My post on the end of summer was ill timed.  It is north of ninety today and will be again tomorrow and the woman on the corner who sells the corn covered in mayo was making a killing on slushies. In spite of this, it is still the last gasp of the season and soon the cold will have the day and I will belong to another geography.

The summer belongs to America.  I realize that when watching road movies and drinking iced coffee or cold beer.  I also realize it too when it comes to music.  In the last few years, Americana music has come back with a vengeance.  What started gently and unnoticed in the likes of Over the Rhine is now the full blown radio airplay of bands like Edward Sharper and the Magnetic Zeros. The music is wistful and folk like, the geography of the American landscape praised, when sorrow is had it is tinged with joy, and love though it may be lost still has a way to conquer all or at least show us what is best of ourselves.

America is a very optimistic place.

But soon it will be fall then winter and I best turn my focus to Nordic things.   I thought of watching Bergman, but there is a quicker way to get a Nordic funk.  Listen to the music.  Lately I’ve found myself listening to two bands, about a year after everyone else discovered them.  To make the title of this post work, one had to be Swedish.  That band is First Aid Kit.  The other band is Of Monsters and Men from Iceland.  Interestingly both owe much to Americana music, but they are Scandinavian, so the American optimism is not to be had.

First Aid Kit has the more American sound.  Their lyrics reference country musicians and the tortured failure of love among immature and cowardly people, an angst easy to understand.  The lyrics of their songs are also more forthright than what one gets from Of Monsters and Men, where terrible and magical things run through a surreal geography to find a home in Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir’s vocals.  Love does not get off the hook with OMAM either, but instead of being the result of anything like cowardice, Hilmarsdottir and company makes the thing impossible due to a repression that becomes apathy.

Nordic music will be a good activity for darkening nights.  I can imagine the sky filled with bizarre creatures and when I come down to earth I can ponder on the futility of love.  Maybe I can watch some Bergman as well.  I have yet to see Liv and Ingmar, but the thought that two such intense people could actually love one another may diminish my funk.   That and the fact that more than a few cold days may find me drinking glogg and listening to ABBA.

Image: Not Swedish….Icelandic cover of My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men

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