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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Back Online with Great Videos!

Finally left the road, what an amount of amazing experiences! And while we enter the countdown to return back home, here's a quick post with a few videos you shouldn't miss. Enjoy!

We start with The National's new clip for "Graceless". The song is a blast and now it has a fantastically fitting visual companion. The contrast between the poignant lyrics and the pretty dumb party of five is terrific.

From a favourite to another, Sharon Van Etten has debuted a new song called "Tarifa" while at Pickathon festival, doing a video session in the woods for the Seattle radio station KEXP. Goosebumps (as usual). 

And completing the trio here's an exciting return. Cults is ready to release their sophomore album "Static", and judging from their first tune "I Can Hardly Make You Mine", is going to be another MUST!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Going to Meet the Man

Tomorrow begins a very special weekend ahead. Bloodbuzzed will meet the mastermind who created this masterpiece...

The guy who penned this deliciously wonderful tune... The amazing musician behind this gem... And many many others...

We are going to the spend the weekend with Jeremy Jensen, Bloodbuzzed meets The Very Most's man! Boise here we come!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Amoeba, music lover's paradise

Amoeba's logo. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Now that I've been able to post the pictures of our trip to Southern California it's also time to unveil our several visits to another must-see on L.A.: the Amoeba store. What an incredible place!Who cares about walk of fame's, Hollywood stars, chaotic cities and traffic jams where there's such a paradise awaiting for you?
Heaven, I'm in heaven...
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
So, it's time for a question I always wanted to solve.
What's in my bag?

My bag, "deconstructed"
Photo: Bloodbuzzed

To begin with:
Sleater-Kinney- Dig Me Out & One Beat
Seapony- Falling
Adam Green- Friends of Mine
Dum Dum Girls- End of Daze EP
On happy collector's mode
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Ex Cops- True Hallucinations
Rose Melberg- Portola
Fanfarlo- Rooms Filled with Light

Plus three collector's gems from personal favourites:
R.E.M. - Up and New Adventures In Hi-Fi special editions
The Divine Comedy- A Secret Story special edition

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Discoverer 68: new indie findings

Back with another round of great new discoveries before hitting the road again, enjoy!

Radiation City. Despite their gig at Phono del Sol was disappointing (barely three songs due to technical issues) here's a band you shouldn't miss. Founded in Portland, Oregon, in 2009, initially as a duo, but quickly expanding themselves to a quintet, debuting in February 2011 with LP "The Hands That Take You", with US tours and EP "Cool Nightmare" following that same year. Finally, sophomore release "Animals in the Median", just out now, is here to confirm here's a unique group. Blending lush instrumentation with northern soul, subtle electronic layers and pop harmonies, Radiation City sound like no other, like Stereolab and Astrud Gilberto kidnapped by Brian Wilson. Very special.

Skittle Alley. Among the indiepop goldmine that is Dufflecoat Records today I want to highlight the music of musician Fanou, hailing from Limoges, France. This one man band debuted in 2004 with several releases in wonderful labels like Anorak, Jigsaw, Indonesian Hey Ho or the aforementioned Dufflecoat to date (can't recommend you enough to check them out now). His latest release, out just now, is a delicious EP entitled "The Memory of a Smile", a gentle, intimate affair in the vein of The Field Mice or Another Sunny Day. Little gem.
Franny & Zooey. With that name it was a matter of time they will get my attention. But there's much more than just an unmissable Salinger reference here. Close friends Juan Julio Peña and Victoria Linares hail from Dominican Republic and a year ago decided to form a band. With Brian Senior completing the trio they put out debut song “Remember (Being Fake)” past summer, and now they return with debut EP "Bananafish". A lot of twee and irresistibly catchy indiepop mixed with surf hints and a laid back vibe, there's a lot to love & expect next from this promising literate combo.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A glorious picnic with The National

The National (+ Daughter). Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, August 11th 

The National live. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
... At a cemetery. Doesn't sound incredibly strange to you?  And what does it have to do with music, and with The National in particular? I completely shared your feelings before the concert, but it does have an explanation...

The image of a gig queue transformed into a picnic is so shocking for a Spaniard concertgoer like me. People armed with glasses, blankets, towels, chairs, bottles and of course all sort of drinks and food... what is this all about? Aren't we going to a gig? Plus, the concert was at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, as the name suggests... a cemetery where some entertainment celebrities rest, including Johnny Ramone. A thousand questions about the audience behavior and the development of the concert itself were raised, but they all got solved quickly.

