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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Discoverer 42: new indie findings

New recommended bands for your listening pleasure, enjoy!

Fear of Men. Most immediate, biggest "crush" of the last months. This very young quartet, split between London and Brighton, released a couple of demo tapes, "Hanna Schygulla" in March 2011 and "Alice Munro" in November, and the debut 7" "Ritual Confession", in August 2011. Their dreamy and cinematic indiepop, with the killer voice of Jessica Weiss on top, placing them alongside our much beloved Let's Buy Happiness, has achieved a new realm of greatness this 2012 with their second 7", "Green Sea", and the forthcoming "Mosaic / Your Side". Can't wait for more! Check them out!

Cape Canaveral. Rejoice fans of charming indiepop! EardrumsPop is here again to save our longing ears!. Their new free EP introduces us to this Danish band, formed in the summer of 2010, and with a ridiculous talent to nail the perfect melody, as gorgeous "Crazy Love" and "Moles" prove. Folk-pop gems with an upbeat and joyful vibe, plus a WONDERFUL (big capital letters) cover of Galaxie 500's "Oblivious". Satisfaction granted. Let's begin the campaign to make EardrumsPop win a Nobel Prize for their contribution to the well-being of (good-tasted) mankind!
Single - Crazy Love, Moles, Oblivious
South of France. Back to Los Angeles with the project of Jeff Cormack (initially it was his solo idea, then a duo, a trio and finally the pair again) and Kelly Lueke. Active since 2010, their first release came in late 2011 with the EP "Kings", garnering buzz and nice reviews from the blogosphere. And now the time has arrived for "Another Boring Sunrise", their debut album, out now, in which their trademark retro guitar pop, in the vein of bands like Cults, Dominant Legs or Tennis, is  catchy and warm enough to keep you singing and smiling for weeks.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

"End of Daze", Dum Dum Girls at their best

End of Daze EP

On "Mine Tonight", our beloved Dum Dum Girls needs a little more than a minute before showing "the hand" the tune has: all aces. An epic, inner fire that bursts alongside with the desperate and deeper lyrics about loss, loneliness and being lost, without missing their trademark sounding, but reinvigorated and enriched. Its a mesmerizing opener for "End of Daze", an EP that only has winning cards, and a perfect summary of what easily ranks among the best of their career so far.

The driving and irresistibly catchy melodic guitar pop that devotes so much to their garage origins is still there, in particular on "I Got Nothing", but even in that tune, Dum Dum Girls sound "heavier" than ever. Not in the sense of having moved to hard-rock (thanks God), but into adding much more depth on each song. It's on Dee Dee's voice, on the guitars sonic palette, and the emotions each composition reaches.

Third song "Tress and Flowers", a cover of Scottish duo's Strawberry Switchblade is another fine example of these Dum Dum Girls 2.0. An aching and echoing ballad, its strikingly powerful and allows Dee reaching a new climax of emotion with her voice. An coupled with "Lord Knows", which is even better, a slow burning juggernaut in which everything, voice (these fading backing vocals), vibe, guitars, drums, lyrics, has "classic" written all over, proves the band is probably at their peak as musicians. When the combination of simplicity and conviction produce such irresistible results, its undeniable: you have it.

After such a pair of shocking tunes, "Season in Hell" might sound like a more predictable number, but this first judgement quickly turns to be wrong. Again the echoes and the recognisable beat characteristic of the band, but also the new post-punk pulse, the slight riff distortion and the impressive chorus line "Doesn't dawn look divine?", propels the tune into a new direction, closing the EP on a refreshing, extremely satisfying note.  

Not even 20 minutes of stunning indie pop-rock. "End of Daze" is absolutely unmissable. The Dum Dum Girls at their best.

SCORE: 8,25/10

Friday, September 28, 2012

Go #29S! No Fear!

Sorry for posting about politics again, but we are fighting for our future... Tomorrow, Saturday 29th there's another mobilisation to surround the Congress, surrounding it, to let "them" know they don't represent us and we have had enough of their policies and attitudes (with the latest episode of police violence being another shameful and despicable example of a government that has lost any glimpse of credibility). 

Tomorrow, our hopes, future and rights are with the ones in Madrid (and the rest of cities committed for the event). We have no fear

Official announcement of the mobilisation. Please take a minute and read it.

