Ever since the Hives' front man Howlin' Pelle Almqvist busted out his first bolo-tied move for transatlantic audiences back in 2000, Sweden has been a main preoccupation for those with ears pricked toward the young and the new. But this year holds the prospect of a serious Scandinavian smackdown: Norway, long renowned as the ground zero of black-metal (no joke), now boasts burgeoning electronic scenes in the cities of Stavanger and Oslo-home to the genre known as Oslodisco, or "space disco," for its slightly psychedelic bent. The nation has also given life to a rapidly growing lineup of internationally popular indie bands and solo artists, many of whom will share billing with bands like Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine at this year's annual øya music festival in Oslo later this month. Take a look at a sampling of the acts that are making Norway the hottest state in Scandinavia. And may the fjords be with you.
She is: 30-year-old Anne Lilia Berge Strand, from Bergen, Norway, the class of 2008's prom queen.
Her sound: 2005's brilliant Anniemal, found her moving the indie-dance flag. Her follow-up, Don't Stop (Universal Island Records) arrives in October. Its first single, "I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me," bleeps and bounces along, a Mary Jane Girls-style brag dipped in Pixy Stix.
He is: Joachim Dyrdahl, a 29-year-old mathematician and classically trained violinist who DJs at Oslo's Sunkissed, the country's top club night, and has remixed for the likes of Bloc Party.
His sound: Dyrdahl's compositions and remixes are intimate epics with surprising depth. His galloping remix of Ost & Kjex's "Boston Food Strangler" is recommended for the title alone.
Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas
They are: Hans-Peter Lindstrøm, 35, an artist and producer who owns his own label, Feedelity (so named to signify that experience "when music sounds good and bad at the same time"), and who has remixed Franz Ferdinand and LCD Soundsystem, among others. His frequent cohort Thomas Moen Hermansen, 33, is an artist and producer, and the owner of two labels, Full Pupp and Internasjonallet; he also created Essential Mixes for the BBC.
The sound: Often called "loungecore," the duo's take on dance music is diverse and adventurous. Their willingness to chop up everything from soft rock to vintage disco has earned them comparisons to DJs like Larry Levan of New York City's legendary Paradise Garage.
They are: Four pretty boys-Jonas Dahl (bass), Arne Stöy Kvalvik (drum machine, effects), Kjetil Ovesen (synthesizers), and Ådne Meisfjord (vocals, guitar, keyboards)-in tight pants, vests, and ties, who formed a version of the band in 2001 and moved to the big city (in this case, Oslo) in 2002.
They're the: Nordic Interpol, if Interpol swapped guitars for keyboards and brooding for yelping. Their sound: Gloom-rock with an electronic edge, or New Order as if cinematically observed by Sven Nykvist. As their MySpace page notes, they're available to DJ.
Master Piece of Cake
They are: Four 19-year-old punks straight outta Holmestrand, who combine youthful energy and a sense of rock heritage (Dead Kennedys, Buzzcocks, Blondie) into a dervishy whirl of punk and surf pop.
Their sound: They're Norway's answer to the Hives, taking the brash thing one step further-the unsigned band's demo is called Don't Piss on Me and Tell Me It's Raining. That pretty much sums up their attitude.
She is: A singer-songwriter who grew up on the largest fjord in Norway and has an ethereal, early Marianne Faithfull beauty. Nes plays more than a half-dozen instruments and self-recorded her debut album, Ames Room (FatCat Records) on her laptop.
Her sound: Tinkly Vespertine-era Björk-like intros-she plays her own glockenspiel!-yield to whispery, dreamy confessionals. Her intimate bedroom tapes fit right in with indigenous American home—studio favorites like Grizzly Bear and Au Revoir Simone.