Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hu Hu Hu, Natalia Lafourcade



HU HU HU, NATALIA LAFOURCADE

Sony/BMG, Mexico *****
Rating: 95

by Andrew Casillas

Masterpiece
. As a music writer, you have to be very careful when using this term. It’s supposed to be saved for those rare works that change your perception of a style of art, or that serve as the culmination of an artist’s creative gestation. Masterpieces aren’t supposed to be entirely subjective—they must be illuminating to even the most casual of all audiences. That’s not to say that they must be flawless, but said flaws must attach themselves hand-in-hand with the best aspects of the work—giving the illusory effect that they’re supposed to be there in the first place. And even though it may be a stretch to ever call them “perfect,” these works can make you think, at least for one moment in time, that perfection is possible. Hu Hu Hu is one of those works.

The album begins with the most exhilarating 8-second sequence that you’ll hear open a record this year. The container song, “Cursis Melodías,” is a jaunty romp of mid-period Beatles proportions. Utilizing pounding pianos, steady guitar accents, big band horn riffs, and every piece of percussion in her arsenal, the track sets the tone for the elaborate and detailed instrumentation to follow. It’s as if this record is putting it’s foot down so you don’t let Lafourcade’s vocal similarity to other pop tarts like Lily Allen fool you—this isn’t going to be a passive listen.

From there follows “No Viniste,” which sounds like the best song the Concretes never made, and may in-fact be better than any Concretes song that they actually have made. The switch from the upbeat opener to this forlorn lament may seem puzzling, but you won’t even notice the change in tone. Instead, you’ll be sucked into the sea of overdubbed keyboards, sharp percussion, slow-burning accordion, and, um, glocking glockenspiel that gradually builds more forceful without losing its delicate quality. The next track, “Siempre Prisa,” is very robust, and could easily be mistaken for a lost single off of Juana Molina’s Segundo. Accompanied only by an acoustic guitar for almost two minutes, the song eventually is enveloped with dueling background vocals, throbbing deep bass lines, atmospheric electronic textures, chiming guitars and rampant percussion until it sounds almost tribal.

After this rousing 1-2-3 punch, the next two songs, “Tiempo al Viento” and “Let’s Get Out,” are almost welcome relief. However, saying that these are the most conventional songs on the first half of Hu Hu Hu is like hearing a sports anchor talk about the most conventional LeBron James (or should I be saying Dwight Howard?) dunks—two points are two points. “Let’s Get Out” in particular is vintage Natalia Lafourcade: joyous, rollicking, and super-fun. This is by far the best of the album’s three English-songs.

This stretch is followed by the album’s title track, a duet with Julieta Venegas. Effectively an interlude track, the song is a harbinger of what’s to follow on the album’s second-half, but not before one last bit of fun: the immediate, and downright fantastic, “Ella es Bonita.” (Writer’s Note: Notice how the opening horns sound EXACTLY like the opening bassline of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me.” Isn’t that the greatest thing, like, ever??)

After the last note of “Ella es Bonita” is extinguished, the next sound you hear is that of chirping crickets at nightfall—a theme that continues through the rest of the record. The second half opens with “Niño Hojas,” which confirms Natalia Lafourcade’s statements that Hu Hu Hu was a companion piece to her classical record Las 4 Estaciones del Amor. However, as with that record, she’s not reinventing the wheel of orchestral pop music, rather, this is the best parts of Peter & the Wolf seen through the lens of adolescence. This is followed by the oldest song on the record, the solely acoustic “Running Too Fast,” which is also the first song that Lafourcade wrote in English. Personally, I’ve never been a real big fan of this song, and for the most part, it doesn’t work well in isolation, but in the context of the rest of the album, it works as an impressive supplement.


The next song is album’s centerpiece, and my favorite track of the year so far, “Azul.” Beginning as simple piano pop akin to Regina Spektor, the song eventually explodes into a monster of Sufjan Stevens-indebted indie rock. An ambitious and powerful celebration of a song, there’s a veritable treasure chest of instruments that hit your ears: piano, glockenspiel, flute, clarinet, guitar, marching percussion, bells, even tape loops, and that’s not even including the touching and heartening second half.

If “Azul” is the climax of Hu Hu Hu, the last three tracks serve as a remarkable, and effective, denouement. “Hora de Compartir” is an uplifting piece of Nellie McKay-like throwback pop, without the Nellie McKay-like irony. The album ends with the more conventional “Un Lugar Para Renacer” and the Juan Son-assisted closer, “Look Outside.” (Writer’s Note: Don’t worry, aside from a few obtuse background vocals, Juan Son leaves his baroque playbook at home) While not one of the more direct hits on the album, “Look Outside” works remarkably well as a closer, with tropicalia guitars, blanketed instrumentation and cathartic background vocals that harkens back to other songs on the record—almost like a curtain call at the end of a musical.

In fact, it’s not too much of a stretch to compare Hu Hu Hu to a great play. Lafourcade has finally created a record with a singular vision aside from mere genre exercise. While her music could easily appeal to children, she dials down the precociousness and plain pathos to focus on that post-adolescent feeling of insecurity and confusion. Like Brian Wilson, Lafourcade focuses on characters that certainly aren’t defeated, but a bit out of place from how they perceive the rest of the world. Lafourcade doesn’t hide this facet of her music: the first two singles (“Ella es Bonita” and “Azul”) are two of the album’s more direct examples of this. The album’s “transition” from daytime to nightfall explicitly makes this clear, as does the general deliberate tone of the second half. More implicit are the shades and nooks that this album invites you to explore through repeated listens. Lafourcade may be a promising songwriter, but it’s her phrasing that really sells these songs: You don’t have to understand what “Mama esperame! Alejate de mi! Dejame caerme! Dejame salir!” means, you just have to hear her sing the words to get the effect of what she’s trying to express. For someone who’s never been the most remarkable singer, her mastery of this technique cannot be overstated. And like with every great play, there’s an ebb-and-flow to the entire experience, playing more like a 13-song suite than a pop record.

