Find us on facebook

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Primavera Sound 2013: Timetables, 2nd attempt

After the previous days unveiled last week, Saturday timetables for the Primavera Sound 2013 just announced..., so after a quick check, this is how my  PS 2013 looks like on that day:

Saturday, May 25th, Parc del Fòrum
18:35 Adam Green & Binki Shapiro (Heineken stage)
19:45 Rodríguez (Primavera stage)
20:55 Band of Horses (Heineken)
23.30 Camera Obscura (Ray-Ban)
01:05 Los Planetas (Primavera)

Not very lucky with the schedule. Nothing really interests me between Band of Horses and Camera Obscura. Same after Los Planetas...(maybe Crystal Castles?). And again the feeling/worry about moving from Heineken to Primavera stages. We'll see...

Sunday's timetable is still missing, and I assume more changes and few more announcements to be made, so this won't be the final schedule for sure!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Discoverer 59: new indie findings

Another round of our Sunday's proposals. Big music crushes for your listening pleasure!

Brothers In Law. So happy to go back to Italy and the We Were Never Being Boring collective (when is Be Forest coming back?) now with the discovery of this band from Pesaro, active since 2011. Formed initially as a duo, they released a s/t EP, then became a trio, put out a single and prepared their debut first album in late summer, coming out early this year. "Hard Times For Dreamers" is a hidden gem. Post-punk hints, dream-pop open chords, a youthful,  jangly spirit, mundane and recognisable lyrics, and the feeling the right influences have been astonishingly absorbed and channeled into something completely of their own. Knock-out mini-album. Band to keep close.

The Adelines. We move north to Swansea, Wales, to meet a quartet formed in 2011 (borrowing the band's name from their neighbour's cat). Two singles, "Little Games" and forthcoming "Alleyways", out in May 6th on Kissability Records, are their only releases to date, but what a couple of spectacular tunes. Defined by the label as "sepia summertime indie pop perfect for an indie shuffle", this is instant, classic indiepop drowned in the best of the 90s, propelled by Jennie Morris sweet vocals and guitars soaking with reverb. Comparisons with a poppier version of the Throwing Muses are still excessive, but the potential and promise is there.

The Birthday Kiss. And out third proposal hails from London/Leeds. Formed in 2012 by Ben Siddall (former member of the great The Lodger) and Sarah Williams (ex-The Research), the group has been creating a handful of songs (don't miss the chance of hearing "Choking"), and now they release, on Death Party Records, their official debut, a double A side 7" single, "Can You Keep A Secret?/ Worth It", while announcing they are currently working on their first album. Charming indiepop with a beat and soulful vibe, that quoting the always wise Skatterbrain's blog definition sounds like "some kind of perfect Saint Etienne cum Language of Flowers territory". Mostly irresistible.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Guitar lessons with Lee Ranaldo

Lee Ranaldo (+ Murnau B).  La [2] de Apolo, Barcelona, April 24th.

Ranaldo in BCN. Photo: Bloobuzzed
Spring is always the best time for live music. April its been a month  pretty full of gigs and May looks, happily, even busier in that sense (Primavera Sound is just around the corner, folks). Past Wednesday it was my second chance watching live a veteran stage legend, that to me is a recent discovery. I'm referring to Lee Ranaldo, Sonic Youth's guitarist, responsible of one of my favourite records from last year, "Between the Times and the Tides".

Murnau B. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Ranaldo's gig was supported by local band Murnau B, an instrumental trio aiming to create dense, cinematic and dark no-wave tunes. They sounded solid and fierce, but this is just a matter of taste I guess. To me every tune was too similar to the previous one (only exceptions the couple helped by keyboards), a bit grunge, and sorry to say, pretty boring. In my opinion.

