Find us on facebook

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 72

It seems that autumn has settled in Barcelona with its trademark changes in the weather. According to some experts, fall makes us more melancholic. So here's a wonderful playlist to fight the feeling or, if you are more inclined, "go with the flow" of the season. Our weekly TOP TEN Jukebox arrives full of exciting comebacks, the mighty Chills and Desperate Journalist, new tunes from Bruising and Night Flowers, as well as our regular dose of new names for you to discover (warning, remember the last one). You'll see, October has begun, musically speaking, in a tremendous way! All this songs are also available at our Soundcloud, so please join us! 

Direct links to 2015 Jukebox playlists
Week 36  Week 37  Week 38   Week 39  Week 40 
Week 41  Week 42 Week 43  Week 44   Week 45
Week 46  Week 47   Week 48  Week 49   Week 50  
Week 51   Week 52  Week 53  Week 54    Week 55  
Week 56   Week 57   Week 58  Week 59   Week 60 
Week 61   Week 62   Week 63  Week 64  Week 65 
Week 66   Week 67   Week 68  Week 69   Week 70 
Week 71

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sufjan Stevens, intimacy for the masses

Sufjan Stevens (+ Austra), Auditori Fòrum, Barcelona, September 29th

Sufjan & Dawn Landes, folk of the heart. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Despite not being the most fervent fan, or even a regular one, although I love 'Seven Swans' (a song about one of the best short stories of Flannery O'Connor, you have me) and I'm pretty sure 'Carrie & Lowell' is among the best releases of the year, I have to admit I was pretty excited with Sufjan Stevens' gig at Auditori, the first time I was going to see the Michigan artist live. Hipsterland, commonly known as Barcelona, seemed to be all gathered at the Fòrum. The date seemed an unmissable one.

Dark waves with Austra. Photo; Bloodbuzzed

The night didn't started in the most promising way, though. Not to say Austra's music is bad or that their performance was disappointing. Katie Stelmanis is an impressive singer and their songs, if you are into that dark-disco/new wave style, even darker live (her most famous songs, the stunning 'Lose you' sounded gloomy and intensely desperate) are going to appeal you for sure. No, the question mark here is what does she have to do with Sufjan's music? It simply didn't fit there...

No shade in the shadows of the band. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Anyway, on time at 21:00 Sufjan and his troupe took the Auditori's stage and after opening with 'Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou)', they performed 'Carrie & Lowell' in its entirety and almost following the record's order. 'Death With Dignity' and the strikingly beautiful 'Should Have Known Better' were the first two gems to arrive, making the miracle of disarming 3.000 souls with an exercise of intimacy and naked vulnerability so rare to find in popular music (we were lucky to be seated on the first row and we could assure Sufjan looked affected with the performance of several songs). 'Drawn to the Blood', 'Eugene', 'John My Beloved', 'The Only Thing', a stunning collection of tunes performed brilliantly by an impeccable band, where Dawn Landes was beyond terrific on backing vocals and all sorts of duties all night. Even the fragile, somewhat broken voice of Sufjan, seemed to add another piece of wonder to the gig. Unique atmosphere, embellished by the stark but touching visuals that backed the band.

A man, his thoughts, his feelings, his songs . Photo: Bloodbuzzed

But then arrived 'Fourth of July', one of the masterpieces of his latest album, and doubts arised. With Sufjan on piano, the arresting, devastating tune, evolved into an epic monster that for sure left the audience dazed, but changed the vibe of the album and the gig completely. 'No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross' and 'Carrie & Lowell' seemed to return to the previous folkier path. A mirage. Then came 'All of Me Wants All of You', with its electronic R&B beats and Stevens dances. It was the beginning of a concert section where electronics leaded the way, with 'The Owl and the Tanager', 'Vesuvius', imo almost laughable, 'I Want to Be Well' and the visually gorgeous but neverending outro 'Blue Bucket of Gold'. Maybe Sufjan wanted to shift from indie-folk for a while, worried such a big audience was going to "disconnect" from the gig with too many slow, moody numbers. Understandable but, being diplomatic, not my cup of tea. Not a fan of 'Age of Adz'.

