After spending 16 years as the singer/guitarist in the Icelandic group Sigur Rós, Jon Thor Birgisson renamed himself Jónsi and began a solo career. Though he had used the name before on a project with Alex Somers (as Jónsi & Alex on 2009’s album Riceboy Sleeps), the pixie-voiced singer’s first solo album under the Jónsi name was Go, which was released on longtime label XL in the spring of 2010. Featuring more upbeat and poppy songs than those he had written and sung with Sigur Rós, Jónsi was joined on the album by Somers, modern composer/arranger Nico Muhly, and Samuli Kosminen. Shortly after the release of the album, Jónsi began a world-wide tour that lasted the rest of the year. The album sold a fair amount of copies and his profile was boosted by the appearance of a newly recorded track, "Sticks and Stones," for the soundtrack of the hit children's movie How to Train Your Dragon. In November of 2010, Jónsi released Go Live, a CD/DVD set that included live recordings taken during the European leg of the tour on the CD and live footage of dress rehearsals shot before the tour kicked off. Jónsi's song on the Dragon soundtrack led to his working with Cameron Crowe on the soundtrack to the director's 2011 film We Bought a Zoo. ~ Tim Sendra
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Film Soundtracks - Released December 9, 2011 | Columbia
Alternative & Indie - Released December 19, 2018 | KRUNK
Released in conjunction with a behind-the-scenes DVD, Go Live sees Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi attempt to re-create the orchestral folk-pop of his debut album, Go, in front of an unusually polite but receptive live audience. Recorded at Belgium's Ancienne Belgique at the beginning of his 2010 tour, with a smattering of performances taken from one of his final dates at the Brighton Dome, it's a task that the Icelandic artist passes with flying colors, as his four-piece band somehow manages to produce the same expansive sound as composer Nico Muhly's original arrangements, while his astonishing dreamlike falsetto appears even more impressive without the aid of any studio polish. With only one solo album to his name, the 14-track set is bulked up with sprawling extended versions of its nine numbers, including the ten-minute rendition of "Grow Till Tall," but it's the five new compositions that will intrigue the fans who didn't get to witness the rather elaborate visual spectacle. In keeping with the set list's theme of first half melancholic, second half upbeat, the fingerpicking "Stars in Still Water," slow-building "Icicle Sleeves," and heartbreaking "Saint Naive" are the kinds of atmospheric hymnal ballads his band has built a career on, but -- showcasing his experimental tendencies -- "New Piano Song" is a slightly chaotic and perhaps unfinished fusion of clattering percussion and sprightly piano chords, while "Sticks and Stones" is an emotionally stirring performance of his contribution to the Oscar-nominated animation How to Train Your Dragon. Of course, like Iceland's most famous musical export, Björk, Jónsi's distinctive mystical tones are still perhaps an acquired taste, but like his female compatriot, Go Live suggests that no country appears to do otherworldly avant-garde pop any better. ~ Jon O'Brien
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