But then Lee Ranaldo took the stage. It wasn't going to be a surprising gig, and we quickly realise that, once again La [2] de Apolo was going to frustrate our aspirations of enjoying a great sounding performance. Instruments were crystal clear, but Ranaldo's vocals were pretty average. I can't really understand why there's such a huge difference in what regards to sound quality between the two Apolo rooms.

Steve Shelley. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Guitar heroes. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Having complained about that, the gig was almost flawless. Ranaldo and his band were amazing, and the whole place vibed with the heavily-charged electric tension propelled by guitars (Ranaldo was backed by Alan Licht and Tim Luntzel) and Sonic Youth Steve Shelley's relentless drumming. Songs like the shiny "Off the Wall" or "Lost" are priceless, and played with that level of intensity live, they inoculated euphoria on the listener. The veteran musician combined this more straightforward pieces with angular, longer and more oblique rock pieces, like "Xtina As I Knew Her" or "Shout". Ranaldo makes me think about R.E.M.'s "Document" era or their most abrasive, rockier tunes. I even hear traces of Stipe vocals on Ranaldo's way of singing. That, combined with his skills, a gentle little chat there, and a a bit of show with his guitars (that couple of moments destroying the strings playing the instrument as if it was a violin) made the night absolutely remarkable. Guitar lessons with a maestro.
Up & close. Photo: Bloodbuzzed

Ranaldo and his band weren't shy to offer new tunes (a couple of them sounded really exciting) plus a cover of The Byrds "Everybody's Been Burned", written by David Crosby, and when the time came for the end, with the majestic finale of "Waiting On a Dream", after a generous hour and half gig, the overall feeling was easy to define: total satisfaction. Even despite not having the best sounding.    

Friday, April 26, 2013

Two new more tunes from The National!

More tunes from The National's forthcoming album, now as played on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon's show. First one is "Sea Of Love". I'm speechless, what a song! Goosebumps! A beast of a tune! Second one is classic National too, although less surprising, being another live take of "I Need My Girl". Anyway, can't wait for "Trouble Will Find Me" to arrive!

Primavera Sound 2013: Timetables, 1st attempt

Here it is, the timetables for the Primavera Sound 2013 are arriving... slowly, one per day. Something a bit questionable, if you ask me, that way of showing them, but well, that's the organization choice after all. Still pending on several things, but for the first attempt, this is what my PS 2013 looks like:

Wednesday, May 22nd, Parc del Fòrum
18:00 Aliment (Ray-Ban stage)
19:00 The Bots (Ray-Ban)
20:00 Guards (Ray-Ban)
21.00 The Vaccines (Ray-Ban)
Pending on the Salón Myspace Mint timetables on Wednesday, because Evans the Death will be a must. And also wishing to know what time will the shows at Apolo begin, hoping to arrive to see Veronica Falls.

Thursday, May 23rd, Parc del Fòrum
18:30 Wild Nothing (Heineken stage)
19:30 Savages (Pitchfork)
20:40 Tame Impala (Heineken)
21:50 Dinosaur Jr. (Primavera)
23:00 The Postal Service (Heineken)
00:10 Grizzly Bear (Primavera)
01:40 Phoenix (Heineken)
On paper, a terrible terrible day, not because of the bands, of course, but for the bad luck regarding mobility between stages. Going back and forth to Heineken-Primavera stages is a nightmare, the worst option. So I'm more than convinced that some bands will be sacrificed just to reduce the numbers of "processions/pilgrimages"...

Friday, May 24th, Parc del Fòrum
16:00 Ethan Johns (Auditori)
17:40 Pony Bravo (Primavera)
19:10 Peace (Primavera)
21:00 Daniel Johnston (Auditori)
22:45 Local Natives (Pitchfork)
23:50 Daughter (Vice)
01:30 Blur (Heineken)
A thousand doubts. Unclear in the early afternoon, undecided by 20:00, things get better at night. Clash between Johnston and The Breeders. Local Natives or Jesus and Mary Chain? And Titus Andronicus after Blur?

