It’s the height of summer. Relax in safety and solitude with these new releases.
Boncyan – Turn It All Around
Groovy stuff. Boncyan, Iceland’s resident boy band throwback, is Boncyan Back (alright!). This is their second effort, and it’s got an easy, dance-y vibe that brings you back to those tranquil KB summer party nights where partying wasn’t a luxury, but just something humans did. Like their debut hit “It’s On Me”, “Turn It All Around” is filled to the brim with these tiny, delightful 90s boy band-esque referential moments—certain progressions and harmonies, etc. This is particularly evident in the post-chorus moments of pining, where the instruments drop so the singers can dramatically plead about the places they could be. Truly emotional stuff. That said, Boncyan manages to put enough modern flourishes on their songs so they aren’t just nostalgic, but rather present a hint of indie-pop and disco dance. It’s not all or nothing at all, you know. HJC
Monstra – Nobody
Icelandic darkwave / electro-punk duo Monstra go way back together, having performed together for about a decade before COVID hit and they changed up their style, swapping out acoustic guitars for synthesizers. The result is slick, dark, danceable, and catchy. It compares favorably to the bests of old school post-punk, goth rock and new wave, with a kick of added girl power. If you, like me, have a playlist titled “Vampire Dance Party,” you owe this a listen. EP
Ellen Kristjánsdóttir & Þorsteinn Einarssson (from Hjálmar) – Hluthafí í heiminum
Oh man, finally some bluegrass/country for your July. Listen to this in the summerhouse when you’re surrounded by silence and holding a cup of coffee. Look out into the horizon, give your fingers a lil’ snap, and remember that life doesn’t have to be so dark. No, life can be full of harmonica solos, sliding guitar solos and beautiful harmonies. Rock me like a wagon wheel. HJC
Dread Lightly – Growing Pains
Singer-songwriter Dread Lightly wears his heart on his cuff and tells you what you’re in for. ‘Growing Pains’ is his first full-length album and follows the single released earlier this summer, “Back Home”. The melodies are gentle and the lyrics deal variously with loss, home, travel, childhood, hopes, and dreams. There are duets with backup vocals, but this is fundamentally an individual project, and a lonely one at that. My first impression was of an Icelandic Jackson C. Frank—not a bad comparison indeed. EP
Daughters of Reykjavík & STEPMOM – Hot Milf Summer
The group formerly known as Reykjavíkurdætur, now known by the direct English translation of that name, have changed more than just what they call themselves. “Hot Milf Summer” is a cheeky number that doesn’t seem to take itself seriously, tossing out Girl Boss lines that are probably satirical. And even if it’s not satire, pretend it is and it’s still fun. Play it loud enough at a crowded party and people will bounce (to the beat). ASF
Draumfarir & Kristín Sesselja – Með Þér
This pop number will whisk you away to that magical time between 2000 and 2005 when Icelandic pop was at its peak. Smooth vocals, a beat and a hook that diligently follow the KissFM pop formula to a T, lyrics about wooing a love interest, all the elements are there. It’s Kristín Sesselja that really makes this track though, and distinguishes it from anything else you might hear on the radio. If Iceland had high school proms, this track would definitely be not just requested but demanded from the DJ. ASF
Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.
You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.
Also you can get regular news from Iceland—including the latest notifications on eruptions, as soon as they happen—by signing up to our newsletter.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!