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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Indie Anthology 82: essential songs

Winter season (well, not so much in Barcelona, but anyway), perfect time of the year to move to sunny California in order to look back to one of the most exciting and influential bands (and records) of the so-called Paisley Underground movement in our Indie AnthologyGuitars, attitude... and a timeless tune!

Song: Tell Me When It's Over 
Artist: The Dream Syndicate 
Year: 1982

Although my favourite group from the Paisley scene might be The Rain Parade (won't be long until one of their songs ends in this section) it's hard not to consider 'The Days Of Wine and Roses' as, arguably, the most accomplished, explosive and enduring record from that period. Edgier and rockier than their Californian peers, The Dream Syndicate were not so obsessed with the sun-soaked psychdelic vibes, but instead were focused in experimenting with energy, distortion and crunching guitars. And there's not a better example of that "make no prisoners" sound than the sonic blast of single 'Tell Me When It's Over', with Karl Precoda's rattling guitar riff sounding almost like a "call to arms", being quickly joined by the rhythmic section of bass player Kendra Smith and dummer Dennis Duck, before Steve Wynn impersonates Lou Reed's vocal delivery, pointing out the obvious Velvet's reference. 'Tell Me When It's Over' is "a song of songs". You can hear the echoes of the past tunes that fuelled its existence, as well as the pieces that, going forward, pushed to create... left of the dial. "That beautiful noise", again...

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 178

Last week of February and the amount of exciting tunes keeps going steady into our radar (a.k.a known as inbox & ears), as you have the chance to see for yourselves in our latest TOP TEN JukeboxWe have killer pieces from heavily anticipated albums "dropping" just now, like the ones by The Orielles (get funky!), Screaming Females and Ought, plus the stunning new single by our dear Linda Guilala, alongside the usual dose of promising newcomers. All ready to join you in your weekend "adventures". And remember, all tunes are available at our Soundcloud. (Join Us!)

Direct links to 2018 Jukebox playlists

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

'The Angels' Share', whiskey redemption

The Angels' Share

Kind of a shocker, here comes what can easily qualifies as the most comedic and upbeat movie in Ken Loach's filmography (teaming up again with screenwriter Paul Laverty). 'The Angels' Share' is a warmth, mostly gentle (with a couple of punches here and there punctuating the harsh social background of the fun) and good-natured comedy, even careless at times for such a serious duo. And despite it certainly won't rank among the most memorable works of the maestro's career, it's hard not to love this joyful tale of redemption... and whiskey.

Set in Scotland (careful with the accents) Loach points the viewer out to a bunch of outcasts (drunks, ruffians, pickpocketers) and their summary of minor (or not so) felonies, recited by a judge. Then he focuses the camera in the story of Robbie (stunning performance by previously unknown actor Paul Brannigan) who is in the verge of confronting a most-demanding crossroad in his life. He has a prison record, as well as a violent and drug-addiction past. He has been sentenced to community services, in what it looks like the very last chance to reintegrate into society. And he is more than willing to do so, because he is also about to become a father. He is determined to reform himself and behave responsible, but like a local, 'scoundrel' version of those sub-genre mafia movies in which the hero can really put away his past, it seems all odds are against Robbie.

Loach plays tricks with us at first. Yeah, there are slices of comedy in the secondary characters, a bunch of hilarious roughnecks, with whom Robbie is paying his dues with society. But the scenes are packed with our leading character's constant attempt to avoid the violence (or death) that threatens him (from the Clancy's, the family he got into the serious "incident" that ended at court, seeking for vengeance, as well as the family of his girlfriend, wanting him to leave the town and disappear from her life), while the possibilities of finding a job seems the tiniest. There's even a brutal scene when Robbie has to face the family and the victim of his most despicable moment as a human being. Everything looks like a Loach-by-the-numbers movie with some oddballs in the form of risible, entirely diverting characters. But this time, the veteran director wants to believe in redemption and second chances as well as the kindness of mankind. Even if its in an almost surreal way... 

Because it's true, you really have to make several concessions, some more than remarkable, with the plot development to keep it going once 'The Angels' Share' becomes a very unusual and amusing kind-of-thriller, with Robbie discovering he has a gift (better said, a nose) for whiskey and a bizarre opportunity to make some money, maybe even a path to start from zero a new, peaceful life, appears. But by then, the charm of characters, the genuine quality of their performances, the awkward friendship among the leading quartet has won you completely. The adventure involving an almost-mythical malt, a glimpse of jet-set (an obvious punch to highest classes willing to waste their money in stupid competitions for status) and ambitious, pretty obscure collector is blatantly flat from a realistic standpoint of view. But we, as viewers, couldn't care less. Robbie, Albert, Rhino and Mo HAVE to make it.  

