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Friday, January 31, 2014

The Indie Anthology 34: essential songs

More Indie Anthology, this time digging deep in the vaults of the best Spanish indie bands. Interviewing Òscar Fernàndez, and reading the books he's publishing has consequences.... wonderful consequences!

Song: Un Día Gris
Artist: Aventuras de Kirlian
Year: 1989

Pioneers, fathers of another way of understanding (and making) pop in Spain (devoted to 80's British jangle bands, but with a French twist), and If you ask me, probably also another way of understanding life. Criminally underrated then (now with a cult status), Kirlian was the immediate precursor of Le Mans and La Buena Vida, but time hasn't affected the songs any bit: they remain as pure and irresistible as they were. "Un Día Gris" is pure twee pop, undeniably charming but natural, with an eternal chorus so simple (paparapá) you can't believe it's for real, appearing to propel Teresa Iturrioz's calmed vocals to another level. Hard not to smile. A comforting, mighty little tune.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Primavera Sound 2014: first impressions

And the DAY arrived, the Primavera Sound 2014 unveiled its line-up yesterday night. The movie was so-so imo (too short to make their story appealing) and the theatre was too full of hipster/posers only worried to identify the band names that made it hard to follow, but anyway, that's understandable. PS organisers offered quite a night (for free) to guests, so many thanks in that sense. 

But let’s go to key question. The #BestLineUpEver? No way. But it's a very interesting, diverse, and with a lot of potential line-up. Except Friday (The National & Slowdive, oh yes, oh yes), it’s the year I’m more disinterested with headliners. As a matter of fact, Thursday’s big names are ok for me, Friday are excellent, and Saturday are… annoying. It’s also worrying bands/hypes like Disclosure, Volcano Choir or Haim are so high in the line-up instead of groups like Midlake, Real Estate, Dum Dum Girls. So more than ever, I’ll happily focus on the "middle & lower class" of the line-up, where names like The Julie Ruin, Hospitality, Courtney Barnett or my dear Sharon Van Etten appear. Crossing my fingers overlaps have mercy this edition. They are going to make the difference between an ok Festival or an unforgettable one.

When timetables are confirmed, I'll add our plan for Wednesday and Sunday, but right now for SURE I'm going to La Castanya showcase (Me and the Bees!) and Primavera als Parcs, which looks stunning! But right now, here's how my (our) Primavera Sound 2014 looks like...

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

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

These Go to 11: interviewing Discos de Kirlian

For our next interview, we move again from musicians to a label owner. This time to introduce you to the man behind (and I mean it, he is a one-man label owner) the lovely Discos de Kirlian, which is a regular of our Spanish section. If you want to talk about indiepop in Spain... ask Òscar. These Go to 11!

Òscar Fernàndez, Discos de Kirlian
Mr.Kirlian, Scottish fiction
Indiepop activist (band and gigs promoter, fanzine creator), Òscar Fernàndez decided that one of the few things he had left to do was creating and indie label. So that's what he did in the summer of 2011, paying tribute to the legendary Spanish band Aventuras de Kirlian (later Le Mans) with its name. Based in Barcelona, Discos de Kirlian (also books) is DIY ethics and aesthetics as its best. Minimal infrastructure and logistics, homemade, very handcrafty production and design, and Internet promotion. And of course, and incredible taste and care. The result? The bands he has/is worked/working with speak for itself: Armistice, Lavandera, Gente Joven, Puzzles y Dragones, Coach Station Reunion, Doble Pletina, Juli Bustamante... One of the best labels in our country.

1. First record that you bought (be honest)
A cassette with Tino Casal first singles

2. First and last concert you have attended (be honest too!)  
Loquillo y los Togloditas (My hometown parties) and Barbacoa (29/12/2013).
That's what I call... A MUST

3. Guilty pleasure (song/band you shouldn’t like but you do, yes, it’s the embarrassing question)
More that I would like it. Does Elton John might he be one?

4. Most precious music item you own (collector mode on)
Maybe… The Field Mice, "Where'd You Learn to Kiss That Way?" (Shinkansen Recordings, 1998)

5. Favorite lyrics (not yours)
Belle and Sebastian, "We Rule the School".

Georgia Hubley, Yo La Tengo's 1/3
6. Musician/s you would like to meet (should be alive, for obvious reasons, but you can choose a dead one too)
Magnanimous nobody. Personal myths as Pascal Comelade, Stephen Pastel, Georgia Hubley or Cat Power.