The return of the folk singer. Photo: Bloodbuzzed

The show couldn't end that way. And luckily, it didn't. As a matter of fact, the encore felt like a completely different gig, with Sufjan returning to stage dressed as the recognisable folk-singer with baseball cap and colourful shirt, and much more talkative with the audience, to offer a short set of "Sufjan classics", with 'Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois', 'Heirloom', the goosebumps of 'For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti' and the final trio of 'John Wayne Gacy, Jr.', the great 'Casimir Pulaski Day' and, of course, 'Chicago', which lacked its joyful fanfare in a somewhat lukewarm acoustic version. One can't argue: the performance was flawless, immaculate, definitely a thing to watch. It's easy to understand why the public was fascinated and stood up to applaud the band during minutes. Also the universal praise of critics on the following days. But for me, I can't say it was an unforgettable, life-changing gig, because some of the choices made by the artist during part of the gig didn't convince me. Just a matter of taste on an otherwise indispensable artist...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

'Irrational Man', Dostoyevski revisited

Irrational Man

Our yearly dose of Woody Allen is here and, have to say, expectations were pretty high this time, as the combination of one of my all-time-favorite directors with Joaquim Phoenix, one of the best actors out there (now that Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away I would say he's the best) was exciting. And, in my opinion, he does a terrific impersonation of a hedonistic and deeply troubled academic. But he's not enough to save 'Irrational Man' from leaving me with a disappointing impression overall, imo falling flat, at times worryingly flat, as a whole.

Not to say the film is a complete waste of time, as some critics have said. A "serious" Woody Allen film dealing with existence, murder, philosophy is going to be more interesting than 80% of what Hollywood offers you any given weekend. Let me summarise the virtues:
  1. Acting is very good. As I said, Phoenix is excellent portraying philosophy professor Abe Lucas tormented. The always haunting Emma Stone does a nice job as the brilliant but smitten student Jill Pollard, and Parker Posey is stunning, a real scene-stealer as the art professor Rita Richards, showing a physical intensity that matches Phoenix fierce way of acting in her desperate crush for Abe, a romance where she is “throwing herself” as her life in Braylin College chokes her.
  2. In a pretty powerful depiction of a “womaniser” lying behind a sensitive, broken and misunderstood character, Allen is portraying mercilessly the other side of the romantic bad boy. Even more than that: through Abe Allen is also pointing out that the high class (Vermont private College) and so-called intellectuals in particular, have it all wrong. Check the scene of the Russian Roulette, the standout of the film. Snobs adoring a fake idol.
  3. This is Woody Allen taking several risks. The narrative point of view is a surprising one, with two voices (Abe and Jill) telling the story, shifting from one to another. And while the topic he address is a serious, gloomy one, he attempts to blur the lines between his comedies and his dark dramas. True, is not the first, second or even third time we are facing a similar argument. Masterpiece ‘Crime and misdemeanors’, and forgettable ‘Cassandra’s Dream’ & ‘Match Point’ (yes, I said forgettable) deal with the same issues. But Allen is exploring a different tone here, sort of playful and lightweight despite being solemn at the same time. I’m not sure it completely works, but praise the risk on a director with 50 films on his shoulders. A romcom with a very dark soul. Or a noir film with a knack to laugh at itself. You decide.
  4. The “envelope” of the film is also different one for Woody, looking gorgeous (Vermont seems paradise), with music and aesthetics (and light!) looking like a new chapter on the new yorker's palette.
But the problem with ‘Irrational Man’ is that the letdowns are almost equal:
  1. The movie plot is explained to an obnoxious detail, with Allen stressing everything, reaching a point he almost seems he doesn’t trust the viewer’s intelligence. For me, it was shocking he decided to say everything and not just showing it (he has filmed so many eternal scenes where a face, a shoot tells it all...). The Dostoyevsky/Arendt note was too much for me.
  2. Being objective, the plot, despite being smart, is derivative to say the least. Yes, I get (and Allen makes Abe say it too) he wants to talk about chance/luck, but the Raskolnikov-type of murder, Jill discovery and the final scene arrives so awkwardly, there’s a feeling plot works because of pure luck too.
  3. The double narrator thing is ruined at the end. No spoiling here, but the mistake on the voices is blatantly huge.
  4. Allen doesn’t explore the potential of his female characters, particularly Rita. Can’t help but thinking Jill is also a bit underwritten. Knowing as much as she knows, there was room for a braver twist with her…
At the end, the feeling is that Allen has been there, done that… and with more much punch, wittiness and clarity. Take ‘Crime and misdemeanors’ as the most obvious example: characters look completely human and complex, and mixing Judah’s with Cliff’s problems make the spectator connect with the more extremes turns on life. But on ‘Irrational Man’, the experiment on morality swallows characters and the “flesh and bones” reality, rewarding the audience with 95 minutes of suggestive possibilities and depth… that results in a somewhat lifeless movie. It's not a bad film, and has several points of interest (has some risks to be praised too), but is a flawed one.

SCORE: 5,75/10

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Discoverer 123: new indie findings

Destination New Zealand & Sweden, two realms of indiepop, in our today's discoveries series!

