(*welcome back mate, hope this is the first of many – JC)

Iceage are brilliant. Probably one of the most exciting and refreshing bands in the world right now. They have released four albums of breathtaking post punk pop gothic. Albums all wrapped up around the voice of their ridiculously attractive singer, Elias Bender Ronnenfelt (and there should be a line through that ‘o’ but I can’t find the right key on the keyboard, I hope that not offensive to any Danes that might be reading). Their first two albums sound like the best bits of Joy Division shovelled into a blender with the best bits of Fugazi and ‘Sister’ era Sonic Youth and they are both bleeding masterpieces. If you don’t own them you should rectify that situation as soon as possible.

Their third and fourth albums are slightly different, they sound more like Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds if Nick Cave had started to think he was Mark E Smith and the Bad Seeds came from Kansas. Again, they are both, the fourth one particularly, bleeding masterpieces and if you don’t own them, you should rectify that situation as soon as possible.


There is always a ‘but’, isn’t there.

It very nearly went very wrong indeed for Iceage. Let’s have some swirly smoke and I’ll do an Al from Quantum Leap style jump and give you the backstory….

Iceage were formed in 2008, in Copenhagen, and comprised four teenagers raised on a diet of, Black Flag, Dead Kennedy, Crass and a liking for highbrow references about art, French Philosophers and Nietzsche. In 2011 their debut album ‘New Brigade’ came out and before long the press were drawling and drooling all over them (12 songs 28 minutes…It really is outstanding). They were widely touted as being the greatest thing to hit the post punk pop gothic world since Joy Division (if Joy Division looked like The Strokes that is).

Their live shows had already started to gain legendary status, tales of shambolically brilliant performances, where instruments were trashed, tunes and singing ignored, and band members were so wasted that they could barely stand, emerged. Yet that still didn’t burst their bubble. Iceage quickly grew from being called ‘the new Joy Division’ to being called ‘the greatest rock and roll band in the world’. The band were still in their late teens at this stage.

Fans openly drooled with anticipation at the prospect of a second album. But here is where it almost went wrong.

Around the time that second album it was being recorded some concerning allegations of the band having far right leanings emerged over the internet. Early interviews (in Danish) emerged where the band name dropped German fascist bands, alongside drawings penned by (a teenage) Ronnenfelt of the Ku Klux Klan and shaky grainy video footage of (audience members) sieg heiling at their early shows. It looked like perhaps that Iceage were not everything that we expected.

I mean it’s worrying and we have all abandoned bands for way less….rightly as well. In the last year I have abandoned in order The Orwells (sexual assault allegations), Hookworms (ditto), Ryan Adams (ditto), countless rappers (homophobia and general arsetrumpetry) and that’s even before we start on that Farage wannabe from Salford whose name I can’t even type.

Anway back to Iceage, who you have probably guessed I haven’t abandoned.

A short while after the allegations surfaced, Iceage released their second album (to glowing reviews and widespread praise) and left their native Denmark to embark on a massive tour. In the UK the band took the time addressed these concerns. They said that they were dumb kids (“we were genuine morons, truly unaware of the larger implications…” they said in one interview) and looked devastated by the whole thing. (this 2013 interview in The Guardian is wonderfully insightful)

What we found out later that is that Iceage are vocally pro-immigration, vocally anti-fascist and are very much a left leaning band. Something which definitely comes across in their second album (take ‘Morals’ for instance – side two track one below) and their third and fourth for that matter.

Was that enough, well perhaps, like I said we’ve all abandoned bands for way less. We’ve also forgiven bands for way worse (Bowie, sieg heiling for instance….). I for one am willing to overlook the idiocy of kids because when you drill into their music, it’s passionate, it’s angry, it’s about dejection and the pain of that post adolescent life (and not ,you know, about ethnic cleansing and that). I’m also prepared to overlook it because the links were laughably tenuous to say the least.

I’m going to shut up now, and let the music take over. I’ll end how I started. Iceage are brilliant. Probably one of the most exciting and refreshing bands in the world right now.

Side One

Hurrah – from Beyondless (2018)

‘Hurrah’ opens the bands most recent record ‘Beyondless’ an album which pushes the band further away from the early punk days. I mean this contains handclaps. Handclaps. On an Iceage record. When you get that you know anything that follows will be brilliant

Cimmerian Shade – from Plowing Into the Field of Love (2014)

‘Plowing Into the Field of Love’ is the bands third album and it sees them in one breathless album explore new territory which is perhaps best defined as ‘relaxed’. There is a more steady sound to it. . On ‘Cimmerian Shade’ you get a good example of Elias’s Nick Cave impression. But you also get a chugging, desperate sounding bass, interspersed with grunts or more likely growls from Ronnenfelt and then the drums kick in and pound away while guitars scratch away monstrously.

