Posts Tagged ‘jonsi’

Well, it’s January. And that means that voting is well and truly underway in Triple J’s Hottest 100. In fact, there’s only one more week left to vote so if you plan on doing so, you better start thinking about which songs you’re going to vote for! Some years the voting process is really easy for me, other years it is pretty tough. I’m always torn between voting for the songs that I love, and voting for the songs that I think will do well (in order to keep the songs I don’t like from getting in the top ten!). Basically I put too much thought into something that ultimately doesn’t really matter. To me the Hottest 100 is kind of like an awards show – I know I’ll be disappointed with the results, but I still tune in because I enjoy the suspense.

Alright, so my ten picks for the ‘hottest 100’ of 2010, in no particular order (well, actually, alphabetical)…

1. Ball Park Music – iFly

2. Best Coast – Boyfriend

3. The Boat People – Damn Defensive

4. Cloud Control – There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight

5. Hungry Kids Of Hungary – Wristwatch

6. Inland Sea – All Fall Down

No video!!!! Check out their Myspace to hear the track.

7. Jonsi – Go Do

8. Kimbra – Settle Down

9. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio

(it was hard to pick just one song from these guys…)

10. Yeasayer – Ambling Alp


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Alright, I’m back from my holiday and I STILL haven’t put together my list of ‘top ten albums of the year’. I’ve been trying for ages and it’s just not happening. There have been a lot of good albums released this year, and a lot of great ones that I haven’t even gotten around to listening to. There are a probably a few albums that I’ve brushed off and will go back to listen to next year and think ‘why did I put that in my top ten!’. But such is life I guess.


For me I had two stand out albums of the year – Jonsi’s Go and the National’s High Violet. I can’t even begin to explain how well each of these albums resonates with me. Right from the first listen, I fell in love with both, and both had songs that made their way to my ‘most played’ in iTunes, knocking off songs that had been on it for over a year. I love both of these albums because they’re so different. High Violet is absolutely gut wrenching. It’s just plain depressing. Go is my uplifting album. I like to play its opening track ‘Go Do’ on the bus first thing Monday morning to try and brighten my spirits. They’re albums with so much passion and texture, they’re both moving in completely different ways.


My favourite Australian releases were The Boat People’s Dear Darkly and Foreign Tapes by Parades. I’ve loved everything the Boaties have released, and I swear they just keep getting better and better as the years go on. I actually didn’t buy Foreign Tapes until a few months ago. I saw Parades for the first time at Big Sound – and it was in fact the first I’d even heard of them – and was immediately drawn to their style. They’re both great pop albums, extremely catchy and easy to listen to right through til the end.


One of the surprises for the year was Arcade Fire’s release, the Suburbs. I tossed up whether or not this was a ‘top ten’ album. I don’t think it is for me. I really do love it, but I think it’s more so because I expected it to be awful.


I had a few other highlights, including Hungry Kids of Hungary and Spoon. I loved both of those albums, but I find that I really have to be in a certain mood or frame of mind to listen to them. To me a top ten list means anytime, anywhere, all the way through which is probably why I had so much trouble putting together a list of ten albums this year. Bring on 2011 though! I’m excited to see what it will bring.

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Better late than never, yes? Sorry everyone! So as you read a few weeks ago, I went down to Sydney to see Jónsi (of Sigur Rós fame, for those of you who are still unenlightened) at the Enmore, which I must say is an absolutely beautiful theatre.

New Zealand act Seth Frightening started the night. Normally just the solo act of Sean Kelly, tonight he was joined by another man both armed with guitars and microphones. The style of music was a mixture between folk, pop and ambient and it was the kind of music where you hear it and think to yourself that this should be good, but for some reason it just isn’t. There were times when the two vocal harmonies didn’t blend, which left a few members of the audience cringing. The guitar playing was mostly impressive though, but at times strayed a little along with the vocals. The intention was evident, but I guess it may have just been an off night for Kelly.