We are still in the streets and we have no fear.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever", blurred snapshots of youth

Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever: Stories- Justin Taylor

I will never lean. How many writers have been celebrated on the back covers of their debut books as the new Carver? And why I keep reading them, hoping to discover a new literary hero? That's unfair for the writer, and after reading the book, on a 99% of the cases, unfair for the reader.

Because "Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever" by Justin Taylor is not a bad collection of stories. On the contrary. Taylor's voice is quite unique: sharp, bittersweet and distant, yet skilled and polished (poetic glimpses included). Modern minimalism? New dirty realism? Labels here harm a quite cohesive and remarkable young writer. Taylor shouldn't be compared with giants, but highlighted as a quite refreshing author of his very own.

"Everything Here..." is purposely blurred. Don't expect answers of definitive endings. The fifteen stories included are just snapshots of the lives of confused young people, that would qualify as isolated losers, in which age, religion and identity are recurrent topics. Underground and counterculture might be the ground Taylor is showing us, but forget any heroics in their actions. On the contrary, a silent desolation will predominantly arise. I find the contrast between straight and frank narration and the inner turmoil of the characters quite exciting. There's sweetness but also rawness on their stories, something I believe proves Taylor's ability (and promise) to capture feelings and emotions and put the on paper. My concern has to do with the final results, with the impact of each story, for me too uneven.

That's the problem with Taylor's stories. Some, like the brief “The Jealousy of Angels”, "Tetris", or "Weekends Away" passed completely unnoticed for me. The ones with the anarchist (or just bored?) David were flat, with the lack of passion that is the "trending topic" of actual literature (that modern, frequently annoying tick) doing little favour to their very fragile characters. “Jewels Flashing in the Night of Time” might be worst of the lot, plain awful.

On the other hand, there's a bunch of stories to be remembered, like the solid "Tennessee", in which Jewishness is the background of a fierce father-and-son tale. Or in "What Was Once All Yours”, takes the subject of abortion from a male perspective, giving the emotionally charged topic a new approach. “New Life” does wonders with the redemption of a hopelessly in love kid. Or like “Whistle Through Your Teeth and Spit”, where the end of a peculiar coffee house is a phenomenal excuse to portray the bunch of regular (and outcasts) clients.

At times extremely interesting, despite the uneven impact / quality of this collection of stories, "Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever" is a quite promising first approach to Justin Taylor's work, and also an intriguing attempt to show the miseries, as well as the hopes, of young characters striving to find their space within mankind.

SCORE: 5,75/10

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

(My) Independence

Spain! Catalonia! I'm so tired of you two! Quino nailed it again.
It was bound to happen. I tried to stay aside from the current debate on Catalonia / Spain, but it's everywhere. I guess my choice wasn't very realistic and couldn't last long. So here's a very personal collection of thoughts...

(My) Independence

I want to be independent... from politics
From corrupted and vile politicians
The ones that brought us here & cut our rights,
but now have decided to hide their failures behind flags

I want to be independent... from media
From the miserable and evil majority of media
The ones that should be informing citizens,
but they are just manipulating us while serving the corporation that pays their checks

I want to be independent... from justice
From the paralysed and partial justice
The ones that should be defending our rights
but instead they just protect the unfair benefits and privileges of the richest and powerful

I want to be independent... from the Constitution
From the so sacred and untouchable Constitution
Many of us didn't vote it, but we all have the right to
decide whether it still fits us or not

I want to be independent... from democracy
From this ridiculous, false and deplorable idea of democracy
Where the ones supposedly chosen by us are only serving themselves
Where the ones we vote don't make the decisions, and the ones that do,
banks & greedy corporations, are free to keep their campaign towards social annihilation

I can't believe on a future leaded by the ones ruining our present. I want to be independent from a rescue I didn't provoke; from an economic model based on construction and tourism I didn't choose, and has obviously failed; from ancien régime institutions like monarchy, religion or capitalism; from conservative parties that call themselves liberals but are just fascists, and from left parties that forgot all their social aims while they focus on keeping their pockets full; from silly bipartidism; from corruption; from markets; from a EU that is sadly just another neoliberal economic club; from a criminal unemployment rate fostered by criminal an absurd neoliberal policies that I haven't voted; from people who still tries to use the language/s he/she speaks as a tool to divide people; from all nationalisms and anyone who tries to win an argument waving a flag. Behind any flag, there's people. That's what matters. This shouldn't be about Spain or Catalonia, but about the needs and rights of the citizens living on that territory. That's the sort of independence we should seek.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stop Awful Covers 6

It's been a while since our last chapter of artwork horrors, but unfortunately here's a new dose of deplorable taste and lack of care for your own music and your fans. Please stop...

