It’s time for another Scene Report about a European city. This time we chose Gothenburg (Göteborg). It’s the second biggest city in Sweden and is situated on the west coast. Fun fact: The most annoying sound on the internet and a big sensation from a couple of years ago, Crazy Frog, originated from Gothenburg!
There seems to be a very active and thriving music scene in Gothenburg. There are some amazing festivals, such as Way Out West that has a very diverse programming with internationally acclaimed acts and some local acts. Clandestino Festival is more an alternative music festival, with less big names and a strong sense of cultural and social responsibility.
There are also a lot of venues in Gothenburg.
Nattmaran is a club for Gothenburg’s underground. A lot of unknown acts and from the website alone you can’t get much information.
Koloni is another venue that does a lot with experimental music. Just as with Nattmaran it seems very underground and hard to get a grip on.
Skjul Fyra Sex only seems to have a Facebook page, so besides their alternative programming I couldn’t find to much information about it.
Pustervik has been part of Gothenburg’s cultural scene since the 1920’s and since 1990 it has been a theatre stage, hosting both theatrical pieces and regular concerts.
Nefertiti is a jazzclub located in Gothenburg
Roda Sten is one of West Sweden’s largest art centers and besides their exhibitions they also have a café and a nightclub.
Truckstop Alaska is another bar that hosts concerts.
Fängelset is a venue located in an old prison, which sounds extremely cool.
There is something in the Swedish water that makes them great looking and gives them a talent for writing great pop music. The last couple of years there has been a lot of attention for the electronic-oriented pop music that came from Sweden. But it’s not your average top40/radio pop, but just really great and original electronic-infused pop music that beams out emotion and in most cases are also danceable.
Some of the bigger names from Gothenburg are The Knife and Fever Ray. The Knife is an electronic music duo by Olof Dreijer and Karin Dreijer Andersson. They first received international attention when fellow citizen José Gonzales covered their song ‘Heartbeats’ for a Sony commercial. They got great reviews for their albums and since their success several artists have tried to copy their sound.
Karin has also known success with her solo project Fever Ray although a bit more experimental than The Knife, the album received lots of praise. The music is dark-electronic sound, with some exotic influences and processed vocals.
Olof Dreijer has been releasing music in 2009 and 2010 under the moniker Oni Ayhun and he seems to have gotten more into the experimental side of electronics, although some tunes are still highly appropriate for club nights.
One other band that has been doing fairly well for themselves is Little Dragon, with their catchy electro-pop they have been playing tons of shows, Gorillaz, collaborating with SBTRKT, Dave Sitek and opening for Gorillaz.
But there have been some great new acts more recently too.
A lot of these acts are signed to Hybris a recordlabel/publisher, with a lot of great Scandinavian pop acts, including several Gothenburg signings.
One of them is El Perro Del Mar who recently shifted from her melancholic pop towards a darker and more electronic oriented path with her upcoming album ‘Pale Fire’.
Korallreven are another act that have been impressing world wide with their hazy dance music, that is very melancholic and dreamy, but also incredibly catchy.
But don’t overlook the lesser-known Happy Hands Club (Napoleon Dynamite anyone?), who play an infectious portion of indie-pop. Just as Palpitation who are their labelmates on Luxxury, which is a Gothenburg-based record label. Palpitation is a duo consisting of two girls, who churn out indiepop songs, backed by some electronic drums.
There is also a great scene of electronic pop acts around the label Sincerely Yours, which was formed in 2005 by The Tough Alliance (who are now defunct). After releasing their own music they also started releasing music by other Gothenburg acts, but the label is hard to get understand. One look at the website can confuse what it is they exactly do, since they also sell (really expensive) merch like caps, t-shirts and denim shirts.
One of the artists on the label is jj, who release their music on both Sincerely Yours and Secretly Canadian. They combine their dreamy pop with some Balearic beat and have been touring extensively and gained much attention with their unique sound and attitude towards the press. Recently they released their latest EP, called jj nº4.
Both members also have their own projects. The guy has a project called Team Rockit, which is Swedish hip-hop. The girl has her own thing called Spêcial Club, which is often mistaken as jj.
Another act signed to SY is ceo, he is also part owner and used to sing in The Tough Alliance. He seems to be heavily influenced by pop-culture, as you can see on his website. His music is a mix between pop and Balearic house.
Some other noteable names are Azure Blue, another artist on Hybris, who has his own relaxed and moody take on the electro-pop genre.
Boat Club are a duo that also specialize in the Balearic pop, that has been doing well in- and outside of Sweden lately.
But making popmusic isn’t the only thing Gothenburg is good at. During the ‘90’s a certain heavy metal style called ‘Melodic death metal’ became popular and centered in the ‘Gothenburg metal’ scene. This style became popular by Gothenburg bands such as In Flames and Dark Tranquility.
Another notable name in Gothenburg’s metal scene is The Haunted, formed in 1996 with members from At The Gates. Their style has switched from album to album, sometimes they approached the more melodic death metal that resembled the typical Gothenburg style, but they were also known for their thrash metal. In May their singer announced his departure from the band, but this doesn’t stop them since they announced a new album for the end of 2012.
Evergray is a progressive-metal band formed in 1995 and deal with a lot of heavy subjects and dark imagery. They have an impressive list of albums and toured heavily throughout the world.
HammerFall was formed in 1993 and it’s early line-up consisted of members from In Flames and Dark Tranquility. Although the band has undergone some line-up changes, they are still a strong force in the metal scene.
Horisont is not a metal band, but more of a ‘70’s hard rock act, influenced by the very early heavy metal by names as Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, etc. You can listen to their performance on Roadburn 2012 here.