Picnic time! Photo: Bloodbuzzed
First, the "picnic issue" turned out to be a fantastic solution: the ones looking forward for the gig (the core, die-hard fans, I guess) in the forefront as usual, while the rest enjoyed their meals & drinks in a more chilled way, just a few meters behind the standing crowd. As a result, the mood of the night was relaxed and pleasant, the only focus being what it should be: the music. And second, the "cemetery issue". The audience was respectful and careful, and the sound of both bands was fantastic all night. Our concerns regarding the place vanished, replaced with a very special sensation. The vibes of an unforgettable night.

Daughter. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Support act Daughter opened the event with the sun coming down the Hollywood Cemetery. Among the new best discoveries and records of the year so far to me, I was really looking forward to watch them live, as my first experience with them at Primavera Sound 2013 was quite frustrating. Not this time. The British trio proved that tunes from their debut album "If You Leave" are haunting, a crossover between intimate folk-rock and the stark minimalistic beauty of The XX. If only, a minor complaint would be the sometimes repetitive percussive sounds, no doubt a powerful rhythm section fire-powering Elena's delicate voice, but perhaps swallowing her just for the sake of putting more muscle to their music live.

A real "Big Three". Photo: Bloodbuzzed
And then came the hour of The National, after a trailer presenting the "Mistaken for Strangers" documentary (this is Hollywood, after all) and the mesmerizing "Magic Chords" from SharonVan Etten giving the entrance to the band members. Since the opening couplet, "I Should Live in Salt" and "Don’t Swallow the Cap", the bar was set really high, the first one gaining weight and punch live, while the second highlighting the multiple talents of the Dessner brothers (their backing voices ever-present all night).

I won’t continue this chronicle with a song-by-song analysis, it would become overlong. Besides, I don’t know that many superlative adjectives in English to go on without repeating myself for 25 fantastic tunes on a concert that went beyond the two hours. This was my fifth time at a National's gig, and in the last three times I have attended them with different people with very different music tastes and levels of knowledge about the band, but the reaction has been always the same, summarized in the recurrent comment: wow, how good they are!

Screaming dandy. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Indeed they are. I don’t know if it’s their sophisticated, serious image, but my guess is that people consider The National a “studio band”, that has to be a bit boring or too ecstatic live. So, when infallible tunes like “Mistaken for Strangers” or “Squalor Victoria” (the crowd went wild), newbies do not only watch how stunning songs are played, but also a band that really knocks you out. This is particularly the case with Matt’s performance. The elegant gentleman, dressed & singing like a dandy, erupting like a roaring beast when the song requires it. Sorry punks and metal-heads, but it is not about how much you scream, but that when you do it does “mean” something. Whether is their fierce, straightforward side, like top-notch "Sea of Love" (expected greatness and that’s exactly what I found), or is refined, subtler version, like "Demons", there's always plenty to get attracted to, and a pulsating beat (National fans know how important is the unique drumming from Bryan Devendorf) a tension that propels the tunes to another dimension.

As expected, "Trouble Will Find Me" got the major focus, with 10 tunes overall on the gig’s setlist, which is a clear sign of the group’s confidence in the new material. The intensity of “Pink Rabbits” and “I Need My Girl” (that Matt announced saying he could also sing about less miserable/ darker issues) were among the best moments of the show, while “Humiliation”, with a mind-blowing finale, or the superb “This Is the Last Time” and “Graceless” just confirmed the masterful pieces they are. Even "Heavenfaced", for me one of the less inspired new songs, chosen especially for such a “special venue”, improved dramatically live.

Band on fire. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
But The National was also generous on "High Violet", performing many of its winning cards, like “Anyone’s Ghost”, "Afraid of Everyone", "Conversation 16", “Bloodbuzz Ohio” and “England”, received with an overwhelming response of the public (very good taste you have fellow Americans). A couple of incursions into “Alligator” with killer “Abel” (another tune reinforcing the idea of a shocking band for newcomers) and “All the Wine” (that “like every Californian” line), plus some of “Boxer” masterpieces, like “Slow Show”, that allowed a cheerful Matt to show his range as a showman (they were in a relaxed mood and funny remarks, fuelled also by the place, abounded) commenting how surprised he was this song was being used for weddings despite the references to “his penis” in the lyrics, or personal favorite “Fake Empire”, one of THE SONGS, that closed the gig before the encore…

Acoustic National. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Ah, the encore. As someone already “initiated” on The National live, I knew this is usually reserved to the “Matt’s goes crazy” territory. And it was, of course, with the explosions of “Mr. November” and “Terrible Love”. But what I didn’t expect was “About Today” to start the last batch of songs, and the end with a choral (Daughter members included) rendition of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”. Absolutely devastating* for this humble writer.