Showtime – From Beyondless (2018)

Imagine if you like you have wandered into a part of city that you don’t know very well. Inside a building you hear some brass band playing, intrigued you take a look. When you get inside you just see a mad circus on a stage playing out some devilish show involving a brass band and a man terrorizing the audience. That, folks, is what ‘Showtime’ sounds like. Its madness but its genius.

Pain Killer (featuring Sky Ferreira) – From Beyondless (2018)

‘Pain Killer’ is extraordinary, the musical equivalent of a bathbomb that when it fizzes and dissolves you find your bath full of spikes. A song that sounds all cosy and comfy but when you explore you discover that it is all about spider webs, death and all that. It comes armed as well with a classic hook and a chorus that tells that they “Rue the day you became my pain killer”. It is as close as the bad will ever come to sounding like ‘XTMNTR’ era Primal Scream.

You’re Nothing – From ‘You’re Nothing’ (2013)

The title track from the second album closes this particular side of the ICA. ‘You’re Nothing’ is as raw and as uncompromising a track as you can imagine. It sees a band that at the time had taken a load of anxieties and turned them into energy and the result was staggering.


Side Two

Morals – From ‘You’re Nothing’ (2013)

‘Morals’ was I think the track that hinted at a softer more soulful side to Iceage. Here for the first time the band use a piano, albeit a sort of juddery kind of piano that has been attacked with an axe. We also hear Elias actually croon for the first time. Ok, he’s mocking us, but in a croony kind of way.

Broken Bone – From New Brigade (2011)

This is for some reason the only track from the debut album that made it on this album, there is no reason for that ‘New Brigade’ is as I have said a masterpiece in so many ways. ‘Broken Bone’ is probably the most accessible moment of it. It’s almost a pop song in the same way that anything by say Idles is almost a pop record.

Forever – From Plowing Into The Field of Love (2014)

When Iceage returned in 2014 this was the first track that most people heard. It took two or three listens to actually realise it was Iceage. This is largely because of the reverb heavy intro makes it sounds like Queens of the Stone Age rather than gloomy Joy Division obsessed goths from the back streets of Copenhagen. But it’s also because of the outro, which has this incredible horn bursting in from literally nowhere as Ronnenfelt wails about ‘Losing himself forever’. Stunning.

Coalition – From You’re Nothing (2012)

When ‘Coalition’ was released Iceage said that it was as close as the band would ever get to writing a straight up love song. Which is kind of what it is. A confused and bleak love song that talks about feeling ‘numb and faded’. It is still ace though.

The Lord’s Favorite – from Plowing Into the Field of Love (2014)

The stand out track of Plowing Into the Field Love is ‘The Lords Favorite’ and until ‘Showtime’ arrived this was my favo(u)rite Iceage track. It has this strange honky tonk style posturing feel about it.  The thing I love about it is that it is playful, cheeky and sounds like the band no longer has a single care in the world.



The boys at The Sound of Being OK, and in particular SWC, have been extolling the virtues of Iceage for quite a few years.

Some of you might well be asking who? Well, the fact of the matter is that SWC is a rather talented writer, so much so that he once held a gig with Melody Maker before growing up and joining the real world, getting married, having kids and embarking on a career in which every day is a true-life adventure.

Oh you mean Iceage? Sorry…………….

Iceage are a Danish punk rock band from Copenhagen. They were formed in 2008, when the members of the band averaged 17 years old. Elias Bender Rønnenfelt does vocals and guitar, Johan Surrballe Wieth plays guitar and provides backing vocals, Jakob Tvilling Pless plucks the bass and Dan Kjær Nielsen bangs the drums.

Debut album New Brigade was issued by Danish label Tambourhinoceros and by Dais Records in the United States in early 2011. They created a bit of a buzz, leading to them signing with Matador Records for whom they have released a further three albums, including Beyondless which made a number of ‘best of’ lists at the end of 2018.

I took the plunge and bought a CD copy of Beyondless with some of my Santa money. It wasn’t quite what I expected, being something of a curate’s egg with, once or twice, the bombast coming across a bit like Scandic Kasabian (which sounds like a condition for which you should go seek advice from your doctor).