Aimee Mann: Charmer
This one hurts, because I love Aimee's music, but the cover is plain ugly.

Yeasayer: Fragrant World
I can look one million times, and independently of what I see each time, it's always awful

The Slaves: Spirits of the Sun
A work of .... little effort

 Bonaparte: Sorry, We're Open
A very weird couple of party-goers? For sure a couple full of bad taste

Dog Day: The Scratches
At least the band's name is appropriate. It had to be a dog day when they chose that cover

Spider Bags: Shake My Head
Yes, I shake my head with consternation. How can someone choose this as a cover?

Guided By Voices: Jon the Croc
The genius of Robert Pollard is completely absent on this cover....

Juliana HatfieldJuliana Hatfield
Pretty in pink? No... zero work in pink...

Anthony Green: Beautiful Spring
All I can say I'm happy Autumn has arrived

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Quick round of new & unmissable music!

A quick post on some of the most exciting comebacks/ music news happening right now. Hope you enjoy!

Swedish craftsmanships Turn Off Your Television are back with "Blanket of Shame", first single in anticipation of their forthcoming album, "Humble Waves", out in October 8th, and again available for download freely. They seem to openly embrace indiepop territory in the song, which fits the band extremely well. They have been gifted with a talent for melody and warmth, amplified to masterly levels here. What a terrific advance of the album, can't wait for it!

Without moving from the gorgeous Sweden we meet again Kristian Matsson, famously known as The Tallest Man on Earth. "There's No Leaving Now" is his new record, out since June, on which you can find folk gems like this "Revelation Blues", here on a quite special performance (courtesy of City of Music).

Another ace tune from my beloved Paolo and Claire, aka Young Romance. "Lines" tries a bit to take off, resembling too much to a Tennis song (which is not bad per se, but not very original). But the spark, that fire the couple have injected to all their songs to date, arrives, and when it does, its unstoppable. Their music enlightens any room, shimmers. Oops, they did it again!
Lines by Young Romance

And finally, the great Amelia Fletcher has returned. The new Tender Trap album, "Ten Songs About Girls", out on Fortuna Pop! " is full of amazing tunes (as expected). Just hear the upbeat, lush and effervescent opener "King's Cross Station" and tell me you don't like it (if so, sorry, but you are probably deaf then).
Tender Trap-Train from King's Cross station

Many more (a Baffin Island EP, Beth Orton, Seapony, Parlours) coming very soon!

Monday, September 17, 2012

"A Good School", sad learnings from high school

A Good School- Richard Yates

It already happened to me when I read, then reviewed "A Special Providence". The emotion of having another book from master Richard Yates, being engaged by it while devouring it, and once the times come for the analysis, finding it a minor piece from the author.

Being honest, I'm pretty sure that sort of (minor) let down is the consequence of Yates being responsible of two undeniable masterpieces of modern contemporary literature: "Revolutionary Road" and "The Easter Parade". "A Good School" cannot compare with these two amazing novels. But still, we are in front of another very solid work, and of course, really recommendable.

Yet another factor in these aforementioned let down could be the lack of originality on the premise and development of the novel. How many remarkable books have been constrained into the walls of boarding schools? Salinger and Tobias Wolff to name just two unmissable authors. But that judgement would be a bit unfair. Yates, as expected from such a unique writer is capable of transmitting something completely personal to the book: a genuine sadness. In my imaginary world of music and literary connections, The National composed "Sorrow" for Richard Yates. 

From the very beginning, the reader will have the feeling student William Grove is some sort of Yates' alter ego, something that is almost confirmed at the end of the novel. And from page one, the chronicle of the high school years at the Dorset Academy are marked by sadness. Despite II World War has a direct effect on the students, wouldn't say this is a dramatic book, because Yates style, always using the perfect sentence, without wasting words and letting the reader "fill the gaps", avoids digressions and unnecessary floridnesses. No, the sadness I'm referring its primarily intrinsic to the characters, to the Academy as a whole. 

