Artist: Amaba Dama | Single: Hossa Hossa
Icelandic reggae? As matter of fact the Icelandic reggae scene has been thriving the last ten years. And it’s not as strange as it first may seem. Keep in mind that with 6-10 months of snow, rain, cold winds and gray skies, it is pretty logical that the warm Jamaican rhythms might appeal to the Icelanders.
This summer Amaba Dama has won the ears and hearts of the Icelandic nation with their dance friendly hit Hossa Hossa. The band sings in Icelandic, with their musical influences steadily rooted in the traditional reggae style. Singers Gnúsi Yones, Steinunn and Salka Sól make up the core of the band. Supported by a group of groovy musicians the band has built a reputation of delivering a great live set to clubs and festivals all over the island. Amaba Dama aim to release their debut album this autumn.
The video for Hossa Hossa just came out, even though the single has been topping the Icelandic charts the last five weeks. The reason for the delay of the video was that the band only filmed when it was sunshine. There’s true Icelandic weather for you!
Artist: Hjálmar | Song: Lof
Hugely respected, admired and loved. Hjálmar have until been one of Iceland’s best kept secrets. At home they are the great reggae kings, mixing the sounds of Jamaica with the sounds of Iceland creating a unique blend of warm, old-school reggae, sung entirely in Icelandic (so called lopapeysu-reggae = wool sweater reggae). The band consists of accomplished musicians who eagerly embrace the challenge of experimenting, while still maintaining the rehearsed, syncopated reggae grooves.
Hjámars live performances are extremely tight, energetic, colorful and at the same time relaxed. Which is proved in this video filmed in the studio when Hjálmar recorded the brand new song Lof (Praise) in honor of the bands tenth anniversary this year. If you like this as much as we do, then we have good news for you: Hjálmar plan to release another new song on July 1 – the International Reggae Day .
Artist: Anna Hlín | Single: Everybody´s saying
Sit back, relax and sip your lemonade. Anna Hlín delivers this sunny and happy crossover reggae-pop-tune in perfect time for the summer. Everybody´s saying is made in the fine tradition of the Icelandic reggae scene, where bands like Hjálmar and Ojba Rasta has paved the way.
Anna Hlín finished second in the 2009 Icelandic Idol. Now she lives in Norway, recording and producing music for others and herself. She has released two albums Kaerleikur and All Souled Out and is hard at work recording her new album that she hopes will be finished next year. We´re looking forward to hearing the result…
Artist: Johnny and the Rest | Album: Wolves in the Night
A London and Reykjavik based band playing blues, rock and reggae with both English and Icelandic lyrics. It’s all there in the mix, on Johnny and the Rest’s new album Wolves in the night. This is their second full length release and since all the members are working full time jobs at different locations, its’ been five years in the making.
You discover quickly that classics like Jimi Hendrixj, Jethro Tull, Muddy Waters and Cream have a major influence on their sound. And sometimes the imitations become a little too obvious, resulting in that the band´s own musical characteristics suffers. Additionally, the band has two lead singers and switches between two languages, and that makes Johnny And The Rest appears somewhat schizophrenic at times.
The album does provide surprises, albeit of the eyebrow-raising rather than jaw-dropping variety. But on many tracks they manage to craft their own expression with great songs and powerful swing – and then you forget to ask such questions as: wait, what year are we in? The album’s greatest song is the title track, Wolves in the Night, where the retro influences have been toned down and the guitars alternate between playful, rhythmic melodies and bombastic explosions.
The reggae inspired single Mama Ganja got some airplay on Icelandic radio already last year, but last week it also got a video. Here it is. An unlikely mix of visual psychedelics and dried fish.
Hjálmar are a household name on the Icelandic music scene. They’ve been playing old school reggae – sung entirely in Icelandic – for ten years now, winning loads of loyal fans, critical acclaim and music awards along the way.
Last year they spent some time in the studio with Erlend Oye from Kings of Convinience, working on his solo album Legao that will be released this year. To kick off this project they performed at By:Larm in Oslo this weekend.
Hjálmar are no strangers to collaborations with Nordic music colleagues. In 2008 they had a home turf hit with Dom hinner aldrig ifatt, which they recorded together with Swedish rapper Timbuktu. And in 2011 they started working with Finish multmusician Jimi Tenor, firstly on a single called Messenger of Bad News and last year they released a whole album – Dub of Doom.
Great stuff most of it! Unfortunately Fence Me In is the least convincing of all these collaborations, it simply sounds a bit pale and weary in comparison. But sure hope that the rest of Legao will surprise us. We’ll keep tuned and report more about it. Promise.