Tag Archives: FM Belfast

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)

 

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Icelandic Bands of Iceland Airwaves 2017

Unlike past years, Iceland Airwaves will be in two cities this year, Reykjavik and Akureyri giving festival goers a chance to see more of the island, and from the looks of it, bringing more Icelandic bands from all over together to play. You can now look at the schedule hereAnd here are my tips to make the festival more enjoyable.

I will be photographing the festival this year and if you follow my Facebook page you view at your leisure.  You can see photos from Airwaves past here.

218 bands have been announced so far of which 162 are Icelandic.  I make this page as a quick reference and it’s a good thing to bookmark while you’re at the festival. There will be times where your plans may not come to fruition and you can look at the app, find a band you’ve never heard of for plan B, and use the quick reference here to see if you dig it.

Iceland Airwords is back as well.  A night of Poets, authors, and literature, including Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir, Kristín ÓmarsdóttirAndri Snær Magnason, Bergur Ebbi Sigurðsson, Kött Grá Pjé.  Check the online schedule for times.

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.

I’ve also made a table of just Möller Records and Thule Records artists as they have quite the strong presence this year. Both of these record labels have continually brought amazing electronic acts out of the Icelandic woodwork for years and I’m really stoked to visit their stage and get my fill of their collective music.

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.

Electronic / DJ / Atmospheric / experimental
Chevron DJ. flugvél og geimskip DJ Snorri Ástráðs DJ Spegill
DJ Sura Frank Murder Good Moon Deer Kosmodod
Ljósvaki Púlsvídd Röskva Ruxpin
Tonik ensemble TRPTYCH Yagya
Veteran Electronic Record Labels: Möller & Thule Records
Án (M) Andartak (M) Árni² (M) Bistro Boy (M)
Cold (T) Futuregrapher (M) Gunnar Jónsson Collider (M) NonniMal (T)
Octal Industries (T) Ozy (T) Ohm (T) Subliminal (M)
Thor (T) Vector (T)
Dance / electronic / pop / rock
Blissfull FM Belfast GusGus Mikael Lind
Milkywhale PASHN Sólveig Matthildur Sykur
Sylvia
Rock / Pop / Singer/Songwriter / Indie / Dance
200.000 Naglbítar AFK Árstíðir Ásgeir
Axel Flóvent AUÐUR aYia Benny Crespo’s Gang
Between Mountains Biggi Hilmars Ceasetone Daði Freyr
Dísa Einarlndra Emiliana Torrini & the Colorist Indriði
Fai Baba Fox Train Safari Fufanu Gangly
Godchilla Grúska Babúska Gorn Hildur
Högni Hugar JANA JFDR
Jón Jónsson KALLI Kiriyama Family Lára Rúnars
Lára Rúnars Máni Orrason Megas Mighty Bear
Moses Hightower Mr. Silla Nilüfer Yanya Omotrack
One week wonder Ösp Oyama Par-Ðar
Pascal Pinon Paunkholm Pranke Ragga Grönda
Rósa Guðrún Sveinsdóttir RuGl Rythmatik SiGRÚN
Skaði Þórðardóttir Skrattar Snorri Helgason Soffía Björg
Sóley Special K Sycamore Tree Tilbury
TSS Tusks Una Stef Valdimar
Vök Védís Warmland Young Karin
Punk / Metal / Hardcore / Garage Rock / Prog Rock
Dr. Gunni For a Minor Reflection Fræbbblarnir Grísalappalísa
Gróa HAM Hatari Hórmónar
Kælan Mikla Kontinuum Korter í flog Mammút
Phlegm Pink Street Boys ROHT Skelkur í bringu
Tappi Tíkarrass Tófa Une Misère We Made God
Hip-Hop / Trap / R&B / Rap
Alexander Jarl Alvia Islandia Aron Can Birnir
Cell 7 Chase Cryptochrome Cyber
Dillalude Elli Grill Emmsjé Gauti Fever Dream
Flóni Geisha Cartel GKR Glowie
Holy Hrafn Ider Joey Christ JóiPé og Króli
KÁ-AKÁ Lord Pusswhip Rari boys Reykjavíkurdætur
Shades of Reykjavik Sturla Atlas Tiny Úlfur Úlfur
Valby Bræður Young Nazareth
Composers / Atmospheric / Audio Visual
Amiina Bára Gísladóttir GlerAkur Gyða Valtýsdóttir
Halldór Eldjárn Jónas Sen

An Iceland Airwaves ’16 recap…

Well, it’s over.  Another year another massive amount of music, art, and sight seeing crammed into 5 days.  It began with an art show, a toilet museum opening with a Q&A from  John Lydon, and continued with a ton of new music.  On top of that I managed to go beyond my comfort zone and took part in conducting live interviews with bands, and created a few podcasts.

