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Monday, February 28, 2011

Playlisting: waiting for R.E.M.

Only a week for "Collapse Into Now" to arrive. And despite the "technical difficulties" that made impossible the listening party today via spotify of the new album, it is the perfect time (or a compensation) to remember some of R.E.M.'s incomparable legacy. The only criteria has been selecting less obvious songs instead of the well-known choices (no "Losing My Religion", "Everybody Hurts", "Imitation of Life" or "Man on the Moon"). Enjoy!
  1. Sitting Still
  2. Fall On Me
  3. Maps and Legends
  4. E-Bow the Letter
  5. Driver 8
  6. Shaking Through
  7. Walk Unafraid
  8. Country Feedback
  9. Welcome to the Occupation
  10. The Lifting
  11. Lotus
  12. Gardening at Night
  13. Disturbance at the Heron House
  14. Talk About the Passion
  15. Electrolite

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Let England Shake", PJ Harvey's masterpiece

Let England Shake - PJ Harvey
NME gave the album a perfect ten. The average metascore on Metacritic (a website that summarizes all reviews made) rates the record with a phenomenal 88 (based on 35 critics right now). Its rewarding to see, for once, the majority of the "music scene" is recognizing the value of an album and an artist that restores the devalued idea that art (music in this case) should be important, should be meaningful.

"Let England Shake" its not just a new reinvention of Polly Jean Harvey, someone that simply deserves to be considered among the most important female artists music history has, due to her constant capacity of challenging herself while she creates a language of her own. Its also a reinvention of folk, connecting the traditional -"The Colour of the Earth", "On Battleship Hill"-, with the XXI Century -"Written on the Forehead"- a sound as rich as unique taken it as a whole. But its not just about what it means for a music genre. Far from it.

As the excellent review of Mike Williams on the aforementioned weekly music magazine says, on "Let England Shake" PJ declares herself as a "political animal". But she's not doing it by overexposing her opinions and sharing her vision about the current state of the world affairs. No, she does it by creating characters, stories and situations in her songs, going from a fictional individual to a recognisable universe of death, war and desolation. She brings us the past -Gallipoli- to unify it with the present -Iraq, Afghanistan- because she's not protesting against any particular crime or injustice -as all the wars are- she's revealing that England, and the whole world, has been making the same mistakes, committing the same atrocities, making violence a common pattern of world history. Take a look at news today, please.

To highlight the best moments of this record is a hard task. For me would be the desperate pledge of "What if take my problem to the United Nations?" in "The Words that Maketh Murder", the knock-out ending of "In the Dark Places", the poignant lyrics of "The Glorious Land" or the apocalyptic battleground described on "Bitter Branches". But even in the "riskier" moments -"England" goes a bit too far for my taste in the way she sings, or the reggae sampler in "Written in the Forehead"- is the record as a whole that works, is the enduring and compelling experience that "Let England Shake" provides to the listener. A genuine -and much needed- masterpiece.

SCORE: 9/10
The link to my article (in Spanish) reviewing the record, from the website I collaborate with: 
"Let England Shake", la guerra según PJ Harvey

Discoverer 2: new indie findings

Second round of indie bands for your listening pleasure!

Reading Rainbow. Sarah Everton and Rob Garcia are Reading Rainbow, the couple responsible of "Prism Eyes", their sophomore album, a refreshing treaty of indie pop/garage-punk, full of reverb, compulsive beats, hyper-vitaminated guitars, joyful intertwined harmonies and occasional vintage synth sounds, like in this "Always on My Mind". If you like Best Coast, Wavves or Dum Dum Girls, try Reading Rainbow.

La Sera. "Kickball" Katy (or Katy Goodman) is one third of the Vivian Girls, one of the top bands from the lo-fi/pop-punk, female-fronted, American scene. But she also embarked herself on a solo project, that after hearing a couple of tunes in 2010, has crystallised in a debut album released this February, where she replaces the noisier sound of the Vivian Girls for a poppier style, somewhere between Pixies and the dream-pop. Add funny videos like this one, and the combination  is simply irresistible.

