Best Norwegian Albums of 2017
by Ine Julia Rojahn Schwebs

Anana <BR> “Well”


Anana makes music that is pure and beautiful down to every note, chord and vocal harmony. With Ananas songs everything falls into place. It is the kind of music you can sit listening to in your room for hours (although, unfortunately, this album is only 22 minutes long) and dive into your own miserable conceptions of the world just to come out on the other side feeling like you have understood something you did not know before.

The clear piano production and use of minimalistic, electronic elements makes every hair on your body raise. Anana’s soothing voice gives you hope.

♪♫ Listen: “Selfish Fish On Land” + album stream

Anana on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Arif <BR> “Meg & Deg Mot Alle”

“Meg & Deg Mot Alle”

Arif is one of the most interesting Norwegian hip hop acts and has received increased attention the last couple of years. His single “Alene” (“Alone”) is a well-produced take on the current megatrend hip-hop meets R&B meets pop. Probably it is also one of the most shameless, but somehow also charming love declarations that has ever been released in the history of Norwegian music.

“Hvis jeg ikke får deg vil jeg bare være alene” (“If I don’t get you I just want to be alone”), he sings over and over again on the chorus. I have seen more than one person indulging in a full-on lip sync battle with their crush to that line. Arif’s lyrics make you believe there is a meaning behind every word and he sings about love as fluently as he sings about political perspectives.

♪♫ Listen: “Tamagotchi” + album stream

Arif on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Broen <BR> “I<3Art”


Broen is another artsy-fartsy band that manages to blend different genres into an unique and delightful soundscape. The song “<3” starts out as a track that could have featured in a weird movie about space from the seventies and evolves into 2017’s answer to how the very broad genre specification “indie” should sound like.

Unlike most minimalistic Norwegians (and Norwegian artists), Broen’s band members dress in glitter and sequins when performing live – a very refreshing feature that accompanies the lyrics that are sort of inspiring and tragic at the same time (but that’s in fact nothing but a good thing).

♪♫ Listen: “<3” + album stream

Broen on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Linni <BR> “Medium”


Coming from Norway’s hip-hop capital Bergen, Linni released one of the most solid hip-hop albums of 2017. What is the most striking about Linni’s music is how he makes every single song into a poem, with beautiful and concrete descriptions of complex relationships, personal progression and perspectives on past, present and future.

“Ravneblod” (“Raven blood”) is a gripping and heartfelt track about misconceptions in love relations and that hopeless feeling of constantly trying to look for what you wish for in another person and at the same time knowing they are not what you need. Listening to Linni’s music kind of makes you want to be his friend and pat his shoulder gently while telling him everything is going to be okay.

♪♫ Listen: “Ravneblod” + album stream

Linni on Soundcloud, Twitter, Instagram.

Ola Kvernberg <BR> “Steamdome”

Ola Kvernberg

It’s hard to talk about Norwegian music without talking about contemporary jazz. Kvernberg, who plays the violin, is a pioneer in the game and the album “Steamdome” is nothing but another masterpiece. The difference, however, is that he has taken six of Norway’s greatest musicians with him – together shaping the band with the same name: “Steamdome”. Somehow, this takes your perception of jazz to a quite new level.

No one can probably describe it better than Kvernberg himself did to Norwegian publication GAFFA before the release of the album: “I have been pondering quite a lot and reached a new phase: I am not going to be as stressed about everything I ‘should’ be, but stop overthinking: just play and make music.” With “Steamdome” you will be surprised by what a man with a fiddle and his band can make jazz sound like.

♪♫ Listen: “And Now” + album stream

Ola Kvernberg on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Sassy 009 <BR> “Do You Mind” EP

Sassy 009
“Do You Mind” EP

I am always struck by artists who succeed in sounding both retro and futuristic at the same time. Quite a lot of artists these days master this balance very well, but Sassy 009 really does not sound like anything you have heard before.

Combining elements from various genres such as techno and shoegaze, the trio consisting of Sunni, Tia and Joe has gained a lot of attention outside of little Norway with their very own edge, attitude and of course – sass!

♪♫ Listen: “Summin you up” + album stream

Sassy 009 on Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram.

