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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"The Da Vinci Code", Silly Childish Games

The Da Vinci Code- Dan Brown

I was forced to read this book. I had to because I’m enrolled on a Professional Reading course and it was part of our homework. And I was quite scared to start reading…Terrified. Let’s just say (being extremely polite) my expectations were quite low from the very beginning. I was so right, what an atrocious shame “The Da Vinci Code” is.

Dan Brown is a disastrous writer. It’s hard for me to think on a worse pen than his. Surprisingly lame and empty, with a never ending amount of Wikipedia descriptions (places, historic sites, and pieces of art abound) and the WEAKEST effort on the characters I have ever seen (read) in my entire life. Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu could had been easily replaced by character X and character Y, and the result would have been exactly the same. Secondary roles include an albino troubled villain, a mysterious butler, an eccentric millionaire devoted to find the Holy Grail, some high members of the church and the police. Yeah, you're right. It looks like "Clue", the traditional game, mixed with a bit of "Carmen Sandiego" and "Where’s Waldo". As a matter of fact, it looks too much like them. Childish games.

If character development and author’s prose are pathetic, at least the story development has to be amazing and absorbing, one might think. Well, I guess that’s debatable and personal. Did you enjoy series like "X-Files" or "Friday the 13th"? Then you will probably enjoy "The Da Vinci Code". The whole book is structured in the same way. Take notes, here's the recipe for a best-seller. Chapter begins, main characters are in front of “something relevant” that turns out to be a sudoku, a puzzle. They think about it, they speculate. Then someone has the illumination and finds the answer. But, while there’s an enigma that’s resolved, another one is created. Repeat the structure for more than a hundred chapters. Add a glimpse of a thriller so there’s a menace pressing the resolution of the detectivesque mysteries, plus a completely unbelievable plot, a worldwide conspiracy, that involves Opus Dei and the Catholic Church. And you got it. Don't forget to sell the rights to Hollywood as soon as you can.

I’m so puzzled this book was such a huge phenomenon, one that was the main reason of the spreading fever of this sort of pseudo-religious-historic novels, because to me is just silly and pointless. As I assume you have read the book and/or seen the movie (something that I will try to avoid at all costs) I guess I’m not spoiling much. You built the biggest of plot against humanity ever put in paper just to retreat at the very end? Was Brown too scared about the Church reaction? Did he realise the whole plot is absurd? The haunt of the Grail, the use of the Knights Templar and the art of Da Vinci might provide a morbid curiosity for many, but it all converges on a happy ending that is absolutely ridiculous. Maybe reading the book helps people to be more interested about history and art, or perhaps contributes on people giving a thought on the “official history” and its construction. I don’t know, I’m just trying to figure out arguments on why the book was such a success. To me it was just a waste of time.

SCORE: 1/10

Monday, October 28, 2013

Satellite's Gone: Bye Lou Reed


Satellite's gone up to the skies
Thing like that drive me out of my mind 
I watched it for a little while 
I like to watch things on TV 

Satellite of love satellite of love Satellite of love satellite of 

Satellite's gone way up to Mars 
Soon it will be filled with parking cars 
I watch it for a little while 
I love to watch things on TV 

Satellite of love satellite of love Satellite of love satellite of 

I've been told that you've been bold 
with Harry, Mark and John 
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to Thursday 
with Harry, Mark and John 

Satellite's gone up to the skies 
Thing like that drive me out of my mind 
I watched it for a little while 
I love to watch things on TV 

Satellite of love satellite of love Satellite of love satellite of Satellite of love Satellite of love Satellite of love Satellite of love Satellite of love Satellite of love

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Discoverer 74: new indie findings

Another Sunday full of amazing new indie proposals for you ears only, enjoy !

The Julie Ruin. We start with a NYC quintet formed in 2010 and leaded by Kathleen Hanna, riot grrrl myth, feminist activist and former lead singer of the seminal bands of like Bikini Kill and Le Tigre. As a matter of fact, Hanna released a solo album entitled the Julie Ruin in 1998, but until 2010 the project didn't acquire its final, full band incarnation, with a first performance arriving that December. In 2012, they released the song "Girls Like Us, and the debut album, "Run Fast" is out since September. As expected, the album is fire and fun, vital and tough. The B-52 fuelled by the punk sharpness and wisdom of a 20 years spanning and honest career. Welcome back, Kathleen, we needed you!