Summer Fiction. Before 2010 ended, an unknown band from Philadelphia released a collection of charming, bookish and classy indie pop gems. It was one of the best debut albums of the year and it all came from Bill Ricchini's mastermind, who composed and self-produced this wonderful album. Chamber pop that trails back to the 60s and has the looks of a black and white French or Italian film full of glamorous parties, betrayals and summer romances. Like in this stunning "Chandeliers".

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Things to do in New York

On a snowy N.Y.C. What a beautiful morning.
(You can download the song together with another tune, "Orange Sunday" at The Walkmen's website, don't miss it)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Migration risk (Ignoreland 2)

I know I promised not to make many "ranting posts" but it seems my job is, sadly, forcing me to keep writing about it lately. This week we have learnt a new expression. It's called "migration risk". What does it mean? It means that what we were saying last week, the "economic concerns", were just an excuse (you can replace excuse with the word lie if you prefer). So, after wasting a lot of time (not to mention money from the students applying for the visas), someone on the area of visas from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs finally reveals us the reason behind the rejection is they are too many people applying and they find that suspicious. Of course we explained what's our activity before, and they have the documents to prove it in their hands. But it seems reading is not an option either.

Well, now you know what's a "migration risk".

In conclusion:
a) Your Ministry of Foreign Affairs (or at least the persons responsible at an embassy) can lie to you.
b) The reason for a rejection can easily show you they don't give a damn about the documents you present to them. They have a policy to follow, and that's all.
c) The whole process has more to do with Kafka. But Kafka wrote books, and here we are talking about real people, and their rights and dignity as humans...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Falling in love with a girl. A night with Basia Bulat

Basia Bulat (+ Renaldo & Clara) 
Caprichos de Apolo. La [2] de Apolo, Barcelona, February 11th

No matter the place wasn't the real Apolo, but a smelly, way less charming space. No matter the sound wasn't as good as we would have loved, and as result, some of the fastest, rockier, up-beating tunes suffered from an excess of  volume. No matter the support act, Renaldo & Clara, was well-intentioned but harmless. Or that Basia was alone performing (ukelele, autoharp, guitar, piano, a cappella). She delivered an amazing show, proving, again, she is one of these few, unique, true artists.

From the very beginning it was easy to guess the evening was going to be a great one had. And that feeling never disappeared. Basia has the natural charms (she is lovely) to hypnotise the public, but foremost, she is ridiculously talented. The shyness she has while chatting with the audience turns into a fierce passion when she starts playing and singing. And that combination is hard to resist. No one resisted on Friday 11th, that's for sure.

There were many highlights during the night, but I would select the tunes played on piano, in particular "If It Rains" and the terrific "I Put a Spell on You" (I still have goosebumps when I remember how she sang that tune). But my guess is that everyone present at the show will have their own choice to pick. And that says a lot about the concert. And about the artist.

If you have the opportunity to see Basia Bulat, don't miss it! You'll fall in love with the girl of the autoharp.

I don't have a proper video of the night, but here's probably the most amazing film you can find from Basia performing. Not as good as seeing her live, but anyway, mesmerizing (if you can, watch it in HD).

Here's the link to my article (in Spanish) of the concert, from the website I collaborate with:
Basia Bulat hechiza Barcelona con un one woman mayúsculo

Monday, February 21, 2011

New confirmations for Benicassim (FIB Festival) tomorrow. A wishlist

After too many days without news, Benicassim has announced that tomorrow they will reveal more names of their 2011 line-up.

My (short) wishlist for tomorrow 
(R.E.M.'s impossible dream aside)
The Decemberists 
The Divine Comedy: someone else would agree :)
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Dum Dum Girls
The Mynabirds 
Northern Portrait
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Electrelane: they just announced they are back to play some summer gigs and festivals after three years!!

Let's see what happens tomorrow!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Discoverer 1: new indie findings

Weekends are the perfect time to discover new music, don't you think? Starting today, each weekend a post will be devoted to suggest "new" (meaning relatively unknown groups, or at least unknown to me, that recently started their careers) indie bands that are worth a look.

Shaun Kilfoyle and Amalie Bruun come from Brooklyn, NY, and their debut album, "By the Hedge", published on January, confirms the expectations of their previous 7", like this stunning "Funeral Song". Echoes of New Wave (the Cure anyone?), boy/girl harmonies, ethereal synths and guitars, and the ability to create unforgettable melodies.

