Author Archives: Toi Brownstone

Ryan Adams is finally here.

The drought and the break have finally come to an end. After 3 years without entering a studio for recording a new album, even though the word says that he actually had a record in hands but it was so sad and devastating Adams didn’t endure the idea of publishing it, the king of the pinballs is releasing his 14th album today.

ryan adams ryan adams

With a simple noisy shot of his face with long messy hair on the cover (a selfie, perhaps?) and his name as the title of the album, Ryan Adams hit the street, and after listening to it compulsively in streaming, everybody knows he’s made it again. Can we call him genius and give him the credit he’s been working on all these years? I think it’s time to accept him as one of the most prolific and talented artists in the century, recalling his past, not as a curse anymore, but  as a step necessary for him to find his right path, not only in the artistic sense but also in the personal field.

Adams has always made us aware of his age. ‘1974’, the album 29, and constant references, as something he takes very serious. In 2 months he’ll be 40, the starting point for the middle-age in mankind, being the artist fully aware of that. He’s trying to keep his stability under control, and to manage to balance his personal life with his work and passions.

The creation of Pax-Am goes beyond his own analogical recording studio. It’s the accomplishment of a lifetime dream, and the sheltering space where he can develop everything’s inside his head, keeping things under control, and feeling safe.

Ryan Adams recovers the pain of the heartbroken, but this time leaves the gloomy and emotional sounds we were so used to when he was playing with The Cardinals aside, to feature rough and constricted guitars, and a toughened sound, which constantly makes you think of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in their first years. the greatness here is that he’s truly inspired by this band, together with Bruce Springsteen or even The Replacements, but he manages to go through this successfully without the listener thinking he might be copying.

ryan adams 2014

The more I’m listening to this album the more I’m having a crush on it, no doubt you’ll read about this album by the end of this year because at this moment I can’t get out of my head songs like ‘Gimme Something Good’, ‘Trouble’, ‘Shadows’ or ‘Tired of Giving Up’. Catchy chorus, simple structures, and a straight and harder sound. Adams has finally made a classic rock album without pretending to be something he’s not, nor trying to amuse or impress but his fans and himself. And he’s succeeded.

Is this the beginning of a new era? Will he keep working on this style? At least it seems that he’s very proactive and in the mood for doing stuff and releasing singles. We’ll see…

If you got time and mood for reading about this workaholic nowadays I strongly recommend you to read At home, kinda , with Ryan Adams, an article written by Bob Mehr  for Buzzfeed music I’ve read today. It gets you a good picture of what Adams has gone through in the last 20 years, helps you to get closer to both the person and the artist, and encourages you to forget his messy and rebellious past. I’m positive it’s one of the best pieces I’ve read on this musician.

Aaah! Can’t wait for my vinyl <3

Here today…

Today I’ve received another reminder on how short life is in the shape of bad news related to a close friend’s health. These reminders come unexpectedly and usually in an awkward moment, and usually leave you in a state of shock.

Yep. Definitely ‘shock’ is the word to define how I’m feeling right now. After receiving the news and swearing a couple of times, I haven’t been managed to express nor develop the mix of feelings and impressions struggling inside my head. I’ve been about to cry, or experience a violent physical outburst, but I haven’t reacted yet to an uncertain future caused by a radical change of scenario.

I’ve been on the phone with different people. Some very close, others just acquainted. Basically I’ve spent my evening on the phone, and up to this moment when I’ve decided to try doing something more productive or at least more relieving I haven’t been able to focus on any task as simple as playing an album. My head is a rollercoaster.

The expression here today, gone tomorrow is one of these universal facts that hurt for being so brutally straight and honest. I’d like to change it for here today, fucked up tomorrow, because at least it’d mean you still wake up every morning. In any case, this bitchy reminder confirms what should be my/our life philosophy: enjoy while you can and don’t get stuck in shit.

tomorrow may be too late

I know I’ll learn something from this, but it’s sad sometimes certain sad events work as a starting engine to see life from a different perspective and strengthen and improve yourself against adversity.

