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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bloodbuzzed loves Shelflife Records!

Look what the postman just brought me! Aren't they gorgeous? So many wonderful records (Dub Noir, Majestic, The Garlands, When Nalda Became Punk, The Holiday Crowd plus Bart and Friends and Balloon Magic) from an equally amazing indie label.

Bloodbuzzed has officially started its Shelflife Records' collection!

Shelflife wonders! Photo: Bloodbuzzed

PD: Thanks for the "extra". Bloodbuzzed loves Shelflife Records!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Discoverer 67: new indie findings

New dose of band proposals this Sunday for your ears only, enjoy!

Bubblegum Lemonade. You know I love Strawberry Whiplash, the Glaswegian duo formed by Sandra and Lawrence "Laz" McCluskey. Today I want to introduce you the other Laz's band, something I've been postponing waiting for a new release. The wait is finally over. Almost a one-man-affair until now, Laz's has already given us three EPs and two albums, all in our beloved Matinée Recordings, between 2007 and 2010. And now he is back with more. "Have You Seen Faith?", out now is a flamboyant 7" of perfect jangle pop pills, full of killing guitars lines and choruses, that previews a forthcoming third album, "Some Like It Pop", set for release this autumn. Welcome back Laz!

Selebrities. Forget their unfortunate name. This three-piece (four live) based in Brooklyn debuted, after signing with Cascine Records, in 2010 with "Ladies Man Effect" EP, blossoming with single "We've Been Foolish" and first album "Delusions" in 2011. A growing buzz, touring with Craft Spells or Puro Instinct, and single "Night Heat" anticipated their sophomore LP, "Lovely Things", out this June. Cradled with Maria Usbeck's ethereal vocals, their atmospheric mixture of post-punk & synth pop, sounds like New Order injecting blood to The XX's ecstatic pace, or Kraftwerk swallowed by Mozzer's desperate romanticism. Hypnotic.
Night Flowers. Our last stop is in East London with a 2013 project product of Chris Hardy and Greg Ullyart, quickly expanded with Film Director Ryan Haysom, singers Hester Ullyart and Emma Stewart and drummer Zeb Budworth. That's all in terms of info available, but enough to embrace their first two songs (freely yours if you want it at their bandcamp) "Night Beds/North" unabashedly. A fragile 90's affair, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart immediately comes to mind on the first tune, while the female vocals on the second recalls on the dreamiest side of C-86 before guitars arrive. Here's a promising start.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Stop Awful Covers 13

Not even in California you can hide from the artwork disasters. Here's another episode of our Awful Covers Series, several terrible examples of what musicians shouldn't allow to go on their album sleeves... 

Arctic Monkeys: Do I Wanna Know?
Not really terrible, but again (remember their "White Album"?) very very little effort

TEEN: Carolina EP
Good band, but just terribly worrying bad taste with the image chosen

Melt Yourself Down:  Melt Yourself Down
Indeed, someone's brain was melting down while doing this

Aye Nako: Unleash Yourself
I disagree, you shouldn't unleash such bad taste for a cover...

Twin Peaks: Sunken
Ok, I admit I just don't get what's the artwork about. Mr. David Lynch please?

Devo: Something Else for Everybody
Devo "have to do" freaky covers I know, but that awful?

The Polyphonic Spre: Yes, It's True
Horrendous image, pink fonts...Yes, it's true, that's an album cover...

We are Scientists: Something About You
No animals on covers should be a rule. Can you see why? Hard to find a better example

Cansei de Ser Sexy: Planta
That's what I call taking things "too literally"

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"Generation of Swine", Dr. Gonzo vs. Reagan

Generation of Swine. Tales of Shame and Degradation in the 80's. The Gonzo Papers Vol. 2- Hunter S. Thompson

Of course, I couldn't go the States and not read Dr. Gonzo. It's a MUST DO thing for me. This collection of articles, his weekly columns for the San Francisco Examiner have a bit of everything, but what makes this book recommendable is clearly Hunter's analysis of American politics, covering the last years of Reagan's presidency, and the pre-campaign for the 88's elections.

Luckily, the political chronicle occupies by far the biggest part of the book. In pure Hunter's style. His trademark's fire-powered prose, fierce sarcasm and relentless will to shake readers minds by saying, without any fear, things "by its name". That, in the 80's, meant shouting out loud how miserable and despicable were Reagan and his cohort of politicians, aka as The Generation of Swine.

