Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Video + MP3: Quiero Club - "Días Perfectos"


Quiero Club has not released any albums since their victorious attempt to redefine the soundscapes of the superglued continent they’ve baptized as Nueva América. Ever since, the band has kept momentum, releasing one knockout single after another, which they will be compiling in a four-track EP that will serve as an appetizer for their forthcoming third full-length album, to be released in the spring next year. The brand new single, “Días Perfectos,” is the first confirmed track on their new album and is also the last piece on their new EP comprised by the melodically eclectic “Qué Hacer En Caso De Oir Voces,” the immune system booster “Las Propiedades del Cobre,” and the generational gem “Música.” Among such good company, the new grooving single plays as a sentimentally blissful and almost devastating piece that captures our generation’s failed rehearsals with time management, and it has its vocal height with the punching, almost hopeful line, “yo aun despierto cada día.” Download the track free for the exchange of an email HERE.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Neon Indian - Era Extraña

Era Extraña, Neon Indian
Mom + Pop, USA
Rating: 85
by Blanca Méndez

When I first heard that Alan Palomo would be retreating to Finland to record the follow-up to Psychic Chasms, my mind immediately leapt to images of Finland’s breathtakingly sparse beauty, of endless stretches of desolate landscapes, icy waters, and, of course, fjords. (Fjords!) I wondered what this would mean for Neon Indian’s sound, one that on Psychic Chasms was the opposite of the images that the mention of Finland had conjured for me. I was intrigued by the idea of more stripped-down soundscapes because, as much fun as it was, I had grown weary of Psychic Chasms with its unrestrained noise and carefree energy. It was just too summer for my liking. I knew Palomo had more to say, and he definitely proves me right with the perfectly-timed release of Era Extraña.

Palomo clearly, if abstractly, conceptualized this album as one about the stark, yet comfortable, loneliness of heartbreak. Mapped out by the checkpoints of “Heart: Attack,” “Heart: Decay,” and “Heart: Release,” Era Extraña loosely follows the story arc of a breakup. “The Blindside Kiss” occurs in the staying-at-home-and-staring-at-ceilings early stage, the one in which you allow yourself to wallow in the pain because you deserve at least that much. The tinny layers of sound and breathy, almost frustrated vocals convey that feeling of utter loss beautifully. Then “Hex Girlfriend,” as the title suggests, resents that curse of an ex-girlfriend for putting you through this and being perfectly okay with putting you through this.

“Heart: Decay” signals the beginning of the it-has-to-get-worse-before-it-gets-better period. “Fallout,” with its disconcertingly monotone vocals, is a plea to forget (“please let me fall out of love with you”), while the title track is the first glimmer of hope. The three songs that follow (“Halogen,” “Future Sick,” and “Suns Irrupt”) all represent a different kind of letting go. “Halogen (I Could Be a Shadow)” is a spectacularly enveloping piece, with steady, comforting percussion, delicate, inviting synths, and vintage girl group-evoking background vocals. All of these elements, while seemingly subdued, build a gorgeous vessel for ecstatic release. True to the typical post-breakup storyline, “Future Sick” is a bit of a regression. It wants to retreat back into the past and into itself because thinking of the future is literally inducing sickness. But Palomo manages to pull through, with “Heart: Release” as a sigh of relief and timid first step forward. “Arcade Blues” is a nice little bonus track to remind us (in case we weren’t already reminded by all of the previous tracks) of Palomo’s penchant for video games.

In many ways Era Extraña is a far more serious album than its predecessor. Thematically, it tackles heavier topics and emotionally it explores much deeper than Psychic Chasms. It has a more defined concept and narrative and approaches the experience of heartbreak, which countless of artists have undertaken in their art, in a way that hasn’t really been done before. At least not in the precise and nuanced way that Palomo has. Perhaps the most notable difference, most noteworthy growth, is in the album’s production. Even though there are still just as many elements this time around, they are much more refined, much better orchestrated, and much more indicative of Palomo as an artist. When you speak to him you get the sense that there’s so much going on in his head, but he somehow filters all of it into thoughtful, articulate, and engaging conversation, which is exactly what he did with Era Extraña.

Colateral Soundtrack - Collage

Collage, Colateral Soundtrack
Independiente, México
Rating: 79
by Reuben "Judah" Torres

Collage begins, quite literally, with a false start, the opening track, “1911,” stuttering as it tries to find proper footing. A pulsating beat ruminates over a distant siren. A lo-fi drum track inches in before fully consuming the mix, only to fade away as a muddled chant bleeds into the foreground. The track’s quiet introspection, its brooding meanderings and second-guessing, could all serve as a terse encapsulation of the album’s aesthetic, an uneven work that nonetheless manages to shine through its moments of understated splendor.

Colateral Soundtrack is the work of Guadalajara’s Edgar Mota, who also performs in the lauded laptop folk outfit, Los Amparito. Mota describes his influences as ranging from Mexico’s current political situation to “a couple of moods.” The latter is particularly evident in “La escondida y la ciudad de los mil caminos,” a song that struggles to find leeway for a sole vocal track amidst a languid piano phrase and banal radio fodder. The vocalist’s passionate wails, which resonate with almost classical grace, suffocate in a slew of mediated distraction, becoming just another compendium of frequencies in an endless sea of noise.

“Buen día," on the other hand, functions almost like its flip side: all noise, no harmony. The listener is assaulted with scattered patches of a consumerist fantasy that seem to evoke Mexico’s golden-era economic boom. The pervading mambo number, rather than serving as the rhythmic center, operates as yet another sound object in Collage’s disparate palette, presenting a starry-eyed rendition of that epoch’s unbridled optimism and carefree exuberance. All of this plays out to conceptual perfection, though it sadly wears off by “Sociología,” a track woven from the same cloth as its predecessors, but undoubtedly lacking in luster, quickly exhausting the use of found sounds. Fortunately, the album concludes on a high note. "Me enamoro cuando...” closes off with Apache O'raspi’s otherworldly voice guiding the listener through a blissful escape into an idyllic reverie.

