I still remember the first time that I heard about Sigur Ros. I had read an article about them in NME and was immediately intrigued by this new Icelandic band that looked sort of like Radiohead. I decided then that they would be one of my new favorite bands. I put a picture of them on my wall at work before I had even ever heard them. I had no idea what an affect they would actually end up having on my life. They were described as a little bit experimental and a little bit classical. They were maybe a mix of a band like Radiohead and a band like Slowdive. Ethereal and dreamy and shoegazey. Exactly the kind of band that I could easily fall in love with. The first thing I picked up from them was the single for Svefn-g-englar in 1999. I couldn't really pronounce the name of the band or the single. But Sigur Ros easily and quickly became my new favorite band. They are even to this day sort of hard to explain. I often try and explain them to people and find it easier to just make them listen to it. Much like an artist like Bjork, you quickly will discover if you hate them or love them. There is really no in between. Jonsi Birgisson really has a magical voice. There is really nothing that I have ever heard before that sounds anything like it. Sort of like Elizabeth Frasier from the Cocteau Twins. You just hear it and can't help but be impacted by the power of the voice. The music of Sigur Ros is also really fantastic. With the combination of the music and that magical voice, these Sigur Ros albums are easily some of my favorites.
Agaetis Byrjun came out right after the single and was really hard to find in stores for a while. The album went through a couple labels and distributors but I think anyone who found it also soon fell in love. I later found their real first album "Von" which was also reissued years later. "()" came out in 2002 followed by "Takk" in 2005. Both these albums are fantastic. The band can really do no wrong. I have seen them about 4 times. Each of these show I hold up as some of my favorite shows. I might sound like I am giving them a bit too much praise. But I really do love this band and just can't stop saying it. I saw them at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Gillian Anderson from the X-Files was up in the private balcony reserved for celebrities and friends of the Fillmore. I sort of remember yelling out "Scully" in the middle of the show. I was of course much younger back then. I then saw them at some fancy auditorium on Wilshire in L.A. after I had just moved down there. Both these shows were amazing. But for the Takk tour I saw them in Oakland at the Paramount Theater. I can't really think of a more beautiful place to see them. I had heard wonderful things about the Paramount but had never been there until a week or so before the Sigur Ros show. I had actually just seen an amazing Dead Can Dance show there. Which is sort of weird since a "best of" Lisa Gerrard CD is finally coming out domestically today as well. But this show was the best of the Sigur Ros shows that I had seen. They played some of the songs behind a screen and had amazing visuals during the whole show.
I have to admit that I don't really like live albums all that much. I love seeing music live and love listening to albums more than anything. But if I am going to hear live music I would rather just actually be there listening to it live. But Sigur Ros is different than your normal band. Hearing them live is a different experience than just listening to the album. This new album out today is not just a live album though. It is a two part album called "Hvarf/Heim." It comes in a beautiful cardboard box with a slipcase. I actually don't think that I have ever seen an album packaged like this before. It is a 3 panel case with one CD on one side and the other CD on the other side. Brilliant as always. Heima will be released in a couple of weeks on DVD. This is a live tour documentary sort of film. It captures them on this last tour. They played a bunch of free shows in Iceland in all sorts of weird places and filmed it all for this movie. I am sure it will be amazing. I really can't wait. But this CD will help us while we wait. The first disc "Hvarf" features new recordings of "lost" songs. Hvarf translates into either disappeared or haven. The songs are Salka, Hljomalind, and I Gaer which were never on any albums before. It also includes completely different version of Von and Hafsol. The second disc is called "Heim." Which translates into home. This second disc includes live acoustic versions of songs from all four of the Sigur Ros albums. These were all recorded in Iceland for the film documentary. The songs are Untitled 1 and Untitled 3, Agaetis Byrjun, Heysatan, Staralfur, and Von. Both discs sound amazing. I can only imagine how great this film is going to be. There are setting up screenings around the country close to the street date of the DVD. It won't be the same as actually seeing them live. But seeing this new film up on the big screen will be almost as good. I can't wait. I can never really get enough Sigur Ros.
Here is a trailer for the film "Heima"...
also out today...
"Best of Lisa Gerrard" by Lisa Gerrard
"Archive Vol. 1: Live at the Avalon Ballroom 1969" by Gram Parsons with the Flying Burrito Brothers
"Little Kingdom" by Citay
"American Gangster" by Jay-Z