7. Favorite artwork album (not yours)
"Dioptria", Pau Riba.

8. Books or movies? Depending on your answer recommend us one (trick: you can choose both)
I have read many more books. Any Enrique Vila-Matas's book is a good recommendation.

Lovely logo? Indeed, but
music behind is even better
9. Release (of yours) you are most proud of
All, indeed, the past ones and the future ones (so many don´t stay) ... I believe that I go away to feeling proudly all.

10. What’s does it mean indie for you? (yes, the “serious question”)
Always say the same: indie for my it´s a raison d'être and living, not only in my music, all the moments of my life. To be your same and to travel out of all the established procedure or that want to impose us.

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I wait that not very removed of now, probably out of music promoter/label works but with a lot of way “indie life”.
Zillion thanks Òscar!

We Shall Overcome!

R.I.P. Pete Seeger
 R.I.P. hero. Rest well. Thanks for your wisdom and enlightenment.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Discoverer 84: new indie findings

Sunday means new bands for your longing ears, here's another trio of discoveries!

Potty Mouth. The info on their website is pretty clear: "we’re four ladies doing what we want to do!" Hailing from Northampton MA, the band started in the fall of 2011. They debuted with self-released tapes ”Bad Bad", in September 2011, and "Big in Brazil", in June 2012. ”Sun Damage" a 12" EP came out also that summer on Feeble Minds, Ride The Snake and Puzzle Pieces Records. Finally, in fall 2013 came “Hell Bent”, first album released on Old Flame (US) and Marshall Teller (UK). Powerful, straightforward, bold and young, the record is a stunning collection of sincere and arresting punk-pop. Girls to the front!

HOUNDSds. Under this pretty curious name hides the recording project (sometimes also band) of Brooklyn's multi-instrumentalist Patrick McIntyre. Active since 2010, his first release, "The Technology of Love" EP arrived that October, with "Los Dos" EP following in April 2011. The overall praise of the first homemade works, made McIntyre go further with their following releases, releasing "Phone Thou" as a cassette on Chill Mega Chill Records in March 2012, and "Conduct", his latest EP to date (all EPs are "name your price" at his bandcamp), past November (first recorded in a studio). Evocative, gentle, dreamy and lush indie-pop, where Wild Nothing meets Real Estate, HOUNDSds tunes are a delicious intimate affair for any caring listener.
The Ian Fays. More music courtesy of our Italian friends of the We Were Never Being Boring (WWNBB) collective. Twins Lizzie and Sara Fay, helped by older sister Lena and, more recently, brother-in- law Samuele, began playing in 2003 in Arcata, Ca and debuting with LP “The Damon Lessons” in 2005, out on Homesleep. They moved to San Francisco in 2007, releasing “Dylan’s Lost Days” a year later. A lot of touring followed until 2010, when third length, “Jensen’s Camera” came out on WWNBB. Finally, in November 2013, the Fays published “The Most Spectacular Party”. Like being invited to a private party, the idiosyncratic "Fay sound" makes their fragile, whispered, adventurous, intriguing indie-folk-pop genuine. Haunting, always inviting, tunes for you to discover. Enter the Fays world.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Indie Anthology 33: essential songs

Recovering the Indie Anthology, which is going to be much more active in the coming months (just wait and see)... with a classic band which could be (its an ongoing, growing rumour, with exciting and pretty clear clues you can follow) announcing a comeback after almost 20 years! Primavera Sound bosses are you hearing me?

Song: When the Sun Hits
Artist: Slowdive
Year: 1993

Choosing only a song from "Souvlaki" is incredibly hard. Of course, let's skip the mighty "Alison" from the lot. But "When the Sun Hits" has everything. The trademark cinematic dream pop sound, the tension in the verses, nailed by the ringing guitars, and then the burst, the reverb and Rachel Goswell backing vocals appearing to carry Neil Halstead into the stratosphere, hailed by these "Hey hey!" and the final 30 seconds, where the tune fades. A full soundtrack in just one song. Would be a wonderful gift seeing you at least once live, Slowdive, so fingers crossed the rumours are true.