What will be the schedule for Saturday and Sunday? More tomorrow or when the organization decides, who knows!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A weekend full of music (part II)!

We end our summary of this special last two days with what happened yesterday, a celebration day!

Record Store Day
Finally, an imported idea that seems to fits nicely here (and despite some silly debates on its "ownership") and has grown steadily. It was very pleasant to realise how music lovers (many posers too) were willing to take the streets (literally "my" streets) and invaded the majority of the record shops located in the centre of Barcelona. Although I personally didn't buy much (grabbed a bargained copy of The Decemberists' "The King is Dead") I did have a great morning wandering around the city record stores together with the two gentle masterminds from El Genio Equivocado.

Wiggum live. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
On the afternoon we went to the cosy Ultra-local Records at Poblenou's district for the live presentation of "La Guerra Mundial", Wiggum's sophomore release. I told you recently on this blog, this band is one to watch. Now I certify it: you must watch it before they get too big. Even on a limited format (they were just three) and with a reduced setlist, they just proved their new album has several guitar-driven alternative-rock hits and they know how to play them. Songs like "Amarillo" or "El Caminar" are really "serious stuff".

With my cute bosses, the Pin&Pon djs!
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
After Wiggum, we went to Jane Joyd's gig at Music Hall. As explained on the previous post, her performance was splendid, a genuine music experience. But it wasn't the end of "our" record store day. We still had a fun party at a very peculiar place, the Generator Hostel of Barcelona, with the Pin & Pon djs (owners of El Genio Equivocado and my "bosses" at Indienauta). I can assure three things: First, although the place wasn't prepared to dance, these lovely couple could make you move with ridiculous ease. Second, Pulp's "After You" is a colossal tune. Third, and probably not the best part, after hearing many classics from my youth, I realise how old I'm becoming!!! It was a fun way to end this couple of days.

A weekend full of music (part I)!

Just woke up on what it has to be a lazy Sunday after two days full of music. Here's a summary, divided on two posts, of what we have seen and done the last 48 hours.

24th Barcelona Guitar Festival
As a coincidence, we had a double date on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th with this Festival that during several weeks offers all kind of concerts. Friday was supposed to be a very special gig for me, the first chance to see personal favourites Allo Darlin' live. But unfortunately the night turned out a bit disappointing.

Les Sueques. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
The night at BARTS Espai Club, a small but quite pretty venue counted started so promisingly thanks to the good vibes transmitted by the support band Les Sueques, another emerging act of the great label El Genio Equivocado (look for them at the Spanish Indie section of this blog very soon). Songs a bit chaotic, a bit undefined, but full of intrigue, potential and challenge. Pop-punk with a dark, sardonic side (somewhat sad that half of the audience only seemed to be there for the jokes), sharp guitar lines and a quartet with a lot of promise.

Allo Darlin' at BARTS. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
With a venue so packed the space was became a bit uncomfortable, Allo Darlin' started their gig and quickly exposed the contradictions of the night. So many irresistible indiepop songs in their short career, a natural charm and the feeling they were having a good time cannot hide the fact sound was pretty average (only exception of Paul Rains' guitar lines) in particular with thevocals. But that wouldn't have been such an important factor. The problem was, that at least to me, this was one of the best examples I ever suffered of how live music is being ruined by postureo: irritating people that is just there because they think "being indie is in/cool", posers, fakers that just have the feeling they have to be there although they don't really care. I'll post on that soon.

Jane Joyd at Music Hall. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
It was a very different thing the next day at Music Hall. Jane Joyd arrived to Barcelona, amazed us, and confirmed what a great artist she is. Surrounded by a fantastic band (kudos to the drummer, a real beast, the keyboardist and the powerful trumpet) and ignited by her disarming voice, the songs were a real impact. Sure, the music proposal can be "too much", and that intensity could be a bit extreme for a full album. This is not the sort of music you are looking to listen each day, it requires some will from the listener. But if you do, you'll be greatly rewarded. Don't miss the chance to see Jane Joyd live.