It would be easy to designate Mota’s work in Colateral Soundtrack as a Mexican iteration of hypnagogic pop, especially in light of his involvement in Los Amparito. A trite categorization, to be sure, as Mota forges a work that coheres into a unique realm of ephemeral phantasmagoria that is wholly its own. Though redolent of a bygone era, Collage’s conceit lies in evoking how the residues of our dream worlds construct our future reality. The past, no doubt, is in the present.



Sunday, September 25, 2011

Daniel Maloso - Hijos De José

Hijos de José, Daniel Maloso
Comeme, Mexico
Rating: 75
by Carlos Reyes

While the world waits for either another full album by techno god Ricardo Villalobos or another epic emotional dancefloor breakdown (see: Hercules and Love Affair’s “Blind”), we’re witnessing a dispersion in the continent-hopping community led by global pop-avant publications like XLR8R and Resident Advisor. It’s not that techno and disco music are running out of fuel or that audiophiles became impatient with the genres’ self-contained digital dialogue, the alteration is occurring straight from the artists themselves.

On one side we have someone like Nicolas Jaar who outshines its novelty with a sort of old-school jazz pigmentation to something that sounds so refreshingly new, on the other, we get something as creatively decaying as Discodeine claiming to dance to organized noise, and you just can’t help but wonder when exactly the dancefloor became so personal. Out of the European-hinting-Sudamerican dance collective, Cómeme, Monterrey DJ and self-proclaimed disco caveman Daniel Maloso stands on the ephemeral viaduct between a disco performer and a disco auteur. It’s this stance of Maloso as a sort of middleman that makes him such an interesting (if circumstantial) character in dance music. Because, really, with all the artists moving away from the all-comprehensive and universal magnetism of the genre, when Daniel Maloso sighs that “we are all sons of José,” we’re back to family business all over again.

As a regular collaborator to label pals Matías Aguayo and Rebolledo, Maloso had shown many signs of disco shimmer and sun glitter, which he mostly omits in the dark, almost petrifying Hijos de José. Album opener and ultimate standout “No Doy Nada” portrays Maloso as a happy-go-lucky renegade in a piece that’s monophonic in its wavelength and nonchalant in its political discourse. There might not be much vocal variation throughout the album (or much vocals for that matter), but whenever Maloso shouts his two-to-three word vocal punches (especially in “Discoteca Cavernicola”), the verbal orchestrations go from passive to active. Daniel Maloso isn’t blazing new trails or going ballistic with an auteur approach, but that doesn’t mean he’s less ambitious. In the end, it’s that well-measured grouping of disco strength, character, and open-to-the-conversation qualities that make this EP another standout in the prolific Cómeme catalog.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Miranda! - Magistral

Magistral, Miranda!
Pelo Music, Argentina

Rating: 66

by Carlos Reyes


Seven years have passed since four-piece glam pop avalanche Miranda! broke into the popular conscious and, to this date, they’re still Argentina’s most beloved (and yet so divisive) definition of a band as a pop institution. We’re no longer living in the golden age of the ringtone, and FM radio is still as fucked up as before, and yet the extension of Miranda! as a relevant player in music this decade seems quite assured. Always fearless in their radical melodic approach and still commenting on the correlation, coherence, and contradictions between love and electro beats, the band’s fifth full-length album, Magistral, is a safe continuation to a career that has been anything but safe throughout the years.

Whether it’s been through well-crafted aesthetics (like their gothic and bondage image in Es Imposible!) or a confinement of witty topics, Miranda! has always made sure their albums outshine their own personality. In Magistral, we get exactly the opposite. Before you get the impression the band has lost its edge, let’s get one thing straight, Magistral is not a bad album whatsoever, it’s just not as well crafted as its older siblings. The first signal of Miranda! stepping on middling ground (for the very first time) is the lack of an epic-aspirant single that could either exploit or redirect the band’s candy beats into that retro-futuristic bridge they’ve been trying to collapse since their very first album. Instead, we get two upfront singles (“Ya Lo Sabia” and “Ritmo & Decepcion”) that, although catchy as hell, only seem to add to the common perception of Miranda! as a pupil of Spanish pop pioneers Fangoria.

If you aren't already a fan of Miranda! at this course of the race, then Magistral will do very little to change that. But devoted fans will enjoy some of the album’s subtle gestures and dance-induced variations as if they were secretive, inside jokes. Album standouts include the nerve-breakdown and ultimately nostalgic “10 Años Despues” and the attempt at synchronizing romance between Ale Sergi’s high-pitched vocals and a voice decoder in "No Pero No." Yet it is Juliana Gattas who provides the vocals in the album’s peak moment, “Cada Vez Que Decimos Adios.” This song is round, full of movement, and as intricate as any song in Al Vuelo or Música, Gramática, Gimnasia. Magistral may lack personality, but it’s yet another okay album from a band that has yet to put out a bad album. Also, Magistral is the kind of well-restrained, perhaps more serious album that might finally get Ale Sergi the recognition of a top-class songwriter.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Los Rakas - Chancletas y Camisetas Bordada

Chancletas y Camisetas Bordada, Los Rakas
Soy Raka LLC, Panama

Rating: 78
by Carlos Reyes


In last year’s video for “Soy Raka,” Panamanian sensation Los Rakas rolled their Afro-Caribbean mojo through the streets of Oakland, shouting loud and proud to the bursting pulse of their self-assuring anthem. In the middle of that video, they stopped by a Mexican vaquero wear shop where, immediately after entering the building, they paused the turfing beat shower to honor the Mexican song playing on the shop’s speakers. This is the kind of genuine gesture that has situated the duo as one of the most beloved acts in the current wave of cosmopolitan urbanism that includes M.I.A., Systema Solar, and The Very Best.