Salad Boys. Back to my dear New Zealand, this time to Christchuch, to meet this band formed by Joe Sampson (12-string guitar/vocals), Ben Odering (bass) & Jim Nothing (drums) at the end of 2012. Leaded by Sampson's ideas and his initiative co-running independent label/music collective Melted Ice Cream, they came out with self-titled mini-album released on cassette in 2013, creating instant buzz out there locally,propelled with their live reputation engaging them in gigs with Sebadoh, The Bats, Parquet Courts as well as being David Kilgour's backing band. Now the trio has just released 'Metalmania' on Trouble in Mind Records. A debut album of instantly catchy, floating, carefree, rural, DIY jangle-pop, somewhere in between The Feelies (band's name comes from a laughable misheard from song 'Fa Cé La'), early R.E.M. and their NZ legendary predecessors. Too much to resist!

The Sun Days. Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, this young quintet has been on my radar since their first songs surfaced the Internet around the end of 2013. Tunes like 'You can't make up my mind', 'Don't need to be them', '(Get him) off your mind', or 'Busy people', all points out here is a band with an incredible knack for penning perfect pop songs, something debut LP, entitled 'Album' and out since June proves magnificently. Eight tunes summoning the melancholy, bittersweet and enduring qualities of The Smiths or The Sundays (obviously), leaded by ice-melting vocals of Elsa Fredriksson. Bright days ahead, indeed.

Don't Cry Shopgirl. And we end in lovely Stockholm to unveil the parallel project of our beloved Astrid Wiezell from Northern Spies alongside John Svensson. They have been playing since 2013, starting to offer their tunes with three singles called 'What You Could Have Been to Me', 'Bring Me Home' and 'Boy You Can Tell Me'. Now you can pre-order the Don’t Cry Shopgirl 7″ at wise Cloudberry Records website. Four tunes, that judging from the first tastes showed are going to be unmissable. Blissful indie-pop of delightful vocals with an upbeat heart and keyboards providing melodies penned to stick with you forever.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 71

A long and, in principle, meaningful weekend (three years of constant stupidity makes me a non-believer sorry but, supposedly, there's an important election day this Sunday) that we need to enhance & empower (and let's admit, distract ourselves from) with an eclectic & diverse TOP TEN playlist.We encourage you to surf trough our list! Indiepop, folk, Spanish indie, new discoveries along with consecrated bands. What more you can ask for? And remember, it's also available at our Soundcloud, so please join us! 

Direct links to 2015 Jukebox playlists
Week 36  Week 37  Week 38   Week 39  Week 40 
Week 41  Week 42 Week 43  Week 44   Week 45
Week 46  Week 47   Week 48  Week 49   Week 50  
Week 51   Week 52  Week 53  Week 54    Week 55  
Week 56   Week 57   Week 58  Week 59   Week 60 
Week 61   Week 62   Week 63  Week 64  Week 65 
Week 66   Week 67   Week 68  Week 69   Week 70 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

These Go to 11: interviewing The Persian Leaps

After recovering the section last week, here's another chapter on our interview series. This week we have to pleasure to count with Drew Forsberg from our dear The Persian Leaps and the excellent Land Ski Records label answering our questionnaire. A little bit of old-school-noise-pop in our blog today. These Go to 11! 

Ready for the jump
Drew Forsberg, The Persian Leaps 
Hailing from Saint Paul, Minnesota, this trio was formed in 2012, when Drew Forsberg decided to transform his originally solo project into a full band. A year after, they released via his own label Land Ski Records debut EP 'Praise Elephants', followed by 'Drive Drive Delay' in September 2014. Now the circle of EPs has been completed with 'High & Vibrate', out just now. Direct, shiny, infectious songs, somewhere in between noise pop and power-pop, recalling the brightest side of Sugar and our beloved Teenage Fanclub, ready for making your day immediately. Alive and kicking tunes! Here we go!

Second hand news: this record was huge
1. First record that you bought (be honest)
I believe I got several albums at once because I joined the Columbia House record club (8 records for a penny!). But I’m pretty sure that Fleetwood Mac – 'Rumours' and an ABBA greatest hits album were in there.

2. First and last concert you have attended (be honest too!)
My first concert ever was Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie at the Minnesota State Fair in 1985. My first real rock and roll concert, though, was Echo & the Bunnymen and New Order in 1987. These days, I mostly go to shows by local bands. The awesome shoegaze band, Ringo Deathstarr, was the last larger show I went to.

The fast, furious & hairy 80s, MTV style
3. Guilty pleasure (song/band you shouldn’t like but you do, yes, it’s the embarrassing question)
I have a weakness for Def Leppard, especially 'Photograph'.

4. Most precious music item you own (collector mode on)
I’m not into vinyl, and although I have stacks of CDs, I just listen to music on my phone these days. My oldest, most precious music-related item is a songbook for The Smiths – 'Meat is Murder' that I bought around 1986. I basically taught myself to play guitar using the chords in that book.
The father of lo-fi, hearing the voices...