Because even in its lightweight hour, Ken Loach's movies have something not many directors have. It's the heart, man. Shown in the arresting character of Harry (John Henshaw), the misfits minder, relentless to help and care for them. Willing to give them a chance. Even it that chance has the form (what a simple, perfect, moving final scene) of a bottle of whisky. It's the heart. For the real, common people. Thank you, again, Ken.

SCORE: 6,75/10

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 177

More fire at the Blog! We are eager for the weekend and more than happy to kick it off with a new round of our TOP TEN JukeboxOne in which we celebrate the return of much beloved Eleanor Friedberger, the stunning tune of Night Flowers (early contender for song of the year?) while we keep following our 'path' of presenting you some discoveries such as Renata Zeiguer or The Moondoggies. As always, a lot to listen, enjoy and forget about Monday. Have a nice 'disconnection' and remember, all songs are available at our Soundcloud. (Join Us!)

Direct links to 2018 Jukebox playlists

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

'Manchester by the Sea' the living dead

Manchester by the Sea

It’s been a while since a movie nearly moved to tears. But ‘Manchester by the Sea’ did. A moving, content, fiercely acted, poignant and riveting film about grief. One so real that seems to come from some place called heart, yet at the same time, it’s clear it has been carefully 'constructed', masterfully planned and scripted by director Kenneth Lonergan, like this was a lost short "gritty realism" story by Raymond Carver, Russell Banks or Richard Yates turned into a stunning motion picture.

The plot is quite simple. Gloomy janitor, antisocial plummer and obvious fucked-up young man Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) receives the sad news of his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) passing away, reluctantly returning to the sailor’s town of Manchester-by-the-Sea, coastal Massachussetts, to take charge of the funeral’s arrangements as well of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). But aside from the loss of his brother, there’s a second mental blow awaiting our leading character: in his testament, Joe made him the sole guardian of Patrick, expecting him to stay with the popular-frisky teenager. An unexpected circumstance that forces Lee to confront the ghosts of his past there. The terrible reasons why he left his hometown.

Manchester by the Sea’ then reveals itself as an absorbing, gripping look into human pain. In one hand, we have the struggles of Lee and Patrick to adapt to the new 'environment' proposed by their brother/father, having to deal together with a tough amount of decisions and choices ahead of them. Common, mundane, relatable and somewhat manageable grief, one where routines and silly situations can even brought a smile (deadpan humour) to the spectator despite the affliction (majority of them consequence of the umm, 'lively' day-to-day 'duties' of Patrick). Life is absurd... and tends to end too quickly. But on the other hand, we have a real grasp of what 'hell on Earth' must be in Lee’s existence. An anguish that slowly reveals to the viewer in the form of flashbacks recounting his previous life within the community, his marriage with ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and the cataclysmic tragedy that changed, better said condemned, Lee’s life forever.

In my opinion, what makes the movie works that well is how naturally the development of the film flows despite the dimension of the drama. That’s because Lonergan’s script is simply mind-blowing (most deserved Oscar). He’s able to handle the gravitas of the plot at two levels. There are some key, terrific, unforgettable scenes, but they are encapsulated between a vast amount of little-minor ones, where a facial expression, a small gesture, a subtle detail in a conversation going nowhere (or the lack of it) says it all. All to depict the misery of a broken human being, a person that, in order to keep going, has forced himself to be numb, permanently repressed, completely inaccessible, isolated (even punished?) by choice. And now has to adapt or fail into a new role that demands him to take responsibilities, interact with people and having strength of mind.

And that brings us to talk about acting. What Casey Affleck has done is nearly beyond words (the award was a no-brainer). What a performance for the ages! His ability to convey all the inner unrest, the agony of an impossible existence, the choking guilt, with such self-control and determination cannot be praised enough. But it wouldn’t be fair not to stress the excellent job of Luke Hedges (same can be said to their chemistry together) or the secondary but, as always, perfect performance of Michelle Williams (what a brutal, decisive scene they have) or C. J. Wilson as Joe’s best friend/boat business partner. All the characters have 'flesh and bones', their actions & behaviour gets you, and their suffering affects you. Kudos to them.