Friday, January 24, 2014

"Inside Llewyn Davis", Cruel Folk

Inside Llewyn Davis

Let's rejoice for a second! The Coen Brothers are back! It's been a long walk through the desert (since 1998 maybe?), and I admit I seriously believed they were gone, at least for me, but here's hope: it's called "Inside Llewyn Davis".

It's a very peculiar, uneasy film, surprisingly cruel and hopeless. Character studies are not new for the Coen Brothers. On the contrary, one can say almost the majority of their films have been very personal trips inside the minds and behaviour of (peculiar?) people. But maybe this is the first time the main character can't live in the real world. Sure, you might be saying out loud, whaaaat? The Coen Brothers have been always dealing with characters willing to live on a surreal, parallel planet where they can be happy, or at least pretend to be. But I'm not referring to that. Llewyn Davis is his most realistic creation, but he's unable to connect with life. Real life. He prefers to keep sabotaging himself.

Llewyn doesn't have any redeeming quality, and throughout the film we follow him on a downward spiral of self-destruction. He's hurt by his past (a past that keeps coming into the conversation but we never see), but foremost he's selfish, irresponsible, unsympathetic, judgmental. He brings misery to himself and the ones surrounding him. And what's worse, he seems to revel in it. The viewer won't have many chances to connect with him. Maybe that's why the directors gave him a cat as his sole companion. A silent, solipsist animal might be the only one who can be with him. They fit.

The contrast between the folk music he plays, where the singer is alone against the public, with a guitar, words as the only arguments is so striking. Folk needs an artist the public can relate to, but Llewyn simply can't. Therefore his career is fated to failure. And failing is what he seem doing, once and again. Doors look open at times, possibility looks plausible in a couple of situations. But he is always his worst enemy.

Dark and tough is also the Greenwich Village the Coen Brothers portray. Glimpses of a community are there, but far from the "peace and love and understanding" tunes we have the image of. But our character can't blame anyone else but himself. Friends like Jean (played by Carey Mulligan in the best role I have seen of her, and with whom he shares more than a secret) and Jim (Justin Timberlake) lend hands, while the Gorfeins (what an incredible scene, so powerful) offer their shelter, but Llewyn ruins it. Secondary roles like musicians Al Cody of Troy Nelson offer a harsh comparison with our starring, where he shows his vanity (some would say his foolishness thinking he is better than the rest, that he deserves to be known), while John Goodman as the eccentric Roland Turner serves well the purpose of bringing some punchy funny lines before making Davis look like the most frustrated (and frustrating) person on Earth.

Actors are excellent, with Oscar Isaac carrying an astonishing weight of the film with his dislocated, gloomy, defeated faces. He is despair, abandon. He is cruel folk (that Duluth singer appearing at the very end is a terrible, glacial joke). A powerful performance being the key of a tight script that leaves the viewer intrigued, going back to this "week in the life" of this condemned young musician looking for answers, details and crucial scenes. An enduring film. Welcome back Ethan and Joel.

SCORE: 7,5/10

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Discoverer 83: new indie findings

What a trio of discoveries I've prepared this Sunday. You are going to enjoy, granted!

Desperate Journalist. Coming from North London, this quartet began their career in January 2013, debuting at the Negative Creep club a month later, and quickly started to create some buzz with their single "Cristina", which entitles their debut EP, released in June. Two more tracks followed in November with the mind-blowing single "Organ", out on Label Fandango / Fierce Panda. Atmospheric but thunderous, pensive but immediate and passionate, fuelled by the cathartic voice of Jo Bevan, this is post-punk at its best. In the league of Savages, but more reminiscent to (deeply missed) The Organ, this is seriously a band to believe in.
Joyce in Pola. Eager to introduce you this band. Sort of an Italian super-group, Germana Bargoni used to play in Les Mange-Tout, while Nazareno Realdini was in Calorifero. They shared live paths with their respective bands, and later on shared songs. So when their projects called it a day, they decided to rescue the tunes written. But with the help of some friends, by 2013 they were a proper full band. Our dear friends from We Were Never Being Boring released their debut EP "Any, Some, Other" past October. Five delicious, literate (their name is a tribute to James Joyce's stay in Istria, and within their songs you'll find words from poets Wislawa Szymborska and Sylvia Plath) slices of sunny indiepop, somewhere between The Lucksmiths and Neutral Milk Hotel, at times mellow and acoustic, at times quirky, but always precious and special. More soon, please! Alvvays. Hailing from Toronto, this quintet (recommended to me by Indie Pop Saved My Life, so be prepared, this is really good) formed in late 2012, self-releasing the hyper-addictive singles "Adult Diversion" and "Archie, Marry Me" during 2013, and announcing their early 2014 upcoming debut full-length (cassette versions already circulating). Propulsive, vital and leaded by the killer voice of Molly Rankin, Alvvays first tunes sound like the impossible (?) combination of Bleached and Teenage Fanclub, fuzzy pop with irresistible, larger-than-life choruses. Don't need to tell you I'm dying to hear the full album.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

