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Icelandic Bands of Iceland Airwaves 2018

We’ve had three announcements so far and a lot of really good acts are coming to the 20th anniversary of Iceland Airwaves 2018.  It’s under new management so there are probably surprises coming our way as well.  Either way it’s always a good time to learn about new bands, see bands you really dig, and enjoy Reykjavik and surrounding areas.

Not only do Iceland Airwaves tickets more expensive as we get closer, but your options for housing becomes greatly reduced and expensive the closer it gets to the festival. I highly suggest buying sooner than later for the festival.

You can see my past Airwaves photos here, and my tips for a pleasant Airwaves as well.

Once again I’m doing a loosely sorted cheat sheet for the Icelandic bands playing the festival.  I will update the page as new announcements come through so you may want to bookmark it for future reference. Out of the 122 bands announced so far, 67 are Icelandic. There are veteran bands playing, but there are a lot of new artists as well.  To See the full line-up of all the artists click here.

With Icelandic bands it can always be hard to categorize their music styles as one of the greatest things about them is their ability to snag and grab their favorite things from all over the musical spectrum and make it work for them. So these lists are just general nods in the direction you may be looking for, for example, the Dance table, they sit right on the edge of electronic and dance pop/rock and beats. But I tried to focus on the prominence of a lead singer and the beats of the bulk of their songs in deciding which side to place them.

At the bottom you will also find the Spotify playlist for the entire festival.

Categorizing some bands can be extremely difficult as they run borders are freely through genres, so if you feel a band needs to be moved into a different category let me know and I’ll change it.

Rock / Pop / Singer/Songwriter / Indie / Dance
Agent Fresco Amabadama Ateria Auður
Axel Flóvent BeeBee & the Bluebirds Berndsen Between Mountains
Birgir BRÍET Ceasetone Daði Freyr
Einarindra Hildur Himbrimi Hinemoa
Högni Júníus Meyvant Karitas Kiryama Family
Ljósfari Máni Orrason Mighty Bear Mórókóar
Mr. Silla Munster Ólafur Arnalds Shakes
Snorri Helgason Sóley Svala Sycamore Tree
Sykur Teitur Magnússon Una Stef Valdimar
Var Vio Vök Warmland
Ylja Young Karin
Punk / Metal / Hardcore / Garage Rock / Prog Rock
Future Figment Glerakur Hatari Hórmónar
Mammút Pink Street Boys Ring of Gyges Rythmatik
Hip-Hop / Trap / R&B / Rap
AFK Birnir Cyber Emmsjé Gauti
Floni GKR Joey Christ JóiPé x Króli
Kött Grá Pje Logi Pedro Sturla Atlas Úlfur Úlfur
Unnsteinn
Electronic / DJ / Atmospheric / Experimental
Andartak Hugar
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FM Belfast – Island Broadcast review

FM belfast is by far my favorite dance band to see live.  I’ve jumped up and down and picked confetti out of my hair for over 8 years watching this super-group of musicians and they’ve never let down.  Their 4th album, “Island Broadcast,” delivers that party feel and has quickly become my second favorite album of theirs, only slightly behind “How to make friends.”

The beats on the album are much more energized and dance-able than “Brighter days,” but there is a strong undertow of reality with the lyrics, creating a unique contrast that solidifies the album.  Each song on the album is it’s own story of growing old but not growing up, holding your head above water and encouraging others to do the same, and spending what little time we have on this rock enjoying where you are and what you have.

While I could go through and describe what I felt track by track, I’d rather just highlight a few of my favorites and post videos so you can make up your own mind.  The only official video I could find for songs on the album is the album opener “All My Power.”  A back and forth of two folks, one who feels guilty, the other the reason why:

My favorite track on the album by far is “The Game”

“You’re so pretty” began as a short story written by Lóa about aging restlessness.

And “Fearless Youth” was written by  Örvar Smárason and is a tribute to youth and friends of the past.

I asked Lóa a few questions and she was nice enough to answer, here they be:

  1. As a whole, the music on the album is a lot more lively than on Brighter Days, and yet  the lyrics are some of the most pensive and serious out of your albums.  Was this contrast intentional?

The contrast was not intentional no, unless Árni meant it to be so and forgot to tell me. I don’t know why the album is more lively. Maybe because we finally realize that we have nothing to lose. The track Strobe for instance is just a rave mantra to dance to. It’s not necessarily a logical track to be on the album but I don’t care about things like that anymore. Trying to do what you think people want you to do is futile.

  1. Throughout the album, there is a “them” that you seem to rally against.  Is there a single entity that is “them”, or are they different song for song?