With a stark forest background illuminated and instruments sprawled across the stage, Jónsi come forward alone on acoustic guitar opening the main act of the night with ‘Stars in Still Water’. Normally a risky way to begin a set, but it was obvious that this crowd was not anything ‘normal’. Almost silent throughout the song, and even pausing for a moment before applause you could feel everyone holding their breath as he played, scrupulously listening to every word that came out of Jónsi’s mouth (whether we actually understood it or not).

The next few songs of the night followed in similar style, extremely ambient and relaxed. Jónsi and his backing band worked their way through ‘Hengliás’, ‘Kolniður’ and ‘Tornado’ from the album as well as some non-album tracks. It was a strange feeling, being part of such a respectful and quiet audience, but good to know that everyone was as moved as I was.

It was quite some time before Jónsi spoke to the audience (in what, I must say, is the cutest accent in the entire world), but that seemed to open up a flood gate of cheering and ‘I love yous’ from the previously silent audience. From here the night took a turn and we saw the more upbeat songs from Go. It was interesting to see Jónsi the quiet and often still musician and the Jónsi bounding around stage performing songs like ‘Go Do’ and ‘Animal Arithmetic’.

The night wouldn’t have been what it was without his backing band, and I really just have to take a moment to express how wonderful they were. Each band member (including Jónsi’s boyfriend Alex Somers – you may also know him from the ‘Riceboy Sleeps’ album by Jónsi and Alex) happily swapped between instruments – pianos, synths, guitars, percussion. There were times when it was hard not to focus on the drummer, whose energy and talent, especially against this unique style of music, was endless. There was even a point where there were technical difficulties with the piano, “That’s okay, just play it on the celeste” Jónsi told his pianist confidently. And the song then went off without a glitch.

The only disappointing part of the night was that it was quite evident that Jónsi’s vocal ability is deteriorating. He doesn’t seem to be able to hold notes as long as he used to or hit notes as high as he used to, but it this minor detail was nowhere near enough to have much of a negative impact on the performance. I was happy to see though that the night really was about Jónsi and his fans, rather than trying to please those who wanted a Sigur Rós show. We didn’t see the likes of ‘Hoppípola’ or anything like that in the set, truly separating his solo work from his work with Sigur Rós.

‘Grow Til Tall’ brought the night to a phenomenal end. Similar to on the record, it ended with a fury of sound, static and vocals on a continuous loop that filled the theatre with noise. Jónsi stood, hunched over into his mic almost screaming and leaving everyone watching in awe. Everyone slowly exited the stage as the noise began to fade, coming back moments later for a bow and what could have been an endless applause.


I’d also like to share an image of the extremely hilarious setlist, provided by a user called Sodium on the Jonsi forum (click for full size).

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Not long ago I did something I have never done before. I bought a ticket to a show in another city. Yes my friends, I’m travelling down to Sydney to see Jonsi since it has been decided that Brisbane doesn’t need Splendour in the Grass sideshows. The furthest I’ve travelled to see a band play is to the Gold Coast…all 1 hour away. Sure I have wanted to go see bands play in different cities before, but never really considered it in a serious manner. Is it really worth not only the ticket price, but the air fares and time off work?

Since my half-year resolution was to ‘live more in the moment’ than to worry about the past or the future, I thought this would be a great way of living out this idea. I’ve known people who regularly travel interstate to see shows, but I also know people who refuse to pay more than $80 to see a band. Where do you all stand on the issue? Have you travelled interstate to see anyone? Where do you draw the line? Is it just for any old band, or just special international acts that may never come again?