On the other hand, it is quite special in other places, bringing to mind the ambition and variety of early Bad Seeds, but with increased levels of power and energy, thanks in part to a crisp production, but mainly as a result of the sonic vocal delivery from Rønnenfelt, whose influences feel like many – I could, at varying times, detect, Iggy Pop, Ian Curtis, Peter Murphy and Andrew Eldritch. But I have to quickly say that Beyondless is not a gloom-laden gothic record….how can it be when so many moments are lit up with horns, piano, strings and impish percussion?

The album opens with two jaunty and, dare I say it, danceable, tracks that I’m willing to now rate as among my favourite bits of music from 2018:-

mp3 : Iceage – Hurrah
mp3 : Iceage – Pain Killer

The latter is one of those on which the horns are used to great effect, as is the guest backing vocal from American starlet Sky Ferreira (and yes, I had to look her up to find out more…..if I had teenage kids, I could have just asked them).

Things don’t quite match the 1-2 pounding that comes straight from the bell, and indeed Under The Sun, the third track on the album, proves to be one of the weakest and least memorable moments, not even providing that annoying Kasabian-style hook to hang something upon (such as ill-defined and inexplicable prejudice), leading to a what I initially felt was a bit of a mid-album dip.

But….here’s the thing…’s an album with a number of songs that, on the first few listens, don’t seem to amount to all that much but ultimately prove to be pieces of music which provide an enormous amount of satisfaction.  I think my initial issue was that I kept waiting on something as ‘light’ and accessible as the opening couple of songs, but that never quite happened. Instead, there’s an ever-changing tempo, groove and mood throughout which had an initially unsettling effect, especially as the band was more or less new to me, but which proved to be a strength on the fourth, fifth and successive listens. It can be difficult nowadays, what with trying to write a daily blog and lead a busy life at work and play, to afford an album the time and space it sometimes needs to make the impact. I’m glad I did it with this one.

There is one other genuinely jaw dropping part of Beyondless anmd it’s when they go all cabaret on us:-

mp3 : Iceage – Thieves Like Us

Great fun.  And I will more than likely get round to getting the earlier albums.  In the meantime….

“Dear SWC

How about an ICA?

Yours most sincerely



Another quality and imaginative contribution from S-WC.

In a few weeks’ time Mrs S-WC, Princess S-WC and I are heading off to Copenhagen for a few days to celebrate my 40th birthday. I’m not that fussed about being 40, its just another year after all but last night Mrs S-WC dropped the surprise trip on me and now I am really looking forward to going to Denmark and celebrating my 40th in a place that I’ve never been to there before. I have read nothing but good reviews of the place and Copenhagen is supposed to be one of the most child friendly cities on the planet. It also happens to be the home of one of the best music scenes on the planet and all the time I spent endlessly waffling on about the ‘Danish Scene’ appears not to have been wasted. She was pretending to be completely uninterested, how do women do that?

So let’s rewind back to 2011 and if like me you are in anyway interested in indie rock then you would have probably stumbled across New Brigade the debut LP by four Copenhagen teenagers called Iceage. This record singlehandedly put Danish indie rock on the map. ‘New Brigade’ also introduced Iceage to a wider world and in my opinion it is nearly a perfect record, 24 minutes of wailing, bromance and gothic charm, the Guardian described it as ‘A yobbish Joy Division’ and they are spot on, as usual.

mp3 : Iceage – White Rune

The immediate problem is that nearly every band that came out of Denmark was labelled the ‘new Iceage’and record companies fell over themselves to ‘find them’. Over in Denmark though, the best bands in Iceage’s circle such as Lower and Sexdrome, made such bleak and brutal rock that they had almost no visible commercial value, well not to the UK and US Markets at least. All Lower want to do is destroy your eardrums, I mean, they are fantastically brutal but they are not Iceage Mark 2.

mp3 : Lower – Craver

Let’s come back to 2015, and an awful lot has changed, Denmark is blooming and nearly every week there is a new band from Denmark that is generating a buzz of hype. This weeks thing are Yung, they hail from Aarhus the (I think) second biggest city in Denmark. Their debut record Alter has shown that not all bands from Denmark have to sound like Iceage.  ‘Alter’ is jangly indie pop with just a dash of spikiness thrown in. In the last couple of years noir-ish Danish TV programmes have been all the rage and Yung appear to have tapped into that with the video for lead track Nobody Cares – they basically mess around on cold looking dock and we half expect a lady in a knitted jumper to start investigating.

mp3 : Yung – Nobody Cares

Like I said the developing scene is not all about Iceage soundalikes, take Communions for example, they are perhaps the band most like Iceage in their looks but they sound like The Stone Roses just after Sally Cinnamon was released (ie when they were really good). Their debut EP Cobblestones is outstanding and something I thoroughly recommend to you all, I am quite excited by Communions, they could produce something really special.

mp3 : Communions – Cobblestones

I should perhaps point out, that even Iceage don’t actually sound like Iceage anymore, – the closest thing I can liken it too is when Idlewild released American English which sounded like REM rather the early Fugazi inspired records – the last Iceage record Plowing Into the Field of Love has a distinct alt country feel to it and to be honest it sounds a lot like the Libertines circa Up The Bracket, which obviously is a very very good thing indeed. There were not many better records released last year than ‘Plowing Into the Field of Love’.

mp3 : Iceage – The Lords Favourite

I hope you all enjoy the tracks that I have posted – and as ever I’ll be interested in what you all think.




