Mermaid Sashimi, Juan Son

Universal Music, México *****
Rating: 96
By Carlos Reyes

Mexico’s new most prolific vocalist is back, the Porter breakup hurt too many of us that counted them as the one act follow perversely. Whether it will leave a mark as defined as the one Zurdok holds is up to time, one thing is for sure, the one individual that made Porter so special is here to stay for while. Thing is, he is heading up to become Mexico’s most valuable solo musician as his popularity rises into mainstream but his art in his first solo production is the most contemplative yet. Mermaid Sashimi is Juan Son’s most beautiful creation; he finally reaches a point of musical freedom where pop is his biggest alia and he not only dress up the music but sharps the needle to create his costumes. While Donde Los Ponys Pastan (2005) was a baroque depiction of Mexico’s land, and Atemahawke (2007) felt like a subliminal inner trip to a horse’s dreams, Mermaid Sashimi is all about water and its encounter with a mermaid. It’s quite a challenge to break it apart; Juan Son has the sensibility of a story-teller but the thirst of a scientist. This is my personal approach to this piece of art, which to me is a linear tale but can be so many different things.

In somebody else’s hands this would most likely fall into a sea of pretentiousness, but Juan Son imposes his self-fulfillment before anything else, and that’s the most honest gift an aware audience would hope for. First track “The Remains” does a great job setting up the atmosphere, offering enough sounds and vocal scats to introduce us to the next piece. “Nada” is a smart catchy first single and a tale of the author’s encounter with its precious mermaid; it’s fearful as the unknown should be and blends a love story along. And luckily, this doesn’t turn into a sailor’s tale; the lyricism here humanizes creatures and keeps the relationships very intimate. Once “Mermaid Sashimi” arrives, the bonding allows for some humor with a friendly octopus, which doesn’t last too long as our guy assumes the creature has no feelings, his vocals start to explode to the highest places, but it’s all premeditated and once he points out the flaws of his new friend, he forgets his own health is at risk as he shouts “I need oxygen!”

When “Goldfish” arrives, a new confliction reveals itself, an identity contradiction surfaces as the music itself is more stable. He argues that “as a human I thirst” and asks why “nobody is wondering why a goldfish’s upside down.” Our character starts to understand and adapt to this new environment while discovering politics and economics as well, again, humanizing its circumstances to find the necessary relativity. The atmosphere gets even more compacted with “Captain Whirpool” (I swear I hear Bjork singing), the middle song which is a story of its own and prepares the second half, which is raw, cruel and brutal. It’s a big twist, but the title of the album had already suggested this transition. And so it goes from the love story of the mermaid to a sashimi, “a Japanese delicacy consisting of very fresh raw seafood sliced into thin pieces…” (Wikipedia). Talk about heartbroken.

“El Resplandor” is my favorite song; it’s the point where the sunlight starts to hurt his eyes, the transformation influenced by Kafka finally fulfills our guy’s deepest wishes and salivates his pain. But the tale doesn’t end, and it opens a whole new window, perhaps his last gift to prevent the listeners from drowning like the character most probably did in the instrumental piece before “Toma esta menta.” He opts for Jazz to depict a new beginning, constructs a time machine to leave it all behind, or travel back to his birth, it goes as far as suggesting he will stop his mother’s pregnancy by giving her “a mint”… when it’s actually the next-day pill. “Ana Paula” and its accordion is in charge to conclude a big illustrative heart-punching album like very few recently, and gotta love the last minutes of it as the unborn kid comments on the guy who came from the future to prevent his existence.

Mermaid Sashimi receives the highest score we’ve given here at Club Fonograma since Calle 13’s Residente o Visitante. Sadly, as of today, the album remains unreleased outside Mexico.

♫♫♫ "Nada"

Rompevientos EP, Nos Llamamos

Intolerancia, México ***1/2
Rating: 78
By Carlos Reyes

Nos Llamamos is bringing some of the best rock songs originating from Mexico City, along with Jessy Bulbo, Joe Volume y Los Vincent Black Shadows and Los Fancy Free are imposing their edgy incarnation of vintage rock & roll contrasting the nu-wave invasion. The band captures that suburb desolation and warmth of Mexico’s capital with such defining force it’s hard to believe they’re newcomers. Their self-titled debut LP (produced partly by Los Fancy Free’s frontman Martin Thulin) was released last year with minimal attention, until their name started to pop up among blogger’s year-end lists and especially after reaching the 14th spot in Reactor’s 105.7 songs of 2008 with their single “Monstrua”, also included in Rompevientos, their new and first EP. Although not as impressive as a whole, this short take will probably support them more than their LP. Their hit carries a progressive phasing, “Monstrua” it’s blessed with subtle genuine composition that makes everything flow at its own timing, also allowing musical restrain to contribute to the process. There’s the socio-psychotic “Malnecidos”, which forms the urban tale of those rejected by society, approaches its cause with a rebellious theme and destroys its niche in a chaotic clash picked up by the next track. “Rupestre” was supposed to serve as a nostalgic transition but it’s overly obscure and plain to be memorable. But it’s the opener “Rompevientos” that profiles to become a second hit, it certainly is the best track here and their best recording yet. Rompevientos EP is currently available entirely for free at Reactor’s Zona de Descargas section.

