It’s finally time to announce the next release on Theory of Whatever records, Iceland Whatever Vol. 1. A 14 track compilation of bands I really enjoy and think you should as well. Spanning multiple genres all brought to you for as cheap as I could get away with. The liner notes will be available on the Theory of Whatever website, and will include a bio of the band and links where you can hear and purchase more of these bands music.
Much like the old independent compilations I grew up with, the point of this album is to help these bands get a bit more exposure and hopefully increase your music library. So, here’s presenting “Iceland Whatever Vol. 1“ it will be released on October 20th, and you can pre-order here. pre-orders get a dollar off, making the physical CD $5.50 and the digital download $5. If you would like to purchase the physical CD and are out of the United States, please contact us and we will arrange it
The compilation cover is by the incredibly talented Lóa Hjálmtýsdóttir, a musician (FM Belfast), illustrator, and cartoonist (Lóaboratorium) She frequently contributes to the Reykjavik Grapevine. The cat on the album cover is Roxy A.K.A. Doom. She was the only cat I’ve ever gotten along with, ornery as hell but a sweetheart. She passed away earlier this year, and so I felt compelled to put her photo on the album cover.
There are new and classic tracks from the artists, if the song isn’t available online to listen to yet, I’ve selected another song from the band I enjoy. Click the band name to go to their Facebook pages.
Knife fights is a refreshing nod to the Northwest United states in the 90’s. Consisting of Sigurður Angantýsson, Helgi Pétur Hannesson, Gunnar Petur Hauksson, and Þórir Bogason. They are energetic, slightly noisy and well composed. They were one of my favorite new bands from last year. I am pleased to open the compilation with their track “Panic later”
You can read an interview I did with them at the release of their first album here. Very energetic, slightly noisy and well composed the compilation opens with their new track, “Panic later::
Þórir Georg comes in many flavors. I first was introduced to his music from his band, My Summer as a Salvation Soldier, and have enjoyed every project he’s come up with since, from folk to crazy to goth. The track on the compilation is a new song from an upcoming album of his solo stuff. and so I have put a track from his previous album, Ræfill “The idiot song” here for you to listen.
Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson is Plúseinn. He is one of the founding members of FM Belfast, the energetic party band that typically leaves folks pantless by the end of their sets. While Plúseinn and the track “Empire” can be safely listened to without fear of losing clothing, it is one of the best earworms you’ll experience for quite a while and you’ll be on repeat for quite a while, electro-pop heavy on the synth.
Kristjana Stefánsdóttir is Bambaló. Kristjana has helped Icelanders with their singing for years. Her past projects and albums have been Christmas hymns, Jazz and she frequently performs at Iceland Affair in Connecticut every October. Her very rich and full voice dominates this song about Impressing a boy.
Vigri is the creation of two brothers, Hans and Bjarki Pjetursson. I heard them first at Airwaves years ago and if they are playing I make sure to attend. Their music floats effortlessly between atmospheric moments and heavy beats and I’m pleased to offer a new track from their upcoming album. The song above, “Animal” is one of my favorites from their first album, “Sinking ships”
KVÖL is Þórir Georg and Júlía. It’s Goth punk with dark, strong beats and moody synths. Dropar is a new track from them not available yet. So I present, “Get Away” from their first E.P.
Kælan Mikla is an all female poetic punk band. Consisting of Sólveig Matthildur Kristjánsdóttir Margrét Rósa Dóru- Harrysdóttir Laufey Soffía, they blast away with raw vocals and hard rhythms. They’ve quickly become one of my favorites over last couple of years.
kimono are 15 year veteran rockers consisting of Alison, Gylfi, and Kjartan. post rock and heavy rock have been used to describe them over the ages. We released their first single off the new album last year, and are pleased to introduce the new track, “Lee Harvey Oswald” on the album. The track above is “Specters” which you can still purchase the 7″ for here.
Atmospheric, lightly feathered with darkness but with equal dashes of heavy drums and haunting vocals is a good way to describe var. The project of Myrra Rós and her husband Júlíus. This track is a new track from the upcoming album.
Of course I couldn’t do a compilation without some hard hardcore on their. Brött Brekka was a 2015 discovery for me, consisting of Sturla Sigurðarson, Sigurður Ingi Einarsson, and Hallvaður Jón Guðmundsson they wildly swing from heavy rock to Hardcore. They’re working on a new album as we speak, and I can’t wait for it.
