Iceland is a music enthusiastic nation. The music scene seems to obey to the same laws of nature as the Icelandic weather does: There are ever changing bands, countless musicians & singers and unpredictable music projects. It is quite hard to stay up to date. I used my chance when the supermarket around the corner had a music CD sale, to get me some new supply. For research reasons only, of course.
Randomly I grapped some CD’s, since they were selling literally for a song … ha ha. Some names I have heard before, others I didn’t. I know, you should not judge the book by its cover, but I admit, this time around this was exactly how I proceeded. Here is my haul:
Lay Low – Live at home
Lay Low is one of those mutli-talented artists who sticks around in the fast moving Icelandic music scene already a little longer with a long list of releases, but I have to admit, I hadn`t bothered to spend her much attention until this day. Even though she is knowledgeable in how to play the piano, she is exclusively performing with variable kinds of guitars and truly became a master in it. I also dig her voice quite much. It is not your easy, sweet, average songtress voice, but has an edgy, characterful tone. This, however makes the album not very easy listening to, as you have to concentrate in order to engage to her style of performaning, on top of that live albums are always a different sound experience which requires more attentive listening. Lay Low with her civil name being Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir can be discovered in two ways on this album: Audible and visible since it is both a CD and a DVD, which is a lot for this price I paid.
- Favorite track from this album: Donna Mo’s Blues
Label: Record Records
Genre: Alternative Country, Blues
Mani Orrasson – Repeating patterns
I never heard about this singer/songwriter before in terms of his name, however I was familiar with some of his songs. His music is getting quite some air time in Icelandic radios and I recognized one or two songs from the first listen to the album right away. Even though this isn’t an entirely easy to consume album, you will soon figure out that all of the 12 songs are pretty fast sneaking into your ears and stick there for good. I especially like his unpretentious way of singing. His lyrics are smart and deep, sometimes even have a sarcastic kick. He can even drift into more darker areas and submerge to sadness. Mani, in my opinion is extremely talented and his debut album shows his talent in a bright, musical light despite all the dark. I would even go so far to state, that all of the songs of this album are superb. He is actually right now on tour in Germany and other European countries. If you can, I recommend you: Go, and check him out! I will definetly attend his concert in Reykjavík.
- Favorite track from this album: Money at home
Label: Record Records
Helgi Júlíus – Crossroads
This is another artist I haven’t heard of before. I break it with you right away: This is the album I randomly purchased at the CD sale I like the least. I neither enjoy the composition nor the selection of the songs. Once I bought his album, I engaged with the artist a little more and it is actually terrible to know that this artist is so much better with his different – especially Icelandic – work. By the choice of artists and songs, you can right away tell that this artist has been living in the U.S. for some time, the style of the album heavily influenced by it. Even though he has been working overseas as a heart surgeon and not a musician, you can actually not tell if you are listening to an American country album, a genre I in fact do not enjoy too much. Usually Icelandic bands have their own interpretation of genres, like country style, which makes it usually interesting and enjoyable for me. Like, Lay Low: Her songs sound country-ish as well, but in comparison to Lay Low this album is so sleek, too picture-perfect and therefore interchangeable. There is no song in the album which makes you want to listen more closely and start to daydream and fantasize about how your own music video would look like, if would need to shoot one.
- Favorite track from this album Sorry, none
Genre: Country, Pop
Kaleo – A/B
Those guys you all know. Their international hit single “Way down we go” has been in the charts across the globe last year. I was delighted to see their album in the sale and of course, bought it right away. Since we were listening to it for the first time while being on a Westfjord excursion, this quickly became our road trip soundrack and I really enjoy a good trip sound. The singer Jökull has a strong and unique voice and this band probably has a bright future ahead of them. Their music is very catchy and almost all of the tracks on the album are a pleasure to listen to. This is me saying this – usually not the biggest rock fan out there . I am convinced this band is here to stay in the ever changing Icelandic music landscape.
- Favorite track from this album: Vor í Vaglaskógi
Genre: Indie rock