Remembering My So-Called Life

On August 25th 20 years ago My So-Called Life pilot episode was aired for the first time in the US. I never knew the impact of the series in its country as it was broadcast here 2 years later by Canal +, the first private pay TV channel  in Spain, in free-air hours. The reception was quite poor because it was August, and being scheduled at 8pm wasn’t very appropriate either to catch the teenagers attention. Too many distractions and activities  better than spending the evening in front of a T. For no reason I was THAT freak. I was home alone for the month so I could watch TV, listen to music or do whatever anytime I wanted. Same as nowadays except for working.

my so called life

Up to that moment I had never been very interested in teenage “drama” series. If I had to enjoy an empty-headed series I’d choose Melrose Place over Beverly Hills 90210, with more adult characters, but If I had to get deep in shit, I’d choose classic Dynasty and Falcon Crest over any. Getting back to these teenage oriented series, none of them could catch my attention. However the impact of Angela Chase’s view of life was huge.

The story was happening in my time, we were in the same range of age, and being Claire Danes super gorgeous, we share that slob dressing style, with plaid shirts, XL tees… There were some moments I wanted to be her, and express myself as clear as she did in her thoughts or to her friends. I had never felt so close to some fictional character, with so much reality and deep thinking.

Hatred can become like food, it gives you this energy that you can like, live off of.

The coolest thing was that teenage drama was dealt in a teenage way. I mean, when you are 16 and your one-month boyfriend dumps you for another girl you reckon is hotter but never as cut as you, the world falls apart, and you feel like that’s the worst thing that can ever happen to you. When you are to date that guy you like so much and a damn huge spot sprouts in your chin and you even consider calling off the meeting.  Or when there’s no communication between you and your parents and they just don’t understand you. All things considered, becoming an adult is not as easy and irrelevant as many people reckon. It’s pretty fucked up actually, so in My So-Called Life you could see yourself reflected as in a mirror. And it worked as  some sort of painkiller, showing you weren’t the only one having complexes and insecurities and  low self-esteem.

jordan and angela

And then there was Jordan Catalano. Thinking of Jared Leto nowadays makes really hard to believe I had a crush on him, but yeah, I had it, because this handsome but not very smart guy was a symbol. Thus I sighed for Catalano, my ex was in love with Angela and secretly wanted me to be her, and I also wanted to be Angela because she was cool.

Unfortunately the series was suddenly cancelled, and apparently it had to do with the decision of Claire Danes to quit, leaving lots of open plots. Would the relationship between Jordan and Angela have worked? I don’t think so. At the end of the day he was a prick and she seemed to be more into experiencing and discovering.

Truth is that My So-Called Life marked a starting point for teenage drama series, with Dawson’s Creek as one of the most remarkable examples, but I was never into any similar story anymore. Perhaps I had already grown up, or just because the first time is the experience which will prevail in memory throughout the years. I don’t know.

rayanne and angela

Right now I’m speaking out of my memory, but I really want to recover the story of Angela, Jordan and Rayanne, and see how it feels being now an adult. I might learn something I didn’t notice back in the day. Who knows?

Album of week 34: Born a Lion

Except at the office, where I’m not allowed to, I love playing music most of my spare time. perhaps it’s to exhausting for many, but I love performing activities with a little support from an album. When I have guests at the Hellhouse I usually pass the choice of the soundtrack to them, of course if I trust their taste in music, feeling very curious about what they will select. Sometimes it can be very predictable, but in many cases I feel really amused and pleased when they removed the dust from one of my old CDs or records I haven’t listened to in years, and all of a sudden lots of memories, melodies and lyrics come back to my head and I recover some sort of excitement remembering how great that album and that certain band was back in the day.

