“MYRKFÆLNI #2” Compilation Cassette (2018)

I love the fact that zines still exist today.  The irony is that it’s never been easier to design a zine exactly how you want it given the ready access we all have to desktop publishing tools that would have made our scissors-and-glue wielding predecessors envious, yet the even greater ease of online publishing and managing your own website makes the concept of actually printing it on paper seem quaint and dusty.  However, there are still some intrepid souls out there who see the value in creating something tangible, and for that I am glad.

Two such souls are designer Kinnat Sóley and musician Sólveig Matthildur Kristjánsdóttir, who have worked together on releases by the Icelandic darkwave trio Kælan Mikla.  The pair just published the second issue of their zine devoted to the Icelandic underground music scene, MYRKFÆLNI, and I couldn’t be more impressed.  They followed a solid first issue with an expanded 92-page second offering full of concert and tour reviews, and articles about black metal, punk, and even performing arts.  Plus they included a two-sided Madonna + Child poster and, if you were one of the first 200 people to order the new issue, a cassette compilation featuring 13 tracks by 14 up-and-coming artists.  If you’re a regular or even semi-regular reader of Life in the Vinyl Lane you’ll know about quite a few of these musicians already – Dead Herring, Hatari, Pink Street Boys, Rattofer, and a bunch of others who are mostly still relatively new to the scene.  The collection of tracks is a combo of new songs and a few previously released numbers, but unless you’re deep into this scene chances are almost all of it will be new to you.

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MYRKFÆLNI #2 comes at you like a wrecking ball right out of the gate with the black-metal-slash-hardcore of World Narcosis, a song guaranteed to get the blood flowing through your veins no matter how tired you might be.  And that’s followed by IDK IDA’s “Sea Creatures”, which couldn’t be less black metal if it tried, a fluid, wandering new-age-like journey with beautify vocals that seem to float on the air.  And that transitions into the downtempo electro of Lúin Bein… leaving your brain swimming from the blend of musical styles you’re subjecting it to in succession, but a smile on your face because all these songs are so damn great!  I could go on and on about almost every song on this comp, but the one I need to gush about the most is the collaboration of the Cyber and Hatari on “HLAUPTU”, a killer jam that I could listen to over and over and over again.

Check out the MYRKFÆLNI Bandcamp page HERE, where you can find the zine and listen to all the songs on both comps they’ve released.  And make sure to check back, or even better follow them on Facebook, so you can get your order for issue #3 in early and ensure that you too will get whatever special goodies they have in store for our ears.

Pink Street Boys – “Smells Like Boys” (2017)

First things first.  If you are indeed planning on smelling the Pink Street Boys, I recommend you do it before their set.  Because they go 100-miles-per-hour on stage and there’s a lot of sweating involved.  I don’t think you want to smell them after the fact.

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The self-proclaimed “Loudest Band in the World” just put their latest release into the wild, entitled Smells Like Boys.  Given the Boys’ style of high-intensity dirty garage rock, as well as their sense of irony, this title conjures up lots of associations in my mind from the obvious ones like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys are Back in Town” to more comical ones like the seminal metal album Smell the Glove and Deniece Williams’ “Let’s Here it for the Boy”.  After all, the Boys will be boys.  But one thing is for certain – I saw people with copies of this thing all over Reykjavik last week, including a lady who boarded the flight back to Seattle wearing a PSB t-shirt and carrying her copy of Smells Like Boys out in front of her like a “Beware of Dog” sign, a warning to those around her that she was not to be fucked with.

Smells Like Boys is raw old school rock ‘n’ roll, all sweaty and filthy and lo-fi.  Elements of rockabilly and surf and psych weave in and out like parts of a broken kaleidoscope, one that  doesn’t give you the patterns you expect but instead makes you wonder if someone put some acid in your drink.  Most songs feature profanity of some type, with copious references to cops, drugs, and fighting strewn about for good measure.  It’s like the music of The Stooges taken to it’s natural and obvious conclusion, the musical omega point, reaching the bottom of the bottomless pit with “Alpha Dog”, a song with lyrics I’m not even going to bother sharing with you for fear that the FCC may come knock-knock-knockin’ on my door.  And please, don’t take that as a criticism, because it’s not.  PSB puts it all on the table.  Nothing hidden, no added preservatives.  Songs like “Way It Goes” and “Mr. Kill” are near-perfect garage rockers, with catchy and grungy riffs and vocals that imply the singer may have swallowed the microphone, sounding like three-day-old spilled beer smells.  Smell the boys indeed.

Pink Street Boys – “Hits #1” (2015)

Ah, the Pink Street Boys.  We saw them perform their full-frontal punk rock assault live at Airwaves in 2014, and while I was surprised to hear that their new full length album would be released by the more mainstream label 12 Tónar I figured there was little chance that they’d somehow sold out.  And after sitting down to listen to Hits #1 I’m damn well sure of it.