Energetic, emotionally organized choatic musical noise. Aðalsteinn Jörundsson has been at it a long time. Part of the Falk label in Iceland, he is a veteran to performing and creation. One of the first blog posts I did was on AMFJ. He warned me that this new song wasn’t his usual sort of song, I really dig it and hope you do as well.
Her live shows are ethereal environments full of color, spiraling lights and dancing disco balls. It’s her own style of music and difficult to classify. She’s recently been touring all over and I was pleased she could add to the comp knowing just how crazy her schedule was. One of my favorite live acts to see when I’m in Iceland.
The second Goth band on the compilation. Consisting of RX, Biggi, and Siggi, Antimony are goth pop done in their own unique way. They’re newly formed and have been extremely active around Reykjavik. They are the perfect band to powerfully begin the compilation wrap up.
And to wrap up the compilation I bring you one of my favorite classic tracks from Ghostigital’s album Antimatter Boutique. Ghostigital is Einar Orn and Curver Thorodsson. Two of the longest working musicians in the Icelandic scene, their music has the ability to pump you up. People go crazy at their shows, almost as crazy as Einar. Simply put, I love this band.
As this is the first compilation I’ve put together, it’s filled with the bands I have always dug. The genres are all over the place I know, but I believe I’ve ordered the CD in a manner that makes it listenable from start to finish. I really do love all of these bands, and I am pleased they contributed to the cause.
You can pre-order either the CD or the Digital download here. Please give them all a listen and share what you dig with your friends, regardless if you purchase the album.
And, the final announcement is out. Almost 230 bands will be at Iceland Airwaves 2015, and while we’ll definitely miss Björk and Mammút, The Airwaves staff have outdone themselves with the roster this year. This is the most bands I have seen yet, 155 of the 230 bands are Icelandic, and they span the spectrum of every genre. Here is the new announcement, Directed, edited and created by the wonderful Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir, Sin Fang once again is credited with the music, and… Now we all know who Gangly is.
Also announced for this year is a festival within a festival. On Sunday, the final night of the festival,the mini-festival called Extreme Chill will happen at the Vodafone Hall. One last hurrah and “laid back” night of music, featuring Hot Chip, Introbeats, dj. flugvél og geimskip, Agent Fresco, Emmsjé Gauti, Sleaford Mods, Úlfur Úlfur and FM Belfast. You can learn more about it here. It’s a fantastic idea, because if you have done Airwaves right, nothing will sound better than only having to go to one place to finish off in musical bliss.
As I did for 2014 and 2013, I’ve listed all of the Icelandic bands playing into loosely divided into genres on this page. Clicking on their name will open a new tab with the Iceland Airwaves info page for that artist, which includes Soundcloud, Social media links, and a short bio.
This list is just the Icelandic bands playing, if you want to see the full line-up go to the Iceland Airwaves Line-up page.
|Singer/Songwriter – Folk – Blues/Jazz – Composers – Classical|
|Árstíðir||Aurora||Axel Flóvent||Beebee and the Bluebirds|
|Helgi Valur||Hymnalaya||Jónas Sen||Júníus Meyvant|
|Justman||Lucy in Blue||Magnús Leifur||Máni Orrason|
|Markús & The Diversion Sessions||Mógil||My Bubba||Nordic Affect|
|Þórunn Antonía og Bjarni||Ylja|
|All things Electronica – Dance / DJs / Composers / ambient / ElectroPop / noise|
|Agzilla||Arni Vector||Arnljótur||Art is Dead|
|Brilliantinus||Daveeth||dj. Flugvél og geimskip||DÖPUR|
|Ghostigital||Good Moon Deer||Gunnar Jónsson Collider||Gus Gus|
|H.dór||Hekla||HimBrim||Jack Magnet Quintet|
|Jóhann Eiriksson||Jón Ólafsson & Futuregrapher||Kiasmos||Kippi Kaninus|
|Mike Hunt||Mr. Signout||Odinn||OHM|
|Royal||Ruxpin||Serengeti by President Bongo||Skurken|
|Punk – Hardcore|
|In the Company of Men||Kælan Mikla||Muck||Pink Street Boys|
|Skelkur í bringu|
|All Shades of Metal|
|Beneath||Bubbi Og Dimma||Endless Dark||Kontinuum|
|Hip-Hop – Rap – Reggae|
|AmbAdama||B-Ruff||Cell 7||Cheddy Carter|
|Emmsjé Gauti||Epic Rain||Gísli Pálmi||Herra Hnetusmjör|
|Kut Grapje||Ojba Rasta||Reykjavíkurdætur||Shades of Reykjavik|
|Sturla Atlas||Úlfur Úlfur|
You can listen to all the bands playing this year via Iceland Airwaves Spotify playlist here:
And here are the previous video announcements:
Video four was Directed, produced, and shot by Máni M Sigfússon, starring Kælan Mikla, with music by Sin Fang:
Video three was produced by Les Frères Stefson, directed and written by, Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson And the banker was Haraldur Ari Stefánsson:
Video two with Hrafnkell Örn Guðjónsson drumming away as band names float across the screen:
First announcement with Dj. Flugvél og Geimski:
I would suggest getting your tickets sooner than later, especially if you are planning on doing a package you’ll have more hotel options in the beginning now than you will in a month. Typically the festival sells out, but with the line up looking as good as it does this year, I would imagine it will sell out sooner than later. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of “you snooze, you lose”
If you want to see what the past has been like, here is a link to all my Iceland Airwaves related posts. And here is the link to the Iceland Airwaves Flickr page if you want to see just how fun this festival really is.