Last Saturday, Tani, Jaume and I were recovering from the funny night before, and I was in the mood for cooking if Jaume to be in charge of music. He accepted the challenge and also bough beer. His first choice was Kick of INXS and it was great to listen to so many hits at once. Eventually I’ll talk about that album, because it’s pretty good. He completely changed the style with his second choice, which was Born a Lion.

born a lion

I’ve been so pissed off lately with Danko Jones due to his terrible and boring shows, with too much talking and quite few music, I had forgotten how great he used to be. Well, not that his late albums are crap, because you can always find a bunch of great songs, but the groove, power and sexuality in his early stuff was unbeatable.

I had vaguely heard of this trio from Canada formed by Danko, John Calabrese and Damon Richardson, the former drummer who played on the best albums of the band, until I saw them opening for Backyard Babies in 2001 I think. Basically they ate the Swedish band with a steamroller act which turned the audience crazy. The recipient for the success of their act was powerful and sticky rock n’roll songs, mixed with blues and garage, sexual lyrics and Danko’s speeches to heat people. The magnetism of the frontman was irresistible and everybody ended surrendered to his knees. He was a sort of preacher of rock.

The Mango Kid used to be the king on stage when performing sets of 45 minutes, but at some point, when the band became more popular and started headlining 85 minute shows, his speeches became repetitive, the rhythm of the performance was losing tempo all the time because between songs there was too much spoken word, and of course, the albums weren’t as brilliant and fresh as the first ones. It is a pity because the band has its own identity regardless of their influences, but Danko squeezed the lemon too much, and the band is a bit stuck in its old formula.

Thus recovering Born a Lion the other day was as exciting as to time travel 12-13 years back, remember all the funny lyrics, Danko’s tongue and mean attitude on stage, and we getting crazy with their songs. ‘Love is Unkind’, ‘Lovercall’, ‘Sound of Love’, ‘Papa’, ‘Play the Blues’…one hit after another. I used to love this album, and for me, the concept of power trio was expressed in these 3 guys to its maximum level.

I still hope The Mango Kid forgets about horchata and comes back to the right path to give us a lesson.

Hamilton Ventura

Hamilton Ventura, what a sexy name! It could work for an adventurer, a super hero or an actor. One of those names that, I don’t know, they just imply something classy, far from the standard.

hamilton ventura

Ventura is actually a wristwatch, and it was one of the first electric models in the world designed by the American industrial designer Richard Arbib in 1957 for the Hamilton Watch Company. Not only It was quite revolutionary for the mechanism but also for its non-traditional assimetrical design.

The first celebrity wearing one of these Ventura models was Elvis Presley, known for being a passionate for wristwatches, including Longines, Omega and Rolex. You can see his Blue Hawaii film poster with him wearing this watch. After him, the creator of one of  the most amazing tv series ever, The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling, was introducing the audience to the 5th dimension every week with his Hamilton Ventura. Stray Cats leader, Brian Setzer had one too, and it was part of the outfit of the Men in Black, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

hve

You realize when a design of an object is a work of art when it’s not affected by the passing of time, this is, it never gets old nor outdated. This is the case of Hamilton Ventura. It’s elegant, classy and timeless. In fact, the company has been releasing updated editions of the watch, but also recovering the classic models in limited adition, for the 50th anniversary of the first electric watch, and the 75th birthday anniversary of Elvis in 2009.

Most of my life I’ve been using wristwatches, since I was 6 and wanted to assimilate the concept of passing time. it’s been few years, since I got my right forearm tattooed with the lighthouse since I don’t wear watch, but I’ve been thinking of recovering that habit because as soon as the battery of the phone runs out, I’m totally confused not knowing what the time is.

