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Thursday, May 30, 2013

"Trouble Will Find Me", The National's revisited

Trouble Will Find Me

Here it is, "Trouble Will Find Me", the sixth album of The National, has arrived. Maybe you’ve noticed, but they are my favourite band, now that R.E.M. called it a day. So there’s no point telling you about my expectations with the record -my warning: this review will be long-. Disk of the year or great disappointment? Extremes of a debate that doesn’t make much sense for a band that has achieved its commercial success gradually and without renouncing its identity signs, in a transition to "first division of indie" accomplished with three consecutive masterpieces, “Alligator”, “Boxer” and “High Violet” -won’t admit any discussion about it-. Identity signs that are more present than ever with this new album, combined with a feeling, confirmed by the group in several interviews, that they have created their new songs in the most relaxed atmosphere of their entire career, more secure than ever of their position as musicians. The result is a calm, self-referential record. To put it simply, no one but The National could make “Trouble Will Find Me”. It's The National's revisited.

The first example that the Ohio-Brooklyn guys are convinced of the path they have chosen, indifferent to pressures and expectations, comes at the very beginning of the record. Three years ago, “High Violet” began with the expansive, explosive “Terrible Love” -only surpassed by its abysmal live version-, one of those tunes ideal for grabbing the attention of any listener, even the lesser fans. One would expect a tune of that magnitude on a LP that should consecrate them as a mediatic band. On the other hand, “Trouble Will Find Me” opens with “I Should Live On Salt”, close to the alternative country sounds of “Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers”, and “Demons”, an ode to depression by all means, with a bleak lyric -"Oh, everyday I start so great/Then the sunlight dims [...] When I walk into a room/I do not light it up/Fuck"-. Two magnificent intimate songs where simplicity is the key, also highlighting Matt Berninger's voice, one of the pillars on which this album specially holds onto, sharp and fragile on the first, telluric and gloomy on the second.

The speed increases, without exploding, with “Don't Swallow the Cap”, the second song we discovered as an advance of the album, and the sort of tune where The National excels. The accelerated and elusive rhythm from Bryan Devendorf’s drums, like a beating heart at the moment of maximum tension, escorts the stumbled recitation of Matt while one million small nuances are taking place –among them, although measured, shines the female voice that gives him his replica, still not disclosed if it is Sharon Van Etten, St. Vincent or Nona Marie Invie of “Dark Dark Dark”- colliding in a perfect chorus.

Next comes a new twist towards more delicate and direct territory with “Fireproof”, where the Dessner brothers, armed with acoustic guitars, extend the sonic mantle on which Berninger shoots one of his most vitriolic lyrics -reference to Elliot Smith included-. I don't know if you have had the pleasure -and stomach- to read Richard Yates, but after the ill-fated New York writer, few authors are able to dissect the darker parts of relationships as our bearded frontman does. Resentment transformed into a tune.

Then it is the turn to the also well known “Sea of Love”, where the band shows his more fierce and cathartic side, with a sublime set of "question-answer" with the chorus in the final crescendo, where, in addition to making us salivate imagining how powerful can be this song live, show us an unrecognized feature in their music: the sense of humor -"what Harvard did teach you?"-. Very dark one, of course.

However, “Trouble Will Find Me” clearly leans towards slower numbers and melancholic ballads. “Heavenfaced” and “This Is the Last Time” invite the listener to introspection. But while the first may be among the least remarkable of the album, with a Berninger throwing himself into a chorus too forced, typical of other bands, the second is simply wonderful. Again propped up with acoustic guitars, the tune is elegant, desperate, rich and subtle -the entry of the strings, the female voice, the final minute, etc-. Precious.

In an album much needed of upbeat tunes that serve as a counterpoint to such stillness, “Graceless” is manna dropped from the sky, with its turbulent urge and bleak lyrics -"I took the medicine and I went missing"- which breaks in a coda that is made to be echoed live. Instant anthem. But we return to the usual tone of the record immediately. “Slipped” is a simple theme built around the piano, being its main attraction Berninger, with a lyric -"I don't any help to be breakable, believe me"- debtor of another American literature's master, John Cheever, portraying the sense of frustration of the contemporary human being in everyday stories, though Berninger does not lose his sense of humor-"I'll try to keep my skeleton in"-. Much more significant is “I Need My Girl”, with guitars drawing an ethereal and enveloping atmosphere, resulting in one of the most exciting moments of the album.