♫♫♫ "Rompevientos"
Download EP

Club Fonograma Features: Lucio Mantel

If you go through our Best of 2008 post, you’ll see that the 14th best album of the year was never reviewed or commented; Nictografo by Lucio Mantel got to our hands extremely late and at a very busy time, but I knew it had an assured spot as it is a tremendous breakthrough album not to be missed. It joins the great works of Lisandro Aristimuno, Jorge Drexler and Ulises Hadjis as one of the most powerful folk-pop recollections of this decade. I would go as far as to say that anyone who fell in love with Fleet Foxes will embrace this instrumented poem. Nictografo senses fears, transforms them into illuminating images that luckily find great harmonization by a masterful lyricist with a great voice.  It’s a work of quiet passages, pointing us to a talent that will most likely have a long healthy career ahead. For all our features we allow the artist to pick their own song, but I was determined to get “Nadie En El Espejo”, which still makes my eyes watery, aren’t those moments beautiful too? With all due respect to all the great artists we’ve featured so far, I must say this is my favorite track thus far, hopefully a label is smart enough to acquire it for U.S. distribution. 

Club Fonograma Features: 
Track: "Nadie en el Espejo" 
Album: Nictografo
Label: Independiente
Country: Argentina

Fuck Her Or The Terrorists Win

The Poni Republic, Mexico ***
Rating: 68
By Jean-Stephane Beriot

The support for the net label projects is of true excitement, at least on this site, they’re making the big labels down the border look extremely bad. The idea of giving away music for free is not a new thing, but we’re starting to see a movement solidifying quickly, Mexico steps up right away having The Poni Republic and Delhotel releasing some of the most sensitive music we’ve heard lately. Fuck Her or the Terrorists Win (badass name) is yet another project from Roberto Polo, who to my understanding is part of En Ventura, 60 Tigres and Mr. Racoon, which tells me he must have a lot of times on his hands, but this guy is undeniably talented. The other half is Roger Camara, he was part of Album, it’s a shame that band didn’t continue, and a shame I didn’t get to hear Cancer Baby on time last year since it would have popped in somewhere in my top 20 of 2008, the exact same thing happened to me with En Ventura’s Los Gandharvas. With so many projects in hand, it would seem this new formation is more of a transitional album; it certainly feels a bit too static considering the fairly superior previous work. There’s a clever and distinctive production, a sound design that’s surrounding the new wave of great artists from Monterrey, a second fresh lineup as outstanding as the previous one. This particular case doesn’t move me much; it lacks the sensitivity of Javiera Mena’s Esquemas Juveniles although it sounds a lot like it. Is Monterrey the most hipster city in Latin America? It might just be, even if one hates the term itself or chooses to embrace it, like they do in the notable track “Hipsters.” There is a huge standout that gets everything right, “Happenstance” is about expectations, it has a great vocalization, a bouncy tune with beautiful lyrics about breakup and the idea of trying to get a hold of the past. It’s no disappointment, it’s a fresh scene we’re witnessing, a notable release from two guys with plenty of talent going on. 

♫♫♫ "Hipsters"
♫♫♫ "Happenstance"

Club Fonograma Features: Electrica Miami

If you got a MySpace, or have visited a Mexican artist’s MySpace it’s highly likely you’ve jumped into the colorful flashing gif of Electrica Miami. They love to pop and party a la Mexicana, their music is youthful and generational, and I must be going nuts but their music reminds me of traditional Grupero (before it got submerged by the accordion), when it used to sound blissful and was highly influenced by pop and electronic. Music for the dancehalls and communal events, it joins the likes of Silverio, Crystal Castles and Maria Daniela y Su Sonido Lasser just to name a few. We’re adding their track “Gata” to our features catalog; we love the energy of it, the post-reggaeton calling and especially the little cute love story behind it.

