Nögl – “I Proudly Present” (2009)

Nögl was the first Icelandic band I thought was cool.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from our first Iceland Airwaves in 2009, but the one thing I knew for certain was that I’d never heard of a single band playing there.  Our first night we went to NASA and caught six bands, and while I thought Reykjavik! were cool, I remember feeling pretty far out of my musical comfort zone.  The following night was one I’d circled on the schedule, a rock/metal lineup at Grand Rokk (aka Faktory), and Nögl opened that night in front of an almost empty room – maybe 20 people were there.  But that didn’t stop them.  The boys played a hard and intense set, and once they figured out that most of us were foreigners switched to English for their stage banter.  They were also the first band I ever got into contact with, corresponding by email and eventually sending them some large format prints of photos I took of their set, and in return they sent me back a signed photo and CD.  Pretty cool.

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I came across I Proudly Present on my iPod today and played it for old time sake, and quickly remembered how much I liked it.  It’s a solid alt/hard rock album.  Not terribly flashy, but has good harmonies, aggressive guitars, and even the odd growl here and there.  “My World” is my favorite track by far and I have to confess that I have an illogical affinity for the line “I can be your baseball bat in a fight.”  All but one of the songs are in English, making this a very approachable album for the American rock fan, and there’s a lot to like here.  The songs are a bit on the downer side covering issues like sobriety (“Sober & Clean/Better Way”), loneliness (“Cigarette Smoke”), and wasting time (“Wasting Time”).  The most unique track is “Eyes,” with its quasi-screamed vocal parts and mixed up timing, making it the most metal sounding song on the album.

We saw Nögl again a few years later in Reykjavik at a bar called Amsterdam, and while the show was good it didn’t hit me the same way as their earlier one did.  The band broke up relatively soon after, and I Proudly Present stands as their one release (as far as I know).  It’ll always hold an important place in my personal musical history, and if you’re a rock fan I think there’s a lot here you’ll enjoy.