These Generation was evil indeed. Along with the equally abject Margaret Thatcher in UK, under Reagan's presidency the United States of America wrote some of their more shameful pages: the Iran-Gate, Nicaragua, their friendship with Saudi Arabia or the Afghan Talibans, and the spread of the worst form of capitalism, on its wildest, merciless and stupid version, the one that destroys millions of jobs, ruins lives everyday, mortgages the future... all in the name of privatization, speculation and the "holy" market (umm, how familiar). I have no doubt about it: is thanks to the "Reaganomics" and its British counterpart that economy ate politics, and as a consequence, we have a world that today is a chaotic jungle.

Hunter reveals himself as a surprisingly accurate political analyst and a noteworthy social commentator (his attack to TV preachers and the role of the media is brilliant). Behind all the hallucinated vision (but don't expect "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", nothing like that here) there's a devoted journalist to his task, give his thoughts about was going on in the States, foremost with regards to politics, always with his unique way of writing, but with a very clear message: Republicans are terrible beasts, but don't expect that much of Democrats, either. Politics in America are depressing. Yet there is space for cynicism and laughing in front of the doomed situation (from Oliver North's trial to Bush I run to presidency to how the democrat candidates keep self-destroying themselves) but even Hunter can't hide a feeling of defeat and disappointed resignation. The defeat of the American Dream, replaced by the greed of a few.

Unfortunately, there are two important "issues" that make the book rating lower that what it should for me. Well, the first is really my fault, because "Generation of Swine" demand you to know quite a bit of American politics, many secondary political actors appear or discussed about so the non-expert reader could feel a bit lost sometimes. The second one has to do with the "other" articles, that in my opinion aren't that interesting, working simply as random thoughts and very personal adventures, but lacking the punch our favourite Doctor used to have.

In any case, another remarkable work of the Doctor. How much do we need (in America, in Spain, in every part of the world) more Gonzo journalism, brave enough to reveal how ugly is the truth! We miss you badly.

SCORE: 6,75/10

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Discoverer 66: new indie findings

Today's round of group proposals is somewhat special, as it also serves me to pay a humble tribute to one of my favourite indie labels: Shelflife Records. The three bands below are all part of their amazing, never ending catalogue. This label can't do no wrong, so I'm sure you're going to like them!

Majestic. First, a rescued gem that also has introduced me to the music of not one but two bands. Let me explain. The Majestic 12 formed in Brea, California, in 1994, one of the first acts Shelflife signed. The then quintet released three 7" singles until 1997, when singer Jana Wittren left the band (joining The Arrogants). The remaining four members regrouped as Majestic, releasing two records on Shelflife (loving them too, more poppier and joyful), before going on indefinite hiatus since 2001 (Scott Schultz focused on his children's TV show, Yo Gabba Gabba). Now Shelflife presents the compilation "The Majestic 12 Years (1994-1998)" featuring everything the band's first incarnation recorded. 13 tunes that are pure perfection. Think on Galaxie 500 or Mazzy Star meeting Sarah Records, think on chiming guitars lightning dreampop atmospheres. Think on a forgotten classic you can't miss.

Dub Noir. And another rescue, now a band born in Columbus, Ohio, in 2003, by Joe Howell and Casey Immel-Brown. It's hard to find more information aside the remaining members of the band came and left, and 2010 the combo went on long-term hiatus. Now Shelflife just released what becomes their debut album, "Pick Your Century", collecting 11 tunes recorded between 2003-2006 on a very limited physical edition, just to make us run desperately to grab a copy. Indeed you should hurry, because the songs are infectious jangly wonders, recalling names like The Chills or The Go-Betweens, with scintillating guitars all over. Run!    
The Proctors. Formed by Gavin Priest in 1993, the original line-up's quartet debuted, after a demo, with "The Baby Blue EP" on Sunday Records that year, being followed by 1994' "Moon Song" 7" (as a trio after Stephen Davies left the group) until in 1996 their debut album "Pinstripes and Englishmen" was released. But in 1997, Gavin's involvement with other musical projects forced the British band to take a break. Luckily, the hiatus ended in 2009 with a new line-up (again a quartet) and an EP, on Cloudberry Records, of unreleased songs, followed by Shelflife singles "All The Books" and "I Need to Tell You" in 2011 and 2012. Delicious and delicate tunes, full of unforgettable melodies, sun-soaked choruses, that precede the forthcoming "Everlasting Light", new album due to September 24. Save the date on your calendars 'cause all signs point out we could be in front an indiepop masterpiece!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bloodbuzzed gets graduated!

Certified! Photos: Bloodbuzzed
Ok, a not very "serious", "self-referential", post today (apologies)... Hey! At least has to do with the blog, due to the field of study...