Being honest, all the complaints I can think of are so minor compared with the achievements of the movie that are almost ridiculous to point out. The unnecessary highlights of the music in several of the aforementioned crucial scenes. The dubious, not really developed, role of Patrick’s mother (played by Gretchen Mol). The "nightmare" scene, excessive imo. The kind of 'easy' economic conditions the immediate future holds up to Patrick and Lee, something that doesn’t look completely credible (being clearly a white working class story). But as I said, this sort of underachievements are almost anecdotes compared with the overall strength and honesty of the film dealing with such a sensible and difficult subject. So when you hear the 'I can't beat it', these four simple words, you completely understand and feel devastated too.

SCORE: 8,25/10

Monday, February 12, 2018

Discoverer 162: new indie findings

Keeping the recovered pace in our discoverer series, today we bring you a trio of indiepop wonders "found" in between the end of the 2017 and the beginning of 2018. Fear no more, the jangly guitars are back!

A Certain Smile. We begin in Portland, Oregon, to meet this quartet formed around 2015, the brainchild of Thomas Andrew, who has been and indiepop activist in Pacific Northwest USA (Toffee Club Sunday brunch, radio music host at Freeform Radio), and several music ensembles on his back. One of them, Port of Call, alongside his best friend Tom Fleischer, formed in 2002 (then in Philly), can be described as the seed of A Certain Smile, as some of the tunes of their debut album 'Fits & Starts', dates back from that college years era (there are some tunes available at their bandcamp from 2004 and 2014 under their current nickname). Technically out in summer of 2017, their self-released record is fuzzy pop blast, extremely catchy and contagious, yet with space to flirt with shoegazy atmospheres. Nine vitamin pills to recharge your indiepop batteries anytime you need...   

The BV's. Jump to the "old continent" with a transnational proposal, between Augsburg, Germany and Falmouth, Cornwall, UK, formed in 2016,when Fred Jehle met Josh Turner in the latest weeks of an university exchange in UK, beginning writing tunes at a very enthusiastic, DIY pace. That initial material became their debut album 'Speaking from a Distance', out past April via Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten. The positive reviews helped the duo gain momentum, expading the project to a full live band, which allowed them to tour with Blog favourites The Bats and The Luxembourg Signal. Direct result of that latter tour, now The BV's are back with 12” EP 'Interpunktion' out just now. Somewhere in between the most atmospheric side of jangle-pop and the most melodic face of shoegaze, like The Field Mice through a wall of sound and reverb, The BV's are a real treat to the ears, expansive and warm. Exciting band not to be missed.  

The Keep Left Signs. And we end in Sweden (not 100% sure, though, not much info out there) to enjoy this combo formed in the spring 2015 with members from the bands The Mare and The Electric Pop Group who, out of the blue, delivered their debut mini-album 'Tomorrow' in early December 2017. Co-released by our beloved friends at Shelflife alongside Spanish label Kocliko Records, this seven tunes are fine example of classic, timeless indiepop with a knack for melodies, melancholic vibes and that quintessential jangling guitars driving that we, "the usual suspects", need in regular doses to keep us going. A little gem to be rescued and treasured that we hope is just a first chapter of more to come...

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 176

We have to admit it. We are starting to have problems finding new adjectives to describe the groups that appear at this humble blog, because the 2018 "harvest" is proving to be stunning so far. The last example of that? Our TOP TEN Jukebox for this week? A rollercoaster of emotions, styles and vibes, in which we believe there's a variety of possibilities for all tastes, helping to make you start the weekend in the best mood. And remember, all songs are available at our Soundcloud. (Join Us!)

Direct links to 2018 Jukebox playlists

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Spanish Indie 32: suggesting the best national acts

As we are doing with our "worldwide series", it's time to reinvigorate our national discoveries section. But before digging into 2018, here's a must needed review of three favourites, three mind-blowing debut records from past year that couldn't be missed. Fall in love with them!

Últim Cavall. Just had to write this down. They deserve it, and I kind of owe it to them. Because this first album, 'Records de Kyoto' was one of the most listened by your humble blogger last year. Hailing from Garraf, Barcelona, this quintet came out of the blue with a self-titled and self-released EP in September of 2015, with the aforementioned record appearing in March of 2017 via our dear Discos de Kirlian. Somewhere in between shoegaze & dreampop, their music is warm, melodic, fragile and electric at the same time, cinematic, extremely exciting and evocative, a distant soundtrack for a vanishing city, blurred but still very much alive. Like the tunes of this phenomenal band. Not to be missed. 
Hank Idory. Quick drive to Valencia to meet musician Juancho Alegrete, his Bowiesque nickname and, foremost, his wonderful self-titled debut record, out since October via (couldn't be any other way, it's a match made in music heaven) our beloved Pretty Olivia Records. Carefully crafted, gentle, warm and inviting from the very first spin, 'Hank Idory' is a treaty, a masterclass of sunshine pop, echoing the 60s tradition in what it sounds, feels and looks like an act of love for the lost art of creating moving songs. Full or lushy arrangements (mellotrons, violins, harpsichords) as well as vocal harmonies and indelible guitar lines, here you have ten gems to still believe in music and its healing powers...

