Tag Archives: band

Sóley, Ask The Deep

soleyatd

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:

You can follow Sóley on Facebook, and on her website.  She is touring, see her schedule here.  And she will be in the United States in October for Iceland Affair up in Connecticut.

Advertisements

Legend

legend (origin of photo unknown)

Story has it that Legend began on a drunken night of brain-synced tomfoolery between two old friends in a studio which lead to the creation of the track ‘Devil in Me‘.  After finding its way quickly up the Icelandic charts, these friends, Krummi Björgvinsson and Halldór A Björnsson called themselves Legend, and created an album of winterishly dark and stormy synth-pop.

Krummi’s been on the scene for years, Probably most known for his band Mínus, the first Icelandic hardcore band I heard as a youngin’, and one of the first hardcore bands ever signed outside of the Icelandic realm.  He’s a busy man also known for his art, and his solo projects such as DÖPUR.  Halldór has done film and play soundtracks, as well as jingles for commercials.  He’s also an active producer and genius on the keys.  The two have been friends for quite sometime.  Previous to Legend, the two worked with Daníel Ágúst of GusGus on a country style project called Esja.

Some say there is a fine line that’s not to be crossed between Industrial pop-synth and heavy-industrial.  It’s refreshing to hear a band that calls bullshit on that theory and proves you can have both.  Their music reminds me of dark stormy Winter-ish days, yet there is a lighter side of pop floating in and out of the songs like moving clouds that threaten to reveal the sun every so often.  In my opinion, they have expertly crafted music that takes the best of both worlds creating the perfect stormy soundtrack.

fearless

Fearless, their first album, follows that interwoven, layered formula.  One gets the sense of dark, crisp, winter nights with darker songs, such as Sister, Fearless, and my favorite track with it’s deeper vocals, Violence:

And you have the lighter breath of fresh air moments, with the more pop-ish tracks such as Sudden Stop, Lust, and City which is one of the most pop tracks on the album:

The album ends with one of the lightest tracks on the album, Traveling blind, akin to the transition of winter into spring.  While I love the album, you have to see these guys live.  Krummi is a performer through and through, and puts on one hell of a gig.  Always high energy, always a little crazy, always fun.

legendlive

2015 is going to be an insane year for Legend and Co.  Legend is working on their second release,  DÖPUR and AMFJ are doing a split cassette, and Krummi’s new new project KÓBRAKAT is in the works.  If that isn’t enough, Mínus is hoping to finish an album they’ve been working on for 3 years with a hopeful release sometime in 2015.

You can follow Legend on Facebook, and listen to them on Soundcloud.  Krummi was nice enough to answer my 4 questions:

1. What is your favorite place to play at in Iceland? –I really don´t have a favorite place anymore because many venues have been closed down so they (bloodsucking yuppies) can build more hotels. These venues were so important for the music scene. It´s a shame but hopefully there will be new venues in the future, then maybe i will have a favorite place to play again.

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your band mates if you would), what do you get? –Black and Blue

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin? –Börn, Icarus and AMFJ

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song. –I would be a recluse spider also known as Fiddle-backs playing Isolation by Iggy Pop.

Boogie Trouble

boogietrouble

Disco? In Iceland?  I’ll let you all in on a dirty little secret, Icelanders once disco’d the hell out of disco.  In fact, one of their own, Þórir Baldursson was rather successful in the US working with Donna Summers and others during the global disco hayday.   While Disco on the small island may have been short lived, Boogie Trouble is doing a fine job of bringing it back with their ‘disco-funk-full-o-soul’ style of music.

swankyBoogie trouble started in 2011.  Myth has it the band tweaked a reggae tune to match their style and decided to keep at it.  The members are all experienced musicians, with Ingibjörg Elsa Turchi formerly of Rökkurró on bass;  Helga Ragnarsdóttir currently of Rökkurró on keys;  Sigurður Tómas Guðmundsson formerly of Snorri Helgason’s old band Sprengjuhöllin on drums;  Sindri Freyr Steinsson from Iceland’s Surf rock band Bárujárn on guitar and vocals, and lead singer Klara Arnalds, who has the ability to soothingly punch the grumpies out of any audience member within range of her energetic smile and waves of flying hair.