Jason from Zombie Popcorn convinced me to get behind a mic and conduct interviews and podcasts with him.   There were a few hilarious moments, a few cringe worthy moments, but a lot of good dialog with bands and musicians such as Dr. Gunni, Tófa, Milkywhale, and Sóley.  It’s all been compiled nice and neat like over at Zombie Popcorn on an Airwaves page.

I took all the photos in the blog post and you can see all the Airwaves photos here.

drgunni

It all started the night before Iceland Airwaves officially began at Mokka-kaffi.  Dr. Gunni of Bless, S.H. Draumur, Unum, and his own band had an art exhibit opening at the cafe.  It’s his new album, ATVIK, of which he’s only made 18 copies all with acrylic paintings of historic moments in his musical life on the album covers.  The bottom middle photo above is of Dr. Gunni giving the legendary Bubbi Morthens an empty Coke bottle… because that’s what you do apparently.

A new punk museum opened in Iceland.  Housed in an old public toilet the museum gives you the history of punk stall by stall, with memorabilia and pull down headphones so you can sample the goods.  John Lydon, accompanied by Rambo showed up for the opening and participated in a Q&A where he talked about underwear, and questioned if punk was still alive.

One of the great things about Iceland Airwaves is there is always something new, and there is always something for everybody.  In the event you can’t cram it all in at the official shows there will always be extra off-venue gigs throughout the city during the day.  This blog post would turn into a book if I commented on everything I saw so I will stick to highlights for me of new bands and veterans.

First, the new:

tofawideTófa @ 12 Tónar

One of the freshest highlights was Tófa.  The word Tófa is Icelandic for a female blue fox.   An animal that looks sweet and innocent but actually can be vicious and cunning.  And much like their namesake the began with innocent banter about who they are right before blowing out our eardrums and manufacturing mosh pits with their heavy high-spirited sets both off-venue and on.  Even a power outage at Gaukurinn was no match for drum solos and banter. 

30751689975_10580aae98_oMilkywhale is what you get when you cross an upbeat choreographer with a musician from one of the most party-est bands in Iceland.  He was bouncing and smiling behind the decks, she was all over the stage,  belting out while the audience danced away.  Both shows I saw this Airwaves were full of interactions with the crowd breaking down that wall between performers and festival goers.

 

30547700880_6f2d7fb796_oHórmónar is another new band that I was really impressed with.  I actually left PJ Harvey early so that I could catch their gig at Gaukurinn and they ended up being a great way to end the festival.  they were all over the tiny stage and guard rails, with the drummer using a wheel rim and a saxaphone player stuffed in the corner.  It all added to the rough and angry set.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with for next year.

 

30901145791_6b76c20cf6_oLast but not least is Cyber.  Comprised of some of the Reykjavíkurdætur crew, Cyber did aerobics with the crowd, rapped about Daddy issues and Aspen Barbie-world problems, and there was some hugging it out while pretending to pretend they were at prom.  Icelandic hip hop has become rather large over the last few years, and Cyber definitely was my top pick this year for the genre. 

Now for the highlights from the veterans:

This year was FM Belfast’s 10th anniversary playing Airwaves.  I first saw them in 2009-10?? when they closed the festival at NASA. The festival ended with hordes of people dancing and running past us in their underwear.  I have seen this band play small bars in Boston and stadium sized venues in Iceland and every time they leave you sweaty, out of breath, and wanting more of the party.

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Now, 10 years later, they’ve upped their game with confetti-cannons, rolls and rolls of streamers, and costumes galore.  The band revved up the crowd to the point the floors felt as if they were going to give in from the insane crowd jumping up and down.

In an interesting twist of things, two veteran bands I see whenever they play swapped up their stages.  Prins Póló dropped his band and Berndsen added one.  Things are always changing and even established bands like to completely swap things out for the fun of it.

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Prins Póló was joined by Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson from FM Belfast/Milkywhale/Plúseinn.  Perhaps having less folks on stage led to the heightened party atmosphere and more aggressive vocals and powerful beats.  Svavar was flying all over the stage interacting with the crowd as he sang songs we’ve all come to love.

