This year’s highlight is obviously Sigur Rós’ announced release of their first studio album since 2005’s Takk. But wait, that’s not all.
2007 was a very fruitful year indeed for the Icelandic music. Many albums saw the light of day, and some even received rave reviews and warm receptions by music lovers. Iceland’s pride and joy, Björk, kick-started the year with her album Volta, and in her footsteps followed a string of well received albums by well established local artists such as mum, Megas, Páll Óskar, Hjálmar, Benni Hemm Hemm, Mugison, Gus Gus and Mínus. Last year also saw the release of a string of successful debut albums, most notably by newcomers Hjaltalín, Ólöf Arnalds and Sprengjuhöllin.
This year’s highlight is obviously Sigur Rós’ announced release of their first studio album since 2005’s Takk. But wait, that’s not all. While we did not expect it beforehand, we done some investigative reporting and come to the conclusion that 2008 might be just as fruitful as 2007 for Icelandic music.
Here is your list to all the expected Icelandic releases this summer
Atomstation – Exile Republic (June)
Formed in 2003, Exile Republic is Atomstation’s second LP album. The band itself has been described as “a timeless, hard, rock’n’roll band” which pretty much says all that needs to be said.
Bang Gang – Ghosts From the Past (just released)
3rd album from psychedelic indie-pop singer Barði, who at times is reminiscent of Billy Corgan (except with a heavy Icelandic accent). This band is worth the hype.
Benni Hemm Hemm – Murta St. Calunga (June 13)
Enjoyable orchestral pop, Benni Hemm Hemm draws on a wide array of musical genre’s so that the result has something for everyone.
Bob Justman – Happiness and Woe
Bob Justman (Kristinn Gunnar Blöndal) A.K.A. KGB, A.K.A. Unsound, A.K.A. Phil Stadium will release his first album (as Bob that is) sometime this summer on Bad Taste.
B-Ruff – Rólegur í Kvöld
A new Icelandic mix-tape by one of Iceland’s most respected DJ’s.
Bubbi – Fjórir naglar (June)
Bubbi’s new album promises not to disappoint his fans, although honestly the former-punk artist has such a loyal fan base that he could probably release an hour of silence and they wouldn’t be disappointed.
Compilation – 100 bestu lög lýðveldisins (5CD) (June 17)
A 5 disk compilation of the 100 best songs in Icelandic music history. CD’s like these are always bound to annoy but at the same time delight you.
Compilation – Pottþétt 47
Next instalment in the popular Pottþétt series mixing Icelandic and international hits. Sound’s just like listening to the radio a few weeks ago. People actually buy this?
Dimma – Stigmata
Dimma is an Icelandic heavy metal band that have received quite a bit of acknowledgment from abroad and even toured with the likes of Michael Bruce and Dennis Dunaway. Good for Sabbath and/or Cooper fans.
Dísa – Dísa (just released)
I was initially afraid that this would be another Emiliana Torrini wannabe but was pleasantly surprised that Dísa had managed to create a style quite unique to herself. Comfortable and catchy.
Evil Madness – Demoni Paradiso
Demoni Paradiso is Evil Madness’s second album and although it was not a huge hit “Demon Jukebox” (or perhaps just in my mind) was great. Their music sounds like 80’s horror-flick music if 80’s horror-flick music had sounded this good that is.
Garðar Thór Cortes – When You Say You Love Me
Garðar Thór Cortes, the Icelandic tenor who, according to all Icelandic media coverage of him is becoming hugely popular abroad, can sing and sing very well at that. If you’re into Classical/Pop check him out.
Ghostigital featuring Finnbogi Pétursson and Skúli Sverrisson – Aero
Not to be mistaken for another pop band hoping to ride the “nu-rave wave”, Ghostigital is a very fun and very good electronic band fronted by former Sugarcubes member Einar Örn and multi-instrumentalist Curver. These guys are some of the O.G.’s of Icelandic electro.
Grjóthrun í Hólshreppi – Grjóthrun
Powerful acoustic rock, Grjóthrun í Hólshreppi is the countryside’s way of reminding us that they’re there and they’re pissed.
