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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Night of the Year... with R.E.M.

I have a post prepared, but for today, and particularly tonight, everything else has to be set aside. Tonight, I have nothing more (and nothing less) that a special and very personal tradition to meet. Every New Year's Eve, on the way back home, there's one album I MUST hear.

I'm talking about R.E.M.'s "Automatic for the People", a record that, for almost half my life, has become "my album". I'm pretty sure this year, after R.E.M's splitting decision, when the final trio of tunes arrive (music doesn't get better than this) I'll be broken-down. But I can't complain. I'll be in the best company I can imagine.

Happy New Year! New posts in 2012!
Thanks for following Bloodbuzzed

Best Records of the Year 2011

Songs, movies, books, gigs, and finally, the Best Records (EPs included) of the Year. Obviously, a very personal list.

30. Native Speaker- Braids
29. Los Últimos Bañistas- Los Últimos Bañistas
28. Share the Joy- Vivian Girls
27. Strange Mercy- St. Vincent
26. Nihil Obstat- Disco Las Palmeras!
25. Passenger- Lisa Hannigan
24. Hearts- I Break Horses
23. Odio París- Odio París
22. What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?- The Vaccines
21. Cold- Be Forest
20. Clang of the Concrete Swans- Comet Gain
19. Dig On- She Keeps Bees
18. Escapar con el Anticiclón- Manos de Topo
17. Evening Tapestry- Brown Recluse
16. Alela Diane & Wild Divine- Alela Diane & Wild Divine
15. Helplessness Blues- Fleet Foxes
14. Build A Rocket Boys!- Elbow
13. Raven in the Grave- The Raveonettes
12. Creatures of an Hour- Still Corners
11.Cape Dory- Tennis
10. Submarine- Alex Turner
9. The Rip Tide- Beirut
8. Cults- Cults
7. Fuerteventura- Russian Red
6. Belong- The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
5. The King is Dead- The Decemberists
4. Suck It and See- Arctic Monkeys
3. Collapse Into Now- R.E.M.
2. Veronica Falls- Veronica Falls
1. Let England Shake- PJ Harvey

Friday, December 30, 2011

Best Concerts of the Year 2011

It's been a year with many concerts and Festivals, so I thought it was appropriate to list my 10 favourite live performances of this 2011. Great memories!

10. And So I Watch You From Afar (FIB Festival, Benicàssim, July 17th)
Not my music taste, ages from it. We were killing time waiting for the gigs we wanted to see that Sunday, but very soon this four Northern Irish lads unleashed a thunderstorm of noise. Their brutal math-rock was like a shock therapy. When a band plays with such passion, it can only receive gratitude from an audience.
9. Veronica Falls (Primavera Club, La 2 de Apolo, Barcelona, November 23rd)
Seen them twice this 2011, but in Barcelona they weren't just one of the year's most promising bands, but the authors of one of the best debut albums I can remember in a long time. Also, by then I knew all their songs, a fact that makes their music achieving another dimension. Uplifting, hyper vitaminized indie-pop to hum along.
8. Alela Diane & Wild Divine (La 2 de Apolo, Barcelona, October 27th)
She had been on my must-seen artists list for many years, so I couldn't let the occasion escape this time. And although I'm not that fond of the record she was presenting on the tour as I am of "To Be Still", on stage, brilliantly joined by great and familiar musicians, Alela was terrific, more diverse than expected and soulfully vibrant.
7. Basia Bulat (Caprichos de Apolo, La 2 de Apolo , Barcelona, February 11th)
Anyone who knows me a bit knows I can't be impartial with Basia Bulat. Alone with her instruments and her amazing voice , and not with the best possible sounding at Apolo, she delivered, again, an incredible performance. Her version of "I Put a Spell on You" on the piano still haunts me 10 months after. She's in a league of her own.
6. Mojave 3 (Festival Plaça l'Odissea, Barcelona, April 30th)
What can I say? I never expected I would be able to hear Slowdive's "Alison", or wonderful tunes like the sublime "In Love With a View", "Some Kind of Angel", "Bluebird of Happiness" or "Sarah" live. But I did.  Bringing Mojave3 was an unexpected gift from this free Festival.
5. Beach House (Fly to the Moon Festival, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, July 28th)
Another key event organized unexpectedly by the people of the Primavera Sound, giving us the chance of seeing Beach House for (my) the first time. It was a short gig, but simply magical, proving that "Teen Dream" is among the peaks of the ethereal style called dreampop.
4. Elbow (Sala Apolo, Barcelona, November 20th)
If it was just a matter of performance and charisma, Elbow's gig would top this list. Leaded by one of the best frontman I have ever seen, Guy Garvey, a relaxed and joyful band engaged the audience and let them be the guests of and intimate and unique celebration of great music: the 20th anniversary of one of the best bands of the last 15 years.
3. Mercury Rev (Primavera Sound, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, May 29th 2011)
After five days full of gigs, I wasn't expecting to be overblown by the last performance of the PS11. But I was happily wrong. Between fantasy and epic, between indie-rock and a magical soundtrack, sumptuous and ethereal, Mercury Rev recreated in all its majesty "Deserter's Songs". A glorious,extraordinary experience.
2. PJ Harvey (Primavera Sound, Fòrum de Barcelona, May 28th)
Technically, I had seen PJ Harvey at the ousted Summercase Festival. But "White Chalk" wasn't my record and the stage where she performed was obviously inadequate, so I left after a couple of songs, putting health ahead. But in 2011, PJ Harvey has offered the world her best record, best of the year in my opinion, "Let England Shake", and thanks to the coincidence with the UEFA Champions League Final, I was able to have a privileged seat from where to enjoy the gig. Everything they say about Polly live is true. She's among the best.
1. Pulp (Primavera Sound, Fòrum de Barcelona, May 27th)
Objectively, PJ Harvey's or Mercury Rev were better, in terms of comfort (the overcrowding at this gig was nearly unsustainable) or sounding, but having the chance of seeing Jarvis Cocker and co. performing some favourite tunes of my teenage and adult years makes this top spot deserved. As expected (he's one of the greatest frontman ever, period), the gig was all his but he had the time of giving back their hymn, "Common People" to the audience, dedicating it to "los indignados", ultimately then, to the people. "Something Changed", "Sorted for E's & Wizz", "This Is Hardcore", "Do You Remember the First Time?"... Put it simply: I finally saw Pulp.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Books of (My) Year 2011

