Author Archives: Toi Brownstone

Black Hole

Comics. What wonderful universe I’m so ignorant about!

I’ve always loved this way of telling stories making such a visual impact, however I’ve never been a great follower nor expert. Used to buy a magazine when I was 8 one of these  weekly girly magazines named Jana, following all the stories, but I found really frustrating to spend most of the time waiting for the next issue while it was taking me so few to devour it, so I wasn’t good at collecting at all. Never been a good collector at anything, to be honest, so after that I was buying spare issues of comics just for fun, and Spiderman and Batman stories.

I consume volumes. Not that I buy many, but I’ve been getting acquainted with great works such as The Killing Joke, From Hell, Frank Miller’s The Dark Night Returns or Sin City, The Preacher recently, and the last weird discovery, thanks to my friend Mich, Charles Burns’ Black Hole.

black hole

I got so hooked I read it in just a couple of nights. Sick, twisted and totally uncomfortable. It’s so weird it’s really difficult to define what Black Hole is, and I reckon a second read is absolutely necessary, to get more meaning. For this reason I immediately related it to any of the early Cronenberg’s films. They were so shocking I had to watch them several times to really enjoy them. In this sense Black Hole could be equal to Videodrome. You feel irresistibly attracted to it at first, but you don’t really know what’s going on nor why, and have to dig deeper and deeper to make sense.

The plot is set in Seattle, in the 1970s. it mainly deals with a couple of teenage characters, Keith and Chris, who barely know each other from highschool but they somehow empathize. There’s a bug, a sexual transmitted disease which causes mutations among youngsters even though the origin is not explained. Some of them suffer really awful mutations which immediately turn them into outcasts, and they tend to isolate from society, in order to avoid rejection, torture and punishment, and some others manage to deal with it. Chris, the girl, gets infected when hanging out with Rob Fancincani, due to a misunderstanding, and from that moment she feels compelled to get away. Keith gets hooked with Eliza, who’s grown up a tail, but, unlike Chris, he can handle the situation in a better way. And then, there’s Dave, who’s a total freak, in love with Chris, whose actions will make a huge impact on these people.

keith chris

There are lots of drugs and sex, both subjects I find totally appealing, there are lots of interesting music references, and plenty of dreamy stuff. The imagery is absolutely great, even though I was so stuck to the story man things passed by without me noticing them. Visually it’s overwhelming, with this thick and heavy black ink, which makes the cartoons so powerful.

All the constant references to this spreading decease made me think of AIDS. First, for being sexually transmitted, and also because of all this social barrier created around. I remember the first days of AIDS, when it was officially recognized, and we all felt threatened (well, perhaps not me, I was a little girl after all), not so sure of the ways to be infected, and even though we were all told to be close and supportive to the people suffering from it, how society was giving its back to the illness. I also remember the first time I heard some acquaintance who had passed away was infected, and this panic around me increasing, with thousands of questions involved. “Was I to close to him?” “why didn’t he tell us?” Have I been too exposed?”, “What if anyone knows I am friend f this person?”It was really awkward, and scary, and I remember it freshly.

eliza

It also made me think of Larry Clark’s Kids movie, which also dealt with a crazy and out of control teenage society, and AIDS, and the way youngsters were jeopardizing their lives for the sake of having a sexual encounter, without pounding the consequences. All very fucked up.

Again, what is Black Hole? Is it the story of mutants, a portrait of a disease, the troubles of a teenager to fit or to get away, the reflection of social confusion, or just a weird and heavy acid trip?

Perhaps I didn’t understand anything or different readings can be pulled out of it, but the only thing I’m sure of is that Black Hole is perturbing and fascinating all the same.

Album of week 4: …And Out Come the Wolves

This week’s been a rough one. Plus it’s been the first one I’ve worked full, and after a terrific weekend in Bibao, it’s been like a punishment. Emotionally weird too.

rancid

To face such low mood I needed some upper and recovering …And Out Come the Wolves has been the perfect choice. And it’s been thanks to my friend Jon who gave me one of his 3 original copies last Saturday. I had lost it during my “divorce” and I had completely forgotten about this masterpiece.

