Utangarðsmenn – “45 rpm”

I covered another Utangarðsmenn album last year and also covered some of the spin off projects like Bodies, Mike Pollock’s solo album, and Das Kapital. Utangarðsmenn features the strong vocals of Bubbi Morthens and the great guitar work of Mike Pollock (alongside his brother Danny) combining for a strong new wave rock (with some obvious blues influences) performance. The songs on the six track EP album are a tight mix of English and Icelandic, with a more punkish four song, nine minute side A followed by a trippier reggae influenced two song, nine minute flip side. That B side is where the magic is. “Það Er Auðvelt” is one of the coolest tracks I’ve heard in a long time – it’s a straight forward 1980s style punk jam, but right in the middle it breaks off into a totally reggae track for a minute or two… then melds right back into the same punk jam that started it. The other song on that side, “Where are the Bodies,” has a beat and pace that just drives its way straight into your brain and makes you move with the intensity of a snake facing a snake charmer. It’s hypnotizing and bad ass.

When I came across this at the store, they actually had two copies identically priced. One had a nicer cover… the other a nicer record. I almost took them to the front and offered to pay a bit more if they’d let me mix and match, but decided not to. Not really my style, so I bought the one with the nicer record since the cover wasn’t so bad, and let’s be real, you can’t play the cover.

This is one of the best Icelandic punk/new wave albums I’ve ever heard, if not the best. It’s got punk and funk and reggae, and it gets in and gets out before you get bored. Side B is a fantastic two song burst and so good that when it finished I picked up the tonearm and put it right back at the start. I can’t believe I passed on this one not once but twice on two prior visits to Reykjavik before picking it up this time. It just goes to show it’s never too late to figure it out.

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