Bleiku Bastarnir – “Bleiku Bastarnir”

There’s exactly one thing that I have marked on my calendar that I wait for with anticipation every year. It’s like a birthday and Christmas, and a four-day 4th of July weekend all rolled into one. And not because I get gifts, or I just really enjoy taking time off from work (which I do). But because of the chance to reconnect with friends. The chance to travel. The kókómjólk. The music. That thing circled on my calendar is the five days of Iceland Airwaves. And it’s so close now I can almost feel the cold wind blowing up Laugavegur, smell the scent of lemon grass wafting out of Noodle Station, and taste the pylsa.

And the music. Don’t forget the music.

This time around the Vinyl Lane crew are heading out a bit early to spend five days in Norway before backtracking to Reykjavik for the festival. I’m not sure exactly what awaits us in Oslo other than rain and black metal, but I have a feeling we’ll stay plenty busy. But for now I’m sitting around the house. Waiting. Waiting to leave.

None of this, of course, has anything to do with Bleiku Bastarnir, other than the fact that the late 80s rockers were from Iceland. It seemed weird to buy this on eBay given that I’ll be digging through tons of used vinyl IN Iceland in less than a week, but when the right record shows up at the right price, you buy it. I know I’ve seen this before on previous trips to Iceland, but I don’t know why I never picked it up. But now I can mark another one off the list.

My friend Wim wrote about them briefly on his now inactive I Love Icelandic Music blog, which is still a pretty valuable resource. Bleiku Bastarnir got some good press and opened for the Sugarcubes (and in fact were released on the Sugarcubes own label Smekkleysa (a.k.a. Bad Taste)) a few times, but they only put out the one six-song self-titled album back in 1987. Which is a bummer, because the music is really good, particularly the uptempo “Sveittur I Strigaskóm” with it’s classic old school rock ‘n’ roll riffs and guitar work that reminds me of some kind of George Thorogood. It’s equal part blues, rockabilly, and rock ‘n’ roll, with a splash of punk rock attitude thrown in for good measure. They mix up the pace well with both faster, more rockabilly numbers, and slower, more bluesy songs.

Too bad these dudes didn’t keep going, because there’s a lot here to like.

And with that I will leave you… and when we next meet, it’ll be via a dispatch from Oslo!

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