Tuð – “Þegiðu!” (2015)

This is the last of the records we brought back from Iceland Airwaves this year. It kind of got buried behind some other stuff in the “To Listen To” pile and I lost track of it until now.

I don’t know much (let’s be honest, anything) about Tuð. They were doing a crowdfunding campaign for Þegiðu!, and it looks like they succeed. My buddy Gestur over at Lucky Records put this aside for me as something that I might like, and as is true with about 95% of his recommendations, he was on point. Þegiðu! is some in-your-face punk rock.

The lyrics are in Icelandic, but I know from a Reddit post that at least one of the tracks is a protest song about government taxation. Musically there’s an old-school vibe, overlaid with vocals that are bit more aggro – not quite hardcore, but more growled than spat. I’m particularly fond of the A side closer “Atvinnufrjáls”. Tuð translates to “nagging” or “rambling”, while the album’s title means, quite simply, “shut up”. So it definitely has that punk attitude.

You can listen to the album on Bandcamp HERE, as well as buy a digital copy. Unfortunately there’s no info there about the vinyl, so I can’t give you any tips as to how to get a copy. Maybe email the band directly. My guess is the pressing was very, very small, so I wish you luck!

Kontinuum – “No Need to Reason” (2018)

I’m not sure how many times we’ve seen Kontinuum perform live. Four? Five? We saw them at Airwaves a month or so ago and they sounded great, as always. It’s weird though – I can’t remember ever going out with the specific intent of seeing Kontinuum… it’s more that they happened to be playing on the same card as other bands we wanted to see. Inevitably we’d see them on the bill as well and say, “oh, and Kontinuum is playing there too, nice”. And they’re certainly more than good enough to keep us around to wait for them as well.

The quintet put out three albums, most recently No Need to Reason in 2018, an effort that was also their first on vinyl. I picked it up during Airwaves because hey, Kontinuum are solid. And that enjoyment I have for them live carries over onto the recording, albeit it in a somewhat different way. The tracks on No Need to Reason are more polished than the band’s live sound, lacking a bit of their on-stage punch and taking on a smoother patina (“Warm Blood” probably comes closest to reflecting Kontinuum in concert). But lest you think that’s a criticism, it’s not. The sound is just a bit different, that’s all. The three guitar attack is still here, though, creating a dense curtain of sound serving as the backdrop for what is often melancholy vocals, perhaps nowhere coming together as well as on the title track.

You can check out No Need to Reason on Bandcamp HERE. On vinyl it’s available in three different colors – black (edition of 350), blue (300), and violet (100). If my math’s right, that means the vinyl is limited to only 750 copies across all colors, so it’s fairly limited.

Grísalappalísa – “Týnda Rásin” (2019)

After nearly a decade together Grísalappalísa are calling it quits, and they’re going out in style with one final album, Týnda Rásin, the vinyl pressing including a 20-page full-sized color booklet of photos and lyrics. But despite the prettiness of the packaging, the album itself came from a dark place. Per the band:

This album is about a frequency that no one tunes into, a channel virtually hidden from our perception and whose broadcasts reach only a deep, dark void. It is an echo chamber, a path you find yourself in in the darker times of life and swallows you, ironically, by your own doing. For us, this channel represents depression, anxiety and isolation, to be at a crossroads with yourself and on the margins of society. It’s about experiencing yourself as a failure, an exposure of yourself and the sudden realisation that you won’t be the rockstar that the 16-year-old you wanted to be.

I can’t speak to Týnda Rásin’s lyrical message since the vocals are in Icelandic, but the music and the vocal tone support this view. It’s an album of varying styles, not in that there is a country song followed by something hip hop, but more within the general indie rock space that Grísalappalísa exists in (♠). Týnda Rásin lacks a sonic cohesiveness. But that’s not intended as an insult, simply an observation. You’ve got the punkish “Kvæðaþjófurinn” (my favorite track) followed by a more spoken-word-styled number in “Keyri Heim Á Þorláksmessu”, all of it tied together by and underlying angst, a sense of anomie. And they do stretch the limits, especially on the experimental, free-jazz-like “Taugaáfall Í Bónus” with its vocal anxiety mirrored by the emotional and unstructured piano.