After sharing with you my personal 100-list of songs of the year, followed by the best movies, today I bring you the books. The 10 works I read this 2011 that should be a must, in my modest opinion, of course.

10. A People's History of the United States- Howard Zinn
The inclusion of the book on the list is a bit "tricky", because I haven't finished reading it (quite far from it to be honest) but the amount of references, things to look at and further readings that I already have at this point now make this spot totally deserved. A much needed, exhaustive, ridiculously interesting and absorbing work.
9. Dog Soldiers- Robert Stone
My first approach to Robert Stone was an hallucinogenic trip to hell where pitch, rhythm and storytelling are three machine-guns firing their ammunition relentlessly in a plot that flows smoothly. But if you scratch the powerful surface, you will find a much sombre and hard look, flooded by sarcasm and absurd, of the 70s and America, a time where the country lost its innocence and its head.
8. Submarine- Joe Dunthorne
Loved the film and Alex Turner's beautiful soundtrack, so I had to get my hands on the book. Recently finished, "Submarine" is as special as the film, but at the same time quite different, darker than Richard Ayoade's movie and more extreme. First the director, then the musician, and now Joe Dunthorne, the writer: three genius for a great story.
7. Sukkwan Island- David Vann
If there were a competition for "disturbing book of the year" my vote will go for "Sukkwan Island" without a doubt. Tense, fierce and brutal, when the personal, introspective drama becomes physical, this book transforms itself into a beast that attracts you irredeemably.
6. Roscoe- William Kennedy
Welcome to Albany, a dense universe where power means everything. The corrupted political network William Kennedy shows with detail hides a deep, engaging tale of human obsessions and addictions, condensed in that sort of "Citizen Kane" Roscoe, the main character, is.
5. Wilson- Daniel Clowes Bitterness and nastiness condensed in the most stinging, perverse character Daniel Clowes ever created. An outsider, a loner who is a real sociopath and hates everything (including himself) in a demented quest for human interaction. "Wilson" mixes multiple approach aesthetics, different types of drawing, with razorblade-sharp dialogues and a deep analysis of the life of someone pathetic. Bold statement.
4. Counterculture Through the Ages- Ken Goffman and Dan Joy
And more outsiders, this time with a non-fiction book that attempts to gather and document social change through history, through the individuals and collectives of the so-called counterculture, that fought and rebelled against the majority of society, trying to leave a mark with their different path. Rich, enlightening and fun.
3. Chump Change- Dan Fante
Dan Fante's homage to the great and damned writer John Fante, his father, couldn't be more strikingly beautiful. Despite its rawness and self-destruction, "Chump Change" is a gut-wrenching tale of redemption, and the trip of a son finally able to say goodbye to his father. Superb.
2. Honor Thy Father- Gay Talese
But 2011, in what regards to readings, is the year of Gay Talese, the extraordinary revelation, for me, of a masterful writer. First, thanks to this incredible job of reporting, an intimate dissection of the Bonanno family, the world of the Mafia and the United States, and the personal and very human story of Bill Bonanno. "Honor Thy Father" is  an unparalleled work.
1. The Gay Talese Reader. Portraits and Encounters- Gay Talese
And second, and topping the list, thanks to this compilation of some of his best articles, an outstanding collection of little (only in their format) pieces of art. A lesson for journalists, for writers and for everyone who loves human stories.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Best Movies of (My) Year 2011

A week before closing 2011 is a good moment to rank the best movies seen this year. Maybe in a different country the list would have looked like a proper summary of the year releases, but in Spain theatres and distributors "work in a different way" (ironic mode on), so some of the films listed have not even being released here yet. That's why the (My) of the title. Enjoy!