People will think up many comparisons of Hu Hu Hu’s sound: Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, Bat for Lashes, St. Vincent, Regina Spektor, Matthew Herbert, etc. This is only natural when you want to explain what you’ve just heard, but completely wrong: it “sounds” like a thousand artists, but it doesn’t sound like anyone. What makes this album great is that it’s distinctively of the past, from the present, and guides towards the future. This is an album full of heart, sweat, and originality. An album that will slowly develop a set of followers who will someday speak of its impact and legacy. An album that lives within you, even when you think that you’ve forgotten about it. A pop masterpiece in any language.

"Cursis Melodias"


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Video: "Palabras Raras", Fabian

If you've been following the blog since it started, you probably remember my obsession with spanish singer-songwriter Fabian, who was virtually unknown and in a way still is (I blame his decision of calling. himself just Fabian). I got his second album Adios Tormenta on the mail this morning, so I'm defentely looking forward to hear it. Thing is my taste has changed significantly (now I'm more into Bon Iver), but it's hard to resist one of the most charming singers out there, so sweet it's scary, but hey I'm currently not in love, so ask me later. "Palabras Raras" is the first cut from the album, and there's a video for it, enjoy.

Warmi, Magaly Solier

WARMI, MAGALY SOLIER
Phantom Records, Peru
Rating: 74
By Carlos Reyes

Magaly Solier should be a familiar face for us Latino Cinema enthusiasts, with only two films under her filmography the 22 year old beauty has become Peru’s dearest actress. I remember watching the brilliant Madeinusa helmed by first time director Claudia Llosa and watching the promising girl that carried the difficult movie with plenty of command and charm. Early this year La Teta Asustada won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, during her acceptance speech she sang part of a song in Quechua that gave everyone shivers and left Berlin’s jury president Tilda Swinton in tears, their second film working together brought all the attention and the opportunity for Solier to fulfill her dream of making music. Cutting away the Cinderella story, Magaly Solier is a solid debut that is fortunate for the most part; it doesn’t lack ideas and breaths beautiful moments of indigenous and provincial outreach. The album is mostly in Quechua, and of course not knowing the language or the culture, there is that expected distance that although is fascinating to discover, it becomes an alienating experience. The album is heavy on charango, quenas, and violins; Solier is the mind behind it all and the sensitivity in her voice is beautifully naïf. She sings about her people for her people, and it’s wonderful that it never steps in encyclopedic ambition; although I did learn that ‘warmi’ means woman and so it does have an unconditional sense to make people aware of the culture. The first song “Citaray” takes you right into the sound, yes it is traditional Peruvian folk but Solier’s playfulness with vocals approach the alternative scats of Lila Downs. “Para Para” is like a gigantic celebration and the album’s most vibrant piece. Among the songs in Spanish, the clear standout is “Porque me miras asi”, which is very sweet and the one song that could actually make it into regular radio. But there’s a song that is really captivating and a revisit to Madeinusa, “Ripu Ripusajmi” is a jaw-dropping protest song for the Quechua woman, the musical accompaniment is exquisite and up to the moment as it tells the story of a girl escaping from the physical abuse of her father: “seguro tu padre borracho, seguro tu padre machista, cuando decidiste marcharte .. siempre te golpea tu padre.”

Most loved songs @ The Hype Machine



Considering about a fourth of our daily page hits get through The Hype Machine, I went through the site to list the top 10 most loved songs we've posted this year so far.

Most Hyped

MRS. LOVE. Disco Ruido!
I NEED A BEAT. DJ Raff feat. Maca Melendez
UNIVERSO 2. Hello Seahorse!
NADA PUEDO HACER. Los Romanticos de Zacatecas
YO DIGO BAILA. Mexican Institute of Sound (Quiero Club Remix)
JACINTO CENOBIO. Pepepe
LA DESPEDIDA (MANU CHAO COVER). Babaluca
PINATA. Pilar Diaz
LA SOFI. Rita Indiana
MOONSON. Delorean

Friday, May 29, 2009

Christina Rosenvinge & Vetusta Morla cover Surfjan Stevens


Spain’s indie has a festival of its own, Dia de la Musica is still young, and on June 21st it will celebrate its fourth edition with a lineup to drool for. Now with full financial support from El Pais and Heineken, the two leading trademarks along with Canal + for Spain’s entertainment, they have built enormous attention as they are compiling a set of covers by some of the artists set to perform. There are covers for TV on the Radio (by The Requesters & Tachenko) , MGMT (by Cohete & Remate), Morrissey (by Dorian), Gnarls Barkley (by Templeton & Alondra Bentley), Devendra Banhart (by Joe Crepusculo & Nudozordo), CSS (by Cuchillo & Klaus y Kinski), Joe Crepusculo (La Bien Querida & Manos de Topo) among others.

They’re releasing a single song every day and it stays available for download for only 24 hours. Truth is, you’re not missing much. Despite the bright idea and the attractive lineup of artists, most of these covers are horribly weak, some even laughable (particularly that MGMT cover). There are still 3 more tracks to go, but for the moment, I’ve saved only one track that although it’s not entirely great, it’s the big standout so far. Surfjan Stevens’s “Chicago” is covered by Christina Rosenvinge and Vetusta Morla; I love the vocals and its warmth, but it’s too stiff at times, quite uncharacteristic of two acts that have proven to transcend in beautiful melodies like “La Distancia Adecuada” and “Copenhague.”