 

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Berndsen on the other hand, showed up with a full band.  He played a lot of the classics, and a few of the new songs from his upcoming album, “Alter Ego.”  The new material still has that 80’s feel, but there’s more of a rock element now.   I’ve dug what I’ve heard so far and can’t wait to get my grubby mits on the full album.  The set ended with a stripped down Berndsen, and the drummer standing on his kit.

 

30771807755_ba96f21e09_oPart of the fun of going to Airwaves a lot is you get to watch bands evolve.  Fufanu is one such band, I’ve been watching them for a few years now and this year was the best I’ve ever seen them.  Their music was tight and on point, the visuals complimented the set, and they filled the Harpa hall with rock quite nicely.  They’ve released a great new video for Sports, and their show superseded my expectations.

 

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Vök packed the Reykjavik art museum and their high-octane performance with saxophones, synths, guitars and simulated drums was had the crowd excitedly dancing and singing along.  They seem a lot more at ease on stage and worked as a full rock unit playing a lot of material I actually hadn’t heard yet.

 

 

img_3254And then there was Pink street boys.  I fully admit to having a musical crush on this band.  Their dirty, garage punk rock style is just my type of music and they killed it at Gaukurinn.  The place was packed, and the sweaty horde of festival goers were rocking Their album is a go-to staple for me at home and in commute and I only wish I could see them play live more often.

 

30547786410_5cf249da04_oAnd then there was PJ Harvey.She filled the enormous hall at Valshöllin.  I was not only excited for the chance to see her live, but damned near ecstatic I  was given the opportunity to photograph.  The band entered the stage in marching band style with PJ in the middle playing the saxophone. 

She lined up in formation and once everyone was set moved front and center to begin the show.  While she played a few of her classics, her focus was on the new material.  With band members moving from brass instruments to strings, and her holding on dearly to her saxophone she filled the hall with her quirky style of music.

 

So, yet again another fantastic year at Iceland Airwaves.  All of the photos are mine though the featured image contains the Iceland Airwaves logo as well.  Early bird tickets will be on sale soon so make sure to follow Iceland Airwaves on Facebook and check their website frequently.  If you want a head start on learning about more of the Icelandic bands that may be playing next year, or just want a reminiscent feel for what you saw I suggest you check out Straumur on Facebook and their website.  They compile fantastic playlists mixed with international acts, but a lot of the new Icelandic bands coming out.  Also, follow Iceland Music Export on Facebook as they deliver speedy news on new bands, bands that are touring, and new information about the bands you already love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iceland Airwaves 2015

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.

RocknRoll – Indie Rock – Pop Rock – Rock Rock
Agent Fresco Bárujárn Borko CeaseTone
Dikta Dr. Gunni Elin helena FM Belfast
Fufanu Geislar Hallelewah HAM
Hide your kids Himbrimi Hjaltalín John Grant & the ISO
Just Another Snake Cult kimono Kiriyama Family Klassart
Lára Rúnars Low Roar MAMMÚT Mosi Musik
Mosi Musik Mr. Silla Oyama Red Barnett
Rhytmatik Runar Thorisson Russian.girls Sindri Eldon & the Ways
Teitur Magnússon Toneron Trúboðarnir Valdimar
Var The Vintage Caravan Vio Þórir Georg
Singer/Songwriter – Folk – Blues/Jazz – Composers – Classical
Árstíðir Aurora Axel Flóvent Beebee and the Bluebirds
Brim DALÍ Fura Grúska Babúska
Helgi Valur Hymnalaya Jónas Sen Júníus Meyvant
Justman Lucy in Blue Magnús Leifur Máni Orrason
Markús & The Diversion Sessions  Mógil My Bubba Nordic Affect
Par-Ðar Soffía Björg Sóley TUSK
Þórunn Antonía og Bjarni Ylja
All things Electronica – Dance / DJs / Composers / ambient / ElectroPop / noise
Agzilla Arni Vector Arnljótur Art is Dead
Asonat Auður Berndsen Bistro Boy
Brilliantinus Daveeth dj. Flugvél og geimskip DÖPUR
Dream wife Exos Futuregrapher Gangly
Ghostigital Good Moon Deer Gunnar Jónsson Collider Gus Gus
H.dór Hekla HimBrim Jack Magnet Quintet
Jóhann Eiriksson Jón Ólafsson & Futuregrapher Kiasmos Kippi Kaninus
LaFontaine Lord Pusswhip M-Band Mafama
Mankan Milkywhale Miri Mikael Lind
Mike Hunt Mr. Signout Odinn OHM
Royal Ruxpin Serengeti by President Bongo Skurken
SMURJÓN Snooze infinity Súrefni Sykur
Thor Tonik Ensemble Trptych Vaginaboys
Vök Waage Yagya Yamaho
Young Karin
Punk – Hardcore
Æla Börn Caterpillarmen Grísalappalísa
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
Misþyrming Momentum-Malneirophrenia Severed Sinmara
Svartidauði
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.

