Last night, I went to see a few films at The Roxie that were loosely based on post-punk. The last movie they showed was a surprise screening of "Rock In Reykjavik", which is a all-encompassing overview of the scene in Iceland circa 1980 or so. It was so cool and sort of alien to see this scene flourishing in the early 80's while still being so remote and cut off from the much of the punk world. My only complaint is that there was no indication of the band names anywhere in the film during their performances. I know for a fact that I witnessed a teenage Bjork singing beautifully while fronting her band TAPPI TIKARRASS, but who were those prepubescent mohawked kids that could barely play their instruments and waxed so poetically about huffing gas and glue? Who was that band all cramped together playing power-pop in a basement that was so cold that they were wearing parkas and you could see their breath? Who was that fucking group that had nausea inducing strobe lights blasting the audience as they cut the heads off of live chickens and threw their carcasses into the crowd?! I don't know! What I do know is that it was a pretty cool time capsule to watch and it was almost quaint how the punks politely sat in their seats and raised their fists while a punk band played. It all felt so distant, so remote and like a history I will never truly know.
Do you know how hard it is to press a record in Iceland? Well, first off, you can't get it pressed in the country because there are no pressing plants, so you have to ship it out to England or the US or somewhere else. You also have to fill out some annoying customs forms and then pay an exhorbitant amount of money on postage. So much money, in fact, that the postage costs more than actually pressing the record. By the time you finally get the record, you have to charge your friends and fans an outrageous amount of money to buy the thing. So, out of necessity, Icelandic bands still put out a fair amount of CD's, CD-R's and cassette tapes, which brings us to OFVITARNIR.
OFVITARNIR is a young indie-punk band out of Reykjavik that plays mid-tempo, somewhat downcast melodic rock and features some of the nicest people I could ever hope to meet from that town. They draw inspiration from American indie-punk, Danish garage rock and their own long history of Icelandic punk. One of my favorite songs on here is "O O O O", a melodic, laid-back garage rock song with a distant backing vocal that reminds me of PJ BONNEMAN in the best way. Members of this band also run a label out of Reykjavik called PBP (I'm not even gonna attempt to actually spell the name on this US keyboard) that puts out cassettes and CD's by local bands. They also set up punk shows and keep up the struggle to find viable all-ages venues in their town. If you're ever in Iceland, be sure to hit them up for the good record store and cheap pizza. Here is a link to their record label.
I just wanted to add that I visited Reykjavik in May and stayed with 2/3's of this band in their small apartment with their nice cats. That country, while I saw a small fraction of it, is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been in my life. Expensive, but insanely beautiful. I highly recommend going to visit if you ever get a chance.
...and no, I didn't see Bjork.