Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Best Books of (My) Year 2014

After Saturday's concerts of the year and Tuesdays' EPs of 2014 now it's turn for books. I've always been a bookworm, a compulsive reader. But due to my position at Indienauta and the support shown by many publishers and editors (many many thanks), 2014 has been the year I read the most in my life, so this list has been extremely challenging. Here are my top 10 reads. Hope you like it!

10. The Lowlife- Aleksander Baron 
(La Bestia Equilátera)
We all cheat to ourselves. That's what rediscovered writer Aleksander Baron is telling us in this short but extremely effective novel. In-depth explorer of the human mind, Baron exposes the constant clash between the "life that could be if" and the cruel reality. Miseries and ambivalence floating back and forth, waiting for the moment (or the person) that could change everything, or it is just an excuse to keep waiting? Built around the unique relationship between Harryboas and little Gregory, a silent kid with troubled parents, here's a fascinating character, a gambler that found the trigger to give a 360 change to its existence ... Or is it just another hoax? The threatening spiral awaits...

9. Paths of Glory- Humphrey Cobb
(Capitán Swing)
The inherent heroism of war, even in movies & books that are openly anti-war is frequent. But that's not the case of 'Paths of Glory', that goes straight to the jugular to show not only how absurd any conflict is, but to reveal how abominable is the military institution. The failed assault against the 181st Regiment of the French army against a unapproachable German position exceeds the account of the specific military feat. It's the terrible exposition of disgusted, fearful, exhausted, desperate soldiers leaded by petty, vile, bordering on madness officials, thanks to a system that gives them absolute power to decide on the lives of their troops, thanks to a justice that is just a pantomime. A machinery designed to obliterate any trace of thought, rationality and autonomy. An atrocity exhibition. Should be read at schools.

8. Sister of the Road: The Autobiography of Boxcar Bertha-
Ben Reitman (Pepitas de Calabaza)
What a discovery. Let me tell you about "Hobohemia", the parallel universe of the hobos. One that, for a time in the history of the States, was very real. Migrant workers, homeless, revolutionaries, but above all a counterculture movement as unique, authentic and powerful as to challenge the established society. The incredible adventures of the hobo "Boxcar" Bertha Thompson are not just a shock, but also a serious, resounding slap for those who worship Kerouac and 'On the Road', because where the Beatniks crossed the country to deal with their confusion, longing and rebellious young spirit, the hobos journey was an ambitious way to transform social reality.

7. Death Row Breakout and Other Stories-
Edward Bunker (Sajalín)
Edward Bunker. Short stories. Unpublished. Four words that in a normal world, one that really loves literature, should mean celebration, excitement and immediate purchase. 'Death Row Breakout' is a superb collection of six stories -only six, dammit-, with little surprises, but who wants them when we are talking about Bunker? His criminal and prison universe, precise prose with not a second for anything superfluous, hyper-realistic dialogues, complete control of the pace and tempo of the stories... An unparalleled strength that grabs the reader without remission, leaving you breathless. Half of this brief anthology is just extraordinary, easily ranking among his best.

6. Shotgun Lovesongs- Nickolas Butler
(Libros del Asteroide)
The best folk songs are stories about real people, dealing with real, recognisable situations or moments, and pouring down their emotions, sharing their feelings with the world, connecting with the sensible listener. That's exactly what you'll find within 'Shotgun Lovesongs'. We are not facing the literary equivalent of an empty season hype boosted by hipster media like Pitchfork. No, although Bon Iver (no spoiling) wouldn't be my choice, this book traps your without artifices, engages you without additives, telling the most universal of stories. Loving, growing, learning. With intensity and truth as unique weapons. And wins with a performance full of emotion.

5. Skagboys- Irvine Welsh (Anagrama)
Welsh's most ambitious work to date, this titanic choral novel is full of his trademark narrative pulse, but also offering several literary registers (Renton's diaries are brilliant). Energetic, lewd, sardonic as usual, 'Skagboys' is also reflective, even poetic. Renton & Scott Fitzgerald? Fascinatingly enough, the answer is yes. I knew Welsh could be brutal. But his dynamite used to stay on the surface, in the form of black (very black) humour or high voltage stories that were immediately enjoyed. Now I know that he can be severely grim, but with a depth charge too, one which leaves no stone cold and endure over time. Irvine Welsh has not "killed" our heroes. He has settled them down to Earth and, by delving into their past, they have become more miserable, but also more complex and complete characters, showing that behind the stupid junkie smile there's only emptiness and frustration. So hell was this ...

4. Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line
Ben Hamper (Capitán Swing)
Within the machine of General Motors, Hamper traces a nightmarish account of stories that have the bright virtue of making the reader laugh, with amazing and crazy moments such as the giant "Quality Cat" or the "Rivet Hockey" while, at the same time, he is showing us the madness-inducing bowels of the multinational beast. In that particular world (almost a prison where inmates are wandering), weary workers buried by noise pass through, about to explode but fearful of losing their privileges or their checks​, fully alienated not just in its endless shifts, but also outside them. Forever. Every day a defeat. Is that the American dream? Worse. This is the slow, agonizing death by the deadliest of diseases: capitalism. More than highly recommended. Funny. Stimulant. Necessary.

3. Fresh Fields- Peter Kocan (Sajalín)
Bloodcurdling journey towards madness. Written with stark reality and zero affectation, the Australian author Peter Kocan translates his terrible real life into paper and achieves a narrative miracle. He brilliantly reflects all the quiet pain and the staggered desolation an abandoned teenager has to deal with. A fragile tramp that builds up a delusional fiction to keep surviving, to add another day while he experiences how cold this place called Earth can be. A book with pages that weight a ton. The weight of the world into the shoulders of someone who shouldn't carry all that baggage.

2. The Revolt of the Cockroach People- 
Óscar Zeta Acosta (Acuarela)
Could have been called 'Fear, Loathing and Race in L.A.' Fiction within real facts that are history (poignant history) of the United States. Facts in which Zeta had a starring role, making him the speaker, delirious and irreverent, an impossible hero, of the Mexican-American people fighting for their rights in California. A theory of chaos entering Bear State Courts, an explosive cocktail about late 60s-early 70s, a moment where everything seemed ready to be blown away. Politics, violence, drugs, revolution, counterculture, and a good, hilariously demented laugh at the face of the vile and racist power, the rotten American Dream. Gonzo goes Mexican.

1. The Class of 49'- Don Carpenter (Gallo Nero)
No heroics (as the great Carver would say) please, no flounces. Don Carpenter masterfully dissected his generation in this little gem, full of disarming clarity and naturalness of style. If there's cruelty, he is brutal. If there's sadness, he is appalling. It's so mind blowing to read so much about the ephemeral nature of existence written in chapters sometimes shorter than just a page. It's all here. The vacuum of memories. The merciless that humans can be, especially being part of a group. The fear of the future. Fate is just around the corner and finding meaning in life is not easy. At all. Carpenter asks: growing up means losing innocence? But as only the greatest writers do, he leaves it open to our interpretation. 'The Class of 49' is the toughest lesson. But it is a mandatory one if you want to pass the complicated course that is life.

Want to check last year's books list? Click here
Or do you prefer checking 2012? Then click here
And 2011's? Check here

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Best EPs of the Year 2014

After the best concerts' list, it's time for the EPs. As you know, many times best things in life come in small packages, so we couldn't miss the chance to review the best 15 EPs of the year (no singles, 3 to 6 songs). Nothing more to say, just play it loud & enjoy!

15. Expert Alterations- Expert Alterations
14. Agosto- Neleonard
13. Drag- NO/NO
12. Xeristar- Linda Guilala
11. Set Sail Someday - Parrot Dream
10. The Hills Around- The Hills Around
9. Night Flowers- Night Flowers
8. So Very Small- Blooper
7. Fool of a Kind- Marine Life
6. Indiepop or Whatever!- When Nalda Became Punk
5. Colinas Bermejas- Grupo de Expertos Solynieve
4. Veneer- September Girls
3Jumprope- Gingerlys
2Things Too Obvious to Sing- The Very Most
1. Line & Circle- Line & Circle

Want to check the best EPs of 2013? Click here
And 2012? Click here

The "Records List" coming shortly!