Under the appealing premise of putting a Panabay twist on hip hop, and after acquiring zeitgeist laurels with “Soy Raka” and “Abrazame” last year, Los Rakas have released their very first proper reference in the seven-track EP, Chancletas y Camisetas Bordadas. Self-released and wonderfully self-assured, we’re in front of one of the year’s most eventful and accomplished urban albums. Los Rakas sing about family business, panties, and national and circumstantial identity in what they’ve rightfully classified as “El Flow Californiano.” Like in the best intros of any Tego Calderon album, the duo opens the show with the self-introducing manifesto, “Vengo de Panama.” This piece is an ode to the land that witnessed the birth of two guys with a fascinating skill at punctuating beats and a clear-minded dexterity at accentuating rhythm.

After a quite moving introduction, the pair takes its chances moving their personal agenda to the dancefloor. In “Panty Wanty” and “Borracho” they boost the temperature to the highest degree, sounding effervescent, if only because of their idiosyncratic delivery. In the former track the cousins find themselves filling melody lines with an over toned “tra tra tra” sequence that’s more suggestive than definite, while in the latter they go on to reference Match & Daddy’s “Pasame La Botella” in a fun, yet ultimately ludicrous, fashion. After a two-track walk on a tightrope, they pick things up with the terrific “Ta Lista,” and, from that point on, Chancletas y Camisetas goes on to break its own purpose in surprising numbers that go beyond the common dancehall record. The should-be-all-over-MTV3 single “Ta Lista” is especially intriguing because of its fragmented depths and hinting disco strings. Also terrific is the instrumentally bundled and delightfully folkloric “Camisetas Borda.”

Throughout the album, the topic of family and neighborhood legacy prevails as Los Rakas’ most proficient theme, which makes me realize this is the kind of record that transcends beyond its actual artistic core. For me, it's the moment when your 13-year-old niece asks if mainstream Latin music is as lame as FM radio makes it seem. As semi-responsible adults, we should always aim for allowing our youth to formulate their own conclusions (for one, because of the generational switch), but between you and I, I felt like congratulating her for realizing that so early in life. We might not have the all-comprehensive tools needed for a Latin airplay reform, but it’s artists like Los Rakas that make us hopeful. Not to say Los Rakas have lost their underground status, but not since Calle 13’s beginnings has an urban act received such approval from all corners of the artistic medium. Because when it comes to Los Rakas, they are as alternative, eclectic, and viscerally majestic as they come.



♫♫♫ "Ta Lista" | Facebook

MP3: Capullo - "Pretextos"


It seems that guitar-driven '90s revival acts won’t be the only popular tendency that transports us to that decade this year. Capullo’s new single, “Pretextos,” evokes the kind of dance pop that, mixed with subtle house elements, generated a great number of hits during that period. However, the track goes further into provocatively exploring this aesthetic, introducing us to a sparkling reinvention of that era that resembles acts like Jeans or Paradiso, accurately including parts with disco strings, which work deliciously and also remind us of our recent obsession with them.

Still in demo version, “Pretextos” is already one of Capullo’s most engrossing singles, one that invites the listener to let go and simply have a very good time. The group’s lyrics remain as amusing as ever; this time around, the song’s protagonist finds any excuse to avoid her kind of douchebag boyfriend who, with his “muchas mujeres,” considers her “un billete perdido en la inmensidad.” It’s a point in a couple’s journey (young characters in this case) where neither of the members will probably end up as good friends and also a heartrending realization about a relationship’s pathless course.


♫♫♫ "Pretextos"

Stream: Alex Anwandter - "Tatuaje"



Alex Anwandter’s soundscape under the moniker Odisea mingled the collapsing backdrop of Santiago de Chile and an individual’s blossoming amidst a mechanical institution. While fantastically crafted and executed, we all recognized it as the artist’s inevitable rhythmic confrontation with Santiago’s urban environments and cultural infrastructures. One of the prime elements in Odisea was moving away from writing songs about love, and that was reflected in the album’s disquieting, almost aggressive lexicon. For his forthcoming album, Rebeldes, Anwandter is putting Odisea on hiatus and, in the process, making a fascinating comeback to pop form. This is, of course, Anwandter’s second reincarnation as a first class recording artist and performer. After Teleradio Donoso’s departure a few years ago, we hinted that Anwandter could go on to become one of the great male pop stars of our generation, and his new venture is a solid step toward that prediction.

“Tatuaje” is the first single off Rebeldes and Anwandter’s return to heart-on-your-sleeve songwriting. In this song, the Chilean pop visionary reconditions his past as a sort of explicit capsule, moving forward under the warmth of a four-minute song that marches its pulse under a stripped-down sense of pop songcraft. The image of ink carving beyond the human skin reveals Anwandter as a dreamer and a romantic. Under the celestial production arms of Cristian Heyne, “Tatuaje” is so cleansing, fetching, and stirringly-tailored, that it’s, ultimately, Anwandter’s most cultivating shot at newfound freedom. “Eres perfecto, pon tu mano en mi pelo y conecta el sentimiento,” sighs Anwandter in a devoted voice that later turns into a whisper as he anticipates the tragic yet healing act of saying good-bye to a once magical neon kingdom between two people in love.

Video: Odio París - Cuando nadie pone un disco


Odio París’ excellent self-titled album is holding all the honors as one of the most beloved debut albums of the year. Although they’re the kind of band whose buzz relies mostly on word of mouth, they are the definition of a transatlantic critical success. Odio París has earned rave reviews from Spain’s most prestigious publications (Rockdelux, Mondosonoro, and La Pagina de la Nadadora), with equal excitement from this side of the world. In an album filled with outstanding tracks, “Cuando nadie pone un disco” has transcended as the band's most urgent, intense, and supremely nihilistic anthem. Odio París’ new clip (by Diego Delgado and Pablo Honey) is a fuzzy (and super flashy) portrait of the band’s consuming nightlife as adventurers of the road, the night, and the stage. “We’ve all been death, all, in the belly of the night,” -- so very true.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Anna-Anna - Last Night I Lit the Moon

Last Night I Lit the Moon, Anna-Anna
Independiente, Brazil
Rating: 82
by Pierre Lestruhaut

If earlier this year, releases like those of Dávila 666 and Los Claveles had us all worked up for garage and post-punk revivalism, with its commonly associated vinyl fever, lately we’ve been sort of falling a bit more for some uncanny self-everything releases by newcomers we’ve been encountering online, precisely like these last couple of destacados: Anna-Anna and Installed. And you do have to realize just how fortuitous it is that something like Anna-Anna, a sort of mysterious musical persona dissipated among the unbrowsability of online music sharing platforms and countless other acts uploading their music for free, actually found its way into our ears.