Club Fonograma Features:
Country: Mexico
Label: Superdiscos Chinos
>>> MP3

Pynandi Los Descalzos, Chango Spasiuk

World Village, Argentina ****
Rating: 82
By Carlos Reyes

Accordionist folk virtuoso Chango Spasiuk releases his latest, most complex album yet. Among the Latin Alternative scene he is most known for his instrumented contributions with fellow Argentinean band Divididos. But it was his multi-awarded 2006 album Tarefero de mis Pagos that brought light to a guy possessing colossal craftsmanship on his pastoral intimate music. Pynandi embraces every little moment by transmitting its emotional depth through a commanding instrumental sophistication, enough to request a visual contemplation to match the sounds. While listening to this, I couldn’t stop visualizing cinematic images from today’s most thrilling Latin-American film directors: Carlos Reygadas, Lucrecia Martel, Lisandro Alonso and Claudia Llosa. All four directors are known for their limited or absence utilization of music, and I’m not suggesting Spasiuk’s music for their films, it’s just that their approach to common life and beauty pumps from the exact same vein. First track “Tierra Colorada” embraces his origin bursts through it with a fascinating travel; there is some diffusion of instruments and the accordion struggling to explode, but most than anything there is no moderation limiting how Chango wants to depict his scenery. “El Camino” remotes those feeling of leaving or coming back, definitely one of folk’s most prominent themes, perfectly accentuates chords and boxsets to give a sense of an individual walking through a path, rediscovering his surroundings and re-coloring memories. “Infancia” is, as the title indicates, the most playful piece here; it’s imaginative and carries the speed and affection of childhood itself. Probably the most illuminating moment arrives with “Viejo Caballo Alazan” is a rich poem to the horses, peaceful mountains, food and odors of rural life. “Alvear Orilla / Estancia Santa Maria” unifies different styles of traditional Latin music; it touches Colombia and scratches the Southern Mexico. Pynandi departures with “La Ponzonosa”, a blissful musical festivity rounding up an enchanting album. 

buy it @

Club Fonograma Features: Babaluca

Babaluca is my favorite local band, and judging from the amount of plays their track “Que Bonito” received on our Rocola #6 they have the charm to shine in unexpected proportions. To our surprise, the song’s thousands of hits placed it on our Yearbook: Most Popular post as one of the top 10 most played pieces from more than 200 selections that were part of our jukebox throughout 2008. Babaluca discharges a handful of smiles and still holds its position as a tour de force unveiling itself throughout the small concert venues of Phoenix, Arizona. Their musical approach is precise, a multi dimensional gathering that is also transcending extremely well in their demo recordings. The trio consisting of Carla Morrison, Nicolas Kizer and Niki Petta is one of the most exciting projects we’ve featured so far, and we’re keeping a close eye for what’s to come, hopefully a first LP to continue to master their craft. Once again, it was a challenge to pick a song to share, their cover for Manu Chao’s “La Despedida” is as sublime as it can get.

Club Fonograma Features:
Track: "La Despedida" (Manu Chao Cover)
Album: None
Label: Unsigned
Country: USA/Mexico
>>> MP3

Pibe Cosmo, El Remolon

ZZK Records, Argentina ****
Rating: 80
by Carlos Reyes

This might just be reconciliation between the initial waves of digital cumbia and reggaeton; all those hardcore haters of reggaetón will probably neglect or deny a motherhood link between the genres, but El Remolon’s vision shares as much vision with the Zizek collective as it shares genes with Tego Calderon. Andres Schteingart is aware of such bonding and drops what’s arguably, the best production from ZZK Records’ short but imposing catalog. Pibe Cosmo is bit more experimental than I expected, and a lot more textured than his appearances on the celebrated ZZK mixtapes, which translates as a musical elevation in most cases. What’s truly special about this that it succeeds every remark it ambitions, resulting in a series of unbroken energy. El Remolon feels as Caribbean as the music of El Guincho and Senor Coconot, music that frees itself from having to introduce or adapt its listener because culture itself has taken the necessary steps to present itself to the world. Cumbia is the most popular (but not the best-selling) sound at least with Hispanics in the states, I’m afraid some of them will feel alienated by the futuristic direction the genre is taking. I suspect the mainstream audience will endure the stuff coming out of Bersa Discos a lot more. “Cumbia Bichera” reminds me of several tracks by Kevin Johansen; it might be because of geographic influences, but it’s a great partner for “Cumbiera Intelectual.” The album itself is designed as a bird’s journey throughout the American continent; a chromatic experience is built as one discovers the consequences of such trip. The creature brings a handful of beautiful memories, from the heavily textured “Se fue a la villa” to the soft electronic bursts of “Zapatillas Galacticas.” It’s finest moment it’s its glorious entrance, “La Bonita” is a beautiful purifying canto that eventually turns as sublime and charmingly addictive as Air France’s “Collapsing at your doorstep.” El Remolon has the attention of many publications as its author is a talented guy that takes exotic risks, expect a warm critical reception if an American label acquires the album, Pibe Cosmo it’s round and bold and ready to shine.   

♫♫♫ "La Bonita"
buy it @ ZZK Records

Kinky Tonight @ Jimmy Kimmel Live!

As far as I know, there is not a single ‘known’ Latino band coming to Phoenix in a few months, which is extremely sad, last year only Babasonicos, Café Tacvba, The Pinker Tones, Silverio & Maria Daniela y Su Sonido Lasser visited us, February is the month to launch tour dates and at least from the artists I know only Esperanza Spalding will be lucky to enjoy our weather. A band that I assumed would visit was Kinky and even they ignored us, oh well, they send us a note reminding us of their performance tonight on Jimmy Kimmel (ABC), that’s right, on national television! They will be performing "Hasta Quemarnos" from their latest album Barracuda. Not a surprise or something to jump for, but at least they can bring Guillermo some company, regardless of how you feel about this character. 