You can read the second part of this post, on the Record Store Day held yesterday, coming right now here!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Indie Anthology 29: essential songs

Was checking among the archives which song I could highlight today when I realised there's a much beloved band of mine that hasn't appeared yet in this section. That wasn't in order. Besides, they are finishing their sophomore album, "Our Years in the Wilderness", that should be (finally) out soon, so you can count this post also as a call: hurry up, I'm dying to hear your new tunes!

Song: Night Comes Down
Artist: The Hi-Life Companion
Year: 2010

How to choose just one song from the beautiful, diverse and strong "Say Yes!"? I wonder, did they have in mind comprising all indie styles when they gathered at the studio to record this album? Because this is just a stunning indiepop jukebox of 10 songs. A music statement. The group making you dream about larger than the horizon fields on the gorgeous instrumental "Fifty Thousand Acres" is the same that goes to the disco on the intriguingly titled, and ridiculously catchy, "The Girl In the Gorilla Suit". Umm, I realise I have to make a post about the whole record. Let me focus and go back to the point. If I had to choose one, that would be "Night Comes Down". All chorus, vocals intertwined while swimming in an ocean of flourishing instrumentation. Then the tunes stops to let us hear a guitar, instruments keep coming... and the last two minutes are just glorious. Instant classic on an unmissable album.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Stop Awful Covers 10

Can you believe this is the tenth Awful Covers Series? Ten posts already. I'm starting to assume, with utter sadness, this will never end... Bad taste rules music world. Please musicians, respect your music and your fans. Please stop...


The Oh Sees: Floating Coffin
Food on covers is always a very risky choice. But this are just disgusting strawberries

 Morrissey:  Kill Uncle
Not the first time Bigmouth is featured here. It's always me, myself and I with him.

The Knife: Shaking the Habitual
You are known as an intriguing, even subversive band. And from know on, also as the responsible of a very lame sleeve.

Har Mar Superstar: Bye Bye 17
Terrible record title & group name. And where's Bruce Lee touching his nose before kicking your ass?

Tropical Popsicle: Dawn of Delight
I just found a goldmine. Promise you it won't be the last time this band appears here...regrettably
Of course, our regular dose of zero work on an artwork. Very little mental effort.

Saez: Miami
I know I know, but I promise you this is not a hip-hop sleeve.

Fangoria: Cuatricomía
And to the end this round of disasters, a Spanish veteran reference, amazingly tacky.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

"Cogan's Trade", the rules of crime

Cogan's Trade- George V. Higgins

We can call it an exception to the rule, or just the fact that I watched the movie first so there was zero surprise effect, but for once, I enjoyed more watching this book adaptation's, "Killing Them Softly" than the read itself. 

Which is not say that "Cogan's Trade" is a bad book, by no means. It's a very precise artifact, a straightforward tour-de-force tale of the mob, and an amazing proof of author's George V. Higgins writing skills. To put it simply, he's a master of dialogues, and his ability to describe scenes with a mind-blowing economy of words is hard to match. A couple of times I was thinking I was reading a script, not a novel. Incredible precision

Ok, I admit not a fan of the noir genre, but in my opinion, aside of Higgins' talents, neither the story or its development has any element of surprise. I wouldn't say the characters are really deep or built far more beyond the archetypal (exceptions might be Frankie and Mitch, but I can't see why Cogan's is supposedly such a remarkable character). Maybe is because mafia/crime stories have been so recurrent/exploited in cinema, so it's hard to get shocked by something written in 1974 nowadays, in terms of being original. 

That's what makes me consider Andrew Dominik's screen adaptation much more challenging. Yes, I agree (as reviewed recently) that "Killing Them Softly" somehow fails in its attempt to mix criminality and capitalism, settling the context of the story on our current world crisis, including some intriguing (visual and verbal) references to the American politicians that are supposedly here to save us from the crisis. 