15 Icelandic bands you may not know, but should

There are a lot of “top 10 Icelandic bands you should know” floating around these days.  They all seem to list the same bands, half of which we already know.

By now, any person who even knows the minimal of Icelandic music knows bands and musicians such as the Sugarcubes, Björk, Sigur Rós, Ásgeir, Amiina, Mum, Seabear, Of Monsters and Men and Sin Fang.  They are killing it on a global scope and are getting air play and reviews in almost every music mag out there, so I’m leaving them out of my list, they’re wonderful and loverly but we already know that.

There is a book on the history of pop and rock in Iceland called Blue Eyed pop.  It’s an extremely entertaining read, all your favorite bands will be in there with their histories, and it’s shocking to see just how connected even the most distant genre types really are.  It’s become one of my favorite books to loan to people, and the hardest book to get back when they’re done.

So here it is, my top 15 bands you should know, split into three categories, Veterans, Been around the blockers, and Freshies.  Aside from that, there is no rhyme or reason to their order.  Clicking on the band heading will take you to either a blog post I’ve written about them, or their respective interwebby pages:

Veterans:

Kimono

I have been in love with this band since I first heard them almost a decade go.  I love all three of their albums, and the sneak peaks we’re getting of the new album, such as the video above, make me happy indeed.  They’ve been playing for over a decade and a half, and if you’re fans of that minimal yet heavy sound, you’ll go nuts for them.  Click here for more info, including Soundcloud links.  Perfect for twilight drives through the desert or pre-night shenanigans.

FM Belfast

One of the best dance party bands out of Iceland, their live concerts typically end with hysteric crowds jamming around in nothing but their underwear.  If they ever come near your town, they are a must see, you won’t be disappointed, well unless you don’t like to smile and dance.  It’s hard to listen to their albums without jumping a little while smiling.  I reviewed the new album here, and that post also has links to more of their goodiness.  Perfect for party times and getting large crowds of people partially nekkid.

Ghostigial

Imagine that, the crazy guy from the Sugarcubes has his own crazy band.  By far my favorite band to see every year Iceland Airwaves, his break-neck rant-ish style backed up by the almost genius mixing of Curver Thoroddson make the perfect album for walking around a busy city.  Another act that should be witnessed live for full effect.  The video above also has Sóley, which I’ll get to later.  Perfect for going crazy.

Þórir Georg (My Summer as a Salvation Soldier)

As My Summer as a Salvation Soldier, Þórir made one of my favorite songs, The River.  It’s been quite a journey with his singer songwriter style, as it’s not all kumbyah’s and strumming around a campfire.  There are pop ditties, and an album of split personalities harshly contrasting each other in thrash and calmness.  It’s creative weirdness, and well worth getting into.  Depending on the album, it’s perfect for most situations.

Sóley

Part of the Icelandic supergroup Seabear, Sóley has quite the solo catalog under her belt.  She took time off to raise a family after “We Sink” but I just saw her at ATP Iceland, and she’s definitely back in the thick of it.  Her charming voice, and well orchestrated band make for a perfect evening/road trip record.

Lay Low

I’ve called her the offspring of Nancy Sinatra and June Carter.  Her voice is full with the slightest hint of a smokey, well rounded accent.  Her back catalog has quite the folk/country feel.  And the new album, “Talking about the weather” has a more full, larger band approach.  It’s one of my favorite road trip albums, and was on my top list of albums to come out last year.  The video above is from the new album.  For me, pretty much perfect anytime.