The Meaning of Life. Still in NYC to meet a Brooklyn-based trio, born through an ad in 2012 and creating their only release to date, "Play Fuego" EP, during that summer, preceded by the advance single "Laura V.". The release, that you can still grab (name your price) at their bandcamp is an exciting blend of dream pop with the more melodic version of shoegaze, where the layers of reverb and noise doesn't attempt to bury the thrilling vocals of Marta DeLeon, which imo recalls to my beloved Beth Orton, but instead propelling her to wide, cinematic, and haunting spaces.

Trick Mammoth. Only two songs, but I already know I have found a band to love (thanks to the great Just Music that I Like blog for the recommendation). Hailing from Dunedin, New Zealand, they formed in 2012, and after some late-year demos, the trio of Adrian Ng, Millie Lovelock and Sam Valentine recorded their first full album in mid July of 2013, which is entitled "Floristry" and will be out in late November via Fishrider Records but... only in NZ! We Europeans will have to wait until February 2014 through Occultation Recordings! That's unfair, that's a tragedy! Judging by the mind blowing first single "Delphine (With a Purpose)/Pinker Sea" available at their bandcamp the wait is going to be excruciating... Immediate but intriguing indiepop, delicate (Millie's voice is disarming) and uplifting. Love at first hear. Want the record now!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Festival Weekend. Defend Culture, Culture, Culture!

This country (I don't mind whether you are thinking on Spain or Catalonia, the result is the same) is a complete shame: corruption, lies, manipulation and an undisguised attempt to destroy the rights of the "regular citizen". Don't want to go "higher" and write about the European Union, not after seeing how are they reacting after the Lampedusa drama, because to me is just embarrassing to think I once was a serious supporter of the EU ideals, now an unmasked bunch of miserable people trying to design, rule our lives in their own benefit... I need a weekend to take shelter and hide, and to do that the best option, at least for me, has always been culture. Culture and education are the answer, and are bound together, against the bastards. Both needed to be defended (we do have a villain to fight against you know, it's called Wert, and looks like a vampire from a very dark age on Spanish history, not that long ago). Defended by you.

And in that sense this weekend is an ideal one. Two amazing festivals are taking place in Barcelona. Yesterday the 11th edition of the Beefeater In-Edit began (yes, music films are back in town!), and tomorrow the second BIS Festival (a fantastic idea where local labels gather to show the world what they do and why) will open its doors too. Music documentaries and local independent music, what a powerful and exciting combination. Would you like to defend culture? Here's a double option. You only need to get up and join what's going on in your city...      

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Indie Anthology 30: essential songs

I've been meaning to go back posting on the Indie Anthology series for ages, but September and October are being very stressful and frustrating months. Anyway, I guess I needed a reason to be cheerful & a little push to recover the "section", and today I found one, in the form of a gentle gesture from a wonderful friend.... who happens to be and indiepop wizard (yeah, this is going to get a bit emotional, too). Ladies and gentlemen, there's an indiepop classic below, so prepare you ears...

Song: Good Fight Fighting
Artist: The Very Most
Year: 2008

Is this my favourite tune from The Very Most? The most representative from their best release imo? The first one I heard perhaps? Or the most cheerful song of their immaculate career? The answer to all these questions is no. But "Good Fight Fighting" has a special meaning for me since summer. Hear how the mind blowing chorus flows into the second verse as if they were born together. How a toy piano can make your hair bristle. Or how voices can intertwine and become a shining harmony. Hear. Listen. Enjoy. The music of The Very Most stops time. But aside from being another perfect pop tune coming from Jeremy Jensen's mastermind, "Good Fight Fighting" to me also means a privileged moment. An instant of unexpected intimacy shared only with me and my girlfriend while TVM was rehearsing at Jeremy's home, and they came with a stunning rendition of this tune. One that made everyone on the room say: that was a good one, wasn't it? But it wasn't just that. It was a incredibly brilliant interpretation of a fantastic song from someone I'm so honoured, proud and lucky to call my friend. What an special moment.

