The Best Record Shop Ever

On our last day in Iceland we had some time to kill before the bus to the airport so we thought it might be fun to go and find some Icelandic music to take back to England. As we were discussing where to go, a voice came from behind us in the hostel. “I couldn’t help over-hearing” she said. A nice Icelandic woman just chilling with her laptop. “Don’t go to that one on the main street, go to 12 Tonar on the road up to the church… trust me, it’s way better” she said with a smile. We thanked her for her local knowledge and set off.

When we arrived at 12 Tonar we saw a special Iceland Airwaves stand full of CDs of Icelandic bands that played at the festival. We picked a few up and stared at them intently. I knew what sound I was searching for, but predicting that from the album artwork was tricky. I knew I wanted a band that didn’t sing only in English (preferably mostly Icelandic), so I picked a few up that looked interesting.

The man that worked there, possibly the owner or manager, came over and asked if he could help. “You can listen to any you want” he said. Any of them? Loads of them were wrapped in sellophane with promotional stickers on them like in any CD shop. “Anything you want… take off the wrapping, I have loads more, it doesn’t matter.” Seriously? This wouldn’t happen in England. “Would you like a latte perhaps?” Wow I totally loved this place already. Granted I don’t actually drink coffee (it has an unwanted and urgent effect on my digestive system to put it politely) but if I did drink coffee I would kiss this man right now.

12 Tonar ReykjavikWe took a handful of CDs and sat on the sofas where we each had a CD player and a chunky pair of headphones. Well, we lost (spent) an hour and a half of our lives in that shop absorbed in the music. I could have stayed all day if I didn’t have a flight to catch. The CDs with promising album artwork weren’t what I was expecting or looking for, but finally I stumbled across a gem – exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. The album was Twosomeness by Pascal Pinon, half sung in English and half Icelandic, with stunning melodies and voices.

Simultaneously, Bekki also stumbled across a gem that was completely different – Exorcise by Tilbury. We bought 3 albums in total (CDs in Iceland are double UK prices so 3 was our limit), and left with a wish that all record shops were like that.

When we flew out of Iceland I vowed to return one day to that magical land. Next time I’ll go in the summer, hire a car and drive around the whole island experiencing the midnight sun. I already can’t wait – the place has left a lasting impression on me.

 

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