NMR Featured artist: Mono Town
I don’t get many ‘insider’ tips, in fact I’ve always liked being on the ‘outside’ with pretty much no music industry connections, but about 8 years ago I got a text from a string session player working with a band down in London. An experienced musician who has literally worked with ‘everyone’, they told me to look out for an amazing new band they were doing some recording with – ‘’best new stuff I’ve heard for ages, great string parts and they’re Icelandic too, you’ll love them’’.
Later this was followed my more texts saying that they’d had spent ages talking to the band, and they were also ‘'the nicest guys you could ever possibly want to meet’’, or something similar.
Their name was Mono Town.
They didn’t even have social media pages operating at the time and it took another 12 months I think for the first official Mono Town release to surface – ‘Jackie O’ I think was the first one. But by that point they seemed to have already established a reputation in Iceland, with appearances booked at ATP festival and then at Airwaves in November 2013, along with supporting The Pixies on more than one occasion - how I wished I’d been at those gigs.
Debut album ‘In The Eye of the Storm’ was finally released in early 2014, and it absolutely didn’t disappoint, a stunning album with a lovely balance of melodies, instrumentals and huge sweeping strings. Tracks such as ‘Peacemaker’ were just perfectly written.
The apparent rise of the bands reputation continued, with more live appearances and plaudits from everyone who heard them – even the dubious honour of being awarded the 'Nordic Music Review Album of the Year 2014' didn’t seem to phase them, as they went on to land honours at the Icelandic Music Awards in 2015 - they were just copying us obviously, but we didn’t mind.
And then it went quiet. There were photos of them apparently in the studio, but no new material ever emerged, just the occasional Facebook post that suggested that someone, somewhere, is still there keeping an eye on things.
I’ve never directly queried what’s happened with them, because it’s probably none of my business. It could simply be that they never felt quite able to reach the peak of material they produced in ‘In the Eye of the Storm’, and if that’s the case, well I have huge respect for that, and all I can do is thank them for one of my favourite albums of all time.
Occasionally glimpses of the band emerge, including most recently the excellent Red Barnett released a track featuring Mono Town keyboard player Daði Birgisson, who also released a single of his own under the name Daði just a couple of weeks ago – we will do a separate feature on him soon.
If they do come back of course that would be quite lovely, and I know they’ll always be welcome back in London if they need the string parts recording.
Find Mono Town on Facebook.