Apparat Organ Quartet

A stage completely filled with tubes, wires and organs.  These guys are amazing live as nothing is typically preset.  They are a fun, high energy band synthesizing the hell out of their organs for the audience and listeners enjoyment.  In 2010 I saw them by accident at Airwaves, and I’ve been an uber-fan since.  Perfect for all musically inclined nerds, for rocking out on the weekend, and for when you need a climatic build up before taking on the world.

Been around the blockers:

Oyama

They’ve been called shoegazers, and I s’pose it fits.  They won me over last year at Airwaves with both their interruptive irreverence at Harpa and their actual full gig.  Heavy instruments and floating lyrics, excellent music for afternoon BBQ’s and video gaming sessions.  Perfect for getting your jam on, I’ve yet to gaze at my shoes when seeing them.

Samaris

Imagine if you will, walking right after twilight in the desert or across a foggy field of snow.  Nothing but the wilderness casting strange shadows all around you as you trek forward towards your final destination.  That’s how the very poetic sound of Samaris hits me.  Their new album not available in the US yet, Silkidranga, is less atmospheric and more dance-like.  But the trio’s ability to captivate my ADHD addled brain is quite impressive.  Perfect for druidian chants in the countryside.

MAMMÚT

This 5 piece could almost be considered veterans as well, they’ve been at it for over 9 years.  Their lead singer with her Grace slick style singing, over heavy instrumentation makes for great albums and great gigs.  Perfect rock out music, the above video is their new, first official music video.

Hjaltalín

What started out as a high school songwriting project has turned into quite the band.  They’ve had local success for years, but the new album has projected them into the global realm.  Fantastic band live and on record, I highly suggest checking out their new album, Enter 4. Perfect for get togethers with friends, as well as swooning sessions over that damned sexy long blond head of hair.

Freshies:

Knife Fights

Simple, yet energetic, I love this new band out of Iceland.  It completely reminds me what we’d listen to on our way to the big city for gigs during the summers of my youth.  There’s a sunny, west coast type Violent Femmes era feel to the music, and I haven’t come close to being sick of their album, “I need you to go to Hell.”  Which I highly suggest you give a listen to.  If this sucker gets heard, I really think it has potential to make a lot of folks happy this summer. Video above is their new video for my favorite song off their album.

Boogie Trouble

Ohhh, sweet funky disco.  This band won my favorite new act of 2013, incredibly fun to watch and the locals go crazy for them.  Right this moment they have a crowd funding effort to put out their new album, so go help them out.  And try to listen to their music without wiggling your butt…ain’t gonna happen.  I was going to put an original track as the video, but I think this cover is pretty awesome.

Pink Street Boys

Nooo shit, there’s a garage punk band that has emerged on the rock.  A little Ramones, a little Deadbolt; A lot of Trans Am and Camero mullets.  They are trashy, thrashy, and a completely new guilty pleasure of mine.  Sometimes it’s the slimy little things in life that make one smile.

Recap and final band:

It’s difficult to limit my list with 10 or 15 bands,, as the scene is constantly changing, and there are always bands coming up that you should know.  The best way to keep up on it is to check out The Icelandic Music Export website, blogs such as mine, or rok musik.  There are still an epic amount of bands left, such as Grísalappalísa (punk), Snorri Helgason (folk), Sudden Weather Change (harder rock), For a Minor Reflection (Post-rock), Mr. Silla, Fufanu (electro-rock), and the old greats such as HAM, SH Draumur and etc….. 

There is one band, of which I will never get to see live regrettably so.  They were a great noisy punk experiment, and their music get played regularly at my house. Great for rocking out, and shaking your head when there really is no other way, I present Skátar playing Mahatma Gandhi with Gylfi of Kimono:

Update: Due to the overwhelming response this got, I have made a second list based on the readers suggested additions to this original ist.

Brighter days -FM Belfast

FM_Belfast-Brighter_Day-hires

FM Belfast are back with another high energy album just in time for Summer, Brighter days. somehow, they’ve found time between a plethora of individual side projects to put together a fantastic album. Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir has her Lóaboratorium project, Árni Vilhjálmsson is in the acting group Kriðpleir, most recently acting in a play called Tiny Guy. Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson is making synths and controllors for his side project Plúseinn, Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason’s been busy with Múm and even the dancer, Egill Eyjólfsson, spends his non FM Belfast hours as a bureaucrat for Brussles for EFTA. As if that’s not enough, they have been touring globally for quite a while now. So really, when do they find the time?…

It begins like any FM Belfast record should, sharp stops and high energy beats about Brighter days, Deloreans, ears and Gold. But then comes a surprise. A smoother, more layered track called “Holiday.”