The woman behind this project is Manuela Leal, a Brazilian visual artist who moved to the U.S. as a teenager, but later returned to her home country, where she’s been making “indie electronic” music for less than a year. Her debut EP, Last Night I Lit the Moon, is the sort of record that’s immediately striking for its outstanding uniqueness and, because of this, it's a record that can be enjoyed both as an easy listening experience and as a wholly immersive one, where her distinctive soundscaping and jaw-dropping lines hit you even harder. Which is why easy comparisons can be drawn between Manuela Leal and other women making avant-pop, like Laurie Anderson, Trish Keenan (Broadcast, RIP), or even the rising Claire Boucher (aka Grimes). Yet, these comparisons would seem to be a lot more fueled by gender and overall edginess, than in an actual similarity in their distinctive approach to song-crafting.

The title track is described by Leal as “a sci-fi torch song,” a staggering and unpredictable piece defined by otherworldly sounds and a whispering voice that mumbles to us as if it were, in fact, coming from that distant place. “Cat Eyes” is a fluttering picture that paints French new wave film characters as persons with otherworldly attributes, as she sings “I’ve got Cat Eyes, baby. My laser vision will melt your love” to the sound of a throbbing electronic beat and hypnotic keyboard lines. It’s precisely this sort of effective manipulation of electronic elements that allows Anna-Anna to create evocative moods and dense atmospherics in spite of her limited sonic palette and simple song structures, something she also does very well in “Tiny Feathers,” with its stunning series of simple MIDI-keyboard lines. This actually makes me think she might not be too far from acts like Dirty Beaches, or even The Weeknd, at least if you look at the very surface of their musical approach and how they manage to evoke all different kinds of moods and atmospheres out of simple elements like peculiar samples, murky production, or even unusual vocal interpretation.

Then with “Mirrors of America,” by far Leal’s most ambient-influenced track, which merely consists of a ghostly piano that could be looped by The Caretaker and a Tim Hecker-like drone, she actually turns the whole picture upside down. Like most ambient music, it’s a song that manages to sonically aestheticize our surroundings and define the images we see instead of evoking a particular mood separating us from reality. For me, its themes of architectural contemplation (“The city cast in stone and concrete moves in predictable drones”) and longing for a better present (“What can be seen is already past, what is today doesn’t match”) have been acting as the bittersweet soundtrack to the drivings around the decaying areas of my hometown, while Carlos Reyes has mentioned how shaken it made him feel to listen to it while watching 9/11 footage. Because even if this is clearly music that’s as intimate and personal as you’ll ever get, it also bears a very touching universality, one that grows from “the idea that music provides alternate models of existence that can be inhabited by anyone," as Manuela Leal has said it herself. We can only wonder if there really is any other music like the one she's making.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Video: Bigott - "Cannibal Dinner"


Our minuscule world of Iberoamerican pop is starting the week with the news of a fresh new album by Spanish crooner, heartthrob, and Renaissance troubadour, Bigott. The man with the infamous moustache and the dragging beard will be releasing his fifth album, The Orinal Soundtrack, later this year through Grabaciones en el Mar. Through the years we’ve been fascinated by Bigott’s nomadic sovereignty between his folksy coating and suburb kinship and, if his new single, “Cannibal Dinner,” is any indication of what’s coming up, we should start preparing ourselves for a moderate, yet noteworthy reformation in Bigott’s themes and melody lines. This is by far the most blissful track in the artist’s repertoire and, in a way, sounds like the sober continuation of "Sparkle Motion." This clip directed by Sergio Duce shows a wide range of people "getting physical." We once described Bigott’s artistic purpose as “the mini-examination of one-man’s carnal psyche,” and this new single fills that premise with astounding glory.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Los Días - Sin una Raíz

Sin una Raíz, Los Días
Fuego Amigo Discos, Argentina
Rating: 73
by Giovanni Guillén

While researching more on Pablo Acosta and his self-recorded, self-produced project, Los Días, I found a blog that called attention to the fact that the album’s songs were all titled in lowercase. Somehow the omission of capital letters wasn’t the result of lazy tagging (some bands are very lazy taggers) but, rather, it worked to characterize the music: intimate, homemade tunes produced on Casiotones and acoustic guitars. If this description triggers images of a kind of “indietronica” album with a formula that was exhausted back in 2005, then Los Días' debut album Sin una Raíz deserves a bit more credit.

Armed with the exact same instruments, Pablo Acosta could have easily made a very different record. One that resorted to extremes in the bedroom pop genre: light and fun twee or something much more brooding and dark (let’s pretend for a second that chillwave doesn’t exist). Instead, Acosta went for a very emotionally consistent sound, one that abstains from extreme highs or lows. Maybe that description doesn’t quite hit the mark, either. I like to think of the album as neutrally charged, and, depending on the listener’s state of mind, it can produce tears or even warm feelings. Not all of the songs on Sin una Raíz are as successful at generating an intense response, no doubt due to the album’s short length; but when it works, it works very well.

On the album highlight “Arruinar,” Acosta’s lyrics go after the axiom that time heals all wounds (“y ahora que sabes que el tiempo nunca nos va enseñar a ser mejor”). The music, however, works to contradict this sentiment. Despite the drums and the guitar’s frantic, light chaos, the song produces a contemplative and bittersweet mood, suggesting healing is or will be occurring. At least that’s what I got; it feels very open to interpretation. And yet, it is that mood that carries through most of the record, even in some of its heavier moments (“el mostrador” and the title track are especially sinister), making it the perfect banda sonora to a rainy afternoon spent at home. To give some perspective, whatever playlist (be it a first love or breakup set) you have Yo La Tengo’s “Autumn Sweater” or anything by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone in, this album will feel right at home between those songs.