Plus, the video is as charming as the song.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"The Silent Season of a Hero", Sportsman Talese

The Silent Season of a Hero- Gay Talese

Back to Gay Talese. Fourth book reviewed and so happy to recover the new journalist maestro (although I don't believe he would agree) in full form after the disappointing "A Writer's Life".

At least in Spain, if there's a sub-genre of journalism that really needs to be transformed is sports-writing. Here is simply pathetic, a bunch of lies and silliness, just for the sake of filling pages and pages in order to complete the length of the newspaper, sadly, the ones who get more readers (way more) than the "regular" ones. It's extremely hard for me to think on a sport journalist that I could qualify of attractive in his/her writings. Don't even get me started on interviews or press conferences: there's nothing pointless or boring enough to compare with...

Then reading "The Silent Season of a Hero" should be mandatory for any sports writer. Gay Talese has the extremely rare ability of making coaches and players interesting. He is even capable of making golf intriguing, which, to my view, is something extraordinary and before reading him, absolutely impossible. In some way, he has the talent to downsize the heroics surrounding sports and let the person behind show up. There's a story behind each one of us. You just have to be patient and be ready for when it appears. He call it "the art of hanging out". I would correct him and say: the art of writing absorbing human journalism. Whether it is the mafia, Frank Sinatra, Selma racial tensions or Joe Di Maggio, Talese is always there, putting into paper real flesh and bone emotions.

Of course, the collection, with almost 40 pieces, is uneven, but it is something that can be really forgotten considering the book is structured on a chronological order. First pieces start dating from 1948, so despite being quite far from the masterpieces you'll read afterwards, you can see a young Talese already showing his range: care for detail, for the glimpse you might miss out if you're not looking properly, and an unparalleled ability to create a bond, an empathy with the character of his piece. In particular with losers.

Defeated boxing champ Floyd Patterson, the troubled Yankees on a forgettable season, the referee Ruby Goldstein, the unknown Jose Torres or the fading myth of Muhammad Ali in the memorable "Ali in Havana". Talese can find a story anywhere. My only complaint about the book is that some of the most memorable pieces were already known, as they were included on the unmissable, absolute MUST-HAVE "Portraits and Encounters", so if you already have that book, the impact will be way lower. If not, go for sportsman's Talese as soon as you can.

SCORE: 7.5/10 (6,25 if you already have "Portraits and Encounters")

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Discoverer 73: new indie findings

Sunday has arrived, so it's time for new indie proposals, enjoy !

The Secret History. For a long time on my radar, it was just a matter of proper listening to feature this Brooklyn-based septet. Formed in 2006 when songwriter Michael Grace Jr and four other members of his previous combo My Favorite received an answer from Lisa Ronson (daugther of glam's myth Mick Ronson) to their ad placed in the Village Voice seeking a "tragic female voice". After the final addition of Jamie Babich (Nouvellas), their first release, "Desolation Town" EP arrived in 2008, followed by the debut album "The World That Never Was" on 2010. And since June we have "Americans Singing in the Dark", sophomore LP where the band offers a bombastic dose of their cinematic, moody, multifaceted and extremely rich indiepop. Think on impossible combinations like Roxy Music meeting Comet Gain, or Morrissey playing along The New Pornographers. Yes, that big. The Secret History has a lot to offer, a music world to discover.
The French Pop Dream. A little gem arrived to our physical mail address a week ago (thanks!). The first release of Duncan Steer's (Pastel Collision/Kaleida) new project, alongside with French singer Anne Brugiere. At the beginning of 2013, the musicians found they were living very close one from the other in London, and decided to make a record with her singing in English. "Eurostar, the Musical" EP anticipates a full album (and a visual companion) to be released on 2014. If the LP is near as good as this sweet, romantic, full of that dreamy 60s vibe, we might be in front of a forthcoming masterpiece. A pop delight.

