Of Monsters And Men

Of Monsters And Men

Soley, Elle King

Tue, November 20, 2012

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Terminal 5

New York, NY

$25 advance / $30 day of show

Sold Out

This event is all ages

Of Monsters And Men
Of Monsters And Men
Of Monsters and Men is an amiable group of day dreamers who craft folkie pop songs. But last year, the normally mild-mannered six pack -- who's releasing their EP, "Into the Woods," on December 20, 2011 -- transformed into total rock stars after stomping out their competition during Musiktilraunir, a yearly battle of the bands in their native Iceland.

"We just kind of... won," recalls co-singer/guitarist Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir. "We weren't expecting it at all. So I said, 'Everybody come to my place!'" Beer-swilling friends spilled out of her flat. "I was like, 'Oh fuck, my neighbors aren't liking me right now.'"

Those neighbors won't be making noise complaints anymore. With the group's bright, trumpeting single "Little Talks" winning over one blog at a time, Nanna and her bandmates (co-singer/guitarist Ragnar "Raggi" Thorhallsson, guitarist Brynjar Leifsson, drummer Arnar Rosenkranz Hilmarsson, piano/accordion player Arni Guthjonsson, and bassist Kristjan Pall Kristjansson) are well on their way to becoming citizens of the world.

Their rapid rise transpired in just one year. Nanna, who began as the acoustic act Songbird, recruited extra hands to bolster her sound for a solo show. She liked how her vocals commingled with Raggi's, so they started writing songs together and in 2010 morphed into Of Monsters and Men. As victors of 2010's Musiktilraunir, the new group earned a slot on the influential Iceland Airwaves festival later that year, followed by Seattle's radio station KEXP posting "Little Talks" from a Living Room Session filmed there, setting the telltale ripple effect in motion.

By the summer of 2011 "Little Talks" hit No. 1 in the band's native country, and "people around the world seemed to be listening to us," marvels Raggi. The band was asked to perform again at Iceland Airwaves 2011, where KEXP then anointed the group as "easily the most buzzed about band."

Though their reach is growing broader, the group's appeal has remained distinct: Their music is as fantastical as it is pretty. For inspiration, they often reference random stories they've read. The chanting, tribal "Six Weeks" was inspired by the true tale of American frontiersman Hugh Glass, seemingly left for dead after 86ing a bear that attacked him. Explains Nanna, giggling: "I was reading a post about the six most badass guys in history." As for the swelling, epic "From Finner"? "It's about a whale that has a house on its back" says Raggi "on which people travel across the ocean, exploring different places and having adventures."

They also dig deeper, past legends of grizzly men and whale riders. "Little Talks," for instance, explores loneliness and insanity, while "Love Love Love" ruefully ruminates on heartbreak. "If you listen to the lyrics, they're not as uplifting," he says. "But our music is meant to be fun to sing along to."

In September, Of Monsters and Men threw another party -- a more thoughtful gathering to celebrate their full-length debut, "My Head Is an Animal." (The album, which was released in Iceland and hit No 1 there soon after, will drop worldwide in early 2012.) For the occasion, they cut out animal masks for the attendees to wear, making them makeshift monster-men/women. "Iceland can be a very isolated country and that translates to the music," Nanna says, adding,"We get stuck in our little world."
: As one of the seven collective in Icelandic band Seabear, Soley has been around the world and back, but it wasn't until five years ago that this bespectacled multi-instrumentalist finally discovered her own vocal skills. Soleys brilliantly quirky voice is at the core of her intricate compositions. In 2011, and still in her mid-twenties, Soley released We Sink, her first full length album which takes listeners through a dream-like journey of 13 lovely, strange and unforgettable tracks.
Elle King
Elle King
Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Elle King may be just 23 years old, but she's already got quite a story to tell. Born in rural Ohio, she moved to New York City at age 10 -- "there was definitely a big difference going from climbing trees barefoot to taking the subway by myself," she says. After getting kicked out of school, she headed to California, then returned to New York, and then Philadelphia for art college. Since then, King's home base went from Copenhagen back to LA before finally settling down in New York, where she has recorded one of the most exciting and unique debut projects of recent years.

Already hailed by such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Glamour, Perez Hilton, and Vanity Fair -- and featuring "Playing for Keeps," which was chosen as the theme song for VH1's "Mob Wives Chicago" series -- the four-song "THE ELLE KING EP" reveals all of this experience with a sound and style that is distinct and mature beyond King's young age. In the midst of her far-flung and hell-raising travels, King started playing the guitar at age 13 ("a friend of my stepdad's taught me, and I learned stuff by, like, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Otis Redding") and then later picked up a banjo, inspired by the Hank Williams and Earl Scruggs records her family listened to.

King pinpoints the day her life changed to her ninth birthday when her stepfather gave her the first album by hard-rocker girls the Donnas. "I put that on and that was it," she says. "I wanted to play rock and roll and be a girl and do it. I started listening to the Runaways and Blondie -- all the rad chicks."

It was during her time in Philadelphia that her music took a different turn, toward her current country-blues-soul blend, and her songwriting got more serious. "I was living on my own, getting into way too much trouble, and really getting my heart broken for the first time," she says. "I made friends with people who slept on park benches and wrote songs, and it made me start putting different words together. I've never been shy, but that's when I started singing in parks and busking."

A romantic disaster in Copenhagen led to the song that King considers her breakthrough, "Good To Be A Man" (featured on the EP), which has already garnered airplay on such influential radio stations as KCRW Santa Monica and XPN Philadelphia. "I thought it was catchy, and I saw that people liked to sing along to the mean songs," she says.

Following her own set at an outdoor show, King stuck around to watch a young band "just some cute boys who play banjos and guitars" -- and discovered a new way to approach her instruments. "When I picked up the banjo, I would play country music, that went hand-in-hand," she says. "But these guys played the banjo just as an instrument, not stylized in any kind of mold, and I got it -- just play it because it's beautiful. So I'm not twanging it anymore, and that totally opened up my songwriting. I had stopped writing on the banjo because I wanted a break from country songs, but now these weird songs just started coming out."

In addition to "Playing for Keeps" and "Good to Be a Man," the EP includes another King original, "No One Can Save You," and a live cover of Khia's gloriously lewd hip-hop hit "My Neck, My Back," which the singer says she included "so everyone can see that I'm kind of a crazy wild card -- the only problem is now I can't send it to my grandma."

While working on her full-length debut album, King has been touring with such acts as Train, Of Monsters and Men, and Dry the River, and her boisterous live show has been earning notice and acclaim everywhere she goes. The Austin Chronicle raved about her "shockingly sexy-sorrowful songsmithery" and her "sweetheart-with-a-knife voice that promises potentially dangerous intimacy on a grand, spooky scale."

For Elle King, all the hard living and hard work has gotten her to the place she always wanted, where she and her music are being accepted on her own terms. "People made fun of me when I was little, and I was never confident," she says. But one day I was like, 'I like getting tattoos and dying my hair, I like singing loud -- and people started listening. I was never begging for people to like it, and now everyone is like, 'We love you for you, just be yourself.'"

"All I want in life is for people to sing the words to my songs at my shows," she concludes. "One of my dreams is coming true, and it's coming true in a really great way."
Venue Information:
Terminal 5
610 W 56th St
New York, NY, 10019