Melenas. And we end in Pamplona, Navarra. to meet this all- female quartet (with members of must-listen bands like Río Arga and Ginkas) that began clicking cylinders during the summer of 2016, along the tunes composed by vocalist and guitarist Oihana and her meetings (and concert-going) with bassist Leire, keyboardist María and drummer Laura at the bar-music venue Nebula club. Less than a year later, and with some exciting buzz anticipating it, here's their self-titled debut album, released past September via El Nébula Recordings, Elsa Records and Snap Clap Club. The hype, for once is more than deserved. Knockout tunes, shiny, round and addictive, somewhere in between Heavenly (yes!) and Kokoshca, with hints of some garage forgotten band from the nuggets-era that didn't lose the knack for melodies, plus some slightly psychedelic and/or passages. Whatever the form, instant pop pills. What a debut... 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Discoverer 161: new indie findings

Time for another look back to the last months of 2017 in our discoverer series. Because there was too much exciting music coming from our beloved Antipodes at the end of the year to let it slip it away, so here's a trio of Australian wonders for your listening pleasure! Again, let's go down under!

Jeremy Neale. A staple of the Brisbane music scene (still digging among his previous/other bands & collaborations, many finds as Velociraptor or Teen Sensations and reencounters like my beloved Go Violets!) Mr. Neale debuted under his own moniker in 2012 with 7" single 'Darlin'/Winter Was The Time', followed a year later with the EP-LP 'In Stranger Times'. Another EP, 'Let Me Go Out In Style', out in 2015 via Dot Dash, seemed to anticipate his first full release. But things got somewhat quiet, but fun (particularly on social media) with 'hits' such as the 'Man In Skivvy affair' in Google (just type that) of the Jeromeo single 'Party! (Everybody In My Neighbourhood)' while Mr. Neale was carefully crafting his next step. One that surfaced past November under the title of 'Getting the Team Back Together'. And, arguably, the most enjoyable and addictive record of 2017. Power-pop, 80's new romanticism, arresting low-light numbers, über-charming melodies and harmonies, and tons and tons of pop hooks.
The Stroppies. Jump to Melbourne to meet this recently assembled (2016?) superband with members (take a deep breath, this is almost like a music All-Star-Game selection from down under) of Dick Diver, Twerps, The Stevens and Blank Statements. Already excited, right? You should, because their first release, the self-titled minialbum out past May via Hobbies Galore as a tape (later on as a limited 12" thanks to Tough Love), and their follow-up, the EP 'It's a Hit' out in December, are just what you can imagine considering the aforementioned cast of wonders. Lo-fi production, jangling guitars, a fanfare organ, deadpan vocals, knockout yet quirky choruses, hide-and-seek melodies... and stunning tunes. Nun's flying, feelings sneaking. Is that sound, that magic sound, floating in the air again... 

Body Type. And we end in Sydney (via Perth) with this DIY female quartet formed in 2016, coming out with a first release later that year in the form of the mind-blowing 7" 'Ludlow / 264'. out via Our Golden Friend. Propelled by the success of the single (great video too), they have toured with the likes of Cate Le Bon, our dear The Coathangers and Dianas (which whom they share some sort of idiosyncrasy in their sound). A few more tunes have followed in 2017, such as the killer 'Silver'. Lo-fi, swooning dream-pop with an edge and wide sonic landscapes recalling DIIV, expectations couldn't be higher for their next move. The future is all theirs!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 175

February has arrived with a bit of cold (finally) and another surreal political week (are we that numb against that, being polite, nonsense?). And to begin with the shortest month of the year as it deserves, here comes our latest TOP TEN Jukebox full of discoveries. If this were a poker game we could say that this is a royal flush, because none of the groups on this list have 'appeared' before in our playlist. So, we invite you to listen to the music, because you have plenty to get excited with. And remember, all songs are available at our Soundcloud. (Join Us!)

Direct links to 2018 Jukebox playlists