10. Synecdoche, New York
Creating a play of your life, as complex and detailed as your life. It has to be excruciating. Almost as hard as making a movie of that play. For what reason? Because you want to find an answer to existence, which is impossible. Except for Charlie Kaufman. In  "Synecdoche, New York", the world is a vast stage in which we all play an exclusive, starring role: our life. His first directing attempt was a megalomaniac, abysmal, somewhat failed masterpiece, but also the bravest film ever attempted to be made.

9. The Fighter
A boxing background excuse for a story of underdogs with real, flesh and bone characters and terrific playing from Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. In "The Fighter" the combat is not in the ring. Is against the filthiness of a life that seems fated to desolation, the need for survival and family curses that demand a lot of courage to confront. Loads of honesty and care for characters in the script and direction.

8. The Take
Another world is possible, but it won't happen without action. Argentinian workers decided to fight for their futures through a change of the economic system after "el corralito", becoming the workers and owners of the factories ruined thanks to the wild capitalism and the tyranny of the markets. Activist Naomi Klein and director Avi Lewis were there to film it and show us, that we need a global "The Take" today. That would be the real revolution.

7. Fish Tank
Desperation and bleak realism, combined with a tremendous hunger for life. Following the tradition of social British cinema (Ken Loach, Mike Leigh) "Fish Tank" hits hard and compels, thanks to the strikingly powerful character of Mia (extraordinary acting from newcomer Katie Jarvis) and the sharp script and direction of Andrea Arnold

6. Submarine
Meet Oliver Tate, a very peculiar kid facing his coming-of-age in a tragicomic and surreal ride. Enveloped in a wonderfully creative visual display, Richard Ayoade, on his directing debut, is able to capture the confusion and fun of Joe Dunthorne's book (currently reading) that surrounds the growing up Oliver with genuine charm. Add the amazing tunes of Alex Turner's soundtrack and the result is obvious. "Submarine" is our indie crush of the year.

5. Talihina Sky: The Story of Kings of Leon
The best music documentary seen on 2011 is not about KOL, a band which I don't particularly like, but as about their demons. And they have quite a few. The band trip to stardom clashing with a traditional family meeting. The universal success and its consequences battling with their roots. A past they cannot leave behind. "Talihina Sky" is an absorbing film about four people trying to deal with their contradictions.

4. Midnight in Paris
And when we thought we had lost him, the best Woody Allen returned. In "Midnight in Paris", the city and its romanticism, an overused topic with a very high risk of becoming a cliché, is used by our favourite neurotic to insufflate a much needed dose of magic to a tale where dreams and nostalgia can be haunting, but has to be overcome for a real desire to live the life we have in our hand. Prepare yourself to laugh and fall in love with the NY genius again.

3. Beginners
What a pleasant, loveable surprise this movie was. Director Mike Mills achieves a very rare feature with "Beginners". He created a bewitching story of love, loss and discovery, profoundly personal and with a peculiar structure that, at the same time, is capable of captivating and affecting the viewer thanks to a trio of leading characters so well constructed (and brilliantly acted) that their quest to find their own identities becomes something to empathise with.

2. Exit Through the Gift Shop
Documentary? Deep reflection on what's art today? Or just the best hoax ever filmed? Whatever your choice is, the result is invariable: a total triumph. As street-artist Banksy, the mastermind behind "Exit Through the Gift Shop" says during the film, this is "Basically the story of how one man set out to film the un-filmable. And failed." True, but nothing is what it seems. Who knew that sentence would hide so many, and amusing, meanings?