Monday, December 15, 2014

"Interstellar", Hollywood in hyper-space


It was bound to happen. As technology keeps advancing, the movie industry is eager to show the new available possibilities and tricks on visual effects, introducing them on "the next mind blowing" experience. One that is usually packed within a seriously silly film but announced ad nauseam as the must-see movie. In that sense, 'Interstellar' must be considered a triumph. Is highly impressive, epic and visually bombastic, but is not offending your intelligence. Thanks Christopher Nolan for creating a blockbuster (or better said, the mother of all blockbusters) that doesn't insult you.

It's admirable to have a film willing to reach massive audiences with a product that introduce bits of science, poignant dilemmas about mankind's future and a thought-provoking nod to what we are currently doing with the planet we have inherited. The global crop blight and second Dust Bowl that are Earth's death toll are a suggestive and intriguing way of exposing the consequences of the damage we are inflicting to our planet, wasting its resources and degrading it until becomes uninhabitable. It also has a lot of merit the movie lasts for almost three hours, taking its time to develop, but doesn't become (at least to me) boring.

Having said that, this is a blockbuster. And there are TOO MANY letdowns, weak moments and plot holes to make the overall result satisfactory. To begin with, 'Interstellar' settles its plot in one of the most overused and ridiculous excuses. Again, it's another "chosen one", former NASA pilot Cooper (the now vindicated Matthew McConaughey, funny how trends change everything) who has mankind's future in his (supposedly) experienced hands. Probably more convincing than 'Armaggedon'... but not that far away from it. The moviegoer has to concede quite a lot to believe the whole Professor Brand's (played by the great Michael Caine) hidden plan...

Then, through wormholes, unexplored galaxies and new tempting planets that could be the right one for humans to settle in, there's Hollywood all over the storytelling, highlighting the sentimental, human side of this galactic adventure. But even if you can't argue against the impeccable McConaughey and Jessica Chastain (who plays Murph, Cooper's daughter, essential part of the movie and Earth's salvation) performances, the mixture between bland sentimentalism and bigger-than-ever plot hurts the film. And finally there are some secondary roles that are really underdeveloped, Brand (played by Anne Hathaway) being the most obvious. And although others might help the film keep going (I'm thinking on Matt Damon's role as Dr. Mann) giving 'Interstellar' some action, there are several question marks about what they offer in terms of story development and credibility.   

Entertaining and way more than your average blockbuster. But light years from a masterpiece.

SCORE: 6/10

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Best Concerts of the Year 2014

The day has arrived... it's time to begin with our Best-of-the-year LISTS! As we did in 2013, we start with our favourite concerts. Exciting new bands, two amazing veterans I thought I was never going to see, the fulfilled dream of attending (at least one) Indietracks... and, in the most personal note ever, seeing your own blood brought you into tears. Yes, it's been a fabulous year in what regards to live music. Hope you like it!

Cosmen Adelaida - La [2] de Apolo
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
10. Cosmen Adelaida (La [2] de Apolo, Barcelona, February 5th)
One of my favourite Spanish bands, and they have just nailed this 2014 with the release of 'La Foto Fantasma' (look for it at the best albums of the year list), but this gig arrived even before we heard the record. Very powerful, tight and straight to the jugular show from start to finish, with stunning new indie-rock tunes like 'El Parque', 'Familia/Trabajo' or 'Becerro de Oro' adding diversity and strength to an already exciting collection of tunes (go hurry and check out '7 Picos'). Flawless.

The Chills - Indietracks
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
9. The Chills (Indietracks, Ripley, July 25th)
The first day of the Festival at the Midland Railway Center had a very special date, with one of Flying Nun's most unforgettable bands. Of course, I was eager to hear, for the first time, quintessential, eternal tunes like 'Pink Frost' or 'Heavenly Pop Hit' (sounded glorious, just glorious), but I admit I wasn't expecting to see a band in such full form, with still so much to say, something new tunes proved (looking forward to new album). It doesn't rank higher because it was too short, but still, for an hour I was in New Zealand, one of the realms of indiepop. 

Courtney Barnett - Primavera Sound
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
8. Courtney Barnett (Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, May 31st)
The Melbourne singer-songwriter is one of the most exciting acts that have appeared recently. She's charismatic. She's extremely talented, creating excellent tunes ranging from folk to rock packed with outstanding lyrics (she's easily one of the best lyricists out there today, funny, witty, thoughtful while being the opposite of pedantic). She's spontaneous and things look natural, unforced and genuine with her. And my Goodness! She really knows how to deliver a dynamic, relentless show. Courtney Barnett took Pitchfork's stage and won us over. Fingers crossed there's a chance to see her in a more intimate venue. Could be priceless.