On my must see list at Iceland Airwaves this year, the band came highly recommended from a slew of Icelandic musicians.  There is a dangerous line that can be crossed when playing funk or disco, but their strong songwriting and musical craftwork bring the energy and fun of that era while leaving behind any unintentional signs of gimmick.  They were tight on the instruments and every one of them on stage appeared to be having a good time.

Most of their songs are in Icelandic, but the manner in which they are written, and the enjoyment and energy the band projects from the stage make the language barrier moot. They do have a few cover songs, including Britney Spear’s Toxic, which you can download for free at Soundcloud.

They are promising new stuff and even an album soon in the future.  They are on Facebook, as well as Soundcloud.  And the band was nice enough to answer my 4 very not-so-serious questions:

1.  What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at?  The best place to go partying is probably Harlem because even when it sucks it is tolerable. The best place to play music used to be Faktorý but that got torn down to build hotels.

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get?  Litographicly probably some sort of brown sludge. That or purple.

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?  Svartidauði, Nolo, Ojba Rasta, the list goes on. A lot of talented people happen to live on this rock.

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song.  Cthulu playing Strawberry letter 23, with The Brothers Johnson. That would probably be deep.

MAMMÚT

mammut

Three gals, two guys, that’s MAMMÚT.  An Icelandic 5 piece that’s been on the scene for around 9 years.  They have crafted the art of delivering a wall of sound both live and on record with Kata, the lead singer sending out vocals akin to an offspring of Grace Slick and Linda Perry.  Kata on vocals, Ása strumming bass, Alexandra and Arnar at  guitar, and Andri banging the drums and percussion.

3 or 4 months after forming, they won the coveted Músiktilraunir, the annual Icelandic battle of the bands.  Two years later their first album, Mammútwas released.  Basic rock in the vein of the Breeders or Linda Perry topped with a dash or three of late 60’s psychedelic rock.   There are times I can play Miðnæturmetall two or three times before moving on to the next track.

The second album, Karkari,  has a darker feel.  It’s still rock heavy, such as the terrific bass thumping on the beginning of Geimþrá, and the album ends with an instrumentally heavy track, Í Leyni, which could easily be confused for a Godspeed You Black Emperor or Mogwai song.  Very heavy, very loud, and oh so awesome on a stereo.

Between the two albums and their new track, MAMMÚT did Bakkus with KEXP:

I love that the video captures Kata’s “I’m almost going to explode, but I’ll do it very quietly” way of singing, she really is awesome to see live, and the only thing I miss from this and their records is just what powerful lungs she actually has, that fire haired girl really knows how to sing.  But then again, watching this band live really restores your faith in music, as even when it’s a simple riff, or slow drum line, these guys are always into it.  It’s a live gig you should make a priority to see, you’ll get into it just from the energy they give off because their into it.

I want to go off-topic for a moment and bring up KEXP, the folks who did the Bakkus video.  The crew that covers Iceland Airwaves from KEXP are an incredible sort.  I always end up running into them once or twice during the festival as they are incredibly hard workers.  Typically out late to catch as many shows as they can, only to wake up extremely early to go here and there recording Icelandic musicians for special performances all during Airwaves.  A lot of material you will find on Airwaves comes from the recordings and sessions of KEXP.  Last year they were headquartered at the hostel Kex, recording off-venue gigs, broadcasting their live shows, and generally having a good time.

MAMMÚT have been teasing us about new material for quite some time now, and it looks as if it’s finally going to happen.  On the new single, Salt,we get those haunting vocals, and a much darker, more prominent base line.  It feels a lot more like Í Leyni than their other catalog and so yes, I’m quite excited for the new album.  Also, it will be in English and Icelandic, so you won’t have to go guessing just exactly what the hell they are saying, if you’re not versed in the Icelandic language.

The band was kind enough to take the time to answer my 4 vital questions, so here they are:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at?  A few year ago we played a gig in Ása’s (our bassist) basement. She used to live in a huge house in downtown Reykjavík and turned the basement into an art gallery, and there we played a secret show for a few good people.

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get? It would be a crazy new color. We’d probably call it “Mammút blue”

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?  Well we’d have to define “little known” first. If we’re talking about bands who haven’t experienced a huge international success (yet) then we’d have to say Samaris, Agent Fresco and Ojba Rasta.

