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Monday, January 30, 2012

Primavera Sound Festival unveils an amazing line-up

The day arrived, the Primavera Sound had its press conference... and they did it again!! Still hoping for some names (they say around 10% of the line-up still has to be revealed, so there's still time for  The Shins, Wild Flag, Electrelane or "my" indie-pop bands to be announced) but there's has been plenty to rejoice about: I Break Horses, The Chameleons, Sharon Van Etten, Real State and an amazingly long and interesting etc., plus the chance of finally seeing Beirut and Kings of Convenience live. But if that weren't enough, a very special gift for me: Big Star's Third, giving me the chance of seeing my beloved Mike Mills (R.E.M.) again. Thank you PS12!

PS: Then FIB Festival confirms David Guetta, and I can't stop laughing...

30th May – 3rd June, Barcelona


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"

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Primavera Sound Festival Day tomorrow!

Yes, tomorrow is the #PS12 day, when the organization celebratin the press conference where almost the whole line-up of this year's edition will be revealed. Still hoping for many of my wish list and my sweepstake to become a reality, and some more I would love to add now. The countdown has started, so we'll know very soon!!

I want this band at Primavera too!!Wild Flag at PS12, please!

to Ms.Jum, already missing you

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Concert night with the Arctic Monkeys!

After a pretty shitty week, with a so far horrible weekend making the move to a new office (some might add to our anticipated funeral) tonight I hope to have a break at the gig of the Arctic Monkeys (plus guest star and Alex Turner's friend Miles Kane, getting more addicted to "Color of the Trap" each time I hear it by the way) at Palau Sant Jordi, on their "Suck It and See" tour. I'll keep you informed!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Shame on Spain: going backwards

Ferreras cartoon on Fraga's funeral. The text says:
While it's true he overshadowed a brilliant service to
Franco embracing democracy, we must understand,
he did because he had no choice
I have been avoiding another political post for a long time, but today's news have been the straw that broke the camel's back to me. Like a frozen, black & white image, Spain has quickly gone back to the past. This is just my personal opinion.

First. On January 15th Mr. Manuel Fraga Iribarne passed away, with a pretty disturbing, incredibly depressing and completely unappropiate (public funds, aren't we in a terrible economic crisis?) pomp and fanfare for his funeral. Sure, he was a long time politician of the country, founder of PP, and almost eternal president of Galicia. But foremost, he was a fascist, a Franco's ministry (he was our, modest by comparison, Joseph Goebbels), responsible of several political murders (during Franco's dictatorship as well as in the transition towards democracy) for which he never apologized, and of course, he never was asked for responsibilities. He was the living example that Spanish democracy (he participated in the draft of our consitution) never broke with Francoism. Something that the amount of people present on the funeral (included many supposed socialists) and the media coverage has shamefully proved.
Second. Since Monday we are judging, in our Supreme Court (our highest instance), the judge Baltasar Garzón, for investigating the crimes committed by Francoism. Something that is, simply, an atrocity (and a ridiculous process, with so many faults and mistakes that is evident the whole thing is "intentional"). As any expert on human rights or international law knows, the investigation of crimes against humanity by any judge cannot, everconstitute a criminal conduct. The accusation's argument is based on the 1977 Spanish amnesty law, which does not preclude investigating crimes committed during the Civil War and the dictatorship period. This is a law that obviously contravenes Spanish obligations under international law, something that has been denounced repeatedly by the UN and several international experts. Spain has the obligation of fostering the investigation of any violation of human rights.

