Monthly Archives: July 2013

Kimono

kimono

I’ve been waiting for a good time to write a post about Kimono,and as their new EP, Aquarium,was just released on Bandcamp; T’is a good time to write.

On my first trip to Iceland a crazy Icelander sold me a massive stack of CD’s and from that stack, Kimono’s Arctic Death Ship quickly became a favorite.  It’s also the only album that has had the privilege of being played at full volume on my old Klipsch stereo system in order to kindly let my neighbors know I don’t appreciate mid-week 1-5am drunken guitar circles. That was a glorious early morning listen, and while ear plugs were required for my roommates, the drum circles moved to a more tolerable time period.

The members of Kimono have been making music for quite a while, currently a three piece consisting of Gylfi Blöndal and Alison MacNeil on Guitar; and Kjartan Bragi Bjarnason on Drums, they pride themselves on doing what they want when they want.  Despite the multiple album of year awards and other accolades they have received, it seems their biggest accomplishment is their ability to ride under the radar while still collecting fans that appreciate their sound and pick up on the musical references and theifdoms in their songs.

Their albums only have one consistent element, they are all different and well crafted.   I would describe Mineur-aggressif as a heavy sludge rock album, while Arctic Death Ship is the intense electricity you experience right before a storm, the opening track Standing Wave is actually in my “Top 5 songs I’ve ever liked and will ever like” list.  Their last full length album, Easy Music for Difficult people is a well done post-punk prog-rock album akin to bands such as Wire, and is great to listen to while maneuvering your car through windy roads.  Wire and Tomorrow are two of my favorite tracks from the album.

In keeping with tradition, the new single Aquarium has it’s own unique sound.   It’s  smooth, really smooth, and there is a more noticeable jazz influence throughout, especially in the drums.  As Alison posted online, it’s definitely an album “for when you are cooking, relaxing or making sweet love.”

The track meanders along with bursts of ghostly guitar fading in and out floating on a background of subtly changing sound.  And while it’s not as heavy it definitely fits right up there with Godspeed you Black Emperor and Cancer Conspiracy.

I find it interesting that the video for the new EP is aquatic themed, because listening to the track made me want to get a tube and float down a river sipping beer and soaking up the sun.

You can listen to the band on Soundcloud, Kimono has one of the best organized Soundcloud accounts I have seen to date and there are extra tidbits from the band members there as well.  They are also on Facebook and you can always visit their website.

Alison was kind enough to answer my 4 questions:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at?  My favorite off-venues are usually the ones where someone figures out how to put on a show where there’s never been a show before.  Early in kimono’s life, we played the backyard of a jeweller’s on Skólavörðustígur and that was crazy awesome.  So, in other words, the middle of the street suits me just fine.

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get?  If memory serves me right:  brown.

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?  Kukl, Þeyr, and Sófandi

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be, and what is the song?  Shiva.  Many arms = many guitars.  I could do a one-woman performance of a Glenn Branca orchestra, which appeals to me greatly since actually organising a group of people to play that music is a veritable pain in the ass.

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1860

1860logo

For me, 1860 is a breathe of indie-folk fresh air.  Constant melodies that capture the energy of the music without having to over use dominant banjos or volcanic-like explosive choruses that out live the song itself.  1860 does a great job of focusing on the composition of the song and each track tends to have it’s own consistently strong presence.

What started out as a side project in 2010 by Ottar G. Birgisson and Hlynur Juni Hallgrimsson, has become a 5 piece full time gig with Hlynur Hallgrímsson on vocals and mandolin, Ottar G. Birgisson on vocals and acoustic guitar, Johann Runar Thorgeirsson with the electric guitar, Gunnar Jonsson on electric bass and vocals, and Andri Bjartur Jakobsson on drums and percussions.  All members of the band are known for adding instruments and innovating new ways to create sounds.

On 1860’s first album, Sagen, the band displays variety while notching out their own vibe in the indie-folk genre.  Tracks like Orðsending að austan have lively guitar on the upswing, piping on the high end, and smooth vocals throughout, and other tracks like Love & Lime have a homey feeling of such bands like the french chanteurs Revolver, reminiscent of sitting around the house playing music with friends.  I wasn’t able to embed the video, but I suggest you check out this: Love and Lime

I also have to give nod to the song, Snæfellsnes, it’s a great track, and any song about the area I dream to retire to deserves recognition.

artificialdayOn July 30th, their new album, Artificial Daylight will officially be released to the masses. Two singles from the album are available on Gogoyoko and Soundcloud, and the album will be available at Gogoyoko and Icelandmusic.com on July 30th.  While the tracks available are less folk and more indie, the solid melody and strong vocals I dug in the first are very much present.  as well as on Gogoyoko, the tracks are available on Soundcloud.  I truly believe this is going to be an incredible successful album, you heard it here first.