Book or film? This time I would encourage you to watch the film if you have to choose just one. But if you are willing to read, for sure I would recommend you to read the book first. Otherwise the book will pass unnoticed, which is a bit unfair.

SCORE: 6/10

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Discoverer 58: new indie findings

Next chapter of our Sunday's proposals. Three new bands for your listening pleasure!

Wax Idols. We start with an all-female four-piece from Oakland, California. They began in 2011 as the solo project of Heather Fedewa, aka Hether Fortune. Her collection of somber, Gothic punk tunes, saw the light of day in the form of the "All Too Human" 7" and the LP "No Future", both out that same year. By then, Fortune had assembled a full band to join her live, becoming a proper group on the recording process of their sophomore release, "Discipline and Desire" out now in Slumberland Records. Menacing, fierce and resonating, Wax Idols sound like Savages storming The Chameleons bleakest numbers (Mark Burgess contributes on the record). Haunting band, to watch for sure.

Just Handshakes (We're British). Been awaiting for months to introduce you this Leeds band. Formed in 2008, the quartet released three singles on 2008-2009 prior to their first 7" on Tiptoe Records. Elefant Records released their second 7" "Falling Over Our Fear" in 2011. And on February came the mind-blowing single "London Bound" anticipating their forthcoming album "Say It", out this May. It has been immediate love, thanks to Clara's sweet echoing voice, the indiepop enduring melodies, embellishing synths and guitar hooks. Like my beloved Fear of Men, my crush is here to stay, I admit. Happily.
Goodly Thousands. From the small Irish town of Dundrum comes this band that started its career in 2010. Aside from the gigs around Dublin, the trio has released a single, "Kiss Me Upside-Down" on the Popical Island #2 compilation, and more recently, a 4 track EP on Long Lost Records. Finally, in February 2013, Shelflife (always Shelflife) published their debut double A-side 7" "Honest" b/w "I Wish".  Overall, a small collection of tunes drawing us back to 80's jangle-pop, with echoes of The June Brides and The Hit Parade. Genuine indiepop driven by shimmering guitars and Colm vocals. More this good soon, please!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Primavera Sound 2013 is getting closer...

Just a little more than a month before the Primavera Sound 2013 arrives. Interesting names like Fiona Apple or Foxygen have cancelled their gigs, being replaced by some other (not so interesting to me) names. After many days of research, here's what our agenda looks like, right now. Looking forward for the timetables, the real reference to know what are we going to see this year at the Festival. Plus many names that I'm sure we will add (Primavera als Bars, previous showcases...) Counting down the days!

22nd-26th May


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

Thursday, April 11, 2013

"Don't Swallow the Cap", 2nd round from The National

Another taste of "Trouble Will Find", the forthcoming new album from The National out this May. We started the week with the première of first single? "Demons", and now "Don't Swallow the Cap". The rhythm is familiar, but oh these chorus, the echoing voices....

I really like this quote: "There's two kinds of people in this world; people who love The National, and people who don't like good music" ;)

"The Campaign", politics can be a fun mess!

The Campaign

A political satire is always a complicated film to do. Where do you establish the limits of your jokes? What message (if any) do you want to give? Weight or fun? "The Campaign" has a clear goal: aims to be an unpretentious film to make you laugh.

In my opinion, that's the key to enjoy this film. If you are looking for substance, this is not the place. Politics are not taken seriously here. It's like seeing a flesh & bone episode of Family Guy on American elections. It's also a very unbalanced film. But it does have a healthy dose of spite and a noteworthy amount of hilarious (brutal too, some audiences could find it a bit "too much" for their tastes) moments.