Hope to see you there.
It’s been 4 years since Sóley’s last full-length album, and as they say good things come to those who wait. Sóley Stefánsdóttir, of Seabear and her own fame has delivered one hell of a finely crafted piece of art with the new album Ask the Deep.
While We sink‘ was dark, Ask the Deep goes further down the rabbit hole. An internal argument of staying with or leaving devils. Multiple layers of tribal-like percussion, floating synth, and cascading keys weave a sophisticated and emotional dance creating the perfect background to Sóley’s haunting and rhythmic vocals. I honestly feel you’d be hard pressed to find such sweet serenades about devils, darkness, and despair anywhere else.
Each listen I give this album brings out a new emphasis in both the instrumental and wording in the songs. I’ve given it enough listens to safely say it’s far from getting old, this is definitely one of my favorite albums of the year.
The album starts off with the track, ‘Devil’ where Sóley asks if she’s danced with devil, and does he still love her? A person realizing a personal struggle, or perhaps someone they care about, may be harming them but they’re afraid to live without them. As the album progresses, it becomes less about how the devil feels and more how the chanteuse realizes her own power and self-worth.
By ‘I will never’ we realize she’s made it through the muck and mire and has come out stronger and standing tall leading into an almost euphoric, cloud clearing/sun shining ‘dreamers’, the most upbeat song on the album. The album ends with ‘Lost ship’, a final contemplation and realization that letting go will make her responsible for her own life, and is she willing to let the devil go to do so.
The first music video from the album, ‘Halloween’ is surreal and beautiflly done, you can see here:
I first heard Börn when I was up in Iceland last year. After hearing a track or two I was excited to get the chance to hear them in person at Iceland Airwaves ’14. Alas, their time slots never seemed to work, and when I did finally get to see them, I had to split the time as I really wanted to see another of Iceland’s punk bands, Kælan mikla, who were playing directly below Börn at the same time. So I got to see a half show but really wanted more.
Laika’s Orbit was a pleasant pop-punk band, more punk than pop, but their melodies and rhythms worked well in being the first band of the night. Leather Daddy, an all female band, growled and thumped causing the crowd in this tiny basement to move around to the absolute limit they could.
Börn, up next, is comprised of 4 members; Alexandra on vocals, Anna Guðný on Guitar, Júlíana on bass, and Fannar on drums. Their riffs remind me of Christian Death and their hard-edged vocals amplify the complex and somewhat forcefully dark energy that erupted from their playing area. There is a lot of energy, Fannar almost knocked the bass drum over twice, Alexandra had to put two cinder blocks in front just to keep it still. There may or may not have been a kick pedal casualty during the set. When they were finished, the crowd politely asked for more, and the they obliged with one more song.
From what I’ve been told, and what I’ve Google translated, their lyrics cry out against the horrible way we treat folks over body image and stereotypes. And they are living proof that no matter what folks think, you can do whatever it is your mind is set to do, and you can do it well.
They still have a few weeks left. I highly suggest you go see them, rock out, and pick up their merch. They have their 7″ single, and a cassette of their long sold out full length album, as well as T-shirts and buttons. I’ve included their U.S. tour poster here; they still have gigs spread out over the U.S.
There will be two different Icelandic acts performing this weekend in Boston. On Saturday the 11th, Ólöf Arnalds will be at the Paradise Rock Club for the sold out Jose Gonzalez / Ólöf Arnalds gig, and GusGus will be performing at the Sinclair on Sunday the 12th. Two completely different genres of Icelandic music in one weekend.