I chose Jonsi because Go is a simply stunning album, all other Sigur Ros works aside. It’s an album that can transform my mood within 30 seconds of the first track, no matter how bad things are going. It’ll also be one of my first times travelling alone, however I do plan on meeting up with the lovely Giselle from Buried by the Buzz, so at least I’ll have company! And that’s another idea – do you travel alone or with a group? And how far is too far? Are we talking next state over or cross-country? I’m dying to hear everyone’s thoughts on this – I have a feeling this is opening up a whole new world of music for me…

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CD Review – Jónsi

Jonsi – Go


Go is the debut solo album from Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi Birgisson, and it is an album that is going to divide people. The idea that Sigur Rós is on an ‘indefinite hiatus’ is worrying to most fans – will Jónsi’s solo album spell the end of this glorious band? This means that most people seem to be approaching the album with some sort of resentment, especially because the album is sung in English (gasp!). The album certainly does lean much closer to the pop end of the spectrum than Sigur Rós’ ethereal, ambient post rock, but Jónsi’s solo album – and I can’t stress this enough – is really, really, truly fantastic. Hardcore Sigur Rós fans are right to feel a little nervous about this album. It’s very different. But that’s exactly why it’s not a Sigur Rós album.

Yes, it is in English (for the most part at least). But to be completely honest, if we weren’t told beforehand that it was sung in English, we really wouldn’t know. Jónsi’s thick Icelandic accent combined with his unique singing style masks most of the English, apart from a few words (like the beginning of ‘Animal Arithmetic’). And if you look closely, you can still see hints of the Sigur Rós sound, in the songs ‘Tornado’ and ‘Hengliás’. While these comparisons lean more towards the latest Sigur Rós album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, an album some fans saw as the ‘commercialisation’ of Sigur Rós (yeah, as if that could ever happen), Go is appealing in its own way.

Stunning orchestral arrangements with layers upon layers of lush strings and harmonised vocals feature heavily throughout the album. Each song is beautifully composed, swelling to high crescendos and taking it back a notch all at the right times. It’s interesting to finally be able to understand the lyrics as well. Mostly positive, focusing on enjoying life and the beauty of the world – the chorus to album opener and first single ‘Go Do’ is “we should always know that we can do anything”. Go also stresses Jónsi’s worth as a singer. It was no secret that he was a good singer with Sigur Rós, but in those albums his voice was treated more like another instrument. Here we hear him sing in a different register, actually hear and understand the melodies, the hooks, rather than just being another noise.

Dividing as Go may be, it could easily be one of the best releases we see all year. Of course it’s hard not to draw comparisons to Sigur Rós, but this album is different enough for it not to be a Sigur Rós album but still similar enough for us to recognise familiar territory. The beauty in the lyrics and the wonderful composition in each song makes the entire album enjoyable to listen to. A completely uplifting and infectious album.

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Oh my god – there are so many albums set to come out this year, especially in the next six months!

Matthew Cooper, aka ambient recording artist Eluvium has a new album coming out at the end of February called Similes. It’s been three years since Cooper released anything under this alias, so this is definitely one to look forward to.

English singer-songwriter Laura Marling is supposed to release two albums this year apparently, with this first entitled I Speak Because I Can coming out late February/early March. After that she’ll be heading straight back into the studio for another album to be ready by September.

Sigur Ros frontman Jonsi is releasing his first solo album, entitled Go on March 23. It’s supposedly going to be a bit of a step away from Sigur Ros’ post rock style, being largely acoustic and featuring string arrangements.

Music act Evelyn Evelyn consisting of Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley will release their first full length studio album on March 30, following the success of their Elephant Elephant EP in 2007.

MGMT will release their second album Congratulations on April 12 and is rumoured to have quite a few guest appearances.

Just recently, The National announced that they would be releasing a new album this year, a follow up to their extremely successful 2007 release The Boxer. Details of the new album are yet to be confirmed, but we know that it’s set for release in May.

Canadians Broken Social Scene, The New Pornographers and Arcade Fire are all set to release albums in May. The new Arcade Fire release is easily one of the most anticipated albums of the year, due to the phenomenal success of their previous two albums.

But possibly the biggest surprise will be the resurrection of Conor Oberst’s alter ego Bright Eyes. He’s supposedly releasing one more album as the ‘band’ before he officially retires the project to focus on his solo work and his latest band Monsters of Folk. The album is set for a fall release in the States.

Other rumoured releases include Nick Cave’s other project, Grinderman, as well as of Montreal, and Fleet Foxes. Lots to look forward this year…and it’s barely even begun!

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