From Iceland — The Thirty Best Icelandic Albums of 2006

The Thirty Best Icelandic Albums of 2006

Published January 12, 2007

The Thirty Best Icelandic Albums of 2006

“I was quite pessimistic for the most part of the year, feeling that most domestic releases were quite mediocre, but the last three months of the year have proven a real goldmine, maybe even passing last year’s crop in quality. Narrowing the list down to only five albums was not an easy task at all,” said one of the many music journalists the Reykjavík Grapevine contacted when selecting the best album of the year 2006. The statement sums up the year in many ways, as a number of releases sailed under the radar.

This could partially be explained by the fact that none of the giants of the Icelandic music scene released an album last year. However, a number of promising artists released their premiere effort. In fact, out of the top ten, six entries are debut albums, while two more count as sophomore releases. Many of these artists have already garnered praise and attention from international publications. With that in mind, the future of Icelandic music is looking bright indeed. All in all, it was a great year to be a music fan.

When conducting the poll, we also asked the panel to name their favourite concert of the year. Unsurprisingly, the highly anticipated and much discussed Sugarcubes reunion topped the list. A little more surprising was Roger Waters placing third.

We also asked critics what was the most anticipated release of the year 2007. While Jakobínarína, I Adapt, and Benny Crespo’s Gang were repeatedly mentioned respectively, one band stood out. Apparently, Icelandic music journalists are to a man waiting for the fourth release from rock n’ roll giants Mínus. The album is in production, with the band having spent three weeks in November and December recording in Los Angeles with producers Husky Hoskulds and Joe Barresi. Judging from their live performances last year -(two of their performances ranked high on our concert list, Airwaves Kerrang! Night and the Mínus – Entombed ticket, both great shows)- the fivesome is in a fantastic form.

But, without further ado, here are the thirty best Icelandic albums of 2006 ›››

#1 – Reykjavík!, Glacial Landscapes, 27 points.
“An incredibly fresh rock album that takes you in so many directions that it leaves you spinning.”

#2 – Gavin Portland, Views of Distant Town, 18point
“Using a combination of hardcore, punk and alternative rock, Gavin Portland is the band of the future.”

#3 – Pétur Ben, Wine For My Weakness, 7 point
“Wine For My Weakness met my standards and then some. Pétur Ben shows his talent in many areas and does a thorough job. Hopefully we won’t have to wait as long for the next album.”

#4 – Brain Police, Beyond the Wasteland, 13 points.
“Brain Police have been a favorite with the Icelandic public for a long time, no wonder, since this band has it all, good vocals, groove tunes and on the plus side, it rocks!”

#5 – Lay Low, Please Don’t Hate Me, 11 points.
“A very sincere record. She is re-inventing blues-country.”

#6 – Eberg, Voff Voff, 11 points.
“Pure pop made by somebody who is ready to experiment with sounds and arrangements. The tunes are catchy and the sounds are atmospheric and imaginative.”

#7-8 – Benni Hemm Hemm, Kajak, 10 points.
“Benni Hemm Hemm’s latest outing is stronger than his first, even though it’s not as fresh a listen.”

#7-8 – Skakkamanage, Lab of Love, 10 points.
“I expected a cute and entertaining album from Skakkamanage, but this still surprised me. It is surely cute, but it is also much better than I expected. Really entertaining songs and well performed.“

#9-13 – Jónas Sigurðssonm Þar sem malbikið svífur, 7 points.
“I never expected that a solo album from the leader of the band Sólstrandargæjarnir would arouse my interest. But life is full of surprise and this album is great. Finally we have an Icelandic Beck.”

#9-13 – Jóhann Jóhannsson, IBM 1401, A Users Manual, 7 points.
“Irrepressible beauty.”

#9-13 – Shadow Parade, Dubious Intentions, 7 points.
“Dark and gruesome ghostship that stands strong the whole time.”

#9-13 – Ghostigital, In Cod We Trust, 7 points.
“A big improvement over their debut album. Wicked beats, arresting sounds and crazy lyrics. Good morning to you! And it features Mark E. Smith on vocals on the dirty disco single Not Clean. Truly great stuff!”

#9-13 – Skúli Sverrisson, Sería, 7 points.
“Skúli Sverrison’s Sería came out of nowhere and refused to leave my head for days.”

#14.-15. – Future Future, Insight, 6 points.
#14.-15. – The Telepathetics, Ambulance, 6 points.
#16.-20. – Red Motor Dog, Rock Machine, 5 points.
#16.-20. – Æla, Sýnið tillit, ég er frávik, 5 points.
#16.-20. – Forgotten Lores, Frá heimsenda, 5 points.
#16.-20. – Changer, Breed the Lies, 5 points.
#16.-20. – Ben Frost, Theory of Machines, 5 points.
#21.-23. – Nico Muhly, Speaks Volumes, 4 points.
#21.-23. – Biggi, ID, 4 points.
#21.-23. – Fjölnir, Sonur neyslusamfélagsins…, 4 points.
#24.-29. – Foghorns, A New Low, 3 points.
#24.-29. – Fræ, Eyðileggðu þig smá, 3 points.
#24.-29. – Megas, Passíusálmar í Skálholti, 3 points.
#24.-29. – Ókind, Hvar í Hvergilandi, 3 points.
#24.-29. – Bubbi, 06.06.06, 3 points.
#24.-29. – Momentum, Requiem, 3 points.
#30.- Hafdís Huld, Dirty Paper Cup, 2 points.

Concert of the Year
Sykurmolarnir, Laugardalshöll, 24 points.
Sufjan Stevens, Fríkirkjan, 17 points.
Roger Waters, Egilshöll, 14 points.
Airwaves Kerrang! Night, Nasa, 11 points.
The Stooges, Listasafn, 10 points.
Morrisey, Laugardalshöll, 10 points.
Entombed – Mínus, Nasa, 10 points.
Brian Jonestown Massacre, Nasa, 8 points.
Belle and Sebastian, Bræðslunni,8 points.
Sigur rós, Miklatún, 8 points.

As editor of the Reykjavík Grapevine, I should mention that Haukur S. Magnússon, staff journalist for the Grapevine, is a member of the band Reykjavík!, which the magazine is rewarding for releasing the best Icelandic album of the year 2006.

When selecting the album of the year The Grapevine contacted a total of 17 music critics from various Icelandic publications and radiostations and asked them to rank the five best albums of the year; with the best album receiving five points and the fifth best receiving one point. The result was that Reykjavík! received 27 points, while Gavin Portland, the number two entry, finished with 18. This is the result of an independent panel, not a selection by the Grapevine’s staff.

It was however an editorial decision to put the band, and said journalist on the cover. In making that decision, I came to the conclusion that the band should not suffer for Magnússon’s work for the paper, as the decision to put the first placed band on the cover would have been automatic if it were any other band.

The Panel:
Ágúst Bogason, Rás 2, Andrea Jónsdóttir, Rás 2, Arnar Eggert Thoroddsen, Morgunblaðið, Árni Matt, Morgunblaðið, Atli Bollason, Morgunblaðið, Atli Fannar Bjarkason, Blaðið, Búi Bendtsen, XFM, Freyr Bjarnason, Fréttablaðið, Gunnar L. Hjálmarsson, Fréttablaðið, Hildur Maral Hamíðsdóttir, Rjó, Ólafur Páll Gunnarsson, Rás 2, Ómar Eyþórsson, XFM, Páll Hilmarsson, The Reykjavík Grapevine, Snorri Sturluson, XFM, Steinþór Helgi Arnsteinsson, Fréttablaðið/X-ið 977, Trausti Júlíusson, Fréttablaðið, Valli,

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