And we arrive to the final stretch of “Trouble Will Find Me”, where we find “Humiliation”, a singular song, probably the less recognizable The National has ever written. A crazy, surreal lyric -I insist, the twisted humor of Berninger comes out definitely with this album- in a piece with a special, hypnotic, floating energy, where the particular sensory state of the character described on it fits perfectly with the music, “Blue Velvet’s" coda included.

More conventional, but equally impeccable is “Pink Rabbits”, romantic and emotional with the funereal piano -death is a recurring theme on the album- and that epic end in which seems to be both hope and learning about oneself. On the other hand, the actual closing of the record comes with the more discreet “Hard to Find”, solemn and beautifully orchestrated, but inconspicuous after the previous piece.

Compared with their three previous albums, “Trouble Will Find Me” surely loses out, due to a couple of tunes that doesn’t add much and to the accumulation of slow songs on a long album. Certainly, those who seek “Alligator's” visceral mood, or the fascinating repressed turbulence of “Boxer” will be disappointed. Also those who were waiting for a collection of “Bloodbuzzed Ohio” or “Terrible Love”, definitely opening them the gates of the charts. But The National have opted to follow his own path, preferring for complex compositions where small details prevail, and with a few exceptions, where the outstanding songs are not obvious, but there to be discovered and assimilated by the listener. In short, it may rate a bit lower than its predecessors, or it may not be the indisputable masterpiece we are used to receive from them. But it’s an excellent record (another one to add to an already mind blowing career) from a unique band.

Sorry about the long post. This was a special review for me.

SCORE: 8,25/10

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Primavera Sound 2013: an overview

A Primavera Sound of heavy contrasts
PS's Ferris wheel. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
For me, this has been a pretty shocking edition of the Festival, even contradictory. In general, this Primavera Sound rates lower than the previous ones I've been lucky to attend, the main reason being simply having less attractive bands for me. But also because I'm getting more and more upset/annoyed with the behaviour of (some) people. Am I getting too old for this sort of events? It’s not just about the ones going to a Festival just to get drunk (at a very expensive cost, by the way) day after day, something that I'll never understand (if you need THAT amount of alcohol to enjoy music, maybe is because you don’t really like it). But also about smokers who doesn't give a damn about you & your lungs (especially girls), and the three types of “fakers-poser” that I have identified during this Primavera:
  • Faker “just showing up”- Now that being indie is a "trend", this sort of events have become “mandatory” for many. There are some folks that just “have to be there”. You can recognize them by how they look (the only good thing about cold weather is how it ruined their ridiculous parade); by appearing (for example) on Blur's “Girls and Boys” running and screaming as if he/she was just had an incredible orgasm, just to disappear into the bar after not recognizing next song; or by being the ones who insult the organisation on facebook because Rodríguez cancelled and they, of course, were their biggest fans... ;)
  • Faker “me first”- Stumbling people in the middle of a concert just to arrive to the front row its not nice (you arrived late, so just let people more interested than you enjoy the music); making pogos with your partner when no one else is doing it is also weird (maybe you are bored, so just go somewhere else). Queues are not funny for anyone, so don’t get surprised if someone shows you his/her "unhappiness" if you try to advance him/her when he/she was before you. No, I'm not interested on your mongoloid, drunk moves. Not on your dubious conversation skills either. No I don’t want a hug from you. No, I don’t smoke, so stop asking or looking at me as I'm crazy. Could go on forever.
  • Los Planetas' ghosts. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
  • Faker “music, what music?”- This is a new tendency. Why do you go to a gig if all you want to do is chatting on whatsapp? I'm so puzzled with the image of hundreds of people with their heads looking down their mobile phones constantly while band plays in front of them. Of course, there’s the “old style” version: the ones going to a Festival only to chat with their partner/group of friends. While the gig takes place, that is.

Ok, enough of “fakers/posers”. Let’s go to the contradicting feelings. This year I've seen fewer bands, but the overall number, 29 full gigs, is quite impressive and still makes Primavera hard to beat. If only Saturday would had been better... I know main reason was bad luck (Rodríguez & Band of Horses cancelling) but I also believe the strange schedule (Dead Can Dance & Wu-Tang Clan being the only options to see for a while) could had been arranged better, and it probably has to do with football, which is sad.