Video + MP3: Dolores - "Cortafuegos"


“I’m guided by your voice, not by my own eyes,” claims Madrid’s shoegaze-throbbing breakthrough Dolores. This kind of overwhelmed, almost defeated sentiment in Dolores’ career-first single, “Cortafuegos,” is making us think they might just have the raw skills to sit among Mueran Humanos and Violeta Vil as part of this year’s transfixing line of industrialized rockers. Walking somewhere between the first albums of El Columpio Asesino and Triangulo de Amor Bizarro, this four-piece band has sold its soul to fiendish despots and has pushed all the right buttons in this undeniable hit. Like 90 percent of music videos coming out of Spain (or all Latin America for that matter), this clip of “Cortafuegos” is very reminiscent of the aesthetic dreamland of production house Canada. Here we get a fascinating voyeuristic glimpse of the seemingly dangerous encounters between human flesh and the physical world. Dolores’ first album will be published digitally, physically, and on vinyl through Origami Records in November.

♫♫♫ "Cortafuegos"

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Stream: Bufi - "Happy Robot"



Bufi’s superb Homeless Hero EP (2008) grabbed the 10th spot on our list of favorite EPs of the last decade, and we’re thrilled for the pop guru’s follow up. Artists don’t usually take three years to make the transition from EP pop aspirant to full-length recording artist, but, to be fair, Mateo González has kept himself pretty active lately. His band Neon Walrus keeps sparking interest, he’s been releasing one fantastic remix after another, and has recently taken on the leading role as the director/co-founder of the up-and-coming label, Rock Juvenil (Las Liebres, Lost Mapaches, Martinez). While we applaud González’s entrepreneurial ventures and his efforts at keeping momentum, we’re thrilled he’s coming back to give a much-deserved continuation to his most endearing project as Bufi.

Mexican contemporary disco label Electrique Music just released Bufi’s latest maxi-single, “Happy Robots,” and it’s pretty awesome. By now we all know Bufi’s fixation with sequencing and Italo-bass roots, and that’s ultimately what we get here. More restrained than his French counterparts (Breakbot, Kavinsky) and more revealing than his compatriots Rebolledo and Daniel Maloso, Bufi is surfing through some very deep and compelling ground. When the cute vocoders enounce “You crying? why, tell me why”, that comes off as both, demanding and whimsical. Bufi’s highly anticipated new album, Space Guapachoso, is expected to see the light later this year.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Andy Mountains - Epep

Epep, Andy Mountains
Independiente, México
Rating: 43

by Enrique Coyotzi

So what’s up with Andy Mountains? The happy five-piece folk band has enjoyed a successful year with the release of their first EP, Epep (if you read it backwards, that’s also the diminutive name of their drummer, duh), but especially with their chintzy, overplayed first single “Tahoma 32,” which was a tremendous hit at the popular Mexican radio station, Reactor. It catapulted the group into moderate fame, obtaining tons of fans who described their lyrics as “clever” and “hilarious.” Carlos Ascencio, of Ibero 90.9’s Mercado Negro, mentioned in his review that with Andy Mountains “the fun is guaranteed,” but I beg to differ. This release generally manages to cause unpleasant sensations. Andy Mountains’ moronic formula will most likely annoy the hell out of you, just like a silly Mexican equivalent of the awful Foster the People, all packaged with la las, oohs, cheesiness, and overall silliness.

The band has described their music as “noisy childish folk.” The songs occasionally turn out noisy and, effectively, are pretty childish, but in an unfavorable, almost dull manner. Andy Mountains seem to be trying to revive childhood and even puberty in their tunes, but one just has to read the song titles to imagine the bothersome pieces awaiting. EP opener “Hoy Me Gusta Mi Peinado” evokes adolescent preoccupation with hairstyle, and the song's protagonist, while taking a shower, sings his tonada filled of “lalalas” and “ooohs,” and that’s it. The song attempts to be contemplative, but it’s so flat, it simply doesn’t peak.

“No Mames Que Te Encontré!” is a countryish track in which distinctive leader, Andrés Acosta (Madame Recamier, Los Negretes), delivers kind of aggressive vocals and occasional screaming. It’s also one of the most irritating parts of the EP when he announces “y ésta es la parte de la canción del solo de las palabras sin sentido.” While the written lyrics make reference to Da Vinci, Nietzsche, Dalí, etc., the song simply keeps going with guitar scratching and no vocals, which leads me to think this must be the part where live they go “totally nonsense,” name-dropping anything that comes to Acosta’s mind. “Matías y el Pastel de Fresas” and “Tahoma 32” are equally unfortunate, the first, with its initial whistling, is an almost unbearable corny take, the latter, a strong candidate for worst song of the year.

Musically, they principally try to resemble Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs era. Just subtract the inventiveness, vocal-challenging wisdom, and you’ll find out that this is, in essence, a work that attempts to emulate that sort of purposeful folk music, unfortunately, with disastrous results. This release is clearly not worthy of its universal praise, but I must recognize closing track “Somos de Papel Mojado” as a touching song. It’s almost as if the band knew this was the best thing out of the whole EP and decided to reserve it for the end, like if it didn’t belong. If this any indication of the group's forthcoming sound inclination, then we can expect more mature, moving compositions in the future, yet Epep stands as one deeply flawed and overall unconvincing debut.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Video: Entre Ríos - Paraná


Corporate media consultants in the music industry always keep a steady eye on independent music. It is one way to predict where music as art and as a financial enterprise is going. The vanishing of the physical record is hitting some of Latin America’s most established indie acts pretty bad. Indie labels have struggled to fund the release of physical albums, killing much of the traditional experience of listening to music through a record. For over a decade, Argentine band Entre Ríos kept a modest but sustainable method of production and distribution. Upon the band’s release of their latest album Era, Entre Ríos also announced the sad news of their departure. Although many of us would question the band’s ability to adapt to the new decade, no one can deny Entre Rios is walking out with their heads high and with an extraordinary discography.