Yates gives space to various stories to evolve within the novel. Professors trapped into their damaged bodies and hearts, kids that doesn't seem to fit anywhere else, aspirations that are truncated or were just impossible, and the threat of constant failure, finally becoming a reality for the institution. The Dorset Academy is an isolated microcosms, that for a while seems completely separated from real world. But this will hit the place hard in the end, mercilessly. William Grove's story there is one of frustration and lost until he finds his own place: the school newspaper. But this is not a heroic tale of growing up, our leading character finally manages to surface and find his own way almost alone, almost creating a world of his own, full of deadlines and writings, inside of the Dorset small universe.

I can't clearly point out what's lacking on "A Good Novel". The stories seem to converge one final tragedy, that Yates solves again with an incredible, clinical precision, taking benefit of the journalistic sub-plot of the book, and then ends. My guess is that he just wanted to capture a glimpse of, a slice of life, teenage years that abruptly ended, forced by major circumstances and a fated destiny. Or maybe he was just trying to look back to those formation years without any anger or desolation. As I said, recommendable as everything Yates wrote, but far from his masterpieces.

SCORE: 6,75/10 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Discoverer 41: new indie findings

Here we go! New band proposals for your listening pleasure!

The Soft Pack. Formed in San Diego in 2007 but based in L.A., they began as a duo, becoming the current quartet a year after. Initially named The Muslims, their debut EP arrived in 2009, but due to "being disgusted and exhausted by the ignorant, often racist, bullshit that came out of people's mouths" they changed their name, releasing another EP and self-titled debut album in 2010. A lot of touring and studio work followed, with the result being "Strapped", second LP out in two weeks on Mexican Summer. Without leaving their indie rock's fuzz, with a garage and vital spirit, music has now evolved into a more richer and diverse territory. Looking forward to The Soft Pack comeback!
The Soft Pack - Saratoga 
Arc in Round. We move to Philadelphia to meet Jeff Ziegler, producer of The War on Drugs or Kurt Vile, and leader of this very particular combo. Formerly known as shoegazers Relay (2005-2010), Arc in Round became alive in 2010, when they released their EP "Diagonal Fields", followed past year with "II". Now the transition is completed with their self-titled album, out now on La Société Expéditionnaire. A sound as hard to describe as not falling for, think on Joy Division meeting Stereolab (hear singer Mikele Edwards amidst loops and effects), or Sonic Youth experimenting with dreampop. Music as vibrant as haunting.

StarTropics. And we finally end in Chicago with a band discovered thanks to the indie wisdom of skatterbrain's website. Not much information to explain about this unsigned foursome, so I'll focus on the music, so far just a four tune collection you can grab freely, which seems to aim for capturing the essences of post-punk gloom and blend it with the twee-pop warmness of Sarah Records. From the jangling delicacy and sweetness of “Into The Night” (these whispering boy/girl voices) to the 80's sounding bleakness of "Chapel Hill", there's a lot of promise in this band. Hoping for more very soon!
spring 2012 demo by StarTropics 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Dreams from Bunker Hill", Hollywood vs John Fante

Dreams from Bunker Hill- John Fante

The great John Fante again folks. This time with one of the Arturo Bandini's quartet, the stories of his impulsive and passionate alter ego, and the last book Fante's wrote. Well, technically (and as his son Dan confirmed us on a special presentation he gave in Barcelona this spring) it was dictated to his wife Joyce, as Fante's was struggling with the increasing problems (blindness, lack of mobility) consequence of the diabetes that finally took him away. To think this little wonder was orally transmitted makes me shiver. How can a suffering mind have the clarity of creating such a joyful and absorbing piece? Such a masterful work of concision (barely 150 pages), a triumph of style without losing the trademark of his prose: injecting an incomparable burst of life to every sentence.

This is the fourth book I have read from Fante's, and "Dreams from Bunker Hill" might be the one that has pleased me the most. Like on "West of Rome", particularly on "My Dog Stupid", I enjoyed the less raw version of his alter egos. Bandini looks more like a younger version of Henry Molise than the aggressive Arturo of the earlier chapters of his saga, and the sense of humour, with that little hint of melancholia, permeates a character and the story, provoking a much warmer and closer feeling with reader. Hey, don't get me wrong. Fante's prose still make you feel like being involved on a boxing match in which you have zero choices to win. By the time you are beginning to catch your breath, you are on the ground, completely knock-out by his style: nervous, without reservations or artifices. A relentless attack.

