Live Footage: Imarhan Perform Album Single “Tamudre” in Upcoming Documentary on Taureg Life

Comprised of Iyad Moussa “Sadam” Ben Abderahmane, Tahar Khaldi, Hicham Bouhasse, Abdelkader Ourzig and Haiballah Akhamouk, the Tamanrasset, Algeria-based quintet Imarhan formed back in 2008 and are among a newer generation of Tuareg musicians, who have yet to fight in the conflicts that have devastated Saharan Africa over the past 3 or 4 decades. Interestingly, the band has been mentored by members of internationally renowned Tuareg collective Tinariwen, while developing a reputation across the Tuareg world and elsewhere for pairing the ancestral tamashek poetry and rhythms of their elders with the much more contemporary sounds that reflect their urban upbringings, listening to a wide variety of music from across the globe. 

With the 2016 release of the Algerian quintet’s critically applauded, self-titled debut album, they quickly became a buzz-worthy act with a growing internationally recognized profile that found them opening for a number internationally renowned touring acts including Kurt Vile, the aforementioned Tinariwen, Songhoy Blues and Mdou Moctor at venues across the US, the European Union and China. Building upon a growing profile, Imarhan’s forthcoming and highly-anticipated sophomore album Temet is slated for a February 23, 2018 release through City Slang Records — and the Patrick Votan and Eyadou Ag Leche-produced album derives its name from the Tamashek word for “connections,” which shouldn’t be surprising as the album reportedly is an urgent wake up call to the listener, meant to remind them that we are all deeply connected and without unity and understanding, that we will never be able to solve our world’s most urgent and pressing connections — i.e., environmental destruction, inequality, racism, growing strife and conflict, etc. As the band’s Ben Abderahmane said in press notes some time ago, “People should love each other. They need to know each other, we need to know each other, everyone should get to know their neighbor. We need to have the same approach as our elders,” he continues. “You will stumble across an old man who knows the world and will hand down his knowledge to his children.”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that the album’s first single “Azzaman” was a meditative, hypnotic yet subtly contemporary take on the region’s desert blues sound that nods at psych rock — while thematically the song focuses on the passing of time and the handing over of a heritage and traditions by each successive generation, and the importance of leaving the right legacy. But along with that, the song makes a point of connecting different cultures of mixing the old and the new in a sensible way. Temet’s second single “Tamudre” consists of a hypnotic and downright propulsive groove, punctuated with layers of percussion (both drumming and handclaps), call and response vocals and some impressive guitar work. Naturally, the song manages to remind me quite a bit of Tinariwen’s “Sustanaqqam” and “Adounia Ti Chidjret” but with a loose, bluesy vibe. 

As for the recently released live footage, the Parisian, independent filmmaker Vincent Moon set out of Algeria earlier this year, equipped only with a camera. ‘I never ever film with an object in mind,” Moon explains in press notes. “It’s more about letting it go and let[ting] the object materialize by itself. Interestingly, in this case, wound up being the members of Imarhan, who at the time, were in the middle of working on the material, which would comprise Temet. Moon followed the band for two weeks, documenting hours of music, conversations and pictures in Tamanrasset and within the neighboring mountain ranges, specially the Assekrem (Tamashak for “World’s End”) within the larger Hoggar Mountains in Southern Algeria. The end result is an hour-long documentary film Children of Tam, which is a portrait of the band and of the Tuareg people, capturing these proud people in their daily lives — and interesting enough, the documentary features live footage of the band performing album single “Tamudre” in their hometown. 

Throughout the bulk of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brooklyn-based JOVM post-punk mainstays NØMADS. And as you’d recall, the act which is primarily comprised of Nathan Lithow  (vocals, synths, bass) and Garth Macaleavey (drums) spent the better part of last year writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise PHØBIAC, a concept album in which each song focuses on a different phobia, approached in an abstract, almost clinical fashion. Naturally, the material captures and evokes the innermost thoughts and anxieties of someone in the grips of a deeply crippling fear; but at its core, is a cautionary message for our heightened and uncertain times — that whenever we succumb to the irrationality of our fears, chaos and self-destruction will be the result.

