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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Spanish Indie 26: suggesting the best national acts

Told you this section was going to be revitalised. These are two artists and a young band responsible of my favourite national releases of the year so far. Sure you'll enjoy!

Nacho Vegas. I could summarise this brief on the artist/band in just a solemn sentence: one of our most important artists of the last 20 years. But he deserves a longer account for such a strong career. Hailing from Xixón, Asturas, Vegas began playing at Eliminator Jr. a local noise band before founding the much revered post-rock combo Manta Ray, an adventure that lasted from 1994 to 1999, when he opted to began a solo career. Since then, he has released four albums and several singles, EPs and collaborative works alongside well-known musicians like Christina Rosenvinge or Bunbury, as well as lesser popular like the EP with Irene Tremblay (Aroah), or participating in soundtracks, setting music to the poems of Ramón Lluis Bande for the project Diariu, being part of Lucas 15, band that revisits the Asturian folklore. But that wasn't enough for him, so in 2010 he founded Marxophone, his own label/a musicians cooperative for self-releasing projects. Plus he also became part of Fundación Robo, collaborative platform where political activism and popular music join forces (yes, it can happen, luckily). His latest record to date 'Resituación' was released in Spring of 2014, but this January, Vegas came out with its companion, an immense EP entitled 'Canciones populistas'. Shifting gracefully between folk and rock, between humour and dark realism, between autobiography and post-modern references, always social and politically committed. One of our wittiest commentators. Our Phil Ochs. Our Ken Loach picking a guitar. Not just a celebrated songwriter or a big artist. Also a much needed one.

Invisible Harvey. Hiding behind this curious name borrowed from the classic movie starred by James Stewart and his giant bunny lies Barcelonian Dimas Rodríguez Gallego, screenwriter, film director and guitarist in La Banda Municipal del Polo Norte. But he didn't have enough, so a few years ago started a solo music project. One that, appeared from out of the blue on late December 2015 with digital single 'La Puerta Giratoria', and now has a flamboyant debut album, of the same title, thanks to our beloved El Genio Equivocado. Recorded last year, Dimas blends charming indiepop with skilled songwriting, with a heavy presence of lush and unique instrumentation, including his inseparable string duet (Joan Gerard Torredeflot "Joange" and Núria Maynou). Surreal (check his lyrics), romantic and dreamy. A haunting record honoring the tradition of El Niño Gusano. Pop in Wonderland.

VLIVM. Hailing from Tortosa, Tarragona, the band (that you can pronounce as Valium) is the project of two brothers, Nacho and Estebi Romero, who started playing during the summer of 2014 and put a couple of demos at their bandcamp. But at the beginning of 2015 things got more serious, with bros getting into the studio to record their debut album and, once finished, recruit friends Aleix and Blai to become a real band and be able to play gigs and properly defend the songs of 'Sailing Forever', out now via the much needed Discos de Kirlian. Between jangle-pop and dreampop, there are familiar places (the Sarah Records vibe, the lo-fi spirit, the magnetic use of the twelve string guitar) but a genuine, honest essence completely of their own. One to watch closely.

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