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That’s not to say all the songs on Hits #1 are dirty rotten punk songs, because they’re not.  The opening track “Body Language” has a heavy dose of psych infused into its garage-style punk rock, and it’s a perfect blend of heavy and trippy and a little bit sloppy (in the best way possible).  It’s a sound that carries over into the second track, “Evel Knievel,” as well, and frankly it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise since much of the band’s cassette release Trash From the Boys had a similar feel.  While some songs stray a bit from psych and root themselves in the garage rock realm (like the aptly named “Blues”), in essence the Boys stay in that edgy trippy zone that would have made them feel right at home with the subculture making this kind of music in the 1960s.

I was surprised to see a couple of songs on Hits #1 also appeared on the previously mentioned 2014 Trash From the Boys tape, specifically “Body Language” and “Kick the Trash Out” (a third song from Hits #1, “Evel Knievel,” also appeared on the 2014 Icelandic comp Sharl 4).  However, in both cases it appears that the versions of the songs differ – those that appeared on the earlier Trash From the Boys sound rawer, lacking in the recording quality of the versions from Hits #1 and more like demo tracks.  It’s a bit harder to tell with “Evel Knievel,” which seems to be the same version on both sources.

“Ladyboy” is my favorite track on Hits #1, perhaps because it has a whiff of Motörhead about it, both musically and vocally.  Hits #1 is, somewhat amazingly, available on iTunes, so you can go online and give it a listen if you’re interested.  There’s also a great video of their live performance at KEX Hostel in 2014 posted HERE, which I highly recommend – KEXP has put out some amazing videos of Iceland Airwaves performances, and it’ll give you a feel for the band’s live sound.

Iceland Airwaves 2014 – Day 1

We hit the streets of Reykjavik running this morning, going down to Sandholt Bakery for coffee and pastries before heading over to what is perhaps my favorite record store in the world, Lucky, to get my fill of vinyl.  And fill up my bag with vinyl and CDs and tapes did Ingvar and Gestur.  Not only did they have some stuff I’d requested on hold, but they also put together a pile of recommendations for me to go through, and about an hour and a half later I waked out with a pretty health score, all of it Icelandic music, including some stuff for friends back home.

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Time was limited today as we were meeting some friends for lunch, but that didn’t keep me from stopping by Reykjavik’s newest music store, Reykjavik Record Shop.  I didn’t have enough time to go through all the stuff there, but I did pull the trigger on a Þeyr 7″ that I’ve been wanting for some time.  I’ll likely head back tomorrow to keep digging.

After lunch it was down to KEX Hostel to see Kiasmos, the new electronic partnership between Janus Rasmussen, best known as the male vocalist in Bloodgroup, and Ólafur Arnalds.  The duo have a new album that just dropped, and hopefully my copy will be waiting for me in the mail upon our return from Iceland.  The pair packed the house and played a relatively short 20 minute set that was available as a live stream on KEXP radio.  They killed it, and by the reception they got it was obvious that there are a lot of people keeping an eye on this pairing.  We also got a chance to meet and say hi to Life in the Vinyl Lane reader Leana who was working the merch table at KEX, which was very cool.  Hopefully our paths will cross again on this trip.

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Next up was Good Moon Deer at an off venue in the lobby of movie theatre, Bíó Paradís, a surprisingly good place to see a show.  We’d seen Good Moon Deer last year and came away impressed with their combo of experimental electronica combined with a live drummer, and this year was no different.

After dinner it was down to the tough choice of the night – where to go for the on-venue program.  Holly and I decided to post up at Húrra for the entire evening, as we liked how most of the card there looked.  The evening opened with the punk rock stylings of Börn, a band recently reviewed here and one getting a lot of international attention.  Personally I think they are one of the few bands to take the foundation laid by some of the classic Icelandic punk bands like Purrkur Pillnikk and Þeyr, and give them a more modern punk twist.  Great set.  Next up were a pair of electronic performers, Seattle’s own Vox Mod and his blistering set of high energy beats, and the psychedelic electronica stylings of Iceland’s own dj flugvél go geimskip (photo below), who’s blend of innocence and sincerity combined with some hints of Japanese and Persian stylings made for a truly unique experience.  From there it was the competent (the bass player was fantastic) indie of Sindri Eldon & The Ways, then a couple of punk bands, Muck and Pink Street Boys.  Muck’s music generated an impressive mosh pit that lasted throughout their hardcore set and, no joke, resulted in one fairly nasty cut to a mosher’s forehead, while Pink Street Boys pounded the audience with a wall of sound and noise that eventually also gave rise to a pit.  Ghostigital closed it out with a robust 50 minute set and absolutely destroyed the place, taking control of the crowd early and combined stream of consciousness industrial and some classics from their albums.

