Seven Bands To Catch At Airwaves 2012!
By Rebecca Louder
Going through that little Airwaves booklet and trying to decide which bands to see can be a rollercoaster of excitement, confusion and surprise. I should know—I wrote all that band text. And with the great responsibility of summing up every band in one sentence came the honour and delight of listening to every single band in the festival line-up!
At first, my To-See list had the big kahunas: SWANS, Dirty Projectors, Sigur Rós, GusGus and the Bedroom Community artists. But oh my, there was so much more to meet the ears! Without further ado, here are seven acts that took me by surprise and that I will be doing everything in my power not to miss. I recommend you do the same!
A synonym for frontman Z. Cole Smith, this band is like those times when you get high and decide now is a good time to do your groceries at the gas station. You leave with a bunch of ridiculous items, and then you eat them all at once, and it was the best decision ever. This band left the gas station with some Kraut rock drums, shoegazing atmospheric guitars, dreampop vocals and the bass-line of a rave. This was a very, very good decision.
Remember when Foreigner went from being “hard” rock (okay, fine they were never HARD) to full on smooth adult contempo? Meanwhile you had jewels like Boston and Supertramp who fused disco sheen with a rocking edge, the latter being insanely talented musicians to boot? Well, thank you Kiriyama Family for reviving the kind of magic bred from ‘Breakfast in America’ for dinner in Iceland! More like hello, stranger!
He made his own choice to move from his home in San Francisco to Reykjavík—a world apart being an understatement—but Ryan Karazija still couldn’t help but get a serious case of the frozen-island blues once the winter hit. He lays out his desolate sentiments over slow, tense arrangements of ambient guitar and strings, with beats reminiscent of ‘Kid A’ and a voice not unlike Thom Yorke’s for that matter.
This multinational singer has been kind of a huge deal in Asia since moving back to her native China in 2002, and now Helen Feng is kicking the doors open to Europe with glittered platforms since forming Nova Heart with Roman artist Rodion. Incidentally, the pair met where their continents meet—Istanbul. Their music is also an urban bridging of glamorous electronica and punk, with super cool, danceable results.
With band members from some of Reykjavík’s most buzz-worthy bands like Útidúr, Sudden Weather Change, and Me, The Slumbering Napoleon, these dedicated musicians have given into their basest fantasies to make classic, throwback shoegaze as practically a homage to all the greats. Ride, Slowdive, Belly, Curve, and of course, My Bloody Valentine should all be proud and honoured by this swooning delight.
This young gentleman is hard to describe, but I’m pretty sure he’s okay with that—in fact, his intention may very well be to confound! It seems simple at the surface, being really fun, bouncy and held together by a silky smooth voice. But things aren’t what they seem, with a cornucopia of acoustic and electronic cross-over, home-built instruments and impromptu improvisation. He’s taken the principles of technical dance music and said “Nice try, but I think I can do better.”
Finally we come to one of my favourite Icelandic artists of all-all-all time. Before I first stepped foot on this big rock, this guy had been going around as My Summer As A Salvation Soldier doing heartbreaking André 3000 covers. Þórir was and remains one of the most prolific individuals in lo-fi home recordings, producing vast amounts of content each with distinct character. His live sets are always different and pleasantly surpr