Throughout the course of 2017, the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstays have released a new single from the album every month, adding the band to a growing list of artists, who have experimented with how an album is packaged, arranged, marketed, publicized and sold in the blogosphere age. Interestingly enough, during the summer, the duo announced that they’d be splitting the full-length album into two separate EPs — the organic, punk rock-like PHØBIAC Part 1, which features Lithow collaborating with his bandmate Macaleavy and the synth-driven, prog rock-like PHØBIAC Part 2, which features Lithow collaborating with acclaimed drummer Brian Wolf, who has worked with David Byrne, St. Vincent and the legendary Dap Kings.

“Xenophøbia,” the jagged and tense, Entertainment!-era Gang of Four/Pink Flag-era Wire-like new single from NØMADS focuses on an all-too familiar fear that has dominated the news and the attention of the world — xenophobia, the fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners, as well as anything that is considered strange or foreign. Featuring the band’s original duo of Lithow and Macaleavy, the single’s lyrical perspective is that of an aging, tyrannical dictator, pounding his fists behind a podium and riling the fears and hatreds of a fervent, frothing mob while being a meditation on what it means to be an outsider — whether racially, religiously or culturally — in the internet age. But along with that, the song points at the chilling and increasingly fascistic turn our culture and government have taken since Trump has taken office, suggesting that we should be fearful of what could happen next and resist with every fiber of our beings.

 

Currently comprised of Kyle Morton (vocals, piano, guitar), Tony Tanabe (bass, vocals), Dave Hall (guitar, vocals), Shannon Steele (violin, vocals), Jef Hufnagel (violin, vocals), Pieter Hilton (drums, vocals), Alex Fitch (drums, vocals), Tyler Ferrin (horns, guitar, piano, vocals), Ryan McAlpin (trumpet, vocals), Eric Stipe (trumpet, vocals) and Devin Gallagher (percussion, ukelele, vocals), the 11 member Portland, OR-based indie act Typhoon has received attention for a sound that meshes elements of indie rock, baroque pop  and orchestral pop as their material is rooted around complex arrangements and lush orchestration, as well as a penchant for restless experimentation with various styles including classic sea shanties, Country and Western, Eastern European folk and others. And unsurprisingly, they’ve drawn comparisons to Frightened Rabbit, Bright Eyes, Beirut and Arcade Fire among others. Along with that, they’ve received attention for live sets that routinely feature 12 (or more) musicians performing on stage. However, with the release of Hunger & Thirst and A New Kind of House EP the collective’s material revealed an increasingly consistent sound paired with a greater attention on crafting a thematic through-line — with much of their material based around a preoccupation with mortality, based primarily around (and making references to) Morton’s childhood struggles with Lyme Disease.

Adding to a rapidly growing local and national profile, they’ve had their music appear on SyFy’s Being Human, NBC’s Chuck and the major motion picture Veronica Mars, and they’ve opened for the likes of The Thermals, Quasi, Yann Tiersen, Explosions in the Sky, The Decemberists, Belle and Sebastian and The Shins and have toured with Lady Lamb the Bee Keeper, Portugal, the Man and Grouplove. Thanks in part to the success of album single “The Honest Truth,” which was ranked #3 in Paste Magazine‘s Top 50 Songs of 2011 List, and 2013’s White Lighter, which reached #105 on the Billboard 200, #2 on the Heatseekers and was 37 on Paste’s Best Albums list, the members of the collective played sets at 2014’s Lollapalooza and Outside Lands.

