The Riff - September 2007

Preview New Sigur Ros Documentary

| Tue Sep. 4, 2007 4:06 PM EDT

Iceland is pretty
While Boing Boing might call me inhuman for this, I'm annoyed by Icelandic quartet Sigur Ros. I can't explain it: I'm a huge fan of abstract, soundscape-y music, from The Cocteau Twins to Godspeed You Black Emperor! Plus, I've been fascinated with Iceland in general since hearing about that town that beat the volcano when I was a kid. For a while, I really tried to like Sigur Ros (pronounced "See-hur Roce," with the lightest of trills on the final "r" in "Sigur"), since everyone I know likes them. One night a few years back I attended their show at the Warfield here in San Francisco, and after a while found myself feeling annoyed and uncomfortable. I couldn't figure out why, until it hit me: I just don't like this music. The willfully obscure vocals and odd instrumentation masked treacly melodies and hackneyed emotional builds, like a Hallmark card foisted on an unsuspecting hipster public. Finally, after one too many falsetto "ya-yooee-yoos" from lead singer Jon Birgisson, I walked out.

So I'm a skeptic when it comes to Heima, the new film the band is producing that features live performances at different venues across Iceland. However, the trailer is breathtaking, at least visually (a still is pictured above). The band are featured in odd locations, including in front of a small town church, in the middle of a field, and what appears to be an abandoned factory, often with small audiences of what looks like regular Icelandic families; these performances are intercut with stunning shots of Iceland's stark natural beauty. Heima will hit your local multiplex (or, uh, not) when it's released this fall along with a compilation album from the band. Will I be converted? Or do I even deserve to see it after expressing such blasphemy?

Watch the trailer here.

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Winehouse Shows Up For Mercury Prize Ceremony

| Tue Sep. 4, 2007 2:44 PM EDT

Winehouse
Gigwise is reporting that troubled singer Amy Winehouse has arrived at the Grosvenor Hotel in London for the Mercury Music Prize ceremony, set to begin in just a few hours. Her arrival is fueling speculation that she is tapped to win the award, given out for best British album of the year. Her appearance was far from assured; in fact, NME reported a few hours ago that Winehouse would be pulling out of the ceremony, only to pull the story and instead post an article about the singer's arrival and soundcheck.

As we noted earlier, Winehouse's personal issues and alleged drug use caused London bookies to knock down her odds at winning the annual prize; she had been considered the front-runner. While newcomer Bat For Lashes' haunting Fur and Gold is now the current favorite at 7/4 odds, rumors are apparently circulating that Winehouse, who flew into the UK just yesterday, changed plans to be at the ceremony in anticipation of a win.

NME writers are, understandably, pulling for so-called "Nu Ravers" The Klaxons, and solo electronic artist Maps remains a dark horse with his dreamy album We Can Create. 21-year-old singer Jamie T is also considered a strong contender, with oddsmakers placing him just behind Bat For Lashes. Personally, I highly enjoy Winehouse, The Klaxons, Maps, and fellow-nominees Arctic Monkeys, but Bat For Lashes is my fave too, if only for the trick-riding bunnies in her video.

That clip and some other nominees' videos after the jump; stay tuned to the Riff where we'll post the winner when it's announced.

Led Zeppelin Reunion Gig For Real?

| Tue Sep. 4, 2007 11:53 AM EDT

Zep
Reunion fever continues this week, as fans debate whether the legendary English rockers will come back together for a performance this fall. Tickets for a supposed Zeppelin show at the O2 Arena (housed in the former Millenium Dome in London) are being advertised by Premier Entertainments, but the band have offered no confirmation, and promoter Harvey Goldsmith says he's concerned people are being "fleeced." He released a statement saying that there are "at least four events being advertised which I suspect either don't exist or where no tickets are on sale or indeed dates finalized." The vague language is giving fans hope that the remaining members of Led Zeppelin, who disbanded after the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980, will perform together for the first time since a gig at Atlantic Records' 40th birthday celebrations in 1988. The tickets from Premier Entertainments have no official date apparently advertised the show's date as November 26th and come packaged with hotel accommodations, prices starting at £269. That's $541 at current exchange rates. You know, you could see Wolfmother 15 times for that kind of money.