Jónsi: Go — Not just my top Scandinavian album, but my top album of the year. Period. There’s so much emotion in this one that the first time I heard it (a lo-bit stream over crappy computer speakers) I cried. The fact I also happen to be a noted wimp should in no way stop you from checking this out.
Club 8: The people’s record — Yet another in a long string of reasons why Johan Angergård (Club 8/Legends/Pallers/Acid House Kings) should continue on his quest for world domination. (Or failing that, musical domination.) So many bands lose their way after so many albums — their attempts to infuse their sound with new elements as convincing as a child’s Halloween “scary” costume. And then there’s Club 8 — who has mixed afro/Cuban beats in with their sweet pop, and created a delicious hybrid beast…all without sacrificing an iota of their identity along the way.
Jens Lekman: Sure he didn’t put an album out this year, but he played a one-off gig in Los Angeles that had everyone swooning. One of the best performers working today. Full stop.
Ólafur Arnalds: …And they have escaped the weight of darkness — Second in emotional resonance only to Go. It can be difficult to write about experimental instrumentals without sounding foolish — so at the risk of sounding increasingly stupid, this album will recalibrate your perception of beauty.
The Radio Dept.: Clinging to a scheme — It’s about time! Back and better than ever. Welcome.
Casiokids: Topp stemning på lokal bar — Are these “kids” playing near you? (Given their touring schedule it’s a real possibility.) Go! Go! Go! Are you currently at a Casiokids concert? Dance! Dance! Dance!
Seabear: We built a fire — Another gloriously dreamy album from the Icelandic collective. This is nostalgic chamber pop ready to soundtrack new memories.
Kaskas: In the meanwhile — Finland’s Yo La Tengo blending influences and styles with grace. A side-project that — if the world is just and good — will become a full-time gig.
Söder tea: If this were music, it would be a perfect ten. I’m starting to feel like a junkie asking my friends in Sweden to hook me up. No I can’t quit any time I want, and of course, I don’t have a problem.
Sambassadeur: European — Classic pop with an orchestral flair. Why these guys haven’t caught on stateside is one of life’s great mysteries. (Then again, I’m from the country that just nominated Justin Bieberfor a Grammy, so what do I know?)