"Hasta Quemarnos" NSM PSM Remix

Featured: Juan Manuel Torreblanca

Juan Manuel Torreblanca was once inducted on our now gone Artist of the Week section, with so much charm and compositional reach it was inevitable to have him back now with a featured song. He is part of Natalia Lafourcade’s band and to our pleasure working on a first official production that will be released later this year. To me, he has got to be one of the best individuals in Mexico’s current pop. He’s currently also promoting and performing his appearance in En Petit Comite, which invites artists to produce a session of songs in a single day! But for our feature we have decided to share a gorgeous piece (actually a demo) we’ve been listening to for more than a year, but it's a great introduction for those unfamiliar with him, “Nada me saca de la cama” is a collaboration with Ximena Sariñana and let me tell you, it’s a charmer. A great anti-lousy tune almost anyone can relate to. 

Club Fonograma Features: 
Track: "Nada me saca de la cama" featuring Ximena Sariñana
Album: None
Label: Independiente
Country: Mexico
>>> MP3

Midnight Insomnia: Mermaid Sashimi, Juan Son

It’s 1:24 AM and I can’t to go to sleep, now who is responsible for that? Juan Son! It’s been a few hours since Mermaid Sashimi inhabited my iPod Touch and like a very scary ghost I can’t stop playing it. I cannot wait to review it, all I have to say is that now that he has gone solo there is nothing holding him back from his all-cosmos vision, for the good or the bad, expect a continuation of his glorifying vocals and a portion of his fans running away from this contemplation album a la Juana Molina or Animal Collective, expect a less steady formation and forget about Porter for a second, a macabre scientist is in full control of this boat. Mermaid Sashimi debuts today in Mexico’s stores, it hopefully won’t take too long for U.S. distribution.  

Quintana Roo, RH+

Nacional Records, Chile ***1/2
Rating: 74
By Carlos Reyes

Nacional unveils their latest inductee to their amazing catalog, RH+ formerly known as Rock Hudson in their native Chile bring their first internationalized production Quintana Roo, a pop-structured but pos-rock edgy revelation. It has been called sensuous and dreamy; I find it exotic and at times even animalistic, which is one of the most arousing faces synth-pop could manage to have. Quintana Roo is asymmetric, not a bad thing if handled right, one side portrays a very European influenced environment of soft electrics, while the other is heavier on drums and therefore more solid. Both personalities seem to search for an instant of dominance over the other, the lack of cohesive attachment lead to an overall mesmerizing duel. The opener “What About” is a stunner; it only took a couple of keys to grab me, builds up its way to tell its love story, grasps through aquatic waves and it resolves itself in lyrics and musical accompaniment. “Perry Frankie Miller Gajardo” is a cosmic ride, a very appropriate and not-at-all safe first single. Having two vocalists encloses the interesting duel, the female vs. male musical conversation is actually peaceful, but carry the proposal to a clever state of mind where reconciliation is found through instrumental songs with some tremendous samplings. The heart of the album is “El Elela” which kicks off with a fearful intro, moves on to steady celebration and a character named Fernando Fernandez tries to introduce Disney’s Dalmatian story. Intermediate tracks like “Curb” and “Robin Is The Last Cowboy” are standouts, and make it easier to answer the question. So, which side is better? Of course, it’s an objective question, but I must go with the well defined edgier personality because it breaks through the smoky electronic pop with much glamour. 

♫♫♫ "What About"
buy it @ amazon

Dry Martini S.A. Nacho Vegas

I think I’ve said it a few times already, but it’s frustrating to realize not too many people in this continent know who Nacho Vegas is. He will be part of this year’s SXSW and to me, is one of the most exciting appearances to look for, but we’ll have more news about South by Southwest coming soon. Nacho Vegas is highly celebrated in Spain, but has not made a huge impact in Latin America, unlike his dear friend Enrique Bunbury, who I find extremely overrated. It’s very much like the Charly Garcia vs. Luis Alberto Spinetta discussions, the former is already a legend while the latter although much more talented, is an auteur people will learn to appreciate in future generations. “Dry Martini SA” is one of the most jaw-dropping songs of 2008, and my biggest negligence in the Best Singles of 2008 list.

Music Alliance Pact - February

This is our very first input on MAP, the Music Alliance Pact, a blogosphere project by The Pop Cop which invites 22 different publishers from different countries to showcase a monthly recommendation to share to the world. I found the idea to be splendid and the collective contribution by our now fellow bloggers is exciting to say the least. Club Fonograma is representing Mexico, which I know it’s odd considering I don’t live in Mexico (but I was born there) and the blog is in English, but let’s face it, the big majority of the content comes from our country to the South and there is much more focus from us over here than most of the 'pure' localized Mexican blogs whose content it’s mostly made up of the American & European markets. Besides, there is such a thing as the globalized individual, and myself, well, it’s one of the reasons why I’m writing about music from our region, makes me feel even closer.