1. Blue Valentine
On top of the ranking, this raw and compelling dissection of a relationship. I saw the movie in July, and I'm still scared by the brutal, devastating deconstruction of a couple dynamiting their love. There's no way to hide in "Blue Valentine", no loopholes for pain relief. Even the good moments stress how awful will be the fall. This deep, to the bottom study-character could only work with two great actors capable of carrying Dean and Cindy in their shoulders. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams gave the best of their amazing talent, making every bit of their complex, human, fierce and sad relation credible and painful. Masterpiece.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

"Honor Thy Father", the real life of the Mafia

Honor Thy Father- Gay Talese

Last April I had my "initiation" into the prose of Gay Talese. "The Gay Talese Reader. Portraits and Encounters" was a blast for me. A magnificent collection of his articles, stunning pieces of "fiction with real names", as he refers to them, that dignify the profession of journalism, nowadays so deservedly discredited. Mesmerized for what I read, I wanted more urgently. But the topics of the two other books recently published in Spain, made my have some reservations and postpone my next reading. Early 1950s sexuality in America ("Thy Neighbor's Wife")? The Mafia? But I finally got my hands on "Honor Thy Father". Lucky me.

My prejudices were easy to resume. The Mob, on a heavyweight volume wrote too many years ago? And the Mafia, again? I'm pretty sure we will all agree if I say gangsters has been used and abused by American art/entertainment, to me being exploited to satiety, and memorable exceptions aside, creating a glamorous, mythical and unrealistic image of this "traditional" organized crime, that has little to do with the Mafia today. So what could "Honor Thy Father" offer me? In a sentence: a mind-blowing insight to a time in America, a surprisingly human story, and an absorbing and monumental, brilliantly written, work by Talese.

This is a superb job of reporting, a task so detailed (almost seven years of patient and passionate work, from 1965 to 1971 where the book was published to become an immediate success) and intense that today seems completely impossible. The amount of many little things, facts, structure, behaviours, secrets and attitudes conform an intricate puzzle that, once completed, portrays the vivid and realistic complete picture of a way of life that was approaching to its end, vanishing from a previous time of splendour, and above all, an intimate approach to a unique family: the Bonanno family.

Because "Honor Thy Father" is probably the culmination of what has been called "literary journalism". Talese achieves an unbelievable depth and richness in the real-life account of the Bonanno family, in particular from Salvatore "Bill" Bonnano, the son of Don Joseph Bonanno, who "inherits" his father's business, an inheritance that is full of the traditions of a determined ethnic group that clashes with a time and a family that is also very American and is changing alongside with its times, once he mysteriously disappears in 1964, to reappear after, causing the start of the Banana War, the Mafia open conflict that took place in New York in the late 60s.

Talese is capable not only of detailing us every side of the Mafiosi family and starting from them, the whole universe of the Mob during those years, but he also is able to get into the mind of Bill Bonanno, and make us  understand that probably he didn't want to follow the steps of his father, but that he couldn't do anything else.  It was his fate. Through his eyes we see (read) a story that goes in various directions (the war, the family roots, the trial), something that at first can be a bit confusing (the minor and only complaint I have) but that makes sense in order to provide us with the most accurate document you can imagine.  

"Honor Thy Father" is masterful book that stands out as a gangster story, from uprising to decadence, but also as a document of assimilation, social and cultural evolution, and family ties. It is so rich and deep that no matter for how long I could kept writing this review, I wouldn't do justice to it. So please, forget The Sopranos (the Bonanno family didn't like it anyway), forget all Martin Scorsese films and their imitators and read Gay Talese. And if you allow me one last apostilization, after reading Talese, if you still need a film about the Mafia, choose James Gray works

SCORE: 8,5/10 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"The Social Network", the Facebook monster

The Social Network

I won't start this review writing about the social impact of Facebook, a universal phenomena everyone is aware and probably has an opinion on it. Instead, I'll try to focus on just the film, as behind "The Social Network" superficial storyline, mapping the origins of the network, there's a stimulating and really absorbing, yet not completely satisfying, analysis on human behaviour, focused on the complex character of its creator and co-founder, the world famous, and very controversial, young billionaire Mark Zuckerberg.

The new "Citizen Kane", udpated and ready for our virtual era, this film has been defined by many critics. Certainly the mistery that surrounds Zuckerberg attitudes, and the tragic human dimension that the films brings to the table so well has a notable connection with the so well-known cinema classic. Praise director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin for their braveness and talent to make a film about, at least on paper, such a boring and elusive topic, Facebook, and instead present us such an absorbing and vivid work.

Because "The Social Network" is not like your average biopic where the hero starts from zero, shows he/she is a genious in a few silly epic scenes (always with bombastic music), suffers because of the struggle he/she faces while tries to achieve his/her goal and finally succeeds. No, here we have a person that is a complete mistery. Someone who seems frustrated and near consumed by his devils, who creates something very powerful, not without its contradictions, but that after achieving an outstanding and hard to compare triumph, seems still frustrated and in a perennial emotional unrest.

His creation, Facebook of course, serves Fincher to ellaborate an unorthodox and dramatic paradox. Is Zuckerberg a pioneer, a young genious comparable to the great inventors that provoked a media and social revolution with their discoveries? Or is he just an isolated nerd that despite his achievements can only face loneliness and the sort of fake relationships (which, at least to an extent, is the most obvious and well-founded criticism Facebook has) the network he has designed can offer?