Yesterday afternoon I received the online certificate, so I can proudly say that Bloodbuzzed is now "officially graduated" (with distinction, I must add, If you wish I can give you the exact, and pardon my immodesty, pretty ace qualification) in Rock History (Part I) by the University of Rochester! I have to mention that my professor, Mr. John Covach is a great, very cool teacher.

The course, offered by the Coursera platform (what an excellent idea), began with the origins of rock to then focusing its lessons on American-British music on the period from 1955 to 1969. It is the first half of a two-course sequence. Needless to say, I'm also enrolled on Part II, that just started last week with the 70s (including progressive, jazz-rock and theatrical rock, I know, I know, ugghh) and should finish with the post-Nirvana era. So much fun ahead!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Best from the States?

Hi there! I'm just checking how Internet works after struggling with it the whole week and I couldn't resist to put this... Very curious, debatable and funny job by the folks of BuzzFeed. Needless to say, the "best places" are Georgia, Minnesota and Montana (imo). On the contrary, poor Iowa, Nevada and Virginia... What do you think?

A Map Of The Most Critically Acclaimed Rock Stars From Each State

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Folk, Pop & Emily Jane White in Berkeley!

Emily Jane White (+ Eliza Rickman & Foxtails Brigade). The Starry Plough, Berkeley, July 5th

How many times you go to a concert almost without planning it, not knowing 2/3 of the artists attending and end the night with the feeling it couldn't be better? These were exactly my feelings on Friday, after our second gig in California. We discovered Emily Jane White was playing in Berkeley a few days ago (thanks to the really recommendable websites The Bay Bridged and Do415). We participated on the online contest the latest offered, and surprisingly, we were invited to the gig! Big thanks to Do415 for the chance!

Meeting Emily Jane White.
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
To begin with, The Starry Plough didn't seem the best place to have a gig. An Irish pub with a history and charm (also good food), but small and, in principle, noisy, for what it was billed as triple night of chamber pop and Gothic folk. As we arrived, Emily Jane White (in a trio format) was doing soundcheck, and to our surprise, after finishing it, they had to dismount and leave their equipment around the nearest table to the stage. Uh-oh. Weird.

Eliza Rickman.
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
As the space limitations provided the opportunity, I didn't miss the occasion to approach Ms. White (yes, call it a "fan moment" if you wish), but I didn't expect to be treated with such kindness. We chatted for a while, she told me about her immediate future plans (new record coming, rockier than usual, and when asked about the equipment's "odd situation" she just told me "welcome to America"). What a friendly and open artist. The expectations of the night "rocketed" from that on.

First act of the night was Eliza Rickman, a completely unknown artist for me (friend of Ms.White), that quickly revealed herself as an impressive folk singer with a very delicate voice and an intimate proposal. She announced her show as her first live performance, but alone with her accordion or pianola she demonstrated that aside talent, she has tones of charm, something that I'm pretty sure had something to do with the audience being silent (with very few exceptions) the whole event. Name to keep an eye on, for sure.

Foxtails Brigade. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
After Rickman it was time for Foxtails Brigade, a SF quartet leaded by another singular musician/artist, the LA-born Laura Weinbach. Billed as soaring chamber-pop, the band excelled musically. Quirky, changing and impeccably executed melodies, making adventurous (including drumming with a bottle) and baroque pop (mean it on a positive way, lush & atmospheric), propelled with Weinbach's vocals. Another one to watch.

And it came the hour of Emily Jane White. I saw her three years ago at Minifestival 2010, but that time was a stark solo performance, alone with her acoustic guitar. Enough to fall in love with her voice and fingerpicking technique, but also to remember the disrespectful & annoying chatting audience. Luckily, that was not the case in Berkeley. Helped by a drummer-keyboardist (she also played the keyboard and guitars) and a cellist-guitarist, in this occasion I enjoyed her talents in full mode. Richer sounded to wrap around her intense and dark folk proposal.

Emily Jane White. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Openers "Oh Katherine" and "Black Silk" from her latest release to date, "Ode to Sentience", settled the tone. Moody tunes that mute along with her voice, at times longing, fragile and nude, others bluesy and rougher, always soulful and vibrant, the gig served Emily and her band to try several new compositions, where a rockier side seems to gain weight. "Faster than the Devil" or "My Beloved" sounded astounding, proving the new direction suits her really well. Despite being played live for the first time, this two, "Silence" or closer "The Roses" looked as strong as already known numbers as "Requiem Waltz" or the magnificent "A Shot Rang Out". Promising promising record coming ahead fellows. My only complaint? The gig was too short. Usually one of the best symptoms a night has been great. It was.