These Go to 11: interviewing The Hermit Crabs

Here comes another These Go to 11 interview series! This time I'm extremely honoured and happy to have the questionnaire completed by a wonderful musician, Melanie Whittle from the adorable The Hermit Crabs and Baffin Island, two personal favourites that make each of their (too few) releases an indiepop celebration. Enjoy!

Queen of the Indiepop Hermits
Melanie Whittle 
The Hermit Crabs / Baffin Island
After California Snow Story was put on hold, where she played drums, Melanie Whittle formed The Hermit Crabs in 2003. The Glaswegian band (Scottland of course, couldn't be any other way?) have released three flawless EPs to date, all available at the infallible Matinée Records; the debut "Feel Good Factor" (2006), "Correspondence Course" (2008), "Time Relentless" (2012), and one full-length; "Saw You Dancing" (2007). But Mel indiepop talents can also be found on the loveliest transcontinental collaboration ever: Baffin Island, where she joins forces with "our man", Jeremy Jensen, and Jake Hite from The Very Most. Here we go!

1. First record that you bought (be honest
Nena, "99 Red Balloons".

2. First and last concert you have attended (be honest too!)  
First: Madness at the age of 13. Last: Scottish proms in the park, Glasgow green

The "other" Michael
3. Guilty pleasure (song/band you shouldn’t like but you do, yes, it’s the embarrassing question)
Oo, er….Michael Bublé!?

4. Most precious music item you own (collector mode on)
Precious to me: Signed copy of Scottish band Win album. Perhaps precious to other people: Signed "Dear Catastrophe Waitress" B&S CD, promo copy of ‘Jonathan David’ by B&S.

5. Favorite lyrics (not yours) You told me everything by saying nothing (Bloodbuzzed's note: maybe from Tuxedomoon's "In a Manner of Speaking"?, thanks for that Knut!!)

The real "Deal".
6. Musician/s you would like to meet (should be alive, for obvious reasons, but you can choose a dead one too) 
I’ve met Kim Deal but would like to meet her again, the guy from Magnetic Fields (Stephen Merrit), Joey Santiago from The Pixies.

7. Favorite artwork album (not yours)

Dead Kennedys’ album, "Frankenchrist"

8. Books or movies? Depending on your answer recommend us one (trick: you can choose both)
I know it’s perhaps an indie cliche but I love Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar", it’s so good on so many levels. Also Wally Lamb's "She’s come undone" and Salinger's "Franny and Zooey". Film: John Cassavettes, "A woman under the influence".

9. Song (of yours) you are most proud of
"Closet Fan" from "Saw Your Dancing".

10. What’s does it mean indie for you? (yes, the “serious question”)

Oh dear, I don’t know, the eternal question. Alternative, shoe-gazing.

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Musically Speaking? – playing a bit of everything in a covers band – weddings, barmitzvahs etc. Hopefully playing the violin to a decent standard.
Zillion thanks Mel!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bloodbuzzed-Chella, the Perfect Festival

I couldn't resist the temptation. I've been seeing too many fake Coachella posters out there not to make mine, so here it is: BLOODBUZZEDCHELLA, a dream-like Festival, full of impossible gigs & unbeatable comebacks! It has been very fun but extremely tough to complete. Many bands missing of course, and others were not included because I've seen them recently, or like Basia Bulat and Savages, because they are playing in Barcelona in the coming months... Coming with us?

* Van Morrison performing "Astral Weeks"
* The Beautiful South with Jacqui Abbott
* 10.000 Maniacs with Natalie Merchant
* Monkey Swallows the Universe
* The Concretes with Victoria Bergsman

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Discoverer 82: new indie findings

More discoveries this Sunday, also kind of paying some dues to a couple of bands. Enjoy!

