Benny Crespo's Gang
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Benny Crespo's Gang

Reykjavík, Capital Region, Iceland | INDIE

Reykjavík, Capital Region, Iceland | INDIE
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Benny Crespo's Gang – much lauded indie adventurers who had the tenacity to lug three vintage keyboards through a six hour journey through
Mixing searing rock with eerie Portishead palpable lulls under tender female vocalisations, they raised the bar to yet another level and sent a note of promise to their future international careers.

Written by: Matthew Bennett
- Clash Magazine


... while Benny Crespo's Gang demonstrated real potential beyond the
island's scene.

Combining urgent synths and driving, impassioned rock, their twin boy-girl vocalists saw them swap between moments both Biffy Clyro and Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) would be proud of...


- NME


It only takes a moment to realize that Benny Crespo's Gang is not your average Icelandic band. This is in no way a slight on the group or Icelandic music in general either, rather it should reinforce how unique that both are. Sigur Ros and Bjork, initially, set the islands standards with luscious, string-laden, and epic landscapes of music. But in recent years bands such as Dikta, Mum, AMPop, Ulpa, Shadow Parade, Leaves, and Petur Ben have shown that Iceland is a hotbed for gorgeous, sprawling music. As wonderful and amazing as they are all, Benny Crespo's Gang is a whole other monster.

Within seconds of their debut albums opening, you can tell the 'Gang have much more in common with ATDI or The Mars Volta than anything post-rock related. And while I, personally, have come to love that "Icelandic" sound, what Benny and Co. are doing seems majestically refreshing and invigorating. Everything about the album feels just a tad off kilter and it's that killer edge that has me gasping with joy and excitement over the band's first musical musings. If it's the quirky fuzz of Sonic Youth or Blonde Redhead or the dirty sludge of QOTSA or Cave In, this band is just about as "it" as "it" gets....if that makes any sense?

And to top it all off, as soon as I think I've got the book on the Crespos', they go and record a beautiful, luscious track called "Conditional Love," just to prove they aren't totally anti-Iceland. Eat your heart out Bjork, this band is for real.

by Adam Roncage - rabbitholemusic


As far as i'm concerned, the race for the Icelandic Album of the Year was over the day Benny Crespo's Gang ended a three-year recording process and released their self-titled debut just over a month ago. At the heart of it lies a rather basic indie-rock formula, but when you add the intangibles, the pounding drums, the small breaks and time changes, the abrasive guitars, the split-duty singers Lovísa (Lay Low) and Helgi Rúnar. And most importantly, the synths driven melodies; the formula has been twisted and stretched so far and so wide that the band teeters between sounding experimental and aggressive and the over effect induces the same chaotic experience as listening to The Pixies' Doolitle for the very first time. For those about to rock, this is a required possession.

Sveinn Birkir Björnsson - Grapevine (Reykjavík's English Language Magazine)


After 45 minutes of mild melancholy I cheered up. The reason: Benny Crespo’s Gang. I have to admit I am somewhat biased when it comes to Benny Crespo’s Gang, for I feel they are one of the best bands in Iceland. Their sound ranges from At the Drive-in to Blonde Redhead, trip-hop style. The band is characterised by versatility; they can do anything, and as a concert band they have no competition. Most of their songs are masterpieces and the ambition of every member shows as they change instruments and play two keyboards, or bass and keyboards at the same time. Helgi, the singer, thanked the other bands. He should have thanked The Gang for warming up. The first song was about ten minutes. I just fell into a trance and was whisked away to an epic wonderland. Everything in their performance was first rate and professional, which is not to say that they lacked passion (which was abundant). The word “mania” came to mind. What Plato talked about as the artistic nature of man. Benny Crespo’s Gang were in a state of Platonic Mania. When Lovisa the guitar/keyboard player sang her solo I felt almost numb from the charisma that was pouring from the spirit of her singing. Oh what beauty we humans can possess! The only bad thing about Benny Crespo’s Gang is that there is a small New York band, that sucks, that is also a Gang.

Helgi Valur
- The Reyjavik Grapevine Issue 9 2006


....before a group called Benny Crespo's Gang produced one of the sets of the weekend, for me anyway. A reoccurring theme of Icelandic music is that no one musician sticks to a particular style of music and there is no better example of this versatility than a lady called Lay Low. By day, she's a gentle blues singer of astounding talent but by night she joins a group of boys to form Benny Crespo's Gang, whereupon she's transformed into a frantic button-hitting dervish, helping to make a sound that skips between electro, rock, punk and just plain loud noise with surprisingly engrossing results.