Sure, with that level of physical and verbal comedy, main characters have to be up for their task. And granted they are. Will Ferrell plays a extremely crazy and dumb role, as long-term congressman for one of the biggest districts of North Carolina Cam Brady, while Zach Galifianiakis, as the naive Marty Huggins, is quite brilliant as their impossible rival. There are no sides taken by director Jay Roach here. Democrats and Republicans are equally ridiculed, completely out of their minds, and ready to do what it takes to win the elections. If any, the message of the film is here: politicians are the mere puppets of corrupted CEOs, who are the ones that take the decisions (no spoiling).

Another very positive and "healthy" issue is that "The Campaign" also leaves room to criticise, with sharpness, the whole election system, the role of the media, and voters. Yes, campaigns are phony. Yes, shameful campaign ads and political mudslinging are common policies. In that sense, the film only exaggerates (to the maximum) the machinations and backstabbing among the candidates. With some amusing results. But, if we all know, why don't we try to do something about it?

But as I said before, "The Campaign" is not here to offer solutions. As a matter of fact, and at least to me, their only regrettable mistake is its "happy ending". If you have been building a no-hold-barriers lampooning of real politics, you shouldn't close the movie with an "out of the blue" final message that there's always hope. It would have been more much striking and coherent to leave the audience with the feeling that no matter who wins, we the citizens lose.

Anyway, "The Campaign" is not a great movie or a mind-changer for sure, but I'm also convinced it won't leave you indifferent. At least it will make you laugh.

SCORE: 6/10

Monday, April 8, 2013

The National is back with their "Demons"!

Need to say more? I'm a very happy blogger today. The National is back and in full form! "Trouble Will Find Me" is going to be mind-blowing!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Discoverer 57: new indie findings

New wonderful discoveries this Sunday. Great indiepop groups on infallible labels, enjoy!

The Fireworks. How many times have I referred to a Shelflife Records' release? Here's another one! Coming from London-Brighton, initially this was just Matthew introducing some of his songs to his closest friends over the phone. Luckily Emma (from the lovely Pocketbooks) Isabel and Carys (later replaced by Shaun) were convinced enough to form a proper band by 2011. Gigs, including Indietracks, and a session for Dandelion Radio followed, hitting the studio on 2012 to record their self-titled first EP, out since March. Instant pop melodies infused on feedback, soaked in reverb. Vocal harmonies assaulting walls of noise. The Pastels backed up by My Bloody Valentine. A noisy indiepop feast.

Northern Spies. Speaking of recurrent labels, this blog & the world would look like a musically miserable place without our beloved EardrumsPop friends and their wonderful free singles. On their EPOP30 they introduce us to the world of Astrid Wiezell Howell, young musician from gorgeous Stockholm, who just started to sing under this nickname after the summer of 2012. With witty but lovable lyrics, she makes the blend of acoustic songwriting and indiepop charm so natural & disarming I'm sure her tunes will become your homespun treasure. Plus the EP comes with some delightful bonuses, so what are you waiting for?
The Smittens. Aww, the music connections! Thanks to Northern Spies I found out about this much veteran combo from Burlington, Vermont. Formed at a party in 2002, since then the quintet has released fourth studio albums, a remix ep, a handful of singles and compilation appearances. Their latest LP,  "Believe Me", arrived past summer thanks to another always reliable label, Fika Recordings. They make expansive, in-your-face, joyful indiepop. Believe me, just try one tune, and if doesn't bring you a smile to your face, a ridiculous desire to do some hand clapping or start shaking yourself, I'll stop writing from this moment on.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spanish Indie 13: suggesting the best national acts

More "made in Spain" music for your listening pleasure!

Wiggum. Another discovery from El Genio Equivocado's roster (the label is absolutely on fire ;) this time in the form of an unbeatable named (undoubtedly best Simpson's family) quartet from Barcelona. Formed on 2009, after a couple of changes on their line-up, recorded their debut LP, "Sintón Nisón ama a Nifú Nifá" a year later. Critics' praise, signing with El Genio and touring followed until 2012, when they decided to go back to the studio and challenge themselves. The result is their second album, "La Guerra Mundial" out this month, a shift towards guitar-driven rock, channeling 90s alternative music. Judging by tunes like the anthemic "Amarillo", looks like a gigantic step forward.