The Narcoleptic Dancers. Charming indie pop, catchy and breezy, from this Franco-Dutch duo, Anton Louis Jr. and Melody Van Kappers, with an irresistible debut EP, "Not Evident", out now. You'll find yourself smiling.

Let's Buy Happiness. The best kept secret of British indie comes from Newcastle. With a couple of EPs ("No Hot Ashes" is among the best things released on 2009) and a slowly arising career supporting Idlewild, Vivian Girls and playing Glastonbury, one cannot expect anything else but greatness. Fronted by the gorgeous voice of Sarah Hall, the hypnotic, icy, blasting, and unique sound of the band is mesmerizing.

"Unaccustomed Earth", tales about the matters of life

Unaccustomed Earth- Jhumpa Lahiri
I was impressed with the stories of the Pulitzer Prize's winner "Interpreter of Maladies", so when the new short fiction collection of Jhumpa Lahiri arrived I was really looking forward to read them. The reviews of "Unaccustomed Earth" were outstanding -chosen by the New York Times Book Review as the number one book of 2008- so expectations were high.

And during the first part, these expectations are met. Five powerful stories where families, love, and identity are dissected with a clinic eye and a masterful prose. The brilliant character of Ruma's father on the tittle story, the mind-blowing "A Choice of Accommodations" and "Only Goodness", the echoes of the best American short fiction writers, using the suburbs as the place to hide and expose the frustrations, guilts, angers and miseries of modern day lives, but adding the "Indian factor" as another element, bringing a deep reflection on the lives of two separated cultures, and how people try to cope with both sides. 

But the disappointment comes in the second half of the book. The trilogy of stories under the tittle of “Hema and Kaushik" is nowhere near from the previous five. Instead of the subtleties and imploded emotions, everything is explained to the detail -the narrator voice changes to the first person- as if we were in front of an epic Hollywood blockbuster: love and fate, from the innocence of childhood to the experienced couple facing their destiny, while they are part of the real and most dramatic situations of the global world -if it sounds a bit like "Babel" to you, you are close to get the idea-. 

Overall, a solid book in its first half, with a couple of extraordinary stories, sadly ruined by the last 100 pages. I would strongly recommend reading Jhumpa Lahiri. On the five stories of "Unaccustomed Earth" and "Interpreter of Maladies" you'll find an amazing writer. But I would also suggest to skip the last part of this book, for your own good.

SCORE: 5,75/10

Here's the link to the complete article (in Spanish) from the website I collaborate with:
"Tierra Desacostumbrada", familia, amor e identidad

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Lotus Flower", the return of Radiohead

The week started with a major musical announcement: Radiohead returns to action. The "The King of Limbs", their new album, is released today. Still surprised, we just listened the first single, "Lotus Flower" and video. Here it is.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


This blog is not supposed to be politically-charged, so I assure you this will not be repeated frequently and I apologise in advance for this rant. But I do need to let this out. During the week, my job has been affected dramatically by some situations that, in my opinion, reflects what kind of world we have created and accepted to live in.

1. One of my main tasks is organizing activities for the youth. So a group of students from Nigeria applied and were accepted. But right now their participation seems unlikely due to the visas issue. Its a shame that Spain presumes of its development aid policies and how much is involved within the UN, while they treat some people (basically from African countries) as trash. The delegates, well prepared and with a record of several experiences around Europe were rejected for economic reasons. But I do wonder what economic reasons do an embassy need when the group were able to present a medical insurance receipt, letters of support from their university and their student association, a statement of financial support from their local government, the proof of an already booked (meaning paid) hotel and diplomas of participation in a previous activity organised by us. 
No, it is clear what the motto is for the Spanish embassies when they face a young African candidate. And that is not only regrettable. It becomes miserable when they are capable of asking for money for a process that everybody knows in advance will end in a rejection.