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song.  Most likely we’d like to be a frog singing Ave Maria.

You can keep up, and find out more about MAMMÚT on their Facebook and Tumblr pages.  And of course their two albums and new single are conveniently located on Gogoyoko.

FM Belfast

FMBelfast

A birthday track made by a couple, for a friend, became the beginnings of a snowball gradually gaining speed and size, rolling it’s way through dance floors, festivals, and bar venues taking peoples’ pants in return for lively gigs that feel more like all encompassing parties; this, is the FM Belfast I’ve experienced.

This post was done out of my chaotic order as they are playing Great Scott in Allston (Boston) on Feb. 28th.  I always get excited when an Icelandic band comes to Boston, but FM Belfast is famous for putting on amazing live shows anywhere they play.  They have an incredible knack for feeding off the energy of a crowd, creating their own energy, and turning any environment into a party.  I tried to find clips of live shows, but I honestly feel that you thumbing through this 47 minute set would probably give you a better idea of what to expect:

according to legend, and their website.  A couple, Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson and Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir, put together a birthday song for a friend.  As music things typically do, it got around and eventually more music was created by it.  The band expanded, and now includes players from a slew of great Icelandic bands, such as Borko, Retro Stefson, Múm, and Benni Hemm Hemm.  Depending on who’s available and what they are doing the roster can change from 3 to 11 players and that adaptability and keen sense for a good mood is what makes going to one of their gig’s absolutely worth it.

Before going into just how great the first time I saw them was, I feel there needs to be a little discography lesson and knowledge shared.  They are witty and have no lack of catchy tunes.  On How to make friendsthere is a keyboard playing monkey named Pedro being Tropical, a warped drunken-like version of the classic Pump up the jam,  motivational songs about being President, and of course, one of their most popular songs about being Icelandic and running down the street in their Underwear.  The band actually put together a lo-fi video for the song Underwear, I have to admit it cracks me up:

The newest album, Don’t want to sleep, still carries on the dance beat, but the lyrics get more serious, but not too serious.  You still have fantastic songs about learning American, and not wanting to go to sleep either.  But you also get darker dance beats and more mature sounding tracks like In Line, and Happy winterIn line is actually my favorite track off of the album.

Lóa Hjálmtýsdóttir was kind enough to answer my 4 questions:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves joint to jam at? My favorite off venue last year was KEX hostel.

2. If you combine all of the band’s favorite colors what do you get? To start with, one of our bandmate has the favorite colors Neon Green and Burgundy red so I think the combo will always turn out to be pretty diarrhetic. Mine is a gray purplish sort of blue, I have a pen with that color and it’s called Cornflower. One bandmate doesn’t know and I can’t be bothered to call the rest of the guys. But like I said, the end result will be brown.

3. What are 3 Icelandic bands we haven’t heard of that we should? Nolo, Prinspóló and Boogie Trouble.

4. If you could be any creatures playing your favorite song, what would you be, and what song? It would be a really big crow singing Smog’s song Feather by Feather.

You can learn more about them on their websiteGogoyoko actually has a lot of remixes, and their full length albums, so I would suggest going and giving them a listen.  And of course they are on Facebook.

Vigri

vigri
Vigri the band was formed in 2009 by the Pjetursson brothers Bjarki and Hans.  Named after the last ship their Grandfather captained, Vigri tends to be environmental and atmospheric.  To me, the album feels like romanticized windswept cloudy days on a beach where regardless of the elements you find yourself at peace.  Which is odd as they have just released a video for my favorite song off the Pink Boats album and it happens on a snowy beach:

 

From what I’ve heard, Pink Boats was recorded inside a slew of Icelandic churches capitalizing on the old wooden interiors to boost their sound.  Add to that the brilliant tinkerings of Iceland’s own Birgir Jón Birgissong, and you get a very pleasant album indeed.  If you listen closely you can actually hear the bells of Hallgrimskirkja ringing away, though I’m not going to tell you where, you can find it on your own.
Vigri consist of Bjarki and Hans Pjetursson, Atli Jónasson, Þórir Bergsson and Egill Halldórsson.  And you can listen to Pink Boats in its entirety and purchase the sucker on Bandcamp.  Animals, Maternal Machine, and I I Augsyn are my favorite tracks.