“Them and they” usually means some force or people who are more powerful than you and control something in your life or want to control you. It’s not about anyone in particular, it’s more about trying to stay sane in our strange world.

  1. The voices in my head really appreciated “Agent” as they feel it is their rallying cry for working together to make me resemble somewhat of a normal human being? But for normal folks, who’s being encouraged in the song?

You and me are being encouraged. Because we feel like we are so powerless when in fact there are so many of us who feel the same way. I like to believe that most people are nice, if they weren’t the world wouldn’t function.  I’d also like to send my greetings to the voices in your head.

  1. How personal is this album to you?  There seems to be a lot of reflection of where the characters in the songs have been, where they are, and where they hope to be.

It’s personal on many levels. We write the lyrics together most of the time so it’s a bit of a puzzle and it means different things to us. For me I’m having a bit of a crisis of what I should do now. I don’t have a plan but for some reason I keep coming back to the idea of having chicken in a backyard and grow vegetables.

  1. In the Game, who are you taking the blame for, who has no shame?  And what is this bright light you speak of?

All of us take the blame for the people in power. The bright light is about hope and the weird need to believe in something or someone. For me it’s kind of a cry for a decent politician coming out of the woods to save us. I’m not a religious person and I’ve kind of lost hope in politics but there’s always a part of me that is hoping for some kind of female Che Guevara… ok this sound stupid but sincerity will do that to you.

Island Broadcast is available digitally, on vinyl, and on CD.  It’s available on Spotify, and if you want to purchase it any of your digital outlets should have it.  The vinyl and CD are available via their website.  Follow them on Facebook and and Instagram to be notified of touring dates and events.  You can also see the concert photos I’ve taken here:

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Sóley, Sin Fang, & Örvar Smárason at Bush Hall march 8th 2018

In 2017 Sóley, Sin Fang, & Örvar Smárason got together and decided to release one song a month for the entire year.  They ended the year with the vinyl, “Team Dreams,” which you can listen to here, and a performance at Sigur Rós’s Norður og Niður festival in Reykjavik.  Us that were not able attend were treated with a great New Year’s gift, as they announced they would be touring around Europe.  I was lucky enough to photograph the concert at Bush Hall in Shepard’s Bush London.

Combining three brilliant musicians can go all sorts of ways, but in typical Iceland fashion their uniqueness blended well, with obvious positive chemistry between all three.  They were slightly nervous as this was the first concert of the tour and only the second time they had played together, and while they kept mentioning this nervousness, it really didn’t show.

If you don’t want to read my babble you can click here to just go to the pics.

I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite characteristics of Iceland musicians are their ability to remove the 4th wall.  And these three lived up to and surpassed that theory from the absolute beginning charming the audience with jokes, ambitions, and conversation.

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They supported themselves, each artists doing a 20 minute solo set before all joining on stage for the main event.  I had not seen Smárason’s solo material so I was pleased with this surprise.  After briefly chatting with the crowd as he set up apologized as he wasn’t going to chat through his set of ecclectic beats, and creative use of microphones.  He then performed 20 minutes of his new material giving us a preview of his first solo album, “light is liquid” which will be released via Morr Music on May 18th, check out his Facebook page for more details.

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Sin Fang was next, starting off with piano and eventually moving over to guitar a broad span of his catalog.  I’ve been watching Sin Fang since the days of duct taped microphone nests, and he never disappoints.  He even covered “teenage Spaceship” by Smog, which while the audience didn’t seem to know who Smog is, made me really happy.

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After a brief intermission, Sóley came to the stage and proceeded to sing a good amount of material.  She told us stories of chocolate spoons being used to stir things, and mentioned that she would be the queen of the Theremin by next year, I’m holding her to that.

When the trio came on stage they were accompanied by Gylfi Sigurðsson of Retro Stefson fame.  I unfortunately didn’t get a good shot of him, but you can kind of see him in the photo below:

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There is still time to catch them on tour with 5 shows remaining, and I suggest you do,  I certainly wasn’t disappointed and doubt you will be either.  You can find out more about the tour dates, by following them on their individual Facebook pages and Instagram.

tourdates

 

 

Taste of Iceland, Boston 2018

It’s March, and that means it is time for another Taste of Iceland.  The cultural event that brings things such as Architecture & Design, Literature, Film, Food, and of course, Music from Iceland to different spots around the globe.  This year’s Boston event is March 8th through the 10th, with a Cocktail pre-game on the 7th at Drink.

As this is a music blog I’m going to touch on the music portion of the event, but you can go here for the complete schedule of events, including an Icelandic food menu at Townsman, a special cocktail menu at Beat Brasserie, an exhibit on Iceland’s Design and Architectual scene at the BSA Space, and a short film festival at the Brattle Theatre.