2. Another sad lesson learnt during the last days has been how far and despicable one person can be if that serves their purposes. I'm aware I live in a country where the extreme right, and even the church, has their own media channels, where they fuel hatred, everyday. But it goes well beyond my understanding why someone can use a lie, knowing that's completely false, and keep going with it. But it seems common in Spain. You don't like something, or you need to attack someone, use "the flag issue" and repeat it until the end of times. You'll create enough white noise to succeed in a second. But attacking six years of hard work and an interest to build an activity that has brought nearly a thousand of students from all over the world (which includes all parts of Spain of course), just for the sake of stealing and copying, just proves how miserable that person or association is. Make no mistake, those who won the war, long time ago, are still winning.

3. And finally, and linked with point 2, the media. When I was student, not that long ago, faculties of journalism still presented their profession as a noble duty. But looking to the media in Spain one can only moan about when that role started to disappear. Now its just about enterprises deciding what are "the news" following their own interests. So when the guys on point 2 presented false information, did the media took the time to contrast it? Not at all. So, for everyone who wishes to see it, there it is, a flagrant and miserable lie.

I live in "Ignoreland".

As the Fab Four from Athens said, "I know that this is vitriol. No solution, spleen venting, But I feel better having screamed. Don't you?"

Thank you

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's day...for the missing ones

For those who cannot celebrate the day because of the distance, three beautiful, and poignant, ways of saying "I miss you"

Friday, February 11, 2011

A night with Basia Bulat!

Basia Bulat tonight in Barcelona! See you at Sala Apolo!

And have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Elbow: 1,2,3.....ignition!

Among the many records coming during next weeks/months, there's one that might not be topping the "highly anticipated" lists of the year 2011 but shouldn't be forgotten, one from a criminally understated band. "Build a Rocket Boys!", the return of Elbow, that will be out on March 7. And, judging on the two songs we already know, it seems our great expectactions will be right again with Guy Garvey & Co. I'm waiting for the rocket to ignite, but you can check the following videos by yourself and have your say!

"Neat Little Rows", selected as the first single. Great chorus and melody line.

And "Lippy Kids", the first taste the band offered from the album and a wonderful example of what makes Elbow so special. Gorgeous, elegantly restrained, but deeply emotional.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Best films of the decade (2000-2009)

There are many lists like that, but mine came from a challenge proposed on muzikalia's forums. A very good excuse to review, think and discuss about movies with a couple of friends also involved in the "experiment". Here's the result of some "tough" but funny days (votes and comments soon on the aforementioned forum).

1. Lost in Translation
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. Ghost World
4. Mi Vida Sin Mí (My Life Without Me)
5. The 25th Hour
6. Wendy and Lucy
7. The Wind that Shakes the Barley
8. The Royal Tenenbaums
9. High Fidelity
10. Before the Sunset
11. Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of the Others)
12. Million Dollar Baby
13. The Squid and the Whale
14. Control
15. We Own the Night
16. (500) Days of Summer
17. Half-Nelson
18. En la Ciudad (In the City)
19. Revolutionary Road
20. Rachel Getting Married

21. Life Aquatic
22. Zodiac
23. Hable con ella (Talk to Her)
24. Punch-drunk love
25. Lomax, the Songhunter
26. Amélie
27. 24 Hours Party People
28. Me, You and Everyone We Know
29. Everything is Illuminated
30. All or Nothing
31. Good Night, and Good Luck

 32. The Savages
33. American Splendor

34. Adaptation
 35. Lakposhtha hâm parvaz mikonand (Turtles Can Fly)
36. Entre les Murs (The Class)
37. The Navigators
38. No Direction Home
39. Two Lovers
40. Syriana
41. Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad)
42. Juno
43. Xìngfú Shíguāng (Happy Times)
44. Etre et Avoir (To Be and To Have)
45. In Search of a Midnight Kiss
46. The Damned United
47. Thank You for Smoking
48. Las horas del día (The Hours of the Day)
49. Little Children
50. The Assassination of Richard Nixon

Monday, February 7, 2011

PJ Harvey is back... "Let England Shake" revealed!

Only a week for "Let England Shake" to reach the stores. But before February 14th arrives, we can listen to Polly Jean's 8th album in its entirety, just by clicking hereA review will follow shortly, but the initial impression is that we are in front of a unique, very special and really powerful record, from an artist always eager to reinvent and express herself. Can't wait to see her live at Primavera Sound...

