In Austin this week for SxSW: Sweden's talented song-writer Kristoffer Ragnstam has a new album in time for its songs to rain down upon indie rock audiences at South-by-Southwest this week. "Wrong Side of the Room" (in fine record stores and online through itunes) is certainly one worth owning. If you're in Austin, check him out. If not - and this is your very first exposure, get ready to be impressed!
Sweden's has their own Beck?
Kristoffer Ragnstam - Swing That Tambourine
WHO IS KRISTOFFER RAGNSTAM? He has already had some success, touring in support of Debby Harry in 2007. With this new record, it looks like that was just the beginning, and Ragnstam will now make another assault on American shores, we hope even bigger, and more sustained, than his predecessors.
SWEDEN'S FAVORITE SON? A number of reviews have likened the Swedish Rangstam to Beck. It's true that both clearly have some of the same eclectic tastes (those influences and his quirky nature clearly helping Beck become such a staple of both the American and international music scenes.) But perhaps it’s unfair to look so far afield for influences. And comparing an artist to one of his contemporaries could be a limiting factor. In Ragnstam's case we definitely wouldn't want to do that!
HOT IMPORTS: There have been other important bands which suggest Sweden has a thriving music scene on its own terms. The Wannadies, for one, had some great (though more angry) guitar-pop in the 90s which Ragnstam at times seems to echo. Then there was mainstream America’s brief affair with The Hives. Though past their best now, they have done some great punk-pop music over the years. The question is then, will Kristoffer Ragnstam take up the mantle for the Swedish music scene? It certainly looks like it.
Ragnstam’s latest record, “Wrong Side of the Room,” is catchy and energizing in turns. Mixed by renowned Blur, Radiohead and Supergrass engineer, Chris Brown, it manages to be both polished and edgy. Ragnstam's lyrics fit this model too.
The song “2008,” for example, is a great mix of the humorous and poignant. The track begins with the lines “Nothing bores me more than an overrated poet/ with an acoustic guitar, and way too much to say.” As you begin to smile, he sings “Nothing makes me feel more lonely/ than when I’m all alone, with you honey,” and you are suddenly in a quite different place. This is one artist you should get to know!