Published January 30, 2015
We at Straumur wish all you readers a happy new year, and hope 2015 will be a blast for all of us. But, before we dive head-on into the New Year, it’s time to reflect on what just happened. Behold, our absolute favourite Icelandic albums and songs from last year:
10: Asonat ‘Connection´
8: Ben Frost ‘A U R O R A’
Oyama’s ‘Coolboy’ is packed full of dreamy shoegaze, wrapped in a combination of sounds that form a tight union.
Grísalapplísa’s sophomore effort, ‘Rökrétt framhald’ (which roughly translates as “A Logical Next Step”),is not as logical a step forward as the title suggests. In contrast to the band’s début, this record is all over the place—while ‘ALI’ was much more of a concept album, ‘Rökrétt framhald’ features a tight selection of songs that work better on their own.
With ‘Innhverfi’, Icelandic music mainstay (and frequent Sigur Rós keyboardist) Ólafur Björn Ólafsson, Óbó, has made a wonderfully alluring album. Free from the clichés that are often associated with the kind of music Óbó plays, ‘Innhverfi’ was one of 2014 most pleasant surprises.
‘Trash From The Boys’ is one of the most exhilarating rock albums unleashed upon Iceland in recent memory. Released on cassette via Lady Boy Records last fall, the album viciously attacks all senses at once, tantamount to a blow to the face.
Hörður Már Bjarnason’s first LP as M-Band, ‘Haust’, is a dark soulful techno recordthat sometimes recalls GusGus at their best, with a little bit of Jon Hopkins thrown into the mix for good measure. The highlight of the album is the splendid “Ever Ending Never”, with haunting vocals build around a repetitive, bouncing synth line.
9: PÁLL IVAN EXPANDING
5: M-Band “Ever Ending Never”
Like GusGus, Jon Hopkins and Caribou on a massive bender in Berlin. A long night, but you wish it would never end.
4: Grísalappalísa “Flýja”
Grísalappalísa diversified their sound on their second album, as heard on “Flýja” (“Escape”), a dark ballad that’s equal parts Lou Reed, Serge Gainsbourg and Bob Dylan. The string arrangement’s exceptional, too.
Full of nostalgic references to the origins of dance music, which double as sexual innuendos. Högni’s bright baritone in the chorus serves as the perfect tonic for Daníel Ágúst’s dark verses that are drenched in reverb.
Iceland’s answer to FKA Twigs. Brooding and futuristic triphop featuring a trio of mysteriously unknown voices that are scrambled and bent like radio signals from a faraway galaxy.
There was no question about it. The dirty synth bass throbs, kick drum on every beat and funny lyrics analyzing the main players in an archetypical Icelandic fishing village, push “París Norðursins” over the top. Concise, witty and an arrow through the heart of a nation.
Óli Dóri and Davíð Roach document the local music scene and help people discover new music at straum.is. It is associated with the radio show Straumur on X977, which airs every Monday evening at 23:00. For more detailed lists (in Icelandic), head over to their website.