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After leaving Húrra we made a stop at the hot dog stand for some of the famous Icelandic franks and dodged the drunks on our way back to our apartment… worn out, but ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

A Tale of Two Tapes: Krakkbot – “Amateur Of The Year – Crammed With Cock” and Pink Street Boys – “Trash From The Boys”

ladyboytapesThe crew over at Reykjavik’s Lady Boy Records has been at it again, putting out a couple of new tapes over the last few months.  I’d held off buying the Krakkbot release when it came out in April, but when I saw Pink Street Boys was being released this month I figured I’d go ahead and order both, because I really like what Lady Boy is all about.  Their heat-sealed Slugs Þorgeirsboli CD was one of my favorite pick-ups from Iceland Airwaves last year (and one of my favorite albums of 2013 as well), and I also enjoyed the Lady Boy Records 004 compilation, which features an eclectic roster of bands.  They’ve got some cool things going on over there, and all of it is put out in extremely limited copies, so when you see something you want you have to get it right away, at least you do if you want the physical medium.  And I, of course, do.  Because my name is Jeff, and I am a collector (“Hi, Jeff…”).

My tapes were waiting for me in the mail yesterday, though I’d already downloaded both albums as soon as I placed my order.  Today I gave them both a full listen for the first time, so here are some thoughts on each.

Krakkbot – Amateur Of The Year – Crammed With Cock

The laser etched case for this tape is similar to what Lady Boy did with their previous two cassette release, except, you know, with images of cock as part of the design.  The tape, like its predecessors, is a limited edition of 50 and each is hand numbered/etched (mine is #24… so maybe they’ve sold half the run so far?).

The opening track “The New Wave” led me to believe this was going to be some light hearted, chip-tuney electronica, but things quickly took a bit of a dark turn.  “Strictly Ballroom” took on a more drone-y feel, and was followed up by “I Got Love For My Woman,” which starts to take things in a slightly more weird, quietly intense direction.  By time we get to “DzzDzzzDeath” it feels like things are getting kind of creepy, like the suspense building in some kind of horror move that involve bugs.  “Lag #6” makes you think things are going to chill out again, at least until “The Message” lets you know that in fact, no, you’re in creepy town.  It’s the first track featuring vocals, and they’re very robotic and modulated, like a filthy-talking Stephen Hawking with his voice computer starting to lose power.  It stays trippy the rest of the way through and never gives you what you expect, when you expect it.

Pink Street Boys – Trash From The Boys

This is a new direction in packaging, with the tape encased in a cardboard box that actually appears to have been, at least for my copy, part of the packaging for a frozen pizza turned inside out, with the original packaging printing on the inside (0.9g of Salt… 9.5g of Protein…) and the printing for this release on what would have originally been the plain brown cardboard interior.  An interesting design concept, though if they could make it smell like pizza that might be even better.  The tape itself is numbered/etched like the others in the series, and this time I picked up an early one, scoring copy #3.

Trash From The Boys caught me a bit off guard.  I’d only heard the first track before, and it’s a pretty mellow electronica sounding song… which is quite unlike the rest of the cassette and its more psych garage punk in-your-faceness.  Though when I went back and listened to the opener “Up In Air” again, it wasn’t as clean cut as it had sounded before when I played it at a much lower volume.  There was definitely an undercurrent of something that spoke to a certain amount of weirdness, perhaps just a trace of a Butthole Surfers kind of vibe.  That’s followed by “Sleezus,” a good representative of the Pink Street Boys overall sound – raw, rocking, heavy, and a bit sloppy.  “Drullusama” finds the Boys even fuzzier with more static and feedback and reverb, while “Body Language” is recorded so hot and loud it’ll probably make you have to get up to turn down the volume a bit; it’s like a live performance recorded on a boom box and cranked up to 11 (in a good way).

Pink Street Boys have something lo-fi and great going on, channeling Iggy & The Stooges (especially on “Get Away”), Violent Femmes, and the overall trippy fuzztones of the Nuggets records.  That’s not to say they’re derivative, because the Boys are taking it in their own direction, doing things like the previously mentioned “Up In Air” as well as the pure hippy-drippy folk psych number “Psilocybe Semilanceata,” a song that would make me want to put flowers in my hair if I had any (any hair, that is…) and tell you how far out, man, those Pink Street Boys are.

 

All in all I like what Lady Boy Records has going on – their artists cover a wide range of styles, and they put a lot of effort into the design, packaging, and presentation of their releases.  If anyone knows where I can track down the Lady Boy Records 001 comp tape, by all means let me know, because I missed my chance to get it last year when I was in Reykjavik.  I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves next.  If you’re out there reading this, my vote is something on vinyl!