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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Discoverer 150: new indie findings

It's been a little while (not much time for updates), but our discoverer series is back with an incredible trio of guitar-driven pop bands! No fillers, just killers!

Real Numbers. Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, this now quartet, started to show around 2008 as a trio, releasing several singles, an EP, two 12" via Three Dimensional Records, and some appearances on cassettes from Forged Artifacts and No Problem (best way to check their exciting earlier stuff is to search for the 'What Was & What Is' compilation album) until 2015. But now the band lead by Eli Hansen returns with their first proper full length 'Wordless Wonder', out now through the infallible Slumberland Records. And what a release this is! Instantly addictive, channeling the spirit of C86, summoning Television Personalities as well as garage-pop from 50-60s, but with a fuller sound where guitars are chiming all over. Not even 25 minutes of pure, upbeat, straightforward indie-punk-pop joy. A killer!

Young ScumWe move to Richmond, VA, to meet Chris Smith and his bedroom pop project that, luckily, evolved into a proper and irresistible indiepop band with the help of local musicians Taylor Haag, Ben Medcalf, and Brian Dove. Since 2014 they have released the EP 'Autumn August' and two split EPs with bands Shrunk and Reporters, the latest released by our friends at Dufflecoat. And since July of 2016 we can enjoy 'Zona', a five-song EP that, let me get this straight, contains some of the best indiepop tunes of the year. Out on tape via Citrus City Records and our beloved Pretty Olivia Records on vinyl through their amazing 12" Club, this is summery, melancholic, bouncy and dreamy jangle-pop, filled with a tone of hooks and honey-drenched vocals (thanks to Ali Mislowsky's backing vocals). Look for Young Scum among the best EPs (very high) on the end-of-year-lists of this humble Blog.

HoopsAnd we end in Bloomington, Indiana, with another solo project, the one lead by frontman Drew Auscherman, that developed into a full quartet in 2014, although their first tunes didn't surface until recently, with Tapes #1-3 coming out at their bandcamp from late 2015 to early summer of 2016. Now they have their first official release in the form of self-titled EP out since late August via the mighty Fat Possum Records. anticipating a debut album currently in the works. It's a great taster of what's to be expected with such a promising band. Recalling the moodier moments of DIIV and ambiences of Wild Nothing while adding a notch of "that English melancholy", Hoops' guitars seem to be drowning on deep waters, yet at the same time the sun seems able to light up, elegantly and quietly, any room. A band to get excited with...

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 122

Its been a long, long, neverending week. A combination between post-Primavera Club Festival depression, flu (with terminal cough) and a draining, non-advancing days. But luckily the weekend has arrived. So we have prepared a flamboyantly new TOP TEN Jukebox full of exciting, emerging bands, plus our beloved Wedding Present & Honeyblood! A soundtrack for your Halloween (or, as we prefer, you 'Castanyada´? Give it a try and enjoy the weekend! And, as always, all songs are available at our Soundcloud page (Join Us!).

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Indie Anthology 74: essential songs

For the next chapter of our Anthology, a very dear band of this humble blogger, and one of the finest examples of why there's nothing wrong with the so-called "erudite rock". Lyrics matter, foremost when there's a band that can pack enlightening and intriguing words with brilliant, blissful music. Here comes The Decemberists!

Song: The Engine Driver
Artist: The Decemberists
Year: 2005

If my memory serves me well, my introduction to The Decemberists began with 'Odalisque' thanks, as usual, to Radio 3. But, despite the immediate love for the tune (and half of 'Castaways and Cutouts, for the matter), it wouldn't be until 'Picaresque' arrived that I became a die-hard fan of the band (umm, skipping 'Hazards of Love', sorry). But the truth is I got pretty obsessed with the record, and particularly with 'The Engine Driver', to the point of learning some computer skills to properly manipulate my copy of NBA 2K in order to have Meloy and Co's album replacing the (otherwise awful) soundtrack of the game. Yeah, it might look like a pretty odd choice for going straight to the rim or blocking a shoot, but it worked for me... Now, several albums later (always a bunch of tunes among the best of the year if there's a release from them), there's one thing that really strikes me about The Decemberists. Don't know many other bands I can listen & enjoy no matter of the situation. I can have it as "background music", calming my mood thanks to their beautifully crafted tunes. I can put my headphones on and switch off the lights, discovering the subtleties and richness of their instrumentation. Or, on the other hand, they can be one of the most demanding groups ever, making you read, even (the nerd on me) study Meloy's lyrics (something I find exciting). Take this majestic song, for instance. It starts like an R.E.M slow number (the fact they aren't shy of showing that influence proudly is another reason for me to love them), then Colin starts singing and the moody music just embraces you gracefully. You can hear a 12 string guitar, an accordion, a piano, a violin, and haunting vocal harmonies, Then you can dive yourself into the lyrics, on which Meloy's writes not just one but four stories: the one about an engine driver, a county lineman, a money lender and, finally, a clever singer/songwriter, going full circle (as a masterful author does), and revealing himself as "a writer of fictions" who has "written pages upon pages/Trying to rid you from my bones". All with one goal (and what really matters). Sharing a tune that is pure emotion, an honest, diaphanous lament on loneliness and love... two feelings the majority of listeners can relate with. It's uplifting despite the sorrow... I'll stop it here before I get emotional here. What a band, what a band...