♫♫♫ "Chicago"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

El Nuevo Ruido Fronterizo keeps delivering the year's most exciting music


These guys keep exciting the heck out of me; I'm only starting to sound like a true fan because I am. The relationship built among Los Macuanos, María y José and Los Amparito is heading up to the complex grounds of musical brotherhood. Whether they might be able to break into radio is tough to say, I'm afraid people don't get just how well crafted their songs are. Honestly, I'm just waiting for them to release their songs properly, so far I've gotten a lot of equally enthusiastic reponses from friends, my collaborators and fellow music journalists (interestingly, all of them American). You can download three awesome tracks from a previous post here, and here is another three I can't stop playing on my iPod.

♫♫♫ “La Tierra Sagrada”, María y José
♫♫♫ “Corazón Corazón”, María y José (Los Amparito Remix)
♫♫♫ “El Ruidoson de la Culebra”, Fito Olivares (Los Macuanos Aguas! O te tronamos edit)

Porque no me das tu dinero, Klaus & Kinski

PORQUE NO ME DAS TU DINERO,
KLAUS & KINSKI
Jabalina, Spain
Rating: 80
By Carlos Reyes

Spain’s Klaus & Kinski released a remarkable debut LP last year, definitely the sleeper hit of 2008 which earned them a ‘band to watch’ status, some publications have gone further enough to call them the missing foot of Spain’s indiepop. Although it feels extremely quick for another release, the duo from Murcia opts to release an EP with five tracks that ideally should keep the momentum rolling and catch plenty of new fans along, but I get the feeling this will only happen outside Spain, this is the kind of follow-up record that distances itself from its first episode, something Spaniards don’t appreciate much. Thing is, Klaus & Kinski sound even more nostalgic and personal in Porque No Me Das Tu Dinero? than in any track from their debut LP; not necessarily a good thing as they lose much of their fantasized lure that made a song like “El Cristo del Perdon” an exquisite codification of pop and faith, or that timeless circular flow in “Flash Al Reves.” First single “Nunca estas a la altura” was part of their LP, it strangely transitions perfectly as the EP’s leading piece, it’s about the only track that could’ve done so as this is far from a continuation of their debut, although the band or label might want you to believe it is. The song prevails through its rush of noisy guitars and steady drums, setting itself to a midpoint between the furious Triangulo de Amor Bizarro and the delicacy of Nubes en mi Casa, the outcome results in something as pleasing like Hello Seahorse! The self-titled track is even more engaging, talks about showing love in bolder ways, like manifesting it through a protest, a haircut or a garden. “Te vas a enterer” and “Shell for the morning” are great tracks to notice the duo’s finest moments, they know how to hide beautiful melodies as if they were protecting them, not making them too hard to reach. In the other hand, the concluding track “El Mejor Idilio” is too much of a self-serving 7 minute track not to feel tired by it. It’s a round beautiful EP unworthy of its lukewarm reviews; Klaus & Kinski’s keep scoring high on my book.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Earth At Night, Mercey Hot Springs

THE EARTH AT NIGHT,
MERCEY HOT SPRINGS

Delhotel Records, Mexico
Rating: 66

By Andrew Casillas

I don’t know much about Mexican electro-rock act Mercey Hot Springs, but I do know this: they sure can rock a sweet groove. This makes the Earth at Night so frustrating—and disappointing—at times. Oddly (or perhaps rightly), the act that Mercey Hot Springs reminds me of most is another equally funky yet spotty dance-rock troupe: Out Hud. Indeed, as with that perennially on-the-cusp (now defunct) Brooklyn act’s finest work, the Earth at Night is a mix of fat bass licks, stealth percussion, and indie grooves with enough humor to keep your attention even when the party’s over. At their best, Mercey Hot Springs can create a banger worthy of Basement Jaxx (“Ti Takaya Prelesnaya”) or Mextronica that even Camilo Lara would have to stand and applaud (“Estado de Emergencia,” which also contains a pretty great line about swine flu). However, this album is also victim to some of the more unfortunate track sequencing that I’ve seen in a while. For some reason, the band elects to follow every great toe-tapping, booty-shaking moment with frenetic, filler tracks. For example, “Ti Takya Prelesnaya,” easily the most infectious moment on the record, is followed by “Cierra los Ojos” which sounds like the interlude track from Powerpuff Girls cartoon reruns. This isn’t an isolated incident either. It’s as if the band is deliberately trying to pique your interest with the pop tunes to lure you into their more experimental tracks. That’s not to say that said tracks are entirely bad, but the track sequencing is more apt to leave the listener jarred than it is to make them attentive. This is unfortunate, because as I’ve stated before, there are a few flashes of brilliance on this record. It’s also remarkably engaging with repeat listens, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t catch yourself wanting to press the “skip” button more than once. I don’t doubt that this band could one day make a record the equal of Let Us Never Speak of It Again, let’s just hope that THEY realize that.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Natalia Lafourcade: En Petite Comite & Sesiones


Natalia Lafourcade is En Petite Comite’s latest guest, we’ve enjoyed previous invitees like Juan Manuel Torreblanca and Jovenes y Sexys (that Javiera Mena cover was awesome). She’s only 5 days away from releasing Hu Hu Hu and based on the songs we’ve heard so far, everything is set for a masterwork, all of a sudden she went from an overhyped singer of cute songs with a couple of jaw-droping moments (“Saul” and “En Direccion Contraria”) to a fully defined artist many will try to ignore. “Azul” is so epic; I would lie if I said I expected something as magnificent from her, undeniably the best single of the year so far. Her session with En Petite Comite includes her two first singles, plus another track included her album titled “No Viniste”, which only adds to my excitement. And finally, a cover for The Beatles’s “Black Bird”, which Andrew had told us about in his SXSW coverage.


