“Weekendson” is a self-titled, debut solo project, from the Icelandic music artist Jón Þór Helgason, who is also professional sound engineer. My musical interests run wide and deep. This album is one of the most compelling solo rock projects I’ve heard this year. If a streak of musical adventure runs through you, I highly recommend that you lay your ears on Weekendson. Unpretentious, yet complex; hard-hitting, yet luxuriously smooth; clean, yet gritty – the album contains 10 songs that run the gamut of the genre, from crunchy overdriven guitars to rich waves of silky strings. The music, melodies, and the lyrics are arresting, demanding the listener’s attention from start to finish. This recording can’t be described without referring to pure emotional energy, and cutting edge sonics.
Simultaneously being a music lover and cynic, I am usually hard-pressed to easily accept new music by an artist I don’t know much about. I am used to the few listens it takes for me to decide what I really think about a project. “Weekendson” convinced me immediately, and is still convincing after several days of heavy rotation.
This album gives me the impression of an artist performing and recording at their highest caliber. The album, both as a whole and divided into single pieces, works flawlessly. Opting out of any sudden explosiveness, “Weekendson” instead opens with sweeping acoustic epicness on “Dark”.
“Liar” immediately ignites the scenario, sticking to a solid upbeat rhythm, the layered guitars, drum and bass work are equally technical and impressive. The choruses soar with complex harmonies and guitar lines, while the vocal melody is easy on the ear.
“Syncless” turns down the tone a couple of notches, with clean guitars and a resonant tenor driving the somber introspective mood. “Easily Alone” brings the album to its first apex. A total standout, with a catchy and smooth radio-ready melody, the song features stunning guitar and vocal harmony arrangements that work in tandem to push its momentum.
“Hero” rides in on a gritty and funky guitar motif, making sure the impressive force of the album is maintained throughout. “My Friend” heralds another qualitative crest, as sumptuous string orchestrations integrate with the crushing guitars. From the very first words, Weekendson enchants, pulls you in, and never let’s go.
“True Love” has a strong Americana flavor with clean guitars and mellifluous male-female vocals, sung by Jón Þór Helgason and Inger Birta S. Pétursdóttir, permeating the atmosphere. There is an air of romantic nostalgia to the song that will resonate deeply with fans of the genre.
From the get-go, “Broken” swells into a climatic stratosphere of unhinged drums, overdriven guitar sweeps and lush vocal harmonies, which measures another album high point. The album closes with the candid, and free flowing, father-daughter ode, entitled “Daughter Dearest”.
“Weekendson” couldn’t be more rewarding, and only gets better every time you listen to it. You hear new things with every spin, and I really can’t see myself ever getting tired of any of the tracks, anytime soon.
The songs constantly find new paths and segues everywhere, seamlessly transitioning in and out of bridges, breakdowns, and buildups, and constantly shifts back and forth on different levels of harmonic and melodic complexity.
Yet, at the end of the day, “Weekendson” comes across as uncluttered and easy on the ear, which is astounding considering how much music is infused into each of these songs. What you here is an earful of delicious, imaginative and emotive, guitar-driven music.