Phoenix on fire. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Primavera is a huge Festival now, so massification is going to be a recurrent complaint. However, I had a feeling of a certain comfort throughout the PS' days. It probably has to do with the organisation taking benefit of the vast possibilities of the Fòrum. Possibilities that, on the other hand, cannot save you from the freezing cold we have suffered during this edition.

And finally, let’s talk about music. On a year with the best sound quality of the Festival, this has been the edition on which there has been less concerts to really highlight. Topping the list I have the outstanding performances of Local Natives and Adam Green, followed by the great gigs, although a bit truncated because of technical problems, from Camera Obscura and Savages, and remarkable ones from Grizzly Bear, Deerhunter and Guards. And despite the number of unremarkable gigs has been bigger than expected, with some big disappointments in the form of Blur and Evans the Death foremost, the overall feeling is still highly positive. Primavera still offers so much to enjoy.
Adam Green goes for a "special walk". Photo: Bloodbuzzed

Links to all briefings on the Primavera Sound 2013:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Primavera Sound 2013 in brief, day 5

And we reach the end of the Primavera Sound Festival 2013, with it’s smallest (for us) day, Sunday 26th at BARTS, plus an overview of the whole Festival coming next.

The Good 
The Orchids. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
BARTS- I already said that with the occasion of last Primavera Club, BARTS main stage is a fantastic venue for live music. A pretty, quite comfortable place, and with good sound. We didn’t went to the Apolo gigs, but the idea of combining this two venues (one in front of the other) is a much welcomed one. Besides, people was silent the majority of the time, there’s still hope!
Jangle pop at Primavera Sound- It began last year with Veronica Falls, although someone could say that bands like Cults, Guards or Tennis also offer a mellower version of indiepop. Others could also argue that bands like Belle and Sebastian or Camera Obscura cover that style, even having main slots at the Festival. But to me, these bands are not jangle-pop or just “too big” to be considered representatives, so in my opinion jangle-pop is sort of a neglected style at Primavera. That’s why seeing Veronica Falls, Evans the Death and finally The Orchids at BARTS was gratifying. I’m very glad jangle pop can also has its space at the Festival. Dear organisers, why don’t you let Indietracks, Eardrums, Matinee or Fortuna Pop, to name a few, curate a stage next year (and forget about death/trash metal or rap/hip-hop by the way)?
Sr.Chinarro. Photo: Bloodbuzzed

As there wasn’t anything particularly bad or extraordinary to remark about Sunday gigs, (The Orchids, Julie Doiron, Sr.Chinarro and Come were all, ok but nothing special, at least for me) I’ll just go on with the general overview of the Festival you can find here.

Links to every briefing on the Primavera Sound 2013:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Primavera Sound 2013 in brief, day 4

And here it is the fourth chapter of our particular Primavera Sound Festival 2013, covering the last "big day", Saturday 25th at Parc del Fòrum!

The Good
The great Camera Obscura
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Camera Obscura: To me, the gig was too short (maybe because they started a bit later than scheduled, due to some technical problems, I believe courtesy of Apple, of course) and it wasn't my dreamed setlist either (no songs from first albums "Underachievers Try Harder" or "Biggest Blue Hi-Fi."). But what a wonderful thing is to have Camera Obscura back on stage, with Tracyanne Campbell and the band sounding great at a crowded Ray-Ban stage, in front a very pleased and cheerful audience. And the three new tunes played were terrific, so the expectations on "Desire Lines" couldn't be higher now. Seeing you again in less than a month!
Six more bands: I insist. Primavera Sound's offer is hard to match. Even on a far from spectacular day (see the section below) we managed to see six more bands: Modelo de Respuesta Polar- Adam Green & Binki Shapiro- Melody's Echo Chamber- Bored Spies- Camera Obscura- Los Planetas.
A friendlier venue: Maybe because after three days of Festival people was tired, or due to the lack of big names (compared with Thursday and Friday) there was less attendance, or just the fact we didn't choose the maing stages... but the whole day was very comfortable.

