At KEXP, we go out of our way to help listeners discover new music, no matter where it might come from. In Seattle and the rest of the U.S., it’s fairly easy to encounter a wealth of great new bands as hundreds of CDs get sent to us every week. But in other countries, it’s much more challenging to find the bands that people will love — not so in Iceland, though. Go see any band playing in a club in Reykjavík and you’re likely to be blown away by the originality, skill and catchiness of what you hear. So, a small team of us packed our bags and took the direct flight to Iceland last month for the 2010 Iceland Airwaves festival. Not only were we able to record and broadcast 10 Icelandic bands during our live sessions from RÚV, the Icelandic national public radio station (you can check out videos from days one and two on the blog already), but we also scrambled from living room to practice space to recording studio to meet up with and record an additional dozen or more bands to bring back to our listeners.
In this first round of “home recordings,” we present the young multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer Ólafur Arnalds playing a creaky piano in his own apartment, the stunning and dynamic post-rock quartet For A Minor Reflection building from a gentle hum to an outlandish aural onslaught in their practice room behind an out-of-business modern furniture store, the folky collective called Of Monsters and Men playing immediately lovable songs that will be a big hit over here in the States, and the beautiful orchestral rock sounds of Rökkurró: