Óðmenn was a short-lived, four-piece Icelandic rock band. Two brothers founded the group in 1966 and it broke up a few years later when one of them went to university to study law. The group played clubs in Reykjavik and recorded a single album in Copenhagen. This is that album. The music is a local take on British blues-rock, merging into psyche-rock. It sits not only on the cusp of two decades, but also on the cusp of two sounds, the first a younger, grubbier percussive style and the second a more expansive guitar-rooted sound. Musically, it’s less incendiary than its foreign forebears. The liner notes explain that the Icelandic lyrics deal with socially divisive themes “like anti-war protest”, but the one English-language song is an affably-worded bit of uplift that asks all of us, “both black and white,” to “[live] together and not to fight.” How often did they get to exercise this interracial sentiment in 1960s Reykjavik, I wonder. Óðmenn features solid playing and songwriting all the way through, ending with a 20-minute zooming jam of a climax.
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// Notes from the Road
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