Pleasant Dreams. Hailing from Xilxes, Castellón, comes one of the most gratifying discoveries from latest Minifestival de Música. They started in 2002 but it wouldn't be until 2008 when they debuted on Green Ufos with "Podría Ser Hoy". A 7" vinyl came in 2011 followed by their latest reference, second LP "Hacia los Bosques del Sur", out past year. And what a record this is! A very personal blend of shiny indiepop with acoustic pop-folk and more traditional Mediterranean songwriting. A unique sound, as evocative as carefree, as epic as intimate. Not to miss.
Lost Tapes. Pau Roca is what we call in Spain a "culo inquieto" a music "wiggler" (would that be correct?), as the member from La Habitación Roja and Litoral has decided to have another project, together with RJ Sinclair from Tokyo Sex Destruction and It’s Not Not. The band was created last year after crystallizing the occasional meetings in Madrid-Barcelona and the "many conversations on music, films and reads". The result is "Poetry Dates" EP, their only release to date, out since December 2012. Think on The Pains of Being Pure at Heart backed up by Spacemen 3 while going to the movies. Exciting music.

Friday, April 5, 2013

"Killing Them Softly", capitalism or death

Killing Them Softly

Yeah, I know, the title of the post is pretty bizarre for what it looks like another neo-noir thriller. Noir thrillers are not odd, they usually use (overuse I dare to say) some very determined and classical pattern with slight or more radical ("state-of-the-art", "cool" are also words that come to my mind) visual variations, putting style ahead of substance. But "Kiling Them Softly" is different. Is the first "capitalist thriller" I have ever seen. You must be thinking, what the hell is a capitalist thriller? Let me try to explain myself.

"Killing Them Softly" is, on the surface, a pure thriller dealing with the criminal world. An using a recurrent topic/premise: what in the mafia jargon is called a "contract".  Jackie Cogan is an enforcer recruited to solve a situation (meaning killing the responsible) created by three guys who robbed at a mob protected card game. But the unsurprising, common ground of the premise quickly reveals much more.

It is obvious, since almost the beginning the movie is not really interested on the robbers. They are amateurs and pretty dumb (one of them just a scum), therefore fated to a dramatic end. But director Andrew Dominik adapting George V.Higgins' novel "Cogan's Trade", want to talk about something much more bigger than a crazy robbery. They use that scenario as a metaphor of capitalism, with the United States as the evident background. Well, maybe I should rephrase this paragraph, maybe this is about a crazy robbery after all. The biggest, most despicable and crazy robbery mankind is suffering.

What Jackie Cogan is paid to do is not eliminating three stupid guys, but restore the collapsed local criminal economy. Cogan and the unnamed driver with whom he has the arrangements discuss about murders, but mostly about economy (every dollar counts, more in this choking economic crisis context) and the "public image" that has to be rebuilt. Their capitalist structure, the status quo, has to be preserved by all means. Does it sound familiar to you? It does.

In that context, violence is just a tool, another mean to reach the desired end. Cogan, portrayed with a disarming naturalness by Brad Pitt, could be a gangster, but also the perfect public relations. The film has some violent  scenes, not many, but is mostly a movie about conversations. Criminals wearing suits and ties talking about the needed steps to be taken. Did I hear bankers and politicians? The driver, played by the always perfect Richard Jenkins is an accountant, that's for sure, and you'll see Obama too many times on the screen to just think is a coincidence. Remember than words can also be weapons.

Unfortunately, "Killing Them Softly" somewhat fails as a movie. It has a peculiar, off-beat pace that harms its dynamism. Without it, some scenes seem to be there to make fun, a peculiar, deadpan humour that is, but they don't mix that well as a whole. And to my understanding, director Andrew Dominik makes terrible mistakes of presenting several relevant elements in its narration to abandon them later on. Mickey's character (another great performance by James Gandolfini) and Dillon's ghostly role are the two most blatant examples. It was just a (bad) editing choice? It might be the first film in ages in which I have the feeling the movie is too short... for what it wants to say.