Ben Murray - Virtual Festivals


Benny Crespo’s Gang, however, is a band that I could probably listen to live for full two days without getting bored. These four kids have been around for a while, but they have not played much as of late. This might well be related to band member Lovísa’s busy schedule with her solo project Lay Low. In any case, I was excited to see them perform as it had been close to a year since last saw them in concert.

Benny Crespo’s Myspace site lists their influences as Mars Volta, Queens of the Stone Age, Sonic Youth, Blonde Redhead, PJ, Rage Against the Machine, The Pixies, and At The Drive In, among others; but I would say that they have managed to create a sound that is undeniably theirs. The band has a new album coming out in the next few weeks, and they mainly played songs from their upcoming release, but capped things off with the great Johnny's Got a Baby. Their progressive indie sound is full of aggressive riffs, thundering bass plots and crazy synths that create a thick wall of layered sounds. Their drummer looks like he was built to run through a brick house and plays like a man possessed. Overall, it was great display.

If this performance is anything to go by, Benny Crespo’s upcoming release will be one of this year’s best. I recommend you go see them live. Get in on the hype early.

Sveinn Birkir Bjonsson - The Reykjavik Grapevine Issue 16 2007


4,5/5

Benny Crespo´s Gang's debut album has come out and many have waited
anxiously for it. The album bears the name of the band and is a work of 9
songs (47 minutes). The band has existed since 2004 and since it first
appeared in concerts, rock-thirsty Icelanders have anxiously awaited an
album, including myself. At first it was no secret to anyone that the band
was promising and today it's a lot more than that.

The album starts with a bang with the song 123323. A fine opener which,
in a weird way, reminds one of Blonde Redhead's first album, along with
the insanity of Today Is The Day. A good combination there and a good
start.

One soon realises that on this album Benny Crespo's Gang is determined to
whisk the listener away with them on a journey that is hard to leave off
on until the album is finished. Magnús Öder, bassist and one of the three
singers of the band, handles the recording and mixing of the album. I am
pretty sure that that lad is what the Icelandic rock-scene has desperately
needed behind the console, because he is stellar and seems to know exactly
what he's doing. The album is amazingly full on although a lot of the
songs are quite different from each other they somehow click and become
indivisible from each other

People might recognize best the song "Shine", which was on the radio over
a year ago (then in a much shorter version) and then the powerful and
angst-ridden "Johnny's got a baby." In the latter the ex-couple Lovísa and
Magnús sing some sort of love-duett in plain speak. A nice job and somehow
you can't avoid reading between the lines even though you really don't
know if there is something deeper behind that

I'm pretty sure that Benny Crespo's Gang is under the influence of
Unwound, Blond Redhead, Engine Down and the good side of The Mars Volta.
Benny Crespo's Gang gives these aforementioned artists a fucking run for
their money. It is very hard for me not to over-praise this band's debut.
I also like the modest cover of the album and, unlike many Icelandic
rock-bands, Benny has the stones to include their not at all bad lyrics on
the sleeve. Everything here is stellar, splendid tunes, tip-top
instrumentation, meticulous production, synth-insanity in good moderation,
which does a whole lot for the band's sound.

In my opinion the album's high-points are "Come here", "Running" and
"Conditional
Love."

I sincerely hope that Benny Crespo's Gang will go on to make many other
albums in the future, because all too often good Icelandic bands give up
the ghost after their first album. Go Benny Crepo's Gang!
Here we have a world-class band that we Icelanders can be proud of and
then some

Andri Freyr Viðarsson
- DV (Icelandic Daily Newspaper)


4,5/5

Benny Crespo's Gang is without doubt one of the hottest rock-numbers in
Iceland these days and it has gotten rave reviews for singularly tight
playing in concerts. The special ingredient which marks this band's debut
is a combination og hard-rock and all kinds of electronic noises, which
bind the proceedings together in a fun way. The band's influences come
from many directions and bands like Sonic Youth, Mars Volta and Yes come
to mind while listening to this powerful album. Benny Crespo's Gang's
debut is without doubt one of the better albums of this year and a
must-have for rock-enthusiasts. - Ísafold (Icelandic Magazine)


96%

Icelandic band Benny Crespo's Gang's eponymous debut has finally seen the
light of day. There was a significant delay to the making of the album and
therefore the anticipation of the fans of the ensemble had grown
significantly. Delay was inevitable because for many reasons, but first
and foremost because of the runaway success of Lovísa/Lay Low, the singer
and bassist of the group. When her album, "Please Don't Hate Me", tore up
the charts Lovísa had to focus on her solo-project and that meant that she
had less time for The Gang. But now the album has finally been finished
and has been sent to stores, and not a minute too soon. For too long
Icelanders have had to scream into their pillows when annoyed, in stead of
being able to vent their anger by screaming along with the songs of Benny
Crespo's Gang, and for far too long foreigners have had to run along home
thinking that rock 'n' roll is dead in Iceland. Benny Crespo's Gang prove
that that is not so, and they do a good job of it.