Third. Today Gallardón, ministry of Justice, announced major changes in pretty important laws. What a package of steps backwards. Let me summarise:
1. Everyone expected that when the PP arrived to government our current abortion law was going to be modified, but no one thought it would be with a publicized desire to go back to the legislation of 1985 (which is pathetic). The proposed PP's reform does not respond to current social reality. Not letting girls of 16/17 years wether decide or not to interrupt her pregnancy (as the law allows today) is a great injustice, because the law of patient autonomy it allows kids that age to decide about medical treatment that they receive such as chemotherapy. Therefore, the intentions of the PP does not respond to any scientific or medical criteria, only ideological/moral. Besides, the fact, with almost two years of implementation of the current abortion law is that it has decreased the number of abortions in young women, both as children under 25 years, because there have been many important prevention measures. That is, the greater access to abortion is not promoted, but has served as the girls who really need it (vast majority girls with a difficult family situation/structure) could do legally. Is quite simple. Not everyone believes in God. The country where we live is not religious (at least that's what it says in the Constitution), so laws cannot be based on it.
2. Intrinsically linked with the previous one: Minors will now be subjected to same type of criminal penalties, pending on the seriousness of the charge, that adults. Do I need to say it evidently contradicts the previous point?
A "bit" of social alarm in Madrid,
don't you think?
3. And surprisingly despicable. Our ministry of Justice has said that depending on the social alarm caused by the crime, a revisable life imprisonment sentence will be acceptable. This is atrocious. So that means Spanish justice will now be based on the media coverage the case receives? That means that channels specialised in rubbish tv (Antena3, Tele5) or in defamation (Intereconomia) will now decide someone has to be imprisoned for life? Where's the independence of the judicial system then? With that scenario, and considering the glaring social unrest, that means that Francesc Camps, Carlos Fabra, Fèlix Millet, Urdangarín, bankers, and corrupt troop, or even Pepe (don't tell me his systematic acts of violence against soccer are not causing alarm) will be sentenced for life? I doubt it.

What a shameful country is Spain

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Indie Anthology 3: essential songs

A wonderful forgotten treasure for the third choice of our anthology...

: Leeds Station
Artist: The Parachute Men
Year: 1989

The Parachute Men was a wonderful British band with a pretty short history. They formed in 1985, released two albums, "The Innocents" and "Earth, Dogs, and Eggshells" (both highly recommended), and several singles, including this outstanding "Leeds Station", before splitting in 1990. You know when, in very rare, extraordinary occasions, since the very first second you are sure you will fall in love with a song? That was my case with "Leeds Station". Haunting melody, shimmering guitars and soulful vocals...all the elements to define the tune as pure jangle-pop at its best. Never been in Leeds, but after hearing this song seems a great place to call home...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Some Kind of Monster", Metallica goes to therapy

Some Kind of Monster

I'm not into heavy metal/hard rock music, so is not surprise I have never liked Metallica. Well, it is much worse than that. I hate Metallica. They ever-present bombastic poses, combined with James Hetfield voice, particularly annoying to me (how he ends every phrase, damn it), and of course their brutal success when I was a teenager (I was such a "weirdo" cause I didn't get "Nothing Else Matters", I still can't) made my relation with the band an excruciating one (drummer Lars Ulrich didn't help a bit with his crusade against Napster either). But I guess time has relaxed my belligerency against the group, so I admit I was curious enough to watch this highly praised rockumentary.

It's pretty amazing that Metallica, as well as each one of its individuals, allowed the documentary crew to be ever-present during almost two years, from 2001 to 2003, in which they were supposed to record a new album. But the film quickly shows that this is not only about what would become "St. Anger", their eighth studio album, but an unexpectedly deep insight of very turbulent times. Don't expect much grandeur and enjoyment for making music. Metallica fans, don't expect a pretty, flattering portray of your heroes. Instead, you'll find some misery and fights against each other.

Because "Some Kind of Monster" (what a suitable name for the film)  is about the clash of the different personalities of the band members and the psychological dynamics of the band. And their exposure is, sometimes, brutal. For a while, a long while during the documentary, seems you are watching what should be the private breakdown of Metallica. Their members are evidently burnt-out, and is hard for the audience to see there's a real interest in creating new music. We see how they decide to hire a therapist to help them control an deal with the arising tensions, specially between Hetfield and Ulrich.

There's too much "shit" (sorry for that) floating around Metallica. How they fired former bassist, Jason Newsted, the ego clashes between the two leaders of the band, a producer that is incapable of mediating, the self-indulgence of a band that has become "too big", the conciliation with their new family lives with rock and roll lifestyle, Napster, addictions...  They all appear in the form of poignant scenes. The lack of enthusiasm for playing music or even practicing is obvious. But somehow, they are rebelling against giving up. "Some Kind of Monster" reveals itself as the documentary of a therapy. It looks like a torture many times (the scene with Dave Mustaine, leader of  Megadeth, is so disturbingly shocking), but they finally go somewhere (credit Robert Trujillo as an important factor too). Its a process of survival, self-knowledge and pain.