On the more commercial side, Natalia performs at Sesiones con Alejandro Franco, a popular music show that airs on Telehit. It's a longer set, with a full band supporting her, I would highlight "Tiempo al Viento" which has been around the web for months along with "Running too fast." Here is here entire performance (+ an interview) on this video playlist made up of 3 parts, just click next to go to the next one.


En Petite Comite - MySpace

Ayrton Senna EP, Delorean

AYRTON SENNA EP, DELOREAN
Mushroom Pillow, Spain ***1/2
Rating: 77
By Jean-Stephane Beriot

Although almost virtually unknown in Latin America, I’ve followed the steps of Delorean carefully as I’m anticipating a masterwork to arrive and break them into massive proportions. They’re a young electropop act from Barcelona and just for the sake of making a comparison; I would say they sound like a sassier side of The Pinker Tones, or even closer, to Mexico’s Bufi and Neon Walrus. The band has sparked attention from American music critics for their memorable remixes for several bands like The Mystery Jets and The Teenagers. Ayrton Senna EP is their fourth release (their first one with Spain’s magnificent label Mushroom Pillow), as truthful supporters of the EP format they keep things fresh; they make a point without getting lost in pretension or difficult cinematic moments. They make it clear they’re having fun and want to pass the enjoyment along. These are four harmless pieces that although never really support a single vision they don’t stop the EP to reveal blissful charisma and plenty of catchiness. Opener “Big Deeper” is a very generic way to start engines, but they don’t quite make it in their search to “find our way into the sun.” There is a suspension in all four tracks that really keeps everything in order, the numinous background vocals are present throughout but mostly effective in “Deli.” If there’s a chance for Delorian to fully internationalize, "Moonson" is the way to go, is tremendously catchy, memorable and as radio-friendly as Hellogoodbye. It’s got so much appeal that it almost steps in MGMT – Empire of the Sun territory. Yes, I’ve listed enough references, but it happens that they carry their influences with total acceptance and that by itself is remarkable. One of the most solid electro pop albums I’ve heard this year joining the awesome works by Neon Walrus, Golden Silvers and The Field.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Video: "Minutos de Aire", Quiero Club ft. Jorge Gonzalez

By now you’ve probably seen it since it’s been up on MySpace for two days, but the MySpace players for both video and audio suck. These guys are just too fun, and their third single “Minutos de Aire” doesn’t age a bit, with Jorge Gonzalez on board they continue their quest to explore Nueva America. The song is on our playlist by the way, it's my favorite track from their highly celebrated sophomore album.


Bestia, Hello Seahorse!



BESTIA, HELLO SEAHORSE!

MUN, México ****1/2
Rating: 90
By Carlos Reyes

Through the enigmatic summit of ghostly beauty, the third album by Hello Seahorse! discharges some of the most precious moments music will give us this year, Bestia is the consolidation of the trio as a major enforcement in Mexico’s indie. A significant step forward to their previous works; their charmingly twee first album …And the Jellyfish Parade and the magical sleeper-hit Hoy a las Ocho EP sound captivatingly conflicted to the much darker and bolder Bestia. The animalistic and monstrous introduction of the leading single “Bestia” serve as the connecting loop as we enter a space of shadows that is both enchanting and destructive, and best of all, it’s furiously dualistic and fully aware of its skill.

Although their single “Bestia” is this year’s indie hit and they’re breaking into a larger range of followers, this is their least immediate and accessible moment yet. It’s a full investment on their art, and to our surprise, all the songs are in Spanish. The single is a marvelous piece; I’m almost convinced my interpretation of the song is far away from the original idea, but I like my romanticized view on “Bestia” as a song about the desire for salvation and the fear to confront light, like a man taking the easy route walking with the beast and now comes back in redemption, facing the lion’s roar and finding out shame has taken his voice as punishment. Later on the album “El Segundo” picks up the defeatist scar, through sublime instrumentation and angelical vocals, the trio duels a demon and triumphs with the help of visionary producer Yamil Rezc.

The second single “Despues” is a piece on the ambiguous attractiveness of the unknown and the clumsy outcomes that result when trying to make sense of it. Also already familiar “Universo 2”, which was included in the U.S. edition of Hoy a las Ocho released by Magic Maker last year, a piece about the mystical escape of two lovers in search of the details that make up a predestinate universe in which their love would flourish. Hello Seahorse! isn’t necessarily a more mature band, we still want to see the uplifting sprit of “Won’t say anything”, but they’re showing another dimension that feels more personal. In a song like “Criminal” they’re no longer talking about communal secrets, it’s about the measure of sacrifice. Other highlights include “Miercoles” and “Siberia”, in collaboration with Chetes.

Bestia remains brilliant all throughout; it really is an imaginative voyage although once you get to “Oso Polar” it’s hard to continue before replaying the song over and over, certainly the album’s best piece and it might just be their best song yet period. A vulnerable polar bear walking through the streets looking for his home becomes part of a hide and seek afternoon; it incorporates the child game as the music alternates firm predatory drums and warmer delicate passages of a targeted pray. It’s a complex narrative that even advices those playing the game to beware of power and sizes, “no seas idiota, te crees mas grande que el, mira sus garras, te pueden matar tambien.” Certainly one of the year’s most precious albums, we’re hoping for a U.S. release to come our way very soon.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Video: "She is my man", Bigott

This is Bigott’s first video ever, we’re hoping he gets the recognition he didn’t receive with his two previous productions. Fin is his masterwork and one of the five best albums of the year so far. We expected the incredibly catchy “Afrodita Carambolo” to be the first single, but they went with the less accessible “She is my man”, I only wish the song was longer.

