Friday, April 18, 2008


Listen to LUCKY OLD SUN (Live in studio) by Ólöf Arnalds.

I became aware of Ólöf Arnalds midway through last year after she released her solo debut. It kinda knocked me sideways with it's simplicity and beauty. Nearly a year on and with some perspective i can honestly say that for mine, it's the best album of the past 15 years. Iceland's biggest news paper, Morgunbladid, voted Ólöf's "Vid og Vid" the best Icelandic album of 2007, accompanied by the following words: "On 'Vid og Vid' Ólöf Arnalds opens her heart and lets us in. The music is delicate but never pretentious, the lyrics are tender and the performance altogether prominent, especially the broken vocals. An incredible emotional and warm record which is sure to leave its traces." (Morgunbladid)

I first heard Ólöf cover Lucky Old Sun by Johnny Cash at a 12 Tonar instore during the Iceland Airwaves. Since my dodgy point and shoot camera made a shit sound recording I've been pining for a quality audio version of the track. As she shares a rehearsal space with Amiina, we had the good fortune of using one of their million dollar microphones.

I recorded a couple of sessions with Ólöf while I was in Reykjavik and this was taken from the first. She told me on the way to the studio that she'd recently played a gig where her entire set was comprised of country covers. On that tip she also played a kicking version of Hank Williams Please Don't Let Me Love You along with Neil Diamond's Solitary Man and some new originals.

Since we're winding this series up and it's a family affair, I thought I'd bring in Ólöf's young cousin, Ólafur Arnalds. As well as playing drums in a death metal band, Ólafur happens to make pretty lush classical music with his string quartet. As covers are the order of the day, here's his cover of a Death Cab For Cutie tune.

I hope you've enjoyed the week's tunes. I have no doubt you'll be hearing a lot more from the musicians herein.

These tunes were recorded for an Iceland Music Monthly radio show that i'm set to start producing and presenting soon. The video's are a spin off from the Iceland Airwaves Podcast series that I've been making since 2005. An exhaustive list of the videos from that series can be found here.

Heck, since I'm on a roll, why not have a listen to me talking up the current music scene in Iceland on Zan Rowe's morning program on Australia's Triple J

You'll hear tracks by FM Belfast, Seabear, Hjaltalin, and today's featured artist, Ólöf Arnalds.

Photo: come out and play, by Arnþór Snær.



soonergooner said...

Thanks for a great week of posts, Stuart. Some very nice tunes backed with vids, no less. Also helps to answer a question for me, why would peoples (K&C) spend vac time in Iceland? Besides, of course, spectacular scenery, unique energy independence, we now have an apparently thriving music community.

bill said...

Good stuff Stu. And thanks to the artists for the tunes and to Addi for the photos.