Category Archives: News

A mix of musical news from Iceland

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Ben Frost has made it onto FACT Magazine’s quarterly 20 Best albums list. Ben Frost is an Australian composer and producer long based in Reykjavík, Iceland. His latest studio album Aurora, influenced by his time in the eastern Congo, has been highly acclaimed by critics everywhere from Pitchfork to Q Magazine. And that’s great if you like minimalist, instrumental and experimental music. We pretty much get severe anxiety after only 30 seconds.

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The electro pop duo Highlands has grown to be a big name in Iceland. But now they decided to change name to Young Karin instead. The name change is the result of pressure from another band with the same name. “They will play hardball if we use it,” says Logi Pedro Stefánsson on Highland’s Facebook page. The new name refers to singer Karin Sveinsdóttir’s young age.

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Neil Young is headed  to play his first ever concert in Iceland. The concert will be part of an extended programme of ATP Iceland dubbed the ATP Takeover Series. The organizers have announced a programme of gigs on the nights between Neil Young & Crazy Horse (July 7th) and the second ATP Iceland festival (July 10-12th), including a special show by Ólafur Arnalds on July 9th. The festival already boasts a impressive lineup that includes Portishead, Interpol, Mogwai, Slowdive, Shellac, Devendra Banhart, Kurt Vile & The Violators, Swans, Loop, Low, Liars and many more.

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Útidúr is a ten piece group from Iceland that plays what they call  “joyous and ambitious chamber-pop with a dramatic streak”. This motley band of musicians are now about to head off on a tour of Germany are also letting any potential listeners download their last album Detour absolutely free. Here you go. Enjoy!

 

Björk on Display at MOMA

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The Museum Of Modern Art in New York has officially announced a retrospective exhibition dedicated entirely to Björk and her multifaceted musical career and collaborations. The exhibition, titled simply Björk will open in March 2015 and be on display for three months. Incorporated into the exhibition will be elements spanning Björk’s entire 20-year solo career, including costumes, performances, instruments and more. It will also highlight her many artistic collaborators over the years. Working with longtime friend and ally Sjón, Björk has written a new narrative thread that will tie together all her work in a way never seen before and include a brand new audio/visual piece created by Björk, Andrew Huang and Autodesk. Moreover Björk’s Biophilia app will be the first project of its kind to be added to the museum’s permanent collection.

News from Björk.com

Rising Icelandic star with new sing-along song

Artist: Jón Jónsson | Single: Ljúft Að Vera Til

Verslunarmannahelgi (Shopkeeper’s holiday) in August is the one of the biggest travel weekends of the year. Many Icelanders take advantage of the extra free day given on Monday and visit their cabin in the country-side, spend the days with their family or visit a festival. Vestmannaeyjar (The Westman Islands) are famed in Iceland for their major annual festival, Þjóðhátíð (National Festival), which attracts thousands of people. The festival was originally held in 1874 when the inhabitants were unable, due to bad weather, to attend the celebration of Iceland’s first constitution. Instead, they held their own party, which has been reprised every year since and has become the country’s biggest outdoor festival.

Locals and guests gather in Herjólfsdalur valley on the island of Heimaey, for four days of various events, most prominently big stage concerts, bonfires, fireworks shows and the festival’s signature Sunday night crowd singing. The crowd singing is the single event of the weekend which draws the most attendees. Approximately 15,000-20,000 people attend the festival every year.

Every year a special Þjóðhátíð song is made for the festival. This year, the honour went to Jón Jónsson. The song is called Ljúft Að Vera Til, which translates to Delightful to exist. In an interview with Pressan, he says, “The aim was to make a song that people could easily learn and sing. Something that was light and summery and easy to sing along to and play on the guitar. A song people easily can pick up and sing in their tents out there on the islands.”

Jón Jónsson is signed to Epic Records, owned by Sony Music Entertainment. He was discovered by Bryant Reid, responsible for finding the Grammy award winning artist Usher amongst others. His music is a mixture of pop, bluesy background, and soulful acoustic guitar. Jónsson´s first four singles were in the top 30 on Iceland music charts and his songs are heard in regular rotation on radio. Most of them have reached top 10 on radio as well as the Icelandic Billboard. Guess what? We predict that this one also is going to join the ranks of successful Jón Jónsson singles!

An eruption of quality music from Iceland

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Artists: Various | Album: This Is Icelandic Indie Music Vol. 2

For some exciting new Icelandic music check out a new compilation released by Record RecordsThis Is Icelandic Indie Music Vol. 2 features thirteen tracks, all of them Record Records artists. The first volume came out in 2013 and was the biggest selling compilation that was released in Iceland that year. 

Record Records is an independent record label based in Reykjavík. The labels roster includes an impressive line-up of artists such as Of Monsters and Men, Bloodgroup, Agent Fresco, Mammút, Ensími, Lára Rúnars, Sykur and more.

All the artist on the new record are members of the label, and the quality of work is extremely high. We have written about many of the tracks here on Icytopics, just click on the links below to read more. You can also listen to the album on Spotify, or download on iTunes or Amazon.  Do it! It’s worth every second of your time…

TRACKLIST

  1. Mammút – Blóðberg
  2. Ojba Rasta – Ég veit ég vona
  3. FM Belfast – Brighter Days
  4. Agent Fresco – Dark Water
  5. Benny Crespo’s Gang – Birthmarks
  6. Leaves – Ocean
  7. Mono Town – Peacemaker
  8. Júníus Meyvant – Color Decay
  9. Lay Low – Gently
  10. Tilbury – Turbulence
  11. Vök – Before
  12. Hymnalaya – In My Early Years
  13. Snorri Helgason – Kveðja

The return of Benny Crespo’s Gang

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Artist: Benny Crespo’s Gang | Single: Birthmarks

It’s been a while, but now it’s happening. Seven years after the release of their first album, Benny Crespo’s Gang are putting the finishing touches on their second album Minor Mistakes.

They describe themselves as “A progressive rock band that evokes the quirky fuzz of Sonic Youth and the dirty sludge of Queens of the Stone Age The band is co-fronted by both Helgi and Lovisa and together they sound majestically refreshing.”

Their self-titled debut album came in 2007 and immediately received critical acclaim, earning them three nominations at the Icelandic Music Awards, including newcomer and album of the year .

You can get a taste of the new album and see the video for Birthmarks on their Facebook-page.

Sigur Rós brings falsetto to Game of Thrones

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Artist: Sigur Rós | Song: The Rains of Castamere

Recent news indicate that Sigur Rós obviously are big fans of the HBO series Game of Thrones. The band will not only be covering The Rains of Castamere for the soundtrack. They have also booked a cameo for the upcoming fourth season. The song is originally written by the series creator George R.R. Martin and above is a photo of the Sigur Rós posing with the author, via their Instagram.

According to Amazon, the track will be available on April 13th. The Rains of Castamere was previously recorded by the National.  Below is a live version recorded in Belfast.