New Single: "Vive", Jumbo



We love the shift bands and record companies are taking in regard of front singles, labels of all sizes finally realized that giving away a track from an upcoming release can be their greatest force in promoting their product. It just became a whole lot more comprehensible, now Jumbo joins Natalia Lafroucade, Mexican Institute of Sound, Hello Seahorse! and a bunch of artists practicing this form of marketing, and also a kind approach to their followers. Jumbo always has that question mark on them, they’re a middling band with a colossally brilliant track (Fotografia) and fortunate singles, but the albums as a whole have never gotten me too excited. “Vive” is an unconvincing but interesting track, appealing mostly because of Phil Vinal’s sharp scope as a producer, and it’s one of Jumbo’s most firm moments but unfortunately a piece of stiffness too.

To download "Vive", go to this website, click on "descargas", and you'll need to type your email address and confirm it, it will send you a link to your email inbox.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Single: "Faquir", Niña Dioz


New single by enfant-terrible Niña Dioz, “Faquir” is her confrontation with Mexico’s crude and enchanting capital. People say ‘el defectuoso’ changes souls but she is forcing her way convinced of who she is and wants to let the city know she won’t change a bit, a provincial thought that had not been fully envisioned outside the ‘regional mexican’ genre. Her Marcapasos EP left many of us enchanted, and after collaborating with Plastilina Mosh, Mood Fu and bringing one of the best tracks in the Rudo y Cursi Soundtrack, we can pretty much declare her album as one of the year’s most anticipated releases.

"Faquir"

Humildad Trascendental, Tarantula

HUMILDAD TRASCENDENTAL,
TARANTULA

Producciones Doradas, Spain ***
Rating: 64
By Carlos Reyes


Prior to Joe Crepusculo’s 2008 double feature (Escuela de Zebras + Supercrepus) and the resulting recognition that placed him on pop star status last year, he was part of Tarantula; one of the most discussed bands in Spain’s indie and responsible for one of the most memorable dissections among music critics. Truth is, Tarantula is far away from Crepusculo’s charming techno, this is freaky rock that asks for too much attention. While the self-serving allure proves to be an assertion for music itself, Tarantula’s Esperando a Ramon (2006) took it to the extremes falling into a mind-numbing and confused first LP. Humildad Trascendental is an improvement, for one they’re not trying to make a stance on what popular music should sound like, and so they get rid of the excessive gloom to present a joyful posture that will hopefully transcend through songs and not just personality. I wish Crepusculo would take charge of the main vocals since I find his voice to be stupidly charming, but I guess it doesn’t matter who is singing, they make it clear that their enlightening lyrics and heavy percussions will be enough to assimilate a couple of anthems. First track “Antisistema Solar” is galactic and an approximation to what aliens would see as western music. It is followed by “Gusano”, which interesting enough reminded me of a current Mexican Banda radio hit by Fidel Rueda. This is everything I’ve wished to get from Tarantula, a distinctive but crude track on the life of a worm turns to be more interesting that one would think, it’s a personal attack on a creature that “doesn’t smell good or bad … just boring.” The leading single “Con toda la marcha” is a moment of reflexion, in the year 2029 an asteroid will hit earth and awake a generation that still watches the Oscars and Eurovision. But the album becomes boring after a while; it never reduces its humor and futuristic appeal, but 15 songs add up to a very heavy album in need of moisture. There is however a final song that makes up for much of the dryness, their take on “El Vals de las Mariposas” is epic, I must confess I thought this song was written by a Mexican, like Joan Sebastian or something but it’s not, it’s just so damn close to our culture and Tarantula honor Danny Rivera’s song like no one else has probably done.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quickies #2



Club Fonograma's TUMBLR is the corner where we post very short quick notes on albums we don't really like, don't know how to review or good albums we missed from last year. It takes us a while to update just because it's kind of harsh to throw albums in there, we must be careful.

FLUORESCENT MUSIC. Tropitek
The Poni Republic, Mexico

Rating: 62
MP3: "Parchis"

ESPIRAL & A MI LADO. Cineplexx
Molecula Records, Spain
Rating: 63

HOGAR. Volovan
Universal Music, Mexico
Rating: 18

BUENAS TORTAS. Aitanna77
Error Lo-Fi, Spain
Rating: 57

LOS ULTIMOS 1O MINUTOS DE MARIA DUVAL. Los Negretes
Independiente, Mexico

Rating: 75
MP3: "Princesa de Media Noche"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mediocres


Since I have yet to find a great rock Mexican album this year, I’m Jumping from one MySpace to another to see if I catch something, it can be suffocating, but this practice has proven to work in discovering new bands worthy to write about. Yesterday I came across Mediocres, a band from Torreon, Coahuila. I can’t seem to point out exactly why they standout, there’s something mysterious about them, it might be that they sound like early Bloc Party or even Becker, one of Mexico’s most intriguing new bands and whose second LP should arrive in a few months. Mediocres have several songs available for download at LastFM, they’re calling it their EP, but I can’t tolerate LastFM’s player or having to download each individual track, putting them on a folder, and without artwork. While I wait for them to release their EP properly and make clear sense of it, I must say I’m loving their track “Una Tarde”, taste it!