The new wave of Latin American indie romanticizes the physical format as much as the artists from the 2000s, but Carreras is right at claiming this change in pop culture as a generational conversion. This brand new video from album standout “Paraná” shows singer Romina D’angelo wearing a luchador costume as she embarks to new lands singing “a naufragar te invito” (“I invite you to the shipwreck”). The clip by Juan Poclava keeps things simple, but succeeds in embedding its adventurer in the beautiful landscapes between El Tigre (a delta town in Argentina) and the multinational Paraná River. Era is a beautiful last voyage to subtle melodies, personal songcraft, and folk-afflicted charm.

Video: Neon Indian - "Polish Girl"


“In the dismal future, we’ll all be affixed to our respective wires and screens, dreaming about being virtually with the one that you love.” This is the hypothermic premise in Neon Indian’s new clip for the dazzling single, “Polish Girl.” In his review of the song (which is now open for download), Jean-Stephane Beriot referred to Neon Indian as a “synth-groove stylist,” and music video director Tim Nackashi not only agrees but also explodes Alan Palomo’s affliction for romanticizing synthetics. Whether it’s the video’s nonchalant production design or Palomo’s enormous eyes breaking the fourth wall, this dystopian and quite scary environment doesn’t seem as intimidating as those half-biological, half-mechanical cyborgs that threaten our future. Era Extraña is out now via Mom & Pop, and you’ve probably guessed it, but let us confirm, it sounds flat-out amazing on vinyl.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Video: She's a Tease - "Genio de los Deseos"


Great news for those of us dying to get our hands on a physical copy of She’s a Tease’s superb debut album, Millonaria. The album we once described as “a mirror ball, and an achievement” is getting a proper U.S. release via Nacional Records. This edit also includes the band’s most notorious hit “Datos Intimos,” and the oldie but goodie “Long Time Rolled,” both absent in last year’s Mexican release of the album. The band just unveiled a video for their third single “Genio de los Deseos,” the catchiest and most teasing track in Millonaria. If you think about it, this song is like a cooled-down assembly of Kabah and OV7, but with much more swag. The clip directed by Chicle and Santiago Fabregas exploits the idea of a chromatic diagram in such a way that it almost seems like the band is surfing through every color of the iPod nano-chromatic series. I don’t know about you guys but, after watching this, I’m totally down for a She’s a Tease reality show, those Jersey kids are getting pretty boring.

Featured: Andrea Balency Trio - "El Desorden"



Andrea Balency Trio used to be one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets, but everything seems to be lining up for the act’s inevitable intercontinental success. In the last couple of months our staff has been drooling for Torreblanca’s forthcoming first LP, Bella Epoca, and the news of a new EP by Andrea Balency Trio only adds to the excitement. It’s been a while since a cavalcade of introspective pop visionaries had hit our radar with such austere beauty and emotional sincerity. Recently we’ve enjoyed Balency’s semi-formal solo ventures covering Lisandro Aristimuno (“Pez”) and El Guincho (“Lycra Mistral”), but it’s time for her return to the triangular formation she shares with band members Jerson Vasquez and Miguel Sandoval.

“El Desorden” is the first promotional cut off of Andrea Balency Trio’s second EP, Lover. More than a few people in our niche have a natural affinity for quaint elementals, but very few can turn those resources into whimsical rapture. In this song, the trio accomplishes melodic ecstasy with march-like subtle progressions, down-to-the-bone aesthetics, and staggering vocals that bleed from an aching heart. People often speak of loneliness without realizing its role as a harmonizing accompanist. When Balency sings about something that’s blocking her breathing, that’s a point of no return - the realization of a remaining chaos by an all-consuming presence.



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Monte - Monte

Monte, Monte
Independiente, Costa Rica
Rating: 79

by Pierre Lestruhaut


When Detectives Salvajes died last year, which was a mere six months after their one and only release of a five-track, 20-minute EP, I think something died within all of us. Us being the folks that somehow developed a certain affection for the band and that were already hoping for a new record from what was, at the time, the most awesome band from Costa Rica not named Las Robertas. But wasn’t Detectives Salvajes simply this pretty murky, No Age-esque band that occasionally used ambient noise loops and seemed to be creatively led by singer and guitar player Adrián Poveda? Couldn’t that work just fine with a different drummer? Well Monte, which sees Adrián teaming up with a new drummer, is just the answer to that.

Upon first listens of this “debut” EP, what’s easiest to notice is just how much Monte mirrors what Detectives were doing in the opening and closing tracks of their own EP, which was basically laying over a sampled but unrecognizable loop and then just simply building a different song (with actual riffs) on top of it. A little like turning the beginning of a Yellow Swans track into a very dusty and erratic rock song. Though contrary to what their own Bandcamp tags might suggest about their sound and influences (krautrock, experimental, noise), their avant hybridity doesn’t necessarily slap its listeners with tireless ignorance, since these somewhat experimental structures eventually culminate in what could be described as some pretty good head-nodding music that features no choruses but does have great bridges and breaks.

Initial tracks “Imperios” and “Neón Furioso” stay within that exercise of turning ambient noise into noise rock for the purpose of laying bridges upon bridges of churning grindstone riffage, eventually telling us that these guys aren’t really making noise via rock songs (as opposed to many bloggable 2010 lo-fi acts), but they’re actually subduing noise to great riffs and better bridges. But it’s in the EP’s last couple of tracks, which extend themselves beyond the six-minute mark, where they precisely show off their most loose and improvisational tone, where they can actually point at those Bandcamp tags and at how their sound can also be defined by some sort of subtle mutability.

Consisting initially of an electronic loop and some detached strumming with heavy pounding beats that eventually see themselves quickly buried upon layers and layers of dissonant sound, closing track “Vapor” finally reaches the point where the initial sample confuses itself with whatever clusterfuckery it is that they do with their own pedals in what is clearly their most off-kilter incarnation yet. With songs like this, Monte kind of remind me of another ungoogleable band: Women (RIP). Because like Women, they succeed at using these types of cues, ones that could easily fit in those old and used up tags like indie, noise, experimental, or ambient. Except that Monte are not really interested in affiliating themselves with any of those tags. In fact, I think they’re a lot more interested in creating what could be called their own fucking musical identity. Now if they could only give us a full-length album, that would really be something.