Never been a huge fan of Rancid but I’ve always liked them, and relate them to very good times thanks to a couple of shows I attended at Festimad festival in 1996 introducing this album, and then in 2012. Both of them equally funny and crazy. Rad shows!

When …And Out Come the Wolves Rancid turned our world upside down. It’s impossible to imagine such impact of a punk rock band on teenagers nowadays, but the 1990s were something different, and their style fitted in the bosses interests. Most of us were digging Seattle bands, darker, deeper and inward, but at the same time there was still some room for consuming explosive bands, without being related to any proper scene or style. Thus we had RATM, Biohazard and Body Count, and then we had Greenday and Rancid, which were totally punk orientated, to name few examples. I always preferred Rancid. Hey were wild and nasty, and I used to love dancing with them.

The Festimad show was insane. It was open air, at the main stage, and all I could see was people dancing around, pouring beer on people (yep, I got myself my first proper beer shower), singing and yelling, and overall having a great time. So was I. And then I felt hungry and thought it was the perfect time to have an omelet sandwich. Not very intelligent, I know. At some point of the show I thought my arm had shrunk because I couldn’t give a bite to the sandwich, and the reason was that there were two guys whose arms were woven to mine. Oh, man! I couldn’t stop laughing! And of course I couldn’t finish it because it ended up smashed. What a laugh!

Rancid 1995

…And Out Come the Wolves is a perfect record, a fuckin’ timeless masterpiece. One hit after another. It’s impossible to choose a favorite: ‘Ruby Soho’, ‘Time Bomb’, ‘Lock, Step & Gone’, ‘Roots Radical’ ‘She’s Automatic’, ‘Junkie Man’…These songs are anthems. It’s one of those albums you cannot listen motionless. You end up dancing or headbanging, but you never stop. Good vibes and energy are absolutely contagious.  And that’s exactly what I was looking for this week.

Recently a new Rancid album, named Honor Is All We Know, has been released, and it’s not as great as their third one, but still keeps the essence and the vibe, which is great news, because that means they’re still in shape for more writing, and most important, more touring. If they can play as they did a couple of years ago, that will mean to get another beer shower, sweat like a pig, and leave my guts on the pit, because as much as possible, I’ll be attending their shows without hesitation.

Good things come for those who wait.

I recover this sentence a good pal told me long time ago because it fits perfect.

Oh, yeah! I’ve been waiting patiently and eventually I’ve got my reward. L7 have been confirmed to be part of the lineup for Azkena Rock Festival in June and I couldn’t be more thrilled about this news.

L7 girls

I told you a couple of years the band not only was starting reactivating their Facebook account but also that that they were compiling stuff from fans in order to work on a documentary. I was pretty excited dreaming on a comeback which was never announced.

Less than a couple of months ago L7 created their own army to push promoters to hire them for this possible comeback. Are they doing it for the money? Fuck! I don’t care! First and last time I saw them was in 1999 and I remember their show was awesome. I need more!

Immediately I started thinking of the possibility of L7 playing at Azkena Rock Festival, which has managed to reunite several bands in the past, but at first I thought it was too soon for them to arrange everything. Dreaming awake is a tempting activity I practice much too often though and this time it was not an exception, so I started dealing with the possibility of seeing them alive at this festival. At the end of the day I had nothing to lose.

Therefore you can imagine the rush when I heard this morning their presence was confirmed at the festival. Oh shit! It’s been awesome! My day was basically a piece of chunk but as soon as I’ve read this I’ve started yelling “YES, YES, YES!” at the office and all my colleagues have started laughing because they knew it was a confirmation of a band I love for the festival, no matter they don’t know who the fuck L7 are.

6 months of wait start from now. This is the kind of motivation I need to keep on moving. Hell yeah!

Will I see you in Mendizabala?

Six degrees of separation. Today: Elvis and Toi.

Kind of frustrated because I didn’t post anything related to Elvis’ birthday on Thursday. I still paid my tribute watching the great documentary Elvis: That’s the way it is, which I strongly recommend you, including lots of footage of the rehearsals previous to Vegas residency in 1970, and the actual shows, which were awesome.

I know it’s a bit late but I want to talk to you about Elvis, Toi and the Six degrees of separation theory anyway, and that’s what I’m gonna do right now.

