Record Shopping Stockholm, Sweden Style

Man, I have sucked a blogging in October. Sucked sucked sucked. This has mostly been due to travel – work for the first half of the month, and finally some well-deserved vacation towards the end. But vacation always brings some record shopping with it, and this trip is no different. So without further ado, here’s a recap of my vinyl digging in Stockholm, Sweden.

This is our second trip to Stockholm over the last three or four years, so it isn’t the first time I’ve haunted the city’s shops. The good news, my friends, is that vinyl culture is alive and well in the home of ABBA, and I’m pretty sure there are more stores in the city now than there were on our last trip.

Trash Palace

My first official shopping stop was at Trash Palace, the punk & metal speciality shop up in the northwest part of the city, far away from the tourists. I’d been to Trash Palace on our last trip and came away with some winners, and while I was limiting my purchases this time around because we’re traveling straight from here to Iceland for Airwaves I still found some Swedish gems from the 1980s: Sator Codex’s Wanna Start a Fire, Bitch Boys’ Continental, Attentat’s Tatuerade Tårar, and the self titled album by Kommissarie Roy. Trash Palace is super deep in this type of material, even going so far as to have separate sections for “Punk” and “Hardcore,” as well as breaking down those punk categories by country/region, which makes for a more targeted digging experience. While the prices were a bit higher than Discogs, everything was quite reasonable and I felt good about the condition and price of everything I bought. Trash Palace is also attached to a larger used record store called Nostalgia Planet, so it’s easy to lose a few hours here. If you can only visit one record store on your visit to Stockholm, this is the one.

Bengans

Bengans is more or less a chain music store. When we visited one of the locations a few years back, the vinyl section was about the size of a sofa. This time around, though, a considerable amount of floor space was given over to records, mostly new releases. I scored the 2015 re-release of Ebba Grön’s 1998 album Live, as well as a brand new releases from local band SPR! called Mental Health, which got some good online reviews. All in all Bengans is an OK place to stop if you’re looking for new, popular music releases as well as re-releases of classics. There’s some local flavor on the shelves as well, but you probably aren’t going to find any major surprises.

Pet Sounds

You may have heard of Pet Sounds before – it was #11 on Buzzfeed’s 27 Breathtaking Record Stores You Have To Shop At Before You Die. And I have to admit, it’s a pretty damn cool shop. Located in the southern part of Stockholm, it’s a bit of work to get to but well worth it. Sticking with my Swedish theme I picked up a first pressing of Sex Sex Sex’s debut LP Chaos In Cancerland (though without the inserts) as well as Rädsla’s Sanningen För Pojkar. I almost bought a copy of the great Icelandic comp Northern Lights Playhouse for pretty cheap, but I already have it and frankly space in my record bag is going to be at a premium once we get to Reykjavik tomorrow, so I managed to restrain myself. Pet Sounds is a solid shop with a nice selection, heavily weighted towards rock.

 

I hit up a few more shops, but didn’t see or find anything notable so left them off my recap. Had this been our only stop I’d likely have added another 10 or so records to my pile, but history shows that when we’re in Reykjavik I lose control of my checkbook and there’s a lot of great new Icelandic music I want to bring back so a little self-control was in order. That being said, if you get yourself to Stockholm you’ll probably be able to track down some vinyl you like, especially if you’re into rock and punk.

Blotto – “Hello! My Name Is Blotto. What’s Yours?” (1983)

Blotto were a late 1970s / early 1980s comedic band. Think Weird Al fronting Devo meets the Ramones (all the performers use the nom-de-nonsense Blotto as their last name). And their music video for “I Wanna Be A Lifeguard” (♠) appeared on MTV on the channel’s very first day on the air (see below). And that’s pretty freaking cool. I don’t recognize it, but feel like I must have seen it at some point during all those hours of MTV watching.

 

So there’s that.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this little four song EP when I found it at Georgetown Records. In fact, I’m not even sure why I bought it. But I’m kind of glad I did, because I’ll fully admit to having been all into Weird Al back in the day, so I’m no stranger to comedy rock. It’s all silly and goofy and ridiculous and awesome. Plus musically it isn’t half bad, with elements of pop, ska, and disco. And it has a bizzaro cover of “Stop: In the Name of Love.”

Well played, Blotto. Well played…

(♠) “I make more moves than Atlas Vanlines” might be one of the greatest lyrics ever.

Nurse With Wound – “The Musty Odour Of Pierced Rectums (A Collection Of Obsolete Primitive Variations)” (2008)

There are three bands that I’m completely fascinated with, even though I’m not even sure that I like their music:

I’m at a loss to explain this phenomenon. Why would I be this deeply intrigued by a band I’m not even sure I like? And hell, why these bands and not others that also meet that criteria like Psychic TV or Zoviet France or The Osmonds? I don’t know. Probably because they’re weird, not just musically but individually, and I find weirdness unendingly fascinating, which is probably also why I got my degree in Psychology. And why I like to hang out in Walmarts.