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 121 (Primavera Club Special)

Today we have a special Jukebox for you, a miscellaneous playlist devoted to the Primavera Club Festival that, starting today, will take us all weekend discovering new groups live! Many bands and artists to see, so we thought it might we worth to warm-up with some tunes from the acts that look more exciting for us, plus some mandatory gigs to attend like Lucy Dacus, El Lado Oscuro de la Broca and, needless to say, Minor Victories (seeing Rachel Goswell again!!) We'll keep you posted and, as usual, all these songs are also available at our Soundcloud, so please join us! And see you at Apolo!

The Indie Anthology 73: essential songs

There's another artist that, sooner or later, had to make it into our Anthology. A guy named Mark Oliver Everett, but mostly known as Mr. E... A singer-songwriter/band leader with a unique ability: being able to expose himself, sharing the appalling wreckages of his life to create a music world of catharsis in which the listener can drown and be sheltered. Let's dive in!

Song: Things the Grandchildren Should Know
Artist: Eels
Year: 2005

It all begins with 'Novocaine for the soul' of course (I'm not going to lie and say I knew about his previous records). A teenager being strangely hooked by the floating vibes of the tune... Those were Britpop times, but there was something much more enduring on 'Beautiful Freak'... but no one prepared me for 'Electro-Schock Blues'. A blatant proof that pop can be bleak and engaging at the same time... and one of the first times album lyrics had to be read fully (there were short, linked stories there). Then came the light with 'Daisies in the galaxy', an LP full of lovely tunes that has soundtracked several moments of my life. But being honest, after that, I got disconnected with his career,.. until I discover his book 'Things the Grandchildren Should Know'. I was having a pretty bad time emotionally and his warmth, frankness and awkwardly uplifting way of saying 'I'm not giving up' were an incredible shock for me. So I ran to discover what was I missing from his back catalogue. And here it was, awaiting at the end of 'Blinking lights and revelations'. Simple, fragile, sincere, heartening. A man telling his story, a brutal, peculiar, redeeming and somewhat comforting tale. Never choosing the easy path, but always achieving something memorable and touching in reward. If the two last verses doesn't crack you apart (there's the perfect epitaph), you're not human. Wisdom, truthfulness and pop.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 120

Fall has finally arrived, with the need to adapt to a new reality and/or routine and, as mandatory, more ahead. Festivals are around the corner (BIS Festival this weekend and Primavera Club the next one) So, in order to have a proper  warm-up here's the latest TOP TEN Jukebox full of new discoveries and emerging bands! As always, all songs are available at our Soundcloud page (Join Us!).

Monday, October 10, 2016

'Sing Street', behind the music

Sing Street 

First, kudos to John Carney for making me enjoy a movie that pays a lovely tribute to the New Romantics movement! You have to be a masterful director for making such a haunting film with such terrible bands (imo, of course) as Duran Duran, Hall & Oates or Spandau Ballet being not just your soundtrack, but a really important part of your work.

But I shouldn't be surprised. After all, Carney is the man behind 'Once' and 'Begin Again', two films that already proved he's capable of making movies about that irrepressible, life-changing & life-driving passion named music that entertain, engage and connect with all sorts of moviegoers, not just music lovers. And that's exactly the case with 'Sing Street'.