Now let’s get down to my choice, which I won’t be trying to explain on future months but I will extend my reasoning for this one as it is the first. It wasn’t a simple decision at all, especially as the project leads more to a gathering of indie world music. I went through the latest catalog of netlabel releases and the independent lables but always kept an open mind for just about any artist worthy of this mention. Ever since I got the leading single “Azul” by Natalia Lafourcade I have not stopped contemplating it. It truly is a remarkable piece from an artist I had not fully discovered and has not yet internationalized. Some might have preferred a rising indie band, but at the end, the music itself is the defining factor and Lafourcade is putting a big multicolored audiovisual smile on me, simple as that.

Now, I'll leave you with the great list, special thanks to INDIEFUL ROK since I copy and pasted their post.



AMERICA: I Guess I’m Floating
Here We Go MagicTunnelvision
Brooklyn’s Here We Go Magic is the bedroom folk-pop project of Luke Temple, who is releasing his self-titled debut this year. He has been praised by Sufjan Stevens and Ben Gibbard for his uniquely gorgeous vocals and meticulous lo-fi production aesthetic. Tunnelvision is the first single – one part Shakespearean sonnet and one part circus music, swirling in a beautiful mess of poetic acrobatics.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Pablo Dacal Y La Orquesta De SalónElla Ya Está En La Playa
Pablo Dacal is a musician, singer and songwriter from Buenos Aires. His first songs circulated in tapes and between 2000 and 2002 he published a series of EPs that caught the attention of the media. The Orquesta De Salón was founded to collate this loose collection onto his first proper album, 13 Grandes Éxitos (2005). His next record was La Era Del Sonido (2008) and Ella Ya Está En La Playa is one of the finest songs from it.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
The Crooked Fiddle BandThe Rom Rebellion
More furious fiddling from The Crooked Fiddle Band, who have a new EP called Rise which they are currently touring. I’ve been getting into bands like Balkan Beat Box and while these guys are different, I like the punk element in the songs. It just sounds like it would be a whole lot of fun to watch.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
João BrasilOrgasmadance
Like a tropical version of Girl Talk, João Brasil’s music is a mashup of beats and artists from different styles and backgrounds. With a strong influence of Brazilian funk carioca, a style derived from Miami bass and famous because of its explicit lyrics about sex, João Brasil released his first mashup album last year, Big Forbidden Dance. Orgasmadance is one of the best samples of his work. It starts with pieces from Orgasmatron and Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura, before suddenly meeting Justice’s D.A.N.C.E. and other songs from Justin Timberlake, Nirvana, Snoop Dogg, CSS and Michael Jackson.

CANADA: I(Heart)Music
The Rural Alberta AdvantageFour Night Rider
The Rural Alberta Advantage, who are actually from Toronto, with frontman Nils Edenloff's birthplace being Alberta, are one of Canada’s best-kept secrets. They specialize in Neutral Milk Hotel-esque pop with a slight twang and, as Four Night Rider demonstrates, the results are simply, passionately amazing.

CHILE: Super 45
For more than 10 years, Congelador have been a cornerstone of the Chilean independent rock scene. After four record releases and two years in a hiatus, the band came back with the Abrigo EP - six songs that gracefully move around post-rock, noise, pop and electronic music.

ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
Let’s WrestleLet’s Wrestle
I could continue to bring you songs from London’s fertile folk-pop scene but it’s time for something a bit different. This month we have a singalong theme song from the self-professed ‘most miserable and hateful band in London'.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
BratzeJean Claude
Bratze is a Hamburg-based duo consisting of Der Tante Renate and ClickClickDecker. They make beautifully simple electroclash and indietronic music accompanied by sophisticated lyrics, all mixed with a DIY mindset. The featured song, Jean Claude, was their breakthrough as a newcomer in 2006.

ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
HjaltalínGoodbye July/Margt Ad Ugga
Hjaltalín is a nine-piece collective, so almost an orchestra, which uses an eclectic selection of instruments, from bassoon to bass, accordion to clarinet. With these instruments and two singers they create a wall of sound for their folky indie-pop songs. This song features the beautiful voice of singer Högni Egilsson, a catchy chorus, broken up with an Icelandic hymn sung by Sigga Thorlacius.

IRELAND: Nialler9
Tenaka is Ronan Carroll, a one-man band who creates melodic and sinewy slices of electronic pop from his bedroom but which suggest an imagination far beyond the physical. Alaskan is the soundtrack to dipping your toes into ice water before dive-bombing into the sunshine-infested yet chilly waters. The song features on EPonymously Titled, a free EP available from his MySpace. No excuses, download it now.

