5 Cool Icelandic Albums

August 5th, 2017 | Features | 0 Comments

I was in Reykjavic, Iceland last week. Cool place. Although I was disappointed to find that not every citizen of Iceland is as whimsical and woodland-like as Bjork and the members of Sigur Ros, I was not disappointed with the quality and quantity of Icelandic music that exists besides those better known entities. Here are some cool albums I found out about while there.

Olof Arnalds – Palme

Olof Arnalds fits what you might expect of an Icelandic artist if you’re expecting something in the vein of Sigur Ros and Bjork. Her voice is the most distinctive element of the music – it’s high, quavering and faery-like. On Palme, she surrounds it with some incredibly inventive and suitably middle earth-y arrangements, not to mention a strong set of compositions.

Berndsen – Planet Earth

Berndsen is probably Iceland’s biggest fan of Giorgio Moroder. He’s got two solid albums of dancey synth-pop, 2011’s Lover in the Dark and 2013’s Planet Earth. Both owe a big debt to the Italo Disco maestro, but of course, make wonderfully strong showings in their own right.

Teitur Magnusson – 27

Teiter Magnusson‘s album 27 is a very impressive attempt to recreate in 2014 a late 60s/early 70s psych-pop album. Songwriting and production could not have nailed it much better. If you’re a fan of Dungen, this is a bit more on the pop songwriter side of things, but Teitur and the Dungen guy are definitely kindred souls, if not real live friends.

Snorri Helgason – Vittu Til

Snorri Helgason‘s an old-school pop songcrafter. His album Vittu Til is the one I’m going with because all his others are in English and not that interesting for that reason. In English it’s like “ok, another dude trying to do the whole Beatles pop songwriter thing.” But in Icelandic it’s like “what’s going on here…”

Mammut – Karkari

Mammut is an indie rock band, but with a nod to punk and emo. Again, much better in Icelandic than English. Their most recent album, Kinder Versions, was getting a big push around the record stores in Reykjavik, but yeah, they’re just a better, more interesting band in Icelandic. 2008’s Karkari is the only album of their’s sung in Icelandic that’s available in American spotify, so that’s why I’m recommending it.

Moon King

July 6th, 2017 | Mp3 Posts | 0 Comments

In a pretty radical stylistic shift, Detroit-via-Toronto artist Moon King is releasing a Detroit house-inspired album called Hamtramck ’16 on Arbutus Records on August 4th. First track “In & Out” suggests he’s pulling the genre move off nicely.

Man meets Bear

June 16th, 2017 | Mp3 Posts | 0 Comments

Utah-via-Toronto songwriter and old friend of the blog Man meets Bear released another naturalistic wonder yesterday June 15th, his latest album Starfishes. It’s one of the more meditative works in his discography; most of the songs are smeared ambient soundscapes-as-songs, progressing in slow-motion but with a finger still placed on the idea of pop composition.

5 Cool Finnish Albums

May 15th, 2017 | Features | 0 Comments

After the last Moonface album with the Finnish band Siinai came out, I started wondering what other great bands there are in Finland. I bounced around a bit through the Spotify ‘similar artists’ section, and here are the best albums I stumbled on.

Eleanoora Rosenholm – Älä kysy kuolleilta, he sanoivat

Eleanoora Rosenholm is like a Finnish Kate Bush, in that her music has lots of cool synths and sounds ‘magical.’ She’s also really big on using soviet-style male choruses as a musical element. This album and its follow-up, Hyväile minua pima tähti, are excellent.

K-X-P – II

K-X-P is a dark, spacey krautrock band. All their albums (I, II, III Pt. 1, III Pt. II) are solid collections, but II is the most consistent.

Paavoharju – Laulu laakson kukista

According to Wikipedia, Paavoharju “was a collective of ascetic Christians formed around two brothers.” If so, they were a collective of ascetic Christians who knew their way around complicated and enchanting arrangements. Their albums feel rough and organic, as if they were old tapes found under a bed. This one is my favourite, but their first, Yhä hämärää is about equivalent in terms of quality. Their 2013 album Joko sinä tulet tänne alas tai minä nousen sinne lost me though; the choice to make a rap album was an odd one.

Islaja – Keraaminen Pää

Easily Islaja‘s best album. Like Eleanoora Rosenholm‘s work, its got an ‘enchanted in the vein of Kate Bush’-thing going on, but it’s rougher around the edges and more minimalist.

Jaakko Eino Kalevi – Jaakko Eino Kalevi

Jaakko’s stuff sometimes sounds a little too self-satisfied for me, at least right now during this apocalyptic moment, but his self-titled album has a lot of solid songwriting and incredible synth work.

Obscurity Points // “Yearning and Harmony”

April 25th, 2017 | Features | 0 Comments

I found Tri Atma‘s bonkers 1982 album Yearning and Harmony while paging through the used records at my ever-beloved all-time favourite record store in the world, Academy Records in Greenpoint. The cover and especially its back-cover were just too classic: a German new age guitar-tablas band that teamed up with a crazy old synthesizer dude to make a record in 1982. Please, Adult Swim, do something like Live at the Necropolis with this.

Of course, I wouldn’t be writing about it if the music weren’t very close to exactly what I wanted to hear. The guitar and tabla work are solid, but top marks here go to Klaus Netzle for exceedingly melodic and beautifully kosmische synth work.