Best Albums of 2015
selected by Steinar Fjeldsted

Agent Fresco<BR>“Destrier”

Agent Fresco

One thing you should know is that the reason why this fascinating album even exists is rather depressing. About three years ago, Agent Fresco’s lead singer, Arnór Dan, was attacked on the street by two strangers, and his head, both literally and metaphorically, got badly hurt.

After a long and rather miserable struggle to get back to balance, he found a way to channel the fears and anger caused by the disaster and its aftermath. He called it “Destrier”.

So while musically the new album from Agent Fresco collects the band’s countless inspirations into a gripping rock mixture, each sound also seems to have a certain story to tell. Certainly an example of how the worst can inspire the best.

♪♫ Listen: “Wait For Me” + album stream

Agent Fresco on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, www.

Bang Gang<BR>“The Wolves Are Whispering”

Bang Gang
“The Wolves Are Whispering”

More than 20 years into his career, Barði Jóhannsson still feels like a new artist. One of the reasons is that each new Bang Gang album comes after such a long break that it not only demonstrates Jóhannsson’s growth as an artist, but also comes in a totally new music context.

His fourth album released as Bang Gang, “The Wolves Are Whispering”, took 7 years to take the final shape. It shows Jóhannsson’s personal evolution, but also documents what’s been happening in the Icelandic scene with such acclaimed guests as Bloodgroup, Jófríður Ákadóttir of Samaris, or Keren Ann Zeidel from Jóhannsson’s other project, Lady & Bird.

And how about the music itself? Well, if you consider how many initiatives Jóhannsson’s has been involved during those years and how difficult it is to describe music these days (genre-wise), the best word to sum up this album would be “wide-ranging”. Or maybe just beautiful.

♪♫ Listen: “Silent Bite

Bang Gang on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, www.

Eldberg <BR>“Þar er heimur hugans”

“Þar er heimur hugans”

If you love the sound of Hammond organ, but have already heard all the worthwhile albums released in the 60s/70s, Eldberg might become your next favourite band.

“Þar er heimur hugans” is the quintet’s second album, a follow-up to their self-titled 2011 debut LP. It’s clear they are still in love with the atmosphere of the golden age of progressive rock. But as composers, they definitely know where (and when) they are.

The results of this artistic schizophrenia is a colourful combination of modern songwriting, Icelandic sensivity and a sound of the time bygone. A rare thing.

♪♫ Listen: “Næturljóð” + album stream

Eldberg on Bandcamp, Facebook, YouTube,

Fufanu <BR>“Few More Days To Go”

“Few More Days To Go”

It’s impressive how quickly this Icelandic group has gained attention of listeners and critics abroad, but also acclaimed musicians. In November, they toured Europe with John Grant. Earlier, they played as the supporting act of Damon Albarn.

The second suprise is how smoothly the inconspicuous techno duo of Kaktus Einarsson and Guðlaugur Einarsson – called Captain Fufanu at the time – evolved into a full-fledged rock quintet. Their debut album, “Few More Days To Go”, came out via One Little Indian and it’s a great addition to the label’s impressive roster already including ÁsgeirSamaris and Björk.

With this record, they managed to hit the spot for audiences as wide as fans of Disclosure, Interpol, Simple Minds, Roxy Music, and obviously – us.

♪♫ Listen: “Now

Fufanu on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, www.

Jón Ólafsson & Futuregrapher<BR>“Eitt”

Jón Ólafsson & Futuregrapher

Just like the album cover of their first collaboration, Jón Ólafsson and Árni Grétar’s quiet album “Eitt” is a meditative and rather melancholic piece of free-flowing music. Woven around Ólafsson’s delicate piano themes, Futuregrapher’s ambient textures seem to aim at silencing your thoughts, in order awaken your heart.

But what’s special about this project is that, unlike most works of this kind, “Eitt” is a dialogue. And both Ólafsson (with dozens of guests appearances in his long career) and Grétar (famous of remixes and helping other people find their own voice) know how to find a common language.

As a result, “Eitt” might be an intimate work, but never as introspective as you would expect judging by the cover or genre. Feel invited to join the conversation.

♪♫ Listen: “Myndir” + album stream

Jón Ólafsson on Facebook. Futuregrapher on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, www.

Lára Rúnars <BR>“Þel”

Lára Rúnars

If you find Lára Rúnars’ majestic synth-pop somehow familiar, you should know that she’s been around when this kind of melancholic yet somehow uplifting music was only becoming as omnipresent as it is now.