The Bad
Bored Spies. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Weak day: If you combine bad luck, with the cancellations of Rodríguez and Band of Horses (a very tough, last-minute announcement) with, in my opinion, questionable choices from the organisation in what regards to the day's line-up and schedule, the result can only be one: the weakest day of this year's Festival, and probably the weakest I ever seen at Primavera Sound in the editions I've attended.
Wu-Tang Clan & Dead Can Dance: No offence to the two groups, but to me are the perfect examples of why it was a poor day. Both bands had two of the biggest stages of the venue and arguably fantastic times to play, with little, if any, "competence". In front of who? It was obvious, judging from the huge amount of people gathered on the food areas and stores that a vast amount of the audience didn't know where to go. Or the schedule was because of the Football Champions League Final? The timetables are suspiciously coincident...
Freezing Fòrum: Another freezing day, and the venue doesn't help any bit (there's no place to hide from the wind). I wonder how many people will start the week with a serious cold.

Adam Green, "mighty" dancer
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
The Queen
Adam Green: I knew it was going to be worth seeing. But it was much more than that. Charming music (the record with Binki Shapiro is quite a delight), flawless performances, and an extremely fun show. What an entertaining frontman Mr. Green is. He seemed to be on a very relaxed and joyful mood, and he did everything to transmit it to the audience, with his trademark silly and crazy dances, chatting in his surreal Spanish, or just making stage diving a whole walk through the public's head and hands. Impossible not to smile, laugh and enjoy the music. The gig of the day without a doubt.

The last day coming this afternoon, so final briefing will be also on its way here!

Links to the previous briefings on the Primavera Sound 2013:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Primavera Sound 2013 in brief, day 3

Third briefing with a quick update of our music adventures on Friday at Primavera Sound Festival 2013!

Peace. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
The Good
Eight more bands: As I wrote regarding Thursday, the Primavera Sound's offer is just impressive. On Friday we even managed to see one more band than the previous day: MoonflowerKurt Vile & The ViolatorsPeace- Paus- The Breeders- Local Natives- Daughter- Blur. As I said, impressive.
A lesser "Mordor": Distances aside, I have to admit that the Heineken stage is much more comfortable than on previous editions. If you want to avoid the masses, you still have plenty of space to enjoy gigs without the "drunk mobs". Another remarkable improvement.
Sound quality: Definitively confirmed, vast improvement in this area.

Mr. Damon Albarn, Blur at PS13
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
The Bad
Blur: The gig of the festival... that finally wasn't. Blur gave a very flat, unremarkable concert. With a dubious setlist that became sort of a downer -too many slow tunes in its middle section- and the feeling Albarn wasn't really trying to connect with people - "Tender" would be the exception. Even my personal favourite "The Universal" sounded a bit shallow. Disappointment.
Gig timetables: Who decides the timetables of the concerts and to which stage are the bands assigned? How someone can put at Pitchfork stage Doldrums and Daughter at Vice virtually at the same? The delicate and intense music of Daughter was ruined by the persistent beats of Doldrums, at least for the ones who weren't able to be at the front rows. Because that's the second mistake, Daughter at Vice? It was obvious the place was too small for her. The same can be said about ATP/Heineken and the clashes of sounds. It could had been programmed better.
Kurt Vile. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Very cold & full of "posers": The first is not the fault of the organisation, of course. But what a hell of a freezing day to enjoy live music! But the second.... well, I do think security could do a much better job and don't allow people to play with a Frisbee at Ray-Ban's stage, having some consideration and not use minis or bikes when a huge amount of people is moving from Pitchfork to Heineken's stage to see Blur...  And sorry to write that, but "guiris" could behave much better. I don't believe they'll act like that back home, so why do we have to let them do what they want?

The Queen
Local Natives. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Local Natives: Discovered the band this year and "Hummingbird" is easily one of the best records of 2013 for me. So I was really eager to see them live and confirm my high expectations. But they do much more than that. They were terrific. Excellent performance, passionate and subtle at the same time, showing a surprising amount of stunning songs which just two albums to date -I have to check "Gorilla Manor" immediately-. Converted from now on.

Last "big day" starts in few hours, so its briefing will be available very soon here!

Links to previous briefings on the Primavera Sound 2013:
Day 1
Day 2

Friday, May 24, 2013

Primavera Sound 2013 in brief, day 2

Already exhausted, but here comes the quick update of the second day, first of the "big ones" of Primavera Sound Festival 2013. Our particular music trip!

