Album Review: Utopia by Björk


AlbumUtopia
Artist: Björk
Release Date: 24 November 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Arisen My Senses,” “Blissing Me,” “The Gate,” and “Tabula Rasa”
Thoughts: The latest release from Björk is a dense aural soundscape with the singer’s notable voice layered over musical instruments, electronic noises, and sound effects.  The first three songs are the strongest, with the rest of the album hard to differentiate, although I do like “Tabula Rasa” simply for the novelty of hearing Björk swearing like a sailor. The down tempo nature of the music combined with bird and whale calls makes it all feel like an elaborate nature sounds relaxation tape.  I miss how Björk would incorporate upbeat melodies and dance rhythms into her earlier recordings.  Nevertheless, if you like Björk, this is more of Björk being Björk, and than can never be a bad thing.
Rating: ***

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Music Discoveries: Guðbjörg Tómasdóttir’s Top 8 Albums


I’m switching things up this month. Instead of focusing on the musical output of one band or artist, I decided to listen to all the albums on a list of favorite albums from one artist.  That artist is Guðbjörg Tómasdóttir of the duo My Bubba, she being the Icelandic Bubba with her Swedish partner My Larsdotter.  My Bubba have appeared in my Song of the Week posts on two occasions for their tracks “Poem Found in the Pocket of an Amazon” and “Big Bad Good” and the latter song also made my favorite songs of 2016 list.

I found 7 of the 8 albums on streaming services. So here is my venture into Icelandic sometimes folkish, sometimes jazzy, often minimalist, and always vocal oriented popular music

 

ArtistBjörk Guðmundsdóttir & Tríó Guðmundar Ingólfssonar
AlbumGlíng-Gló (1990)
Favorite Tracks: “Kata rokkar,”  “Tondeleyo,”  and “Börnin við tjörnina”
Thoughts: I suspect this isn’t for everyone, but if you find the idea of Björk crooning jazz standards in her native tongue appealing, then this album is for you.
Rating: ***1/2


ArtistEmilíana Torrini
AlbumFisherman’s Woman (2005)
Favorite Tracks: “Nothing Brings Me Down,”  “Today Has Been OK”
Thoughts: If Björk’s voice doesn’t do it for you, Emilíana Torrini’s is more accessible, both ethereal and emotive.  Her style reminds me of the English folk  rock movement of the 1970s but these tracks are accompanied by minimalist guitar.
Rating: ***1/2


ArtistÓlöf Arnalds
AlbumVið Og Við (2007)
Favorite Tracks: “Í Nýju Húsi”
Thoughts: Troubadour-style performances of traditional Icelandic music.  Again, I’m reminded of the folk revival styles of the 60s & 70s, but in Icelandic.
Rating: ***


Artist: Sigurður Guðmundsson og Memfismafían
AlbumOft spurði ég mömmu (2008)
Favorite Tracks: “Lady Fish And Chips” and “Veðrið er herfilegt”
Thoughts: Another retro album described as “old Icelandic popular tunes,” but here “old” sounds like pop songs of the 30s to 50s.  And it’s pretty clear that one of them is “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” which sounds more sexy than creepy in Icelandic.  I can’t find anything on the web about this album in English, but the vocalist has a Frank Sinatra vibe, and the whole album swings.
Rating: ***1/2


ArtistMúgíson 
AlbumHaglél (2011)
Thoughts: This album apparently resonated strongly with the people of Iceland, but I’m not as impressed.  Of course, I know nothing of the lyrics, but musically it sounds like 70s pop songs with maybe a little 90s angst.
Rating: **


ArtistValdimar 
AlbumUndraland (2010)
Favorite Tracks:
Thoughts: Cheerful indie pop. The brass section moves this from mundane to a bit interesting.
Rating:**1/2


Artistamiina
AlbumFantômas (2016)
Favorite Tracks: “Simplon Express” and “Entrepots de Bercy”
Thoughts: This was composed as a score for a 100-year-old silent film, and it’s a beautiful work of minimalist post-rock.  Definitely worth listening to if that’s your bag.
Rating:  ****

 

That’s my music discovery for the month, let me know if there’s something I should be listening to in May by leaving a comment!

Ten Favorite Songs of 1995


The project continues with my favorite songs of 1995.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

I graduate from college, get a job, and my musical tastes apparently become more obscure.  There are two folk songs in this list with no music or video on the internet.

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Born Slippy – Underworld

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Decora –  Yo La Tengo

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Doin’ What I Like To Do – Sons Of The Never Wrong

[Cannot be found]

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Down From Above –  Moxy Früvous

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House of Pancake – Swirlies

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Hyper-Ballad –  Björk

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Natural One – Folk Implosion

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On We Go – Nancy McCallion

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Stories – Maura O’Connell

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This My Town– Eddie From Ohio

[Cannot be found]

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And my song of shame for 1995: Mouth – Merril Bainbridge

Ten Favorite Songs of 1993


The project continues with my favorite songs of 1993.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

We’re halfway through my life so far.

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Anthem – Leonard Cohen

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Big Time Sensuality – Björk 

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Cannonball – The Breeders

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The Crying Game – Boy George

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The Drinking Song – Moxy Früvous

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Eurotrash Girl– Cracker

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Girly Loop – Moonshake

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Give It Up – The Goodmen

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Hey Sandy – Polaris

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Laid –  James

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And my song of shame for 1993: Another Night by Real McCoy