Withered Hand - Indietracks
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
7. Withered Hand (Indietracks, Ripley, July 27th)
Indietracks again. Dan Willson has offered us 'New Gods', among the best records of the year. So expectations were high, very high. Then you realise Ms. Pam Berry is doing backing vocals. And you have your friend and admired musician Jeremy Jensen from the Very Most next to you, smiling just like you when masterpieces 'Horseshoe' and 'Black Tambourine' are played. Could it get better than this? Yes indeed. For me it did with 'Religious Songs'. Larger than life tune. Larger than life performance. More than five months after I still get goosebumps.

Savages - Sala Apolo
Photo: Rafa Piera - Indienauta
6. Savages (Sala Apolo, Barcelona, February 18th)
Unfortunately, the FAKE & DEAD city of Barcelona wasn't ready for a band like Savages. People prefer to chat or constantly check their stupid Iphones. That's why it ranks a 6. It's a shame because here's a band that battles on stage. They try to remind us there was a time when music was powerful, interesting, intriguing, meaningful. And they do taking no prisoners live. A gig without concessions, fuelled with dense and long new tunes. The quartet is one of the most impressive stage presences I have ever seen. The magnetism and fierce attitude of Jehnny Beth, the guitar transformed into a machine gun in the hands of Gemma Thompson and the terrific, striking rhythm section of drummer Fay Milton and bassist Ayse Hassan. They are an earthquake. A landslide. 

Slowdive - Primavera Sound
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
5. Slowdive (Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, May 30th)
Many will say My Bloody Valentine. Others Ride. Mine is Slowdive, by far, far, far. On a day where The National was also playing, this was the concert to remember. First time hearing live tunes like 'Avalyn', 'Catch the Breeze', 'Machine Gun' or 'When the Sun Hits'. First time seeing my dear Rachel Goswell on stage, shining. First time going ecstatic in a massive, open space with tunes always dreamt to be enjoyed that way. Slowdive, you made my forget myself for a while...

Boutade - Sala Razzmatazz
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
4. Boutade (Razzmatazz 3, Barcelona, October 17th)
And just when you thought it couldn't get more personal... I don't know if you can imagine what it means for someone so passionate about music to write about a band that is fronted by his own brother, also a stubborn music lover himself. And how hard is to write about it without losing your composure. Wasn't the first time seeing him on stage, but it was clearly the finest. In total command of the scenario-situation, the band was almost flawless, putting a show that ignited after 'Grey Is a Lie' and became simply majestic in tunes like 'In My Own Desert', 'White Rats', or that heavenly, breathtaking finale that was 'Lost Friends'. How you've grown, my beloved little brother. Here's a real band waiting for you to be discovered.

Ought - Primavera Club
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
3. Ought (Primavera Club, Barcelona, November 2nd)
We were tired and seriously considering leaving the Festival. We didn't have any expectations with this Canadians. But what a tragic mistake it would have been. We would have missed a mind-blowing, completely hypnotic gig from the very first second. An impossible and extraordinarily personal music, recalling Wire, The Velvet & The Fall at the same time. Explosive and expansive combination, full of twists, tone changes and surprises, and propelled by Tim Beeler, an incredible frontman, summoning Mark E. Smith, David Byrne and Jarvis Cocker altogether. What a discovery.

St. Vincent - Primavera Sound
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
2. St.Vincent (Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, May 29th)
Almost every magazine is rating Annie Clark's latest album among the best of the year. That's not my case (I prefer 'Strange Mercy' and her earlier works), but it's hard for me to suggest many better options to see an artists performing live. At Primavera Sound she delivered a masterful example of what does it mean arriving to a state of absolute control and knowledge about playing live while showing all possibilities of your own skills. Superb show of a unique, true artist.