The Good
Jehnny Beth, Savages
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Savages: Our bet of the day (probably of the Festival too) and they didn't disappoint. Unfortunately lead guitarist Gemma Thompson had a serious issue with her guitar halfway to their gig, so after solving it, their set got shortened. But what a striking band Savages are. Singer Jehnny Beth is a fierce, sharp, mind blowing stage presence. Songs are like razorblades. They look for you, hunt you, get you and don't let you go. A real shock to your system. Brutal.
Deerhunter-Grizzly Bear: I know they are big "alternative" bands with a consolidated, prestigious position on the alternative scene. But until yesterday, I honestly never gave much attention to them. My mistake. Won't happen again. Very good shows, stunning songs.
Sound quality: As we hoped for on Wednesday, the sound quality (the exception being Adidas Original) was very high in all the stages we went yesterday. Great improvement.

The Bad
Dinosaur Jr., PS13. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Evans the Death: If Savages was our first must of the day, Evans the Death was our second. A personal favourite, and the chance to see them on one of the smallest venues was extremely appealing. But they gave a terrible show. Terrible. Awful sound, a complete lack of interest on playing, and a singer who was clearly drunk, destroying completely their beautiful tunes. The performance of "Telling Lies" still hurts me. What a disappointment.
Cigarettes & alcohol: And mobile phones. And pogos. And posers & fakers. I'll never understand what's the point of paying for a music Festival when all you want is getting drunk, show your clothes and keep chatting with your mobile or your partner. Can't you do that every *****ing weekend of the year?

The Queen
Phoenix' Thomas Mars on screen
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Seven bands on a day: Our schedule was quite a challenge (and I'm sure many people saw even more bands than us): Wild Nothing- Savages- Evans the Death- Dinosaur Jr.- Deerhunter- Grizzly Bear- Phoenix. It was tiring (distances are killing) but absolutely rewarding. With the aforementioned exception, I enjoyed six very different, good/very good shows (I would like to highlight Wild Nothing and Mr. Mascis in particular) on the same day. How many festivals can offer the same? That's what makes Primavera, despite all "issues" (that become quite secondary), so unbeatable at the end.

Third day beginning in few hours. Many more bands to talk about. Briefing available here!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Primavera Sound 2013 in brief, day 1

Like we did on previous editions, we start our quick chronicles of each day of the Primavera Sound Festival 2013. So here's a brief note of what our particular opening day was like!

The Good
Join The Bots!
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Much better at the Parc: I admit I wasn't very enthusiastic with the idea of going to the Fòrum for the opening day. It's far, every walking distance is huge and the thought of massification (the gigs there were free) at Ray-Ban was discouraging. But distances aside, it proved to be a much better choice than have it at very centre of the city, like last year.
Sound quality: In that sense, the four bands saw yesterday enjoyed a much better sound than on past edition. Hope that's a sign for the days to come.
The Bots: Wasn't mesmerized about the songs, in my opinion still to be polished, more defined as a whole, but I got seriously impressed by the performance and potential of this incredibly young duo. The reincarnation of The White Stripes from a very exciting couple. Band to follow closely.

The Bad
The Vaccines. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Night at Apolo: Terrible organization, or better said, suffered from the lack of it. We arrived early there (skipped Delorean to have enough time) asked security at the front door of the venue, who told people willing to go to La [2] de Apolo would enter at 23:30, while the cue for Apolo would do it at 00.00. So we had a speedy dinner and at 23:20 we were there... to see how the cue was gigantic, just one for the two venues, already cornering the whole block. Impossible to get into such a small place like la [2] de Apolo. The result: missed Cheatahs and Veronica Falls due to bad organization (or at least misinformation from security).

In Guards we trust. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
The Queen
Guards: It was a day without outstanding performances. I didn't enjoy Aliment, although I guess they did a solid gig. And I'm pretty sorry to confirm what I already after seeing them at past Primavera Club. The Vaccines have the songs, but with the exception of an relentless frontman, they are a quite limited band. So the "queen of the day" title has to go to Guards, who were, as expected, pretty good. Less poppier than on record, tunes gained weight, fitting perfectly for the festival format. Sadly, the gig was short and they choose a couple of noisy instrumental interludes that for me, weren't necessary, and not representative of their fantastic taste/talent for pop melodies. Nevertheless, a solid performance. I want them back on a small venue!

