Three Norwegian names were picked for Iceland Airwaves this year – we explore the reasons behind these choices.

HighasaKite, Hanne Kolstø and Philco Fiction.

These are Norwegian bands that were considered the most appropriate for this year’s Iceland Airwaves. Are these three the best names Norway can offer at the moment? Probably not, but there are plenty of reasons to not miss out.

HighasaKite is the obvious one.

HighasaKite at Iceland Airwaves 2012 - Photo by Alexander Matukhno
HighasaKite at Iceland Airwaves 2012 – Photo by Alexander Matukhno

But for a damn good reason. Yes, Bon Iver likes them. But isn’t Bon Iver a little bit 2011 now?

I didn’t mean to say that. (Yes I did.)

Nevermind that. A lot of people like Highasakite, including myself, and I care more about myself than I care about Bon Iver. I care more about Highasakite than Bon Iver too, and just to top off that line of reasoning, I do in fact care a bit about Bon Iver as well.

And it’s not because HighasaKite is particularly original or fresh, because they’re not. They’re just solid. And even if Team Me has pretty much patented the Indian make-up and feathers, HighasaKite can do whatever they want as long as they give us music like this.

Maybe the fact that Team Me and HighasaKite use the same promotion manager, and that he has got some weird fetish for it, has got something to do with it – I don’t know.

All That Floats Will Rain is still one of last year’s most impressive debut albums from these shores. A handful of great tunes make you forget the occasional Lykke Li-similarity, and it makes you forget pretty much everything else too. It takes time though, but it’s a good investment.

Another perk is that after Highasakite in my iTunes library, comes Hilltop Hoods’ 2004 hit, The Nosebleed Section.

Really though, what’s not to love?

Hanne Kolstø is the underdog.

Hanne Kolstø at Iceland Airwaves 2012 – Photo by Rúnar Sigurður Sigurjónsson

Moving on up though. Her second solo offering is pure quality stuff, and even though she is one of many (even Norwegians) doing the whole loop-pedal thing, she is doing it with style.

We all love the underdog though, and in the movies the good ones always make it in the end. Like in horror movies where the virgins always survive. I don’t know whether Kolstø is a virgin, and I won’t speculate about that, but I guess we are in the music business here and not in some cheesy Hollywood-movie, so we’re safe.

Her second album, FlashBlack, arrived just about one year after her solo debut came at us. After making marks in ace, though overlooked bands such as Thelma & Clyde and Love:Fi before that, Kolstø had a minor free pass into our consciousness. If she continues to combine productivity like this, which she apparently intends on doing with this high quality, then, well – she is never ever going to disappear from our consciousness.

And just to make sure that I’m clear – I’m totally fine with that.

And just to keep a certain degree of consistency in this piece, I guess I could add that Happy Mondays comes after Hanne Kolstø in the iTunes library – definitely not a bad thing either.

Philco Fiction is the confusing one.

Philco Fiction at Iceland Airwaves 2012 – Photo by Alexander Matukhno

Yes, confusing. It’s been a while since a band has left me this unsettled. How can a band that makes smooth and delicate electropop like this have that effect?

If extreme quirkiness gets to you, you might want to tread carefully here. The thing is, though, you will fall for it one way or another. It’s going to be a love affair in one moment, and might fill you with hate in the next.

Well. Not hate. I just had to say that for effect. Smoothness can have an aggravating effect sometimes. Is it fair to say to a band “it’s not you it’s me”? If that’s OK, then it’s definitely me. But Philco Fiction, unlike most other electropop acts, belongs on stage more than they belong in the studio. That makes them even easier to love, too – I promise.

Oh, the contrasts. Isn’t that what it’s all about? It’s going to make you feel like you’re alive, at the very least. Philco Fiction is definitely a must-hear.

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