Driving Mrs. Satan. Ok metal heads, this is for you!!... Oh well, maybe... anyway, I'm introducing you this Italian trio, originally from Naples but based in London and their curious project. After a house change in a record-hot summer, Giacomo Pedecini renewed his love for heavy metal (¡¡¡) but thinking on a completely new form. Alongside Ernesto Nobili and Claudia Sorvillo they built an indiepop version of Helloween’s "Never Say Die" and formed the band. The song was included on their first release, a digital EP in April of 2012 together with covers of ACDC’s "Hells Bells", Black Sabbath’s "Never Say Die" and Judas Priest’s "Living After Midnight". And now they are back with a complete album, "Popscotch", out in November on Agualoca Records, where they even manage to make Metallica's "Battery" sound like a great shiny sweet pop tune. They keep the lyrics and somehow the melodic structures, but the tunes are completely (luckily) new, showing sometimes a jazzy, others pure pop range, but always delicate, seductive (Claudia's voice is a killer) and inviting. Raise your hands, shake you head and yell: Long live to the new Brothers of Indiepop Metal!  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Mooch", Appetite for (Self)-Destruction

Mooch- Dan Fante

It's my third "encounter" with Dan Fante, so I can't say I didn't know what to expect. Maybe it's the fact I read Milan Kundera's utterly forgettable "Laughable Loves" before and the contrast was so extreme. In what regards to tone, theme and style, "Mooch" is familiar territory and there's little to be surprised... but it's so simple: reading Dan Fante is such a blast!

It's the black hole again. The kamikaze, suicidal tendencies. The feeling of supreme desperation and the need to hold on something too tight... you already lost it. Fante doesn't write, he punches the reader, he beats you and leaves you breathless, wondering for some relief, some little mercy and hope for his character Bruno Dante (too real alter-ego), and make no mistake, also for you, as you’ll find yourself scared to turn the page and find there's more real horror awaiting you.

In “Mooch” though, it seems there's a little light at the end of the long and dark-crazy tunnel. First there's a salesman job at Orbit Computer Supplies, nothing remotely similar to a position you would dream of, but still a place to get stable and earn some money. Fante depicts the job with a medical precision, but don’t think on Bukowski here, this is not “Post Office”. Orbit is frightening, his work colleagues are frightening and the twelve-step program is always there. But for a while, Bruno really seems he could be capable to succeed. He's sober, he's good at it, and he falls in love. Well, kind of. Is that love? Another insane addiction? Masochism? Or just another way to push him towards self-destruction? Jimmi is perennial attraction and also the road to perdition. Bruno flirts with disaster. Then he lets the disaster come in. And the gates of hell are wide open again.

As it happened with “Chump Change” or “Fante: A Family’s legacy of…” the terrible, ill-fated turns into a surveillance tale. It doesn’t have a redeeming quality this time, because is Bruno who is finally trying to get in control of his life, there’s a change, tortuous and full of struggles, but a change. The world “built” around him is shaky and explosive, and, as the reader can expect, fails him. Nevertheless, Bruno will probably manage. The "Chump Change" coward who preferred self-destruction instead of confronting its fears is now gone, replaced by someone brave enough to try living. I’m very dubious to call it a positive, or just a hopeful ending, but at least “Mooch” leaves you, at least wanting to believe, a future could exist for Dante.

As the story, Dan Fante’s prose take no prisoners. You are in, or you are out. It’s straightforward, rough, crystal clear and powerful. If you read Fante, you’ll be there, right in the middle of a suffocating L.A., and you probably get hurt. Like his father John Fante (I see the reasons of “Mooch” being compared with “Ask the Dust”) his prose will grab you as very few writers can. I strongly recommend you to read Dan Fante. Dare you to read him.

SCORE: 7,5/10

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"About Time", Charming Sci-Fi Rom-Com

About Time

Who would have guessed? Me liking a Richard Curtis' film! Me being moved by the director who perpetrated the crimes against humanity that are "Love Actually" or "Notting Hill". But I can't lie: I enjoyed "About Time" a lot. And despite the flaws and the sugary fat tricks that surround the second half of the film, putting it on the verge of collapse, the final feeling is of genuine satisfaction.

This could have been a predictable rom-com with several, potentially worrying cliches (that England's fakey postcard, the lack of economic strife, the slightly dubious female roles, the syrupy soundtrack)... but somehow the shortcomings are forgettable and totally forgivable. Because "About Time" is a charmer.