First "big day" this afternoon/night. It's brief coming very soon here!

Monday, May 20, 2013

"A Writer's Life", a journalistic mess

A Writer's Life- Gay Talese

As much as I believe Gay Talese's prose is masterful and his ability to find and chronicle a story is unparalelled, I'm afraid to say that with "A Writer's Life" this amazing journalist has descended to Earth, revealing us the worst of his art, offering us a book that, contrary to "Honor Thy Father" or "Portraits and Encounters", amazingly absorbing reads, is quite mundane, even tedious to follow at times.

And that's a shame, because it could have worked. "A Writer's Life" aims to be a memoir of a veteran journalist looking back to some of his "adventures". But there’s very little of his personal life, and the book quickly evolves into something else, an unexpected account of Talese's failures, his shortcomings to find a story that his bosses would die to put in paper, or his inability to close his latest book. That could have been challenging and exciting, such a gifted writer showing us how hard it is to "wait for the click", as The National would say on personal favouite "City Middle".

But with few exceptions, this book is not capable of transmitting that doubt, weakness, lack of luck, bad timing or writer's block when facing a potentially good story. And it's because -and that's tough for me to say, as I admire Talese so much- of the author's ego and his self-indulgence. Instead Talese offers a monumental digression of 600 pages where he recapitulates and reworks pieces and bits of previous, unfinished or left behind stories, adding personal notes or wikipedia-like-facts. It's arbitrary, and despite at the end everything seems to connect, it's incoherent as a whole. As a book, it's simply weak. Again sorry to put my thoughts in words, but I believe this is just a packed compilation of material to fulfill a contract.

There are horrible passages. In particular I couldn't go on with the whole story of the restaurants, so pointless even Talese is incapable of not much more of accumulating notes for almost three decades -just a bunch of pages finished by 1999-. Others are much interesting, like the one in Selma regarding civil rights and liberties of the Afro-American people, the Lorena Bobbit trial or the one about the Chinese player Liu Ying. But this latest story is a clear example of the serious problem this book has with its structure. Talese clearly didn't think much about order his account of failed stories, so the trip to China appears quite early on the book, then vanishes for hundreds and hundreds of pages just to reappear at the very end. The effect is quite strange, to say the least.

Even masters can fail.

SCORE: 4,75/10

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Discoverer 62: new indie findings

More new band proposals for you, with a rockier vibe and an eye (or two) at Primavera Sound Festival!

Beaches. First stop in Melbourne, Australia, to meet this female quintet formed in 2007. Their debut album, "Beaches", came a year later, obtaining critical acclaim and allowing them to tour Australia, the States and had slots in Festivals like All Tomorrow's Parties or SXSW. An Ep, "Eternal Sphere", appeared on Mexican Summer label on late 2010, with extensive touring afterwards. Finally the time arrived for a second album, "She Beats" out since May 3 on Chapter Music. A blend of psych-rock, shoegaze and krautrock with a stunning knack for pop melodies. Think on my beloved Electrelane with a retro, sixties vibe. Rich, kaleidoscopic and utterly absorbing music.

Cheatahs. One of today's proposals playing at Primavera Sound comes from London, in the form of a quartet leaded & founded in 2009 by frontman Nathan Hewitt. After a few tapes and 7" on various labels, in June 2012 they released their first EP, "Coared", on Marshall Teller Records. After a gig supporting Milk Music, Wichita Recordings signed them, putting out a second EP "Sans", in October, and combining both references on "Extended Plays", out since February. Shoegaze meeting raw 90's indie-rock without missing melodies, there's something genuine, powerfully vital in Cheatahs that put them ahead most upcoming bands.

Peace. Not a hypes' follower, even less when its NME who creates it, but after checking them as part of the Primavera Sound line-up's I admit it; here's a hype with a reason. Coming from Worcester, UK, the quartet formed in 2009 and were originally named November And The Criminal. After releasing a self-titled debut EP in March 2010 they changed it to Peace that October. The buzz began thanks to their shows, heavily amplified after signing to Columbia Records and releasing their debut EP "Delicious", on September 2012, with first album, "In Love", out past March. Playful, fun indie-rock that doesn't reinvent the wheel, but is catchy as hell.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Spanish Indie 14: suggesting the best national acts

A new round of "made in Spainmusic for your ears only, enjoy!

