Kimono have been part of the Icelandic music scene for a long time, all the way back to 2001. In fact they were on the bill at NASA on opening night of Iceland Airwaves 2009 and were therefore one of the very first Icelandic bands I ever saw live. The group has four albums under their belts as Kimono, plus members have contributed to a wide range of other musical projects over the years. They’ve been back in the studio and “Specters” is the first single off that forthcoming album.
The first person we ran into this year on our way to the first of the shows we were going to see as part of Airwaves were our friend Ingvar and he was talking to Bryan from Theory of Whatever Records, the label that put out this single. This is TOWs first ever release, and Bryan was really excited to be able to do it with a band like Kimono, since he’s also a big fan of their music. We had a nice chat and were able to catch up later in the trip so I could pick up the copy of Specters I pre-ordered a while back.
“Specters” is a solid song, perhaps best generally described as indie rock. The vocals and harmonies stand out as excellent, and musically this is a band that knows what it’s about – they’ve been playing together for over a decade, and their last album was on online instrumental release in 2013, so you know they can play.
I won’t lie, though. What intrigued me most about this release when I first learned of it was the B side, a cover of Þeyr’s “Rúdólf,” a song that originally came out on their 1981 classic album Mjötviður Mær, the very first album I ever wrote about on Life in the Vinyl Lane, which should tell you how important I think it is. Right from the opening note they nailed it, though don’t be fooled and think this is just a straight copy of the original. Vocally it’s quite different – where the originally was tinny and modulated sounding, Kimono provides clean, up front vocals. They also wisely did away with the audio clips of Adolf Hitler speeches that appeared on the original (the subject of the song is Rudolf Hess, a member of Hitler’s inner circle until he decided to take a mysterious flight to England where his plane crashed and he was captured). It’s an unusual sounding punkish new wave kind of song that’s outside of Kimono’s normal sound, but that didn’t stop them from doing a great job on it.
This is a great single, and I’m looking forward to hearing what Kimono has in store for us with their new album. It was also a great debut for Bryan and the label – a high quality production. I’ll be keeping my eyes on TOW to see what releases they may have in store for us in 2015.