ITALY: Polaroid
Wax Anatomical ModelsRecollections Of Our Times
Wax Anatomical Models may just have formed but they already have plenty of skills. Their sound mixes post-punk, hardcore, shoegaze and electronic influences, but the results in their first demo stand on a different level. Emotional and driving, they are a band to keep an eye on.

MEXICO: Club Fonograma
Natalia LafourcadeAzul
The expectancy for Natalia Lafourcade’s upcoming album Hu Hu Hu is building up quick, her redefined lyricism and instrumental complexity are showing true signs of a potential masterwork. She’s naturally cute and affecting, and previous material indicated talent, but her sharp new musical vision has finally reached widescreen. Azul is ornamentally sublime. In Mexico, it’s rare to find such a beautiful delicacy.

NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
The Enright HouseScattering The Sun Like Gunshot
The Enright House is the musical project of Mark Roberts from Christchurch. Despite being predominantly a solo affair, his 2007 album A Maze And Amazement was filled with songs that had a real sense of grandeur. Some of these have recently been re-released in acoustic form on the Six Acoustic Renditions EP and, as demonstrated in Scattering The Sun Like Gunshot, they lose none of their epic qualities in the translation.

NORWAY: Eardrums
Richard HolmsenGreat Speed
Richard Holmsen is the singer of the band Delaware but his main focus these days seems to be his solo project. His music is fragile and simple, with few elements other than his guitar and tender vocals. This is quite the opposite of Delaware’s grand, melancholic indie-rock sound. In recent years Holmsen has also made music for film and been involved in an electronica project called Sea. Great Speed is a Music Alliance Pact exclusive, written and recorded only a week ago.

After 10 years in the local scene, Catervas – formed by brothers Pedro, Raul and Javier Reyes – swapped their previous shoegaze sound for melodic rock on 2008 album Hoy Más Que Ayer. With its optimistic, convincing pop songs, Hoy Más Que Ayer is pure passion made into music. Covida is the second single from it and easily the band’s best song to date.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
PressPlayPlay Hot (extended mix)
PressPlay are Playgirl and Lisa (aka The Party Queen). Playgirl does vocals and guitars, while Lisa does vocals and electronica. Their influences are PJ Harvey, Peaches, Electrocute, Cobra Killer and Miss Kittin but they sound much better than some of their heroes – and they’re definitely cuter. The extended version of Play Hot, which is the debut single for their upcoming debut album, was mixed by Woman In Panic, who is actually a guy called Pedro Lourenço.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
The AmsterdamsSuffering And Surfing
The Amsterdams are a post-punk, indie power-pop band based in Bucharest. Inspired by the famous Dutch city, their name symbolises the freedom of spirit in every sense. Suffering And Surfing is featured on their forthcoming album, a blend of reckless vocals with freewheeling, volatile riffs and rhythms.

Broken RecordsNearly Home
Edinburgh seven-piece Broken Records have just signed to renowned label 4AD, the just reward for over two years of personal sacrifice and preaching to the soon-to-be converted with their relentless touring schedule. Devoted followers like myself have already amassed as many as 18 of Broken Records’ epic, swooning, orchestral songs in one form or another – enough to predict that their debut album, scheduled for release this summer, will probably be 2009’s best.

SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To...
NuanceFear Strikes Mankind I
Nuance is a four-piece rock band, with a recently self-released eponymous EP. At the heart of the record is the two-part epic Fear Strikes Mankind, an ambitious and intense journey that invokes the rock sensibilities of 90s Radiohead and contemporary post-rock experimentation. In the first part of the song (provided here), the biblical narrative of Abraham’s willing sacrifice of his son, Isaac, is related through the perspectives of both father and son. It’s a troubling journey, but the band does well to face the challenges head-on, both existentially and emotionally.

Seokjune released his first EP, Dok, at the start of 2009. Equipped with an acoustic guitar and a voice that conjures Elliott Smith, he performs one delicate tune after another while singing in Korean or English.

SPAIN: El Blog De La Nadadora
Nouvelle CuisineLa Comunicación No Verbal
Nouvelle Cuisine are a band with a French name but Spanish nationality. They come from Galicia and have self-produced their new album, De Memoria, which is reminiscent of indie bands in the 90s. They develop their essence in personal lyrics and the soft melodies of their songs.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
Love LindblomTill Min Syster
I’m a real sucker for catchy music like this which builds and builds into a frenetic climax. I love when the horns kick in. I love the DIY nature of the video – you just know he asked all his friends to help out. In short, I think I Love Lindblom.

To download all 22 songs in one file click here [zshare] or here [rapidshare].

ACLM ii : Winners!

Teachers love to give out tests during Valentines to make the season less pleasurable, and because of the upcoming three-day weekend. That’s my excuse for the lack of content this week, oh, and there’s the other project I was working on alongside Aldo Alvarez, the winning round for the ACLM, which I’m self-promoting of course, because I can. We announced the winners yesterday, congrats to Ernesto Contreras and the entire Parpados Azules (Blue Eyelids) crew for their award for Best Mexican Film, and Cristian Mungui’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days for Best International Feature. Acclaimed director Fernando Eimbcke was also recognized as Best Director (Lake Tahoe), we all remember him as the once incredibly creative guy behind the best videos on MTV LA.  