Pauline en la Playa. Sisters Mar and Alicia Álvarez hail from Gijón, and have quite a long story in their backs. Leaders of Undershakers, a seminal band in the middle-late 90s on the Spanish indie scene. While the band was still active, the two began to work in another direction by 1997, under the name of  “Enfants Terribles“, winning a local prize with their first demos that year. Two years later, in 1999, Pauline en la Playa was finally born, releasing six albums to date, the latest one being “El Mundo Se Va a Acabar“ out this March on Siesta. The last chapter of the exquisite, impossibly charming and warm music of the Álvarez sisters. A sweet, nostalgic and rich indiepop universe.

Les Sueques. Not the first time I write about this quartet and pretty sure it won't be the last either. Coming from Barcelona, they debuted in 2011 with Les Sueques EP on Repetidor Discos. After a replacement on drums with the arrival of Pau (ex Tokyo Sex Destruction) they recently signed with our friends from El Genio Equivocado, becoming one of its most exciting new acts. Something that their debut album, "Cremeu les Perles" out since March. Pop-punk with a twisted, dark, sardonic side, sharp guitar lines and loads of fun and promise. Carefree & homemade riot-girls with a bunch of addictive tunes and sense of humour.

Fighter Pillow. Few information on this yet unsigned act from Barcelona, discovered while searching the bands playing at Primavera als Parcs, one of the most peculiar parallel activities of the Festival. But this band, active since 2011 (at least is what their social networks says) is quite an underground supergroup: Eli Molina from the lovely Me and the Bees (new songs soon please!), Edu Chirinos from our beloved Las Ruinas, Dj Manu Rec and Eric Fuentes. They have an EP, aptly titled "EP#1", for free at their bandcamp. Four tunes that sound as vigorous as stylistically diverse, from urgent indie-rock to a sparse, folk gentle number. Solid music regardless of its form. Band to check. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Camera Obscura + The Very Most: double feature

Of indiepop giants! Isn't a wonderful coincidence that Camera Obscura and The Very Most have chosen the same day to unveil their new songs? Today is a legitimate indiepop day!

"Fifth In Line to the Throne" is the second tune revealed from the "Desire Lines", the new album from our beloved Glaswegian band and a radical change in style from the cheerful, immediate first single ‘Do It Again’. A gentle and magnificent ballad featuring backing vocals from Neko Case, and precisely the sort of song that proves how much the world needs to have Tracyanne Campbell back. And I just bought tickets to see them live in San Francisco, yessss!

And our beloved The Very Most just came out with the title track of their forthcoming EP "Just A Pup", available on Manic Pop Records this June. You can accuse me of favouritism, but folks, this song has indiepop C-L-A-S-S-I-C written all over. What an elegant and charming tune. Jeremy Jensen and co (hear the wonderful female vocals by Gia Trotter joining him please!) are just perfecting their craftsmanship, each new song seems to be more enduring and rich. Can't wait for the rest!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Stop Awful Covers 11

The eleventh chapter of the Awful Covers Series is here... in all its glorious bad taste. Another round of atrocious sleeves to show you how a musician can ruin and disrespect his/her work. Please stop...


 Wampire:  Curiosity
The only curiosity is knowing which kind of drug they took when they decided to this sleeve.
Jai PaulJai Paul
Definition of kitsch or tacky? Poor animals, is not their fault.

Shannon and the Clams: Dreams in the Rat House
There's at least one hobbit missing here... plus some good taste.

Guided By Voices: Noble Insect
More about animals from a band that repeats here. The insect can be noble, but the sleeve designer...

Brooke Waggoner: Originator
More on Lord of the Rings. This must be an homage to Galadriel without the 281 million $.

  Niagara: Otto
Or regular dose of zero work comes punctual to its date. Now in pink.
Pintandwefall: Be My Baby
What the hell is that? Wouldn't be your baby even if there would be the only chance to mankind to survive.
Deep Purple: Now What?!
Now what? My advice is retirement.. or at least change the artwork, please (this one is dedicated to my dad).  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Discoverer 61: new indie findings

Back from one of the most intense weeks of the year with a new dose of great findings!