There a few but important concerns to be made. One is the excessive length of the film. Its understandable that with some many hours filmed, directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky had tones of material to work with. But considering most of the documentary takes place at the studio, the movie suffers from being too long (maybe fans won't say so). And directly linked with that amount of material, I have the feeling there are some very sharp transitions during the movie. My guess is the band, despite showing so much, exposing so much themselves, put some limits. Flashbacks into the past of the band are not really justified, the open fight between Hetfield and Ulrich, or with the therapist, are not resolved on screen. The Mustaine and Newsted's affairs as well remain there too. Many "situations" are presented but never fully developed.

Overall, "Some Kind of Monster" is a very powerful, at times absolutely striking, rockumentary about one of the biggest bands of the last thirty years, in their lowest moment. Fans absolutely HAVE to see it, but even people who doesn't care about music would find this film interesting. Rock stars are as petty, complex and vulnerable as everyone else. Praise the members of Metallica for being so brave to expose themselves as human beings.

SCORE: 6,75/10

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Cure at Primavera Sound 2012: wished playlist

As expected, The Cure have been confirmed as one of the Primavera Sound Festival headliners. Not really surprising, and not my first choice either, but I'm very happy I'll finally see Robert Smith and co. live. Let's celebrate with what would be my wished setlist!
    The Cure at Primavera Sound 2012 by Raul on Grooveshark
  1. Plainsong
  2. Fascination Street
  3. Maybe Someday
  4. Charlotte Sometimes
  5. In Between Days
  6. Friday I'm In Love
  7. Wrong Number
  8. How Beautiful You Are
  9. Pictures of You
  10. The Hanging Garden
  11. Disintegration
  12. 39
  13. Lullaby
  14. Lovesong
  15. Prayers for Rain
  16. To Wish Impossible Things 
  17. Where the Birds Always Sing 
  18. Just Like Heaven
  19. High
  20. A Night Like This
  21. Mint Car
  22. A Forest
  23. Cut Here
  24. Play for Today
  25. Boys Don't Cry

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Indie Anthology 2: essential songs

For my second choice of this peculiar and very personal anthology, a classic. And if you allow me, with a familiar note. A little homage after a tough day at the hospital.

Song: Something On Your Mind
Artist: Karen Dalton 
Year: 1971

Revivalist movements have something good. Sure, there's a lot of copy and "jumping on the bandwagon" of the successful trend, but aside the (very few) good new bands, it makes you recover a lost gem you hadn't heard in ages. That was the case with the neofolk revivalist movement, that brought us back the amazing Karen Dalton.
Well, honestly, Dalton was not really "recovered". It is fair to say she was mostly ignored in her own time. But on a personal level, my father (can't remember exactly where) had this incredible song. Thanks to a proper and deserved remaster of her work in 2006, the tune now has passed to the son.
In his wonderful memories "Chronicles", Bob Dylan referred to Dalton as her favourite singer in the early 60s among the folk troubadours of Greenwich Village, comparing her voice to Billie Holiday's and her guitar style to Jimmy Reed. Her destiny was tragic, releasing only two albums. The debut "It’s so Hard to Tell Who’s Gonna Love You Best”, thanks to Neil Young, in 1969, and, "In My Own Time", in 1971, after being completely forgotten, just to be found dead in the early 90s on the streets of NY, sick and addicted.
Yes, Dalton was a singer and not a composer. But what a singer she was. And yes, "In Your Own Time", the album that opens with "Something On Your Mind" is a collection of covers. But what an incredible collection of covers. What an interpretation. What a magnificent marriage between her vocal warmth with the eternal, extraordinary melody, folk with jazz echoes, sublime, ethereal, celestial. Seems suspended on air.

Dedicated to my father

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Martin Dressler", building the fake empire

Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer 
Steven Millhauser

Very hard book to rate. It made think of many other references, in particular to movies like "There Will Be Blood" (the raise of America), "Synecdoche, New York" (these actors at the end), of books like "The Tenants of Moonbloom" and in a very particular note, on a very good friend of mine, and one of my all-time favourite songs, The National's "Fake Empire" (obvious reasons). The problem is that, while I enjoyed watching/reading/hearing these works, I cannot say the same about "Martin Dressler".