Joanna Gruesome. I know, I know. My bad. I'm super-late at this party. My excuse is that I didn't like "Sugarcrush" at first (still believe its a great song with a too noisy end) but after seeing them making many of the best-of lists I gave a proper listen immediately realising my (huge) mistake. Based in Cardiff, the quintet met in an anger management counseling group (bad behaviour at school) forming late 2010. Their explosive shows around the local scene and a couple of 7" on underground labels Art Is Hard and Happy Happy Birthday To Me, made the buzz grow, until Fortuna Pop! signed them, releasing debut album "Weird Sister" (Slumberland in the US) in September 2013. Menacing twee-pop that mutes into hardcore explosions? Yes sir, extreme contrasts are what define Gruesome's style. Think on Veronica Falls melting with Bikini Kill, shiny pop melodies packed with a killer noise. Knock-out.

The Felt Tips. Another band long-time pending on my MUST-LISTEN list (yes, I do have that list), they began to form in late 2005 when Spaniard Miguel Navarro landed in Glasgow and replied Andrew Paterson’s old ad looking to form a band members. It was a slow start and until 2008 the quartet wasn't completed. Local shows and 3 singles on Cloudberry and Weepop came out between 2007-2009, until they managed to get funded by the Scottish Arts Council (aww Scottland) funded to record their debut album, "Living and Growing", on Plastilina Records in 2010. Gigs around Europe and US followed, with the group back in studio in 2012, unleashing their sophomore LP, "Symbolic Violence", in May 2013 on Firestation Records. Pure, classic jangle-pop so full of hooks, bittersweet lyrics and emotional crushes you won't believe their albums barely last 30 minutes. Indie-pop artisans.

Ancient Times. Based in Brighton, George Smale started as a solo act in July 2012 with three recorded demos, but by November it was already an expanded live band project. First release arrived in February 2013, the split cassette EP with Furrow "From the Land to the Sea", followed by "Nightschool/Hieroglyphic" single on Soft Power Records in October. His stunning little collection of tunes grows next week with single "Healer", via Jigsaw Records. Sure, The Smiths influence (his vocals, my godness!) is evident, but there's much more: dream-pop, shoegazer vibes, swerving structures, enduring riffs... Don't forget this name.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Music to Look Forward in 2014

Another blog tradition: our new year's music wishes! A small summary of the releases/events we're looking forward to. And yours?
  1. To begin with, our traditional & most beloved sure-fire: Jeremy Jensen, aka The Very Most, will be back quite soon with new lush and charming songs. But the challenge in 2014 is greater. Seeing each other again. UK on the horizon! 
  2. Another sure-fire is going to be my first gig of the year: Basia Bulat at the end of January presenting "Tall Tall Shadow". Plus, few weeks later it will be the turn for Savages. Oh My, Oh My. 
  3. The Hi-Life Companion keeps me waiting way more than is reasonable! "Our Years in the Wilderness" has to arrive very soon, we need it! 
  4. There's an indiepop genius up north (Sweden) called Andreas Jonsson who has been releasing stunning tune after stunning tune in adorable singles for almost two years. Now Alpaca Sports is going to offer a full album, entitled "Sealed with a Kiss", scheduled for February. What if it is so perfect we don't want to hear anything else? Show some mercy for the rest of musicians out there Andreas! 
  5. Young bands conquering the world.This is REALLY the year Planet Earth (at least the part that's not deaf) should fall forever in love with Fear of Men and Let's Buy Happiness. And 2014 should be also the year where the young indiepop army from the Dunedin scene (courtesy of the lovely people at Fishrider Records) conquers the world. It would be a much better place anyway. 
  6. Two favourite voices of mine are expected to offer new music this year. Rose Elinor Dougall will offer a follow-up to her fantastic "Future Vanishes" Ep. Can't wait. But the COMEBACK in big capital letters for me is the reunion of Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott. Record on the works. To hear them together hear her's been so long. Goosebumps already. 
  7. Indietracks, Indietracks, Indietracks, Indietracks... repeat 'til become truth!
  8. Fourth Primavera Sound Festival. I already posted my wish list recently. Check it here.
  9. Even more & records expected: Northern Spies, Hospitality, Belle and Sebastian, Me and the Bees, Grushenka, Cosmen Adelaida, The Swapsies, Young Romance, Sharon Van Etten, Be Forest... And what do infallible labels like Shelflife, EardrumsPop, Slumberland, Matinée, Test Pattern, Fortuna Pop!, Dufflecoat, WWNBB, February Records, El Genio Equivocado or Discos de Kirlian have prepared for us? And yes (let's go mainstream for a second), it's true this time. It's a U2 year. Maybe too late? We'll see...
  10. And finally, the most personal one: you're going to see (better said read) me writing quite a lot out there. Here's hoping for the very best...
Of course, there are many more out there, eager to be discovered. The year in music could be spectacular!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"On the Road", Half the Trip

