Tag Archives: Lay Low

Talking about the weather

talkingaboutweather

As the digital format is now available globally, I wanted to repost my review, written almost a year ago to date.

It seems that when an artist matures they feel the need to leave their old style and branch out into the new.  This can be discouraging to some listeners, and exciting for others.  On Lay Low’s new album, Talking about the weather, the new, slightly more complex sound chooses to embrace the past and bring it along instead of dismissing it entirely.  The more I listen to this album, the more I appreciate it, and it definitely is the best I’ve heard so far in 2014.

Lay Low, Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir, has been in the Icelandic music scene for almost a decade now.  She’s in the famous Benny Crespo’s gang, and she has been putting out solo albums since 2006.  Recently, she charmed the socks of the interwebs by doing a cozy live stream concert from the living room of her home.  I’ve said before that she has an ability to make any size crowd feel at home, and even over the web she managed to make the listener feel as if they were hanging in her living room.

I’ve compared her previous albums to birth-children of June Carter and Nancy Sinatra.  And they are all excellent lo-fi country-esq masterpieces.  And while different than the others, the new album maintains the quality a Lay Low fan would expect.  Each song is a single on it’s own, but is made greater with it’s accompanying album mates.

Talking about the weather starts out very classic, her voice strongly leading us into a familiar Lay Low guitar beat.  But then the listener is quickly introduced to the new gang of instruments and complexities. The vocals become more full, with stronger backing, the perfect addition to her folk/guitar vibe creating this bluesy feeling.  It’s the perfect introduction to the hybrid of styles the listener will hear the rest of the album.

Gently, has a very strong 90’s Cardigan feel, and just as the song speaks of rolling down the street, the song is so smooth one gets a sense of smoothly rolling along.  In the dead of winter reminded me so much of 70’s Marianne Faithful that after finishing the Talking about the weather the first time I had to revisit my Faithful catalog.

Like laying on a tube floating down a gentle river beer in hand, sun above -the album rolls along peacefully.  In One of those nights, she sings: “I try to keep my emotions from climbing up high, but there’s something in that song.”  Whether she meant it as a metaphor for love, or pertaining to an actual song, it’s hard not to be taken over with a calm, happy emotion when listening to this album, each and every song.

Currently, the album is available from her website in CD or Vinyl format, and is now available in digital format all over the place.  You can follow Lay Low on her facebook page, hear more of her stuff on Soundcloud.

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Iceland Affair 2014

Icelandaffair

There are times in life when the elements align themselves just right, and the blood sweat and tears of someone creating their dream shines through the end product in such a way that one can’t help but be moved.  That is what happened this past weekend in a beautifully autumn colored town in middle-of-nowhere Connecticut.

This was the 5th year for Iceland Affair, an all day festival consisting of daytime lectures, Icelandic horses, goats, falcons, A lot of Icelandic food, and coffee mugs, let’s not forget the coffee mugs. All of this followed by an Icelandic concert at the very homey and cozy Infinity hall in Norfolk, CT.

gerri

Gerri Griswald is the lady behind Iceland affair, and once you’ve come within 50 feet of her, you can’t help but get swept up with her charming personality, glacier-sized determination and outpouring of love to everyone and everything that helps her put this on year over year. Speaking with her can’t be done without 90% of what’s audible being laughs.  And the sincere love she has for what she’s doing is beyond impressive.

Arriving at the festival I was greeted by people riding Icelandic horses, Lopopeysas (Icelandic sweaters) and other Icelandic merchandise for sale out on the front lawn.  Downstairs from the lectures there were free pylsurs (Icelandic hotdogs), dried fish, and very tasty cakes.  Upstairs from the dining hall, and merch tables was the lecture hall.

Unfortunately due to scheduling and life, I arrived at the festival later in the afternoon, and was only able to hear the last half of Dr. Gunni’s lecture on the history of pop music. Along with other tidbits of Music life in Iceland, Dr. Gunni’s presentation followed his book, Blue Eyed pop, with audio/visual aids and a Q&A with the audience directly afterwards.  A browse around the merchandise, fantastic cake, and a few pylsurs later and off to the concert I went.

flags The concert was at the Infinity hall in Norfolk, CT.  It’s a cozy ornamental building, and the concert hall’s warm woodwork really played into what would be a cozy, intimate gathering.  On their way to their seats, the crowd was given Icelandic flags, and told to wave it during applause as a surprise to the musicians on stage.