♫♫♫ "Imperios" | Download EP

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fonocast #4: Teenage Dream



Fonocast #4: Teenage Dream
by Blanca Méndez & Enrique Coyotzi

Whether you were class president or homecoming queen or editor of the yearbook or a band geek (alto sax section, hollerrrr) or a skater or a stoner or an activist or a nerd (shoutout U.I.L. Science Team!) or just trying to get by without drawing too much attention to yourself, you were probably insufferable as a teenager. I’m kidding. Mostly. But, regardless of your background or state of mind, you likely went through many of the same experiences as your peers, no matter how different they may have seemed from you, because adolescence is all about exploring, trying new things to see what works for you. Of course this means a lot of trial and error, which often involves disappointment, disenchantment, heartbreak, and humiliation. And when you’re a teenager, these low points can seem abysmal, like the end of the world. (Can anyone do drama better than a teenager?) But you’re young and indestructible and you bounce back. You get drunk at a party, forget all about it, and move on to the next one. For this show, we’ve put together a selection of songs that speak to the teenager in all of us by artists like Dënver, Piyama Party, Belinda, and Erick Rincon. And for those of you still in your teen years, enjoy them before you get old and boring like the rest of us.




  • Los Espíritus - "Pacifico-Atlántico" (INDEPENDIENTE, COLOMBIA/MEXICO)
  • Dënver - "Diane Keaton" (CAZADOR, CHILE)
  • Klaus & Kinski - "Mamá, no quiero ir al colegio" (ACUARELA, SPAIN)
  • Los Super Elegantes - "O.K." (INDEPENDIENTE, USA)
  • Piyama Party - "Fan de Carcass" (INDEPENDIENTE, MEXICO)
  • Mickey Mickey Rourke - "Satanic Youth Brigade" (INDEPENDIENTE, USA)
  • Flans - "No Controles" (UNIVERSAL MUSIC, MEXICO)
  • Yuri - "Goma de Mascar" (WARNER MUSIC, MEXICO)
  • Belinda - "Bella Traición" (EMI TELEVISA, MEXICO)
  • Maniqui Lazer - "Dance Pills" (SOUND SISTER RECORDS, MEXICO)
  • Erick Rincon - "Todos a bailar" (MAD DECENT, MEXICO)
  • Selena Gomez & The Scene - "My Dilemma" (HOLLYWOOD RECORDS, USA)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Video: Anntona - "Arruino Todo Lo Que Encuentro"

Anntona, guitarist of Los Punsetes and responsible for one of the most gorgeous pop songs of our generation (“Tu Hueles Mejor”), will be releasing his third solo album later this month. Last time we immersed ourselves in the peculiar compositional spectrum of Anntona, we found ourselves baffled and disturbed. For starters, because we couldn’t believe someone could align an off-the-wall song like “Todo El Mundo Tiene Porno En Casa” with something as deeply moving as “Tu Hueles Mejor.” In some way or another, En La Cama Con Anntona was a key record that helped us to desensitize our implanted ideas of what pop voices should say and sound like.

“Arruino Todo Lo Que Encuentro” is the first single off Anntona’s new album, Grandes Males Remedios Regulares, under the always-reliable label Gramaciones Grabofónicas. This is definitely a departure from the semi-humorous, semi-provocative singles that have predominated his career in the past. It also shows Anntona’s sense of progressiveness gazing back into the ‘80s, as this song carries a sample from Martin Rev’s “Mari.” The video, directed by Ivan Rosenstock, is structured as a very bruised VHS tape that dates back to 1972. So, does Anntona honor his “I ruin everything I find” premise? Not here. This song is pretty awesome. But listen to his cover of Elvis Crespo’s “Suavemente” from two years ago and please, by all means, make your own conclusions.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

La Estrella de David - Maracaibo

Maracaibo, La Estrella de David

Canadá, Spain


Rating:
67

by Pierre Lestruhaut




Let’s just get the obvious stuff out first. Like most people writing about La Estrella de David’s Maracaibo have been pointing out, David Rodríguez is indeed that sort of discreet figure that’s silently but importantly contributing to shaping the sound of a particular scene, in this case, one that features some of our more beloved Spanish indie acts. Because whether it’s through the delayed influence of his band Beef or his production work in Romancero and LP2, he’s constantly being referred to as an influence for many indie bands from that side of the Atlantic. Added to that is the fact that this latest release features collaborations from musicians of that scene (La Bien Querida, Joe Crepúsculo, Za!, Thelemáticos), all of this to say this was a well-anticipated album, not only for us, but especially for every Spanish publication out there with a weakness for indie bands.



Initial tracks in Maracaibo show Rodríguez’s intentions to continue in his rediscovery of Spanish pop songwriting, yet it’s halfway through the album that he starts walking a more interesting territory. After his Cluster-inspired ambient piece, “La Gran Fiesta de la Democracia Parte 1,” follows the slightly dissonant yet simple “Parte 2,” which is filled with a Spacemen 3-like atmosphere and the experimentalism of his Beef era. Yet the standout tracks in Maracaibo are probably his blues rock number, “El Más Romano del Mundo,” and his heavily romantic and simple “Un Último Esfuerzo,” where Rodríguez exercises himself in building yet another nicely crafted romantic song around a simple two chord pattern and its occasionally encompassing keyboards. And, as has always been common with most Spanish pop (indie or not), the record finds its best lines precisely in this romantic backdrop (“ella me da la certeza, subiendo las escaleras”), which our own Enrique Coyotzi described as “deeply moving manifestations” in his review of the track.