They themselves say that they sound like a mixture of The Mars Volta,
Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age, and more, but while you can certainly
detect the influence of those bands on the music of Benny Crespo’s Gang,
it has managed to create a sound that is altogether their own. That is
undeniably due to a certain degree to Lovísa, because it is not often that
good female vocals are utilized in rock-groups. The combination og her
voice and the voice of Helgi Rúnar also work well, and to have two singers
gives the songs of Benny Crespo's Gang an extra dimension; it makes the
songs sound more exotic. Yours truly can not decide whether she likes best
the songs where Lovísa is at the fore (like "Come Here") or the songs sung
by only Helgi Rúnar (like "Next Weekend") - but clearly they work very
well together, like on the opening track of the album, which is also it's
best song, "123323." The song starts the album off at such a pace that it
is crystal-clear what's in store, and then the album maintains a fine pace
until the album finishes with the entertaining "Johnny’s Got a Baby".

With heavy synth-compositions and catchy guitar-hooks, Benny Crespo's Gang
is here to stay. They are marvelous on stage and no less so in the studio,
but the flow of the album is fantastic to put it mildly. The album
exceeded my expectations and is not about to leave the CD-player any time
soon. Clearly one of the better albums of this year.

Hildur Maral Hamiðsdóttir - Monitor (Icelandic Magazine)


Discography

They released there self titled debut album fall 2007 in Iceland.
Sold over 1.000 copy's ( In Iceland gold is 5.000 copy's)
Nominated album of the year at the Icelandic music awards 2007.

They have had four singles in radio airplay and all have hit top ten most played on the rock/alternative radio stations in Iceland.

Benny Crespo's Gang are now working on their second album due to release around spring 2011

Photos

Bio

The band continually weaves together different elements in their music. Pretty melodies are pitted against jarring dissonance, riffs clash with tender pop, guitars and synthesizers are mixed and matched and the soft voice of female vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Lovísa creates a counterbalance to the frantic screams of singer, guitarist Helgi. If Portishead and Queens of the Stone Age had a baby that they would raise in a fucked up cult called Church of PJ Harvey from which the child would escape once it turned eighteen with its sweetheart, Mastodon, only to move into a commune with a bunch of prog bands—you would be left with a very obtuse analogy that wouldn‘t come near explaining the utter madness that is the music of Benny Crespo‘s Gang. To truly understand you must see one of their shows. And headbang. Or whatever you‘re into. Benny Crespo‘s Gang doesn‘t judge.

Benny Crespo’s Gang’s self-titled 2007 début was gobbled up by local rock-enthusiasts and received top marks from all who reviewed it. Their legendary live shows have consistently made new fans out of anyone who happens to be in the vicinity, and their much-hyped performances at the Iceland Airwaves and Aldrei fór ég suður festivals have earned them fans from all over the world and positive reviews in publications such as NME and Clash Magazine

Benny Crespo's Gang is now working on its sophomore effort, plotting further steps towards world domination and plan to tour the world extensively.

Here's what the Icelandic music press had to say about Benny Crespo's Gang's first LP, released in 2007:

"It is very hard for me not to over-praise this band's debut."
4,5/5 DV (Icelandic Daily Newspaper) - Andri Freyr Viðarsson

"Benny Crespo's Gang's
debut is without doubt one of the better albums of this year and a
must-have for rock-enthusiasts."
4,5/5 Ísafold (Icelandic Magazine) - Björn Stefánsson

"As far as i'm concerned, the race for the Icelandic Album of the Year was over the day Benny Crespo's Gang ended a three-year recording process and released their self-titled debut."
Grapevine (Reykjavík's English Language Magazine) - Sveinn Birkir Björnsson

"The album
exceeded my expectations and is not about to leave the CD-player any time
soon. Clearly one of the better albums of this year!"
96% Monitor (Icelandic Magazine) - Hildur Maral Hamíðsdóttir

Benny Crespo's Gang was nominated for the Rock Album of the Year, Best New Comers and People's Choice at the Icelandic Music Awards 2007. Without getting into too much detail about the band's live performances, here's what the press has to say:

"Mixing searing rock with eerie Portishead palpable lulls under tender female vocalisations, they raised the bar to yet another level and sent a note of promise to their future international careers."
- Live review by Matthew Bennet - Clashmusic.com

"[...] While Benny Crespo's Gang demonstrated real potential beyond the island's scene. Combining urgent synths and driving, impassioned rock, their twin boy-girl vocalists saw them swap between moments both Biffy Clyro and Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) would be proud of."
- Live review - NME