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Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 181

Half of March already and we can see Eastern holidays approaching... but before vacations arrives here's a new round of our TOP TEN Jukebox, this time full of new discoveries, from the post-punk-grunge of Molly Beaches' to the indiepop touches of proposal or the The Sour Notes' ace cover of an Sleater-Kinney's classic. Nine novelties alongisde one of the most desired comebacks. The majestic return of one of our favourite bands, Hazte Lapón. We invite you to listen it closely, pure gems awaiting! Have fun and remember, all tunes are available at our Soundcloud. (Join Us!)

Direct links to 2018 Jukebox playlists

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

'Lady Bird', magic at the "wrong side of the tracks"

Lady Bird

Another high school movie about coming of age? Another “indie” film, with the hype this time arriving in her scriptwriter and debuting director, Greta Gerwig (fifth woman in history to be nominated in the latest category at the Oscars), the queen of low-budget cinema? Well, the answer is yes, if you are only interested in the surface and the headlights of things. But if you are willing to go further and allow yourself to get haunted by top-notch acting and storyline (yes, there’s still hope for screenwriting!), “Lady Bird” could be your movie. So, let me introduce you to Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson...

Effervescent, charismatic, obstinate-to-the-point-of-rebellion and quirky (she gave a name to her by herself, to begin with) 17-year-old Christine, played majestically by Ronan Saoirse, is a teenager in the verge of becoming an adult. She is a senior student in a Catholic high school in Sacramento, California (Gerwig’s hometown), facing her last year of college and the big decisions in the making and ahead of her. She dreams of getting out of “The Midwest of California”, as she called it, aiming for higher expectations, adventures, an artistic future, savoir-vivre and social refinement. Opportunity and struggle are just behind the corner...

Because Gerwig allow us to follow Lady Bird in that last year, one that looks as crucial as well as full of experiences for our leading character: romance, a play, friendships that allow her to be part of the coolest gang of the school, while she maintains a constant battle with her mother Marion (striking performance by Laurie Metcalf, who should have won the Oscar, imo), who wants her to apply for local universities instead, settling her for more modest and less expensive goals. As I said, it looks like a simple and unsurprising development for a movie on the surface. And it’s true there won’t be any groundbreaking revelations, unexpected twists or revolutionary sci-fi scenes. But who needs them when you are rewarded with such an empathic, extremely well crafted, detailed and touchingly rounded film.

The amount of standout conversations (or discussions, or just one-liners), matchless scenes or moments that are going to captivate the viewer in ‘Lady Bird’ is plain impressive. In some sort of way (not comparing the narratives or the tone, very different) is that sort of excellency you find in Richard Yates, Carson McCullers, Anne Beattie or Raymond Carver's writing, that sort of “can't be better said/summed up/encapsulated than this”. I’m thinking on how that dress searching, with mother and daughter arguing again, is resolved. Or the one when both are sharing the bathroom and Lady Bird asks about her father’s depression. Or the first scene when his father drives her to the school (arresting Tracy Letts). Or how he is “located” in the room and how he behaves when the big fight arrives between mother and daughter explodes. I could go on and on... That sort of “screen magic”, aside from pure talent, of course, has to come from Gerwig’s knowing exactly, from the heart, what she wanted her characters to say and, what’s even more mesmerizing, being able to translate from the paper to the screen. It’s obvious this story is an extremely personal, intimate one… one that a masterful director has transformed into something universal.

The other major factor that can’t be praised enough is how Gerwig deals with what’s clearly the most important bond that’s about to be cut with Lady Bird’s leaving home: family. An imperfect, flawed, modest, all flesh and bones (so refreshing) family. Money is a real, burdening issue (how many American movies deal with that?), one that curses the despaired yet kindhearted father, torments the quibbling mother and frustrates our main character, surrounded by well-off classmates at high school, uncertain of her future because of that lack of resources. And with that comes the relationship between mother and daughter, easily among the most fascinating ever shown in a film. The mixture between intimate connection and tough love, Christine’s need of validation from her mother and Marion’s constant pressure towards her daughter looking to help her to be the “best version of herself” is just mindblowing, impossible not to get emotional as the movie conclusion approaches.

On the not so positive side, several secondary characters and plots are not that remarkable. For example, one can argue the “romantic quests” within the movie could be more developed, as Kyle (played by Timothée Chalamet) is nothing more than a caricature, and Danny (I’m seeing Lucas Hedges a lot recently, another great performance) is somewhat lost as the movie advances when her role deserved more. Same applies to the new friendship with the posher girl of her institute, although it's true allows the director to talk about class angst. Or that the head nun of the high school is “too nice” to be credible. But these underachievements are not that relevant to undermine the film. No, ‘Lady Bird’ might not be reinventing the wheel, not even reformulating the teenager coming of age story. As a matter of fact, that's her only real flaw, having the feeling of being in front of a story you have seen several times already. But to be honest, not many come to my mind as fulfilling, heartwarming, smart and moving as ‘Lady Bird’.