For good and bad, "The Social Network" doesn't solve that enigma. We cannot be sure of Zuckerberg's real motivations. Money, power, control, the need to impress a girl, the fear of being excluded or failing, they don't seem real or complete reasons here. Is he just an eccentric? Or a plain asshole? Does he creates Facebook as a way to let his resentment flow and revenge against his lack of social success? Is he consumed by his ego? These questions are constantly present for the movie watcher, helped by the elusive and impassive gestures and expression of Jesse Eisenberg (terrific job). But at the same time, despite being undoubtfully striking and intriguing, I also believe that maybe Fincher and Sorkin loose the reigns of the film, probably too convinced they have found "the greatest American movie and character" in Zuckerberg.

It might be just me, but the amount of situations where Zuckerberg behaves like the human equivalent of an amoeba is puzzling. Zero passion and emotion, in scenes where friendship, love, work and integrity are obviously at risk. Unless Fincher wanted to parallel Facebook virtual, aseptic, simulated relationships with his emotionless creator, I'm sorry to say there are too many moments on "The Social Network" where Zuckerberg's inscrutability is pushed too far, making him an unbelievable character.

In addition, some other minor concerns on the film arise. One is the lack of evolution of Facebook itself. We are only enlightened about the unstoppable increase of users, but there's nothing about adding advertisement on it, when its a pretty big deal at first between Eduardo Saverin (phenomenal play by Andrew Garfield) and Zuckerberg, or the privacy issues. Another concern is precisely the relation between Saverin and Zuckerberg. How are we supposed to believe there's real friendship between them? Zuckerberg use him almost since the very beginning, while Saverin seems "too normal" to relate with such a person or being unable to see how is he behaving. On third position, we have Sean Parker's (ideal role for Justin Timberlake) character. The Napster creator presence is perhaps a bit too flashy and cliché-enlightening to convince. It is hard to believe such a smart and cautious person as Zuckerberg can "fall" so quickly for such a trickster. And finally, there's an absolute lack of interest in secondary roles. Facebook co-workers, supposed friends, the girls, even the ridiculed "Harvard twins", are just sketches of flesh and bone persons.

"The Social Network" is a risky and very attractive film, a sounding and relevant ride to a narcissistic society, obsessed with virtual popularity, focused on the peculiar figure of its creator, not in the network itself. But is not the referral piece, the masterpiece some argue.

SCORE: 6,75/10

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Best Songs of the Year 2011: 25-1

And finally, we reach the end of this countdown among the best songs of the year with the 25 best tunes of 2011, always in my modest opinion, of course. Hope you have enjoyed the music ride!

25. Lose It- Austra
24. Alien Girl- The Very Most
23. Go Outside- Cults 
22. Cruel- St.Vincent
21. Impressions from a City Morning- Brown Recluse 
20. Heaven's Gonna Happen Now- The Pains of Being Pure at Heart 
19. The Bad in Each Other- Feist 
18. Bedouin Dress- Fleet Foxes
17. Jesus Came to My Birthday Party- The Middle East 
16. That’s Where You’re Wrong- Arctic Monkeys
15. Fast Fast- Let’s Buy Happiness
14. I Hate You But I Love You- Russian Red
13. Hiding Tonight- Alex Turner
12. Überlin- R.E.M.
11. Margot- Nat Johnson and The Figureheads
Best Songs of the Year (25-1) by Raul on Grooveshark10. Knots- Lisa Hannigan
9. Port of a Call- Beirut
8. Exile Vilify- The National
7. Suck It and See- Arctic Monkeys
6. Come On Over- Veronica Falls
5. Calamity Song- The Decemberists
4. The Words that Maketh Murder- PJ Harvey
3. Lippy Kids- Elbow
2. Reckless Serenade- Arctic Monkeys 
1. It Happened Today- R.E.M.

Check the rest of the 100 songs here:
First part: 100-76
Second part: 75-51
Third part: 50-26 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Primavera Sound 2012, or how Mazzy Star saved me from heavy metal

Since my last post about the Primavera Sound Festival 2012, the line-up has changed quite a lot, some major and controversial surprises have been announced, such as a big headliner like Franz Ferdinand, and a pretty dramatic cancellation occurred, as unfortunately Guided By Voices won't be in Barcelona/Oporto this spring.

Sure, I'm among the ones that were hugely disappointed by the addition of several bands that doesn't have anything to do with alternative music but with heavy metal (black and death metal being specific). It is just my opinion, but I can't see where they fit at PS (the same applies to the hip-hop and rap acts I'm fearing will be at PS again this year). To be honest, everything was starting to look pretty bad regarding the Festival, with so many artists miles away from my tastes... until Mazzy Star was announced (and then followed by the also exciting Afghan Whigs). Finally a name to make me smile and be anxious about.