Narrated from the distance maturity gives, this looks like a version of  "The Day of the Locust" from Nathanael West. Arturo Bandini tries to be succesful, or at least make a decent living in L.A., as a Hollywood scriptwriter. But very soon the reader will acknowledge his fate is to become amusingly (for us) frustrated by the cinema industry. A collection of disasters, involving fights, gorgeous women, ridiculous movie plots (a wonder of structure and lucidity these pages in particular), star fanatics living in a parallel world, and a lot of eccentrics people. Its an intense and vital satire of Hollywood, in which biles has been left aside, replaced by irony and humour.

Not enough to convince you to read it? Then let me add the book includes, offers two little, different short stories inside it, and both are excellent, entering a territory where autobiography and slight fantasy met: one with an impossible but very moving love story. The other one with an Italian wrestler. They would have been amazing tales on their own.

And one last highlight before concluding the review. Why Fante deserves all that late recognition and praise?You'll find the answer on the last paragraphs/page of chapter nine, where he reveals how he got "trapped" with writing. How lucky we are he did. Do yourself a favour: read Fante.

SCORE: 8/10

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Primavera Club 2012: 50/50?

Wednesday arrived, and as promised, the organization revealed the full line-up of the forthcoming Primavera Club 2012 (December 6-8). And on my first impression I have mixed reviews about it (click on the image to enlarge and see the complete list).

Negative side
  • Just one name from my wish list, which is quite a disappointment (their agendas made think they were possible, so I was hoping for a few more "hits"). Maybe for spring 2013? 
  • Less days and less bands. Not to mention the quite dramatic reduction in Madrid. I know this is not the fault of the organisation, but the consequence of the absurd policies of our governments... but still, it is frustrating.
  • Distributed in five days, last year I was able to be at more than a dozen concerts. I'm afraid with the reduction of days, overlaps can be more painful than ever. Hope I'm wrong on this matter...
  • Sant Jordi Club instead of Casino l'Aliança? Sound was pretty great, hope the change works...
Positive side
Next week, the organisation will have the schedule, which could be a major fact in order to value more accurately the line-up (fingers crossed for the overlaps). But whatever the case, plenty to see and enjoy this December! Thanks Primavera!

Monday, September 10, 2012

"The Avengers", superheroes' all-star game

The Avengers

That's the last superhero movie I'm watching in a long while, promise. Too many in the last two years, the majority of them being quite mediocre. "The Avengers" is not going to be any landmark in these overexploited sub-genre, but at least achieves its ultimate goal: being a pleasant entertainment.

After watching "The Avengers", I think I resolved myself a question regarding superhero/action movies. I prefer to have a no-brainer but quite spectacular, and for the most part, entertaining film than a supposedly more serious, but eventually more pretentious and sorry to say, tiring film like the last Batman. After all, a superhero film is not author's cinema and, if the material you are working with doesn't allow you to do so, maybe is better to concentrate in what you can offer: a couple of hours of fun. Besides, Marvel's factory has never been known for its adult/very mature pretensions, something that is completely reasonable, if you keep your coherency. So director Joss Whedon probably realised he had the potential (and budget) to film the most spectacular superhero film ever made. And decided to go for it, leaving the most substantial elements of a film (namely the plot or the premise) in an obvious second place. He probably chose well.

So, if you expected an intricate and tortured villain, look somewhere else. The bad guy is that kitsch version of Loki we saw on the laughable Thor, who by the way, looks exactly as silly as it was on that film, more likely to be participating on Smack Down/RAW than understanding what's going on Earth. If you were thinking on an elaborated major crisis that would force to assemble such a superhero "all-star game" this is not your film: the evil comes from another world, and with no other goal than provoking total war. Basically, "The Avengers" is that battle, and the so-called plot is the excuse to keep you waiting for it.

Well, the good part is that "The Avengers" doesn't pretend to take itself very seriously either. No one really cares about the Tesseract, and that extremely long scene on S.H.I.E.L.D. awesome headquarters, where scientists Bruce Banner and Tony Stark try to find a solution about the energy issue while they discover the real reasons of Nick Fury's behaviour, has the only purpose of being funny.

