Five Beers or Better - The Reykjavik Grapevine

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Five Beers or Better

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Published September 2, 2005

Trabant -Emotional
Worth six beers.
Costs four beers.
Trabant have captured the energy of their live shows, but, much better, they’ve reinvented the groove that early recordings and shows only hinted at. While vocalist Ragnar is pumped up and charming as ever, the rhythm section shines on this record—coming off like the perfect marriage of the Roots and P-Funk.

RASS – Andstaða
Worth six beers and a shot of Brennivín.
Costs four beers.
When punk goes right, explaining it is a hell of a thing. Rass (ass) made up of a group of thirty-something local rockers, have produced the best punk album I’ve heard since… well, since you were allowed to call things punk. (Bad Brains come to mind.) The thing about extremely repetitive, shouted rock songs is that the lyrics have to be accurate, truthful and entertaining—in all of the 12 extremely short tracks on this album, with lyrics in English and Icelandic, the lyrics are that good, shouted in a soulful, menacing and at the same time playful manner—punk in 2005 is of course no longer threatening to familial codes and social conduct. No, in 2005, punk is a playful way to scream about political differences. We leave you with kind words from an English-language track: “One day when Uncle Ben went to work, he was looking like a big fat stork. One day when Uncle Sven went to Mary, he was looking like a big fat Gary.”
God bless Rass, in their album notes, they even include the chords to their songs.

Flís – Vottur
Worth five beers.
Costs three.
The new jazz album, Vottur (witness), by Flís, is so strong and immensely likeable, that it should creep into the local culture soon. A respectable three-piece including Davíð Þór Jónsson on piano, Valdimar Kolbeinn Sigurjónsson on bass, and Helgi Svarar Helgason on drums, the group here reinvents the Icelandic standards originally performed in the fifties by Haukur Morthens. The blend of moody ballad with classical touches and lyric jazz takes on the endearing gothic tone that Tim Burton might ask for were he to direct a movie of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
The discovery here, which may have more magnitude than Mugison, is that music existed in Iceland before rock, and it may have been very very good. Kudos must go out to the recording engineers, and Mr. Sigurjónsson on bass. The tone of the lows throughout this album are extraordinary.

Sigur Rós – Takk
Worth Six Beers.
Reviewed obsessively in the last issue, Takk sees Sigur Rós pushing the boundaries of their blend of naïve orchestration and rock. From the second track, Glósóli, a slightly more up-tempo take on the style of their previous albums, to the smorgasbord that is Lest, to the local folk music-influenced lullaby tracks that close the album, Takk is a complete artistic statement. The new uses of the tools Sigur Rós has always employed well—sweeping, echoed melodies and driving rhythm—reinvigorates the sound completely.

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