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Todosantos : RIP (2002-2009)


This is not very nice, just when I was looking to see if there were any news on new stuff from Todosantos, I find out they’re calling it off. The Venezuelan trio formed in 2002 and published through The Poni Republic, later on releasing their Girlzzz EP on Flaming Hotz Records. Our very first playlist here opened with their popular “OMG! We Got It” and it’s now sucks to see their R.I.P 2002-2009 description at their MySpace. Oh well, they’re all working on new projects so I’ll be sure to take a listen. Enjoy the last thing they uploaded to their MySpace, a remix for El Guincho’s “Antillas." Which reminds me, what happened to that remix album El Guincho was supposed to release through Beggars & Mad Decent?

"Antillas" (Todosantos Remix)

El Encanto de Once, Enviada

EL ENCANTO DE ONCE, ENVIADA
Independiente, Argentina
Rating: 59
By Carlos Reyes

Their MySpace says they sound like ACDC and Abba, and it’s brave they’re aiming towards iconic portraits to make a description of their music, they got it all wrong with the references since they sound nothing like either band although they do reach out for classicism and even practice it. Let me start by saying the vocalist sings with such romanticism that I felt seduced throughout the entire album, during every single spin I gave this album. These songs aren’t necessarily romantic, not even tender; singer Guadalupe Soria inputs sensuality to them, sometimes in cabaret moods like in “Amanerada” or in the deceptive vocal roughness of “Amiga.” So instead of sounding like Abba, the vocals at least don’t really get out of the Latin American song, which the general term/cliché dictates to be very passionate, engaging and if interpreted as a balladeer you might just win an award. Enviada works amazing with quick vigorous pieces like “Volveria a Hacerlo”, “Juego” and “Soy Jodida”, while it struggles to transmit softness in its quiet songs. “Vienes o te vas” is the clear standout, a big thank you there as it asks people to not let their problems be known, they’re infective, but the track is infectious and if taken proper care, could manage to sneak into popular radio.The album does struggle to be concise, it’s uneven and even though it’s way too long (15 tracks), it feels like they’re rushing through it. Now, why do I get the feeling they'll bitch-slap me with an upcoming great album? I hope they do.

♫♫♫ "Vienes o te vas"
 MySpace

SPIN picks up Music Alliance Pact



SPIN Earth picks up MAP, there's interesting things coming up hopefully, we're happy it will finally get some bigger exposure. I really hope you're ok with our choices so far: Natalia Lafourcade, Juan Son, Mexican Institute of Sound and this month Mr. Racoon, an artist that not only fits the idea of MAP (to showcase an artist internationally) but also fits locally as it doesn't have enough attention in Mexico itself, make sure to have Katy somewhere in your hard drive, it's sublime.

"There's plenty of reason to support a global effort like the Music Alliance Pact (MAP). Beyond the plain like-mindedness that seems clearly apparent to us at SPINearth.tv, the writers and reporters found in this global blog highlight give us their suggestion on the latest each music scene has had to offer in the last few weeks. Not only does it give the readers a broader look at the open and expansive world of music, but it reassures that we're on a good path in discovering music and culture globally, and directly so from all its various sources. The reality of something like MAP simply reinforces the fact that there's purpose and meaning in connecting the best people in music, whether you're an artist, spectator, or even better—both. These select bloggers are merely the tip of the iceberg. From here on out we'll be getting to know them in a lot more detail. We'll get to see who they are, what they're up to in all their chaos, and most of all, why they do what they do when it comes to keeping the pulse of music in their area. It's a matter of inspiration and a matter of time. The experience is what we care for. Enjoy it...."

"Rebelde Radioactivo", Los Sinners (Buñel’s Simon del Desierto)

I’ve posted this video from Luis Buñel’s Simon del Desierto several times here and on other blogs, it never gets old, one of my all-time favorite cinematic moments from one of the most visionary directors film has given us. 

Friday, May 15, 2009

En El Cementerio Peligroso, Lidia Damunt

EN EL CEMENTERIO PELIGROSO,
LIDIA DAMUNT
Subterfuge, Spain ***1/2
Rating: 71
By Carlos Reyes

Lidia Damunt caves folk with accentuated strings like almost no other individual from our region; through a concise skill she forces her voice into awe-inspiring screams to catch up to her guitar’s rapid speed as if it was following a horse through the woods. En El Cementerio Peligroso sounds just like Damunt’s first record En la Isla de las Bufandas, just with different topics, but not enough proximity among its pieces to formulate a concept or a sharp theme. What makes the album particular is Damunt’s personality breaking through the music and unveiling herself; sometimes in direct down-to-earth songs like “Perdoname” and even more interesting is to see figurative language make an appearance through fantasy and glossy stories. The big standout among these imaginative pieces is “Su Nombre Es Chaan”, a rapid half pop half trova piece about her encounter with a character that feels too lonely in this world, through the description, leaves the impression of being some kind of inspiring and kind witch. “El Hundimiento del Sirio” is the other track that fully gets its concept; there are plenty of details to make the story of a sinking boat traveling to the Americas believable. Despite its virtues, songs like “En el fondo del mar” and “Eco Eco” fall short to the artist’s premise, these are songs that work great individually but once put together experience a drought of notion. The incredibly fun and honest “Guinglain” arrives at an awkward moment, it's crude and with lines like "a las damas enamora con su seriedad", it's an engaging story of an emblematic knight. It is the moment to disclose full confidence as she riffs the strings at full potency, a triumph for the story-teller and the one song in the album that places the artwork’s armor and architectural beauty as levelheaded.  