An afternoon that started with doubts ended being a glorious picnic. Simply one of the best gigs of my life, thanks to the greatest band (in my opinion) of the planet today.

*Yes, that means tears…

Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Mainlines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste", gonzo music journalism

Mainlines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste. A Lester Bangs Reader- Lester Bangs (compilation edited by John Morthland)

Hunter S. Thompson writing about music. That's what's has been going in my mind while reading Lester Bangs for the first time. A long-time pending must-read in my agenda, I was more than curious to get myself into the writings of one of the most (if not the most)  recognised music journalists ever. After finishing "Mainlines...", now I can say I understand the myth. Reading Bangs is letting yourself go into a unique, several times pretty wild ride, about music. And much more.

This compilation of Bangs writings selected and edited by his friend and colleague in Creem Magazine (he was the editor in 1974-75), John Morthland, is divided in five chapters, with the clear goal of offering not only the widest possible selection of Bangs works, but also a general scope of the journalist's prose. There's sarcasm, rage, pure vitriol (haven't read a book with so many insults and expletive words), as well as an unparalleled passion on the topics he wrote about. Unmatched. And there's also an ambitious, without boundaries, aim to cover almost everything in his articles. It all reveals, in my opinion, a stunningly lucid, although quite suffering, thirsty and relentless mind. I think the quote "The pencil is mightier than the sword" is attributed to Shakespeare. But it fits much better to Lester Bangs. With him, the pencil looks like a complete arsenal.

That acid, uncontrolled, pulsating and extreme way of writing is incredibly addictive in the stand-out chapters of "Mainlines..": "Hypes and Heroics" and "Pantheon", the ones that are devoted to music. What a hallucinated, surreal, edgy music feast! I always considered myself a very though critic (maybe even more with films and books), but compared with Bangs, I'm as soft as Bambi. There are several articles where you can feel Bangs is so close to lose himself in the midst of chaos and continuously linking ideas... but somehow he always manages to make his point, loud, clear... and poignantly. Dylan, Stones (what a bitter, merciless compendium of essays he devotes to them), Fleetwood Mac, ELO... proceed with care if you are fan of any of these... 

Unfortunately, I think the remaining three chapters (minority of pages compared with the previous two) are way less interesting. With the exception of a couple of articles/essays on the "Travelogues" section, the one describing his trip to Jamaica searching Bob Marley, pure Gonzo, and his impossible conversation with Hendrix, and the moments of brilliance in "Raving, Raging and Rebops" accounting the roots of punk and the endless discussion of the current state of music (compared with the past), these chapters look a hodgepodge to me. Sure, it serves well the purpose (also with the teenager passages of initial section "Drug Punk") of showing Bangs "views of the world", as there's a bit of everything there: relationships, drugs, fame, politics, culture, future, sex... But the articles are more eloquent in revealing Bangs frustrations and pessimistic vision on almost everything surrounding him than getting really anywhere in terms of writing. I believe the last article of the compilation, "Trapped by the Mormons", summarizes it all very well. 

In any case, don't miss the chance of reading Lester Bangs pieces on music. Like the best records and/or songs, I want more!

SCORE: 7/10

Life On the Road: end of the first route!

Safe and sound, back in College City after ending our first route. Near 8 hours on the road... and that's just the beginning

Here's our soundtrack through the I-5, 429 miles (688 km)...
I-5 live. Photo: Bloodbuzzed

Singles Going Steady- Buzzcocks
The Soft City - The Soft City
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts- Cold War Kids
In Your Room- Cameras
21 Singles 1984-1998- The Jesus and Mary Chain
Quiet Heart.The Best of The Go-Betweens- The Go-Betweens

The Go-Betweens, what a band! More posts coming these days after having some rest!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Monday, August 5, 2013

"On The Road", life in miles per hour

On The Road- Jack Kerouac

This is not just "another" read for me. As a matter of fact, this is one of MY BOOKS, so this couldn't be a "regular" review. To talk about a literary myth for so many people seems a bit pointless imo, as I can't pretend to offer a new, revealing analysis of a novel that has been, so rightly so, canonized as one of the must-reads of the past century and a countercultural reference. So I can only offer something I do know better than anyone else regarding this book: my relation with it.

I was 16 years old, having holidays in Andalusia with my family (plus my aunts and cousins, a little wild bunch of teenager-kids) and to be honest, a bit bored. Never been the party-goer type (as my older relatives there) and I couldn't stand some sort of "family behaviors" (looong story that doesn't really fit here). Anyway, one day I was wandering around the town with my father when we found a bookstore (he was looking for a local author he couldn't find in Barcelona), but we also got something for me. That something was Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" and (I don't care if it sounds corny or movie-bland to you) showed me a new world, opened me a door, still wide open. The truth is that I chose the book because by then I was beginning an obsession with a very particular list (everyone who knows me knows about my list-addiction problem), a quite pompous list on The Best Books of the 20th Century, of course done by a very important editorial, etc, etc*. Fitzgerald's was number 2.