I'm still worried about how the line-up is shaping, and some facts like The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary tour scare the hell out of me. But at the same time, other arstists like The Shins or Cat Power have showed up, so let's have some well deserved faith on the PS' organization and their music wisdom. Fadeeeeee into you/ Strange you never knew.....

30th May – 3rd June, Barcelona

A$AP Rocky» A.A. Bondy» AraabMUZIK» Archers Of Loaf » Baxter Dury» Beach House» Björk» Buffy Sainte-Marie» Codeine» Death Cab For Cutie» Death In Vegas» Franz Ferdinand» Godflesh» Grimes» Harvey Milk» Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel)» Josh T. Pearson» Justice» Lisabö» Liturgy» Mayhem» Mazzy Star» Melvins» Mudhoney» Napalm Death» Neon Indian» Numbers showcase: Jackmaster, Oneman, Deadboy, Spencer, Redinho» OFF!» Orthodox» Other Lives» Sandro Perri» SBTRKT» Shellac» Siskiyou»
Sleep» Spiritualized» The Afghan Whigs» The Dirty Three» The Drums» The Olivia Tremor Control» The XX» Veronica Falls» Washed Out» White Denim» Wilco» Wolves In The Throne Room» Yo La Tengo»

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 seeing the artist, or "on research mode"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Best Songs of the Year 2011: 50-26

Hope you enjoyed the previous two chapters of the first Bloodbuzzed Songs of the Year. As promised on Monday, now we arrive to the tunes ranked between positions 50 to 26, with the mandatory grooveshark playlist to listen them included. The final part, with the top 25 songs of the 2011 will arrive on Sunday. Hope you like it! 

50. Elijah- Alela Diane
49. Black Night- The Dodos
48. The Dreamer- The Tallest Man on Earth
47. Clang of the Concrete Swans- Comet Gain
46. Forget that You're Young- The Raveonettes
45. If I Had a Gun- Noel Gallagher
44. Tus Siete Diferencias- Manos de Topo
43. In the Dark Places- PJ Harvey
42. One Moment- Motorama
41. Lemonade- Braids
40. Royal Blue- Cold War Kids
39. Funeral Song- Minks
Best Songs of the Year (50-26) by Raul on Grooveshark38. El Gran Apagón- Los Últimos Bañistas
37. Gun Shy- Widowspeak
36. The Fountain- Veronica Falls
35. It's Hard to Get Around the Wind- Alex Turner
34. Think You Can Wait- The National
33. Down By the Water- The Decemberists
32. Oh My Heart- R.E.M.
31. Go Betweens- Mazes
30. Take Me Somewhere- Tennis
29. Right Side of My Brain- Veronica Falls
28. Heart in Your Heartbreak- The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
27. The Last Living Rose- PJ Harvey
26. Helplessness Blues- Fleet Foxes

Monday, December 12, 2011

Best Songs of the Year 2011: 75-51

As promised on Friday, here's the second chapter of the first Bloodbuzzed Songs of the Year, for tunes comprised from positions 75 to 51, with the grooveshark playlist to listen them and have your say. The third part will arrive on Thursday. Enjoy the music! 

Best Songs of the Year (75-51) by Raul on Grooveshark75. For Jacob with Malaria- Boca Chica
74. Cuando Nadie Pone un Disco- Odio París
73. Promises, Promises- Pocketbooks
72. Bedroom Eyes- Dum Dum Girls
71. Gravestone Metaphor- Babette Hayward
70. World Around You- Rubik
69. I Don’t Believe in Love- We Are Trees
68. Will Do- TV On the Radio
67. Evil Seeds- The Raveonettes
66. Mentirosa- Manos de Topo
65. Endless Summer- Still Corners
64. Better Off Without You- Summer Camp
63. Chair- Big Deal
62. I Heard You Say- Vivian Girls
61. Rose Mary Stretch- Pepper Rabbit
60. She's Thunderstoms- Arctic Monkeys
59. If You Wanna- The Vaccines
58. Tree by the River- Iron and Wine
57. Summer Hits or J Plus J Don’t Like- Mazes
56. The Sun The Trees- Russian Red
55. Mission Bells- Armistice
54. Florence- Be Forest
53. Abducted- Cults
52. Bitter Branches- PJ Harvey
51. A Sail- Lisa Hannigan

Friday, December 9, 2011

Best Songs of the Year 2011: 100-76

Inevitably, with the arrival of every December, the best-of-the-year lists start to spread. So, after making a compilation of our favourites tunes so far in middle June, here's the first Bloodbuzzed Best Songs of the Year for 2011, a total of 100 songs without any other criteria that the tunes being released during this year. 