You can give it a listen for yourself HERE. I don’t see the vinyl listed on Bandcamp right now, but this came out on the Reykjavik Record Shop imprint, so I’m sure you can contact the shop directly if you want to get your hands on a physical copy.

(♠) OK, with the possible exception of the very country “Undir Sterku Flúorljósi” that is…

Epic Rain – “All Things Turn To Rust” (2019)

With All Things Turn To Rust Epic Rain takes us on a guided tour into insanity. The only question remaining is, is this a one way trip?

Dripping with jazz influences, Jóhannes Birgir Pálmason continues to push to evolve as Epic Rain, over time moving from hip hop to pure storytelling, both with words and sounds. The opening track, “Lumaclad Reflector”, drifts off towards the classical end of the spectrum, the instrumental establishing the sombre mood of the album, casting a damp nighttime blanket over you, the closing repeated note sounding like a distorted fog horn off in the distance… but you can’t tell the direction it’s coming from… I wondered for a moment if we weren’t in store for an instrumental album, but the next track “Distortion of Reality” quickly erased that thought (though there are other instrumental tracks) as I was ushered into a killer’s mind, his thoughts and motivations laid bare, Jóhannes’ voice matter-of-factly painting the scene, both internal and external. “Every Road” takes us on another trip deep into a depraved and, in this case, hopeless mind, this time using a martial style snare drum roll to act as a counter to the depth of the rest of the music. This time it’s a suicide. Or is it a murder suicide… ? I’m not quite sure. On “Apart” we find him on the verge of singing, the lyrics including a chorus and patterns that give them a style closer to rock than hip hop while still maintaining the sense of setting, of place and time. A female vocalist joins Epic Rain on “Mirror Maze”, “Framing the Sky”, and “Evil By Heart”, taking over the duties with her underlying sadness, the sound of someone so exhausted that they don’t have any more tears to give but still haven’t managed to purge those feelings, a contrast from Jóhannes’ more menacing style. He returns to close the album on “Trading Secrets” (I trade secrets with your reflection in the water…), the tempo picking up as the races to the finish. Is it the dawn peaking over the horizon? Did we survive another dangerous night to arrive at the respite of daylight? And will tomorrow night bring more of the same…?

All Things Turn To Rust is available to stream, as well as purchase by download or on limited release vinyl on the Epic Rain Bandcamp page HERE. You can also pick it up directly from Reykjavik’s Lucky Records, as it’s on their own Lucky Records label as well.

Pink Street Boys – “Heiglar” (2019)

The self-proclaimed “LOUDEST BAND IN THE WORLD” (IN ALL CAPS!) is back, and they’re as sweaty and grungy and lo-fi as ever. I speak, of course, of Pink Street Boys, who are here to smoke all your cigs, drink all your beer, and probably leave behind a few new and unidentifiable stains on the furniture.

Heiglar is the Boys’ four full-length and their first on the Reykjavik Record Shop label. And it’s clear that their mission hasn’t changed – they play straight-forward garage rock. Nothing fancier than maybe an effects pedal. Elements of garage, surf, and psych meld together into a sticky stew with a slight aftertaste of last night’s bad decisions. From the surf punk of “Hvunndagshetjur” to the full-throated aggro of “Róni” to the raspy rockabilly of “Á Rúntinum” the Boys from the mean streets of Kópavogur offer no respite, no opportunity to catch your breath outside of the few seconds of silence between each of Heiglar‘s 10 songs.

The official release of this bad boy was just a few days ago, so I don’t see it up anywhere on the interwebs at the moment. That being said, I know Reynir over at Reykjavik Record Shop, that killer combo of label and record store, will be happy to sell you one, so hit him up online and get a copy of this grimy wax for yourself.