So, if you have approx. spare USD 700-1000, and feel like making me a present, one of these wonderful toys would be terrific. :-)

Album of week 32: AMORICA

Right now if you were seeing me on a webcam or some other face to face device, not only i’d look a bit ugly and exhausted thanks to the heat of the summer and the fuckin’ peak season at work, with lots of incidences and shit putting my patience and professionalism into a test, but leaving my physical state, my face would reflect some astonishment as a consequence of being surfing my own blog looking for albums of The Black Crowes commented, to realize only Three Snakes and One Charm and Shake your Money Maker had been cited. Not that I’m a Crowemaniac but I’ve been following the Robinson bros’ career quite close.

amorica

This time I feel like talking about Amorica, an album that, due to some factors and events , has turned into a very deared piece. I’ve been listening to it very often these past days as I find that any record of the Crowes has some elements which make them perfect for summer. They are warm yet fresh, with lots of groove, and they always give the good vibes. Honestly, I feel happy whenever I listen to them and my mood gets excellent.

I’ve always thought Amorica marked a change from the previous albums and it also meant the definition of what The Black Crowes were, and what they were looking for. The way songs were written, with their structures, their extended length and the way they were played, one had the feeling of being listening to a live album. They were able to create that wonderful hippie atmosphere for people to break free, get loose, and experiment the joy of music. Rock wasn’t a pose anymore for them, and they were committed to spread music as the perfect medicine for all.

You might be thinking I’m on acid, but it’s been almost 18 years since the last (light) trip. Ha!

If you had attended their Amorica tour show in Zaragoza in July 1995 at the main park in an open air “amphitheatre”, you’d understand what I’m saying. That show was as if the band was in the living room, including lots of jam parts in the set. They didn’t even play ‘Conspiracy’. Most of the audience expected something different, song oriented, and those jams had a different impact on people. I particularly enjoyed the show even though I was flipping a bit observing Chris Robinson playing percussion thinking the guy was high in the sky, as his smile never abandoned his face. I guess we weren’t yet prepared nor educated to face a show like that one, moreover, since then their shows are more focused in recovering their classic hits rather than experimenting or improvising.

The Black Crowes

I bought a Japanese digipack copy of this album when I visited Japan. He (urgh) had his copy and was all the time complaining and wondering where his digipack copy bought in Paris was, and when I found mine he told me not to buy it, as he had his own CD and at that time we were meant to share everything. But I was determined to have my own copy, so I got it. unfortunately at some point during our divorce my CD remained with his stuff and I lost it, like lots of stuff I never recovered. I thought at some point we would behave like adults so I would recovered my things, but some time ago I came to the conclusion that after 4 years there was no point in claiming anything, plus I don’t need to approach him at all.

The wonders of friendship made I told this last story to Arantza and Paula, my favorite sisters and old friends since high school, reckoning I would eventually have a new copy of Amorica. I love giving them music as presents, or suggesting bands and albums, because they usually apply themselves seriously and are very appreciative, and it’s great to introduce good friends to music you’re fond of. But it was their time to give me something back, so being really busy at work, Mr Postman came to my office and asked for me. I wasn’t expecting anything, especially because these months I’m quite short of dough after festivals and summer social life. whn I opened the envelop and saw Amorica was inside, and there was a pink note from my friends, I got really moved and dropped a little tear, feeling the luckiest person on Earth for having such great people by my side.

So now I got my Amorica to play anytime I want, and this has been the album of the week. Some people regard it as a minor work, but considering it includes ‘Wiser Time’ and ‘Gone’, I can tell you this is one of their greatest works.

Every time I listen to The Black Crowes I have the same thought:  the world would be much worse if they didn’t exist. God bless!

Summer, FEET and Phobia.

Phobia [ˈfəʊbɪə]

noun

noun: phobia; plural noun: phobias

an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.

