Jack White

The best of Lollapalooza 2012 (in photos), Day 3

Maybe it was the joy of catching At the Drive-In, where we saw actual people in band T-shirts at a music festival, but of this year’s action in Grant Park, Sunday most felt like the festival’s original incarnation (still spliced with a raging dance party, of course).

Lollapalooza 2012

ALARM’s must-see sets for Lollapalooza 2012

With the day’s first set, Lollapalooza 2012 officially begins at 11:30 AM CST — “bright and early” for professional rock bands.

We’ll be tweeting and posting to Facebook intermittently with our thoughts, and if you’re down at Grant Park too, let us know if you’re still alive. (Today’s high temp. will be in the low 90s with 50% humidity. Drink your bubble tea.)

Tonight’s festivities end with two of the billion bands to use “black” in their names — Black Sabbath and The Black Keys. Here’s our quick list of sets to catch:

Sigur Rós

Review: Sigur Rós’ Valtari

Sigur Rós: ValtariSigur Rós: Valtari (XL, 5/29/12)

“Ekki Múkk”

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Things haven’t looked good for Icelandic “post-rock” act Sigur Rós in recent years. In light of the front-man Jónsi’s well-received solo album Go and massive world tour, an “indefinite hiatus” looked more like an end. The band even scrapped an entire album that it recorded in 2009. Speculation about the band’s future has been intense: when it announced its sixth studio album, Valtari, rumors ranged from the overly optimistic (that it was one of two new albums) to the dire (that the quartet was splitting up for good).

The truth turned out to be a bit muddier. The band wasn’t breaking up, but multi-instrumentalist string arranger Kjartan Sveinsson was sitting out the forthcoming tour. In other news, the band is releasing a “mystery film” for each song — videos made by directors working independently of one another. As for Valtari, the band’s new album, it makes a statement of its own.

Record Store Day 2012

ALARM’s guide to Record Store Day 2012

Tomorrow is the third Saturday in April, which means that independent record stores across the world will face an influx of limited-edition vinyl, avid fans, and rabid audiophiles. With myriad releases hitting shelves, we’ve provided you with some of our most anticipated picks to make Saturday’s shopping (relatively) quick and painless.

Concert Photos: Ólafur Arnalds @ Chicago Cultural Center (Chicago, IL)

Just 24 years of age, Icelandic multi-instrumentalist and producer Ólafur Arnalds is known for bringing classical instrumentation together with programmed beats and loops. His music shifts from restrained piano balladry to soaring crescendos at the drop of a hat, and his ear for a dramatic melody has made him the composer of choice for many filmmakers, as well as a frequent collaborator with Sigur Rós. Arnalds stopped in Chicago on January 30, performing for free at the Chicago Cultural Center and again later that day at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The former was a mostly demure affair, resembling a traditional classical performance — until the thunderous drum beats kicked in.


Alash: Tuvan Throat Singers

With a layered, complex, and indigenous sound, Tuvan throat singers Alash sound like a mix between Tom Waits and a flock of swallows — all while inviting listeners back to their geographically diverse homeland.

100 Unheralded Albums from 2010

Among the thousands of under-appreciated or under-publicized albums that were released in 2010, hundreds became our favorites and were presented in ALARM and on AlarmPress.com. Of those, we pared down to 100 outstanding releases, leaving no genre unexplored in our list of this year’s overlooked gems.

Ólöf Arnalds

Pop Addict: Ólöf Arnalds’ Innundir Skinni

Every Thursday, Pop Addict presents infectious tunes from contemporary musicians across indie rock, pop, folk, electronica, and more.

Ólöf Arnalds

Ólöf Arnalds: Innundir Skinni (One Little Indian, 9/14/10)

Ólöf Arnalds: “Surrender”
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Icelandic singer and multi-instrumentalist Ólöf Arnalds has crafted an intimate and lovely sophomore record, Innundir Skinni, released on the London-based label One Little Indian. Arnalds, a touring member of Múm since 2003, follows up Við og Við – voted Iceland’s Record of the Year in 2007 – with nine songs produced by Sigur Rós keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Kjartan Sveinsson.

Classically trained on the violin and viola, and self-taught on the guitar and charango, Arnalds enlists the help of fellow Icelandic musicians Skúli Sverrisson, Davið Þór Jónsson, and Björk as well as Secret Chiefs 3 contributor Shahzad Ismaily.

Innundir Skinni – “Under the Skin” in English – is largely an album of balance, of the ebb and flow between quiet moments and orchestral bursts. It’s a calm yet affecting album, due in large part to Arnalds’ vocal charm. For the many instruments she plays, her most enchanting tool is her voice — at times folksy and melodic, at others high-pitched and lilting – drawing comparisons to Kate Bush and, in rare moments, Joanna Newsom. Yet her style, acutely Nordic, is distinctly her own.


Concert Photos: Jónsi @ the Vic

Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi has been touring tirelessly for the past year, playing songs from his first solo album, Go (XL). The live show has been acclaimed by critics far and wide, and with good reason: with design help from Fifty Nine Productions, it is an absolute spectacle. For those hoping to go behind the scenes and perhaps relive the magic, the forthcoming ALARM book Chromatic: The Crossroads of Color and Music details the tour from its inception to its first performance.

ALARM contributing photographer Samantha Hunter attended Jónsi’s recent show at the Vic in Chicago and captured the action — from costume changes to dramatic visual projections — in vivid color.



Jónsi tours, offers chance to win artwork

You know Jón þór Birgisson, or Jónsi, as the guitarist and vocalist for Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós, with trademarks such as his falsetto voice and use of cello bow on guitar, but the artist has set out on his own with debut album Go. The album, featuring nine songs drawn from material crafted during his time with Sigur Rós, is arranged in collaboration with classical composer Nico Muhly and exhibits album artwork by his sisters Inga and Lilja.