Back in 1929 there was this Hungarian writer, Frigyes Karinthy who wrote a book of short stories titled ‘Everything is Different’. In one of these, he was telling about how the world was shrinking so to speak, as the human being was moving, emigrating, and establishing more connections and ties to other people than we used to do in the past. Somehow he was anticipating something which is completely fashionable nowadays, which are the social networks. But it wouldn’t be until 1967, when the researcher Stanley Milgram published the compilation of experiments related to the extension of social networks under a theory named “The Small World problem” through The Psychology Today, when it was demonstrated that the world was becoming increasingly connected. At some point in the 2000s, the concept of “Six Degrees of Separation” was born, to explain you’d be related to anyone in no more than six connections.

Well, this is a vague summary of what the unproven theory is about, but I guess you already knew about it.

I’m not sure if it would apply to deceased people, but in this case I like to think is valid too, especially considering Elvis and me coexisted on earth for less than 11 months.

So here is the thing.

Elvis, the king of rock n’ roll, who only left the States for the military service in Germany and few shows in Canada, and Toi, an average(a bit freak too) girl from Zaragoza, Spain, have only two degrees of separation.

How can it be possible?

Ha! A couple of years ago I discovered this picture by chance: Elvis and Torrebruno.

torrebruno and elvis

Many of you are wondering now how the fuck was Torrebruno. Rocco Walter Torrebruno was a little Italian showman, who settled in Spain, doing comedy, singing, working as hosts in many TV programs, and during a long period of time, he used to work for a circus and oriented his career as a child’s entertainer.

Apparently the picture was taken in Paris in 1959, at the Moulin Rouge, when Elvis went to salute the singer Nina Holloway, to her dressing-room, after a show, and Torrebruno happened to be there with his guitar.

I met Torrebruno in 1981 when he took me to stage to sing his hit “Rocky Carambola”, who was actually a chimpanzee. Si I sang with him and this little man gave me the single as a present.

toi carambola

Thus, I met Torrebruno, who had met the King 22 years earlier. Only 2 degrees, friends. So now I’ve just proved myself that the world is ridiculously small. How cool is that?

Album of week 1: Echo Street

It’s about time to write the first post of 2015, don’t you think? Well, first I wanna wish you a happy new year and all these things, all good, of course. Do not commit to many things and stay real when fixing targets, please. No need to get disappointed as life is hard enough, at least this has been my philosophy lately and it seems to work fine.

Also I want to thank you all for visiting the site. I’ve just read the stats and there’ve been 50k visits in 2014 which I think it’s pretty amazing considering I’ve been lazier and busier, not posting as much as I should have. So THANK YOU.

So, what should I start writing about? Ha! Music, what else?

Been listening to lots new stuff I’ve discovered recently thanks to a friend who’s introduced me to great bands and albums and I’m fascinated: Motorpsycho, Lungfish, Juno, Woven Hand… and above all Amplifier.

That name used to be familiar although I wasn’t acquainted with their music at all. It’s been a huge surprise to discover them. I’m still assimilating a couple of albums before approaching the rest, but I can already say I have a strong crush on this band from Manchester.

The most remarkable feature of their songs is the ability to create very evocative atmospheres, very space and dreamy, thanks to lots of guitar effects and wonderful melodies. It’s rock, but compositions are quite progressive and long, arrangements are absolutely delightful, and the final result is overwhelming.

amplifier

At this moment I can’t stop listening to Echo Street, their 2013 album. I only had to listen to the opening song, ‘Matmos’ to realize this wasn’t another band. You know the feeling of listening to something which is breathtaking? No matter how much music I listen, whenever this happens I really feel alive and glad to be able to perceive something with such intensity. Echo Street has 8 songs which move you to another dimension, as if you were floating, you can feel the world stops around, and there’s nothing but music. It’s awesome.

I was told that Amplifier played for only 30 people in Barcelona, in 2013, and the show was recorded. I can’t imagine what it was like, but based on this video of ‘Where the River Goes’ it had to be amazing. If only I had been there!

According to that, I assume their projection here in Spain is nonexistent unfortunately, so I don’t think there’s an easy chance to see them on stage, at least here. Damn! I hate being late!

