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Review
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Mike Pollock: Universal Routes

Published August 29, 2012

Something of a legend on the Reykjavík scene since the punk era, Mike Pollock seems to stake his claim as king of the blues too, as he rambles around from Congo Square to Amsterdam, searching for love or whiskey. “Walking” and “Searching” set the tone while “You tore me up but you won’t tear me down” is as good a breakup/hangover statement as any. The original tracks stand their ground, but the album peaks midway through with a groggy rendition of “Voodoo Chile,” followed by the Megas’ collaboration “Mary” and a slow, wistful spin on his own classic “It’s A Shame,” which was last heard 30 years ago with his punk group Utangarðsmenn. After all the sadness and desperation rendered by an outsider who has given his life to rock and roll, the old chestnut “Sunnyside” provides welcome relief at the end. Even if the packaging might seem a bit homemade, this is well worth the price of admission. Mike is truly timeless.


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Home

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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

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Mexico

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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

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In the Eye of the Storm

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The trio of musicians in Monotown (two of them brothers) released their first album, ‘In The Eye Of The Storm,’ this year. The album is a mix of folk harmonies, rock ballads, and up-tempo tracks. The title song is one of the most memorable on the recording, beginning with a Grizzly Bear-like arrangement of strings and layered harmonies, which pauses to transform into a more traditional rock number with warm electronics in the background. Sadly the close of the first track is where most of the excitement leaves. The album’s lyrics strive for simplicity, but end up with clichés: “my

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Trash From The Boys

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‘Trash From The Boys’ is the best Icelandic album I have heard for a long time. It might be the best Icelandic album ever made. That might well be. I don’t know. Like a 21st century version of a younger, angrier, hungrier, dirtier, perverser, more cynical, more poisonus, more self-destructiverer version of that band Singapore Sling (I really miss Singapore Sling), Pink Street Boys provide a perfect and, frankly, much-needed antidote to all that hey! business that’s been contaminating our airwaves of late. This is neither wholesome nor pretty. I haven’t been able to discern any lyrics, but I’m fairly

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This Is Icelandic Indie Music (Vol. II)

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Despite the name, this sampling of Record Records’ roster carries some of the most prominent bands in the country, and like its predecessor, travels through folk, rock, dance, and even reggae. “Indie music” and “Icelandic music” are pretty synonymous; if you’re making your own music in Iceland, chances are you could be categorized as “indie.” Furthermore, the genre divide within Icelandic music is smaller than most anywhere in the world, partly because there are fewer people in the country, and partly because the culture often embraces artists who explore many different areas. Regardless of the compilation’s targeted market, the album

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Sorrí

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Prins Póló, the essentially one-man-band project of Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson (Skakkamanage), has a new album out titled ‘Sorrí.’ I’m not sure what the “Sorry” is about, but perhaps it’s an ironic middle finger to those who might not like this very eclectic album. ‘Sorrí’ is a bit of an insider’s album that will likely be more amusing to Icelanders than foreigners. For starters, it’s all in Icelandic, and the melodies flow quickly. It also shows off clever Icelandic rhyme schemes. Prins Póló rhymes words that an English-language native would never dream of, like “sjarma” (“charm”) and “shawarma” (the meat preparation,

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