The Mantles. We begin in Frisco/Oakland with a band active since 2007. Shows and early singles followed until 2009, when they released their self-titled debut album on Siltbreeze. A follow-up came out next year with "Pink Information" EP on Mexican Summer. But their proper comeback will arrive this June with sophomore release "Long Enough to Leave", out on the infallible Slumberland Records. Janglepop with sweet vocals but also rumbling guitars, infectiously bright garage of immediate effect, paired with pop harmonies, echoes of the Paisley Underground mixed with joyous, classic indiepop, The Mantles offer a relentless collection of ridiculously catchy tunes.
Without Feathers. Back to the UK. Blog followers know I adore Nat Johnson. I'm sure that if she records herself just singing the entire Sheffield phonebook, I'd love it. But the former songstress of beloved Monkey Swallows the Universe, currently a Figurehead, now has another project with Emma Kupa, ex Standard Fare currently in Ely, and solo artist Rory McVicar, now in IT. The trio began their adventure this March, but recently made available (name your price) their first three demos. Three guitars creating an instantly lovable stripped down affair, three harmonious voices intertwined. A gentle music supergroup on the works, folks!

Beach Vacation. And we our week proposals end going back to the States, with a quartet from Oak Harbor, Washington, formed after playing a high school talent show. They quickly got signed to Dufflecoat Records, and debuting with "Maritime" EP, out since April (digitally and physically). Fresh and undeniably attractive, this four tunes are hard to resist. In the league of bands under the "surf pop label", think on the happiest Wild Nothing version, Craft Spells or Beach Fossils, but with a bigger scope, that also makes you recall C86 bands or the most upbeat Swedish indiepop. Definitions aside, the promise of this first batch of songs is exciting, Beach Vacation are a name to follow closely from now on.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Primavera Sound 2013: my draft schedule

3rd attempt. Not even two weeks before Primavera Sound 2013 begins, and now we have (virtually) all the information needed to try to design our schedule for the Festival. Here it is!

Wednesday, May 22nd, Parc del Fòrum/Apolo
18:00 Aliment (Ray-Ban stage)
19:00 The Bots (Ray-Ban)
20:00 Guards (Ray-Ban)
21.00 The Vaccines (Ray-Ban)
22.10 Evans the Death (Salón Smint Myspace)
00.00 Cheatahs (La [2] de Apolo)
01.00 Veronica Falls (La [2] de Apolo)

Thursday, May 23rd, Parc del Fòrum

18:25 Wild Nothing (Heineken stage)
19:30 Savages (Pitchfork)
20:30 Tame Impala (Heineken)
21:45 Dinosaur Jr. (Primavera)
22:55 The Postal Service (Heineken)
00:15 Grizzly Bear (Primavera)
01:40 Phoenix (Heineken)
Possible changes of Evans the Death at 20.45 at Adidas Originals stage instead of Tame Impala and Menomena at 00.30 at Vice stage instead Grizzly Bear.

Friday, May 24th, Parc del Fòrum

16:00 Ethan Johns (Auditori Rockdelux)
18:10 Kurt Vile & The Violators (Heineken)
19:30 Daniel Johnston (Auditori)
21:30 The Breeders performing Last Splash (Primavera)
22:45 Local Natives (Pitchfork)
23:50 Daughter (Vice)
01:30 Blur (Heineken)
03.15 Titus Andronicus (Primavera)
The organizations has made some changes on the schedule... that didn't help one bit. The Auditori will be so full with Daniel Johnston that maybe watching Peace at the same time at the Primavera stage might be a good option. Plus several empty hours with no clear option to attend...

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)
No changes on this day, very unfortunate with the schedule. Missing Bored Spies, The Babies, Sr. Chinarro, Grushenka... and to make it worse, there are several moments when nothing really interests me, in particular in between Band of Horses and Camera Obscura. We'll see...

Sunday, May 26th, Apolo/Sala BARTS

19:30 The Orchids (Sala BARTS)
20:30 Julie Doiron (BARTS)
21:30 Sr.Chinarro (BARTS)
22.30 Come (BARTS)
Easy and, on paper, comfortable last day. Still missing for the Primavera als Parcs schedule, where there are a couple of bands I would like to see. Even despite some disappointments and several decissions to be made, it's a busy & exciting schedule, don't you think?