The band has a website, and you can find them on Facebook as well as Gogoyoko.  They also were kind enough to answer my four questions:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at?  We’re pretty laid back guys, so we play a lot of shows at Café Rosenberg on Klapparstígur. It has a really nice mellow vibe to it. Faktorý is also wonderful, but now it’s gonna be leveled to the ground to build a hotel. Which sucks.

2.  2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get?  Cosmic latte, for sure. The average colour of the universe.

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin? We are going to name three amazing bands that were huge but are little known outside of Iceland today:  Mánar, Trúbrot og Jet Black Joe

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song?  Awesome question! We have to go with Treebeard from the Lord of the Rings singing “Leikur að Vonum” by Mánar (an incredible Icelandic 70s song about brotherly love conquering hate)… either that or Van Morrison’s “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)”.

Amiina

AmiinaMost of us were introduced to Amiina when the quartet went gigging across the globe with Sigur Rós.  Now a 6 piece, Amiina consists of the original 4; Edda Rún Ólafsdóttir, Hildur Ársælsdóttir, Sólrún Sumarliðadóttir, María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir and two male members, Magnús Trygvason Eliassen and Guðmundur Vignir Karlsson.

Famous for their creative use of everything from saws to harpsichords, and the ability the members have in casually drifting from one instrument to the next in a single track, their music can be described as more of an atmosphere than sound.  A serene, happy and peaceful atmosphere leaving the listener with a smile.

in 2007, Kurr was released.  It was their first full length after their time with Sigur Rós and with ambiance and classical overtones it became a strong indicator that the band would have no issue standing on their own.

To me, one of the most fantastic things to come of that album was the collaboration with Lee Hazelwood on Hilli.  This track was made more special as to the best of my knowledge, it’s the last thing Lee Hazelwood did before passing away.   There is something cool in thinking about an old Okie-Louis boy who had worked with likes of Nancy Sinatra hanging his hat with a grin at the completion of this moving collaboration.

Puzzle, the second full length, strongly reminds me of driving across the mountainous deserts of Utah and Arizona at twilight with my hand sticking out the open window making waves.  What are we waiting for? is one of my favorite tracks on the album, and tracks such as Sicsak really stick out with their heavier electronic presence. The album is heavier and more full, but that ambiance of peacefulness still shines through.

Amiina’s latest and greatest is the Lighthouse Project.  Back in the day of their quartet, the band created a concert specifically designed to be played in Lighthouses.  Fast forward a bit and the band resumed their quartet role and toured Iceland playing Lighthouse to Lighthouse.  When they decided to record these Lighthouse versions of the songs, they recorded it concert style live in the studio to try and emulate that cozy concert feel.

You can learn more about the Lighthouse Project, as well as purchase it in different sets from their website.  They have Puzzle and The Lighthouse Project on Gogoyoko if you would like to listen to the albums in their entirety, and of course you can always follow them on Facebook.

The band was very nice and answered my 4 questions, here are their answers:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at?  Well, there isnt really a place where you can jam at, but our favorite off-venue show was probably the one we did at a record shop called Havarí. That was a nice place. Sadly they had to close (like a lot of clubs and shops in Reykjavík these days…) but that show was great!

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get?  Probably something out of this world, never before seen color. Or some kind of black reddish type of color. Or whatever. Colors are nice!

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?  Sin Fang are good. ADHD are good. Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band are nice. Oyama are good.

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song.  An eagle whistling Blue in Green by Miles Davis…

In the Company of Men

ITCOM

Yes yes, I know I should use a more recent photo of the band, but with that shit-eating grin behind the guitar, and the oh so seriousness of holding keys vertically while a Dillinger Escape plan T-shirt gets cuddled, how could I resist.  So sue me, I picked this pic.

Mostly described as Mathcore, they’ve also been described as hardcore and metal.  Grapevine once described them stating, “they looked and acted more fucked up and obnoxious (in the best possible way) than before, running and jumping around like monkeys dosed on purple drank.”  In the Company of Men, (ITCOM)  is a five piece band that came together late 2011, consisting of  Finnbogi Örn (Guitar & Vocals), Samúel Örn Böðvarsson (Bass), A.K. Andersen (Vocals), Steini Milljón (Guitar, Vocals), and Björn Rúnarsson (Drummer).

From live videos I’ve seen, they appear batshit crazy showing a complete disregard for stages, lighting or boundaries while precisely and artfully pulling off complex signatures.  They hold their own with other bands of their genre such as the beautifully psychotic Dillinger Escape Plan, In fact, from the videos I’ve seen, they are reminsicint of a young DEP,  and are on my top list to check out at Airwaves this year.

At only a year or so old they took second place in the Músiktilraunir, Iceland’s battle of the bands, and Luigi from the Mario Brothers handled lead vocals during the Wacken Metal Battle (perhaps it was the singer dressed up as Luigi, we may never know.)