The use of the time travel sci-fi (freaks don't get too excited, not that kind of movie) resource gives the film a new dimension, much refreshing at first, really funny at least for more than half of the movie (laughs are granted, and I mean laughing, not acting like an idiot pretending acting as if you were having fun, because everyone around you seems to do so, particularly girls, in front of a silly rom-com with Julia Roberts, Richard Gere or even more annoying, Hugh Grant), and by the time the movie shifts and gets more serious, and admittedly, things could get ruined by the tear-jerking excesses, you are too engaged and pleased with it.

And that engagement from the audience has to do with the plot, a lightweight digression, with hints of some somber thoughts on what does it means love and family, that mixes comedy and drama with balance, although the last half of the film clearly aims to reach (a bit too much probably) the viewer emotionally, it's full of remarkable scenes. Many are quite hilarious, as a the time travel device is used wisely by Curtis, who despite not being interested at all to offer an explanation, creates several memorable situations. And some others are undeniably loveable (the blind date, meaning that in a literal way).

And of course, it also has to do with the actors. Domnhall Gleeson is the perfect, uncharacteristically (because he is not what girls would call handsome) charismatic star of the movie, geeky, quirky, clumsy in what regards to sentimental issues and utterly recognisable (men's solidarity here). Rachel McAdams is adorable as Mary, even more because she has a type of job that I would die for and thought I could only see that on screen on a Woody Allen's film (no spoiler but it does allow the couple of having a very cute dining scene). And Bill Nighy, Tim's dad, is just the older version of Jarvis Cocker, so he rocks, as usual. The chemistry is terrific and makes every scene involving at least two of them memorable.

As I said before, not everything works. Kit Kat's subplot, the lunatic sister fragment, squeaks. Something that, to a extent, could be said, to every female character on the film. But I would say that's going too far. "About Time" is not aiming to be THAT deep or even bittersweet. This is not "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" or "Groundhog Day", but a genuinely pleasant movie that goes way further than your average rom-com, with lovable characters, lots of laughs and an enduring charm. What a great surprise. Now, Mr. Curtis, why don't you go back in time and forget about doing "Love Actually"? The world would be a much better place without it...

SCORE: 7,25/10

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Discoverer 72: new indie findings

It's Sunday, so here you have more new indie proposals, enjoy !

San Fermin. Forget the terrible band name (I'm not Hemingway so I won't pretend I like bullfighting and getting drunk) and allow me to introduce you to Ellis Ludwig-Leone, a young songwriter from Rhode Island based in Brooklyn that after finishing his musical studies in 2011 became assistant of acclaimed arranger Nico Muhly (among other works) while prepared his own songs prior to collaborating and recording. The self-titled album is out since September via Downtown Records and is a surprising blend of chamber-pop and contemporary classical composition, where the ever-recurrent topics are "characterized" and sung with several vocal contributions. You'll hear The National, Tindersticks, Sufjan Stevens, The Divine Comedy and a dozen bands more at the same time, so be prepared. San Fermin, the band, is a unique experience.

Break It Up. Short drive to Philadelphia to meet drummer Casey Bell, who in 2009 found guitarist-vocalist Jen Sperling, and after several iterations of members added guitarist-vocalist Dan Morse, initially their producer, to complete the band. In 2011, they debuted with blogosphere's hit single “Excavate” and, since June, we have their ridiculously enjoyable self-titled LP available at their bandcamp. An immediate collection of hyper-vitaminated power-pop tunes, fuzzy and noisy guitars, traces of riot girrrl enthusiasm, a knack for melodies and a genuine feeling of enjoying themselves while playing together. A MUST.

