It’s been a while since I posted about an Icelandic band, and I don’t want my Icelandic readers to feel neglected! With that in mind I flipped through my shelf of Icelandic vinyl to see what gems in there I haven’t written about before, and I got pretty deep into the selection before pulling out Vonbrigði’s Ó, Reykjavík, a killer record I haven’t listened to in quite a while.
I wrote about the Vonbrigði album Kakófónia a few months ago, but this was actually the first of their records I acquired, in large part because it was a compilation of early material that was put out by German label Mauerstadtmusik in 2010 so it was still available new and I got it off of eBay. At seven songs it’s more of a mini-album, but no matter. Vonbrigði pack a lot of power into their music, which is straight forward, early 1980s style punk rock (all the songs are from 1981 and 1982).
The title track “Ó, Reykjavík” is the strongest and certainly most well-known of their songs, having been chosen for inclusion on the seminal Rokk Í Reykjavík documentary and album, where it holds down a place of honor as the very first track (and the only one the band had on the record). “Skitseyði” is another great song, with it’s driving bass line and chanting vocals sung by multiple members of the band, almost giving it that soccer chant quality that defined the Oi! subgenre. It’s not all fast, though. The band can slow it down as well, as they do in the song with the same name as the band, “Vonbrigði”, which means “disappointment” in Icelandic. The plodding pace and disjointed guitar sounds actually give it a musical feeling that matches its title, making you feel down and out of sorts. The sound quality of the entire record is great, though the last track, “Ný Friðþæging”, is from a demo tape and sounds like it, but that’s cool since it’s still decent and has a live feel.
The record comes with an insert that features the lyrics to “Ó, Reykjavík” in both Icelandic and English on one side, and a solid write up (in English) about the history of the Icelandic punk scene from 1978-1983, something I hadn’t noticed before but will now make sure to read. Vonbrigði was a great punk band, and given how limited their early 1980s output was (new material started to be recorded in 2004, about 20 years after the band disappeared from the scene) and therefore very expensive today, this new compilation is a very approachable way to experience the band’s music, and one I highly recommend.