Eventually, a lot of the songs on this album feel either like inconsequential eclecticism, like “Decathlon” and its gypsy rhythm explorations, or weary revisions of Spanish traditional songwriting, like the cover version of Julio Iglesias’ “La Carretera.” While his more politically suggestive lyrics and one liners, like “se tiró el último pedo” or “nunca ganaremos Eurovisión,” fall terribly short of those in Los Punsetes’ LP2. Overall, it’s not like Rodríguez has done much to change his band’s sound, since most of its conspicuous elements (careless interpretation and unpolished-yet-sometimes-charming production) remain throughout the record. But what’s a little unsettling about it is how most of it just doesn’t quite reach the bar that was set by (and yes, I’m returning to those two records in particular) Romancero and LP2, with all of their inventive instrumentation and lyrical force, which was perhaps what we were hoping to see a little more of in Maracaibo.





Friday, September 2, 2011

MP3: Lainus - "Baile Contemporáneo"



Industrial pop is acquiring the amorphous dynamics that made techno music so fascinatingly fruitful two decades ago. The assembly of daydream aesthetics and the borrowing of afrofuturism in today’s pop frequencies (“chillwave”) is providing us with some of the most avant-garde music we’ve seen in decades. Chilean newcomer Lainus belongs to this line of dreamwavers making greatly challenging and emulsified songs. Highly influenced by Germany’s techno pioneers, Kraftwerk, and the more modern revolutionary kids of Animal Collective, the one-man crusade by Lainus’ synth-maximalist mastermind, Alfredo Ibarra, is quite promising.



Ibarra, who in the past released a microhouse-experimental album with Pueblo Nuevo, sounds like most of his dreamwave contemporaries (Memory Tapes, Pictreplane, Millionyoung, etc.), but far more intimidating. Lyrically, Lainus seems to share the deep concerns toward music form found in many of his compatriots, like Gepe and Fakuta. In the most psychedelic fashion, first promotional cut “Baile Contemporáneo” is so intriguingly abrupt that listening to it requires a certain level of psychedelic coolness. The song’s first fragmented sequence is alarming to say the least (it’s literally a rush of blood to the head). Things only get more confounding in its middle section, but if you stick around long enough, all of your invested attentiveness will pay off with the emergence of glo-fi riffs on the horizon.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Video + MP3: Adrianigual - "Arde Santiago"



When discussing Chilean pop we often talk about this generation as one that’s in full harmony with the zeitgeist, and that includes having a certain affinity for social and industrial awareness. Like last year’s coincidental parallelism between Javiera Mena’s Mena and the 12 trapped miners, Adrianigual’s youth-in-revolt themes in Éxito Mundial have found anthem function in Chile’s current movement toward educational reform. Éxito Mundial’s second single, “Arde Santiago,” is a heart-wrenching song about leaving Santiago behind, but one that wants you to run away from the flames while dancing. Like our very own Jean-Stephane Beriot wrote, “it’s a rejoice of the burning of the bridges allegory.”



Contrasting black and white sequences with glowing colorful counterparts (and inserting themselves in visual platforms from the '90s), the band hits the jackpot with yet another visual knockout directed by Paulina Giustianovich and Adrianigual’s Diego Adrian. The clip is reminiscent of the band’s very first video, “La Mistica Espiral,” in the way it constitutes pop music as a source of social and generational opium. As always, we find the duo wearing the coolest clothes and amongst an army of friends, with some of our favorite Chilean talents making cameos, including Mamacita, Alex Anwandter, and Valeria Jara.



Featured: Kali Mutsa - "Tunupa"





Featured: Kali Mutsa - "Tunupa"

SHOCK, Chile



“They dubbed their daughter Kali Mutsa because they were devotees to Kali Sara, who according to legend is the daughter of Maria Magdalene, and Mutsa (“Cat” in Roman) because she had cat eyes according to the healer and violinist Sarah Tikuna.”



Diving into the majestic depths of Kali Mutsa means to give 3/4 of yourself away to a world of crafty rituals, afflicting gastronomical feasts, and powerhouse operas. The haunting project of Chilean telenovela star Celine Reymond appeared on this year’s list of Club Fonograma’s Bands to Watch, and she seems to have all the intentions of making our prediction a reality. Kali Mutsa is the kind of turmoil discovery that makes us stand up just to catch a glimpse of her musicalized acrobatics. We’ve been buzzing about Mutsa’s gypsy diva qualities and her retro-fetishist canvas for over a year and, while we would be more than happy to dwell on the character’s mystique, Kali Mutsa is ready to take the next step. Miami-based publisher/record label SHOCK Entertainment recently signed the project onto their roster and will soon release the artist’s first EP, Ambrolina.



Earlier this year, Kali Mutsa grabbed a spot on our compilation, Juventud Bruta, with her outstanding, lyrically-ecstatic track, “Tunupa.” Now as her first official single, the song has been reworked into an even more stunning number. The new version substitutes the demo’s program-based skeleton and reconditions the adventure with the warmth and romanticism of wooded instruments. “Tunupa” has acquired the sort of celestial plethora that can only be experienced by immersing your soul into the fragmented pupils of a black cat. A boundless, irresistible, and velvety single that should put Celine Reymond and Kali Mutsa on steady ground.







♫♫♫ "Tunupa" | Facebook

Video + MP3: Astro - "Ciervos"



Following last year’s luminous debut, Le Disc de Astrou, the sensationally trippy Chilean songcrafters, Astro, return to amaze us with their joyous brand new single “Ciervos,” from the group’s first proper full-length, which is set to be released in the next months. One of the main references when speaking about Astro’s music has been MGMT and, while the similarities between both bands are kind of obvious, their songs certainly aren’t. If “Ciervos” is a hint about the album’s sound, Astro doesn't seem to be interested in exploring experimental waters within their second release. Instead they focus on reinforcing their already trademark gleaming compositions into a more stylish approach nuanced by pristine vocals.



The video for the track (directed by Oscar Wakeman) shows the band members as a sort of adoring deer tribe in a daydream environment where these mammals predominate. They wear animal skulls on their heads, run through the hills, ride horses, and enjoy themselves on small islands, while spraying their bodies with paint in an uplifting ritualistic celebration. It’s outstanding the scouting that was done for this clip; the beautiful scenarios, exquisite photography, and lovely shots of deer descending downhill work perfectly with the song. "Ciervos" is now available for free download below.



♫♫♫ "Ciervos"