Bjørn Torske & Prins Thomas <BR> “Square One”

Bjørn Torske & Prins Thomas
“Square One”

Bjørn Torske and Prins Thomas have both built successful solo careers as electronic producers, but “Square One” is a solid piece of proof that collaborations often brings out the best in the participating parts.

The album is an exhilarating 43 minutes of electronic magic and exotic percussion, ending with the beautiful track “Arthur’s Return” that combines a distant drum beat with enthralling synths that constantly changes between exaggerating and falling levels of energy.

It is as if Bjørn Torske and Prins Thomas made electronic music for depressed people and somehow still managed to make it sound uplifting.

♪♫ Listen: “Arthur’s Return” + album stream

Bjørn Torske on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook.
Prins Thomas on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.

Charlotte Dos Santos <BR> “Cleo”

Charlotte Dos Santos

As the millennial I am, I grew up listening to soul acts such as Destiny’s Child and TLC and dreamed of becoming as sassy as Ashanti and powerful as Brandy. Most of my teenage years I spent in my room, singing every single Alicia Keys song that was released to the date (this is not a joke, name one Alicia Keys song from pre 2010 and I’ll sing it to you flawlessly). Growing up in a country very far from having any old soul, R&B or hip hop tradition I always wondered why no Norwegian acts made soul inspired music.

Charlotte Dos Santos has fixed that problem. Listening to her music takes me back to my teenage years when I dreamed about becoming an adult so I could finally go to Brooklyn and watch underground soul acts in hard-to-find-pubs that most likely will shut down within a month or two. Charlotte Dos Santos sounds nothing like any Norwegian music that has ever been made before. She sounds like a revolutionised Erykah Badu that will never get out of fashion. Listen to “Move On” and imagine you are exactly where you want to be.

♪♫ Listen: “Move On” + album stream

Charlotte Dos Santos on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Sigrid <BR> “Don’t Kill My Vibe” EP

“Don’t Kill My Vibe” EP

To put Sigrid’s EP on a list of best albums kind of reminds me of the time Obama received Nobel Peace Prize after barely having practiced the role as the US president. Not that Sigrid and Obama are anything similar per se, but Sigrid is an artist that has nowhere near showed her full potential yet.

Her single “Don’t Kill My Vibe” is the direct result of a songwriting session where she did not get the respect she deserved. She decided she might as well write them a response and make it in a song: “You think you’re so important to me, don’t you? But I want you to know that you don’t belong here”.

There is no doubt Sigrid has what it takes. Her music captures all the good elements of easygoing and catchy pop and her refreshingly stripped-down look and powerful live performances have proven that Sigrid is an exceptionally real deal.

♪♫ Listen: “Strangers” + album stream

Sigrid on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Cezinando <BR> “Noen ganger og andre”

“Noen ganger og andre”

There is something very peculiar about the 22-year-old from Oslo who suddenly captured a whole population when releasing the song “Vi er perfekt men verden er ikke det” (“We are perfect but the world is not”) back in June.

It somehow felt as if every 20-year-old-something, no matter what background and social status, sang along to the tune, while sipping their alcoholic beverage, preparing to hit the first and best club on a Saturday night. There was something melancholic and spot on about the lyrics that seemed to resonate with the people who naturally are quite similar to Cezinando himself. He gave words to the feelings most introverted and conflicted Norwegians struggle to express.

When world-touring, Norwegian artist Astrid S covered the song on national radio, Cezinando filmed himself crying in joy because he thought it was so beautiful and people in the usually rather dark and cold capital of Norway seemed to be a little bit more okay with exactly that: showing feelings. Music is about expression and Cezinando shared something that feels highly intimate and extremely common at the same time.

The album “Noen ganger og andre” (“Sometimes and others”) is a beautifully portrayed cliché of the contemporary and a gift to everyone who loves romanticising those big, evolving feelings of being young, impulsive and sometimes naive – aka. any young adult trying to find their way in life. By sharing songs describing situations of feeling alone, he made everyone else feel like they were not. And to everyone who thinks I might be biased being a 20-year-old-something myself, I will say this: I actually found Cezinando’s album with several favorited songs on my dad’s iTunes a couple of months ago.

♪♫ Listen: “Ingenting blir det samme…” + album stream

Cezinando on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.