Tag Archives: top icelandic bands

Iceland Whatever Vol. 2: 11 Icelandic bands you should get to know.

templatecorrectfrontcover

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.

Berndsen – “Alter Ego”

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 – “Invisble”

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.

Boogie Trouble – “Moldun”

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.

Pink Street Boys – “Let it down”

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 – “Rólegur!

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 – “One amongst others”

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 – “Wanderlust”

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 – MÁVAR

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.

Reykjavik! – Flybus!

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.

Futuregrapher – Shemale

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.

Advertisements

14 Iceland bands you ought to be listening to: Introducing Iceland Whatever, Vol. 1

It’s finally time to announce the next release on Theory of Whatever records, Iceland Whatever Vol. 1.   A 14 track compilation of bands I really enjoy and think you should as well.  Spanning multiple genres all brought to you for as cheap as I could get away with.  The liner notes will be available on the Theory of Whatever website, and will include a bio of the band and links where you can hear and purchase more of these bands music.

Much like the old independent compilations I grew up with, the point of this album is to help these bands get a bit more exposure and hopefully increase your music library.  So, here’s presenting “Iceland Whatever Vol. 1 it will be released on October 20th, and you can pre-order here. pre-orders get a dollar off, making the physical CD $5.50 and the digital download $5.  If you would like to purchase the physical CD and are out of the United States, please contact us and we will arrange it

The compilation cover is by the incredibly talented Lóa Hjálmtýsdóttir, a musician (FM Belfast), illustrator, and cartoonist (Lóaboratorium) She frequently contributes to the Reykjavik Grapevine.  The cat on the album cover is Roxy A.K.A. Doom.  She was the only cat I’ve ever gotten along with, ornery as hell but a sweetheart.  She passed away earlier this year, and so I felt compelled to put her photo on the album cover.

There are new and classic tracks from the artists, if the song isn’t available online to listen to yet, I’ve selected another song from the band I enjoy.  Click the band name to go to their Facebook pages.

1. Knife fights – “Panic Later”

knifefights

Knife fights is a refreshing nod to the Northwest United states in the 90’s.  Consisting of Sigurður Angantýsson, Helgi Pétur Hannesson, Gunnar Petur Hauksson, and Þórir Bogason.  They are energetic, slightly noisy and well composed.  They were one of my favorite new bands from last year.  I am pleased to open the compilation with their track “Panic later”

You can read an interview I did with them at the release of their first album here.  Very energetic, slightly noisy and well composed the compilation opens with their new track, “Panic later::

2.  Þórir Georg – Hunger

thorirgeorg

Þórir Georg comes in many flavors.  I first was introduced to his music from his band, My Summer as a Salvation Soldier, and have enjoyed every project he’s come up with since, from folk to crazy to goth.  The track on the compilation is a new song from an upcoming album of his solo stuff.   and so I have put a track from his previous album, Ræfill “The idiot song” here for you to listen.

3. Plúseinn – Empire

pluseinn

Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson is Plúseinn.  He is one of the founding members of FM Belfast, the energetic party band that typically leaves folks pantless by the end of their sets.   While Plúseinn and the track “Empire” can be safely listened to without fear of losing clothing, it is one of the best earworms you’ll experience for quite a while and you’ll be on repeat for quite a while,  electro-pop heavy on the synth.

4. Bambaló – Impress the Boy

KSbam

Kristjana Stefánsdóttir is Bambaló.  Kristjana has helped Icelanders with their singing for years.  Her past projects and albums have been Christmas hymns, Jazz and she frequently performs at Iceland Affair in Connecticut every October.  Her very rich and full voice dominates this song about Impressing a boy.

5. Vigri – Breathing

vigri

Vigri is the creation of two brothers, Hans and Bjarki Pjetursson.  I heard them first at Airwaves years ago and if they are playing I make sure to attend.  Their music floats effortlessly between atmospheric moments and heavy beats and I’m pleased to offer a new track from their upcoming album.  The song above, “Animal” is one of my favorites from their first album, “Sinking ships”

6.  KVÖL– Dropar

kvol

KVÖL is Þórir Georg and Júlía.  It’s Goth punk with dark, strong beats and moody synths.  Dropar is a new track from them not available yet.  So I present, “Get Away” from their first E.P.

7. Kælan Mikla – Ekkert Nema

km

Kælan Mikla is an all female poetic punk band.  Consisting of Sólveig Matthildur Kristjánsdóttir Margrét Rósa Dóru- Harrysdóttir Laufey Soffía, they blast away with raw vocals and hard rhythms. They’ve quickly become one of my favorites over last couple of years.

8. kimono – Lee Harvey Oswald

Airwaves

kimono are 15 year veteran rockers consisting of Alison, Gylfi, and Kjartan.  post rock and heavy rock have been used to describe them over the ages.  We released their first single off the new album last year, and are pleased to introduce the new track, “Lee Harvey Oswald” on the album.  The track above is “Specters” which you can still purchase the 7″ for here.

9. Var- Varma

Attachment-1(2)

Atmospheric, lightly feathered with darkness but with equal dashes of heavy drums and haunting vocals is a good way to describe var.  The project of Myrra Rós and her husband Júlíus.  This track is a new track from the upcoming album.

10. Brött Brekka – Genie 454

BB

Of course I couldn’t do a compilation without some hard hardcore on their.  Brött Brekka was a 2015 discovery for me, consisting of Sturla Sigurðarson, Sigurður Ingi Einarsson, and Hallvaður Jón Guðmundsson  they wildly swing from heavy rock to Hardcore.   They’re working on a new album as we speak, and I can’t wait for it.

11. AMFJ – Esja

AMFJ

Energetic, emotionally organized choatic musical noise.  Aðalsteinn Jörundsson has been at it a long time.  Part of the Falk label in Iceland, he is a veteran to performing and creation.  One of the first blog posts I did was on AMFJ.  He warned me that this new song wasn’t his usual sort of song,  I really dig it and hope you do as well.

12.  Dj. flugvél og geimskip – Draugur Í Kastalanum

Dj. flugvél og geimskip

Her live shows are ethereal environments full of color, spiraling lights and dancing disco balls.  It’s her own style of music and difficult to classify.  She’s recently been touring all over and I was pleased she could add to the comp knowing just how crazy her schedule was.  One of my favorite live acts to see when I’m in Iceland.

13. Antimony – Purity Control

antimony

The second Goth band on the compilation.  Consisting of RX, Biggi, and Siggi, Antimony are goth pop done in their own unique way.  They’re newly formed and have been extremely active around Reykjavik.  They are the perfect band to powerfully begin the compilation wrap up.

14. Ghostigital and Kimono Mash up – Codomatopoeia

ghostigital_banner

And to wrap up the compilation I bring you one of my favorite classic tracks from Ghostigital’s album Antimatter Boutique.  Ghostigital is Einar Orn and Curver Thorodsson.  Two of the longest working musicians in the Icelandic scene, their music has the ability to pump you up.  People go crazy at their shows, almost as crazy as Einar.  Simply put, I love this band.

As this is the first compilation I’ve put together, it’s filled with the bands I have always dug.  The genres are all over the place I know, but I believe I’ve ordered the CD in a manner that makes it listenable from start to finish.  I really do love all of these bands, and I am pleased they contributed to the cause.

You can pre-order either the CD or the Digital download here.  Please give them all a listen and share what you dig with your friends, regardless if you purchase the album.

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.