A Grapevine service announcement Be patient: That eruption is expected to last until 2015
Music
Review
+-

Japanese Super Shift And The Future Band: Futatsu

Words by

Published July 12, 2012

What a trip down memory lane this Japanese Super Shift And The Future Band (JSS&TFB) album is. It’s like the late ’90s/early ’00s never happened. Remember that wave of  US “real deal” emo and indie rock bands? The lines between those genres were so blurred that The Jazz June, Les Savy Fav, Owls, and Bats & Mice would all have a home on the same mixtape. JSS&TFB reminds me of those days. Right there, they are on my good side.
The vibe is there, but ‘Futatsu’ leaves a lot to be desired. The vocals quickly become tedious. The double tracking doesn’t help. And for some reason, although quite dynamic, ‘Futatsu’ is like a muggy blur where nothing really stands out. I find it hard to get excited about specific songs as they fizzle by without much impact. Each song has a redeeming quality but more often than not, it’ll also feature some kind of turn-off.
That’s not to say these guys are void of ideas. There’s a lot of intricate guitar work, somewhat complex arrangements, shifts, blasts and calm. Synths seem to be making quite a comeback and JSS&TFB are ballsy in incorporating those into their fuzzy guitar rock. It’s a risky move and a troubled marriage, often corny as hell but sometimes nostalgically fitting.
I find it hard to put my finger on it, but something doesn’t gel on ‘Futatsu.’ Despite all its promise, ingredients and manpower, I doubt it will make repeated returns onto my playlist.


Culture
Album review
<?php the_title(); ?>

Grúska

by

From start to finish, Grúska Babúska’s wobbly, otherworldly self-titled debut is a pleasure to experience. There is something definitively narrative and theatrical about the ten-song collection, whose eclectic instrumentation includes flute, ukulele, guitar, synth, melodica, music box and a range of pitched percussion. The theatrical nature of the record derives from the constant starting, stopping, and resetting that punctuates each of the songs, resulting in a rare disturbing—yet captivating—listening experience. The arrangements are masterfully crafted, and chaotically layered without feeling crowded or pretentious. The record’s opening track, “Slagarinn,” begins with a minimal synth line, building in texture and dynamic with

Culture
Album review
<?php the_title(); ?>

BÖRN

by

BÖRN’s self-titled début is what some of us have been desperately waiting for: an album that properly echoes the misery of living in Reykjavík. Unlike mediocre bands who sing their happy tunes in broken English—with heavy doses of repetitive claps and heys!—BÖRN manage to portray Reykjavík as it really is. It’s neither cute nor civilized; it is in fact a typical Icelandic podunk backwater town (“krummaskuð”) on steroids. Gray, wet and windy. This Reykjavík death punk band initially called themselves NORN (“WITCH”), and in 2011 released a self-titled cassette of some rather noteworthy tunes. When a local black metal band

Culture
Album review
<?php the_title(); ?>

Hugar

by

I found myself six tracks into Hugar’s self-titled instrumental debut before realizing that the first song had ended. This could mean one of two things: either the lack of lyrical stimulation reaching my brain sent me into an inert mental state, or the neo-classical duo, consisting of producer-instrumentalists Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson, has achieved the type of cohesion that we are so rarely afforded in today’s single-obsessed musical dominion. I choose the former. The band’s website explains that after “many years in all kinds of different bands,” the two of them started putting together demos in 2012 that eventually

Culture
Album review
<?php the_title(); ?>

47

by

Japanese Super Shift’s ’47’ is an unexpectedly emotional album. The record, which marks the newest creation from producer-instrumentalist Stefnir Gunnarsson, offers a healthy mix of dance-y instrumentals and mature, lyrical songs, representing a multifaceted album that feels as though it could fuel an entire evening, from the first drink to the sombre walkhome. The lyrics are thoughtful and well-crafted, and a comforting break from what we have been trained to expect from contemporary electronic music. Stefnir’s production chops begin to warm up four tracks into the album with “Voxotronic,” a nearly four-minute epic of drum-and-bass-heavy lurching, reminiscent of something a

Culture
Album review
<?php the_title(); ?>

Home

by

With several albums under her belt, two No. 1 singles on the Icelandic music charts, and world touring with Gusgus as a teen, Hafdís Huld has a lot of previous musical experience to draw upon. She’s nearing her mid-thirties now, but has that certain Icelandic agelessness about her. Hafdís’s solo album `Home’ is a simple collection of original folk songs and lullaby-like tunes arranged and orchestrated by the singer’s partner, Alisdair Wright. The warmer, more densely arranged tracks on the album are the most effective and, with a reverberant piano, guitars and percussion, all very radio-friendly. A ukelele even makes

Culture
Album review
<?php the_title(); ?>

Mexico

by

Gusgus didn’t seem like a band that was in it for the long haul. Starting as a loosely strung collective of musicians, filmmakers, producers and vocalists, they seemed to the outsider like a mercurial proposition—a bubbling experimental formula with equal potential to expand, evaporate or explode. But after nine studio albums made over almost two dec-ades, Gusgus would be an essential inclusion on the Periodic Table of Icelandic Bands. They’ve not only continued, but thrived, recently coming into a run of form so rich as to become happily confounding. Along the way, they’ve shed skins more times than an old

Show Me More!