Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 2012: #1 Of Monsters And Men “Little talks”

<< #2

What is it with Iceland, this tiny island country with a population hovering between 300,000 and 400,000, that keeps producing not just talented, but groundbreaking musicians? Is it something in the volcanic ash or all those dang waterfalls? First, it was The Sugarcubes and Björk in the late 80s, followed by Múm and Sigur Rós in the late 90s, and then, in 2012, Of Monsters And Men were suddenly the darlings of the indie rock world.

The group formed in 2010 when singer/songwriter, Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir decided to flesh out her sound with a full band and flesh it out she did. By the time they were signed to Record Records in 2011, they were up to six members and typically added a couple more on stage for good measure when performing live. Their debut album, “My head is an animal”, was actually released in 2011 in their home country but it wasn’t long before they were generating buzz outside the small island’s borders, mostly on the back of the song that is the reason for today’s post. I’ve included “Little talks” as my number one favourite song of 2012 (despite being released the year before) because this is the year it was officially released in North America and just a few months earlier was when I came across them and quickly fell for them.

I actually have work colleague, Jean-Pierre, to thank for turning me on to Of Monsters And Men*. He mentioned their band name one day as we passed each other in the office hallway, as we were wont to do, back when we were actually working in the office. Indeed, we often shared the names of bands and especially, the names of songs to which we were currently listening and typically, name dropped other band names as points of reference. In this case, The Decemberists and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros set off alarm bells in my head so I made a mental note and set about investigating later that night.

As I already hinted above, “Little talks” generated tons of buzz with the indie hipsters, on the net, in blogs everywhere, and on college radio. And with very good reason. “Little talks” is one of the catchiest pieces of pop gemstones that you might ever hear. It definitely benefitted from the surge of interest at the time in indie-folk music, mostly generated by bands like The Decemberists, The Lumineers, and Mumford And Sons. “Little talks” shared some of the qualities of these types of acts (“Hey!”) but the female/male vocal interplay also had me drawing comparisons to The Beautiful South and the varied instruments and big sound was reminiscent of Arcade Fire.

It’s a beautiful, whimsical, and uplifting song. It’s happiness. It’s magical. It’s timeless. It’s love.

“Though the truth may vary
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore”

Amen.

*Although, given how big they became, I’m pretty certain I may have noticed them eventually.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2012 list, click here

Categories
Live music galleries

Live music galleries: Of Monsters and Men [2012]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir of Of Monsters and Men

Artist: Of Monsters and Men
When: August 3rd, 2012
Where: Green stage, Osheaga Music and Arts Festival, Montreal
Context: When festival organizers scheduled Of Monsters and Men for the relatively small Green stage in the middle of the afternoon, they hadn’t really broken yet. By the time the festival rolled around, though, “Little talks” was pretty huge and the Icelandic indie folk collective drew a massive crowd, probably bigger than should have fit in that space. I had already been at that stage for a couple of sets and so had a pretty prime spot right near the front. The band was still pretty green and they were still finding their stage feet but the energy from the both the crowd and band was just awesome.
Point of reference song:
“Little talks”

Of Monsters and Men at Osheaga 2012
The other half of the stage for Of Monsters and Men, Osheaga 2012
Ragnar Þórhallsson of Of Monsters and Men
Brynjar Leifsson of Of Monsters and Men
Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson of Of Monsters and Men
Ragnhildur Gunnarsdóttir and Árni Guðjónsson of Of Monsters and Men
Kristján Páll Kristjánsson of Of Monsters and Men
Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson of Of Monsters and Men

*I started taking tons of photos at concerts in the days of my old blog, Music Insanity. I actually took down that blog in part because I was spending far too much time at shows taking pictures and jotting down notes for reviews and I wasn’t enjoying the music experience enough. Nowadays, I try to take to some good shots during the first few minutes and for the most part, put my camera and phone away for the rest of the set.

Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: Of Monsters And Men “My head is an animal”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Of Monsters And Men
Album Title: My head is an animal
Year released: 2011 (2012 in North America)
Details: Pink vinyl, 2 x LP, Gatefold

The skinny: The Icelandic indie pop/indie folk sextet scored a smash hit with this, their debut album, mostly on the back of the monstrous single, “Little talks” (see below). Their big sound, based on grand instrumentation and gang vocals, is infectious stuff and album is sold from side to side to side to side.

Standout track: “Little talks”