The Clothes. And we end our "trip" in Macerata, Italy, to introduce you to singer and guitarist Massimo Scoposki and drummer Laura Palmiz. It seems the idea of having a band came to Massimo during his Erasmus in Nancy. Whatever the case, the White Stripes alike duo recorded their debut songs last year, and the result, “Fairy Lights Dress” EP (a mini-album of seven songs) is available since February, and for free at their bandcamp. You should be virtually running to grab the tunes now, because The Clothes are a C-86 injection straight to your spine and brain. Punk-pop, a relentless, true live spirit packed with the most "in-your-face" version of jangle melodies. Not to miss.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

“Laughable Loves”, Collecting Bad Jokes

Laughable Loves (Smesné Lásky, Czech original title)- Milan Kundera 
Sex is the most fun you can have without laughing” Woody Allen

Am I missing something? Because I just hated this book almost from the very beginning. Laughable? Funny? I must have a problem with my sense of humour then. "Laughable Loves" wasn't funny at all. Not in terms of style, and not in what regards to the stories that conform this forgettable (hope that happens soon, please, I want to forget it so badly) read.

First, let's talk about the style, which in my opinion poisons the book and makes it a serious struggle to read, despite being a collection of short stories and not having an extended length. It's not my first time with Kundera, so I was already aware of his prose, frequently saluted by many as philosophic, virtuoso, and enlightening. Plus, in this case, adjectives ranged from irreverent, graceful and ironic. But no, this is not ironic. It's just pedantic and boring. Sure, my preference, the literature I defend is the opposite from Kundera's style, the so called "minimalist school" (Carver, Yates, Wolff, Fante, Bukowski). But I also love McCullers, O'Connor, Fitzgerald, Cheever, and a long etc, writers that go beyond the "dirty realism" definition. Anyway, I don't believe this is an issue of personal taste. It is just a matter of Kundera "explaining us all". He is the narrator, superficially in third person, but also being omniscient to the extreme. The consequence is that the reader is unable to get into the development of the story by himself/herself. Kundera tells him what to understand, when to laugh and when to applaud the author for his wisdom. That's not funny, that's not wise. It's just annoying.

And annoying are also the vast majority of stories. Sex, love, friendship might be topics of the tales, but Kundera is not interested on his characters of developing what's going on. He just want to mock(?) about pretty silly stories to explain a paradox/contradiction. But why can't he just show it on a good story about personal relationships? Why does he have to dissect what goes on from scene to scene as if he were explain it to a baby? "The Hitchhiking Game", third tale of the collection and the strongest by far, might the best example. A young couple on holiday decide to change their "regular roles" to play a flirting game that subverts their usual behaviour, arriving to a pretty challenging, let me add depressing conclusion. The potential of the story is there, but Kundera completely ruins it by constantly shifting from one character mind to the other, to let the reader make no mistake of what he/she should think about what's going on. Same goes with "Edward and God", another interesting plot involving faith, devotion and communism as strategies to... umm.. to be clear... get laid. So, go figure what happens with the less remarkable stories: they are just weak and lame, like the tiring "Symposium" and the irritating "Let the Old Dead Make Room for the Young Dead".

A writer should not give lessons to the readers. The reader should do it by herself/himself, thanks to the quality of the story.

SCORE: 1,5/10

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Dreamt Comeback, Jacqui Abbott returns!

Jacqui & Paul, mighty pop couple
 together again
Maybe you knew it already, but I'm just too excited not to make a post about it: one of my all-time favourite singers has returned! I just found out Jacqui Abbott is back singing, and seems a new album is on the works, probably out before the year ends!!

Here's a song from Paul Heaton's latest album to date, "The 8th" called "Envy" and performed by Jacqui (seems that they met again and solved their differences two years ago)

And here's "DIY" played past June at Mosborough Music Festival 2013. It's a new tune that seems could be included in the aforementioned forthcoming album
And three Beautiful South/Housemartins classics played at Ferrara, Italy, this July, to end the post with a HUGE SMILE!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Discoverer 71: new indie findings

Back with a new dose of indie proposals for your ears only!

The Love Language. From North Carolina, USA, this combo is the result of a double rupture in 2008 for frontman's Stuart McLamb. First, the split of his former group, The Capulets. And second, a break-up with his girlfriend, which made him hide into his parents' house, where he recorded some demos that expanded into a full eponymous debut album released in 2009. A good critic reception and the invitation from The Rosebuds to open for them "forced" the creation of a proper band. Signed with Merge, their sophomore release "Libraries", came in 2010, and since this July we can enjoy now "Ruby Red". An indiepop blast with many faces, powerful and genuinely intense. Top-notch discovery.