SCORE: 7,75/10

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Discoverer 163: new indie findings

Past Thursday, International Women's Day, was such a historic moment we had to celebrate somehow in our discoverer series and, besides, any excuse goes when it's about promoting and showing female's neverending talent, something this Blog is quite proud to have done since its beginning. So, here it comes, another trio of stunning "girls to the front" music proposals!

Amaya Laucirica. A well established presence in the Australian musical landscape, Amaya Laucirica was born in rural South Australia, but moved to Sydney and is now based in Melbourne, where, in 2008, debuted with the folkie-tinged album 'Sugar Lights'. But it was sophomore release, 'Early Summer', appeared in October 2010, the one that "opened the floodgates" for her, gaving her the chance of touring alongside Blonde Redhead, Mark Lanegan and national rock icon Adalita. The EP 'Anywhere There's You' followed in late 2011, with third album, 'Sway' coming out in 2014. Then Laucirica moved to Berlin, returning back home  two years later to form the band who helped her to create fourth LP, 'Rituals', out just now via Opposite Number and Kasumuen Records. Pop at its dreamiest and enthralling peak, somehow encapsulating the mysterious atmospheres and blurred lines of Cocteau Twins and the pensive wide-open-spaces of Mazzy Star without losing the knack for melodies, 'Rituals' is a warm and cinematic triumph

Mint Field. Happy to move (first time at the Blog) to Tijuana, Mexico, in order to meet Estrella Sánchez (vocals & guitar) and Amor Amezcua (drums & synths), a very young duo responsible of the most hypnotic and intriguing sounds to date in 2018. Formed around 2014, at high school, the tandem released homemade EP 'Primeras Salidas' a year later (they were a trio back then) and, in 2016, doubled the bet with singles 'Ciudad Satélite' via French label Cranes Records, 'Nada es estático y evoluciona' and 'Viceversa', material that gave them the chance to play in Coachella, SXSW, as well as extensively through both sides of the the non-existing wall (f*** you Mr. Trump). while at the same time they were anticipating a first album that took a bit longer to see the light but, since this late February, is finally here. 'Pasar de las Luces', out via LA-based Innovative Leisure Records, is a bewitching exploration of the most spacious, eerie and organic sounds, ranging from evocative dream-pop to fuzzy shoegaze, as well as flirting with krautrock rhythms and the darker face of psychedelia, giving nods to bands like Slowdive, Cocteau Twin or Grouper. Allow yourself to get haunted!

Cozy Slippers. And we end in Seattle, Washington, to meet this three-piece formed around 2015, when Barbara Barrilleaux (drums, keyboards, and vocals) and Sarah Engel (bass and vocals) met at music workshop Ladies Rock Camp, being completed with Steven Skelton (guitar) later on. The band debuted with EP 'Late Night in Summertime' in March of 2017, which now will have a follow-up with 'Postcards' out next April via our dear friends of Jigsaw Records. Immediately catchy guitar-driven indiepop, somewhere in between Marine Girls, the Go-Gos and Chastity Girls, propelled by the straightforward dual vocals of Sara and Barbara. A lot to love here...

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 180

Even for those who were reluctant to support it or just believe it (some Spanish journalists and politicians which doesn't deserve to be quoted), the ones who criticizes it or the ones eager to take despicable profit of its historic success (blue or orange, the shit is the same), the highlight of the week (month, year, decade...) has been the feminist strike of past Thursday. Here's hoping it's only the first step o a real, global, unstoppable movement. And to continue with the good mood of the demonstration and the positive force of change, here comes our latest TOP TEN Jukebox. A variety of tunes from consecrated artists like Father John Misty to bands we have discovered recently but we can't (won't) get out of our heads, such as Whenyoung or Megrim. Ten stunning songs to keep the excitement going! And remember, all tunes are available at our Soundcloud. (Join Us!)

Direct links to 2018 Jukebox playlists

Monday, March 5, 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, raged America

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Kind of one of the biggest surprises of the year, receiving nominations and awards here and there to a striking amount (including two Oscars for the main actors), and with the best among the best, Frances McDormand, on it, 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri', was a must-watch for this humble blogger. And after seeing it, I have to say it is indeed pretty astonishing the film is getting so much praise. Because Martin McDonagh’s piece is risky, bold, sardonically funny yet scary at the same time, brilliantly acted as expected (and even beyond) and, although not as top-notch the universal reviews proclaim, mostly rewarding and thought-provoking.

There’s something in ‘Three Billboards...’ tone, atmosphere and scope that gathers Southern literature, The Coen brothers, the music of The Band and the current state of US affairs, with its shameful Trump administration (and their fellow supporters) on top of it. As a matter of fact, Flannery O’Connor’s essential ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find’ and the legendary ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ appear in the film, a couple of clues of what McDonagh is trying to address in his film: grief, rage, despair, violence… and beyond, way beyond (is it possible?) redemption. A movie that, during its first half, works almost flawlessly as an odd yet absorbing combination of tragedy, tension, vengeance, misanthropy, and a shockingly dark, brutal humor which is not afraid to settle over extremely sensitive issues, without 'resting its case' on easy answers.

