When most people think of Swedish music, they think of pop. It’s been said that Sweden is one of the world’s most popular exporters of pop music on a per capita basis. Besides giving the world ABBA, huge international pop acts have collaborated with Swedish songwriters and producers, such as Taylor Swift, Madonna, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, and Katy Perry.
But let’s put away the bubblegum, folks, and talk about the psychedelic rock scene in Sweden. Psych-rock may not be as widespread in Sweden as pop and metal, but many exciting acts exist. The first one that comes to mind for many people is Dungen, the Stockholm-based band that’s been going strong since 1999 and mixes psych with garage and alternative rock.
I had fun compiling this list of top Swedish psych-rock acts, so I hope you enjoy reading it. The list isn’t meant to be comprehensive but merely a sampling of some of the best psych rock Sweden offers. I tried to include some major acts as well as others that are under the radar. Please let me know who else should be included on the list and who deserves a spot.
Years Active: 1967-1968
Essential Album: Baby Grandmothers (1968)
It’s good to pay homage to your ancestors. And that’s exactly what the Baby Grandmothers are to Swedish psych rock and psychedelic music in general. These guys are psych rock pioneers, especially in Sweden, having initially formed in Stockholm in 1967. The three-piece joined forces after the breakup of the R&B band The T-Boones, and the Baby Grandmothers enjoyed a cult following as the house band in a legendary psych music club called Filips.
The Baby Grandmothers rarely performed outside of Sweden, but they did support the Jimi Hendrix Experience on their Swedish leg of a 1968 European tour. The band eventually morphed into Mecki Mark Men, which also hugely influenced Swedish psych rock. The Baby Grandmothers only recorded one self-titled album, but it’s considered an underground classic. The album, which you can find on Bandcamp, has all the hallmarks of early psychedelia. Surprisingly, the band got back together and released a full-length album in 2018, Merkurius. So, pay homage to the grandmothers of Swedish psych and check them out.
Black Light White Light
Years Active: 2010-present
Essential Album: Horizons (2018)
Black Light White Light is the project of Danish/Swedish songwriter Martin Ejlertsen, who’s based in Malmo. He’s released four really interesting LPs since 2011 that is the type of dreamy psych to check out when you’re tired of listening to Tame Impala on repeat.
Martin’s act is no Tame Impala copycat, though. The spacious soundscapes he creates stand on their own, with a catchy pop element and a touch of neo-psychedelia. He released a new album in August 2022 called The Admirer, a cosmic mix of psychedelic Beatles and shoegaze influences. It’s good stuff to put on the background and space out to.
Flowers Must Die
Years Active: 2006-present
Essential Album: Där Blommor Dör (2018)
These guys are weird in the best way possible. Their name is a tribute to a song from Ash Ra Tempel, a ‘70s-era West German krautrock band, and their sound is so trippy and psychedelic that it’s hard to categorize. Some people have even given the band’s sound the labels of Doom Jazz and Oriental Hard Rock, so you can easily see how far-out these Swedes are.
While many bands copy and revive the sounds of psych and space rock pioneers like Hawkwind, Flowers Must Die conjures up something more original from whatever good weed they’re smoking. They’ve been playing together since 2006, and they’ve shared the stage with similar freaky rock acts like White Hills and OM. So get started on your Flowers Must Die journey with their 2018 LP Där Blommor Dör; you likely won’t be disappointed.
Years Active: 1999-present
Essential Album: Ta det lugnt (2004)
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Dungen, the torch bearer of Swedish psych and probably the most well-known name on this list. Dungen’s influence in the psych and rock world goes far. They’ve long been compared to Tame Impala, and in one interview, Kevin Parker said the Swedes are one of his favorite bands.
Dungen is fronted by self-proclaimed golden boy Gustav Ejstes, who writes all the music and plays most of the instruments. Dungen plays as a four-piece live, with a few veteran Swedish musicians who have also played parts on the studio records. Interestingly, Ejstes started songwriting in his teens with hip-hop.
The good news for Dungen fans is that they’ve recently released their first album since 2015. En Är För Mycket och Tusen Aldrig Nog translates as One is Too Much and a Thousand is Never Enough.
Years Active: 2018-Present
Essential Album: Traveler (2022)
I’m a little biased on including Goatriders (I interviewed their frontman, Christofer, recently), but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve mention.
Hailing from Linköping, the fuzzy quartet has released two full-length albums that veer between space rock and stoner with touches of desert rock. Traveler was released in 2022, which the band described as inspired by “interstellar space travel and witches gathered for a black mass.” Goatriders is definitely in heavy psych territory, but they give off jam-session vibes, too. I look forward to more releases from these dudes in the future!
Years Active: 2012-Present
Essential Album: World Music (2012)
Subgenre: Alternative/Experimental Fusion
One thing you’ll notice about bands in Sweden is there’s a lot of goat nomenclature. There are Goatriders, the Year of the Goat, and then plain-old Goat, this crazy experimental band cloaked in mystery.