Elizabeth Morris. I admit this is tricky, as Ms Morris is no other than our beloved Allo Darlin's leader, so, a discovery? She has the answer: "The last time I was home (Australia) I wrote songs on my great-great-great grandmother's 1850s piano. These songs didn't feel like Allo Darlin' songs. They were written during a turbulent time, and 've been floating around in my head ever since. A conversation with my friend Darren Hayman made me think that  I should record these songs on his ship's piano". The EP, completed with tune "Shoe Box" and a cover of Wave Pictures' "Sweetheart" is as delicious as you can expect, surprisingly intimate and affecting

Seabirds. Love at first listen. I'm serious. Matinee Recordings just found another unmissable new band for our longing indiepop ears! Only two tunes, I know, but what an incredibly promising start is the debut 7", out now, from this young quintet from Nottingham, UK. "Real Tears" is a stunning jangle-pop pill with rocking guitars and male-female soaring vocals that you will find very high on my best-of-the-year songs list, while backing "Oh Buoy!" takes a slightly softer approach without losing its immediate effervescence. MORE! We want MORE!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Eleanor Friedberger, Singing Time in Barcelona!

Eleanor Friedberger (+ Bill Ryder-Jones and Big Summer). La [2] de Apolo, Barcelona, October 2nd
Acoustic lady. Photo: Bloodbuzzed

The night started (well, afternoon, still have to completely adjust back to our "unique" Spanish schedule) with a gentle and unexpected surprise: Eleanor doing an acoustic gig for barely a dozen of lucky guests at the Apolo Store (nice people working there by the way, thanks). It was a quick one, five tunes, and not impressive compared with the mind-blowing full-band concert that came later, but it showed the backbones of her solid tunes and how that peculiar warmth, intimacy of her music comes from. Plus it offered me the chance of taking a picture with her and chat briefly!

Big "tunes" Summer. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Afterwards and inside the venue, Big Summer was the bill's first act. I already wrote about them but I'm glad to confirm what I said before: El Genio Equivocado have added an incredible "prospect" to their immaculate roster. On Wednesday, they put a short but intense set with an exciting new single (beloved label chiefs told me release is imminent) and the favourite "Morning Sun" as the pivotal points. I insist, keep their name on your agendas.

Bill Ryder-Jones. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
On the contrary, Bill Ryder-Jones was quite a disappointment. Formerly a member of The Coral, and billed as a "lush and atmospheric singer-songwriter" similar to Alex Turner solo, his set, probably too long (twelve tunes) suffered from a clear sense of repetition and, at least live (I love the studio version of "Wild Swans"), lacked the emotional impact or feeling of closeness the memorable "Submarine" OST has, making the folkie and narrative eloquence of Ryder-Jones a bit tiring to be honest.

Electric lady. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
And then, the time for Eleanor Friedberger finally arrived. And what a time! For the very first second, her performance was just unstoppable. Firepowered, addictive rockier versions of "I Don't Want to Bother You", "I Won't Fall Appart On You Tonight", "Heaven" and "Stare at the Sun" (what a delicious tune) to start the gig knocking out everyone on the audience without losing a tiny bit of the pop charms (and excellent lyrics) her tunes have. Probably the best sounding I have ever enjoyed at La [2] de Apolo, the night was fated for greatness.  

Friedberger & Brewis.
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
"My Own World", "Rooselvet Island", "I'll Never Be Happy Again", "Tomorrow Tomorrow"... every song was pumped out, propelled by a fantastic band where Field Music's David Brewis was outstanding, he completely blew my mind with his guitar performance all gig (have to find out who was the equally amazing drummer). And when the tune needed more intimacy, like the irresistible "Other Boys", the focus gently shifted on Eleanor's vocals, delivered with a disarming and punchy conviction all night. Friedberger wasn't very talkative with the audience, but it was obvious to see she was comfortable and pleased with her performance and the response of the (surprisingly quiet and eager to just enjoy the gig, please keep it this way folks, life will be much better) audience.

