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When Swedish 'Pop' Eyes are Smiling!

Sweden has given the world bands such as Abba, Roxette and The Cardigans. No matter what you think of these particular three groups you'll have to concede that Swedish pop seems to be here to stay. How come so many great musicians come from a country with a population of only 9 million? I don't know, but what I do know - from growing up in Stockholm - is that I was the only kid in my class who couldn't sing oh, the agony of those music lessons!

On the plus side my years in Sweden meant that I had ample opportunity to get to know the music scene (I may not be a singer but I can boogie). I thought I'd take this opportunity to big up my current favourite Swedish bands. You might as well start listening to them now (if you haven't already), as they're going to be big.

1) Oh Laura. 5-piece band from Stockholm. The singer, Frida hrn, has a gloriously raspy voice which sends shivers down the spine. Their first single "Release Me" can be seen in the latest Saab advert. Listen to it on MySpace. Download it from iTunes. Or watch the video on YouTube.

2) Raymond & Maria. These two girls sing beautiful tunes about dark thoughts. They describe their influences as Simon & Garfunkel meets The Smiths - with just a touch of Abba. Their best stuff is in Swedish, but they have a few songs in English and one in French! Check out iTunes or MySpace or their homepage.

3) Billie the Vision and the Dancers. This is the perfect band for summer. Imagine a ska version of Belle and Sebastian with astoundingly forthright lyrics and you'll get a rough idea of what these guys sound like. Despite a growing fan base and a number of London gigs under their belt they are still ridiculously generous with their material. Download their songs for free from their website.

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