Iceland continually maintains a wealth of musicians and bands. There isn’t a genre missing on the small island, and there is a lot of talent found almost everywhere you look. From atmospherically haunting soundtracks to the darkest metal, you can always find something you’ll dig. And while this list doesn’t encompass all said genres, it’s my personal list of bands I’m enjoying at the moment.
Full disclosure, this blog post is about the 11 bands I’ve been lucky enough to compile on the new Icelandic Whatever compilation. They are 11 bands I truly dig, and I hope you will as well. The new compilation is released on November 11th, and is available for pre-order for $3 here. These bands are presented in the order of the compilation.
Most of these bands will be at Iceland Airwaves 2016. So if you’re going, make sure to check them out. The schedule and more info for Iceland Airwaves can be found here.
David Berndsen is Berndsen. I try to describe Berndsen not as 80’s retro, or a blast from the past, but as a continuation of the 80’s, with unique beats, heavy synths, and a booming voice. It’s not just a pinhole representation of what we loved about the 80’s, it’s a feel good modernized trip back to what we dug. In my opinion, he’s taken what can be a very dated musical genre and made it timeless. His music videos are also something of pure genius and are frequently on almost all of my house party playlists. The video above is “Shaping the Grey” featuring the talented singer/songwriter Elin Ey, and Högni Egilsson of GusGus fame. It is from his new album “Alter Ego.” The title track is on the compilation. Other videos you should watch are Lover in the dark, and Game of Chance.
Dr. Gunni – “Ég er aumingi”
Dr. Gunni is a veteran punk, he’s been at it since the 80’s. And as well as the band Dr. Gunni, he has been in the legendary bands: SH Draumur, Bless, and Unun. He wrote, “Blue eyed pop” which is the most comprehensive book on the history of rock in Iceland and has also has released a few compilations in his time called the Snarl series which was the inspiration for me to begin releasing compilations. The song “Ég er aumingi” is on the new comp, and it’s from his upcoming album, “ATVIK”.
MilkyWhale began as a musical project between choreographer Melkorka Sigríður Magnúsdóttir and Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson (FM Belfast, and Pluseinn.) It’s dance pop, with unique breaks and as with their music, their live shows are filled with high energy moments that somehow bring both band and audience together almost as if everyone in attendance had rehearsed their dancing. “Invisible” is on the compilation.
Yes, Icelandic Disco does exist, perhaps it’s not well known, but one of Donna Summers favorite songwriters was Icelandic. I fell in love with Boogie trouble the first time I saw them at Iceland Airwaves years ago. It’s a super group of talented and seasoned musicians, and their new album, “Í bænum” is one solid disco dance-fest. I’ve written about it before, and I still thing the song, “Moldun” is about the quest of a lonely space cowboy to find his electric-slide line dancing space cow folk. Thankfully, the band has let me put said track on the compilation.
I like contrast, and Pink Street Boys delivers said contrast. Dirty, sludgy punk infused garage rock. practically insane in everything they do, they’ve been my go-to rock out band for quite a while now. I originally wanted “Evel Knievel” for the compilation, but they delighted me with a new gem, “Let it down” and it does not disappoint.
Æla continue to be a treat. They are a punk band whose live shows are always a must-see for me. Every year after their gig I say “that’ll be tough to beat next year,” and every year they beat it. The dedication they put into their show antics are only beat by their dedication to their music, and their new-ish album, Vettlingatök (Handle with kid gloves) is solid. “Rólegur” is the track on the compilation, and the performance above was at the Iceland Airwaves KEXP stage at Kex last year.
Myrra Rós, is well known in Iceland for her solo project as well as a vocalist for the band Var. She is an enchanting chanteuse, her soothing voice soars only grounded by heavy instrumentation below her. Her new album, “One Amongst Others” is an atmospheric collection of other-wordly songs. The title track shown above is on the compilation.
Svavar Knútur is the traveling troubadour. From the west side of Iceland his folk songs are a contrast of serious topics happily sung. He takes his audiences on comedic journeys and with or without a backing band an audience is never left without. The song above is an acoustic version of the song”Wanderlust” from his newest album, Brot (The breaking) and the album version is on the compilation.
Cyber is an interesting duo. Formerly they were what I can only describe as disco/metal/rap duo, and now they are hip hop. I was stoked when they agreed to be on my comp, as I really like their music + lyric combination. Typically they rap in Icelandic, but the video above is in English. MÁVAR is the track they’ve let me use for the compilation, trippy beats, Icelandic lyrics.
It’s no secret that Reykjavik! is one of my favorite bands. They are somewhat garage/punk rock legends in Iceland, and they are a band I thought I would never get to see live. So last year when they played a surprise gig at Kaffibarinn, I became that happy little kid on Christmas morning. It was sweaty, and nobody could really move except for the band, which managed to hang off the ceiling, bars tops and audience members, you can see the pics I took of the gig here. So you can imagine how happy I was when they let me put their classic track, Flybus! on the compilation.
I was beyond stoked when Futuregrapher agreed to be on the compilation, even more so when he sent a brand new track. he mixes multiple layers of trippy broken beats combined with the atmospheric noise to create unique songs you can’t help but get wrapped up in. He’s a breath of fresh air to see live, and you get sucked in not only by the music, but by his unique style behind the machines. I’ve written about him before, and the new song, Shemale, which is on the compilation is something different I’ve never heard from him before. It’s the perfect ending to a great list of musicians on the compilation.