After the release of 2015’s live album, Live at Crystal Ballroom, which features the band playing material from off Hunger & Thirst and White Lighter, Morton released his solo debut What Will Destroy You — and during that time, the members of the collective spent time working on the material, which would comprise their soon-to-be released fourth album Offerings. Thematically, the album is centered on a fictional man, who is losing his memory — and in turn, his sense of self.  “I’ve always been preoccupied with memory, losing memory, and trying to recapture memory. I wanted to explore the questions: What does a person become if they don’t know where they came from? What is the essential quality of the person if you strip away all memory?” explains singer/songwriter Kyle Morton in pres note

As the story goes, motivated by his own preoccupation with “losing it,” Morton was inspired by the films of David Lynch, Christopher Nolan’s Memento and Fellini’s 8 1/2, as well as several different books on his nightstand, including Samuel Beckett’s famed Three Novels — in particular, Malloy. “It made it a much darker album for sure,” Morton says in press notes.  Structurally, the album is divided into four different movements — Floodplains, Flood, Reckoning and Afterparty — meant to represent each of the four mental phases the main character goes through when he first realizes that something is wrong, then struggles through the chaos of his situation, and finally moves into acceptance before succumbing to a terrible and unimaginable fate.

Musically, the band evokes an impending doom and chaos that’s supposed to mirror the main character’s sense of fear and anxiety. And to set the set the tone, Morton and company decided to write the material with much more guitar than horns and string arrangements.  “I wanted it to be a darker, more intense rock record, so it’s very guitar-based. It’s going back to my rock roots before Typhoon,” says Morton. But along with that, the material parallels the contemporary world. “I was also reading historian Timothy Snyder and was inspired by his take on how America is at risk of losing their sense of history. If we haven’t learned the lessons of our past, historically, we can’t recognize when elements come back to haunt us, which is what’s happening right now,” Morton adds.

Interestingly, Offering‘s latest single “Darker” is from the album’s third movement, and as Morton explains, the song details some of the final stages of the album’s main character’s memory crisis in which he loses the critical distinctions separating self from other. And naturally all kinds of chaos and confusion ensue. And while the arrangement balances a hook laden arena rock friendliness with a sweeping, cinematic quality, it possesses a tense and creeping anxiousness of someone, who’s fully aware of something horrifying happening to them and that they’re utterly powerless to stop it — but along with that, there’s the strange recognition that whatever it was that it was happening to them is something they’d have a difficult time explaining to someone else. Personally, what makes the song interesting is that Morton as a songwriter has revealed himself to have a novelist’s attention to psychological detail, capturing the fractured thoughts and uncertain emotions of someone slowly losing it all.

 

The band will begin 2018 with a lengthy US and European tour, and it includes a January 27, 2018 stop at The Music Hall of Williamsburg. Check out the tour dates below.

 

 

TOUR DATES:
01.10 – URBAN LOUNGE – SALT LAKE CITY, UT (TICKETS)
01.12 – GOTHIC THEATRE – ENGLEWOOD, CO (TICKETS)
01.14 – THE WAITING ROOM – OMAHA, NE (TICKETS)
01.17 – TURF CLUB – SAINT PAUL, MN (TICKETS)
01.18 – MAJESTIC THEATER – MADISON, WI (TICKETS)
01.19 – THE METRO – CHICAGO, IL (TICKETS)
01.20 – EL CLUB – DETROIT, MI (TICKETS)
01.23 – LEE’S PALACE – TORONTO, ON (TICKETS)
01.25 – PARADISE ROCK CLUB – BOSTON, MA (TICKETS)
01.26 – UNION TRANSFER – PHILADELPHIA, PA (TICKETS)
01.27 – MUSIC HALL OF WILLIAMSBURG – BROOKLYN, NY (TICKETS)
01.31 – 9:30 CLUB – WASHINGTON, DC (TICKETS)
02.01 – CAT’S CRADLE – CARRBORO, NC (TICKETS)
02.02 – TERMINAL WEST – ATLANTA, GA (TICKETS)
02.03 – EXIT IN – NASHVILLE, TN (TICKETS)
02.06 – THE MOHAWK – AUSTIN, TX (TICKETS)
02.08 – THE CRESCENT BALLROOM – PHOENIX, AZ (TICKETS)
02.10 – MUSIC BOX – SAN DIEGO, CA (TICKETS)
02.11 – TERAGRAM BALLROOM – LOS ANGELES, CA (TICKETS)
02.13 – THE INDEPENDENT – SAN FRANCISCO, CA (TICKETS)
02.16 – THE CROCODILE – SEATTLE, WA (TICKETS)
02.23 – CRYSTAL BALLROOM – PORTLAND, OR (TICKETS)
02.24 – RICKSHAW THEATRE – VANCOUVER, BC (TICKETS)
02.28 – THE DEAF INSTITUTE – MANCHESTER, UK (TICKETS)
03.01 – BROADCAST – GLASGOW, UK (TICKETS)
03.02 – THE LEXINGTON – LONDON, UK (TICKETS)
03.07 – LE PETIT BAIN – PARIS, FRANCE (TICKETS)
03.08 – BOTANIQUE – BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (TICKETS)
03.09 – PARADISO – AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (TICKETS)
03.10 – KNUST – HAMBURG, GERMANY (TICKETS)
03.13 – VEGA – COPENHAGEN, DENMARK (TICKETS)
03.14 – MUSIK & FRIEDEN – BERLIN, GERMANY (TICKETS)
03.15 – FLUC – VIENNA, AUSTRIA (TICKETS)
03.16 – GARE DE LION – WIL, SWITZERLAND (TICKETS)
03.18 – ROYAL – BADEN, SWITZERLAND (TICKETS)
03.20 – ARTHEATER – COLOGNE, GERMANY (TICKETS)