My biggest "issue" with the book is how it is written. Steven Millhauser prose (at least in this novel) is focused in descriptions, where his pen becomes exuberant and profuse. Something that very few exceptions aside, I find annoying. Worse, there's the feeling descriptions keep increasing while you read, there's a sense of accumulation, which exhausted me. I don't need that never-ending catalogue of objects.

Which in all honesty, is a quite unfair comment to the book, because that obsession for the details reflected in the exhaustive descriptions are quite in order to show us the nature of Martin Dressler, the main character of the novel. Martin is a very peculiar character. He is like a child that seems capable of succeeding in everything that he desires... to the point of being obsessed.. until he gets it... and then he needs a new obsession. I can see Millhauser sees Martin not only as a very interesting character, but also as a metaphor of the times he lived (the end of 19th-century and the start of the new one) and a prophetic voice of the capitalist self-made man in America. The one that was capable of creating and living the American Dream.

Millhauser writes about Martin's success in an almost magical way. He clearly has the intention of creating a fable, but the lack of realism in the "superficial story" to me was a bit tricky, or better said, discouraging. Is that ambition? Is he a pioneer? An enterpreneur? Or a silly kid that gets easily bored? While I don't think a clear answer is needed, as keeping the mistery could be even more interesting than resolving it, in my opinion "Martin Dressler" doesn't make the "trip" addictive for the reader, as I believe the book works better on a philosophical level.

Another clear example, at least to me, is the apparition of his "emotional live" while he keeps getting richer. On a symbolic level is a pretty suggesting combination, deconstruction of what can someone find attractive in a women (there's three of them here) with the addition of the typical sexual awakening (whorehouse classic scene) and being seduced while he is married. Sure, Caroline, Margaret and Emmeline all represent different sides of woman of that times. But again, on what regards to the development of the story, their role is very boring and poorly resolved (the "shooting" chapter in particular).

I don't want to be too hard with "Martin Dressler" as I can easily see the amount of incentives this book might have for many readers. Its stimulating, conceptually very rich and profuse in imagery (loved the dichotomy of going underground while at the same time aspiring to go higher with their hotels). Sure, Martin works great as a paradigm of capitalism, but sorry again, that interpretation also works for the book itself. Its a paradigm of ambition, in terms of structure, style and scope. Like capitalism, this book is a voracious monster that finally ends swallowing itself.

SCORE: 4,5/10

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Indie Anthology 1: essential songs

We start a new section of the blog today, with the only purpose of "rescuing" songs (one on each post) that no one should miss, and build a very special Indie Anthology while we rediscover or enjoy for the first time this not so well-known indie gems. 

Song: Revolutionary Spirit
Band: The Wild Swans
Year: 1982

Our first song is a wonder that celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year. The debut single (never to appear on a regularly released album) of The Wild Swans, the cult and damned band from Liverpool, who disbanded in 1990, but luckily returned to music in 2011. Leaded by the ridiculously talented Paul Simpson (former member of the also essential group The Teardrop Explodes). Post-romantic, epic lyrics, with one of the best melodies post-punk/new wave's style has given to music. Thanks to Pete de Freitas (Echo and The Bunnymen, Simpson's friend and flatmate) who funded, produced and played the drums on the single.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Crazy, Stupid, Love.", one-night stand entertainment

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Ok, "Crazy, Stupid, Love" is not going to shake the foundations of film industry, and won't (shouldn't) go down in history. But as a romantic comedy with a limited palette, it has an undeniable charm, thanks to the chemistry of their cast, and some very funny and rewarding moments, plus an engaging vibe that lasts almost the entire film.

As I just said, the plot of "Crazy, Stupid, Love" is pretty archetypical. Won't go into it because I would easily ruin it for you, but very briefly: is the sort of coral rom-com, with love affairs for every age group, from teenage years to a 40-some couple that breaks their marriage after 25 years, where no one is taking what he/she wants.

Despite the pivotal story of the film is the Weaver's breakup, soon one realise this is mainly the show of two characters/actors: the heartbroken Cal Weaver played by Steve Carell, and Jacob Palmer, the ladyslayer played by Ryan Gosling. They met in a pickup bar and build an awkwad, pygmalionesque, relationship, where the young one teaches the out-of-the-market, old-fashioned middle-aged one, how to pick up girls. Honestly, in the hands of many comedians this argument would have been annoying, but Carell and Gosling make it amusing. Praise Carell for being capable of showing so many different faces with that credibility on the same film.

