While still in college, guitarists John Helps and Robin Southby formed the instrumental outfit Maybeshewill more than a decade ago in the East Midlands of England. The lineup has changed over the years—James Collins (drums), Jamie Ward (bass) and Matthew Daly (keys) round out the group—but the band still deftly mixes electronic samples with live instrumentation into their own unique sound. Maybeshewill (above, doing “Co-Conspirators”) have been compared to Sigur Rós, and following the group’s most recent release, 2014’s Fair Youth (stream it below), DIY magazine noted that “Maybeshewill have never sounded better.” Find out just how great they sound in person when Maybeshewill play The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night. Driftoff, a local four-piece, open the show.
Tag Archives: Sigur Ros
Ásgeir – Mercury Lounge – June 19, 2014
There’s something about the far off environs of Iceland that gives birth to unique musical voices. Everyone knows Björk and Sigur Rós, and soon they will know the name Ásgeir Trausti. With one out of 10 people in Iceland owning his first album, he is already well known in his home country and is ready to conquer the States. The English translation of his debut album, Dýrð í dauðaþögn (renamed In the Silence) was translated with the American singer John Grant and released earlier this year.
Donning a trucker hat, Ásgeir ascended to the cozy stage of a sold-out Mercury Lounge. Icelandic folk music preluded the start of the show, however Trausti began his set with the English tune “Head in the Snow.” There’s something interesting about hearing songs in which you don’t know the lyrics or the meaning behind them. As he sang the pair “Leyndarmál” and “Sumargestur,” thoughts of what they might be about tickled my brain. Was it a ballad for an unrequited love or a song about homesickness for the beauty of his home? Only the Icelandic speakers would know, but the mystery is almost alluringly fitting for the language so steeped in a far-off land.
Weaving between his native tongue and English throughout the performance, Trausti made sure to offer several mid-set treats with a debut of a new song, “Ocean,” drenched in reverb, and a cover of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box.” The latter was a drawn-out version of the original that reminded me more of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” than of Kurt Cobain’s grunge masterpiece. Trausti managed to play most of his debut album, which included an acoustic rendition of “Summer Guest,” plus fan-favorites “Higher,” “Going Home” and “King and Cross.” For the final song, Trausti admitted that it was “a strange moment” as his band—consisting of his producer, his big brother, the album’s lyricist, and a drummer—couldn’t exit the small stage as he concluded the night with the lullaby “On That Day.” But there’s no doubting the family onstage and the magical evening they produced for the New York City crowd. —Sharlene Chiu
Alex Frenkel, Mike Gordon, Alex Marans, Gabe Garzón-Montano and Owen Murphy knew one another from playing in different Brooklyn bands in Buswhick when they decided to make a go of it together as Gospels. Now they live, practice and record all beneath one roof in a house in Forest Hills. They’re influenced by the likes of New Wave, Detroit soul and a little bit of folk. And according to AmazingRadio, “Their sound is refreshing and optimistic, a lot like the band themselves. It’s hard to describe their sound, but if pushed one might compare them to a brighter, lighter and less ambient Sigur Rós
or Mogwai.” Gospels are currently working on their debut EP, and you can see them tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge.
As Glasser, singer-songwriter-producer Cameron Mesirow makes dreamy, folk-tinged synth pop that’s earned her comparisons to the Cocteau Twins and even Joni Mitchell. Her debut full-length, Ring, was released to a fair amount of acclaim in 2010. In grading it an A-, the A.V. Club said, “It’s an ambitious, perhaps even hypercompositional debut, one whose strange beauty demands attention.” Glasser (above, doing “Treasury of We”) then took those tunes on the road, touring with the xx and Sigur Rós. But now she’s back with her recently released sophomore effort, Interiors (stream it below). It’s a more personal album—dealing with love and anxiety—about which NME notes: “Mesirow is in confident control of an inviting world that’s all her own.” See her, along with a stacked lineup of Kelela, Empress Of, Kirin Callinan and Lil’ Jabba, tonight at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Tags: Cameron Mesirow, Cocteau Twins, Empress Of, Glasser, Interiors, Joni Mitchell, Kelela, Kirin Callinan, Lil’ Jabba, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Preview, Ring, Sigur Ros, the XX, Video
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Sigur Rós – Madison Square Garden – March 25, 2013
Sigur Rós do big things well. Their sound and all the feelings it evokes can feel magnificently infinite. They make songs that fit well alongside wide-angle shots of earthly spectacles, space and fast-moving time lapses. It’s a limitless sound that needs a giant venue to fill, so it only makes sense for it to live, for at least a night, in Madison Square Garden, an arena usually devoted to basketball, hockey and two guys punching each other in the face. And it only took two songs into last night’s set to realize that you were there.
Sigur Rós began the show performing behind a box of screens, projecting their shape-shifting silhouettes against colorful visuals that looked something like the Northern Lights. For the violent-sounding guitar drones at the beginning of “Ný Batterí,” the only member visible was the outline of Jónsi Birgisson, sawing away at his wailing guitar with a violin bow. The song continued to crescendo into what felt like a breaking point, when the front screen dropped down to reveal the entire band. The most intense moments were more than just loud to the ears: The swirling visuals behind the band upped the intensity alongside the increased sound. Volume alone would get so loud that the air became thick with vibrations to the point that it felt like you could reach out and touch it.