On the Road

Very important remark. Can't think of many books as hard to adapt into a film as "On the Road". I admit the task Walter Salles assumed was enormous. It's not just having to decide where to make "the cuts" on Kerouac's "sacred" novel to make the movie flow. It's also weighing what's still meaningful or relevant for today's spectators. Plus capturing an essence, a vibe. In my modest opinion (as you know, a devoted fan of the novel) the film is interesting, but not what I was looking for.

In my opinion the biggest flaw of "On the Road", the film, is the lack of "spirit". Lifeless might be a word too strong, but Kerouac, imo, wrote his most famous book with a passion still unmatched in literature (American and worldwide literature). His prose was a torrent, a compendium of emotional bursts, the voice of anxiety, innocence (there was no cynicism on Kerouac's writings), despair, joyful madness and youth. Can't see any of that vital prose on Salles' adaptation. I always wanted to meet Sal Paradise (Jack Kerouac) and Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady). But not these particular Sal and Dean. The reader was absorbed by Kerouac's words. The viewer is distracted, at best, occasionally intrigued, by the movie development.

For me, the movie tries to balance, often with unfortunate results, between the most concise summary possible of the trips throughout the States (and Mexico) Sal and Dean made, and showing what was like to be a beatnik. First, in what regards to the "summary", the cuts create a disjointed and sparse film if compared with the "truth" of the book, but as I said on the first paragraph, the task of adapting "On the Road" to the screen was titanic, so I can understand that, despite it wouldn't be my choices (fidelity to the original), Salles is able to provide the film a cohesive, maybe superficial but cohesive, narrative structure.

Second, on what was like to be a beatnik, I find interesting how dark and somber the look (sex, drugs, the feeling of being lost or out of control) is in what regards to the unique couple and the relevance given to the females surrounding them. Salles gives Marylou a tremendous importance, making Kristen Stewart's role (powerful performance), the most attractive character of the film. Same can be said about Camille, played by Kirsten Dunst, despite her little amount of scenes. Both characters challenge their roles compared with what they got in the book. But these two, plus Carlo Marx (Allen Ginsberg), performed by Tom Sturridge, are the exceptions. The majority of characters are weak, whimsical, one dimensional. Old Bull Lee (William Burroughs), played by Viggo Mortensen and Jane (Joane Vollmer) played by Amy Adams are specially irritating.

I'm pretty sure that I wasn't going to be completely satisfied whatever the case, but I believe "On the Road" is, despite some interest, a missed opportunity. We can argue about structure or film development, and I will agree Salles was brave enough to take risks, but what's more important about Kerouac's book here is completely gone: the engagement, the fascination he provoked, and still provokes, to the readers.

SCORE: 5,75/10

Monday, January 6, 2014

These Go to 11: Interviewing Las Ruinas

Who is our next interviewed in the These Go to 11 series? Well, truth be told, today we have a triple interview, as we are lucky to count with the answers of all members from Las Ruinas, one of the most fun, loose and exciting bands we have in Spain. Enjoy!

Las Ruinas
Las Ruinas, when heavy goes pop,
or is it when pop goes heavy? 
Edu Chirinos (vocals, guitar), Jaime Bertrán (bass, backing vocals) and Toni López (drums) are Las Ruinas, inventors of heavy pop. Formed in 2008 in Barcelona, after a demo, they self-released "Butano" in 2010, and "Disco de Autoayuda para Mutantes" in 2011. The underground buzz was so undeniable the bosses at El Genio Equivocado, with their ubiquitous wisdom, signed them, re-releasing both LPs on a double CD. Like Woody Allen with an absolute DIY ethic, they record albums every year: "Groarr!" came out in October 2012, and since December we can enjoy "Acidez House". Spanish costumbrismo, twisted humour & irresistible liveness encapsulated in instant punk-pop pills! Here we go!