5. Favorite lyrics (not yours)
Just about anything by the Smiths or Guided By Voices. Morrissey and Robert Pollard are amazing lyricists, although very different. If I had to pick just one example, I’d choose 'The Headmaster Ritual' by the Smiths just because it so perfectly captures a bleak, miserable school experience.

6. Musician/s you would like to meet (should be alive, for obvious reasons, but you can choose a dead one too)
Robert Pollard from Guided by Voices.

7. Favorite artwork album (not yours)
My Bloody Valentine’s 'Loveless'.

8. Books or movies? Depending on your answer recommend us one (trick: you can choose both) 
My favorite movie is 'The Godfather'. My favorite book is 'The Crying of Lot 49' by Thomas Pynchon.

Elephants going noise-pop
9. Song (of yours) you are most proud of
They’re all my children. That said, I’m still very proud of the song 'Sleeples' from Praise Elephants. It’s about my father and so far, is the only time I’ve written a song with direct, personal content.

10. What does it mean indie for you? (yes, the “serious question”)
I’m biased and have a certain sound in mind when I hear that term (guitar-driven indie rock from the 80s and early 90s). But in general, it makes me think of musicians who are passionate enough about music to keep making it, even when they have little chance of commercial, popular success.

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 
Still making music, with any luck, releasing the five best Persian Leaps songs we have ready every fall.

                                                                                     Zillion thanks Drew, thanks The Persian Leaps!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"While We're Young", bohemian like you

While We're Young 

Very nice and welcomed surprise. Didn't know what to expect about 'While We're Young'. I have a strange relation with Noah Baumbach's movies, Loved 'The squid and the whale', liked the utterly dark 'Margot at the wedding', but I don't want to watch it again. 'Greenberg' was quite ok too, but I'm scared to death to watch 'Frances Ha' (seems a movie for hipsters), and I thought this one could be a very weak film, something several reviews stressed. Happily, there was no reason for my fears.

'While We're Young' might easily be the most balanced and, I guess, accessible of Baumbach's films to date. That assessment means two important facts. First, the bitterness and poignancy of many of Baumbach's previous works is virtually gone. As a matter of fact, the movie is a comedy, a satire. And second, the characters are likeable. This is, of course, a matter of personal taste. But aside the aforementioned 'The squid and the whale', in my opinion, his best movie yet, that makes leading characters Josh and Cornelia, played with conviction and some sort of charm by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, the most interesting, relatable, well-rounded, flawed, irritating at times and, therefore, human Baumbach has ever created.

Yeah, I have read the comparison with Woody Allen and, although I admit it hurts me quite a bit (I'll always be a fan) it is true that Baumbach has constructed a more credible, contemporary and refined story about the behavior of intellectuals than Allen's latest efforts. 'While We're Young' portrays this stucked couple trying to prove themselves they are still "in", still bohemian, still hip, although they have grown up. How do they try to connect with the times? Befriending, Jamie and Darby, played smoothly by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried, a free-spirited couple still in their twenties, after the younger hipsters approaches Josh after one of his boring classes on filmmaking (Josh is a documentary filmmaker).

'While We're Young' works admirably as a funny game of contrasts. Old friends having kids and making their existence surrender to the babies, while the couple of hipsters celebrate a 'street beach' event or an Ayahuasca ceremony (leaded by Dean Wareham in an hilarious role). One looks scary, the other one intriguing... but scary too? Baumbach is just saying: both generations are quite ridicule, and is pretty easy to mock them. Oh yes! Here's another unmissable vynil for your record collection. Oh yes! Can I have a better Ipod for my daily running exercise? Cool and laughable, childish, at the same time. It also makes you think about yourself for a second (and in a lightweight manner). As someone who is in between both ages, and who works/deals within a hipster environment but has never been or felt part of it, many of what appears in 'While We're Young' sounds extremely familiar... I'm writing this review while listening the new Churches album, completely shocked this is "what you should listen now" when to me sounds suspiciously similar to Carly Rae Jepsen. Didn't we agree 80s electro-pop is embarrassing?

The movie also attempts to explore one of the 'controversial questions': what's authentic then? It might the weakest side of the film, because Jamie's convictions as a filmmaker (Darby's to a lesser extent too) are not really exposed if compared with Josh's adamantium but lost aims. But despite that might be a shortcoming, it do serves well Baumbach's purpose of showing people with good and insufferable qualities as well, complex and multidimensional, trying to do something with their life as they keep growing. Highly recommendable, whether you are a young hipster or an old bore, hahahaha...

SCORE: 7,25/10