Before heading over to Sycamore to play a show that night, I met with Iceland’s Ólöf Arnalds and her equally impressive friend Davíð Þór Jónsson, who had played a fantastically whimsical show with her at Union Hall the previous night. As we walked past a large tree towering over a mound, Ólöf’s head turned, and we decided she might as well sing under it. First song is the catchy “Klara”, which she wrote for her younger sister, the second is Caetano Veloso’s “Maria Bethania.” Before singing this song, she realizes she is missing her lyrics notebook. Davíð keeps company with a short bout of singing and dancing. One more song in Icelandic follows.
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Though I didn’t go to Housing Works Bookstore Café where Ólöf Arnalds shared the bill with Björk, her show at Sycamore two nights prior was probably the perfect way to experience this quirky Icelandic songstress (Ólöf, not Björk). Sycamore is a small bar in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, with a lovely backyard, a sensible layout, friendly people, and a tiny yet awesome performance space downstairs, which with its wide slabs of wooden benches looks like it was inspired by a sauna room, and which, as Ólöf demonstrated, is great for acoustic performances, even when unamplified; it’s now easily my new favorite venue (and we’re presenting a show there on the 26th, so mark your calendar and stay tuned). It’s part flower shop!
Where I indulge in the overrated phenomenon of a year-end list and discover my bias for sullen songs over happy ones; 20 most-loved songs of the year, with a self-imposed rule of one song per artist so as to not make it entirely pointless.
Download “Klara” | This was my first time seeing Olof Arnalds as a frontwoman–all previous performances being that of Mum, when she stood in one corner or the other, trading guitar for violin, violin for melodica, melodica for bells, and basically immersing herself in the beautiful clutter that used to be Mum (I still love them, but now they’re a different sort of clumsy). So I was pleasantly surprised that as a frontwoman Olof Arnalds is quite chatty, and those of us who found the expression “tuning this is a bitch” in her soft-spoken, thick Icelandic accent charmingly hilarious must just be forgiven (I’m sure it’ll be less funny the second time anyway, so don’t fret). She started with what sounded like would be the intro track of her new album, and I suppose it was gutsy of her to not only speak over it, explaining what instruments would be implemented in the recording, how this would come in and that, but also kicking the whole thing off with a request to sing along, adding, “Now this is where it gets louder, so you have to be louder too”.
All pictures, and story continued, after the jump.
Woah, what an impressive Tuesday we have here!
Le Poisson Rouge: Yes, you may say that one-time Mum touring member Olof Arnalds is indeed somewhat of a Joanna Newsom in Icelandic. Except, instead of being “freak folk”, her solo work is freakishly folk, compared to the decidedly contemporary sound we get from most Icelandic bands in the indie landscape, including Mum. But who knew Icelandic folk could be so damn lovely. I’m not sure how Arnalds did at South Streeat Seaport this past Sunday when she played the East Village Radio Festival, since that doesn’t seem like the ideal venue for her, but Le Poisson Rouge should pretty much be perfect. She plays an early show that’ll also feature a set from Skuli Sverrisson, with whom she has worked in the past. Meanwhile, Atlanta-based Deerhunter is playing a late show, and one that is not part of the tour scheduled for later this year with BARR, Knyfe Hyts and Vivian Girls.
hooves on the turf is a mostly-music blog based out of brooklyn. i can be reached at hoovesontheturf [at] gmail [dot] com - please send me your lovely music as an attached mp3 or an mp3 link. if i like what you send, i'll be sure to ask for more.
Aqua: Love TEEN. Man they can sing. Cool. Different.
Suraj Joshee: Sarahana, Loved the video. You captured the simple raw essence of the music and band really really...