Global Hit: Of Monsters and Men

Iceland is out there, an island of just 320,000 inhabitants all alone in the North Atlantic, and there's something about that remote land of volcanoes and Nordic culture that produces a bumper crop of innovative musicians and singers from Bjork to Sigur Ros. The latest band from Iceland to charm its way onto international pop charts is Of Monsters and Men, with their hit single, "Little Talks," which we feature in our online series, "Quick Hits."

But for this episode's global hit we decided to present "Mountain Sound," a lesser known but equally quirky and delightful song from their album "My Head is an Animal."

We met up with the band in a warehouse in Los Angeles during a U.S. tour which included Chicago's Lollapalooza and San Francisco's Outside Lands festivals, as well as appearances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Not bad for a band that formed in 2010 and never expected much more than entertaining themselves and their friends. "We're still pinching ourselves," they told us, before attacking each other in a frenzy of actual pinching.

Their breakout came when they won a battle of the bands in Iceland and were discovered by Seattle radio station KEXP. We're pleased to showcase them on PBS.

"Mountain Sound" was the last in a three-song set they played for our cameras and we agreed they'd do it in just one take, which is why it has a spontaneity and immediacy we can't resist.

Of Monsters and Men:
Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, vocals, guitar
Ragnar "Raggi" Þórhallsson, vocals, guitar
Brynjar Leifsson, guitar
Arnar Rðsenkranz Hilmarsson, drums
Árni Guöjónsson, accordion
Kristján Páll Kristjánsson, bass
Ragnhildur Gunnarsdottir, trumpet, on their 2012 tour

Here are the lyrics to "Mountain Sound"

I heard them calling in the distance
So I packed my things and ran
Far away from all the trouble
I had caused with my two hands

Alone we traveled
armed with nothing but a shadow
We fled far away

Hold your horses now
(We sleep until the sun goes down)
Through the woods we ran
(Deep into the mountain sound)
Hold your horses now
(Sleep until the sun goes down)
Through the woods we ran

Some had scars and some had scratches
It made me wonder about their past
And as I looked around I began to notice
That we were nothing like the rest


We sleep until the sun goes down
Whoa-oh, whoa-oh
We sleep until the sun goes down
Whoa-oh, whoa-oh
We sleep until the sun goes down

The Global Hit on PRI's "The World"

Regular public radio listeners will recognize the "Global Hit" name from the WGBH/PRI/BBC program, The World. We thank them for being a Sound Tracks partner and for letting us borrow the name. Created by Marco Werman, the radio version features interviews with musicians, critics and DJs around the globe. You can check out the latest one, and browse through the archives, on The World's web site.

On Sound Tracks, our TV version of the "Global Hit" is the musical performance at the end of each episode, introduced by Marco or one of our other reporters.


Adrienne Calo, Producer
Stephanie Mechura, Editor
Adam Keker, Camera
Tamas Bojtor, Camera
Vanessa Carr, Camera
Jim Choi, Sound
Adriano Bravo, Sound
Nina Goodby, Assistant Editor