♫♫♫ "Guinglain"
MySpace

College Break: Fresh Sounds Playlist



Just 3 things about this playlist.
1. It was compiled right after my last exam yesterday.
2. You should know these songs by now, so they're not entirely 'fresh'
3. It's on the side bar ... in tropical orange

Extraperlo. “Las Palmeras del Amor” (Desayuno Continental)
Hello Seahorse! “Después" (Bestia)
Los Amigos Invisibles ft Natalia Lafourcade. “Viviré Para Ti” (Commercial)
Juan Son. “El Resplandor” (Mermaid Sashimi)
Los Amparito. “Las Miradas de Magaly” (N/A)
Teleradio Donoso. “Cama de Clavos” (Bailar y Llorar)
Disco Ruido! “Mrs. Love” (N/A)
Elaine. “Yes Louis” (N/A)
Maluca. “El Tigeraso” (El Tigeraso)
Quiero Club ft Jorge González. “Minutos de Aire” (Nueva America)
Bam Bam. “Trepabalcones” (Bam Bam)
Bigott. “Algora Campeon” (Fin)
Nuuro. “Avila” (The Reddest Ruby)
Natalia Lafourcade. “Ella Es Bonita” (Hu Hu Hu)

MAP: Music Alliance Pact - May



MEXICO: Club Fonograma
Mr. Racoon - Ferry 3
Mr. Racoon is one of several projects by Roberto Polo, among them 60 Tigres and Fuck Her, Or The Terrorists Win. This is by far his most charming moment yet. His music unfolds the very best of a prolific songwriter that, as opposed to what his music may sound like, is a maximalist taking the lo-fi production and his shimmering voice to heroic amplitudes. Ferry 3 is a cut from his third album Katy, released earlier this year through the free storage music website Delhotel Records.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Les Mentettes Orchestra - Hold On
Les Mentettes is a psychedelic pop band who just released a five-song EP with orchestral arrangements conducted by former Orquesta de Salón member Manuloop. It's a free release so if you like Hold On you can legally download the other tracks as well. They are currently playing this record live with a full orchestra in several venues around Buenos Aires.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Jonathan Boulet - A Community Service Announcement
I only recently discovered the very talented Jonathan Boulet's music online, and upon hearing this song immediately purchased his album from iTunes. It is simply amazing that the 20-year-old produced and recorded everything himself in his garage. Big future for this guy.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
A Banda de Joseph Tourton - #3
A Banda de Joseph Tourton only have a few songs on the internet and released a digital EP last year, but they are already one of the most interesting of the new generation of alternative groups in Brazil. They create instrumental songs full of groove, emotion and originality, making the next step in mangue beat's (a musical movement from Brazil's northeast) history, going through post-rock, jazz and their regional culture influences.

CANADA: I(Heart)Music
Green Go - Brains For Breakfast
For a year or two now, my friends in Toronto have been raving about Green Go to me and now that their debut album, Borders, is out, it's easy to see why. As songs like Brains For Breakfast show, the band create infectiously catchy pop with shouted group vocals and bouncy riffs that sound like they'd make for a big, sweaty blast of fun in concert.

CHILE: Super 45
Mutrone - Bristol
A mix of experimentation, psychedelia and improvisation are the foundation elements from which Mutrone build solid sound walls comprising samples, effects and a dynamic reminiscent of the machine-like structures of krautrock. With two albums, Oscillatore and Centinela, both released under a Creative Commons licence, the four guys in Mutrone have discovered an exciting way to bring the real sounds of the city into the machine.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Sinusstøv - Who Am I?
The translation of their name is "Sinus Dust" but there's nothing at all dusty about Claus Pedersen and Søren Friis Dam's musical output. Who Am I? is lush, sweeping and crackling electro, showered in the melancholy Scandinavians have to live with and everybody else finds moving. Another grand testament to the incredibly healthy state of Danish electronica.

ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
Blue Roses - Doubtful Comforts
Another month and I'm sticking with all thinks folky, although we're leaving London for Shipley in Yorkshire which is the home of Laura Groves. She has recently rebranded herself as Blue Roses and released an amazing self-titled album (on XL). Of all the young folky female artists I've enthused about here and on my blog, she's possibly the best.

FINLAND: Glue
Delay Trees - Desert Island Song
Indie-pop quartet Delay Trees have just self-released their seven-song debut CD, Soft Construction EP. Desert Island Song is the opening track and the beginning of a dreamy trip through tender pop melodies and bits of psychedelia. It is a very promising start for these guys.

FRANCE: ZikNation
Walter - Le Dernier Bastion
In the beginning, they were two, playing in parks, festivals and concert halls. Six years and three musicians later, Walter keeps riding French roads offering a tasty blend of reggae, blues and folk, spreading messages of love, respect and peace. They'll be back in studio by the end of the year to record their next album.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
Schlachthofbronx - Good To Go
Schlachthofbronx defined a whole new genre called Munich bass. This bastard relies heavily on Kuduro, baile funk, dub and dancehall but also likes to play with elements of Bavarian folk and synthpop. Good To Go has never been released officially but turned on the crowd at their sweaty gigs all over central Europe.

ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
Retro Stefson - Papa Paulo III (Re-edit version)
Retro Stefson was founded in late 2006 by a group of eight teenagers, school friends from Austurbæjarskóli. They write catchy, semi-pop/semi-rock crossover songs and give great live performances. Last year the band released their debut album Montaña on the Icelandic Kimi Records label. The band's principal songwriter is Unnsteinn Manual Stefánsson. The lyrics are in English, Spanish and Icelandic.