I’ve spoken about the ability Icelanders have of including the crowd in their performance.  And Agnes ErnaSnorri Helgason, Svavar Knútur, Lay LowMyrra Rós, Kristjana Stefánsdóttir,  and Bjorn Thoroddsen. fulfilled and exceeded any expectations in that regard as they chatted, joked with, and shared laughs with everyone on or off the stage.  It was a collaborative effort as the musicians took turns at front stage while being supported by the others, all ending with Dr. Gunni’s fart song and a special two-toned tutu wearing host belting out an old classic with the rest of the band.  I also should mention that drums were mostly handled by Myrra’s husband Júlíus, I unfortunately did not catch his last name.

By the end of the concert, the crowd was completely on their feet singing loudly and waving flags furiously, and it seemed that neither the musicians nor the audience wanted it to end, so the party headed downstairs where the musicians talked with and autographed Icelandic flags for people. the lingering about and business of the downstairs made it evident, nobody was in a hurry to leave.

Plans are in the works for next years event, and I would highly suggest you check it out by following the Iceland Affair facebook page throughout the year.  She tends to post videos or updates on the bands that have played, as well as updates on the festival itself.

I have to say that I am glad me and my label got to do our small part to help out on this festival, it’s truly a labor of love for Gerri, and the quality, attitude, and atmosphere created a charming night I won’t soon forget.  I’m already looking forward to seeing what she comes up with for next year.

Iceland Affair

Icelandaffair

In a small town nestled in the middle of Connecticut there resides a peculiar lady.  She raises bats, tends to porcupines, and single handedly puts on the second largest Icelandic festival in the U.S.  Gerri Griswald is her name, and Iceland Affair is her festival.  The festival will be happening October 18th in Winchester center, CT at the Winchester Grange.

Iceland affair began 5 years ago when Gerri decided to bring some of the acts that had entertained her travel guides in Iceland back to the states.  Relying on donations and a very forgiving husband, Gerri has been putting the festival on ever since slowly bringing more and more Icelandic talent stateside so that people who may not be able to make it to the island could experience it’s wonders here.

While some would be pleased with just a concert, Gerri has put together a day of presentations including Icelando-centric falconry, goat raising, ornithology, nature and geological talks.  As well as authors presenting on things such as the Icelandic sagas, and the history of Icelandic music. To learn more about the presenters, click the image below.

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From left to right, Brian Bradley (Falconer), Dr. Gunni (Musician/author of Blue Eyed pop), Jóhanna Bergmann Þorvaldsdóttir (Goat farming and preservation), Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson (photographer, ornithologist), Jón Baldur Hlíðberg (Naturist, illustrator), Nancy Marie Brown (expert on the sagas, author), Tom Alena (Geologist, meteorologist, entertaining lecturer)

And of course, how could one celebrate Iceland without music.  The festival ends with the fire and ice music festival at Infinity hall in Norfolk, CT.  The concert consists of 5 well known Iceland artists, ranging from indie, to jazz and folk.

fire

From left to right, Svavar Knútur, Lay Low, Snorri Helgeson, Agnes Erna, Kristjana Stefánsdóttir, Myrra Rós, and Bjorn Thoroddsen.  Click on their names to learn more about them.  While the festival is free for the most part, the concert requires the purchase of tickets, which are selling out quickly, so learn more and get your’s here.

Ragnaarbastiaan.com and Theory of Whatever records are pleased to help out with this years festival, and even more pleased to be attending.  So if you’d like to learn more about Iceland, hear some fantastic Icelandic music, this is the festival for you.  For us it’s the perfect appetizer for the upcoming Iceland Airwaves.  Go to Iceland Affair to learn more including directions and places to stay while attending.  And we’ll 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.

My top 10 must see bands for Iceland Airwaves 2013

blarghKraftwerk is headlining, Ólafur Arnalds is doing magical things with the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, and Emiliana Torrini is going to charm our socks off.  But what about the other bands?  I’ve written tips for getting the most out of your Airwaves experience, I’ve posted all the Icelandic bands playing Airwaves with links to a plentiful supply of all their songs, and now, the top 10 bands you do not want to miss, in my humble opinion of course.  So give it a listen, keep updated by visiting Grapevine’s Airwaves blog, and plan plan plan.