No, the questions on "The Avengers" are who would win in a fight: The Hulk or Thor? Who will be do the last action, who would be the one that saves the world? Can Captain America pair alongside the powers of the other superheroes? And what are the real motivation of the S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers? The sort of questions to please the comic fans, providing a feast of amazing scenes of action, the mother of all battles and quite a few hilarious moments (best one being The Hulk hitting Thor by surprise). Actors doesn't have a lot to prove. Scarlett looks sexy as anyone can expect, but her character doesn't have an important role. Chris Evans has the same lame character as Captain America as their solo film. And Samuel L. Jackson is quite ridiculous again as Nick Fury. The only ones remarkable are Robert Downey Jr's impersonation of the cynical hero as Iron Man and the good actor Mark Ruffalo mutating into the green beast.

"The Avengers" combination is pretty engaging. Pretty silly, understanding silly as some kind of compliment, as it refers to its lack of pretensions. So it's a good, fun option, for having a couple of entertained hours at least. 

SCORE: 6/10

"New Wave & Post-Punk", well-known pleasures

New Wave & Post-Punk (1978-1984). From Depeche Mode to Franz Ferdinand (de Depeche Mode a Franz Ferdinand, Spanish original title)- Juan M. Corral (editor)

Here comes a very interesting and needed book. Well, music books are desperately needed in general in Spain, as the production is so small. So "New Wave & Post-Punk" has to be praised even if just as an attempt of covering such a music period. So thanks Juan Manuel Corral and the rest of music specialists (six different writers trying to dissect those times in several individual chapters) for the work.

Having said that, the book has many attractions, from just being informed about those years, who were the leading bands and artists of the different "movements" or "scenes" (whether the real existence or non-existence of the scenes are one of these perennial debates), their connections and relations, and maybe discover some of them, to bringing to the table, or at least explore, the origins and direct influences of many bands that are referential today. As the book clearly exposes, and I don't think its arguable, 80s are "on fashion" today.

To present such a vast and complex (it evolved very quickly) music panorama is not an easy task, so for sure, the scope of the book has limitations and the list of groups/artists included is, by no means (that's almost impossible) exhaustive, but the overall feeling after reading it is that the most relevant scenes have been covered and documented. Therefore, prepare yourself to embark on a quite challenging ride: from "England's Dreaming" to Joy Division fatalism, from American Hardcore to Gary Numan, from German industrial sounds to The Specials, from Morrisey & Marr to Diamanda Galas. 

As I said before, the book tries to analyse the most relevant bands and milestones of the different music scenes (plus a chapter on music labels, not that usual and highly absorbing, another positive point). I like the fact the writers doesn't hide their criticisms and opinions on albums and attitudes and that the focus is not reproducing what the chroniclers from USA and United Kingdom have vastly documented: the perspective is a more local one, about what and how we received these bands and styles here in Spain, and how we can value them. In that sense, the final chapters of "New Wave & Post-Punk" are particularly relevant despite its length constraints. One is dedicated to the "legacy", where music specialist Daniel Cabezas tries to summarize the influences of some of the most celebrated artists of the new millennium. A titanic, incomplete, but great chapter. The second is a brief (too short) but valuable view of how new wave and post-punk arrived and influenced national music, in a pivotal moment of change in Spain, after the dictatorship regime.

But there's a big, and a bit surprising, "issue" with this book: the unacceptable number of misspellings and typos. There's virtually no page without it. Just the back cover has half a dozen of them. Don't know which has been the problem (edition, lack of correction) but it makes the work look bad, not very professional. Sad, because despite its limitations, this book should be quite recommendable.

SCORE: 6,5/10

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Discoverer 40: new indie findings

New band recommendations for you: lots of girls playing guitars (and other stuff)!