And as bonus, here's the video from one of her new songs... Enjoy!

Friday, February 4, 2011

A folkie Friday: 3 video proposals

1. A new band to watch, Parlours and their gorgeous "I Dream of Chicago"

2. A favorite of mine: Basia Bulat. Mesmerizing. Just a week to see you live again!

3. And finally, one of the best songs from Mr. Sufjan Stevens, to celebrate the fact he will be in Barcelona at the Primavera Sound Festival. A music dream come true!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My (first) Primavera Sound

After yesterday's massive round of confirmed artists, here's MY first Primavera Sound Festival so far: 

Aias, Ainara LeGardon, The Album Leaf, Animal Collective, The Annuals, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Arto Lindsay, Autolux, Avi Buffalo, Baths, Battles, Belle & Sebastian, Berlinetta, Big Boi, The Black Angels, Blank Dogs, BMX Bandits, Caribou, Carte Blanche, Caspa, Cloud Nothings, Comet Gain, Connan Mockasin, Cults, Cuzo + Damo Suzuki, Dan Melchior und Das Menace, Darkstar, Das Racist, Deakin, Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500, Del Rey, DJ Shadow, DM Stith, Ducktails, Dúo Cobra, Echo & The Bunnymen performing Heaven Up Here & Crocodiles, Einstürzende Neubauten, El Guincho, El Mató A Un Policía Motorizado, Emeralds, Explosions In The Sky, Factory Floor, Field Music, The Fiery Furnaces, The Flaming Lips, Fleet Foxes, The Fresh & Onlys, Games, Gang Gang Dance, Girl Talk, Glasser, Glenn Branca Ensemble, Gold Panda, Gonjasufi, Grinderman, Half Japanese, Holy Ghost!, Incarnations, Interpol, Islet, James Blake, Jamie XX, John Cale & Band + Orchestra perform PARIS 1919 live, John Talabot, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Julia Kent, Julian Lynch, Kode9 And The Space Ape + Kode9 Burial Set, Kokoshca, Kurt Vile & The Violators, La Célula Durmiente, Las Robertas, Les Aus, Lichens, Lindstrom, Low, Lüger, M. Ward, Male Bonding, Matthew Dear Live, Me And The Bees, Mercury Rev perform Deserter's Songs, Mogwai, Money Mark, The Monochrome Set, My Teenage Stride, The National, Nisennenmondai, Nosoträsh "Popemas", Odd Future, Of Montreal, Oneohtrix Point Never, Ornamento Y Delito, P.I.L. (Public Image Limited), Papas Fritas, Pere Ubu plays "The Annotated Modern Dance", Perfume Genius, Phosphorescent, Pissed Jeans, PJ Harvey, Pulp, Rubik, Salem, Seefeel, Shellac, Simian Mobile Disco, The Soft Moon, Sonny & The Sunsets, Sufjan Stevens, Suicide, The Suicide Of Western Culture, Suuns, Swans, The Tallest Man On Earth, Tennis, Thelematicos, Toundra, Triángulo De Amor Bizarro, tUnE-yArDs, Twin Shadow, Ty Segall, The Vaccines, The Walkmen, Warpaint, Wolf People, Yuck. 

Green- Definetely seeing them. Absolute must
Orange- If there are no overlaps (in particular with the green ones), I'll be there for sure
Yellow- Curious about it/"on research mode"

In addition, and with almost 4 months ahead to discover and explore about the rest of the artists present on the Festival, for sure some more names will get highlighted soon!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Romantic movies for Valentine's Day. An alternative proposal

Tired of watching the same horrible "romantic films"? Well, maybe you can try some of the following proposals. A list to prove that "romantic" doesn't have to mean stupid, despite Hollywood usual attempts.
  1. Manhattan
  2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  3. Annie Hall
  4. The Apartment
  5. Before the Sunrise
  6. Before the Sunset 
  7. (500) Days of Summer
  8. Harold and Maude
  9. Two Lovers
  10. Once

Here's the link to the complete article (in Spanish) from the website I collaborate with:
Películas románticas para San Valentín. Una propuesta alternativa