The track in the above video is Captain Planet.  This was one of the first tracks made available online and in many ways the start of my admiration of the band.  Of the tracks available on their Soundcloud page, I have to say the Steini Milljón is my favorite.

As with most Icelandic musicians, the band members are up to their necks in other creative projects in and around Iceland.  Finnbogi Örn also belongs to the hardcore band Icarus, who are currently touring New York throughout the month of July, Samúel Örn Böðvarsson also plays bass for the Death Metal band Aeterna, and A.K. Andersen, when not waxing philosophy around the table is working on a comic book titled  “Alfjeder”.

You can visit their Facebook page or listen to them on Soundcloud.  They are in the final stages of their first album and steadily working on their second, look for them this year.

And here are the 4 questions they were nice enough to answer for me:

  1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves joint to jam at?

Björn Rúnarsson – Lucky Records.
A.k. Andersen – Lucky Records.
Steini Milljón – Lucky Records.
Samúel Örn Böðvarsson – Lucky Records or Dillon
Finnbogi Örn Einarsson – Lucky Records & Gaukur á Stöng.

  1. If you combine all of your favorite colors, what do you get?

Björn Rúnarsson – Green (420 – 420 – 420 – 420)
A.k. Andersen –  Pink, all da way! (420-4… wait… oh)
Steini Milljón – Lilla Blár (Purple)
Samúel Örn Böðvarsson – Black, stay KVLT
Finnbogi Örn Einarsson – Metallica

  1. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?

Björn Rúnarsson – Ehh, ég veit ekki. Bjornen
A.k. Andersen – Bob, Japanese shuper shift and da future band og Kuraka
Steini Milljón – Me The Slumbering Napoleon, Ampersand og Bob Gillan & Ztrandverðirnir
Samúel Örn Böðvarsson – Aeterna & Metallica!
Finnbogi Örn Einarsson – Gruesome Glory, Trust The Lies, & World Narcosis.  (Also Mýnkarnir, a hip-hop collective from Hornafjörður)

  1. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be?  What is the song?

 Björn Rúnarsson – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go með Wham eða When I’m Back On My Feet Again með Michael  Bolton
A.k. Andersen – Sloths playing silence by no one.
Steini Milljón – A Trumpet, Hot House
Samúel Örn Böðvarsson – I’d be a Liger playing the classic Eye of the “Liger”
Finnbogi Örn Einarsson – A Silverback Gorilla doing an acapella version of ‘Over The Years’ by 25 Ta Life.

Ojba Rasta

ojba

Iceland is a little island straddling two continents somewhat isolated from the rest of the world. So it’s diversity in musical style always amazes me. Ojba Rasta is rooted in reggae definitely, but there are a lot of influences and alternating vibes in their music. And since the band has enough members to populate a small Icelandic village, it’s no surprise to find elements of funk, rock, dub and electro intertwined in the upbeat core of their music.

Formed around 2009 the band began as a 10 piece, but as things happen, they now have 11 members that make up their reggae stew including an organ, multiple guitars, bass, trumpets, a saxaphone, and of course, a dub-master.

Jolly good is probably their most famous track outside of Iceland. It’s one of the few tracks sung in English and shows off their ability to mix different styles into a very smooth feel good piece, though I do find it highly suspect that the lead singer is a little white girl.  On their Soundcloud page you can find two more songs by the band.

Being a large band full of interesting characters, Ojba Rasta always put a good show on and have a knack for entertaining the crowd not only with music, but their attitudes and interactions as well.  Once again, I’ve uncovered proof of such a statement thanks to KEXP.  This is a video of their gig at last year’s Airwaves festival at the Kex Hostel.:

Ojba Rasta have released a self titled full length album, of which the three tracks on Soundcloud do indeed reside.  If you are located outside of the states, you can pick up the album on Gogoyoko here.  Otherwise it’s available on Amazon or iTunes.  They are working on a second album slated for a 2013 release, and plan to tour in Germany after Airwaves 2013.  You can check out their Facebook page here.

Very chill, and one of the best ways to relax during a hectic gig schedule at Airwaves.  I highly suggest you check them out.  And yup yup, the band answered my 4 questions, here they be:

1.  What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at? At Airwaves 2012 we only played one off-venue gig and it was at the Kex hostel. The concert was broadcasted live from KEXP Radio and the footage was sweet. The weather was crazy that day in Iceland and in the U.S. We loved the whole expierence… We also love playing at Nasa and Faktorý. (I’ve included the video above)

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get?  Neon sea flaming blue/green.

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?  Mmm….Tough question.. maybe: Amaba Dama, Nolo and Boogie Trouble.

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song?  It would have to be a lion playing Iron Lion Zion by Bob Marley or maybe a black panther playing Rock & Roll Suicide by David Bowie.