Sweater Girls. Checking the roster of Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records was on my agenda for quite a long time. But thanks to my frequently recommended friends of Indie Pop Saved My Life, this time I had a clear goal: the Sweater Girls. The L.A. band, active since 2010, is quintessential indiepop, the one that will immediately grab you and make you smile, full of jangling guitars, delicious twee vocals singing about impossible loves and friendships. Immediate warm and gentle feelings to your ears... and heart. After a couple of 7" releases, "Were Here", their debut album, is out on September 25th. The countdown has started.
Cruel Summer. Short trip from L.A. to Frisco to meet this quartet, which started to play out not even a year ago, and that defines themselves "like Sonic Youth making illegitimate kin with The Wedding Present". After hearing their small collection of tunes, an initial self-titled 3-songs EP (demo?) and another, comprising 6 tunes, out very soon, you'll see that BIG comparison might not be too far-off. Leaded by the voice of Thea Chacamaty, magnetic in the stunning "Carquinez", one of two pieces available to hear of their forthcoming EP, this band could have it: fuzzy, crunching guitars, dreamy melodies, infectious pop hooks. Have it all.    
TEEN. Change of coast with this Brooklyn's band, the current project of former Here We Go Magic keyboardist Kristina “Teeny” Lieberson, and a very familiar affair, as the (now) quartet is completed with her sisters Katherine and Lizze, plus long-time friend Jane Herships. A first EP in 2011, "Little Doods", preceded their debut album, "In Limbo", out just now. Rich and haunting, full of synths, spacey percussion, ethereal vocals, flourishing harmonies, guitar cascades and psychedelic turns, I hear echoes of Electrelane, The Velvet Underground, Rose Elinor Dougall, but I bet you'll find many others. An absorbing kaleidoscope of sounds.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Primavera Club 2012: my wish list

Swans, a quality and prestigious name but very far from my tastes was filtered a couple of days ago. Today, Gabi Ruiz tweeted the full line-up of the Primavera Club 2012 (December 5 to 9) will be announced  next Tuesday12th. So, as I did with Primavera Sound last spring, here's how my wish list would like... aside from my impossible and recurring dreams (I guess) of bringing The Very Most, The Hermit Crabs, Nat Johnson or Electrelane to Barcelona, I just made the list from bands that could be possible seeing their agendas so far... so here's hope!

Alpaca Sports. Well, they are simply one of the most delicious acts that have appeared this year.
Corin Tucker Band, The. The album is just arriving, so they should present it, so why not Barcelona? Or maybe for Primavera Sound 2013. Another amazing option (would love to have both) is to include Wild Flag, still have to come here!
Echo Lake. Touring UK in October....
Evans the Death. Similar case to Echo Lake.
ExLovers. No dates means options? Hope so.
Fonda. They release a new album very soon, so the time is right....
Fountains. The best new band of the year?
Hospitality. My Nº1 choice of the list. They end their American tour in November so...
Motorama. Finally, finally, finally, please...
School, The. Another must-see.
Shrag. "Canines" deserves a stop in Barcelona!
Softies, The. The Chickfactor celebrations gathered them for some gigs. Needless to say that would be a dream come true...
Stealing Sheep. Recently discovered, and completely haunted. How will they sound live?
Strawberry Wiplash. Wouldn't it be nice if Matinée Recordings had a special section at Primavera each year?
Toy. Similar case to Stealing Sheep. Counting the days for the record to arrive...
Wild Nothing. Their calendar dates seems to fit nicely...
Young Romance. Favourites from the blog, Claire and Paolo are an absolute must.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"Lemmy", the rock's heavy rock

Lemmy: 49% Motherf**ker, 51% Son of a Bitch

As you already know, I enjoy music documentaries so much it's easy I could end watching almost everything if its about music, even if the group/artist is completely opposite to my personal tastes. That's the case with "Lemmy", a rockumentary on Motörhead's leader, Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister, an undeniable hard-rock/heavy metal legend and rock icon.

The good about this rockumentary is that (luckily) doesn't focus on the music, and is not a collection of footage just to please his devote fans. It is a film about Mr. Kilmister, about capturing who he is and what's behind his iconic figure. The conclusion couldn't be more striking: there's no difference between Lemmy, the "rock God" (not my opinion, you'll hear that affirmation thousands of times during the film) and Lemmy the human being. There's no Lemmy and then an Ian. Forget the usual glamorous, decadent or eccentric side of a rockstar. Forget the tortuous and extremely hard disassociation of his musician's life and his life at home. The guy is just the way he is. Always.

