It’s no secret that the rise of Sløtface from relative obscurity to one of the most hotly tipped bands in the British music press has been one of the overriding musical success stories of the year.
Their jagged, politically-tinged, culturally-conscious pop punk anthems (‘Nancy Drew’, ‘Pitted’ etc.) have won over audiences around the world, elevating them from their modest Norwegian roots.
But the breakaway success of Sløtface isn’t in isolation. There must be something in the fjord water as a number of Norwegians (Aurora, Sigrid, Jenny Hval) have also been carving their own unique paths in a wide array of genres, with cities like Oslo and Bergen beginning to establish themselves as hotbeds of musical talent.
One label in particular, Propeller Recordings - the platform behind Sløtface - has been particularly influential in giving such talented young Norwegians the springboard they deserve to reach beyond the Scandinavian scene.
A carefully curated roster, packed with hidden gems, here’s nine artists you should check out from Propeller Recordings, spearheading the new wave of Norwegian music...
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Here’s one you may already be aware of. Having exploded onto the scene with her debut single ‘Backbeat’ pop sensation Dagny has accrued great critical and commercial acclaim alongside a whole host of Spotify listens and radio airtime, not to mention this year’s single, ‘Wearing Nothing’, landing with just as great aplomb.
In fact, such is the impact this member of the Propeller Recordings roster has already made that it’s easy to forget that she only has the one EP to her name. The secret? An expert combination of exuberant pop production and unashamedly catchy tropical-funk beats which lay the foundations for Dagny’s voice to take centre stage.
Pop songwriting done the way it should be. If you don’t already know Dagny, then you really should!
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The layered, kaleidoscopic indie pop of The Fjords makes for atmospheric listening. Delving into a rich palette of sound, the band, which share their name with the country’s famous long, narrow inlets created by glacial erosion, pride themselves on the dark glistening soundscapes they conjure up.
Despite barely a year together as a band, The Fjords have developed a talent for coupling grandiose production with profound, melancholic lyricism, and with only two songs formally released, big things are expected of this band.
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A majestic and ethereal presence, Frøkedal’s delicately woven folk shows another facet to the plethora of acts represented by Propeller Recordings. Hailing from a small village on the western coast of Norway, Anne Lise Frøkedal’s haunting folk whisperings are prime examples of exceptional songwriting, complex guitar intricacy and angelic melodies.
With last year’s ‘Hold on Dreamer’ establishing Frøkedal as an exciting new folk songwriter, it’s worth tracking her progress with her most recent releases proving just as vital listens.
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Having flirted with jazz, rock and doom metal, Kongsberg-born experimentalist Hanne Hukkelberg has finally settled on an art pop as her primary mode of operating musically.
A long-term member of the Propeller Recordings family, Hukkelberg joined the label in 2005 utilising a wide assortment of eclectic instruments and ‘found sounds’, to craft a truly individual sound of boldly original, lusciously produced pop. Her latest album, ‘Trust’ is just as visionary a recording.
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A supergroup of sorts, Imitating Aeroplanes sees Tord Øverland Knudsen (The Wombats) team up with Marius Drogsås Hagen (Team Me), the reunion of two childhood friends who grew up together in Norway. Sonically the band leans firmly towards indie-pop, with biggest single ‘Hourglass’ proving a fine example of the level of undiluted fun that can be had in the genre.
There’s a certain funkified groove to the band, with their debut album, released in the September of this year, said to have been influenced by “red wine and prog nigts”. Fun, escapist indie pop.
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Part singer-songwriter, part political and social activist, Moddi’s interweaving of folk and pop has seen him win over the hearts of many in not just his native Norway but around the word.
A keen sense of activism has been apparent throughout Moddi’s career, coming to head on his last record (‘Unsongs’) that saw him produce an album constituting only covers of provocative ‘banned songs’ from the likes of Pussy Riot, Kate Bush and the Norwegian poet Helge Stanges.
A nuanced musician and articulate wordsmith, Moddi’s brand of heartening melancholic folk music is essential listening for any Scandiphile worth their salt.
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Thea & the Wild
There’s more than a hint of Haim to Thea & the Wild. An anthemic slice of bold pop music soaked in a bed of rich electronic synths, Thea Glenton Raknes’ musical project is a vibrantly colourful affair. Melding electro and synth-pop sensibilities with an experimental industrial sonic backdrop, the result is a rather thrilling, unique experience. Further proof that Scandinavians are the kings of peculiar pop music.
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Representing another side to Propeller Recordings, Sauropod are a more primal alternative rock proposition with tendencies to drift into psychedelic freakouts.
Sauropod, however, have their own idiosyncrasies that allow them to be judged by their own merits. With a strong ear for melody and passionate, infectious energy, this is a band that revels in distorted guitars and their own simplicity. Intelligent, heart-on-sleeve guitar music.
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Pop music is something Norwegians are quite competent at. With Aurora and Sigrid flying high off the back of their recent success, Highasakite have enjoyed similar (slightly less well broadcast) levels of success.
Scratch the surface, though, and you'll find a project raking in millions of listens on streaming sites, performing at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, as well as seeing their third record, ‘Camp Echo’ nominated amongst the shortlist of the IMPALA (The Independent Music Companies Association) Album of the Year Award 2016.
From slow-burn balladry, to infinitely positive pop Highasakite have it all and are firmly amongst the finest Nordic pop outfits out there at the moment.
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Words: Rory Marcham
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