Hraun – Silent Treatment (June 9)
This album due to come out Monday June 9th and is all about anger as a steppingstone between misery and happiness. The kind of anger you feel when you realize that the boy/girlfriend you’ve been moping about actually sucks and didn’t appreciate you. Good anger.
Kira Kira – Our Map to the Monster Olympics
Kira Kira is hard to describe, especially in the space of approximately two lines of text so I’ll let it suffice to say that OMMO is the band’s second album and will probably not fit conveniently into any one musical genre any more than their past work.
Klive – Sweaty Psalms (just released)
Úlfur (Klive) makes a strange but enjoyable type of electronic music. Unique without being self-centred, Klive’s music is quickly gaining popularity.
Megas og Senuþjófarnir – Á morgun
Released two albums last year, Frágangur and Hold er Mold, to raving reviews. Only cover songs. 63 year old Megas reinvents Icelandic classics.
Merzedes Club – I Wanna Touch You
Merzedes Club’s third single will probably be as full of musical genius as the first two. Thank you for destroying the last vestiges of human dignity in this world.
Múgsefjun – Skiptar skoðanir (just released)
Their first album, Skiptar skoðanir (Different Opinions), is an alternative folk/rock album that offers catchy melodies and lyrics as well as musical talent.
Ólafur Arnalds – Variations of Static (just released)
Some people would describe his music as beautiful, others as boring. Variations of Static is a blend of Indie and Classical music that sounds quite like something Sigur Rós would have done. If you’re into that kind of thing, check him out.
Ómar Guðjónsson – Framan Af
This is guitarist Ómar Guðjónsson’s second album and will be a purely instrumental trio project.
Sesar A – Of Gott
Established hip-hop artist Sesar A has released his third album which also features performances by his band partners in IFS. International, salsa-inspired hip-hop. All that remains to be seen is if the “Grandfather” of Icelandic Hip-Hop’s new album will be greeted by the rap scene as an instant classic or if granddad has lost his touch.
Shogun – Charm City (June/July)
What makes a good hardcore band? I have no idea. But millions of angry young people all around the world have seen to it that hardcore metal is here to stay and as far as bands of that nature go Shogun is probably one of the most true to its roots.
Sigurður Guðmundsson og Memfismafían – Oft spurði ég mömmu (just released)
Hjálmar and Senuþjófar member Sigurður releases his first solo album. Entirely composed of cover songs.
Sigur Rós – Með suð í eyrunum við spilum endalaust (June 23)
Sigur Rós’s new LP will be their first record made outside of Iceland and will feature a song in English. The overall sound of the album is more ambient and acoustic than earlier recordings.
Singapore Sling – Godman (June 20)
At first glance Singapore Sling might look like ordinary punks, but indeed, these are no regular punks, but rather super-punks and they’re here to kick ass.
Sólstafir – Köld (September)
Planned for release sometime in September, Sólstafir’s new album, Köld, has been described by the band as heavier and more relaxed than their last album “Masterpiece of Bitterness”. Vintage instruments play an important part of the album’s overall sound.
Super Mama Djumbo – Ar Puro
Gumbé from Guinea-Bissau, Super Mama Djumbo manages to be beautiful and fun, wild and serious at the same time. The band just signed with the local label Bad Taste label, so we will include the
m as Icelandic. Call it Icelandic colonialism. This summer’s must have.
Ultra Mega Tecnobandið Stefán – Circus
Circus sees the Ultra Mega Technoband move away from their techno-party-punk roots in the direction of more concept driven, psychedelic tunes. The band has described the album as “Sex Pistols strangling Jean Michel Jarre with Nintendo controllers”.
Villi Valli – Í tímans rás
78 year old Villi Valli teamed up with his grandson Viddi (Trabant) to record his newest Jazz-swing album. This dude might be old but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to swing.
Also in the pipeline are albums from: Dr. Spock, FM Belfast, Hairdoctor, Jeff Who?, Kimono, Kuroi, Lay Low, Motion Boys, Retro Stefson, Reykjavík!, Viking Giant Show and Slugs. Titles and released dates are still to be decided, but we know they are coming.