Seriously, if you want to FEEL MUSIC, Echo Street is definitely a great outlet for it. You can’t do anything else because it captures and captivates you in a way not many albums can. It’s magic!

B.F.F

Been having a couple of beers on my own tonight after meeting a friend. I’ve noticed this is some sort of ritual, to have some dinks on my own the previous night to new year’s eve. Listening to music, deep in thoughts. Kind of nostalgic state of mind I guess.

Most likely I’ll write about 2014 highlights in the next days, but I have something, or better said, someone in my mind I’d like to say thanks for being by my side, especially during this weird year. I’m talking about my friend Jaume. My best friend.

jaumie and toi

Few days ago I was saying that since a while ago years pass by and they are not extraordinary. Not full of sadness and pain as in 2010 nor feeling as if I was on the top of the world like in 2011. For good or bad, there are events out of my control which can affect my life deeply, and years have become a rough mixture of good and bad things. I reckon being on my own has also made me feel in a way that I’m my own engine and source of energy, and try to make the most of it, and friends and other stuff contribute to improve or get things worse.

I don’t feel sad and lonely in general even though I sometimes have these feelings, but at the end of the day, after 4 years, it’s me who I’m going to sleep with and wake up with every fuckin’ day. And after 4 years I can confirm friends and music are definitely essential for me to stay alive and kicking.

I met Jaume on the net, in a crappy music chat, arguing about some band till we reached a common point which acted as the ignition to our friendship. We met at a bar one night after I called him asking for a pack of cigarettes, and from that moment, everything went on wheels between us.

Like we say, we’ve supported each other at the time of leaving some corpses behind. We fell and then stood up and moved forward, always having each other to overcome whatever shit we had to face.

Our friendship has strengthened, grown and settled, we can count each other for everything without even asking, and we know what’s happening to the other just with a glance or a stupid talk. I tell him absolutely everything and I know he’ll always tell me if I’m wrong. At my weakest peaks he’s given me the support and guidance not to lose the track, and he’s my anchor to good sense whenever I’ve thought I was falling into a sea of insanity.

For the talks, the endless beers and cigarettes, the laughs and the care during all these years I can’t be grateful enough to Jaume but I still wanna say thanks.

My life would be a huge pile of shit if you weren’t here.

My 14 of 2014

December 25th. I think the time for me to write my list of 2014 albums has finally arrived, even though I’ve been delaying this moment to the max.

I feel a bit frustrated because I’ve been so busy I haven’t been updated my album of the week section much, perhaps because I always like to develop the post a bit, add some story behind or develop my enthusiasm so I can sell the product in the best way, so to speak.

2014 in terms of album releases has been fabulous, and I’ve discovered many bands and discographies I had never been into before, which now I follow passionately. The two main reasons for a very eclectic list have been RockZone Magazine, which has placed names I wasn’t acquainted with right in front of my eyes, and since I’m more involved in the mag I felt the curiosity to dig into that stuff, and of course my beloved forum and the awesome people I have the luck to discuss about music and lots of other funny shit on almost a daily basis.

The problem here is that in a month I’ve written down a couple of lists and I’ve changed orders and modified/added records, because there’s so much stuff I haven’t managed to listen to I’m still discovering awesome things, which means that list could change in a month, but this list defines what I like the most lately.

Hope you find it interesting enough as to dig into the albums.

RYAN ADAMS / BEAUTY & RUIN

Sharing the throne like father and son, it couldn’t be any other way.

ryan adams ryan adams

 My fave messy hair boy has turned the screw magnificently and has delivered one of his most remarkable works up to date. I was a huge fan of The Cardinals era, and the last works left me a bit cold, but with Ryan Adams, breathing the essence of Tom Petty, has truly jumped to an upper level. More rock, more groove, and more livid. I think of ‘Trouble’, ‘Kim’, ‘am I Safe’ to start with, but I should mention all the songs as they are all absolutely terrific. As a complement, Adams previously issued a 16 minute ep named 1984, which was an excellent homage paid to 80’s American punk. 2014 has meant the rise of Ryan Adams at all levels, as he’s constantly playing life, issuing different singles and nonstop creating.