The annual Reykjavik calling concert typically consists of both local and Icelandic musicians.  Each performing a set of material, and sometimes if you’re lucky they will combine efforts for a big finale.  This year Taste of Iceland returns to the Paradise Rock club with JFDR and Sturla Atlas on the Iceland team, and Air traffic Controller for Boston.

JFDR is Jófríður Ákadóttir.  To call her an Icelandic music veteran seems a bit shallow as  not only is she half of the legendary Pascal Pinon, but part of Samaris and Gangly two bands that have really skyrocketed in popularity recently.  She tours a lot and at Iceland Airwaves she is always playing somewhere on any given day making her one of the hardest working musicians out there in my opinion.  Ákadóttir’s music spans genres, complex beats weaving in and out of darkness,  infused with jazz, ambient landscapes, soulful poetry and classical music.

While I love her new album “Brazil” as well as her music videos, nothing quite beats seeing her live.  No matter which bands I’ve seen her in, the emotion and energy she puts into performing entirely fills the space and will leave you in awe.

Sturla Atlas is part of a hip-hop-trip-hop-rap collective in Iceland named the 101 boys.  (101 is the Reykjavik zip code.)  hip-hop heavy, Sturla Atlas brings singing and catchy choruses to his music as well.  Last year Sturla Atlas opened for Justin Bieber up in Iceland at what was slated one of the largest, if not the largest concert in Iceland’s history.

And from Boston, Air Traffic Controller will be on stage.  The name comes when Dave Munro, the lead, would send back demos of his music while serving in the navy.  Known for bringing energy to live gigs, they also have a great music video that was released last year:

These concerts are always fun, and the bands tend to interact and join in on the party with the crowds.  It’s a great way to learn about new bands hear new sounds.  I do suggest you get there earlier than later as I’ve yet been to one that wasn’t booked at capacity and as it’s free, it’s first come first serve.

So get out and enjoy a little Icelandic culture for the week, it is always worth the effort.

 

 

Day 4 of Iceland Airwaves

Day 4 of Iceland Airwaves.  A little crazy with the schedule but I managed bounce to and from different venues and at least see all I wanted to see, and I managed to photograph most of it as well.

Started off with Kælan Mikla which was followed by the legendary Dr. Gunni.  Then we moved across town to see Mr. Silla perform before crossing back to a very packed dj. flugvél og geimskip set which was followed by Árni².  Árni² is Árni Valur and Árni Grétar, both legends in their musical fields here in Iceland and they did not disappoint.   Then quickly after that I went to see Kontinuum, but there was no possibility of getting close enough to photograph and after their set I finished the night watching Milkywhale.  I may be biased, but I honestly thought the shiny new floor at Iðnó was going to break from all the jumping and mass partying that went on for that gig.  At least the floor is well worn in now.

Here are the pics:

mrsilla (12 of 12)

Day 3 of Iceland Airwaves

Day 3 was delightfully long.  Started off with Speciak-K then Pink Street Boys followed by Jae Tyler, moving then to Pinegrove, and then Arab Strap and finally finishing the night in an insane hour long party known as FM Belfast.

Pics are a bit FM Belfast heavy, but that’s because every second they are playing there is something incredible to try and capture on camera, even their end of show bow.  Click here or the picture to see day 3 photos:

FMBelfast (20 of 20)

 

Day 2 of Iceland Airwaves

Another great day full of music.  I wanted to quickly tell you about the tour we took yesterday.  I had recommended it as it was something new and so I figured I should go as well, I’m glad I did as it was well worth the time and money, even for someone who has been coming to Iceland regularly for almost a decade and half.

On tour with Ívar is a 3 hour walking tour that begins at Lucky Records.  As you wind through the city of Reykjavik you meander down streets and visit places hidden and off the beaten path.  You learn not only learn where a lot of famous musicians and artists began, but you get to see where the scene is currently developing.  You learn about streets, venues, buildings, new places to go, and old favorites of the city.  As a long time visitor here I was surprised that I may change some of my go-to places in order to return to businesses we visited on the tour.  I highly recommend the tour to veteran visitors as well as newbies.

Day 2 was a full night, We started off with a small solo set from former kimono front-woman Alison Macneil (Dame Judy Wench) and ventured to Hard Rock cafe for a high energy Tófa set.  Then to Gamla bíó for most of the night where we saw Hatari, Grísalappalísa, and For a Minor Reflection.  Then we crossed over to Þjóðleikhúsið, the National theatre of Iceland, to catch a few songs from the legendary Megas.

Enough babble I s’pose, here are the pics:

grisappalissa (14 of 16)

Now, on to day 3…