We at Grapevine have some diverse (some might say “complementary,” others “wildly incompatible”) music tastes. The office stereo regularly blares out anything from grinding noise to black metal, punk, rap, techno, dream-pop, krútt indie stuff, and pretty much everything in between. With the Airwaves festival bearing down fast, we asked some of our team to pick out their favourite Icelandic tracks of 2017. Be sure to check these guys out!
Kælan Mikla – Hvernig kemst ég upp
This is the kind of track that would whip a goth club into a gallowdance frenzy—backs bending into deep arches, spins into swan-kicks, flowing extended arms entangling overhead, a room full of black chiffon artfully gyrating in ironic melancholy. By far Kælan Mikla’s most dancey offering to date, this full-on goth banger re-affirms their expanding nebula in the darkwave universe.
Steindór Grétar Jónsson
Volruptus – Alien Transmissions
Icelandic techno is blowing up. Bjarki and Exos lead the way on Nina Kraviz’s трип label, but a new generation follows, including Eva808, ThizOne, Fascia and Kosmodod. This year’s standout is ‘Alien Transmissions’ by Volruptus, released on Bjarki’s bbbbbb label. A direct, yet sophisticated electro cut, it’s driven by an acid hook and processed vocals.
Sóley – Úa
Sóley came into her own this year. ‘Endless Summer’ is her most complete LP to date, and it’s loaded with spidery, compelling, unlikely earworms. The opener, ‘Úa,’ has a spiralling piano line that sounds like it’s teetering on the edge of falling part, but instead tumbles into a beautiful, wistful chorus. Wonderful, accomplished stuff.
Moses Hightower – Trúnó
Peppered with Moses Hightower’s signature switcheroos, ‘Trúnó’ consistently catches the listener off guard. The tempo is a lazy drawl, purposefully offbeat and even completely falls apart a couple of times. A classic Moses track; full of play and humor but so perfectly constructed that it never comes off as a joke.
Hannah Jane Cohen
Herra Hnetusmjör – 203 STJÓRINN
It’s a genuine shame that Herra Hnetusmjör was born on an isolated rock most famous for ethereal artsy tunes. He’s truly a rap talent and no track exemplifies his innate banger-aptitude more than ‘203 STJÓRINN.’ The ultimate party anthem even the stodgiest hipster secretly smiles to, this tune proves who raps the fastest and smoothest. Spoiler: It’s him.
JFDR – Airborne
Jófríður Ákadóttir made a stunning album this year, ‘Brazil’—her first as an solo artist. The album’s highlight is the vulnerable yet forceful ‘Airborne,’ which is held together with a swift beat. The combination of live percussion and programmed drums goes perfectly with Jófríður’s beautifully haunting vocals, and incredibly remorseful, heartbroken lyrics.
Án – Ljóstillífun
21-year-old Elvar Smári Júlíusson surprised us all with his lyrical electronic album, ‘Ljóstillífun’ (“Photosynthesis”). It’s easily one of the best debuts of 2017. The album didn’t get the attention it deserved, but talents like this don’t go unnoticed for long. The discipline in his composing is noteworthy, and you can tell from the first song that this kid is someone to watch.
Mammút – Believe (Cher cover)
Is there anyone out there who dislikes the Goddess of Pop? Didn’t think so. Especially not her magical hit ‘Believe.’ So how is it possible that Mammút have managed to improve on the original? It’s a mystery—but then again, so is Mammút. Gone are the synths and autotune, and instead you get clangy guitars, rock drums and singer Kata’s powerful vocals. Now I truly believe in life after love.
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