Song of the Day: Moses Hightower – Sjáum hvað setur

photo by Matthías Árni Ingimarsson

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. This week, we spotlight Icelandic artists in anticipation of KEXP’s broadcast from Iceland Airwaves next week. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Sjáum hvað setur” by Moses Hightower from the 2012 album Önnur Mósebók on Records Records.

Moses Hightower – Sjáum hvað setur (MP3)

Icelandic yacht rock? Yes! Really smooth music is an undeniable influence on the Icelandic band inexplicably named for the character played by the late Bubba Smith in the Police Academy movie series. Drawing on generations before them, Moses Hightower mix a potent cocktail of 70’s and 80’s jazz, funk and rock with twists of 60’s bossa nova and psych rock.
Their 2011 debut (and 2010 single of the same name) Búum til börn — or “Let’s make babies” — first captured the lounge-y grooves that their 2012 LP, Önnur Mósebók, roughly “another Moses book,” elevates with higher production and truly soulful jams. Today’s featured song, “Sjáum hvað setur,” which translates to “Let’s see how it goes,” highlights the album’s chill vibe. Singer/keyboardist Steingrímur Karl Teague opens with trademark Rhodes that breaks into a funky tune punctuated by drummer Magnús Trygvason Eliassen (also of Sin Fang, Amiina, Tilbury, Mr. Silla and many others) held aloft by bassist/singer Andri Ólafsson and guitarist Daníel Friðrik Böðvarsson. Melodies on Önnur Mósebók drift like tropical breezes, kick back seedy after parties or shake every rump in the house, often in the same songs, which never seem dated or stale. You’ll find yourself thinking of Kings of Convenience as much as Steely Dan and of Super Furry Animals alongside Prince.

Despite the new album’s high standing on the Icelandic charts, Moses Hightower are unfortunately not scheduled to perform at Iceland Airwaves in an official capacity this year, but you can pick up the album online on Gogoyoko, find out more about them on their website and follow them on Facebook. For now, here’s the band performing “Háa c” at an Icelandic telethon last month:

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