Las Ruinas at the disco.
1. First record that you bought (be honest)
Edu: REM “Out of Time”
Jaime: Sentimiento Muerto “El amor no existe, hay que hacerlo” and Ilegales “Directo”.
Toni: Dolce Vita Mix cassette

2. First and last concert you have attended (be honest too!)  
Edu: Leuzemia (en Lima) / El Genio Equivocado label party (en Barcelona)
Jaime: Don´t remember, maybe Madonna blond ambition tour / El Genio Equivocado label party
Toni: Don´t remember, maybe "BZN" (Spanish Hip Hop band) / El Genio Equivocado label party

3. Guilty pleasure (song/band you shouldn’t like but you do, yes, it’s the embarrassing question)
Edu: Abba
Jaime: I'm never ashamed of the music that I like
Toni: I’m not ashamed of what i hear

4. Most precious music item you own (collector mode on)
Edu: a vinyl of American Music Club signed by Mark Eitzel
Jaime: my guitars
Toni: some of my records

Mark Hollis, let's Talk Talk
5. Favorite lyrics (not yours)
Edu: Ruben Blades “Plastico”
Jaime: Charly Garcia “Los dinosaurios”, Rubén Blades “De qué?”, Simón Díaz “Caballo viejo”, etc...
Toni: Triana “Todo es de color”, “Quiero contarte”

6. Musician/s you would like to meet (should be alive, for obvious reasons, but you can choose a dead one too)
Edu: Mark Hollis
Jaime: Eblis Álvarez
Toni: Kim Gordon

7. Favorite artwork album (not yours)
Edu: Miles Davis “Bitches Brew”
Jaime: Beatles “White album”
Scott Pilgrim, comic-rock
Toni: Talking Heads “Speaking in tongues”

8. Books or movies? Depending on your answer recommend us one (trick: you can choose both)
Edu: "Blade Runner"
Jaime: Comics and movies. "Scott Pilgrim vs the World".
Toni: Music

9. Song (of yours) you are most proud of
Edu: “Secundarios del Mundo, Uníos”
Jaime: “El Navegante”, “Vivir y morir en BCN”, “OVNI”….
Toni: “Lucero Herido”

10. What’s does it mean indie for you? (yes, the “serious question”)
Edu: limitation
Jaime: nothing
Toni: apache Indie, independent non-commercial music

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Edu: in a record store or in a library
Jaime: in Vietnam.
Toni: in Barcelona with children
Zillion thanks Las Ruinas!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Discoverer 81: new indie findings

New year, new discoveries! And to make a flamboyant start, we're heading to Oceania with three bombastic findings. Follow us in this music trip!

Courtney Barnett. Hailing from Melbourne, this singer-songwriter and guitarist started her own label, Milk! Records, in 2012, releasing her debut EP "I’ve Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris" that April achieving immediate praise in Australia. A follow-up EP, "How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose", arrived in October 2013, quickly packed together into a full-length entitled "The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas", which propelled the buzz about Barnett worldwide. Folk-pop with GREAT LYRICS (yes capital letters) sung in deadpan style, 60s-70s sunny vibes and loose melodies. You don't even know me dear Courtney, but I clearly see you're going to be "soundtracking" my life quite a bit. Thanks for that.
The Native Cats. South to Hobart, Tasmania, to meet Julian Teakle and Peter Escott, a duo active since 2007. Debut LP "Always On" came out in February 2009, and a year later the 7" single "Catspaw / Lemon Juice". Sophomore album "Process Praise" kept the work pace in 2011, with latest adventures to date being a split 7" with UV Race and third LP "Dallas" in 2012 and this past summer respectively. Self-defined as electronic pub rock, they recall early New Order, or the gloomiest moments of The Fall using a Nintedo. A razorblade bass, toy electronics and incisive, anxious words. 21st century post-punk meets excitement.

The Prophet Hens. Couldn't be any other way: we end our trip in Dunedin, New Zealand, this time to meet a lovely four-piece, formed in 2012, when songwriter and guitarist Karl Bray stayed at home recovering from a serious injury. He began writing songs with local musician John White, and an album, finally entitled “Popular People Do Popular People”, took form before the band shaped into its actual quartet form. Released on (of course) Fishrider Records past August, the LP is pure jangle gold, with Karl's and Penelope Esplin's harmonies shining all over, recalling Flying Nun's tradition, but also UK's indiepop classics, full of melodic hooks and well crafted tunes. Another gem from NZ!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Stop Awful Covers 16

classic section of the blog that begins the year in full form.... for our disgrace. Did you think that 2014 would be the year when artists would take care of their music artwork? You were wrong... The Awful Covers Series is here again....