But the night included plenty of beautiful, softer moments as well, and just hearing Birgisson’s ethereal voice fill the venue was alone worth the price of admission. At one point he held his breathy falsetto through three different rounds of ovations, magically finding the air in his lungs to hold the hanging note. It wasn’t until the long set of applause at the show’s conclusion that it really kicked in just how many people were in attendance. And in the end, that the crowd’s cheers were anywhere near the mega sound of Sigur Rós’s set proved just how much the show was appreciated. —Dan Rickershauser
Jónsi Briggson (vocals and guitar) and Georg Hólm (bass) formed the ambient post-rock band Sigur Rós with a third member—who’s since been replaced by Orri Páll Dýrason (drums)—almost 20 years ago. They originally signed with Bad Taste, owned by the Sugarcubes, another Icelandic band. And the Reykjavík dream-pop group’s first taste of international acclaim came with the release of their second album, the strings- and falsetto-filled Ágætis Byrjun, thanks in part to word of mouth and Internet hype. Despite continuing to release new music and tour the world, Sigur Rós took a brief hiatus to have some family time and to work on solo projects. That time apart served them well, though, because they’ve since returned with a vengeance and a new album, last year’s abstract, majestic Valtari (stream it below), their sixth. They play Madison Square Garden on Monday night with an 11-piece band. Trust us: This will be a spectacle you won’t want to miss.
Tags: Ágætis Byrjun, Bad Taste, Georg Hólm, Jónsi Briggson, Madison Square Garden, Orri Páll Dýrason, Preview, Sigur Ros, the Sugarcubes, Valtari, Video
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Electro-rockers Breton got started as a multimedia artist collective, making films, remixing the likes of Tricky and the Temper Trap, and playing music out of their headquarters, a repurposed bank dubbed Breton Labs (presumably named after André Breton). But when their music got plenty of positive feedback, the five-piece began to take it even more seriously, recording and releasing several EPs, which eventually led to a trip to Sigur Rós’ studio, Sundlaugin, in Iceland to record their debut LP, Other People’s Problems. The self-produced album has elements of pop, electronica and hip-hop, and BBC Music says it “deserves to take them to a new height of recognition: It’s a superbly accessible set, and distinctive of design too.” Along with the Big Sleep and Ambassadors, Breton (above, doing “Edward the Confessor”) play The Bowery Ballroom tonight.
Tags: Ambassadors, André Breton, Bowery Ballroom, Breton, Other People’s Problems, Preview, Sigur Ros, Sundlaugin, the Big Sleep, The Temper Trap, Tricky, Video
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Sigur Rós – Celebrate Brooklyn – July 31, 2012
With a threat of storms last night in Brooklyn, whether the weather would hold up didn’t seem to be on the minds of those at the Prospect Park Bandshell to witness a band’s long-awaited return to New York City. But one thing was collectively understood: One storm or another was coming. And if any band is suitable to experience through inclement weather, it’s the Icelandic quartet Sigur Rós, whose musical style and procedure almost trace that of a storm itself—beginning quietly, with a stirring or a rumble and gradually, almost unnoticeably, growing into something hovering all around you, cloudy darkness and mixed with light.
And then there’s the downpour, the lightning, the wind and the thunder. Sigur Rós has made this form of dramatic arrangement their trademark, with their mood conjuring the atmosphere of their mysterious homeland and lending them a power of captivation that few bands have ever had. In a manner similar to Mogwai’s, Sigur Rós’s music has always managed to convey a deeply rooted connection to the grand and haunting surroundings of their country, in turn transporting the audience there, or at least afforded them the feeling of escaping somewhere for an evening.
Prospect Park proved to be the ideal grounds for this experience. The evening unfolded almost like an opera, with each song developing like an act with its own special climax, including “Glosoli,” “Festival,” “Svefn-g-englar” and new-album standout “Valtari,” which were all wonderfully deliberate in their development. As they have done so many times before, Sigur Rós extended an invitation to a strange and beautiful world, and all were swept away. —Charles Steinberg
Tags: Celebrate Brooklyn, Georg Hólm, Jón Þór Birgisson, Kjartan Sveinsson, Mogwai, Orri Páll Dýrason, Photos, Prospect Park Bandshell, Sigur Ros, Valtari
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Jón Thor Birgisson is the longtime singer-guitarist of the post-rock Icelandic band Sigur Rós. But after putting out five albums of atmospheric music with that group, he decided to take on the name Jónsi (although he’d previously used it on Riceboy Sleeps, a collaboration with his boyfriend, Alex Somers) and strike out on his own. His debut solo album, Go, was released a month ago, and it features, lighter, happier music than what Sigur Rós is known for. And with a new album comes a new tour, and the U.S. leg concludes this weekend when Jónsi (above, performing “Sinking Friendships”) plays Terminal 5 on Saturday, which is sold out, and Sunday.