It’s energy brews right under the surface, like a wide river that at first glance seems to be meandering all the while the current is raging under the surface. After “Holiday”, the album takes a slight turn giving us new beats to get excited about such as the ultra heavy sounds in “Ariel”, which drops quite a bit lower than the typical FM Belfast track shaking one right out of their earbuds.

Overall, it’s fantastic. Brighter days delivers the beats we expect from FM Belfast, and gives us a new sounds to dance along to. You can listen to it, and buy it for $7 from their website. Check out their tour dates as I find them best live.  Their Youtube channel. is chocked full of videos.  And of course, follow them on Facebook.

Iceland Airwaves recap part 2 – annual fun and off-venue

There are certain bands and events that have become staples of Iceland Airwaves for me.  I almost look just as forward to these events as I do the festival itself.

Off venue performances are key to the daytime schedule.  Scaled down and sometimes more intimate; these performances happen in record shops, coffee houses and even retail outfits playing to the street.  Available to everyone in Reykjavik, not just the wristbanded folk, it’s a good opportunity to see the bands play smaller sets.  This year there were over 200 Icelandic artists playing the approximate 650 performances.

Pétur hallgrimsson and John Grant at Kvosin

Pétur hallgrimsson and John Grant at Kvosin

I caught a laid back John Grant set.  John Grant is a big sweetheart so seeing him at an off venue is made even more special as his quick wit and charming demeanor really shine.  His keyboardists was sick for the performance so it was just him and Pétur on stage.  That strong baritone voice that could melt rock combined with Pétur’s extremely talented guitar made the Kvosin basement show fantastic.  We even got a teaser off the new album as during a keyboard snafu, he made up a new tune about evening time murders and broken keyboards.

Einar Örn getting in the ring at HarpaI also caught Ghostigital at an off-venue event.  I fucking love this band, consisting of Einar Örn Benediktsson of Sugarcubes, and Curver Thoroddson, an amazing mixer who has worked with bands such as Kimono and Sigur Rós, these two always put on amazingly chaotic shows.  Every year Einar Örn is in rare form precisely spazzing out with a microphone, ranting about being alone and fuzzy televisions, all while Curver is at the helm tweaking knobs and distorting the mic making a perfect concoction of organized and blissful chaos.

curver Thoroddson tweaking knobsThe gig happened at the top Harpa with the sun setting through the prisms of glass while Einer Örn began in a mexican wrestling mask that was quickly shaken off revealing a face with multitudes of expression topping off their quick but potent set.  I’m pretty sure everyone walked away very satisfied they saw them, I definitely was.

Another band I always seek out is FM Belfast.  Over the years they have become more and more known to the world off the Iceland rock, and their shows are energetic interactions.  Árni, Lóa and crew really know how to throw a party, and this year was no exception.  From making 500+ people crouch on their knees mid set, to streamers and a pre-emptive depanting on stage, these guys know how to include the audience in on all the fun.

Entire Harpa audience on the ground

I was really impressed with Árni Vilhjálmsson this year as he brought that ability to naturally interact with the audience to both Nini Wilson and FM Belfast.  With two completely different bands and atmospheres, his natural ability to break down that performer/audience barrier is spectacular.

Æla is another guilty pleasure of mine.  And as of yet, they’ve never disappointed.Æla  Typically cross-dressed, they are a band that definitely could not do a super bowl halftime event.  Copious amounts of nipple slippage, riding on the backs of the crowd as they sing away, and tux stripping to reveal a dress-clad singing member are all standard fair at an Æla gig.

at one point in the night, the band declared their love for, and pleaded for all the homosexuals in the crowd to come dance with them at the front of the stage.  Æla is fun and reminds me of the ole punk-rock standard of just rock out with your cock….

There is another festival that runs parallel to Airwaves, and it was at Bravó this year.  RafWaves is the love child of Ísar Logi Arnarsson and this year with over 30 local artists and DJ’s spread over two nights it was a great way to fill in and end both nights.  If the crowds get to be too much for you on the main drag and you just want to let your hair down and dance, I suggest you check out their website and plan to attend next year.

yet again, these annual performances did not disappoint.  the off-venue crowds were quite a bit larger this year, so I did have to miss a few performances I would have liked to have seen.  But over all my list was checked off and I didn’t go without at any point.