Settled in 1980s Dublin, 'Sing Street' is the story (or tale, most appropriately) of 14-year-old Conor (surprising debut by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who is not having the best of the times. His parents are on the verge of divorce. There are serious money concerns. And his new, catholic school is full of bullies, including the school's director. But after meeting the arresting & mysterious Raphina (magnetic Lucy Boynton), things are about to change drastically. He has to form a band in order to win her love... And so the magic begins.

For nearly an hour, maybe even a bit more, the film is almost, pure joy. The tunes, of course. The hilarious way in which the band gets born. How they compose the first song, 'The Riddle of the Model', that also becomes a really funny, ramshackle video, a refreshing way to talk about the arrival of MTV and the bursting videoclip culture. The imitation of music trends (where's the post-punk phase?), the aesthetics, the young bunch of kids transforming themselves in a creative sponge. The ups and downs of Raphina's heart conquest. The endless music & life talks with Conor's older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor, who steals every scene he is in). Sure, you have seen this tale before (being honest, the story development is far from original), but in such a dynamic, unstoppable way? Can't remember...

But then comes the last part of 'Sing Street', in which Carney has to take decisions. Is this going to be about music or just a romantic movie? Are the dramas (which, as usual, become bigger as the film advances) going to be dealt with, or the "feel-good" vibes are what really matters? To my view, Carney takes the easiest, most pleasing options. Subplots and secondary roles that have a lot of potential (the brothers' relationship, Brendan deserves a movie of his own) get shadowed. Others (the parents, Conor's sister) completely neglected. Even the band is somewhat "displaced" because of Conor & Raphina. Dramas are basically skipped... and then there's the final gig where all seems to fall into place. I get it: music can make the troubles go away, give us the strength and courage to take risks, be brave and fight for your dreams. But for a band looking for the "happy sad" song formula, once has the feeling Carney has decided to skimp on one part of the equation, making whe whole film look like A-ha's 'Take On Me' (and most of the mainstream 80s music): at first appealing, even intriguing... but finally bland. I won't be that harsh with 'Sing Street', because nevertheless, is an incredibly engaging, cheerful movie. But what it could have been with a bit more of punch...

SCORE: 6,75/10

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 119

It seems today is World Smile Day, so it's a perfect occasion to offer you another TOP TEN Jukebox, because great music usually provokes big smiles. And a playlist opening with The Clean (another must-have reissue), and followed by a joyful tune from Fascination Grand Chorus or the dreamy Hazel English, plus several & terrific new finds, it sure guarantees you huge grins, at least for a little while. And remember, all songs are available at our Soundcloud page (Join Us!).

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Indie Anthology 72: essential songs

I was looking for a Spanish band/artist for the next chapter of our Anthology, and considering the choking, shameful shift towards "neocon" and extreme right policies & attitudes (Latin America, Trump, Hungary, Poland, UK, Turkey, Spain... and the list keeps growing) we are suffering (and/or we are about to suffer) I really need a truly gorgeous song to counter it, to get shelter from the despicable "outside", at least for a while, thanks to music. And there's no better band to do so than Pauline en la Playa.

Song: Cabezas Locas
Artist: Pauline en la Playa
Year: 2001

I would live, happily ever after, inside the songs of Mar & Alicia Álvarez. Pauline en la Playa have created a genuine pop universe, completely of their own. Full of fables, poetry, violins, delicate, sometimes subtle, others rich and lush, instrumental details, sweet vocal harmonies and eternal melodies. I discovered them during my last university years (Radio 3 again) with 'Tormenta de ranas' and the majestic single 'Cabezas Locas' (it has been a very close call between this song, 'Titubeas' and 'Relevé', please check their complete discography, you'll thank me, granted). A tune with one of the most mind blowing beginnings ever and the perfect soundtrack for those sunny afternoon walks from the train to home. The dusk setting in slowly, while the tune embraces you, warm, uplifting, joyous (my apologies because the sound is pretty low in the video below, couldn't find a better option). Pauline en la Playa, main originators of Stendhal Syndrome in Spanish indiepop since 1997.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 118

Here comes October, a month of new beginnings, expectations and a lot of music ahead. So, let's begin it properly, with a flamboyant TOP TEN Jukebox, full of exciting new findings plus a couple of returns: the hypnotic voice of Hope Sandoval and our dear Young Romance, ready to mesmerize us with their first album. A soundtrack to salute what comes ahead. And remember, all songs are available at our Soundcloud page (Join Us!).