Capitalism or death. But let's try your murder to be as delicate as possible.... Damn it again, doesn't sound familiar to you? Failed movie, but brave, risky, smart, well acted and thought-provoking.

SCORE: 6,5/10

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Indie Anthology 28: essential songs

I'm really enjoying my latest music-related reads. Kristin Hersh's "Rat Girl", "I Was Keith Richard's Drug Dealer" and Dean Wareham's "Black Postcards", which is making me listen again to some forgotten bands. So the next chapter of our Anthology is devoted to them.

Song: Night Nurse
Artist: Dean Wareham & Britta Phillips
Year: 2003

I jumped very late into Dean Wareham's bandwagon. To be honest, wasn't very impressed the first time I listened to Luna and not immediately engaged when a friend told me about Galaxie 500. But it was this dreamy gem taken from the side affair "L'Avventura", a romantic whisper between the then lovers Britta Phillips and Wareham, a modern impersonation of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, but playing soft and warm space rock that made realise what I was missing. Then I turned back to Luna and to found out a very special band, floating music where almost every note sounds true. Looking forward to do the same with Galaxie 500.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"A Decade Under the Influence", filming the 70's

A Decade Under the Influence

"A Decade Under the Influence" has many points of attraction and interest. A serious documentary trying to examine the decade of the 1970s in what regards to cinema, giving the voice to some of the most relevant filmmakers (plus some actors, producers and industry heavyweights) from that period (many of them still among the best directors nowadays) to talk about their movies, their meaning and the changes that American society went through on that period of time. It has all the elements to be a memorable work on the so-called New Hollywood era, but it has two serious issues that undermine the film as a whole.

The first one is quite simple: this is not a dynamic film. Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking for special effects or these sort of documentaries where the visual tricks are the recurrent solution to fill the narrative gaps or just extend the length of the work to the usual standards. But Ted Demme (who sadly passed away) takes the most straightforward option. Mixing the opinions of the directors with little additional footage, some historical and some directly from the films. The result is a slow-paced documentary, that can be boring for audiences without a particular interest on it. That's sad because the opinions of Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, William Friedkin, Dennis Hopper... and a extraordinary long etc is what makes this movie a must-see. Julie Christie, along with Altman and the great and also forever missed "Sidneys" (Lumet and Pollack) are the ones with the smartest and clearest minds.

And the second one is another proof that some topics are, almost, 90% infallible. How many times have you heard or said that the book is better than the film? "A Decade.." has a much more complete, challenging and interesting competitor in the form of a book. Of course, I'm referring to Peter Biskind's monumental "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls". Everything on the 70s, and much more (dark, poignant and scary), is there. After reading that book watching this documentary seems like a Disney's version of the New Hollywood's decade. Sure, this film is not cheating: wants to grasp the opinion of the filmmakers and artists who were there and with that choice compound a collective tale of the decade. But are the starring characters telling all they know? I'm afraid not. Believe me, please read the book and you'll figure it out.

If you are interested in the 1970s, on its turbulent, contradictory and exciting times (rebellion, activism, hedonism, sexual revolution, civil and counterculture movements, drugs...), and how there was an art, cinema, that tried to reflect that social turmoil for a new generation of moviegoers, but finally gave up, you MUST watch this movie. If you want to discover a time when we weren't forced to watch another crap film after another crap film after another crap film, and directors wanted to show and talk about stories and not the next visual effect, this documentary should be a turning point to make you watch dozens of unforgettable movies. But  if you really want to know about the 70s American cinema,.then remember that there is a book waiting for you. "A Decade" should be just a noteworthy starting point.

SCORE: 6,75/10