This is my second foray into Nurse With Wound, the other coming with 1992s Thunder Perfect Mind. This is a bit of a departure from that other album, a collection of sounds, like a horror movie or something out of Planet of the Apes if all of the apes were totally crazy and hopped up on mescaline. It’s more outtakes than songs, but there’s an overall darkness to the whole thing, super trippy and not the kind of thing I’d want to listen to alone in the dark late at night unless I was consciously and actively trying not to sleep and/or wanting to give myself nightmares.

I’m not sure if Nurse With Wound is that itch I just can’t scratch, or the one I pick at so much that eventually I find myself bleeding and with an infected sore. Could be a combination of the two. But I’ll probably find myself continuing to buy albums when the price and my mood seem properly aligned… and then wondering why I did.

Shadow – “Shadow” b/w “Tonight the Lights Go Out” 10″ (2013)

Shadow was a Seattle-area band in the early 1980s. There’s really no reason you should have ever heard of them unless you’re a mega Pearl Jam fan, and in that case you might recognize them as a band that featured a 17-year-old Mike McCready on rhythm guitar. Well, back in 2013 Mike decided to release a pair of the band’s songs as a 10″ on his HockeyTalkter Records label, and as soon as I saw it at the label’s table at the recent KEXP record show I knew immediately what it was and snatched up a copy. It shows “Sold Out” on the label’s website, so not sure where they dug these up.

I’ve got to say, this is some pretty solid sleaze metal. There’s a familiar ring to it, though I’m having a hard time placing it, definitely one of those second tier but still decent metal bands who were lurking in every corner in the early 1980s. (♠) Sure, the cover will open the band up to ridicule to the modern-day fan, but kids, it was the 1980s. This was the look. Go check out pictures of your parents from that decade and tell me how they looked. If you dressed like that to school you could have been both super cool and voted “Most Likely To Get Your Ass Kicked” at the same time. That’s the way it was if you wanted to be metal.

You can check out the B side track HERE and give it a listen for yourself.

(♠) Like Accept. And not “Balls to the Wall,” but some of the their more metal stuff.

Iceland Airwaves ’16 – Let the Madness Begin!

Wim over at ROK – Icelandic Music Review asked me to put together something for that site about the bands I’m most looking forward to seeing at Airwaves this year. And it seemed like such a good idea, I thought I’d post it here too.

The weeks leading up to Iceland Airwaves are always filled with apprehension for me. I’ve seen the roster of incredible bands slated to appear, but the schedule hasn’t come out yet. Will I get to see everyone I want to see? What if there’s a conflict that puts Dr. Spock up against FM Belfast at the same time? How pissed am I going to be if I don’t get to see Agent Fresco? What if the waffle truck isn’t at Lækjartorg after the Friday and Saturday night shows??? These are the things that keep me awake at night.

This year will be my eighth consecutive Iceland Airwaves, so my list of “bands I want to see” is actually two separate lists – one of bands I’ve seen before and want to see again, and the other of those I’ve never been fortunate enough to see. Usually if a conflict exists I’ll go to see the band I’ve never seen before, but not always… some are so good that I’d go see them no matter who they were up against. So with that in mind, here’s a look at the bands on my “short list” for 2016.

We saw some great hip hop at Airwaves ’15, and as a result I’ll definitely try to catch Glacier Mafia, Epic Rain, and Úlfur Úlfur. On the metal front, DIMMA and Sólstafir are sure to attract my attention, as will some metal/punk crossover bands like Pink Street Boys and Dr. Spock. If I’m feeling a bit introspective or dark in my mood, I’ll try to find shows by Vök, Kælan Mikla, or Fufanu. But if I want to party I’ll certainly want to go crazy to FM Belfast or Berndsen. And if I feel the need to embrace technology and electricity with some electronica, nothing can beat Kiasmos or Hermigarvill or Tonik Ensemble. And what about Agent Fresco? It’s not Airwaves without seeing them tear the house down.

But man, there’s so much fresh new (or at the very least “new to me”) stuff to see and hear this year too! Bootlegs and Auðn will surely make sure I don’t find myself too metal deficient, while if I just want to get weird I’ll check out Vaginaboys or Reptilicus. Electronically I’d like to experience Einarindra and RVK DNB, but at the end of the day the performer I’m most excited to see for the very first time is none other than Björk, who we missed a few years back when she had to cancel. I can’t wait to experience her live at Harpa this year.

Truth be told, though, I’m most looking forward to seeing my friends and making some new ones, because that’s a special part of the Airwaves experience. If you ever get a chance to go, make sure to take the time to talk to the locals and the other festival-goers, because if you’re lucky you just might make a life-long friend or two.