Fear of Men - Primavera Club
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
1. Fear of Men (Primavera Club, Barcelona, October 31st)
Topping the list I have chosen one of the Blog most beloved bands, praise dand hailed recurrently from the very first time I discovered them. Was hoping for a great gig for sure, but at Primavera Club they surprised me in the most positive way. More upbeat and danceable than expected. Jangle-pop combined with the mystery of post-punk, far from the fragilty Jessica Weiss' sweet vocals can suggest on a first impression. With Daniel Falvey fabulous guitar playing and Weiss showing she's a strong, engaging frontwoman (striking rendition of 'Pink Frost' from The Chills included), the gig was a triumph from start to finish. I left my throat trying to reach the higher notes, I danced like no many people has seen and was lucky enough to greet them after the show. Just a perfect night...

Want to check last year's best concerts? Just click here
What about 2012? Click here 
And 2011? Then check here

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox 35

The year's end is quicky arriving and, although we are working hard in our best of the year lists, here's a new round of our TOP TEN playlist series! Please enjoy with our proposals, combining exciting new acts with consacrated ones. And remember, is also available at our Blog's soundcloud page. Join Us!

Direct links to the previous Jukebox weeks
Week 1      Week 8        Week 15     Week 22   Week 29
Week 2      Week 9        Week 16     Week 23  Week 30 
Week 3      Week 10      Week 17     Week 24  Week 31 
Week 4      Week 11      Week 18     Week 25   Week 32
Week 5      Week 12      Week 19     Week 26   Week 33
Week 6      Week 13      Week 20     Week 27   Week 34
Week 7      Week 14       Week 21     Week 28

Welcome to the Jukebox!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Discoverer 108: new indie findings

We reach December, so it's time to prepare our best-of-the-year-lists. But before the drama begins, three more proposals at our Discoverer Series for your ears only. Enjoy!

Fire Island Pines. Thanks to the always excellent Blog Don't Eat the Yellow Snow I can introduce you to this sextet from Wadebridge, Cornwall, UK. Formed in late 2010, they made their debut with 'Bratislava' EP a year later, followed by another EP, 'Rickie Lee Jones' on early 2012. After the limited 7" '1915 / Midwest' on our dear Manic Pop! Records in 2013, this year we can finally enjoy their first full album, entitled 'True Grit' and available since July through Firestation Records. Go check it out. You're going to find Jarvis Cocker-alike-vocals, jangly guitar lines, irresistible melodies and... trumpets! A truly great indiepop find!

Childsaint. Back to Perth, Australia to meet this all-female quartet, initially, in early 2013, a project for songwriters Chloe McGrath and Jane Azzopardi but expanded into their full form band in 2014 with drummer Ashlyn Koh and bass player Rhian Todhunter. A couple of tunes surfaced online in February 2013, followed this year by 'Dessert' anticipating single from 'sick' EP their debut release, out since September. Four exciting tunes, buried in haze, fed in dreams, darkness and beauty comprised within intriguing music pills, with a style that can remind you bands like Warpaint or Hella Better Dancer. Haunting pop hypnosis.  
No/No. And we end in Milwaukee, USA, with a band recently born from the ashes of The Delphines, named one of the best local bands of the 2010s and with a very recommendable album 'Hush', out in early 2014. But focusing in this newborn group, with first EP 'Drag' out on Milwaukee Record since late October, and another one, entitled 'XO', to arrive next week, now we have at least 8 great reasons to be excited. No/No makes instantly catchy, contagious music. Pop very high on added vitamins merging 80s new wave, waves of reverb with softly whispered vocals. Dark and sweet. Bubblegum candy, all-dressed in black. The most pleasant surrender.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox 34

What a better way to enjoy the long weekend ahead than with good music? Here's a new round of our TOP TEN playlist series! This week you can enjoy the strength & funny rock of Girlpool, another great song from Sleater-Kinney's rebirth, the brand-new single of our dear Grushenka, or be delighted with the music of Dianas and Parrot Dream. And remember, is also available at our Blog's soundcloud page. Join Us!

Direct links to the previous Jukebox weeks
Week 1      Week 8        Week 15     Week 22   Week 29
Week 2      Week 9        Week 16     Week 23  Week 30 
Week 3      Week 10      Week 17     Week 24 Week 31 
Week 4      Week 11      Week 18     Week 25   Week 32
Week 5      Week 12      Week 19     Week 26   Week 33
Week 6      Week 13      Week 20     Week 27 
Week 7      Week 14       Week 21     Week 28

Welcome to the Jukebox!