Sunday, August 31, 2014

Discoverer 101: new indie findings

Our 101 post in our discoverer series is a special one: another trip "down under", but this time to Melbourne, Australia, where three exciting bands are ready to blow you away!

The Zebras. Pop veterans that started their career in Brisbane in 2001 when Jeremy Cole, Edwina Ewins, Matt Jones and Leon Dufficy made the move from Cairns and shoegaze, quickly supporting bands like Lambchop and The Shins, a most promising fact fuelled by the airwaves love of first single 'Car of Idiots'. In 2004 arrived their eponymous debut album on Lost and Lonesome, with sophomore LP 'Worry a Lot' coming in 2007, to much of acclaim from fans and critics. But then came frustration with Brisbane's pop scene, which provoked the group's disband. Although there was an EP in 2008, 'New Ways of Risking Our Lives' with Cole and Ewins introduced assembling a new line-up, The Zebras got in some sort of hibernation... until now, with the arrival of flamboyant new album 'Siesta', out since June on Jigsaw Records and Lost and Lonesome. POP in big capital letters, sumptuous, jangling, endearing, sun-soaked, with Edwina Ewins melting hearts vocals. Serious contender for the best-of-the-year albums lists...

Twerps. Formed in late 2008, this quartet were already supporting big names like Deerhunter, The Bats, Black Lips, Yo La Tengo and Thee Oh Sees within a few months of their first show. Their debut EP, 'Good Advice', arrived on Chapter Music a year later in late 2009 (also released on cassette at US by Night People label). Hype became a fact when Uncut magazine called them “best new band in Australia”, fostered in 2011 when they released single 'She Didn't Know' and 'Black Eyes', followed by self-titled debut album co-released by Chapter Music and Underwater Peoples. A new single, 'Work It Out/He's In Stock', and a tour with Real Estate came in 2012. Now, after a line-up change on drums, Twerps return to action with eight song EP 'Underlay', out this August on Chapter Music and Merge Records. Immediate pop, playful and unaffected. Lazy voices, crystalline guitars, killer melodies, lo-fi scent... Honouring their own tradition (hard not to hear echoes from The Bats or The Clean) while giving us an irresistible dose of immaculate guitar-pop.

Lowtide. Although technically, they began in 2008 as Three Month Sunset, built around the solo workings of Gabriel Lewis, the band's rebirth as Lowtide in 2010 was more than just a name change, becoming a full and expansive sounding quartet. That same year the group released debut EP 'You Are My Good Light'. Shows with A Place To Bury Strangers and Festivals with names like Caribou, My Disco and Toro Y Moi followed. 2011 seem the band releasing a two-track single entitled 'Underneath Tonight' on Departed Sounds, with more shows alongside bands such as Royal Baths, The Laurels or Beaches. On 2012 and 2013 Lowtide focused on playing and preparing their self-titled first album, which was anticipated this May by the mind-blowing single 'Blue Movie', and its out since middle July on Lost and Lonesome. Somewhere in between the lovely Ride and celestial Slowdive (yes, talking big here), Lowtide have created and extraordinary record, full of reverb and dreamy layered guitars, air-suspended vocals and lush textures. A dreampop classic in 2014.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox 21

Almost ending summer holidays and, in a few days, most of the people returning to their daily routines. So, what a better way to confront the holiday depression than enjoy our TOP TEN playlist? This week we bring you some consecrated bands as Real Estate, The June Brides or Robert Scott from The Bats,as well as, our beloved Honeyblood, and some fresh songs by The History of Apple Pie or Beach Day. As latest weeks, it's also available at the Blog's soundcloud, so please Join Us!

Direct links to the previous Jukebox weeks
Week 1      Week 8        Week 15 
Week 2      Week 9        Week 16
Week 3      Week 10      Week 17   
Week 4      Week 11      Week 18  
Week 5      Week 12      Week 19 
Week 6      Week 13      Week 20 
Week 7      Week 14

Welcome to the Jukebox! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"The Grand Budapest Hotel", Wes Anderson's Republic

The Grand Budapest Hotel

In my book, that's entertainment. Entertainment within an inviting, personal, mesmerizing world, where an author, in this case, a film director, goes way further in his imagination, being able to show it to a captivated audience. 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' might not be as touching as 'Bottle Rocket' or 'The Royal Tennenbaums', but easily qualifies as Wes Anderson's most rounded adventure of his filmography to date, and can compete to 'Life Aquatic' (which can't explain why but absolutely adore) in what regards to visual wonders.

Can a film be absurd, funny, exciting, violent and colourful at the same time? Yes. 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' combines all those elements. And again, it's visually wonderful and exciting. Anderson creates his own universe (loosely and freely based on Stefan Zweig's books), which is exuberant and somehow decadent, with cartooning but real characters, old-world charms and witty one-liners. It simply haunts the viewer with puzzling shots full of details.It's Anderson's fantasy, his improbable Republic, and we are invited to watch it. And foremost, enjoy it.