Kimono:

I love this band, they skipped out last year, but I’m glad they are back and I can’t wait to hear the new stuff.  It is rumored there may be an electronic element sneaking into the set.  How to describe them, think modern Wire with a twist.  Prog-metal if you want to get all fancy and the like, or perhaps just don’t describe them and tell people to go and listen for their own damned selves.

Clicking the band name above will take you to my blog on them, they have one of the most extensive soundcloud pages you will find:

Apparat Organ Quartet:

Even with the missing member from last year’s festival, Apparat Organ Quartet consistently put on one of the best shows of the festival.  If you have never seen them play I highly suggest you do so as I’ve yet to hear anyone new to them dislike their sound.  Clicking on their name will take you to my blog post on them, and here is Konami:

FM Belfast:

Yes I saw them earlier this year, but in their native land this band really cranks out a party, it’s typical for other musicians to magically appear and dance on stage with them, and they are one of those bands that really gets the crowd going.  I’d suggest you go with clean underwear, as chances are you’ll be dancing in them by the end of their set.  Best gig I’ve seen was at the infamous NASA, hoping they try and top it this year.

Clicking on the name takes you to my blog post on them, and this olld video is still a favorite of mine:

In the Company of Men:

Diversity is key at this festival, and these bat-shit crazy monkeys really know how to throw down on stage.  It’s organized chaos and very Dillinger Escape Plan-ish.  Can’t wait to see them live.  The title above takes you to my blog-post for more info, and here’s a video

Samaris:

Recently signed to One Little Indian records, and with a new album comprised of their E.P’s, I’m very curious to hear how they sound live.

Zola Jesus:

On Sacred Bones Records, Zola Jesus never fails to amaze.  She’s a force to be reckoned with and her hauntingly good music is going to be a treat for the Icelandic scene.

Ghostigital:

Seriously, if you haven’t seen these guys play, make this a priority.  Curver and Einar örn are staples and their show is awesome crazy.  I try to see them whenever I can, they have crazy instruments, a crazy leader, and a baby blue trumpet.  How could you not want to see it

Oyama:

A band of many bands, Oyama’s roster includes members from a lot of other bands you will hear this week.  They put on a great show, and you do not want to miss it.  Click the band name for my blog post on them, and listen here:

Amiina:

Amiina never fails, with their creative implementation of items as instruments, haunting voices, and endless supplies of charm you really need to take a breathe and take in an Amiina gig.

Lay Low:

Nancy Sinatra and June Carter apparently had a love child when we weren’t looking.  If her song writing and soothing voice doesn’t get you, her snake charming personality will.  Doesn’t matter if she’s in front of a massive crowd, or singing for 5 people in a shack smack dab in the middle of Reykjavik, she is definitely someone you want to experience while at the festival.  She has a slew of new songs, and I’m excited to hear them.  You’re absolutely NOT going to hate her.

Ok, I’ve got to stop, I promised myself only 10.  But it was a tough choice as there are plenty of other acts worthy of mention.  Dikta, Tilbury, Pétur Ben, Moses Hightower, Mammut, Momentum, Hudson Wayne etc..etc… Nini Wilson is also a band you should look out for.  I’m not going to spoil it, but they consist of members from other well known Icelandic bands.

I’m going to be blogging every morning after the festival, and I hope to see you up there.

Lay Low live stream

Lay Low (click link for my post on her) doing an online gig from the comfort of her living room this weekend, you should definitely check it out.

Iceland, Defrosted

The lovely Lay Low, who features in Iceland Defrosted, is performing a live concert from her home in Iceland on Saturday May 4th, and this can be seen on the Inspired by Iceland website. I will definately be tuning in. 

 

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Iceland Airwaves 2016

1860 Amiina Apparat Organ Quartet AMFJ
Bloodgroup Dj. flugvél og geimskip FM Belfast For a Minor Reflection
Futuregrapher In the Company of Men John Grant Jónas Sen
Kimono Knife fights Lay Low Legend
MAMMÚT Momentum Ojba Rasta Oyama
Pétur Ben Sin Fang Snorri Helgason Sudden Weather Change
Þorvaldur Þór Þorvaldsson(Doddi) Vigri