IRELAND: Nialler9
Super Extra Bonus Party - Radar
The first single from Super Extra Bonus Party's second album Night Horses sees them joined by Cadence Weapon on a stomping live band/electro-hop crossover. It's a good indication of a band who don't like to stick to genres for too long. Night Horses also features pop, acoustic folk, instrumental rock and electronic goodness with guest vocals from Mr. Lif, R.S.A.G., May Kay of Fight Like Apes, Ann Scott and Heathers.

ITALY: Polaroid
Buzz Aldrin - Small Bad Talk With Koala Friends
Obsessive rhythms, nagging guitars, alienated voices, dirty synths and strangely beautiful songs that are greater than the sum of their parts. Think of Liars, think of Wire, think of Pere Ubu, or don't think: just dance. This young trio show a driving strength when on stage and they are improving with every gig.

NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
The Sing Songs - Pamphlet Baby
The Sing Songs sing songs, saccharine sweet pop songs. What gives them their staying power are the lyrics. Where you might expect girl loves boy, boy loves girl, instead you get the story of a woman dealing with the death of her baby by walking the streets with a pram, delivering pamphlets. To date the band don't have any releases but this song has been included on a compilation issued by Real Groove magazine to celebrate New Zealand music month.

NORWAY: Eardrums
Maribel - Flesh & Blood
Oslo-based Maribel released their long-awaited and brilliant debut Aesthetics only a few days ago, and the Norwegian critics gave them full scores in the reviews. The band play dreamy, noise-drenched, multi-layered shoegaze with almost psychedelic elements. There are obvious references in their sound to bands like My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Spacemen 3, Pale Saints and even The Velvet Underground, but Maribel definitely do their own thing and they do it their own way. Maribel and Aesthetics is highly recommended, and will be this Norwegian blogger's soundtrack to the spring of 2009.

PERU: SoTB
Diablos Azules - Porno Music
It is time for a classic night: trumpets, breaks, ska and contagious melodies that immerse people in the most insane of their intentions. It is perhaps no surprise the band are called Diablos Azules ("Blue Devils"). Porno Music is the best legacy of their existence - an old song which is still fresh and gets revived every time someone goes to a party in Lima.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
The TiMaria - Pretty Girls Are Pretty High
Last year, a man was organizing a gig with a three-band bill but had just two booked. When he was creating the poster, he made up the name TiMaria and included this fictitious group as the third act of the night. (Un)fortunately, he didn't erase the name before the posters went to press and ended up with a stock of paper to throw away. However, he persuaded his friends, André Moinho and Nuno Rancho, who live in small villages around the city of Leiria, to form a band in 15 days so that he could use the posters and save the planet. And so, with the addition of Nuno's younger brother, Luis Jerónimo, The TiMaria ("Aunt Maria") was born. Their debut record will be released in September or October.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Semiosis - Recovery
Semiosis is the post-rock/ambient/electronic project of Seidiu Alexandru and Serban Ilicevici, two young guys from Craiova. They have just released their debut album, Pictural, and it has received a lot of positive feedback. Pictural is considered the first Romanian post-rock album and is available for free download here - it's a must if you enjoy listening to this preview.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Boycotts - Beat On The Dancefloor
Boycotts have been in existence for barely a year but it's still no surprise they've got people in Scotland very excited indeed. The Glasgow-based quartet's edgy guitar-pop pushes all the right buttons, but the ace in the pack is their enchanting frontlady, Stina Twee, all youthful exhuberance and 'don't screw with me' lyrics.

SINGAPORE: I'm Waking Up To...
The Fire Fight - Fires At Night
The Fire Fight are an indie-rock band that have set the local scene on fire with their firebranded musicality and heartfelt lyrics. Fires At Night is the first track from their demo, The Green EP. Brandishing straight-up indie guitar rock that combines the intensity of Bloc Party and the poetic ebb and flow of The One AM Radio, Fires At Night draws the listener into its warmth and, like a slow burning furnace, purifies the experience. Perhaps the best thing about The Fire Fight is their lyrical optimism in a world spiraling into nihilism, as singer Josh Tan pleads that music is for "the hope that burns in your eyes".

SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
Stretching Journey - 060
Post-punk band Stretching Journey put out a self-titled album on its own last month. The band is not afraid to blend a plethora of genres into their music and as a consequence of the lo-fi production, several of their songs ended up with a slight psychedelic edge. The album opens with 060, which has a progression and a beat influenced by Los Bunkers, whereas the style of the chorus is inspired by Korean dance-pop act Koyote.

SPAIN: La Página De La Nadadora
Sundae - Arte y Ensayo
The Field Mice, My Bloody Valentine, The Radio Dept. and The Cure are four good references for this band who have even been namechecked by the famous label Shelflife with their second demo. Sundae are like the best shoegaze pop inherited from Sarah Records, but this time from Seville.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
Robert Svensson - I Was Summer
I can't tell you one quaint biographical detail about Robert Svensson - he's a mystery to me. But I am now an instant fan on the strength of I Was Summer. The song exists to share these two sets of lyrics: "I was summer and you were November" and "I was architecture and you were the wrecking ball".

UNITED STATES: I Guess I'm Floating
Lands & Peoples - Awake
Baltimore-based Lands & Peoples seem to have a knack for hypnotherapy. With a ommanding ethereal ambience and gorgeous catatonic tensions throughout, Awake is an eye-opener from start to finish. You'll ask, "How have I not heard of them?" and "I can't believe they aren't signed!" well, believe it. There's an album in the works coming out later this year (perhaps self-released), but for now you can listen to more gems at their MySpace page.

To download all 25 songs in one file click here.