Eleanor. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
"Early Earthquake", personal favourite "When I Knew" and "She's a Mirror" put a momentary end to the concert before the encore, for which Eleanor reserved some of her most breathtaking compositions. "Echo or Encore" played by just her on guitar, was followed by another must of her short but excellent solo career to date, "Singing Time", to conclude with "My Mistakes", with Eleanor putting on her jacket and leaving the venue before the band kicked out the final solo in a shocking, even defying gesture, as she reached the exit crossing throught the audcience. One that serves to point out she's not your average singer-songwriter. At all. And, of course, I mean that in a good, very very good way. Extraordinary concert.

Friday, October 4, 2013

"The German Doctor", Nazis in Patagonia

The German Doctor ("Wakolda" original title)

I don't know how to review this movie without spoiling it. My apologies in advance for that...

"The German Doctor" (can't understand why Spanish and Americans have chosen this silly title instead of the original "Wakolda") is supposed to be a rich and complex thriller, mixing psychological and historical elements... but the results are quite disappointing, in my opinion. 

Maybe is the attempt of mixing suspense with Bariloche's mesmerizing, idyllic surroundings and its quiet community. Or maybe is the contrast between the familiar lifestyle and the international hunting of Nazi physician Josef Mengele, but after a short while I had the feeling something wasn't going well in the development of the movie. The pieces doesn't seem to fit.

To my view, the major flaw is the lack of credibility of the script. There's no mystery whatsoever. Haven't read the novel, "Wakolda", written by the movie director Lucía Puenzo, on which the film is based, but at least on screen, is hard to understand why the family, particularly the father, takes so long to realise what's going on, and who is his unique guest. Sorry to spoil it to you, but I'm just trying to be clear: is he stupid? Don't he realise almost everyone around him is a Nazi? I seriously believe that this film should have been entitled "Nazis in Patagonia" instead, because there's little subtlety about it on the place. Starting from this point, the intrigue was minimum, appearing so many little plot-holes (Eva, Lilith's mother and her behaviour. the whole thing with the school, the photographer/librarian role) that didn't help either.

The most remarkable in "The German Doctor" is Alex Brendemühl's (one of the best Spanish actors without a doubt) performance as Mengele, and his noteworthy, at times fascinating, portray of someone who is obsessed with genetics as a tool to create a perfect race, and the troubled relation he develops with Lilith (magnetic presence of Florencia Baldo). Natalia Oreiro and Diego Peretti are also solid in their roles as Eva and Enzo, Lilith parents, but as I said before, the problem is that their roles aren't helped by the script. It is sad, as Puenzo has an undeniable talent with the camera on her hands, creating scenes where the contrast between beautiful scenery and the terrible things that are happening (or happened) impacts the audience, plus a potentially absorbing subject. But elements didn't quite combine this time. 

SCORE: 5,25/10

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Triple Indie Session Tonight!

Great expectations tonight, with a promising triple live music session with Eleanor Friedberger, presenting her amazing "Personal Record" in Barcelona, in my opinion among the best albums of the year so far, plus Bill Ryder-Jones, and one of the most exciting recent signatures from our beloved El Genio Equivocado, Big Summer, at La [2] de Apolo. Of course, review coming very soon!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stop Awful Covers 14

New season, same disasters. Our Awful Covers Series has another disgusting chapter to show how terrible the artwork taste is becoming, please musicians, respect your music! 


Crocodiles: Crimes of Passion
Hard to imagine someone passionate about this cover...really hard (to make things worse, it's a recurring band)
Grouplove: Spreading Rumours
Rumour say there's not a lot of taste in here...

Bad Sports: Bras
I'm pretty sure the woman on the cover is really angry

The Ballet: I Blame Society
Don't blame society The Ballet, just yourself...

Molly Nilsson: The Travels
Doesn't look like a very adventurous or exciting trip to me...

Dent May: Warm Blanket
Musicians should be very careful about their "relaxing moments"

Amen Dunes: Spoiler
Spoiler alert: that's a terrible cover

 Neko Case: The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You,
Wonderful artists making things worse... Why the deformed face? 

Devo: Hardcore
Devo again. At least the album title is correct. Pretty hardcore indeed...