“she suffered from a phobia about birds”

synonyms: abnormal fear, irrational fear, obsessive fear, fear, dread, horror, terror,dislike, hatred, loathing, detestation, distaste, aversion, antipathy, revulsion, repulsion;

Summertime. Apparently the best season in the year, or at least we’ve been brought up and educated in this belief, as it’s associated to good weather, holidays and fun. This should be my summer 25 years ago, but not anymore.

summer

In my case it is mainly marked by the peak season in my job, with work overload, the absence of holidays on behalf of colleagues who have couples and families and want or have to go on vacation in July or August. I’m usually broke thanks to IRS (basterds!), mosquitoes bite the hell out of me, humidity and hot weather in Barcelona is a shit and my forelock disappears forcedly, but trying to look at the right side of life, I’m still glad I have air conditioning at work. It is a relief, for real. There’s nobody here in August because everybody is on holidays, and there are not shows to attend either. I don’t get bored though, don’t think Barcelona is kind of jail in August, but let’s say that my country stops routine for 4-6 weeks, and no matter how I keep acting normal, somehow also affects me.

Honestly I’m positive when I admit it’s not my favorite season anymore, yet I can cope with that quite decently even though I’m complaining in excess to make this more dramatic. It is not the above mentioned situation what really makes me feel pissed off with this season. There’s one thing that actually makes me hate summer and the world more than any other:

FEET

Almost bare feet everywhere. Flip-flops and  sandals are not so weird in Barcelona due to the weather, in fact, I’d say many people try to wear half the year if possible, something I find totally exaggerated to be honest.

bare feet

People footwear shouldn’t be of my concern and I shouldn’t give a shit about this, but believe me, a tube trip of 6 stops is enough to make me feel like vomiting sometimes after being mistreated by the sight of terrible deformed bared aliens threatening me in my peaceful way to somewhere. Arggggh!

Has it ever occurred to you that you discover something abhorrent but you cannot keep the eye out of it so your stomach starts aching, your repulsion is even reflected in your face and you’d just love to go towards the human being and tell them how disgusting motherfucker he or she is? Well, similar situations I’m experiencing most of the times I catch a train, as I’m surrounded by many ugly feet with deformed toes, rotten nails, and disgusting corns. We can leave aside the subject of smelly feet, so classic in summer too, huh?

And I always wonder the same. How the fuck do you dare going out with such monstrosity at public glance? Ain’t you ashamed? How can you be so calm while you’re torturing my poor eyes? Sometimes I dream awake of being myself some sort of Feet Enforcer…

Check the beginning on this post with the definition of Phobia and think of the story I’m telling you and you will find the perfect example of extreme aversion. Yeah, that is me!

I don’t regard my feet as horrible, but I’ve always find the strange lack of proportion between my quite big piggy toe and the rest of small and rigid ones quite weird, and since I started wearing sneakers and Doc Martens at 14-15 I started not feeling very comfy showing them. Also I used to hate my mum cutting my nails when I was a kid and got very very anxious and tense when someone touched my toes. Have you watched Kill Bill? Do you remember when Beatrix Kiddo wakes up from years in coma and has to work on recovering the mobility of her legs, feet and toes for hours? I suffer with that scene.

kiddo feet

My obsession has been gradually increasing, especially in the years I had a boyfriend with the hugest feet I’ve ever seen (QUITE smelly and excessively delicate too, he was complaining aaaaaall the fuckin’ time). Moreover, I guess he projected his feet obsessions, pains and concerns (and phobia) on me, so I developed this extreme dislike. He was also quite a world hater, lucky I’ve been into people too much as to fall under his anti-social influence.

Thus nowadays I can only stand baby feet, really decent feet,or close and old friends’, mainly female, of course. Even my male best friend share some of this feet shyness and I never seen his feet at full either. Those apparent enjoyable pleasures such as pedicure or a foot massage (Mia Wallace, how can you stand it without breaking anyone’s jaw with a kick?) are completely out of question.

Should I go to a shrink to overcome this phobia? Maybe, but as far as I’m concerned I’m not willing to invest the few dough I have in being gentle to disgusting feet of unknown people. I feel lucky for having a phobia which doesn’t affect much to my daily living, but being this a stupid example, try to think of something more serious. Frightening, huh?