music and if she does 2015 can be hers.

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6. Blänk

Blänk come from the very north of the Bothnian Bay. But their music is not chilly or remote. Tears Run Dry is, instead, utterly accessible and warm electronic pop. And their imminent debut album, Only Built For The Northern Lights, is rather special.

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MUSIC

What are the best concerts in Sweden this autumn?

Now that Sweden has lifted its audience restrictions for public events, The Local's Paul O'Mahony lists his recommendations for the best gigs to attend over the coming months.

Crowd at a music concert in Debaser, Stockholm
Crowds return to Stockholm venue Debaser after pandemic restrictions on events were lifted. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Sweden’s musicians, concert promoters and venue operators have struggled to varying degrees through the pandemic. One surefire way to help get them back on their feet is to give organisers and artists the financial reassurance they need by pre-booking concerts. 

Of course these recommendations only apply if you feel safe attending large events; remember that you should stay home and take a Covid-19 test if you experience any symptoms that could be linked to the virus, even if vaccinated. And make sure to check with organisers if there are any specific coronavirus requirements you need to be aware of. 

Coming up: top gigs in Sweden over the next few months 

As a regular gig-goer, live music is the one thing I’ve missed most over the past year and a half. So it is with some excitement (and, I’ll admit, a degree of trepidation) that I prepare to go see Norwegian band Pom Poko this Friday at Hus 7 in Stockholm. Their melodic art-punk album Cheater sparked the year into life on its release in January. They’re also playing Plan B in Malmö on Saturday night

Plan B is also the venue when Squid hit Sweden with a thrilling dose of post-punk on October 15th. Tickets remain available for the show at the time of writing (an absolute steal at 120 kronor), though that’s sadly not the case in Stockholm where their October 16th gig at Melodybox sold out a long time ago. (Although you can sign up to be added to a waiting list). 

Another artist well worth checking out in October is Gothenburg guitarist and singer Amanda Werne, better known as Slowgold. Her live shows are great and she is embarking on a Swedish tour on October 8th. 

Emma-Jean Thackray, one of the UK’s most interesting jazz artists, will be at Fasching in Stockholm on October 15th

For the best kind of sonic assault, Anna von Hasswolff’s band Bada are scheduled to play in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg in late October. 

Have any of you ever seen Gothenburg electronic veterans Little Dragon live? I haven’t but might check them out in November when they swing by Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg

Amason are also heading out on the road for a Scandinavian tour in November. If you haven’t heard Amanda Bergman’s voice in a live setting before this will be a treat. 

The inimitable Sibille Attar released her superb second album A History of Silence at the start of the year and she’s finally getting the chance to play her eighties-inspired gems live at Slaktkyrkan in Stockholm on November 18th

Cassandra Jenkins long lurked in the background as a musician in touring bands for people like Eleanor Friedberger and Purple Mountains. But this year’s album An Overview on Phenomenal Nature has really established her as an artist to be reckoned with in her own right. She’s coming to Södra Teatern in Stockholm on November 26th

Always popular in this part of the world, The Jesus and Mary Chain return to Sweden for dates in Stockholm and Gothenburg at the end of November

Wry Finland-Swedish indie outfit Vasas Flora och Fauna have some of the funniest (Swedish) lyrics and catchiest tunes around. They’ll be in Stockholm and Gothenburg the first weekend of December

UK experimental rockers Black Midi are also playing Stockholm and Gothenburg on December 4th and 5th. So prepare to travel if you want to catch both them and Vasas Flora and Fauna. 

As if that wasn’t enough, Bob Hund’s annual ‘week 48’ show also takes place on December 4th. But that has been sold out for ages so no decisions to make there. It is also worth noting though that Sweden’s hardest working band has also written a musical that’s going to be performed in Helsingborg (October-November) and Gothenburg (November)

Bonus: For a post-Christmas pick-me-up try to get down to Little Simz at Slaktkyrkan on January 14th if you’re in Stockholm. The UK rapper’s new album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is one of this year’s best releases. 

Selected artists playing Sweden in 2022: Henry Rollins, Sarah Klang, Yann Tiersen, Mogwai, Pearl Charles, Wolf Alice, Lloyd Cole, Lord Huron, Future Islands, Josh Rouse + Vetiver, Tricky, Snail Mail, Porridge Radio, Aldous Harding, Shame, The Kooks, The War on Drugs, Echo and the Bunnymen, Kings of Convenience, Fontaines D.C., Alex Cameron, Lucy Dacus, The Divine Comedy, Mdou Moctar, Iggy Pop, Chubby and the Gang, Sparks, Belle & Sebastian, The National, Sharon Van Etten, Teenage Fanclub, Tindersticks, Suede, Viagra Boys, Pavement. 

For bigger arena shows, Ticketmaster covers a lot of the bases. Big-name acts with gigs in the offing include Ed Sheeran, Zara Larsson, Whitesnake and, lest we forget, ABBA

And that’s just a fraction of what’s going on. Tour schedules are busier than ever now that artists are finally getting back on the road. To keep track of what gigs are coming up I can recommend checking in with Luger, FKP Scorpio, and Live Nation. Follow your favourite venues too: sometimes they cut out the middleman and do their own booking and promotion. I also use the Bandsintown app, which comes with the added bonus of receiving messages from your favourite artists which let you pretend to be their friend. 

Enjoy the gigs, and stay safe! 

Paul O’Mahony is editorial product manager at The Local. In his spare time he plays the best new indie and alternative music as host of the Signals show on Nerve Music.

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