Today I post the first of the fourth series in which I have divided the song-list, comprising from number 100 to 76, so the playlists of each one of the sections have 25 songs. For the songs that weren't available on grooveshark I included alternative direct links below its title. Expect second part of the list on Monday.
Have your say and enjoy the music! 

Best Songs of the Year (100-76) by Raul on Grooveshark100. La Casa Cuartel- Disco Las Palmeras!
99. Your Love- Youngteam
98. Sad Girls- Big Troubles
97. Dreaming- Seapony
96. I Just Cleaned the Floor- Turn Off Your Television
95. I Dream of Chicago- Parlours
94. Better Days- Fonda
93. Winter Beats- I Break Horses
92. King and Lionheart- Of Monsters and Men
91. Swollen Hearts, Bitter Tongues- Young Romance
90. Safe for All Seasons- Favourite Sons
89. Spirit of Adventure- Be Like Pablo

88. Coffee & Wine- The Bright
87. Saturn Return- She Keeps Bees
86. Luv Goon- Puro Instinct
85. Still Life- The Horrors
84. She Fell Into My Arms- Wake the President
83. White Elephant- Ladytron
82. Record Shop- Help Stamp Out Loneliness
81. Dancing With a Hole in Your Heart- Art Museums
80. Lotus Flower- Radiohead
79. Pumped Up Kids- Foster the People
78. Come Closer- Miles Kane
77. Dirty Lakes- Let's Buy Happiness
76. We All Go Back to Where We Belong- R.E.M.

Two New Songs from The National!

Waking up a Friday morning feeling a bit sick is not the most exciting thing in the world. But the day is quickly shaping into something far more stimulating as just after opening my computer I discover there are two new songs from The National floating around the internet!! The two new tunes are works in progress, something that makes me even more excited because that means the band keeps working on new material, that were premiered yesterday on CBC Q program with Jian Ghomeshi. The names of the songs are "Rylan" and "I Need My Girl" (click on their names below to stream or download them)

Rylan stream
Rylan download

I Need My Girl stream
I Need My Girl download

And if that were not enough, the night had a spectacular climax with a rendition of their masterpiece's "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks", alongside with Justin Vernon, Bon Iver. Heavenly. Mind-blowing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Spanish Indie 5: suggesting the best national acts

And another section that needed new proposals. Here it goes!

Manos de Topo. With the November release of "Escapar con el Anticiclón", I have the perfect excuse to introduce you one of the most singular and indispensable Spanish bands. What began in Barcelona in 2003 as an entertainment now, after three records, is a solid career of incredibly funny but at the same time atrociously compelling music. With the whining and painful voice of Miguel Ángel Blanca (take it or leave it) moaning about romantic disasters, presiding indie-pop tunes embellished by keyboards and atmospheric sounds, and with the production of The New Raemon, "Escapar" is their best. Like The Cure dreamy music pouring hilarious (but recognisable) bile from the mouth. Unique.

fIRA fEM. This experimental four-piece from Madrid was one of the best gigs I saw at the Primavera Club. Formed in 2009, their music is a suggestive combination of sounds: psychedelic folk, post-rock, ambient,  electronic, shoegaze, mostly instrumental. But what makes them special is that these multiplicity of styles converge in real, powerful songs. Their tunes, to date the EPs "Mascot Human Disco" and "Old Man Jacket", are alive, dynamic, a fact that acquires an epic dimension live. Signed by Aloud Music, their album is expected for early 2012. Keep an eye on them and, if you have the chance, go watch them play!

Grushenka. Formed in 2010, this very young band from Barcelona, has debuted with "Grushenka EP", one of the most addictive national releases of the year, on the exciting label El Genio Equivocado (who already hit the target with Odio París). After a couple of demos, and with just five songs, the group offers an engaging dose of noise-pop, with instantly catchy melodies ("Feliz"), distortion and vital voices ("La Magnitud de la Tragedia"). Impossible not to associate their music to early Los Planetas or Ride, great references for a debut that generates great expectations for Grushenka's next step.
Grushenka - Grushenka EP by El Genio Equivocado

Monday, December 5, 2011

"Mylo Xyloto", Coldplay sells out

Mylo Xyloto- Coldplay

Disappointing is a very weak word to define my feelings after having listened the latest album from Chris Martin and his fellows. To me, despite all their over-exposition and a growing tendency to deserve some of the hate they receive, "Parachutes", the excellent "A Rush of Blood to the Head" and the majority of "X&Y" and "Viva la Vida" proved, that behind all the controversial paraphernalia there was a very solid good band with some brilliant music. That is, until "Mylo Xyloto".

