Can’t Start a Fire Without a Spark: Réttir – Reykjavík Round-up

September is the month of réttir , sheep roundups, in Iceland, when farmers round up and sort out their sheep, after herding them back from the mountains where they spent the summer. To name a festival after that activity is clever; flocks of music lovers were herded from the hills of Reykjavík...

Go West: Björgvin & Hjartagosarnir – Sígraenir söngvar

On Sígraenir söngvar Icelandic music legend Björgvin Halldórsson is back with a new country backing band, Hjartagosarnir. The album consists primarily of American country standards with excellent Icelandic lyrics. The subject matter on the album may not be very original but Halldórsson is nothing...

Indifference: Helgi Hrafn Jónsson – For the Rest of My Childhood

In every PR announcement for Helgi Hrafn Jónsson’s second album, For the Rest of My Childhood , there is a mention of his involvement with Sigur Rós as their trombone player. So, naturally, Sigur Rós are on one’s mind when first listening to the album and the vocals in the second song, “September...

In Every Dream Home a Heartache: Skakkamanage – All Over the Face

The vibe on All Over the Face is quite well described by the album’s cover: a picture of a family, which could easily be mistaken for husband and wife duo Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson and Berglind Hasler. It is very homely. And that is exactly what the sound of the album is, comfortable and free from...

The Power of Live: FM Belfast – How to Make Friends

When a band is an established and a notoriously good live band, the transition into a studio album can sometimes be difficult. How on Earth can you be expected to transfer the energy an audience feels during a live show into an album played on home stereos of various quality?

When I Paint My Masterpiece: Sin Fang Bous – Clangour

Sin Fang Bous’s debut album, Clangour , is a beautiful work of art which screams for attention. It starts with a stampede of a song, “Advent in Ives Garden.” One must listen intently because the album’s melodies tend to get a bit drowned in all the different sounds. The album is atmospheric but...

Second Hand News: Mammút – Karkari

Sometimes albums sneak up on you after a few listens. During the first run-through of Mammút‘s sophomore album, the critically-acclaimed Karkari , I thought to myself, “what´s all the fuss about?” I am still not sure. But after each listen I found myself looking more and more forward to the next.

Music for the Masses: Jeff Who? – Jeff Who?

Jeff Who? cannot be accused of being afraid of changing a winning formula. Their second album is markantly different in many ways from their debut. The band here applies a softer electronic sound and pretty much every song is suitable for radio play. The album may not be perfect and it's certainly...

The Kids Are Alright: Retro Stefson – Montaña

Usually when a very young band emerges people tend to focus on their age and thus not give them full credit or criticism. Even though the members of Retro Stefson are indeed quite young, any focus on such a detail would do them great injustice. Their debut album Montaña is, by any comparison, a...

There’s a New Sensation: Motion Boys – Hang on

The Motion Boys’ performance at Iceland Airwaves last year was an unstoppable force of power pop tunes, fuelled by an unbelievably tight rhythmic section—an electrifying performance. However, the band’s debut album, Hang on , does not quite capture the energy of their live show.

Nothing New from Old Danish: Ný dönsk – Turninn

Ný dönsk (“New Danish”) are veterans in the Icelandic pop scene, their trademark being the interplay between the two front men, Björn Jörundur and Daníel Ágúst. After going their separate ways for a while, they reunited to release Turninn , the first Ný dönsk album since 2001 and the first with...

Are You Ready for the Country? Lay Low – Farewell Good Night’s Sleep

Although the Icelandic indie music scene has dabbled with many strange corners of the music universe over the past years, country is a genre none have dared enter. It is therefore an admirable effort by young singer-songwriter Lay Low to treat this genre with the amount of respect she does on her...

Overshadowing the Crisis: Iceland Airwaves 2008

The tenth annual Iceland Airwaves festival was held in mid-October and proved a welcome distraction from all the talk about bankers, terrorists, Icesave, krónur, pounds and euros. Despite long queues, lack of draft beer and a few disappointing numbers, the festival was a musical blast. Highlights...

Comfortable but Indifferent: Múgsefjun – Skiptar Skodanir

If there is one word to describe Skiptar skodanir , Múgsefjun’s debut, it’s precise. Everything has been done to perfection. Nicely written melodies, elaborated vocal harmonies, nicely composed Icelandic lyrics, impeccable musicianship on the band’s half. It really is a comfortable listen. However...

Well-Structured Chaos: Hjaltalín – Sleepdrunk Seasons

Sleepdrunk Seasons , the debut album of rock band Hjaltalín is a really exciting album. The first single “Goodbye July/Margt ad ugga” is a good testament to the band’s sound: Högni Egilsson’s voice, which you expect to crack at any moment, the interplay between bass and brass and the insanely...

A Good Beginning: Sigur Rós – Med Sud í Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust

It only takes a few seconds of listening the new Sigur Rós album, Med Sud í Eyrum vid Spilum Endalaust , to realize that it is something completely different. Although the latter half of the album is somewhat disappointing, the first half is pure enjoyment, proving that Sigur Rós can write catchy...

Ambitious Music, Shallow Lyrics: Bang Gang – Ghosts from the Past

What makes this Bang Gang album different from the previous albums is Bardi Jóhannsson’s decision to sing it himself. This really sets the tone for the album as his voice is distinctively low and monotone. His voice in addition to the soft quiet melodies results in an album which at first sounds...

Stealing the Show: Megas og Senuþjófarnir – Frágangur

Last fall I witnessed an ecstatically brilliant show by a man widely recognized as Bob Dylan’s Icelandic equivalent, Magnús Thór Jónsson, better known as Megas. The reason for this event was the release of the first original Megas album since 2001, masterpiece Frágangur .

A Screaming Near Masterpiece: Mugison – Mugiboogie

Expectations were thus high prior to the release of Mugison’s third album. Anything short of genius would be a disappointment and obviously to many it was. Mugiboogie is not the screaming masterpiece anticipated, but it comes damn close and the screaming part can certainly be applied.

Rock and Roll All Over: Mínus – The Great Northern Whalekill

Mínus fans fear not, this album does exactly what it says on the tin. It is in fact extraordinarily ordinary. I could swear that I have heard this album a million times before. Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing, it sure is an entertaining kick-ass rock album.

Brilliant but Dull: Hjálmar – Ferdasót

The Icelandic reggae scene is not big. It basically consists of one band, Hjálmar. Their third album Ferdasót starts off very well with a slow religious track, but the majority of the songs are quite dull. The reggae mold Hjálmar has created is becoming restricting.

Sign O’ Our Times: Sprengjuhöllin – Tímarnir okkar

The Icelandic indie rock scene has been booming over the past few years and a lot of people have the impression that every musician in this country is at least highly connected to supernatural creatures, if not in fact actually being one.