On her fifth album, Rúnars delivers ten perfect songs that let us enjoy both her songwriting talent and delicate voice, itself a sufficient reason to regularly come back to “Þel”, or “Core”.

Co-written by talented Icelandic songwriter, Ikorni, and accompanied by Rúnars’s live band, “Þel” is a fine example of why audiences around the world initially fell in love with Icelandic music, and why they never stopped listening.

♪♫ Listen: “Þel” + album stream

Lára Rúnars on on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, www.

Lily Of The Valley<BR>“Ghosts”

Lily Of The Valley

The debut album of Icelandic collective LOTV (short for Lily Of The Valley), “Ghosts” is one of the finest collections of folk/pop songs you could hear last year possibly not only in the Icelandic scene.

Based in Reykjavík and formed at the Airwaves festival three years ago – initially as a trio – the group has been gradually gaining new members to become a full-fledged sextet.

At the same time, they were writing material for this first LP, which as they declare was made “from the heart and with the heart”. And we should add: for the hearts.

♪♫ Listen: “Wildflower” + album stream

LOTV on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter.

Mr. Silla <BR>“Mr. Silla”

Mr. Silla
“Mr. Silla”

Contrary to what the nickname suggests, Mr. Silla is actually a monicker of a female singer-songwriter and producer Sigurlaug Gísladóttir, who you might know as a longtime voice of the beloved group múm.

This Reykjavík-based artist has also been working on her solo career. And finally, after long years of waiting, she released her self-titled debut album in October via 12 Tonar label.

Musically the album is filled with beautiful songwriting placed in the atmosphere of the 70s/80s electronica. But “Mr. Silla” also shows Gísladóttir trying to understand all the complications of human relationships. And just like in the impressive lead video, they often end up brutal.

♪♫ Listen: “Breathe

Mr. Silla on YouTube, Facebook.

Muck<BR>“Your Joyous Future”

“Your Joyous Future”

The sophomore album by Muck is like a shot of adrenaline. A juicy slab of post-hardcore mayhem that overwhelms with its raw fury from the very first seconds.

But it’s not just about sheer, visceral power. Muck develop each song with skill and poise, showcasing their respective strengths and giving each instrument a decent exposure without losing any of that manic energy.

“Your Joyous Future” is a very concise sonic assault, brutal and informed, comprising one of the standout albums in the genre.

♪♫ Listen: “My City” + album stream

Muck on Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

President Bongo<BR>“Serengeti”

President Bongo

Stephan Stephensen, a founding member of the renowned electronic group GusGus, left the band in 2015 – on its twentieth anniversary – to pursue a solo career. The direct result of this decision can be found in “Serengeti,” released under his DJ alias of President Bongo.

The music on the album puts a strong emphasis on the pulse, drawing on African polyrhythmic tradition but with a thoroughly experimental approach. There are a few references to minimal techno and house, particularly in the two longest tracks.

But Stephensen employs a broad range of live instruments – from guitar, to accordion, string and reed sections, and of course the ubiquitous bongos – creating a fascinating sound that has no immediate counterpart in contemporary music.

♪♫ Listen:”Greco” + album stream

President Bongo on Soundcloud, Facebook, www.



Fourth album from the acclaimed electronic producer, Jóhann Ómarsson, who performs under the moniker Skurken. His music is reminiscent of artists like Boards of Canada or Arovane, embodying the softer side of classic IDM sound of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“Nónfjall” contains lots of atmospheric, glacial harmonies stretched over down- to mid-tempo beats, creating a colorful mosaic with a slightly melancholic and yet pleasantly warm vibe. Ómarsson certainly knows his craft, as each track on the album is a carefully constructed electronic microenvironment, perfected to its tiniest detail.

♪♫ Listen: “Mark” + album stream

Skurken on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp.

Úlfur Úlfur<BR>“Tvær Plánetur”

Úlfur Úlfur
“Tvær Plánetur”

Úlfur Úlfur is an unusual rap duo comprised of Helgi Sæmundur Guðmundsson and Arnar Freyr Frostason, both based in Reykjavík.

On “Tvær plánetur”, their sophomore release which follows “Föstudagurinn Langi” from 2011, they employ cool, restrained production, mixing laid-back beats and minimal synths to an outstanding effect.

Sometimes the music exhibits occasional electro-pop leanings, but its main appeal derives from the rapping, fully in Icelandic language, which contributes to the albums’s unique flow and vibe.

♪♫ Listen: “Brennum Allt (ft. Kött Grá Pje)

Úlfur Úlfur on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.