http://sincemybabyleftme.com/2014/09/09/ryan-adams-is-finally-here/

bob mould

Bob Mould is one of the biggest discoveries this year. I had barely listened to Hüsker Dü in the past, and this guy, thanks to Beauty & Ruin, has opened the doors to his universe. Another workaholic and singular character, very close to Ryan Adams nowadays, and with an immense talent. Songs such as ‘Low Season’, ‘I don’t know you anymore’ or ‘The War’ really make me vibe.

http://sincemybabyleftme.com/2014/10/19/album-of-week-42-beauty-ruin/

ANTEMASQUE

antemasque album

Cedric and Omar are back in track and this time they’ve got rid of lots of ornaments and progressive style to deliver straight and energetic songs so easy to assimilate, you get hooked in a nick of time.

http://sincemybabyleftme.com/2014/11/08/album-of-weeks-44-45-antemasque/

DO TO THE BEAST

do to the beast

The Afghan Whigs have assured their comeback releasing and impressive album which is not the continuity to their previous work but the starting point to a new promising future. Elegance and uniqueness are their trademark and once again they’ve proved they should be among the greatest bands on earth.

http://sincemybabyleftme.com/2014/04/10/album-of-week-15-do-to-the-beast/

INTO THE MAELSTROM

bigelf

Not being into prog, Into the Maelstrom is so expressive and grandiloquent, the result is a record with overwhelming songs. It’s like an intense trip to the vast corners of the land of the future, it opens your mind to a different experience and the ride is magnificent.

TILL MIDNIGHT

chuck ragan

Strong folkie tunes full of passion and intensity. Not the typical mild songs but rough ones as if it was a shot of bourbon you had. Harsh, hot, painful and glorious. Absolutely delightful, the more you listen to it, the more you love it, the more you want to fall in love with someone with Till Midnight as the most suitable soundtrack to live that with.

MÖNGOL HÖRDE

mongol horde

Frank Turner is not just a folkie boy. He’s got balls and he loves hardcore, and this project seems to be the perfect outlet for anger, rage and frustration. not many people around me are aware of this treasure, which contains absolute anthems.

http://sincemybabyleftme.com/2014/06/30/album-of-weeks-24-26-mongol-horde/

GREAT WESTERN VALKYRIE

rival sons

If Rival Sons had kept on tryinf emulate Led Zepp I wouldn’t be talking about this record, but these guys seem to have found a marking point to find their own style and sound and have delivered an outstanding album.

EVERYTHING WILL BE ALRIGHT IN THE END

weezer

First Weezer album which hooked me immediately. Very teenager melodies mixed with brilliant guitars, great structures with wonderful chorus, have this time caught my attention.

TRANSGENDER DYSPHORIA BLUES

against me transgender dysphoria blues

Emotionally speaking probably this album should be on top for all what Laura Jane Grace and Against Me! have meant to me this year. I’ve learnt about dysforia, I got the chance to interview Laura, and attend one of the greatest live shows this year. I have nothing but great words and it’s awesome to find such a great confession and statement on this album.

http://sincemybabyleftme.com/2014/03/20/album-of-week-12-transgender-dysphoria-blues/

WASTED YEARS

off

Punk and mayhem. What else do you need sometimes? OFF! deliver that shot of energy and rage you need which prevents you from blowing this world.

BACK FROM THE ABYSS

back from the abyss

My boys made it good again. Excellent album which confirms years of hard work have been worth the effort. There are outstanding anthems and songs are well built and developed. They seem comfortable with what they’re doing and it’s finally reflected on this album.

III

mariachi el bronx

If I had been told I’d be listening to mariachi few years ago I’d still be laughing but I’m currently doing it and the punk guys from California dressed in killing suits have stolen my heart. Viva Mariachi El Bronx!

*** Please don’t judge by the cover.

GIGANTOID

gigantoid

It’s true there are not anthems in this albums in the way Fu Manchu used to do, but the riffs are incredible, heavier songs and this road spirit will always be present, and the trio does never fail me.

***

There are many other albums I’m discovering which probably would deserve to be included, but at this poin this is my list and the way I feel right now.

Still, I made this playlist with a selection of songs of my personal soundtrack of this year, which might be of your interest.