It’s a freezing cold Thursday night in Reykjavík and I’m suddenly alerted to the fact that Sindri Eldon is playing at Húrra in just over an hour’s time. I have to make a decision quickly but to be honest there was never any doubt about whether I would be heading out into the bitter Icelandic wind to see this guy. It’s the only no-brainer of the week.
I first stumbled upon him quite by accident during Iceland Airwaves in 2013 when I was walking past The English Pub on Austurstræti one afternoon and heard an unbelievable racket coming from inside the bar as you do all over town during the five days of that utterly fantastic music festival. It sounded too good to ignore so I stepped in off the street to find a three-piece band on stage at one end of the room powering through what could only described as super-tight power-pop distorted as far as it would go and cranked all the way up to eleven on a little Mesa Boogie combo until it became 90s garage rock of the highest calibre. With a Gibson Explorer slung around his neck Sindri Eldon certainly looked the part of the consummate rock’n’roll machine and after his all too short set I realised that this guy had the songs as well. Boy, did he have the songs.
I tracked him down again the next night upstairs at the noir-cool Dillon Whiskey Bar where he aborted his gig half-way through after being unable to keep his guitar in tune, probably due of a dubious restringing. Not to be put off I saw him again a couple of days later at another off-venue gig at Lucky Records where he really made up for it and played his heart out. His songs are very honest and he likes to wear his heart on his sleeve when it comes to his stories of failed relationships, battles with the opposite sex and his struggles to get on with people in general. ‘Bitter and Resentful’, ‘Lovers’, ‘Irma (The Game)’, ‘In Hindsight…’ and the quite remarkable ‘The Mistake’ (which isn’t on the album for reasons I will never understand) are all fine examples of this amplified rawness. It sounds to me as though he’s had something of a tough time getting to where he is today and I can easily imagine that there were plenty of people who wanted to see him fail before he had even begun.
In a tiny town such as this one growing up with the most famous mother in Icelandic music history must have been something of a mixed blessing. On the flip side of that though is the fact that he had undoubtedly inherited her and his father’s musical genius. The guy was literally born to write songs. His back-catalogue of half a dozen demos is testament to that. There are fantastic tracks that didn’t make it onto his debut album and on any given night watching him live you will miss out on at least half of the great songs he’s written. There’s too many to play in one set.
During Iceland Airwaves in 2014 I got to see him two nights in a row, first at Húrra and then again the next night at Gamla Bío. Both performances were fantastic and I began to realise that not only is he a seriously talented musician but the two guys he has chosen as his rhythm section are every bit as gifted as he is. Last night only reinforced my opinion that Ásmundur on the drums and Friðrik Sigurbjörn on bass guitar (collectively known as ‘The Ways’) are a massive part of the band’s unrelenting energy and flawless execution. I was with a bass player from the US at Húrra this time around and he agreed whole heartedly that they were both quite outstanding. They are a tight, highly-polished outfit who deserve much greater exposure than they’re ever going to get in Reykjavík. Sad but true. His classy debut album, ‘Bitter and Resentful’ is out now through Smekkleysa (Bad Taste Records) and can be downloaded at http://www.icelandicmusic.com/Music/Album/1333928/sindri_eldon/bitter_og_resentful/