Many rockumentaries have their good share of interviews/comments with relevant/related people talking about what it means for them the artist/band object of the film. Many of them are really bland, but in Lemmy's case, if you let aside some worshipping and anecdotes that seem trivial (the passion, enthusiasm and consideration from the likes of Metallica or Dave Grohl looks genuine and moving), you'll hear/see a recurrent affirmation. He's real. He's the person you are seeing. There's no fake, no star-pose. For good or bad. Take it or leave it. Celebrity Joan Jett from The Runaways summarizes it: "Everybody assimilates at some point [...], go along to get along, you know, to get what they need to get... I don't see Lemmy as that kind of guy [...] I see him doing things his way to get where he wants to go. And that's attractive, because people don't do that anymore."
Lemmy's portrait is necessarily bittersweet, revealing a complex character to take an insight of. Aside from the expected account on Lemmy's role within music history, we see his everyday routine (bars and slot machines), his musical interests, his personal life, from his views on marriage to a shocking interview together with his son, his collector, more like an obsession, "mode" and (glups) peculiar tastes recalling uniforms, a little recall of his early career (the most hilarious moment of the film, with the Hawkind members trying to justify why they kicked them out of the band due to "different drugs choice") and interesting footage of his current music career: life on the road, band and crew opinions and some brilliantly filmed music clips (but if you ask me, Lemmy's voice is really annoying).

Some could say the rockumentary is a bit loose in its structure, or that, in my opinion it would flow better with a reduced length, but it succeeds well in its goal of bringing a detailed account on Kilmister, with several moments to be remembered. Even for a non Motörhead fan... well let's be honest, even for a metal hater, "Lemmy" is an absorbing film, an unusual, profound and brave attempt to show a music legend that just happens to be a complex human being, with a not very glamorous everyday life. His own life, made of his own choices. He's like a rock, unalterable despite fame, drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. He's the rock's heavy rock.

SCORE: 7,5/10

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Discoverer 39: new indie findings

It's Sunday, so here are the new band recommendations. Warning: it's a psychedelic week!

Toy. Like past week, another deserved hype coming from London. Formed in 2010 by singer/guitarist Tom Dougall (who is the younger brother of my beloved Rose Elinor Dougall), the quintet, with three former members of the band Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong quickly become "one to watch" at Festivals and as supporting slot for The Horrors on 2011, with whom they share friendship and musical style. Two celebrated singles, the debut "Left Myself Behind" and "Motoring", preceding their self-titled album, out next week on Heavenly Recordings. Post-punk, psychedelia, Toy are an exciting indie-rock sonic adventure full of promise...

Stealing Sheep. From London to Liverpool, with a female trio formed in 2010. They debuted with "What If the Lights Went Out" EP that year, followed by two singles in 2011 and "Noah & The Paper Moon" EP in 2012, before their debut album, "Into the Diamond Sun", arrived last week (Heavenly again). Defined as "whimsical pagan pop", if you allow me a more down-to-earth interpretation they sound like Warpaint embracing psych-folk territory, understanding folk as an enormous landscape where almost everything fits, always with their shining harmonies and intriguing melodies, full of little secrets, on top. Haunting.
Stealing Sheep

Whirr. Our third proposal comes from an Oakland, California, sextet. Active since 2010, they debuted with "Distressor" EP in June of 2011, quickly followed by the 7""June". After a slight change of name (from Whirl to Whirr), on spring of 2012, they released "Pipe Dreams" first album on Tee Pee Records. Whatever you choice, their EP's rougher side, or their poppier, more diverse and polished album, you'll find a band on absolute command of a cohesive, hypnotic shoegaze/dreampop. Yeah, you can bring the "untouchable" names to the table (Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive) for comparisons. They are that good. Ladies and gentlemen, let's float in space with Whirr for a while.
  Whirr - Home is where my head is Whirr - "Junebouvier"

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Playlist: the Best of Beth Orton

In exactly a month, October 1st, Beth Orton will release her new album, "Sugaring Season", after six years of hiatus. She is one of my all-time favourite artists, so here's a little homage (a personal selection, many b-sides) to her beautiful music, and a nice warm-up to start the countdown till the record arrive. If you didn't know her yet, please take a listen!

    The Best of Beth Orton by Raul on Grooveshark
  1. Stolen Car
  2. The Same Day
  3. Concrete Sky
  4. Shadow of a Doubt
  5. Wild World
  6. Central Reservation (original version)
  7. Conceived
  8. Dolphins (with Terry Callier)
  9. A Place Aside
  10. Galaxy of Emptiness (Live)
  11. Safety
  12. Sweetest Decline
  13. Pedestal
  14. Sugar Boy
  15. This One's Gonna Bruise
  16. Ooh Child
  17. Ali's Waltz
  18. How Far 
  19. Thinking About Tomorrow
  20. Pieces of Sky
  21. It's Not the Spotlight