One of the top items on my Icelandic music want list was Snarl II, the 1987 compilation of punk/new wave music only released on cassette. The irony, of course, is that I don’t even own a cassette player, so it’s not like I could have even played it had I come across a copy. But that problem was magically resolved yesterday when I found out that Dr. Gunni posted the entire album on his blog, available for downloading free of charge. Thank you Dr. Gunni!
Snarl II is packed full of music with 30 songs from 15 different bands. There were only a couple of groups I knew – Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, Sogblettir, Dr. Gunni’s own S.H. Draumur, and of course the Sugarcubes (live from the Hard Rock Cafe in Reykjavik, which we actually tried to visit on our first trip to Iceland only to find it had been closed… for about two weeks… Doh!). The tape has a bit of everything – punk, new wave, rockabilly, pop, and the just plain weird.
There’s some great stuff on here. I probably should have waited until I’d listened to this multiple times before posting about it so I could give a more thoughtful review of the bands and songs, but frankly I was so damn excited to hear all this stuff for the first time that I didn’t feel like waiting. Look, I’m not going to dazzle you with my deep knowledge of musical terminology or break down the structure of the songs, so just trust me that this is some killer material and Holly and I both agree that the recording quality is pretty damn good given that it originated from a 26 year old tape.
If you’re looking for a few recommendations, the Sugarcubes (listed here by their Icelandic name, Sykurmolarnir) are of course great, and I’m a big fan of S.H. Draumur. My favorite “new” bands are the very punk Mosi Frændi, the killer new wave of E-X (sung in English), and Qtzjí Qtzjí Qtzjí, especially their sort of Devo-esque song “Death” (I came to find out that these guys are also on the SATT 3 compilation).
But don’t take my word for it – go download this for free right now (and also download the original Snarl album Gunni posted while you’re at it!). I mean, what do you have to lose? Only your self respect as a music fan if you don’t listen to this immediately. Just don’t let the power go to your head – I don’t want to hear about how you’re out there saying things like, “What? You haven’t ever heard Snarl II? It’s only about the best compilation ever to come out of Iceland,” while you’re rolling your eyes. With great musical power comes great responsibility. Choose wisely.