New Video: Grieves’ Call to Celebrate and Live Life Urgently in Visuals for “A-Okay”

Benjamin Laub, best known in hip-hop circles as Grieves is a  Chicago, IL-born, Seattle, WA-based emcee, by way of New York, Colorado and San Diego, CA, who with the release of his first four full-length albums — 2007’s independently released album Irreversible, 2010’s Budo-produced 88 Keys & Counting, 2011’s Budo-produced Together/Apart, and 2014’s Winter & the Wolves — has managed to achieve critical and commercial success; in fact, 2011’s Together/Apart debuted at #112 on the Billboard Top 200, and 2014’s Winter & the Wolves debuted at #57 on the Billboard Top 200.

His Chords-produced fifth, full-length album Running Wild was released earlier this year through renowned indie hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment, the label home of JOVM mainstay Atmosphere and others, and if you had been frequenting this site around then, you’d recall that album single “What It Dew” found the Seattle-based emcee focusing on succeeding against all odds, despite haters and naysayers over a swaggering and soulful production consisting of electric guitar, boom bap beats, brief bursts of organ and swirling electronics. But underneath the swaggering and slick production and witty punchlines is a honest devotion to pure hip hop — i.e., dope production and dope emcee paired together. 

Running Wild’s latest single “A-Okay” features yet another soulful production consisting of stuttering drum programming, twinkling organ, a sinuous bass line and warm blasts of guitar paired with an infectious hook but at its core is a call to celebrate and live life with  urgency and passion as the song finds the renowned Seattle-based emcee essentially saying “life is short, and sometimes we gotta turn this motherfucker out and cherish the small things”  because ultimately, life is about the small things: the smile of a potential lover at the club or at the bar, the drinks and bullshitting about music, life and art with friends, listening to your favorite song on your headphones or at your favorite bar, etc. And as a result, the song manages to feel appreciative, as its narrator recognizes how truly blessed they are to be alive and in the moment. 

Directed by Ryan “Pants” Gross,” the recently released video for “A-Okay explores a series of carefree and fun situations through the eyes of a stereotypically miserable Debbie Downer type. As the renowned emcee comments, “Life is way too short to be mad at other people’s enjoyment. Go out and live a little, rent a hot tub boat, get your butt touched, whatever…Just smile!”

New Video: The Hazily Psychedelic Visuals for The Babe Rainbow’s “Monkey Disco”

Throughout the fall, I’ve written quite a bit about the up-and-coming Bryon Bay, Australia-based band The Babe Rainbow. And as you may recall, the act, which is comprised of Bryon Bay, Australia-born and-based founding members Jack “Cool-Breeze” and Angus Darling The Hothouse Flower with Venezuelan-born pianist Lu-Lu-Felix Domingo can trace their origins to when its founding duo started a songwriting partnership while in middle school; however The Babe Rainbow started in earnest in late 2015 when the founding duo met Venezuelan-born pianist Domingo while they were traveling in France.