Although it can be argued the story in itself plays a secondary role compared with the care put on the flamboyant and flawless sets and visuals that's not to mean is not important or lacks substance. It's an adventure with a twisted humour, taking place at a vertigo pace and with killing, rapid-fire dialogues. But behind there's something else, something darker, more nostalgic and evocative. The world we are seeing in the film is not real, but it's even worse: it looks familiar, historically real, but out of time. It's a parallel reality looking condemned, already past, already gone. Forced to disappear too?

No one reflects that sense of an ancient world on the verge of being forgotten than the Budapest Hotel's concierge, Gustave H., played gracefully by Ralph Fiennes, the absolute star of the show. Relentless, old fashioned, sophisticated to the extreme, mannerist, picky and absolutely devoted to his job... and the glamour it concedes... at least in his head. He's the epitome of a vanishing present, quickly becoming past.

The film is a basically an adventure, involving an impossible chasing after Gustave puts himself in an extremely dangerous situation when he's inherits a precious painting which confronts himself with very dangerous people. But even more important, all this hide and seek tale is set against a very particular backdrop: the Nazis (although they are called that in the film) invading Central Europe. There are some scenes of imploding violence and the threat of war is always present. So the funny, offbeat and quirky humour, one of Anderson's trademarks, is sometimes poisoned by what looks like reality getting through fantasy. A cornerstone scene that happens twice during the movie says it all.

Anderson surrounds Gustave between two generational worlds. In a stellar cast of well-known faces (Anderson's growing family of actors) in supporting spots, including Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Jeff Goldblum or the charicaturesque, terrible villains played by Willem Dafoe and Adrien Brody. In a key, hilarious and unforgettable scene which includes our dear Bill Murray, the troubled Gustave seeks for the help of his colleagues: we are referring to concierges of several hotels, similar in their old fashioned and surreal style to The Grand Budapest, all over Europe. Each of them stop their flawless and impeccably executed duties to attend Gustave's call, putting in charge their respective assistants. A younger generation taking the lead. Which is exactly the case with lovely Saoirse Ronan as Agatha and Tony Revolori as Zero, the other leading roles, becoming Gustave's partners in the adventure and their offbeat counterpoints on the dialogues.

At times, with 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' I had the feeling aesthetics and visuals were winning the battle instead of the story. You know when after watching a movie there's not a lot to talk about outside the theater? That's not exactly true in this case, but the majority of comments were focused on a particularly impressive scenario, a beyond cool imagery, or a stunning look. Would the movie be a masterpiece with a more profound insight on the characters & story? Maybe. But it would have been a different movie for sure. And who knows, maybe Anderson's wild, bustling imagination, would have been constrained with a more conventional plot development. So, for once, I'll just enjoy this masterful entertainment without caring that much about how long it will endure...

SCORE: 7,5/10

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Indie Anthology 50: essential songs

Back blogging with a great tune for our Indie Anthology. If the last one was about Lambchop, this time I to pay tribute to a very close band to them, one I've been reading about for Indienauta recently. A seminal but always underrated trio!

Song: Tom Courtenay
Artist: Yo La Tengo
Year: 1995

Never been a Yo La Tengo fan, one of the most perfect examples of a "band of songs", not albums, for me. But hey, when the amount of tunes reaches what it could make a lovely and diverse double/triple record, that's not exactly what you would call a bad thing, right? 'Tom Courtenay' might be one of their most straightforward, catchier songs, and the first that made "click" with me. Love the contrast between its sound exuberance, an unbeatable piece of indie rock without reservations (who can't deny the attraction power of the simple “ba-ba-ba” backing vocals), with the nostalgic lyrics of Ira Kaplan, full of childhood pop culture memories. Honestly, they are ages away from mine, but you can't help, just fall disarmed by the joy the tune transmits.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Discoverer 100: new indie findings

Who made the 100 post in our discoverer series? The last three bands to reach the landmark of 300 music proposals for your ears only!