From the album opener, "Hurts Like Heaven", an ok song thanks to its engaging rhythm, you can feel there's something here that's not quite right. Indeed, you are hearing the announcement of what's coming next. Even in this tune, along with "Charlie Brown" and "Major Minus", to me the best and probably only remarkable songs of "Mylo Xyloto" the failures of the record are evident. I point out three.

First, the lack of finished songs. Some of them work fine just in parts, others have exciting guitar sections, like the end of "Major Minus" or the riff that presides "Every Teardrop is Waterfall" and there are occasional brave movements too, but they are simply not coming together within the songs. Seems the tunes have been mounted as puzzle, where pieces "have" to be put right after the other just for the sake of finishing the tune. Even worse, some interesting and likeable moments are merged with embarrassing sections. I'm thinking on the in-famous europop rip-off  in "Teardrop", or the regrettable "All the boys/All the girls" part in "Charlie Brown", to name just two.

Another example are the ballads. "Us Against the World" and "U.F.O.", are damn predictable, effortless and lame. In a word, fillers. "Up in Flames" tries to shake things a bit with its gospel mood, that recalls "Parachutes" or the more intimate moments of "X&Y", but it doesn't really move from comfort zone. And finally, "Up with the Birds" starts as weak as the initial two slow numbers, but it is mercifully rescued by some actual emotion and the speeding up of the tempo, and before Martin's appears to ruin it again, the music fades out, so here you have the fourth decent song of the lot. And that's all "Mylo Xyloto" has to offer.

Second, and to me, particularly HUGE: the lyrics are pathetic, just trite. And if that's not enough, Martin's lack of songwriting abilities makes him abuse of the "Oh-oh-ohss". Literally, they are annoyingly present in every song of the album, making clear its a resource/trick to fill the gaps on the lyrics. The only exceptions are of course, the three little music passages/trifles that I guess justifies Eno's work and credit.

And third, being "Mylo Xyloto" a mixed bag of ideas that doesn't fit together, there's the feeling everything has been pumped by a luxurious production  to secure/continue Coldplay's reign on the charts. "Paradise", aside from a beautiful guitar line towards the end, is an awful song with horrible lyrics, easily among the worst of the record. So its selection as single only serves as an adjustment to radio-formula. Immediate remixes and the advertisement use of the tune only proves that fact. The other fine example is, of course next single's "Princess of China", the publicised collaboration with Rihanna. I wouldn't waste my time on discussing what are the reasons behind such collaboration (the lines between alternative and mainstream are of course thin, and the ubiquitous Barbados' singer has a pretty voice) or about how bad the tune is. But I have, because what puzzles me is that Coldplay didn't invite Rihanna to sing on one of the band's tunes. Instead, they created a Rihanna-alike song to include it on their record. In my opinion, that has a name. That's selling out to the market. They are of course free to decide to do that, but if that's the path the want to follow, to me that means farewell Coldplay.

SCORE: 3/10

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Discoverer 27: new indie findings

After a long while, we are back with Sunday band proposals for you!

Still Corners. I recently discovered "Creatures of an Hour", debut album from this Londoners. But after their gig at Primavera Club, now I count myself among their fans. Cinematic, movie influenced chamber retro-cool pop, lush and atmospheric dream-pop recalling Beach House or Broadcast, delicate shoegaze with glimpses of synth-pop, are all perfect but incomplete definitions. This is music with a haunting, eerily beauty, condensed in Tessa Murray's breathy voice, that propels you to a melancholic and sensual imaginary place. Immerse yourself  in the nicest of dreams. A must.
Still Corners - Creatures of an Hour

Braids. The second band discovered at Primavera Club is a Canadian four-piece that has gathered comparisons with Animal Collective and Panda Bear with their debut, "Native Speaker". True, their experimental, psychedelic songs connect them with these names, but Braids offer a unique amalgam of atmospheres and feelings, from strange, dreamy passages, to celestial and placid moments, in which the voices, in particular Raphaelle Standell-Preston's  hypnotic tone emerge as recurrent waves among the sea of sounds. Curious? Listen to the mesmerizing "Lemonade" and enjoy the ride.
BRAIDS 'Lemonade'
Plath Heart by Braids
Braids - Glass Deers

The Andersen Tapes. Let's move to the infallible Sweden to meet Amanda Aldervall, previously at the Free Loan Investments and The Busy Band. Her last project, The Andersen Tapes, began with the single "Smartypants" on Cloudberry in 2008, and early this 2011 she released  "As I Write 'Today' Ten Times", her first album. This collection of tunes shows where are in front of a woman with an unusual talent to offer perfect indiepop gems. Diverse, playful and unquestionably addictive, this album is a little precious treasure.
The Andersen Tapes - Visual Explanations
The Andersen Tapes - Cross Country