This summer, my family will be traveling to Iceland to celebrate my dad’s retirement. He wanted to take us all on a trip to mark this momentous occasion, and we’re thrilled he selected Iceland as the destination. My parents visited Iceland back in the late 80s and fell in love with the country (my dad in particular), and he’s been looking forward to taking us all back at some point.
In preparation for what’s sure to be an epic trip, I’ve been trying to soak up all things Iceland over the last few months. I’ve become a loyal siggi’s Icelandic-style skyr yogurt consumer (more to come on that deliciousness in another post!) and I’ve learned tons of fun facts about Iceland (such as this one: as many as 80% of Icelanders believe in the existence of elves).
Another top priority: expand my Icelandic music library.
I’ve long been a fan of Sigur Rós (who isn’t?) and the solo campaign of their front man, Jónsi, and then more recently have loved Seabear and Of Monsters and Men, but in the past weeks I’ve been digging a bit deeper into the Icelandic music scene to see what else they have to offer. The result? A playlist to share with you awesome folks, lovingly curated by yours truly. (And the name? It comes from the film of the same name that chronicles two old friends’ journey to Iceland.)
Land Ho! (My Iceland Playlist):
- Seabear: “I’ll Build You A Fire” (This seven-piece indie-folk band has been described as both “Sufjan Stevens meets an unplugged Arcade Fire” and the “Icelandic Beck.” Whatever you’d like to compare them to, they’re worth a listen, to be sure.)
- Of Monsters and Men: “King And Lionheart” (Of Monsters and Men is a five-member indie folk-pop band formed in 2010, and that same year they won the Músíktilraunir, an annual battle of the bands competition in Iceland.)
- Sigur Rós: “Hoppípolla” (Oh, Sigur Rós. How can I be expected to choose just one song from this Hopelandic-singing, ethereal band? I’m going to go with the predictable here, but don’t hate. You know it’s good.)
- Jónsi: “Boy Lilikoi” (Kevin and I got to see this weird-in-the-very-best-way guy perform in Atlanta a few years back, and we both agreed it’s one of the best shows we’d been to both before or since. Lots of masks and costumes were involved. It was awesome.)
- Lay Low: “Jolene” (Yes, it’s an American song, but Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir, better known by her stage name, “Lay Low,” does a beautiful job with it.)
- Samaris “Gooa Tungl” (These guys are Músíktilraunir winners, too — from 2011 — and this song, which translates to “Kind Moon” is immersive in the best Icelandic way.)
- Pascal Pinon “Ekki Vanmeta” (A two-person band made up of twins Ásthildur and Jófríður Ákadóttir, the sisters cite Tegan and Sara, Joni Mitchell, Björk, and Sinead O’Connor as influences, and you can totally tell.)
- Tilbury “Tenderloin” (I feel like I’m listening to the Garden State soundtrack when I listen to this song, and I like it.)
- Sóley “Smashed Birds” (No wonder I like this girl — she used to be a part of Seabear! It seems as though Iceland is kind of like one big high school and just about everyone knows each other or at least knows of each other. It’s pretty amazing.)
- Ásgeir “Dýrð í dauðaþögn” (This guy reminds me of Bon Iver, and his 2012 album release was the most successful debut ever in Iceland. He recorded an English version of that album in the hopes of extending its reach, but I’m partial to his Icelandic songs.)
- Sin Fang “Look At The Light” (The solo project of a member of Seabear, it’s no wonder I like Sin Fang’s sound as well.)
- Borko “Born To Be Free” (This song’s English lyrics are on the bizarre side, but that’s what I like about it. It makes it feel oddly authentic.)
- Vök “Before” (Yet another Músíktilraunir winner — this time from 2013. They’re a bit in the indie-electro space, with some saxophone woven in.)
- Hymnalaya “In My Early Years” (Hymnalaya’s Twitter profile reads “Music for people drinking tea.” I feel like that does a pretty good job summing it up.)
- múm “Green Grass Of Tunnel” (This ethereal band won me over with their Sigur Rós-reminiscent sound. Or maybe that’s just the sound I think of when I think of Iceland. Either way, I’m on board.)