Musical Categories.

Austin TV’s amazing musical theme for Mas que a nada en el mundo wasn’t embraced enough as the winning score by Luis Manuel Lopez for Cumbia Callera. The big winner for Original Song was deservedly Devendra Banhart for his original song “Cristobal”, inspired by the first feature by one of his best buddies Gael Garcia Bernal. His competition was nothing less amazing with great songs by Juana Molina (“Rudo y Cursi”),  Joselo Rangel (“Mi Principio”) and Ely Guerra (“El Viaje de Teo”).

Check out the winners! : Main Categories / Tech Categories

♫♫♫ Cristobal” 

"Mis amigos y yo te amamos" - Alexico

This is probably an excuse to present a brilliant second video from Dios es lo Maximo. As an equally devotee of music and cinema, it will always be fascinating to find someone with his rare vision, when I heard “Mis amigos y yo te amamos” I pictured an old, scary and cold house located at a distant village from the city, I left my visualization behind as I’m never fulfilled with music videos, in fact I tried to put up a Top 10 videos list for 2008 and fell short, but Alexico surprises again. The track and its illustration are cerebral, immediate, and extremely visceral. The dark opening shot, with the open door with red all over it, a roof that seems to be leaking blood, a floor not only covered in blood but asking for some more, Alexico’s reaction is to celebrate such circumstance, with boots and a sombrero!. Shot in hand-camera, the cinematographer perceives the same feelings, but through severe claustrophobia, winking to the outside to catch some girl dancing happily outside. The dance starts at the most appropriate moment, disclosing a triumphant visual interpretation of a bizarrely cute song. Talking about gore, a genre I deeply respect and admire, it’s never a bad idea to visit my friend Aaron Soto @ Cinemainc, unless you’re easily disturbed? 

"Mis amigos y yo te amamos"

Club Fonograma Features Sr. Amable

There are very few individuals I can fully trust when it comes to music, there’s Tim Finney (Pitchfork Media), Chris Cantalini (Gorilla vs Bear), Jean-Stephane Beriot, Andrew Casillas, Julieta Venegas and lately Sr. Amable, whose music blog Noche Pasta is simply terrific. Turns out he’s got a music project of his own, Señor Amable Was Here is an enjoyable listen from a guy with a wide musical horizon, some of us write about music to become better consumers, others build up striking promising projects. I had a difficult time trying to decide a track to feature. The soft “Ya me voy” and “Gary (ewewew)” were highly considered, but at the last moment it was the addictive “Down Mexico” that won me over, always looking to the south to discover sweet tunes. 

Club Fonograma Features: 
Track: "Down Mexico"
Album: Señor Amable Was Here
Label: Delhotel
Country: Mexico

For Corners, Diego Bernal

Exponential, USA ***1/2
Rating: 76
By Carlos Reyes

Cloudy groves and electronics are hard to get away with, a predestinated musical tragedy, unless someone finds the asserted tissue to underline both, in this case the outcome turns to be a raw and bleak manifestation, and quite a exciting. It’s truly grateful to find a project bold as that of Antiguo Automata Mexicano (Angel Sanchez Borges), who is probably one of the most underrated geniuses in Mexico’s contemporary music. Located in San Antonio Texas, Diego Bernal takes a stance on diverse range of roots, from the natural scales of work songs and spiritual songs, the dreamy urban sound, to the complexity of latin jazz. The collision of all these sounds is approached with a minimalistic sensitivity, something hard to even ambition for a first album. Amazingly, with such a delicate care, For Corners sounds colossal, like the extended intros in epic hip hop. Leading single “Bring it on Home” journeys an event, celebrates it, and concludes it firmly, a simplistic and fascinating structure that is carried all around. Also, check out for the official remix by Mexicans With Guns. “Dusty Sanchez” feels generational, but not to this generation at all, it’s like a lost soul of the Chicano movement. Personally, the most captivating moment arrives with “May Day”, a violent and heart-wrenching depiction of the abuse by L.A. police to a group of pro-immigration marchers at MacArthur Park two years ago. A total of 19 tracks might get you overdosed; this is to be appreciated at its own phase, it does wonders on a solitary afternoon. Exponential Records will release the album physically by the end of this month, but it’s open for free download at this very moment.

♫♫♫ "Dusty Sanchez"
♫♫♫ "May Day"

Gititogether, Dj Golonsh

Even more from Monterrey, we should move there. Multi-layered means healthy, let’s exercise those ears. Download this great mash up right now, great stuff for this weekend, and the following… I’m extracting a few tracks, but get the entire thing. 