The movie keeps going and the related stories start evolving, with some hilarious situations and a flowing pace. Also with some strange and anticlimactic moments, I guess the way directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa want to subvert the obvious and trite paths of romantic comedies. Unfortunately, the movie only "seems" original, but is far from being really brave or revolutionary. On the contrary, as we cross the halfway point, it becomes evident "Crazy, Stupid, Love." makes a conscious decision for a commercial, conservative ending. Not complaining, because I didn't think the movie had any other pretension than being a good entertainment.

Aside for its more foreseeable second half I have two other concerns too add to the film. One is typical of the coral movies. Stories tends to be unbalanced. In this case I would say the youngest "love affair" is a flimsy argument, and it gets a bit overexploited, despite babysitter's Jessica is a character fantastically played by Analeigh Tipton. Also, is a bit disappointing wasting such a great actress like Julianne Moore, or in a more secondary roles, Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei, for their limited (the latest two are pure caricatures) roles. And the second one is the end. We get almost 20 unnecessary (in my opinion) extra minutes from what could have been a much better scene (that fight is among the funniest of the film) to close the film on a high note. But instead we have a very typical, commercially safe one.

Overall, this is a quite pleasant movie, thanks to the great performance of Steve Carell, well backed by Ryan Gosling and the rest of the cast, with some memorable scenes (one involving "Dirty Dancing" which is remarkable) that makes it a nice entertainment. Following its argument, don't expect the "love of your life", but  will do for a one-night stand.

SCORE: 6/10

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chickfactor's 20th Anniversary, an indie pop dream

Sorry folks, I know there are many bands reuniting this year to play live: The Stone Roses, Afghan Whigs, At the Drive-In, Refused... but the most amazing announcement has arrived today. The mythic indie magazine Chickfactor (online since 2002 and happily still alive and kicking) is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a very special series of shows. INCREDIBLY SPECIAL!!

Five nights of music (three in NY, two in Washington DC, places where the magazine was born) in April including Stevie Jackson (Belle & Sebastian), A Girl Called Eddy, the great Frankie Rose, among other exciting names, plus The Aislers Set (wow), the band of Chickfactor co-founder Pam Berry, BLACK TAMBOURINE (first show since 1991), and THE SOFTIES!! (first since 2000). I know, capital letters are absolutely in order! 

I would kill to watch both bands live, specially The Softies, live. More shows are in the works. Please, please, please, Primavera Sound Festival bring them to Barcelona! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Moneyball", Brad Pitt hits a home run


To start with, there aren't many memorable sports films (boxing being the exception), just a few worth remembering. But the perspective of watching a movie about baseball was even more discouraging. Sorry folks, but I simply don't get baseball. It is such a boring game, in my opinion. So, a good film about baseball? Hard for me to believe it. Before I watched "Moneyball", that is.

"Moneyball" is, of course, about baseball, which made me miss some superficial details, or not sharing the emotional part of the games (few) we see during the film. But luckily it is more about the insights of a game, its nature, and need to evolve. And foremost, is the story, excellently constructed and brilliantly performed, of human beings.

Going to the "message" of "Moneyball" (I know, delicate subject), this is not the first movie that pretends to show us an inspiring "true" story, in this case the one of the Oakland A's, a team with low economic possibilities that managed to compete with the rich & powerful teams of the league, but have to face rebuilding after a successful season with very limited resources. That's when manager Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, decides to make a drastic move in order to still be competitive. "Moneyball" then becames a film about standing against and overcoming the odds, combating the usual pattern that would condemn his team. It is unoriginal, but its quite moving and, as I said, despite being about baseball, that's just the backdrop. As a Spaniard is easy to make the analogy with our incredibly unbalanced and unfair Soccer League, not to mention other minority sports.

There are two major factors why this film succeeds: one is the striking, always intriguing and powerful script, written by Aaron Sorkin (who's also responsible of another brave screenplay, "The Social Network") in a great job adapting Michael Lewis' book. In a movie where dialogue is everything, this is always refreshing, dynamic, and alive. Even the familiar scenes, or the flashbacks in time, that could easily introduce a cheesy, unnecessary dramatic element to the film are there for the purpose of showing a more accurate portray of Beane's life. Praise director Bennett Miller and Sorkin for that.