The Luxembourg Signal. LA-based, this fantastic new project means the birth of a super-band, featuring members from the great Aberdeen or, most recently, Fonda and Trembling Blue Stars. The origins of the group can be traced almost ten years before, but only after several reunions Johnny Joyner, Beth Arzy and Brian Espinosa started The Luxembourg Signal with Betsy Moyer and Ginny Pitchford, recording the tunes each time Beth visited the States. After the 7" single 'Distant Drive' released in April 2014 by our dear friends of Shelflife Records, on September 30th their debut, self-titled album, will arrive. 10 rich tunes combining dreampop, glimmering pop with a darker twist, shoegazing textures and a talent to knack unbeatable melodies within the noise and guitar drones. Spectacular.
Minipop. Hailing from San Francisco, this group formed a decade ago, when Matthew Swanson joined forces with Tricia Kanne the duo began composing music with a clear '90s vibe like Slowdive or Lush, completing the band shortly afterwards with the addition of Lauren Grubb and Nick Forte. They self-produced debut EP, 'Precious', in late 2005, signing with Take Root Records and releasing their only album to date, 'A New Hope', a year later. Despite the great press and successful tours along with bands like Stellastarr, Film School or Cursive, Minipop has always taken their own path and rhythm to do things. Another EP, 'Automatic Love' arrived in 2010. With the band becoming a trio, now they are back with another EP, 'Chances' out since July. Starry-eyed dreampop, always fuelled with Kanne's irresistible voice. Melodic, spacey and ethereal sounds. The band's name is ironic, for sure. This is huge pop, not mini at all.

WORKING. Hailing from Rhode Island, here's an extremely exciting new group, with a quartet formed by John and Catherine Kolodij, whose previous projects include Aura'd and The Best Wishes, joined by friends Matthew Derby and Mary-Kim Arnold. They just released a debut, digital single on Shelflife Records entitled 'More Weight', announcing they are currently preparing a full length album scheduled for 2015. Three promising tunes of noise pop, C-86 style, recalling Black Tambourine or Velocity Girl, as addictive as the summer season. Great, huge expectations, keep WORKING that good!  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox 20

August, summer time, holidays...but here's our TOP TEN playlist, with several exciting tunes we are enjoying the most lately. This week we bring you some bands that have already captivated us as The Death of Pop, Tape Waves or Ex Hex (second or third song for them in our Jukebox) and also indispensable bands as our beloved Allo Darlin'. As always we introduce you new discoveries as Trust Fund, Cancers or Lily & Madeleine. It's also available at the Blog's soundcloud, so please Join Us!

Direct links to the previous Jukebox weeks
Week 1      Week 8        Week 15 
Week 2      Week 9        Week 16
Week 3      Week 10      Week 17   
Week 4      Week 11      Week 18  
Week 5      Week 12      Week 19
Week 6      Week 13
Week 7      Week 14

Welcome to the Jukebox!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Discoverer 99: new indie findings

We are very close to reach a milestone in our 'Discoverer' series. But before that special moment arrives, here are three unmissable proposals for your ears only!

Tape Waves. Let me introduce you to the Weldin's music, one of the nicest surprises reaching my inbox since this Blog was created. Jarod and Kim Hart Weldin hail from Charleston, South Carolina, and their first tunes surfaced just last year, with a self-titled summer EP, announcing more wonders about to come. After a 7" single featuring Stay All Night /Looking at the Sun' this May, since the end of July we can enjoy their debut album 'Let You Go', out via Bleeding Gold Records. Delicate, whispered dream-pop that looks, smells, feels, (I'm sure you can taste and touch it too) and sounds like the most peaceful sunny afternoon. Think on Real Estate jangling guitars fronted by an ethereal, echoing female voice (sometimes Kim vocals seem to be floating in the breeze). This is what sunshine pop should mean. This is a no-brainer: among the records of the year.
Thee AHs. Another discovery thanks to Indietracks. Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, the band started around high school 2011, when guitarist-composer Davinia Shell joined singer and illustrator Sarah Lowenbot and drummer Mareesa Holmes. Completed with bassist Ridley Bishop, they self-released their two first albums, 'Thee AHs Nation' in September 2011 and “Future Without Her” in February 2013. Their prolific career so far includes tours across their country, the States and, their recent first UK tour, a change in their line-up, with Dan On replacing Bishop on bass, and the arrival of third LP, 'Corey’s Coathangers', out since March via Jigsaw Records and Birdtapes. Self-defining their sound as black bubblegum pop, Thee AHs do intriguing, adventurous in-your-face pop, one in which the sugar often masks twisted subjects and sinuous, frantic structural shifts, fuelled with Lowenbot's malleable honey vocals. Pretty unique.
The Artisans. Hailing from North East England, between Newcastle and the (their definition, not mine) thick smog of Hartlepool, this quartet formed at the end of 2013, but they are not newcomers into this "business": frontman Kevin 'The Nearly Man' McGrother has a very extensive career in bands like Just Like Alice, Tickety Boo or solo, releasing via several indiepop labels, while the rest of the band played in Pale Man Made and Uncle Monty. The buzz around the combo has just begun in the form of radio airplay and the support from Frankie & The Heartstrings. Something logic considering the four tunes (considered demos despite their unstoppable strength) we can enjoy to date. Jangly, with that timeless 80s feel, and immediately catchy songs honouring the best of traditions and its more than apt name. We just want more!