The trio’s self-titled debut was produced by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Stu Mackenzie, and from album single “Johny Stays Cool,” the band specializes in lo-fi, off-kilter funk inspired by African Diaspora-like rhythms and breezy, Tropicalia-like melodies, while being reminiscent of The B52s. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Monkey Disco” finds the Australian band meshing sweaty, tribal house, Afropop, psych pop and lo-fi New Wave in a way that’s reminiscent of Fear of Music-era Talking Heads and Zonoscope-era Cut Copy, but while possessing an off-kilter, quirky quality. 

The recently released music video was written and directed by S.L.Kristofski and The Babe Rainbow in conjunction with the Y.P.S.M.C (Young People’s Society of Music for Chameleons) and features hazily lysergic imagery and vibrant colors — and much like the sounds that accompany it, it manages to be mischievously anachronistic. 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Soul Act Million Miles Returns with Visuals for Bittersweet and Swooning New Single

Paris-born, London-based singer/songwriter Sophie Baudry is the creative mastermind behind the up-and-coming soul project, Million Miles, and interestingly enough the project is the culmination of a life-long love affair with soul music. After studying at Boston’s renowned Berklee College and a stint working as a recording engineer and studio musician in New York, Baudry returned to London and felt an irresistible pull to create her own music inspired by likes of Ray Charles and Bill Withers.  

On an inspired whim, Baudry wound up in Nashville, TN. The French-born, British-based singer/songwriter spent her first few days in Nashville wandering, exploring and reaching out to strangers as though she were saying, “I’m new here and I’m a songwriter and i’m looking for people to collaborate with.” Baudry had chance meetings with local songwriters and producers Robin Eaton and Paul Eberson, and within an hour or so, they began writing material together. 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months, you may recall that Baudry’s Million Miles debut, Berry Hill EP was recorded over the course of a year during multiple sessions at Robin Eaton’s Berry Hill home studio. And the effort reportedly focuses on the journeys taken and lessons learned in the singer/songwriter’s life; in fact, EP single “Can’t Get Around A Broken Heart” revealed that Baudry specialized in an easy-going, effortless singer/songwriter/balladeer-based soul reminiscent of  Bill Withers and Sandra Rhodes’ sadly under-appreciated and seemingly forgotten debut Where’s Your Love Been. And much like Withers and Rhodes, Baudry revealed a rare ability to express joy and heartache within a turn of a phrase, just underneath the Sunday afternoon vibes.
The EP’s latest single “Love Like Yours” will further cement Baudry’s growing reputation for crafting easy-going yet deliberately crafted soul that while influenced by Bill Withers also manages to nod at early Erykah Badu and Jill Scott; however, whereas the previous single focused on crushing heartache, the EP’s latest single is the antithesis — or perhaps even the begging of the songwriter’s story, as the song’s narrator expresses joy and relief over finding — finally! — that profound love she’s been looking for. Of course, deep down, we all know the perverse irony in these sort of love songs — that love, like everything else isn’t forever, and that it can be as disappointing and frustrating. And yet, what would our lives be without that constant search, without those impermanent yet so important moments of joy? 

As Baudry explains of the video treatment, “We shot this video at home on a rainy day. I filmed footage on a trip to LA and loved projecting it on the wall at home when I was writing or recording, it’s really quite inspiring. The song has always been a favourite of mine as lyrically its quite personal and really reminiscent of a specific time in my life, so I wanted to keep that feeling throughout the video, keeping everything really intimate and what’s more intimate than home.”

 

New Video: New Video for Nicole Atkins’ Soulful “Darkness Gets So Quiet” Offers Playful and Intimate Look at the Musician’s Life

JOVM mainstay Nicole Atkins is a Neptune, New Jersey-born, Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who over the course of her recording career has developed a reputation for sound and songwriting approach that draws from 40s and 50s crooner pop, 60s psych rock and psych pop, soul music and Brill Building pop — with a number of critics comparing her and her sound to Roy Orbison and others. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site, you’d recall that Atkins has publicity cited many of the favorites of her parents’ record collection as being major influences on her, The Ronettes, Johnny Cash, The Beach Boys, Cass Elliot, and The Sundays‘ Harriet Wheeler among others. 