Ólöf Arnalds has one of those voices that translates well over many different types of music. She’s a former member of múm and has collaborated with a good deal of the Icelandic musician populace while finding the time to release 3 of her own albums. This video is from her newest album, Palme:
Við og Við is the album that I was introduced to her by, and it’s a sweet traditional album of what I have always felt were folktales. Her newer albums have taken that sweet traditional style and incorporated unique beats and modern sounds creating an individual style of troubadour-ism, and she’s started to sing in English which is good for us poor souls that, try as we might, can’t seem to get the Icelandic language down. I’ve had the opportunity to see her a few times around Iceland and each time felt as if this was a personal gig for friends hanging out, as if she had just shown up with a guitar and wanted to play, catering to the atmosphere of the individual venue she was at.
She’s playing with another talented singer-songwriter named Jose Gonzalez. Of Argentinian descent, Jose was born and grew up in Sweden. There’s a great cross culture of pop, latin, and northern found in his songs.
Ólöf Arnalds comes from a diversely musical family. She’s the cousin of Ólafur Arnalds, and she’s the sister of Klara Arnalds of Boogie Trouble. And as you know, I am a massive fan of Boogie Trouble. Lucky you if you are going to the gig, it’s going to be a great way to spend a Saturday evening.
GusGus have been around for 20 years now and have 10 albums under their belt, 9 studio albums and one live. It’s an ever evolving beast that has been home for many musicians, including Emilíana Torrini, and Magnús Guðmundsson. It now consists of 3 members, Birgir Þórarinsson, Daniel Ágúst Haraldsson, and Högni Egilsson.
Their albums are all in the wide spectrum of electronic, sometimes moody but mostly energetic tracks that come across well both on album and live. Forever will always hold a special place in my collection, as during the time I lost 200lbs, Forever was one of the most frequently used albums as the beat just happened to run parallel to mine at the gym. While they do have a darker feel occasionally, there’s a high energetic wave-band that flows out of them.
I promise no one will be just standing around Sunday night. I’ve seen them play massive gigs with many people on stage in Iceland as well as dj sets in bar-like atmospheres with only a few of them, and they always put on a fantastic show.
It’s going to be a fantastic weekend of music around Beantown so I suggest you get up and out and do something. There has been a great deal more of Icelandic bands visiting our city, and I hope it continues as it’s been great seeing these folks off the island.
If you take your time and follow the advice they give you you’ll enjoy it, I certainly did. But if you rush through you will miss the big picture and it will be understandable why you only remember seeing creepy mannequins and hand written lyric notes (a summation of one reviewer.)
In the lobby of the MoMa sits a few of the instruments Björk created for Biophilia. Such as the gravity harp, midi-organ and gameleste/celeste combo. I was bummed the gravity harp wasn’t working, but the midi-organ was on auto play so that was cool. Iceland’s only pipe organ builder, Björgvin Tómasson, helped create these wonderful sounding instruments. As a side note, he is the father of Júlíus Óttar, a musician in one of my favorite bands of 2014, Var.
The exhibit is two parts spanning two floors. There is the audio tour, Songlines, that you have to get time reservations for, and the music video experience Black Lake, which is followed by a room you can relax in and watch Music videos from the Björk catalog. I highly suggest you get your timed reservations first, then go to the Black lake portion while you wait.
After getting our timed tickets we ventured off to wait in line for Black Lake. As you’re in line and look over, there is a multi-floor projection of the “Big-time sensuality” music video slowly playing on a massive wall which gives the impression of Björk watching over you as you enter her exhibit.
Black lake is in a cave-esque room with walls covered in sound insulating cones reminiscent of Volcanic rock. The only light is coming from two gigantic screens that face each other from opposite walls and there are over 45 speakers located on the ceiling and walls throughout the room. While waiting to begin, the screens display a message about the set up, and in big letters state that you should walk around, as the multiple channel set up means you will experience different parts of the song depending where you are in the room. I was shocked at how many people just stood still. I’m no audiophile, but the changing emphasis of the intricate parts of the song from different areas of the room really changed the feel of the song for me.
Once you leave the cave you move over to another room with a high ceiling and a massive screen showing Björk music videos. There are flowing fluid like couches that stretch out down the room, and it’s just a place you can rest and watch videos and be consumed by the large soundsystem and screen.
Songlines is the audio visual part of the tour. This is the part that requires the timed ticket, and you’ll appreciate the wait as without the timed stagger between entrants the tiny set of maze-like rooms you go through would be too packed to enjoy. You wear an iphone around your neck that they call your “heart”, and as you move from room to room it changes dialogue to that specific room.
