D7Y – “D7Y” (2019)

d7yd7yThe Icelandic punk band D7Y recently followed up their 2018 six-song Demo with their first full-length, a collection of a dozen blistering d-beat rockets.  The self-titled album, available on black as well as translucent green vinyl and put out by Seattle’s Iron Lung Records, includes the  Demo material along with a sixer of new songs.  And with the longest of the bunch, “Örþrifaráð”, clocking in at a high octane 1:19, it’ll be over before you can say “damn that was fast”.

Definitely hardcore, you can also feel thrash influences on D7Y – it’s more metal than punk to my ears, but at the end of the day those are all just labels and not important. The songs are fast and hard, the vocals shouting at you accusingly.  They’re also tight – nothing sloppy, nothing wasted.  Everything feels 100% intentional, the band settling for nothing less then producing precisely what they intended.

Give it a listen and pick up your vinyl copy on Bandcamp HERE.

Skepna – “Dagar Heiftar Og Heimsku” (2019)

skepnadagarSkepna got a lot of people excited with their rocking debut in 2013 and garnered a lot of solid press for their live performances at Airwaves and Eistnaflug, but then seem to have gone radio silent for a bit.  But all good things to those who wait, and last month the trio treated us to a new album, the hard-driving Dagar Heiftar Og Heimsku.  Skepna are back, and they’re as good as they ever were, if not maybe even a bit better.

All three Skepna members have impressive rock credentials.  Bassist Hördur Ingi Stefànsson played with one of my all-time favorite Icelandic rock outfits Brain Police.  Drummer Björn Stefánsson was part of the powerhouse Mínus.  And Hallur Ingólfsson?  Oh, he just played in a couple of OK bands like XIII and, you know, HAM.  No biggie.  Just a handful of the best hard rocking bands to ever come out of Iceland.  I figure I probably have something like 15 albums on my shelves that these guys have played on over the years.

Dagar Heiftar Og Heimsku doesn’t try to do anything fancy.  It just rocks your face off.  How can three guys get such a full sound (check out “Rautt”)?  “Biturt Blóð” is the most intriguing song to my ears, one that captures the strengths of the members’ respective former bands – the heavy psych of Brain Policy, the edginess of Mínus, a dose of HAM doomishness, and the polish of XIII all compressed into a diamond-hard track of riffs.  My other favorite is “Kjarval”, a sonic jackhammer, relentless with a tricky bass line adding character to the track and giving the whirlwind of the sonics something to circle.  Everyone gets their space to explore and shine, but I want to give an extra shout-out to Stefànsson’s bass work.  He’s not confined to keeping pace with the drums but instead given room to roam, and he takes full advantage.  Often it’s difficult to pick out the bass on a hard rock record, but that’s not the case on Dagar Heiftar Og Heimsku – it’s always right where it needs to be, sometimes supporting, sometimes out front leading the way.

I’m not sure about the press run on the vinyl – mine is on red, and that’s about all I can tell you.  There’s a free download included on a sticker affixed to the bottom corner of the inner sleeve, so if you’re looking for a loose card inside you might miss it.  Definitely recommended.

Somke – “Somke EP” Cassette (2019)

somkeThere’s a new label in Reykjavik called Eyewitness Records.  It was founded in 2018 by electronic musician Ívar Sævarsson as a means to release his own material as well as that of other less traditional techno artists, and so far this year Eyewitness has put out three limited edition cassettes.  Copenhagen-based Somke was the first non-Sævarsson artist on the label, with a seven-song EP of synthy dance beats and mild chiptune influences.  “Facelift” is my personal favorite, its brisk tempo overlaid with bleeps and bloops, though the darker and more laser-like “Golden Circle” certainly gives it a run for its money.

Danceable?  Hell yes.  So get yourself over to Amazon and order some glowsticks, then head over to the Eyewitness Records Bandcamp page HERE and get yourself some Somke.

Kuldaboli – “Stilleben 053” (2019)

kuldabolistilleben

Outside of the big hitters like The Sugarcubes, Sigur Rós, Of Monsters and Men, and the like, it’s pretty rare for me to run across Icelandic vinyl out in the wild.  I figured I’d have a shot, though, on our recent trip to Berlin and Copenhagen given that so many Icelandic electronic artists move to Berlin and the close ties between Denmark and Iceland.  And the first nugget I found was this newly-released five-song collection by Kuldaboli, which was in the New Arrivals bin at Berlin’s Hard Wax.  I’d just learned of the release while at the airport in Seattle waiting to depart, so I was pretty excited to lay my hands on a copy.

The down side is that all five of these tracks have appeared elsewhere previously.  “Nýtt heimsmet í kvíðakasti karla”, “Maður er negldur”, and “Svæsin blæti” all appeared on the 2016 CD Vafasamur Lífsstíll 2015-2016, while “Sovétríkin” was part of a super-rare split 2017 10″ release with Kosmodod and “Strangar Reglur” was on the first Sweaty Records CD comp called VA_001.  I’ve never managed to get my hands on that split 10″, so at least one of the songs was new for me.

I’d probably refer you to my post on Vafasamur Lífsstíll 2015-2016, which is linked above, for more on Kuldaboli’s overall sound.  I’m a huge fan, so even if I’d known there was only one track here I didn’t have I still would have bought Stilleben 053.  You can check it out at the label’s Bandcamp page HERE, though I don’t see the vinyl for sale there, so it might be a bit harder to track down.

Milena Glowacka – “Radiance” Cassette (2019)

milenaglowackaradianceLet’s get something out of the way right up front.  I have no idea how to write about Radiance.  But I also feel compelled to write something about it, because it’s one of the best new releases I’ve heard in 2019.

There’s an undercurrent of ambient throughout Radiance, a slowly drifting foundation.  But on top of that we’re provided a range of different sounds, from the spacey dripping-liquid-mercury of “Try Out On You” to the metronome-like thumping beat that opens “Lusty At The Touch”, seemingly disparate sonic elements that Glowacka somehow combines into a cohesive whole.  “You Are Such A Disappointment” could be the soundtrack to every nightmare I’ve ever had, right down to the title itself, the high pitched buzz punctuated by low end mechanical beats creating feelings of both anxiety and existential dread.

Released digitally and on cassette by the Icelandic label FALK, Radiance is available for streaming on Bandcamp HERE.  The cassette copy comes with a download, so spend a few extra Euro and get a tape for your Walkman while you’re at it.  You’ll be the coolest kid on the block.