The Flaming Lips: Second Cassette Demo
I could make an entire section with this band... a regularly bad artwork career. Poor kid...

It's over I tried...: Misandry 
Contrary to the name of this band, they should had tried harder 

Bryce Hackford: Fair
Fair? Where do you see the fairness here dear Bryce? Awfulness is all I see here

Iron Chic: The Constant One 
Constantly disgusting...

Patten: Eolian Instate EP
Our traditional "zero effort" example goes grey this time...     

 Various ArtistsCosmic Machine 
Avantgarde is a synonym of ugly? You learn something each day....

Patterns: Dangerous Intentions
Not the first time I feature dogs getting "too" wild. I insist: it doesn't work on a cover

Lake Radio: Mixtape I
Yeah, I also believe it has a lot in common with Bryce Hackford's cover.... the awfulness in the eyes

Seabellies: Fever Belle
Wow, that's what I call disgusting 

Friday, January 3, 2014

"Enough Said", Is All about Chemistry

Enough Said

You already know of my personal crusade against films "about nothing". So I'll be clear from the very first sentence. Huge thanks to Nicole Holofcener for making movies about "regular people", with credible situations and feelings. The script (in this case written by Holofcener herself), I will always defend is all about the script. And the actors involved in transforming words and ideas into "flesh & bones" characters.  

"Enough Said" might qualify as a romantic comedy, and indeed some little twists here and there, plus its finale, which might be too much of a slight turn into bland, pleasant territory that "mainstream rom-coms" are exploiting ad nauseam. But this is a movie so full of honesty, solid acting and enduring charms the aforementioned little flaws become almost incidental. 

It's all about second chances, real (and therefore complex) people and their emotional fears. It's all about mature love, something that Hollywood tends to either neglect completely or transform into an extremely silly type of film. Holofcener devotes a wonderful amount of time in dissecting her main characters without failing into too narrative ventures, so Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Albert (James Gandolfini, forever missed) are so well defined their little manias, actions and habits say enough about them. The things that are left unsaid are also there, and any viewer willing to watch the film will recognize them. This idiotic and schizo society tries to make us invulnerable, but we are (fortunately) "fragile things". Because we have feelings, and getting hurt is so frightening. "Enough Said" exposes that ugly truth with a surprising, defiant naturalness. And humour.

It might be true the subplots of the film are somewhat flawed. Marianne (played by infallible Catherine Keener) is too one-dimensional, but I guess it might just serve to counterpoint Eva's attitude towards life and love. Same can be said about Sarah (Toni Collette) and Will (Ben Falcone), Eva's closest friends and a couple always in a quite funny (and surreal) conflict and the daughters subplots (James and Eva have both daughters) might have some more poignancy, as involves some more interesting characters (also a curiosity, Tess, James' daughter, is played by Bono's daughter, Eve Hewson) but they also remain a bit blurred, being there just for the purpose of completing the detailed picture of James and Eva.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini are excellent in their performances as Eva and Albert, making every bit of their relationship so credible and endearing. I guess the combination of great script plus great actors still gets the job done (let's hope someone in Hollywood listens). They both carry the weight of their pasts, the failed marriages, the challenges with the growing daughters about to become fully independent (the "empty nest" syndrome) and, foremost, the clash between their life as independent individuals and the chance of being with someone again. The chemistry between the actors is undeniable and every time they share the screen the movie goes way beyond your average, light-hearted comedy. Here's a heart.

And chemistry is precisely the key, the message of the film. You have to risk yourself, defeat your understandable fears, when romance appears. That Holofcener uses a trick (no spoiling) to make Eva decide between the information about James she gathers from an unbeatable source and her own feelings is just a comedic resource. But also an interesting one about perception, misjudgements and excuses: all blatant examples of our human weaknesses. At the end the wise director makes a clear bet, but without a happy ending guarantee. Will it work? Who knows, but it's worth trying. Like Woody Allen would say (check his masterpieces "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan" if you like this film). We (still) need the eggs.

SCORE: 7,25/10