In the introduction, they tell you to take your time, that the tour takes 40 minutes and that you should wait until each room’s audio is done before moving along. You’re free to move at your own pace but in this case, heed the advice and take your time. It’s the difference between a fantastic experience, and a blah one.
We live in a time where we seem to take a photo of what we are looking at before actually looking at it, and then move on to the next photo. We no longer take the time to consume what we are experiencing in the present, instead snapping a pic for later. If you run through this exhibit snapping selfies and photos of the lyric sheets and mannequins dressed in Björk clothing, you will miss the the best part, and you will never experience the full program. It is after all, called an audio tour through her 7 albums and history, not just an artifact hunt.
In one of the most minimal rooms in the exhibit (there are only two items) the walls have benches spanning each side of the room. You sit and relax with two red parenthesis-type red neon lights above you and you listen. There is an oddly loud bleed-through of the music video exhibit below, but you just rest, and listen to your “heart.” This room became my favorite part of the exhibit, and here’s why:
In the dialog from the “heart” around your neck, well past what you would hear if you just entered the room to look at the two items and left, you hear a beautiful account of the girl in the story’s realization of the child growing inside of her. In the story, the girl starts to hear, and realizes there is a new heartbeat inside her, the heartbeat of her daughter. And while you are listening to the story of her realization of her daughter’s heartbeat, through the “heart” around your neck, you can hear and feel the heartbeat of her music from below. It’s an all encompassing triumvirate of heart so to speak. It was really beautiful to me, and I left that room feeling really warm and fuzzy.
Now I don’t know if I’m stretching, and maybe it’s not what they intended, but I have to say I smirked and thought to myself, well played. And how fantastic to not start the room dialog with that but leave it for those who are actually listening and enjoying the exhibit. Once outside the exhibit I thought… Don’t be in such a rush, listen fully to your heart in good or bad times, and you’ll get the big picture.
So go to the exhibit, but don’t just go see it, go experience it. Take your shoes off and walk through the moss-fields barefoot. Don’t just snap photos, but think about what you’re hearing, seeing, and feeling. Live in the present for 45+ minutes, and it will all be worth it.
Endnote: This could very well be the most spiritualistic touchy-feely thing I’ve ever written or mentioned, and we can only hope my very spiritual touchy-feely mum who thinks I’m a stick in the mud doesn’t go into shock when she reads it.
As the digital format is now available globally, I wanted to repost my review, written almost a year ago to date.
It seems that when an artist matures they feel the need to leave their old style and branch out into the new. This can be discouraging to some listeners, and exciting for others. On Lay Low’s new album, Talking about the weather, the new, slightly more complex sound chooses to embrace the past and bring it along instead of dismissing it entirely. The more I listen to this album, the more I appreciate it, and it definitely is the best I’ve heard so far in 2014.
Lay Low, Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir, has been in the Icelandic music scene for almost a decade now. She’s in the famous Benny Crespo’s gang, and she has been putting out solo albums since 2006. Recently, she charmed the socks of the interwebs by doing a cozy live stream concert from the living room of her home. I’ve said before that she has an ability to make any size crowd feel at home, and even over the web she managed to make the listener feel as if they were hanging in her living room.
I’ve compared her previous albums to birth-children of June Carter and Nancy Sinatra. And they are all excellent lo-fi country-esq masterpieces. And while different than the others, the new album maintains the quality a Lay Low fan would expect. Each song is a single on it’s own, but is made greater with it’s accompanying album mates.
Talking about the weather starts out very classic, her voice strongly leading us into a familiar Lay Low guitar beat. But then the listener is quickly introduced to the new gang of instruments and complexities. The vocals become more full, with stronger backing, the perfect addition to her folk/guitar vibe creating this bluesy feeling. It’s the perfect introduction to the hybrid of styles the listener will hear the rest of the album.
Gently, has a very strong 90’s Cardigan feel, and just as the song speaks of rolling down the street, the song is so smooth one gets a sense of smoothly rolling along. In the dead of winter reminded me so much of 70’s Marianne Faithful that after finishing the Talking about the weather the first time I had to revisit my Faithful catalog.
Like laying on a tube floating down a gentle river beer in hand, sun above -the album rolls along peacefully. In One of those nights, she sings: “I try to keep my emotions from climbing up high, but there’s something in that song.” Whether she meant it as a metaphor for love, or pertaining to an actual song, it’s hard not to be taken over with a calm, happy emotion when listening to this album, each and every song.
Currently, the album is available from her website in CD or Vinyl format, and is now available in digital format all over the place. You can follow Lay Low on her facebook page, hear more of her stuff on Soundcloud.