Band bursts from Icelandic forest

Amanda Nieto
Arts Editor

On Tuesday night at the Troubadour two members of the band Of Monsters and Men walked through the crowd and into their backstage dressing room without a single member of the sold out show noticing.

Unlike the way the two bandmates went by unnoticed, their hit single “Little Talks” has become so well known that many claimed love for the band after one listen.

Beverly Duncan is one such audience member who recently found Of Monsters and Men after her daughter showed her the “Little Talks” music video online.

“I haven’t enjoyed music like this in awhile,” Duncan said. “They have a whimsical energy.”

After winning Iceland’s yearly battle of the bands Músíktilraunir in 2010, the band was signed to record and release an album for their native home; however, once “Little Talks” made its way to American airwaves their popularity reached a new level.

The band consists of co-singer and guitarist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, co-singer and guitarist Ragnar ‘Raggi’ Þórhallson, guitarist Brynjar Leifsson, drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson, piano and accordion player Arni Guðjónsson and bassist Kristján Páll Kristjánsson.

The band began the set with “Dirty Paws,” which epitomizes their indie pop vibe and naturalistic lyrics that echo of a Grimm Brothers’ story.

It may have been the venue’s terrible acoustics or the multitude of teenagers that made up the crowd, but it was glaringly obvious that Of Monsters and Men has a high school garage-band feel.

However, as the night progressed it was likewise clear that they have a solid sound accompanied by even stronger lyrics, which is responsible for taking this band from their neighborhood gigs and carried them to far off places such as Los Angeles.

“From Finner,” a song off their EP “Into the Woods,” had the audience and band harmonizing with the lines “we came here on his back and we caught your eye. The salty ocean wind made the seagulls cry.”

The song has a combination of keyboard and accordion that adds a polka beat, and gives it a folk undertone.

Also characteristic of a high school band is a lack of stage presence, which was the case for three of the members who seemed to avoid the spotlight by playing their instruments in a sleepy manner.

Yet again as the night grew darker the six band members only revved with more energy and enthusiasm.

The musicians handled their instruments with a panic-like urgency, which was dramatically offset by their gentle voices.

An audience member requested they play her favorite song “King and Lionheart,” a melodic tune that will be on their new album.

With the few lines “and in the sea that’s painted black, creatures lurk below the deck but you’re a king and I’m a lionheart,” a scene of Iceland was chillingly draped over the room.

As the band members became more comfortable on stage they had an individual quirkiness that set them apart as individuals but united them as a musical front.

Hilmarsson played the drums barefoot and often stood with head up and eyes closed, making it seem as if he was connecting with another world.

Meanwhile Þórhallson was the jokester of the night with remarks that kept the audience lively and engaged.

“I just bought this guitar a few days ago here in L.A.,” Þórhallson said. “We have a new guitar, a new bass and it all goes with your beautiful new faces.”

When talking about their North American tour, Þórhallson said that they were not used to the heat.

“We were in Austin the other day and I almost had a heart attack,” Þórhallson said. “(Kristjánsson) was dark red, like Rudolph. But he’s all better now cause of the miracle plant, aloe vera.”

While playing one of their new songs “Lakehouse,” each band member stood at attention, and pulled the room in with their harmonizing voices until they returned to their instruments with a dire intensity.

Once the band finally played “Little Talks” the applause reached a magnitude that shook the walls and even shocked the performers.

The set list showed the song as the last to be played; however, the crowd was left too inspired and demanded an encore.

The band returned to do a cover of the Cure song “Close to Me” then finished the night with the last song off their album, “Yellow Light.”

“This is our last song because we don’t have any more,” Hilmarsdóttir said.

“I found them five months ago when I was online,” audience member Bobby Schneider said. “Their voices have life and their songs are catchy.”

Their first album “My Head is an Animal” will be released on April 3.

Amanda Nieto can be reached at

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