There is a tiny Scottish feeling to this weeks column.

Firstly, I have just read that every year more than 1000 people placed a bet this year that the football score East Fife 5 Forfar 4 will occur. This genuinely made my choke on my cereal. 5 -4 scorelines in football are rare – even rarer when two teams with names that sound slightly like the numbers play each other. If you ask me that is 1000 people with far too much time on their hands. Although I do imagine that if the scoreline does occur, the BBC would probably eat itself with excitement.

Secondly the CD of choice this week was from Octopus a band from Aberdeen who signed to Food Records (home of Blur and Jesus Jones) in the mid 90s.

They were a mid table indie band with a liking for big choruses. Sadly, when I put the CD in the machine it refused to play. Which is a shame because this is a belter of a record, I remember it well and always thought that it should have reached much higher in the charts than it did. When it came out, I had a guest reviewing the singles with me and after we listened to this, with its trumpet inspired chorus we had a small chat about the use of brass in singles and whether this was a good thing or not, we decided pretty much as long as they didn’t ruin the song it was ok (so you’d better but the bugle down down Mr Mumford). My guest reviewer loved this song (understandably) and described it memorably as ‘a brass blessed beauty rather than a trumpet troubled turd’. I gave him an extra pork pie for the wonder of his alliteration alone.

I’d loved to post this song but can’t post it, my only hope is that JC has it earmarked for his Scottish Single Series because your lives (well your ears at least) will be all the better for hearing it.

(JC adds…..I do have the track via one of those indie compilations that were all the rage in the Britpop era….and while S-WC is quick to sing its praises, I’m more inclined to say that it’s a very fine Oasis tribute.)

mp3 : Octopus – Your Smile

So instead of that I have done a random shuffle on my iPod (Classic 3rd Gen, 8830 songs) and will post the first three songs that come on. So first up we have: –

Oooh allow me a moment here ‘TUNE’ – ‘Arena’ – Suuns. Suuns are a Canadian band that sprang to our attention a few backs with their debut album ‘Zeroes QC’. This was to be was the standout track from that album. It has a kind of space rock feel to it as it whooshes along magically. ‘Zeroes QC’ comes highly recommended as well. They released a second album last year ‘Images du Futur’ which to be honest wasn’t as good.

mp3 : Suuns – Arena

Second song – my iPod is being kind to you all this morning ‘Coalition’ – Iceage.  Iceage, are a Danish punk band, and they rock like bastards. Fiercely independent and with a strong fan based ethic they have released two albums quite quietly in the last couple of years, the second ‘You’re Nothing’ was an absolute treasure of a record, it’s all done and dusted in about 35 minutes but it leaves you breathless, great shouty, simple, spiky punk rock. They also sing occasionally in Danish which is a rare treat. If you like Iceage (and you should) I recommend you check out Metz (another great Canadian band) and Radkey who do similar things in a shouty manner.

mp3 : Iceage – Coalition

Finally, aah lovely, ‘Aerial’ – Four Tet – this is taken from last years ‘Beautiful Rewind’ album. I’ve said before that I love Four Tet and think that the brains behind it Kieron Hebden is a genius (NME people if you are reading – here is a Godlike Genius you should celebrate don’t waste your time with Blondie, you fools). Four Tet make beautiful music, rarely do they release a bad record. If you check out their website there are also regularly loads of free downloads of mixtapes (one just last week, an hour of free dance music) and other bits and pieces. If you are not familiar with Four Tet, the best place to start is ‘Rounds’ that is an album that deserves to sit in anyones Top 50 ever. Radiohead fans should check out their remix of Skttrbrain’ too.

mp3 : Four Tet – Aerial

See you next week hopefully with a CD that plays!

JC adds again……
That’s the first time any of those four bands have appeared on this or the previous blog, so thanks again to S-WC for broadening mine and maybe some of your horizons. I have previously featured that Radiohead remix that was mentioned:

mp3 : Radiohead – Skttrbrain (Four Text Remix)