When you get tired of blasting Radiohead and crying, check out these songs.
KARÍTAS – The Girl That You Want
Last year, KARÍTAS made us v sad with the release of her debut EP ‘Songs 4 Crying’. Now she’s here with an equally v sad number. “The Girl That You Want” is a dreamy slow-burn harmonic/trap ballad that’ll bring you back to those days when you were insecure and went for bad people and went through heartbreak and were just v dramatic and low-key self-destructive. “Emotionally unavailable is what I want in a man,” KARÍTAS sings. “The irresponsible selfish boy, who has the world in his hands.” We wish we didn’t relate, but we so do. But KARÍTAS, you are the girl we want. Now stop making us sad. HJC
Katla – Sálarsvefn
I will not pretend to be familiar with the intricacies of the Icelandic metal scene, but this track by Katla certainly served as an enjoyable introduction for me. The video left me wishing I could speak Icelandic so I could figure out exactly what was going on (runes carved into a wooden pole, a horse skull—was it a horse? I’m not sure—and lots of melodic yelling). This single, which came out a month ago, precedes Katla’s new album, ‘Allt þetta helvítis myrkur’, which came out this week and apparently translates to ‘all this damn darkness’, which sums up exactly how I feel every day during Icelandic winter. MM
Pale Moon – Stranger
“Stranger” is the first single from Pale Moon’s forthcoming LP. The duo’s floaty track features the smoothest vocals and the dreamiest harmonies. This indie tune is the perfect soundtrack for a contemplative winter drive or a chill Sunday morning. The evocative music video for “Stranger” was filmed in Catalunya, Spain and directed by Carles Pons Altimira, and Pale Moon’s lyrics are equally emotive. No matter what you’re going through right now, Pale Moon are here to remind you that “you can do it, darling!” MM
Hugar – Hátíð fer að höndum ein
An atmospheric and ambient way to get into the spirit of Christmas music—perfect for the days when you can’t quite deal with the kitsch of Michael Bublé. Hugar’s version of this old Icelandic Christmas hymn is the perfect soundtrack to total relaxation when hiding from the cold. IRW
Daníel Hjálmtýsson – Withered
“Withered” is the third track from Reykjavík-based musician Daníel Hjálmtýsson’s debut EP. This track is full of drama: a slow-build with haunting vocals that linger. “Withered” has a cinematic ambience: the deep, droning vocals and lo-fi beat are offset by sparkly instrumental melodies and folkish harmonies. Daníel Hjálmtýsson’s debut EP also includes an alternative, more stripped back rendition of his song “Birds” which was released as a single earlier this year. MM
Emmsjé Gauti & Jülevenner – Hjálpum mér
In Emmsjé’s cover of the 1985 hit “Hjálpum þeim” (“Let’s Help Them”), the rapper opens up about his own financial struggles. “I know many of you have had a hard time this year, but none of you has had such a hard time. The gym I get for free is closed and I’m in a car that needs a key inserted. I don’t even have a heated steering wheel anymore.” Listeners are asked to deposit money directly into his bank account. (It will actually go to the Hringur Children’s Hospital.) IRW
Fortíð – Son of a Barren Land
Fortíð is a project by Einar Eldur Thorberg, an elder of the Icelandic metal scene known for his work in groups like Potentiam. (Btw, ‘Bálsýn’ is an absolutely must-listen for any foreign metalheads reading this article.) But in contrast to Potentiam’s sythn-y melancholy, Fortíð has a more rock-y black/death metal sound and “Son of a Barren Land” is a perfect example of this. According to the artist, the song is about coming to terms with inner darkness and with harsh jumps between beautiful atmospheric sections and furious traditional black metal, the track definitely emits internal turmoil. We must add: the softer interlude that starts at the three minute mark is absolutely beautiful. Their upcoming album ‘World Serpent’ will be released on December 11th. HJC
Riiturii – Icelandic Memories
An ambient neo-classical moment for the early winter. We love that for ourselves. Composer Riiturii wrote this EP on a trip to Iceland, with each song being inspired by a certain place in the country. While the concept might sound cheesy, the execution is really quite beautiful. It’s also kind eerily accurate. Sólheimasandur really does feel like you’re dramatically (yet still in a restrained, Scandinavian manner) walking down a desolate black beach. We also enjoy the punctuated electronic notes of “Reykjavík,” each of which treads the line between silent and dancey—similar to the contrast between weekend nights and weekday ones in the city (pre-Pandemic, obvs). HJC
Röskva – Laug
“Laug” by Röskva is a track that has energy, but in the most serene way. The title track of Röskva’s album is a great introduction to the rest of the album: electronic and synth-y with enchanting vocals. Sometimes dance-y, sometimes euphoric, sometimes reflective, this album has it all. Röskva’s bandcamp says, “This album was never meant to be released,” but I’m really glad it was. MM
Like the songs? Follow our weekly playlist, where we add the best and brightest of Icelandic music.
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