Anchor is a straight-edge hardcore band that played Incubate in 2011. Their heavy style takes it influences from early 90’s hardcore and they have been spreading their aggressive music all around the world.
Galvano is a newer name in the metal scene. Their sludge metal will finally find it’s way to a proper release on their recently announced debut album ‘The Two Titans’, the release date will be announced shortly.
Gothenburg also has a darker, weirder side to it. There seems to be a big and tight underground scene, which is hard to infiltrate as an outsider, seeing as most bands don’t have their own website. But we managed to track down some of it.
Release The Bats was a Gothenburg-based label that has released a vast amount of amazing artists; among all the acts there is also a collection of Gothenburg acts. Unfortunately they called it quits not too long ago
Järtecknet is a newer experimental record label, brought to life to document and release the musical underground in their closest surroundings. Mostly releasing stuff on cassette. So if you’re interested in Swedish underground music, you should check out their music.
Another label is Fang Bomb, which focuses on noise, drone, improvisation and electronics.
It seems to be a tight group in the underground scene, since a lot of artists who will be mentioned below have released music on one or more of the labels above.
Blodvite is one of the noise-makers from Gothenburg and a steady name in the underground. He is also the founder of Järtecknet.
Street Drinkers has put out several releases on Release The Bats and more recently put something out on Posh Isolation, a label that we mentioned in our article about Copenhagen. This guy layers synth, vocals and drums to create his minimalistic, psych-drone sounds. Listen to his latest release here.
Tsukimono is the solo-project of Johan Gustavsson Winther and has released tons and tons of material during his runtime. He is neither bound my genre or style and has been experimenting throughout his career, creating everything from doom-y drones, minimalistic electronics, noise, acoustic stuff and lots more.
Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words is the moniker under which Thomas Ekelund has been crafting his material. His dreary and bleak sounds form a form of drone, which is noisy, but also melancholic and moody, giving it a certain emotional depth.
Lust For Youth is a boy-girl duo that will be playing on this years Incubate as part of the Sacred Bones in residence project. Their gritty take on 80’s dark-wave is perfect for a dance party in a rundown-factory with only some strobes to keep you company. This young band is certainly one to watch!
Arv & Miljö is a lot less danceable. This artist seems get his inspiration from the very darkest depths, summoning dark, harsh noise. Not for everyone!
Nana April Jun also makes noise, but it’s more structured and less dark than Arv & Miljö.
Feberdröm is more industrial type noise. With a release on Järtecknet it’s one of Gothenburg’s underground secrets that is hard to find any information or music from.
A less harsh, but still experimental duo, is Wildbirds & Peacedrums made up of husband and wife Andreas Werliin and Mariam Wallentin. The music is extremely rhythmic, with Andreas’ tight drumming and Mariam’s dynamic singing, which is sometimes accompanied by a steel pan.
Midaircondo is another experimental duo. These two operate in a field somewhere between electronic and acoustic experimentation, combining it with processed vocals, soundscapes and beats into their own blend of avant-garde pop.
EF is an experimental post-rock band. Recently they announced their new EP called ‘Delusions of grandeur’. Their latest release already opened up to more influences from folk, ambient and electronics, they will perform their new sounds at 013 on September 28th.
September Malevolence is another epic post-rock band. Building their songs up to epic climaxes, where guitar and heavy drums clash, while the vocals tend to give the songs a dreamier attribute.
Immánu El is another amazing post-rock act. Their floating sounds make the listener dream of Nordic landscapes, with the soft voiced singer gently singing his hymns in your ear.
Monachus is an entirely different entity in the post-rock world, adding darker influences like metal and hardcore, they create a doom-y post-metal sound.
Cut City is a post-punk band that came on the radar a few years ago with their release ‘Exit Decades’. Their latest release is called ‘Where’s The Harm In Dreams Disarmed’ and is filled to the brim with excellent post-punk tunes.
Love is All is a five-piece indie pop band signed to quality label Polyvinyl. Their rambling pop songs made a great impression on the blogs a few years ago and that’s not without reason. Simple, yet energetic songs that are especially set apart by the use of saxophone.
Jens Lekman crafts guitar-pop songs to which he adds some samples and a good dose of witty lyrics.
Tyred Eyes is a starting garage-punk band from Gothenburg, filled with energy, catchy riffs and a healthy dose of witty lyrics and funny songnames. One of the more fun acts I have encountered during my search.
José Gonzalez is one of Gothenburg’s more notable singer-songwriters. He became famous with his cover of The Knife’s ‘Heartbeat’. With his amazing voice and intriguing guitar skills he gained much attention. More recently he has been playing in the band Junip with their unique mix of folk-jazz that adds influences ranging from afro-beat to krautrock.
Matilda Andersson actually lives on an island above Gothenburg, called Tjörn, but I still wanted to include her. This songstress has a beautiful, eerie voice, which is drenched in reverb. Mixed with her acoustic material, the songs get a spooky, film-like quality.
Sea Lion is another Gothenberg songstress. Her alternative singer-songwriter music gets a weird twist because of her childlike voice, which is sometimes reminiscent of Kate Bush. Definitely a recommendation.
Rambling Nicholas Heron is way different than before mentioned singer-songwriters. He surrounded himself with a four-piece band who churn out something they call ‘indiefolkrockboogieblues’, which is a pretty accurate description, seeing how they groove their way to their Americana influenced songs.
Just as with the other articles, I’ve stumbled upon more amazing sounds than can be put in this one piece of text. There is so much more going on that I haven’t found yet or failed to include. If you have any suggestions or bands/venues/initiatieves from Gothenburg that absolutely can’t be missed, please feel free to add them in the comments.