That first half is firmly sustained by Frances McDormand, who adds another memorable performance to a gigantic career, in her incarnation of Mildred Hayes, a rough, relentless, obsessed mother seeking for justice (or is it just vengeance?), pushing the police of Ebbing not to desist in the investigation of the rape and murder of his daughter seven months ago, convinced she has to do whatever it takes (almost literally, to the point her actions can be questioned) in order to make them keep working in her case. McDonagh presses 'all buttons', harshness and savage comedy, while introducing all the elements of the plot: a small community that doesn’t want to be part of that confrontation between a grieving mother and their police force, as it is directed by a smart, noble man (chief Willoughby, played by Woody Harrelson)… yet alongside him there’s Dixon, a blatantly racist, violent and profoundly stupid cop. A character that, initially, seems to be a secondary, pressing redneck walking cliché, but as the movie develops, turns out to be the other major force of the film, fuelled by the impressive performance of Sam Rockwell (another actor that now might find the recognizement he deserves).

But with Dixon shifting the focus of the film (or, at least, widening to him and Mildred’s actions), also comes the 'issues' with ‘Three Billboards…’ Because, unfortunately, there’s a noteworthy amount of underachievements, dubious scenes and characters, adding some sense of script going overboard or, in the contrary, being undercooked, harming considerably the movie as a result. Some might be consider minor, like the 'deer' scene, or the secondary characters of Mildred’s teenage son, her ex-husband and his teenage girlfriend, carelessly written, in plainly 'broad strokes' (and the 'domestic violence' scene is not funny at all, is gross, by the way). Same applies to Peter Dinklage’s lame role. But more important is the lack of development on why Dixon is always a second away to start kicking someone’s head for no reason (sexuality perhaps?), constantly raged. Why is he not in jail? How are we supposed to believe he can transform himself into that 'other Dixon' just because a letter (we all get the purifying meaning of the fire, by the way, but still)? And linked with Dixon’s 'new found' attitude, how are we supposed to jump on the bandwagon of the threat that, out of nowhere, completely implausible, appears in Mildred’s life and leads us into the film open conclusion? One not only has to concede quite a lot to go with the awkward development of the movie, but in several occasions has to do their bit to 'fill in the gaps'.

As McDonagh’s bet is brave and bold, one really wants to 'have a pass' in what regards to the movie problems and focus in its achievements. Like the aforementioned leading cast, the movie’s intensity, its rhythm and visual imagery (again, the fires). Or acknowledging the viewer should never root for anyone, as every leading character is (heavily) flawed, villains and heroines are not what they seem or, more precisely, the human beings in this film are, at the same time, one step closer to redemption and becoming a monster with their actions, making you stop to think after the initial, impulsive feeling. There's no black and white, no simple answer. True, it’s miles away from her masterful stories, but I have the feeling Flannery O’Connor would be proud of ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’.

SCORE: 7/10

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 179

After a long & busy week of work, it's finally Friday! That means we are ready to unveil our new round of TOP TEN Jukebox. And what do we have prepared for the first playlist of March? As always, many discoveries in a pretty great variety of styles ranging from the shoegaze of Soft Wounds to the surf-pop of Boytoy, or our trademark 'Antipodean touch' of RVG (don't forget that name), plus a little surprise in the form of a movie soundtrack tune with the great PJ Harvey. As you can see, a lot to listen and enjoy! And remember, all tunes are available at our Soundcloud. (Join Us!)

Direct links to 2018 Jukebox playlists

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Indie Anthology 82: essential songs

Winter season (well, not so much in Barcelona, but anyway), perfect time of the year to move to sunny California in order to look back to one of the most exciting and influential bands (and records) of the so-called Paisley Underground movement in our Indie AnthologyGuitars, attitude... and a timeless tune!

Song: Tell Me When It's Over 
Artist: The Dream Syndicate 
Year: 1982

Although my favourite group from the Paisley scene might be The Rain Parade (won't be long until one of their songs ends in this section) it's hard not to consider 'The Days Of Wine and Roses' as, arguably, the most accomplished, explosive and enduring record from that period. Edgier and rockier than their Californian peers, The Dream Syndicate were not so obsessed with the sun-soaked psychdelic vibes, but instead were focused in experimenting with energy, distortion and crunching guitars. And there's not a better example of that "make no prisoners" sound than the sonic blast of single 'Tell Me When It's Over', with Karl Precoda's rattling guitar riff sounding almost like a "call to arms", being quickly joined by the rhythmic section of bass player Kendra Smith and dummer Dennis Duck, before Steve Wynn impersonates Lou Reed's vocal delivery, pointing out the obvious Velvet's reference. 'Tell Me When It's Over' is "a song of songs". You can hear the echoes of the past tunes that fuelled its existence, as well as the pieces that, going forward, pushed to create... left of the dial. "That beautiful noise", again...