The other driving force are the actors. Brad Pitt convinces as Billy Beane, portraying a character that, as every human being, is complex, imperfect and demanding. Without overacting or forcing any scene, Pitt is able to achieve a very remarkable creation: what we see in every scene is not an actor, but a person struggling against the enormous challenging he is facing. But even is Pitt is excellent, to me the surprise, and the actor that "steals the show" is Jonah Hill, who plays the Harvard "nerd" Pete Brand, the person that will give Beane the chance to compete against the rich teams with a new system of analysis of the players and the game that will shock the entire league (not to mention their own team). He is superb in his role, a mixture of fragility and doubt with a passionate, fierce conviction in what he does. Of course, Philip Seymour Hoffman (as always) is also great in his role as the Oakland's coach, but I would have love he had received some more scenes to develop his character a bit more.

Overall, a quality film, with great acting, direction and screenplaying. It might not be groundbreaking in its content or its conclusion, although is far more interesting than a vast majority of the sports genre. But if you allow me the easy end, is a solid, and very pleasant, home run. From a non-baseball fan.

SCORE: 7/10

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Coachella 2012 announced: pure envy

I was preparing a movie post, but I'm too shocked/depressed by the lineup of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival 2012 revealed today, to finish it. What at an amazing catalogue of bands! Sure, there are a few ridiculous, unacceptable (I'm being polite) facts, like The Black Keys (awesome band) headlining instead of Pulp or Arctic Monkeys, or the inclusion of names as awful as David Guetta, Dr.Dre & Snoop Dog (worse, they headline too) but man I count at least 16 names that I would love to see, and the same amount of bands that interest me. It's funny (ironic mode on) to see that some names showed in a very small typography are almost headliners in some Spanish festivals. Now seriously, please tell me something bad about that Festival, because right now I envy everyone who will attend!!

Friday April 13 & 20 April
The Black Keys, Swedish House Mafia, Pulp, Refused, Arctic Monkeys, Mazzy Star, Afrojack, Explosions in the Sky, M83, Amon Tobin, Cat Power, Madness, Jimmy Cliff & Tim Armstrong, GIRLS, The Rapture, Madeon, M. Ward, The Horrors, Frank Ocean, James Alesso, Sebastien, Yuck, Neon Indian, Dawes, Black Angels, Deathgrips, Wu Lyf, Breakbot, Atari Teenage Riot, Feed Me, Givers, Other Lives, Band of Skulls, R3hab, Wolfgang, Midnight Beast, EMA, Ximena Sarinana, Kendrick Lamar, The Dear Hunter, Honeyhoney, Hello Seahorse!, Sheepdogs, LA Riots

Saturday April 14 & 21
Radiohead, Bon Iver, The Shins, David Guetta, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Kaskade, Miike Snow, Jeff Mangum, Sebastian Ingrosso, Andrew Bird, Feist, Firehose, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, St. Vincent, Martin Solveig, Subfocus, Sbtrkt, Flying Lotus, Manchester Orchestra, Kasabian, AWOL Nation, Azealia Banks, Squeeze, A$AP Rocky, Buzzcocks, Kaiser Chiefs, Destroyer, The Head and the Heart, Laura Marling, Tuneyards, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Black Lips, The Big Pink, Childish Gambino, The Vaccines, Zed’s Dead, Grouplove, Jacques Lu Cont, We Were Promised, Jetpacks, Gary Clark Jr., Borgore, Dragonette, We Are Augustines, Mt. Eden, Destructo, Suedehead, Keep Shelley in Athens, Pure Filth Sound

Sunday April 15 & 22
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, At the Drive-In, Justice, Florence and the Machine, AVICII, La Roux, Beirut, The Weeknd, Girl Talk, The Hives, DJ Shadow, Calvin Harris, Nero, Wild Flag, Modeselektor, Dada Life, Porter Robinson, Santigold, Flux Pavilion, Dr. P, Gotye, Seun Keti, Egypt 80, Beats Antique, Fitz and the Tantrums, Araabmuzik, Company Flow, Real Estate, Zed, Le Bucherettes, Greg Ginn, The Growlers, Noisia, Morgan Page, Gaslamp Killer, First Aid Kit, Oberhofer, Lissie, Thundercat, Metronomy, Wild Beasts, Housse de Racket, Fanfarlo, Spector, Gardens & Villa, Airplane Boys, Sleeper Agent

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

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Discoverer 28: new indie findings

New year, and new band proposals!