Atkins started playing piano when she turned nine, and she taught herself how to play guitar when she turned 13, and as the story goes, by the time she was attending St. Rose High School in nearby Belmar, NJ, she was playing in a number of pick-up bands and playing gigs in and around the local coffeehouse circuit. After graduating high school. Atkins attended the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, where she studied illustration and ingrained herself within the city’s independent music scene. And while in Charlotte, she began writing original songs and befriending a number of local musicians; in fact, she can claim a brief stint in Nitehawk, a local supergroup that at one point had close to 30 members. Atkins also was briefly a member of Los Parasols, with whom she released The Summer of Love EP in 2002. But by the end of that year, she had relocated to Brooklyn, where she began to be influenced by the Rainbow Quartz Records roster, and began writing songs more along the lines of Wilco and Roy Orbison.

In 2005, Atkins ran into keyboardist Dan Chen, who she had known from playing gigs together at The Sidewalk Cafe, and Chen approached her about starting a band together, a band, which eventually became Nicole Atkins and The Sea. 
During a residency at Piano’s, the band won the attention of music industry attorney Gillian Bar and quickly found themselves in a bidding war between several record labels before signing with Columbia Records in early 2006. A the end of that year, Atkins and her backing band went to Sweden — Varispeed Studios in Kalegrup, Sweden and Gula Studion in Malmo — to record their Tore Johansson-produced debut effort Neptune City, which was released in October 2007 as a critical and commercial success, debuting at number 20 on Billboard‘s Top Heatseekers Chart and reached number 6 on the Heatseekers Middle Atlantic Chart.

2011 saw the release of her critically applauded, Phil Palazzolo-produced sophomore effort Mondo Amore. Recorded at Brooklyn’s Seaside Lounge Studio, Atkins’ new backing band The Black Sea featured Irina Yalkowsky (guitar), Mike Graham (drums) and Jermey Kay (bass). Atkins and her backing band played that year’s SXSW and were named by Spin Magazine as “the best live band of the festival,” and Mondo Amore received attention from the The New York Times and Rolling Stone.

During the winter of 2012 Atkins returned to Malmo, Sweden to record her third full-length effort Slow Phaser with Tore Johansson. Released in February 2014 to critical applause, the album landed at number 143 on the Billboard 200 based on the strength of singles “Girl You Look Amazing” and “Who Killed the Moonlight?” Adding to a big 2014 Atkins appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, where she performed a new rendition of “War Torn” off her Live from the Masonic Temple, Detroit album, an album which was recorded while she toured as the opener for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Recoded at Fort Worth, TX‘s Niles City Sound, with a production team featuring Austin Jenkins, Josh Block and Chris Vivion and mixed by the Alabama Shakes‘ Ben Tanner, Atkins’ fourth album Goodnight Rhonda Lee marks two different things — the first being her first album in three years, the second being a marked sonic departure from her previous work. The album’s first single, co-written by Chris Issak, “A Little Crazy” was a delicate and soulful ballad that clearly nods to many of Atkins’ early influences — in particular, Roy Orbison with a hint of Patsy Cline. However, the album’s second single “Darkness Falls So Quiet” is a stomping and soulful track that nods at Dusty Springfield — and much like Springfield’s legendary work, Atkins’ vocals, which simultaneously express swaggering self-assuredness and aching loneliness are paired with a warm and soulful arrangement that features a gorgeous string section, twinkling keys and a Daptone Records-like horn section. And if weren’t for the subtly modern production, you may have mistaken the song for being released in 1963 or so. 

The recently released video for “Darkness Falls So Quiet” is comprised of intimate, black and white in-studio footage filmed at Niles City Sound, Fort Worth, TX that captures the both the magic and banality of the creative process in the studio, but along with that there’s live footage of Atkins and her backing band shot by WFUV, as well as iPhone footage of Atkins and her bandmates goofing off on the road. 