Goat is based in Gothenburg, but they claim to hail from Korpilombolo, a small village they say has a history of voodoo worship. The masked band members claim many things about their origins, none of which may be true, such as many incarnations of the band have been recorded over the last 30 to 40 years. No matter what you may believe, you must admit they make good records of interesting, funky psych rock.
“Let it Burn” is my favorite Goat track, but there are many more to enjoy. And the good news for Goat fans is they just dropped a new album, Oh Death, which is a welcome addition to their solid catalog.
Years Active: 2011-Present
Essential Album: Frid (2015)
Subgenre: Stoner/Heavy Psych
Hills is a three-piece psych outfit based in Gothenburg that’s released three albums. These guys are a bit under the radar and ones I recently discovered, but I like what I’ve heard thus far.
According to the band, they draw most of their inspiration from ‘60s and ‘70s German acts like Can and AR Machines, along with Swedish legends like Parson Sound and International Harvester. Frid is an excellent album that’ll appeal to many psych-rock fans, my favorite two tracks being “Milarepa” and “Death Will Find a Way.”
My Brother the Wind
Years Active: 2009-Present
Essential Album: Once There Was a Time When Time and Space Were One (2014)
These dudes are a collective that has produced three full-length psych rock albums that, according to them, are entirely improvised. They hail from the small Swedish city of Åmål, which is known to most folks because of the film Fucking Åmål about teenagers living in a town where nothing happens.
The band recorded its debut album, Twilight in the Crystal Cabinet, in a single day, my favorite song being the nearly 14-minute-long “Karmagrinder.” My Brother the Wind is an excellent pick for those who love krautrock, and they remind me of a more psychedelic version of Explosions in the Sky.
Years Active: 2015-Present
Essential Album: Dead Vibrations (2018)
Dead Vibrations emerged from the Stockholm music scene and has had success with its brand of moody shoegaze, signing with the Fuzz Club label and releasing its self-titled debut album in 2018. They play a gloomy noise-pop that isn’t exactly my cup of tea but should appeal to fans of bands like Sonic Jesus, Psychic Ills, Magic Shoppe, and Black Market Karma.
Children of the Sun
Years Active: 2019-Present
Essential Album: Roots (2022)
Subgenre: Psych-Folk/Classic Rock
Hailing from Arvika, Children of the Sun is a female-fronted psych act that channels its love of Janis Joplin, Hendrix, and the summer of ’69. They’ve released two full-length albums, including 2022’s Roots.
Children of the Sun relies heavily on the nostalgia of early psychedelia, expressing their love of Woodstock on their Bandcamp page, but the music doesn’t come across as some formulaic pattern devised by empty suits. They’re perhaps the most radio-friendly band on this list, but a good one, nonetheless.
Yuri Gagarin (SWE)
Years Active: 2012-Present
Essential Album: At the Center of All Infinity (2015)
Subgenre: Heavy Psych/Stoner/Space Rock
Yuri Gagarin is perhaps the heaviest band on this list, a bruising heavy space rock act formed in 2012. Hailing from Gothenburg, they’ve played many gigs, performed in Russia and throughout Europe, and become renowned for their live shows.
They have psychedelic elements driven by powerful riffs, heavy drums, and tons of synth. Their most recent release, 2020’s EP The Outskirts of Reality, is a great addition to any heavy psych rock playlist and is perfect for fans on Yawning Man, Spaceslug, and 35007.
Kungens Man is a cool space rock band from Stockholm that’s been making experimental jams since 2012. Their songs are long, relaxing, and trippy, perfect for smoke sessions. There are several core members, but they welcome guest musicians at shows and on their records, and they’ve produced a ton of good self-released tunes over the years.
If you like weird ambient and electronic music, you may dig Sagor & Swing. The Swedish instrumental duo fused many genres like jazz and Scandinavian folk music, forming in 1999 and releasing four albums between 2001 and 2004. They’re not properly psychedelic but have the experimental vibe of all good psych music. Most of the band’s albums are defined by the distinctive organ playing of Eric Malmberg.
Automatism is an instrumental psych-rock group from Stockholm formed by guitarist Hans Hjelm and includes members from the aforementioned Kungens Man and a couple of other acts. These guys play tunes based in psych rock, but they pull from space rock, kraut, and modal jazz. They’ve released four albums since 2018, including a new one that just dropped called Live at the Psychedelic Network Festival.
Pershagen is a rad instrumental quartet that combines psych and post-rock in a fun way. They say their tunes are “dreamy and cinematic music that needs to be experienced.” The band started in 2014 and has toured Russia, Europe, and China and had a chance to work with Dungen’s Gustav Ejstes. Their latest album, Hilma, dropped in 2022 and is worth checking out!
Tross is another cool Swedish instrumental group that, according to them, explores repetitive grooves and cosmic harmonies. They formed in 2007 and have become known for intense and often improvised live shows. They’ve released two full-length albums over the years, featuring weird electronic tracks like “Reverse Pyramid” and “Synthesis.”