Real Estate. There's always some great music you miss. It's impossible to reach everything. Luckily, you can always solve that problem. That's my case with the truly mesmerizing music of Real Estate. Formed in New Jersey in 2008, after some singles, an acclaimed self-titled debut on 2009, tours with Girls, Kurt Vile and Deerhunter, they signed with Domino in 2011 to release their sophomore record, "Days", a wonderful blend of jangling guitars and driving soft indie rock with a nostalgic, comforting vibe full of crystalline melodies. Sorry I missed you last year, guys. Won't happen again.

The Middle Ones. Let me introduce the lovely duo of Anna Knowles and Grace Denton. Anna went to Norwich to study in 2006, and there she met Grace, founding The Middle Ones. After their self-titled EP, they released "It Is the Rehearsal that will Make This" past April, a first album full that's full of harmonies, soaring vocals and melodies to keep your smile always on your face. This collection of little lo-fi and indie-pop gems is sometimes subtle, sometimes funny, sometimes delicate, but always gorgeous and contagious.

Wild Flag. If I say Carrie Brownstein, Mary Timony, Rebecca Cole and Janet Weiss you'll probably be unimpressed (specially the youngest ones). But if I write Helium, The Minders and, in particular, Sleater-Kinney, you should realise we are in front of a special band. This all-female American four-piece supergroup came to public knowledge in September of 2010, and a year after, following a couple of singles, they released their eponymous album. And what an album! Is a record you NEED. Upbeat, dynamic, vital, alive. A love letter to music, and a blood injection to you. Another missed album now rediscovered.
Wild Flag - Future Crimes
Wild Flag - Romance
Wild Flag - Glass Tambourine

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Music to look forward to in 2012

Now that holidays are officially over, it's time to look ahead into 2012. This is a small summary of the music releases/events I'm looking forward to for this year. A brief shortlist of the gifts I ordered for the Three Kings Day. 
  1. The year is starting with a very special, highly anticipated album. Of course I'm referring to "I'm Across, I'm Ashore", our beloved Nat Johnson and the Figureheads arrive in few weeks! Don't you think the artwork is lovely! Counting down the days!
  2. There's one release I'm really excited after hearing its first available tune,"Serpents" (click on the title to hear/download). Sharon Van Etten will release "Tramp", her third album, in February, with stunning collaborations like the Dessner brothers' from The National or Matt Barrick from The Walkmen. Great expectations with this.
  3. "Young and Old" Tennis sophomore album, also for February.
  4. The Shins are finally back!. James Mercer has "Port of Morrow" scheduled for March. Yes!! What about coming to Barcelona (Primavera Sound maybe)?
  5. Two sure-fire for spring-summer: Beach House and The Walkmen.
  6. My second Primavera Sound Festival, of course
  7. The long-play debut that confirms the greatness of this young band: Let's buy Happiness.
  8. Phoenix, Basia Bulat and Cat Power should be releasing new works this year.
  9. Indie-pop heavens: Baffin Island, The Hi-Life Companion, The Hermit Crabs, The School will be back ... and Camera Obscura?
  10. And finally, 2012 has to be, finally, the year of Beth Orton's comeback. Please, please, please.
Sure, there are many more out there. Will The National complete a new album before the year ends (the couple of songs premiered a few weeks ago sound great, so there's hope) And U2? And a personal favourite,  The Mynabirds? 2012 is going to be an excellent year for music.

Friday, January 6, 2012

"Drive", stylised race to nowhere


Sorry to say that, but there's something seriously wrong with critics, or the situation with regards to cinema is even worse that I thought. I already expected that Malick's "The Tree of Life" would make it for the majority of best-of the year lists. It was too obvious: the critic's ego needed to include it. But also "Drive"? Sorry, that's too much.

Don't get me wrong. "Drive" is a way better film than Malick's. Much more focused, not that pretentious and complete. Its even quite engaging and suggestive, with a very peculiar aesthetics that obviously is its biggest attractive. But among the best of 2011? What an awful year it has been then.