 

Initially begun as the recording project of Cincinnati, OH-based singer/songwriter and guitarist James Bishop, LIGHTWASH continues Bishop’s growing reputation for crafting jangling guitar pop that manages to be remarkably anachronistic — as though it could have been released in 1966, 1982 or just last week — and their latest single, the easy-going “Thunder” off their forthcoming full-length effort Half Hung manages to reveal a songwriter who walks a careful tightrope between effortless simplicity and deliberate attention to craft.

 

 

2017 has been a breakthrough year for the Reykjavik, Iceland-based indie rock/post-punk trio  Fufanu.. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of this past year, you’d recall that the band, currently comprised of founding members Kaktus Einarsson (vocals, guitar), whose father Einar was a member of The Sugarcaubes and Guðlaugur “Gulli” Einarsson (guitar, programming) (no relation, by the way) along with newest member, Erling Bang (drums) can trace their origins to when the band’s founding duo met while at school. And according to the band’s founding duo, Katkus had glanced at Gulli’s iTunes and noticed that they had listened to a lot of the same techno and electronic music. After quickly bonding over mutual interests, the duo went into a studio and began writing and recording electronic music under the name Captain Fufanu. Interestingly, within a month of their formation, Kaktus and Gulli had started playing shows in and around their hometown.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the duo went into the studio to record what would be their full-length debut as Captain Fufanu; but in a strange twist of fate, the studio where Kaktus and Gulli had recorded the album was burgled. Naturally, everyone involved in the process presumed the album was lost. While many bands would be devastated by losing their life’s work in such a shitty fashion, Kaktus and Gulli put a positive spin on the ordeal, viewing it as an opportunity to reinvent themselves and their sound, as they were developing a growing technical and musical prowess. Coincidentally, Kaktus Einarsson had been spending time in London working on Damon Albarn’s Everyday Robots and touring with the late and legendary Bobby Womack when he began writing lyrics. Simultaneously, Gulli had started to craft a completely revised sound, which according to Kaktus managed to convey exactly what he had been thinking and feeling at the time. The result was the duo pairing Kaktus’ brooding and ironically detached vocals with an arrangement that featured guitar, bass, drums, synths and other electronics. Armed with a new sound, the duo renamed the project Fufanu.

Fufanu’s first live set as Fufanu, with their new sound and material was at 2014’s Iceland Airwaves and they quickly became one of the most talked about bands of the entire festival. Right after the festival, they went into the studio to record their full-length debut, A Few More Days To Go, which was released to applause both nationally and internationally; in fact, with an even bigger profile, Fufanu toured with The Vaccines and others, and played some of Northern Europe’s and Scandinavia’s largest festivals, including the aforementioned Iceland Airwaves, JaJaJa Festival and others.

Released earlier this year, the band’s sophomore album Sports finds the band going through some significant changes — Kaktus and Gulli recruited Erling “Elli” Bang (drums) to further flesh their sound out, with the newly constituted trio refining their material’s sound and thematic concerns, represented through album title track  “Sports,” which retains the synth-driven sound of their debut while nodding at CanNeu!  Joy Division and early ’80s Peter Gabriel,  the slow-burning and moody  “Liability” and “White Pebbles.”  However, the highly buzzed about Icelandic trio begin the holiday season and close out the year, with “Top Of The Queens,” a track that was recorded during the Sports sessions and didn’t make the cut.

Of course, what makes an the release of a previously unreleased album track intriguing is the fact that they frequently give the listener — if they’re familiar with the album in question — some insight into the complex editorial decisions that comprise the making of an album. In some cases, you can immediately tell why a particular song wasn’t included — it just didn’t fit the tone and vibe of the album. In other cases, it’s not apparent. Sometimes, it’s a matter of a song floating around for a while and the band just is tired of the song or it’s an issue of not having a whole lot of time and something has to get cut — or a variety of other issues. Interestingly enough, “Top Of The Queens” manages to continue in a similar, anthemic hook-laden, synth-based rock vibe but it has a rougher, punk rock band in a dive bar edge to it.