Shocked as it was by the novel, after finishing it I didn't know what was going to be the next one. My father had the answer prepared for me. "I saw you list and I remembered I had this one at home. I brought it with me because I want it to read it again. Maybe you should have a look to it. I think it would like you". Of course, the novel was "On The Road". Boom! I crossed "the door" opened by Fitzgerald and never looked back. Next came "The Subterraneans", "The Catcher On the Rye", "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter"... and a never-ending list (more or less my own) since then. Bye-bye silly (other would say canonical) Spanish and Catalan high-school reads. Hello American literature.

But "On the Road" was much more than that. I didn't just like the book. It became a sort of companion. A landmark, a myth, a way of acknowledging there's, or at least there can be, something more. A remembrance that life should be lived, or at least could be lived, differently. A very special gift I gave once, an also an always desired trip... that finally I'm doing, with the best company I could ever imagine. So what better time to re-read than when coming to California, so ready and eager to be "on the road" trying to follow some of Moriarty and Paradise's steps?

But I do admit I was afraid too. Would the book resist the proof of time? Would I have grow-up too much for it? What if I don't feel the same anymore while reading? Soon I realised I didn't have to worry. Not only time hasn't taken its toll on Kerouac's work and what's contained in its pages is still valid today. No, it goes beyond that. What was a revelation for a teenager now has become a serious slap in the face for a grown-up. The innocence, the naivety is gone, replaced by what sometimes is harsh truth. Because behind all the craziness and fascinating trips around the vast and dreamy landscape of America, there's an individual rebellion of two souls willing to live their own lives, dying every time they find themselves living the lives of the others (the American Dream, the way that "live should be", as we have been told and learnt). The road is the only place where they are capable to articulate their freedom. Some measure their existence in money, others in properties or the number of kids. Paradise and Moriarty in miles per hour. The destination doesn't matter, what matters is to keep moving, trying to find oneself. Still a very particular lesson for everyone. Or at least, for me. Boom again!

SCORE: This book changes lives   

* Of course, I still have that list.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Math and Physics Club & Alpaca Sports new wonders!

If yesterday was folk, today I have to write about two wonderful indiepop comebacks.

First, a most welcomed return after three years of silence. Math and Physics Club are back with single "Long Drag/Across the Paper", just out on Matinée Recordings (yeah I know, Bubblegum Lemonade and now this?, the explanation is simple: the label is always on a roll). The release precedes the Seattle band's new album, "Our Hearts Beat Out Loud", out later in the year. The title track, "Long Drag" is simply stunning, pulse-beating, addictive and joyful (how many times I have written that hand-claps can make the difference?) and a killer chorus. In contrast, b-side "Across the Paper" is a mellower, more intimate affair immediately recalling Allo Darlin' with their ukulele. Charming. What a comeback!
And second, Alpaca Sports. AGAIN. "He Doesn't Even Like You" is their new single and, AGAIN, is a gorgeous, naturally irresistible, and catchy as hell pop tune (backed with a Tiny Fireflies remix of "I Was Running"). One more song and I will start to think the Swedish have sold their soul to the devil (indiepop devil, that is) and that's why they keep releasing gem after gem effortlessly (or at least, that's what it seems). Please, Alpaca Sports, release them together so we can finally have them compiled! Plus, and needless to say, have to watch them live...

Alela Diane & Basia Bulat are back!

July is almost over, but before August arrives, I have to highlight some of the most exciting new releases, announcements known in the last days... some favourites included! Just for a matter of music styles/genre, I divided this post in two. First, folk, with an indiepop update coming as quickly as I can...

Two of my favourite folk artists are returning to scene. Alela Diane's new album, "About Farewell" just came out the last week of June and, for what I just been able to hear, it looks like an intense, confessional ("Blood On the Tracks anyone?) and devastating piece of music. Can't wait to listen it fully. Here's the outstanding homonym track, "About Farewell".

And speaking about intensity and incredible voices, a major announcement (at least to me). My beloved Basia Bulat is back! She recently posted on her website that the new album's title will be "Tall Tall Shadow" will be released on October 1st, alongside with the elegant, solemn artwork of the LP. Judging for the title track you can hear below, its going to be another unmissable one. What an impressive finale the tune has! What a voice! Counting down the days!