"Drive" is a style exercise, ideal to make some "specialised magazines" to target it as the "coolest" film of the year. The way it is filmed (these sun-baked scenes mixed with the more usual dark ones), admittedly appealing, Ryan Gosling poses (and his jacket and gloves if you are into that kind of fetishism), the music (paused and abstract electro clearly devoted from the 80s),  the pink credits... Oh sorry, I forgot to say, the 80s electro music and the pink credits... are a bit kitsch (specially the song "A Real Hero"). But aside its nice envelope, there's nothing much to find here.  

Story-wise, "Drive" offers absolutely nothing new. We have seen Gosling's silent, lonely and unnamed character before. As interesting the brutal ellipsis or the lack of flashbacks to tell us why "our driver" behaves that way must be (good for director Nicolas Winding Refn in that sense) or how magnetic is Gosling's performance (as expected) the hero in our film is pretty hard to believe. And I don't buy the "violence is just part of the world he has chosen to live in) argument. Then some more explanation would be needed.

No, probably my major concern with "Drive" has to do with the criminal story, the noir thriller. Let's buy for a second our quiet, introspective driver would risk his life and his future career as a racer for the girl (strangely looking, aged Carey Mulligan) and her husband, who returns from prison (can anyone really have so little clue about the person who is married with?). But why the money cannot be simply returned? Who would really go to the cops if there's no one in the film without the hands covered in blood? Why all this genre films has this sort of "that's the unavoidable fate". Sorry, maybe its me that doesn't really gets into this kind of style, but to me the whole plot was just an excuse to justify the escalation of also stylised violent, crude scenes.     

Overall, a pretty solid film in what it really offers: a noir impact thriller where atmosphere and style is way ahead of emotion. And entertaining, intense and sometimes brutal recreation of the crime films of the 80's, but light-years from being a masterpiece.

SCORE: 6/10

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"Iron Man", Robert Downey Jr. disguised show

Iron Man

Back from New Year's Eve and a false start of 2012 with a pretty serious flu, that, unfortunately, didn't let me watch any movies, with just one exception, "Iron Man". Which is a very easy film to rate. It's Robert Downey Jr.' show. Sometimes even disguised in a quite tacky armoured suit.

Because honestly, if it wasn't saved by Downey, the perfect choice to play Tony Stark, the vain, arrogant and cynical playboy that is also the greatest engineering genius on Earth, the movie would be outrageously silly. All the script fluctuates between the weak and the simply dumb, with some "memorable" moments to highlight, that can be summarised in the quite pathetic and completely unbelievable scenes in Afghanistan, where Starks designs the first version of the "Iron Suit" out of nowhere, while their captors are so stupid they can't realise he's not building the missile he has promised them (something you can easily do on a grotto in the middle of the desert, by the way). It has to do more with McGiver or the A-Team. It also puzzled me how lame was Stark's emotional "conflict". You build the most devastating and powerful super-weapons, but you are surprised they can be used by the "bad guys", really? Really? I'm not a fan of Iron Man, never read the comic. But if you are going to create a superhero without superpowers, at least the premise should be somewhat credible.

Anyway, this is (another) superhero adaptation so substance shouldn't be the main incentive. The rest of the film, there's a mixture of quite cool CGI effects, wasted secondaries (Terrence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow) a villain, Obadiah Stane, that could have offered a lot more, specially considering it is played by the great Jeff Bridges, and action scenes where the luxurious budget can be justified, but also sacrificing any sense of verisimilitude (sure, it has to be very "cool" having a weapon that detects villains from innocent civilians... but my God, don't you realise it is absurd?) 

Having said that, I insist, the movie is a fine entertaining, and keeps you going. It has rhythm, it is well-packed, doesn't take itself very seriously (luckily) and benefits of the charisma and presence of Robert Downey Jr. I have the impression the "Iron Man" saga will only make sense while he is on board. I remember watching its second part (on a plane back home from Malaysia) wondering why director's Jon Favreau didn't put him on every scene of the film (he could have had some more room for the gorgeous Scarlett Johansson/Black Widow too), as it was obvious the whole movie suffered without its main attraction.

But again, as a mere, no-brainer entertainment, "Iron Man" works more than fine. 

SCORE: 5/10