I’m back on the Icelandic music train again. All aboard!
S. H. Draumur initially piqued my interest due to the involvement of Gunnar L. Hjálmarsson, aka Dr. Gunni, aka the man who wrote the book on music in Iceland. Literally. He actually wrote the book. Stuð vors lands was released this fall, and we went to the book release party/concert while at Iceland Airwaves in November. Gunni, who has been in a number of bands himself, played with a lot of the classic punk, new wave, and rock performers from his home island in what was a fun evening. While the book is in Icelandic, and therefore impossible for mere mortals to read, there are TONS of pictures and it’s well put together.
So what about the music? I have some of Dr. Gunni’s solo stuff, as well as the band Bless. But 1987’s Goð had the reputation of being a seminal album, so I made a point of tracking down a used copy on vinyl (at Lucky Records in Reykjavik… where else?!) and I’m glad I did. The style is strictly lo-fi, and the vocals remind me a bit of Ian Astbury, making this a hybrid of The White Stripes and The Cult (when I made this comparison just now, Holly looked at her cocktail and said cryptically, “That’s a bold statement.” I don’t know if she agrees or disagrees. Or is re-thinking the decision to marry me. Tough to say.). Discogs describes the genre as “blues, jazz, rock,” and the style as “punk, rockabilly.” That’s a lot of descriptors. Sort of Bl-azz P-ock-abilly, I guess. With vocals that sound a little like The Cult.
Telling you which songs to focus on seems kind of ridiculous, since the vocals are in Icelandic, and that makes it hard to even figure out which side I’m listening to. But the album has a really cool sound to it – it’s an enjoyable listen, even though you have no idea what the hell they’re talking about. Though Discogs lists it as vinyl only, I can verify that it is available on CD as well… at least it is in Iceland. That being said, you won’t get the kick ass poster and other insert if you buy the CD. Of course, it’s not like you can read all that material anyway, unless you’re from Iceland. Or a savant. And I’m neither, so I’m out of luck. But I do
luck like me some S. H. Draumur, so I’m not complaining.