♫♫♫ “3, 2, 1”♫♫♫
♫♫♫ “World War Episode 1”♫♫♫

Download GITITOGETHER (Delhotel)

Club Fonograma Features: Frikstailers

Our first feature of February belongs to a pair of freaks doing their thing with much passion. Everyone is talking about 2009 becoming a key year in the expected switch that will reaffirm Cumbia as the ultimate iconic sound of Latin America. If that’s true, reggaeton will be in big trouble, and now Argentina’s wild Frikstailers are serving as mediators among these two sounds + electronic. Before downloading this track I suggest you take a chance to hear their “Kalise” remix for El Guincho’s upcoming set, it’s wicked and even though it’s in my hands I can’t share it yet. Revolt Into Style released a 4-tracks EP in the UK last month, so far everyone is impressed. This specific first single “Baile Frik” is not a pure cumbia, or a cumbia at all, but that’s part of process. We’re unsure if they’ll be featured in the appearance of Zizek at this year’s Coachella, but we’re wishful. 

Club Fonograma Features: 
Track: "Baile Frik"
Album: Baile Frik EP
Label: Revolt Into Style
Country: Argentina

Ai Con Permisito, Menuda Coincidencia

Delhotel Records, México ***1/2
Rating: 78
By Carlos Reyes

Monterrey’s current new wave is of true excitement, and it’s starting to get better as a horizon of eclecticism emerges. Among the indie rockers and edgy pop, a breakthrough rap act pops up, Menuda Coincidencia constructs an album of high intensities. Jose Miguel Soto and Guillermo Soto’s voices don’t demand attention; they’re naturally full of potency, just like the unattached flow of their rhymes. The venture adds vibes of nu-jazz, and before you know it, the enchantment settles down to recognize one of the factual premise acts not only of urban music, but alternative fields as well. Sounds a bit like the Mexican Institute of Sound but turning its vocalization as the primary instrument. “Si Hay” introduces the ever-changing essence of underground music. And that’s the main direction the album takes, it’s less of a politically-oriented take (Calle 13) and less socially-protestant (Control Machete), this one does shackles on idealism but ambitions to glance at daily fun stories about identity and such. “Perspectivas” boasts the best of Menuda Coincidencia and its flaws, it’s playful and mechanical, and it also distracts itself a bit too much from its processed themes. It works best in tracks like “Verso Sin Esfuerzo?” and “Corre”, where the lyrics don’t feel like essays but well-organized paragraphs. Unexpected samplings blend in magically, the sort of asserted artist that one would expect great remixes from. “Sin Enganche” will transcend well and for long, its attitude on redemption will be receptive by almost anyone with a sense of the music as a cultural exchange. Ai Con Permisito has a peculiar attitude, its greatest virtue, and the album’s title couldn’t be more appropriate, because the music doesn’t ask for permission, it’s a well mannered advice that will go through with much confidence, and leave some funky beats behind for one’s pleasure. 

♫♫♫ "Sin Enganche"
Download Full LP Free [Via Delhotel]

La Rocola Numero Ocho

El Carbonero, La Lupe
Fito Olivares VS Pitbull feat. Lil’ Jon
Bailar y Llorar, Teleradio Donoso
Al Siguiente Nivel, Javiera Mena
No Se, Alexico
Otra Suerte, Entre Rios
Hiedra Venenosa, Mexican Institute of Sound
Azul, Natalia Lafourcade
Sin Enganche, Menuda Coincidencia
José Ama, Mutantek
Mas Discotheque, Chico Sonido
La Banda Borracha, El Mero Sonidero
Prefiero el Asfalto, Niña Dioz
Amor Platónico, Jóvenes y Sexys
Los Lagartos, Joe Crepusculo
Camino al Sol, Naty Botero
Alta Fidelidad, Lori Meyers
Knuckles, Y La Bamba
Feliz Navidad, La Casa Azul
Pasajero, Congelador
Friki, Frikstailers
Down Mexico, Sr. Amable
What About, RH+
Pa Pa Pare, Zurita
Girl in Life, Songs For Eleanor
Es Teatro Griego, Album
Me Muevo, Jessy Bulbo
Katy, Mr. Racoon
They Don’t Believe, Russian Red
Rey Sol, Vetusta Morla
Feeding Little Dogs, Carrie
Choices, Yellow Yesterday
Cave Cave Cave, Unsexy Nerd Ponies
Hidden Clouds, Negro Fluo
Punche Pie, DJ Kyla
Guam, Quiero Club
Arcangel VS Common


Cinephiles Cine-Files 2

I was once again, featured on the coolest movie dossier on the blogosphere, check it out, it's in Spanish, but it's a must-read. Special thanks to Daniel Campos for putting this together, and to my fellow chosen-few for collaborating. Click on the picture to download it on a PDF file, or visit Churros y Palomitas to see it on individual JPG cuts. 


The best music of 2009 so far: Part of December ('08) & January Releases:


07. “NADA”. ZOE