Tag Archives: 2014

Black Friday

I always make jokes about having a boyfriend from the States so I could join the traditional celebration of Thanksgiving, even though I don’t eat turkey. Yep, everybody remarks the fact that I’m vegetarian as if the American veggies wouldn’t not fit to traditions because of their choice. Anyway, it’s been another year and I haven’t yet found my man from Wichita. Ha! 😀

Today it’s Friday. As good or bad as any Friday. But in America it’s Black Friday. The starting pistol to Xmas season shopping, marked by a fixed festivity on the fourth week on November. Apparently the term was born in Philly due to a massive traffic mess occurred one Friday, but actually this black means the point in the year when business start getting profit in sales.

Nowadays this day, extended till the end of the week, is marked by massive discounts “intended” to help family economies to face Xmas shopping, although at the end of the day, anyone with a bit of common sense knows that’s a lie, because discount makes people to consume more. And you are aware of it.

black friday

I’m not here to judge this tradition in the States, it’s not my war. For some time I used to think it was right to have sales before Xmas, rather than after, but things changed in my mind when I realized how stupid can be sometimes to spend so much money in Xmas presents. And Black Friday has finally reached Spain just like anything else, and it’s kind of ridiculous.

I buy. I have no problem in admitting it. I BUY A LOT OF SHIT. But I hate to be imposed when  and how to buy, because that means everything is accurately calculated to suck us dry. Plus I hate going shopping to suffer due to so many queues and so many people around it’s impossible to get focused on what you want. Definitely, I am not cattle.

Now, in order to attact those who hate going shopping, an eDay has been created to get discounts on the net. The tentacles of big companies go beyond anything and they’ll get lots of money for sure.

I got paid today. I thought of buying a couple of albums of a band I’m starting to like a lot at a very reasonable price, out of this Black Friday thing. But, I feel bad following the masses and decided I’d get them tomorrow. I’m not supporting any cause but just standing up for my principles, and at least I feel good about it.

You know what I bought today? Beer. And there was no discount  for that. WTF?

And today, there’s a song that’s been repeating in my head, and now I fully understand its message.

Merchandise keeps us in line
Common sense says it’s by design
What could a businessman ever want more
than to have us sucking in his store
We owe you nothing
You have no control
You are not what you own

I’d like to know the opinion of those who criticize Halloween so much about this.

Farewell Norma Jean

It’s funny I was writing about the end of chapters referring to all the projects in which Omar and Cedric were involved in the past which eventually were necessary to the birth of Antemasque.

And I find it funny because yesterday one of the most remarkable chapters I’ve experienced was also finished. Norma Jean Magazine, the online site I’ve been involved with for the past two years and a half, has been officially closed down, thanks to a wonderful statement Andrea published on the web.

norma-jean-banner

It’s sad we couldn’t face the high demand of contents as a consequence of tough work and really good articles thanks to all the contributors who shared their stories and thoughts with us. For some time we were posting articles on a daily basis. That was insane considering we were only two girls trying to cover editing, writing, recruiting, reading new stuff from people interested in contributing… It was getting hard to keep all things at the same level, having our responsibilities and daytime full time jobs. What started being a hobby, with very pleasant results turn out to be some sort of obligation, and it required lots of time and effort. We handled until we weren’t able to cope with that, and for some time we had the hope that eventually we’d be able to resurrect the magazine. But it was impossible, we weren’t motivated, and we felt constantly frustrated and guilty for not working on it anymore.

I reckon this was the best way to finish it, through a statement. Norma Jean Magazine didn’t deserve to die agonizing, and it’d been agonizing enough already.

nj power

I can’t be but grateful, because this magazine has opened me the doors to other sites, blogs and magazines, it’s been a good opportunity to learn about editing and writing, I’ve met lots of interesting people, and thanks to NJ Andrea is my friend. What else can I ask?

Alpha and Omega. Everything can be summarized this way.

It’s been the end of NJ, but who know what will come next? It’s the end of a magazine, but it doesn’t imply the end of a friendship or the willing to write and communicate. We’ll see…

In the meantime, I’d like to thank all those who stopped by and spent some time reading our articles. I think we did something big, and I’m proud to be part of it.

Farewell Norma Jean! You’ve been good to me.

Album of weeks 44 & 45: ANTEMASQUE

Sometimes I reckon I should share with you a list of those artists I worship as genius for their creative talent, in order to inspire some sort of discussion, get acquainted with your point of view, and discover other musicians worth following for this reason.

antemasque album

It’s already time to talk about Antemasque, the last project of Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala. I’ve already written about some of their albums as The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In.

 I started to dig into their stuff a bit late for my taste, so I’ve missed the chances to see both bands in action on stage, even though I could attend Omar’s performance a couple of years ago and I thought it was brilliant even though at that moment I wasn’t so involved in his universe. But this time, and since The Mars Volta got me hooked gradually, I won’t miss any of their movements.

On 9th of April, a couple of tweets announced this new project named Antemasque introduced by a new single, ‘4 AM’. It sounded so straight and fresh, it was impossible not to surrender to the piece. Flea was said to be on payroll, but quickly it was confirmed this was only a collaboration, as he let the bass parts recorded at his studio to be used for the album. Several singles followed and the full album was digitally released in July.

In the time we’re currently living it’s curious the huge demand of a physical format from the fans. We all want to have Antemasque on vinyl or CD. Last month it was confirmed the date of release, set for November 10th, this is, on Monday, for CD, and on the 25th for vinyl. It’s definitely worth the wait.

Omar and Cedric have dumped sound density ballast, delivering ten absolutely fresh and straight 3 minute sounds, very easy to listen and to get hooked to, getting back to basics in terms of song structures, with very simple structures and repeated chorus.

In Antemasque you can find punk with ‘I Got No Remorse’ or ‘In the Lurch’, more power pop oriented tracks as ’50,000 kilowatts’, and some acid drops of their taste for psychedelia on ‘Drown All Your Witches’ y ‘Providence’. It’s the simplicity of the songs what makes it huge.

I’m very glad tensions between these two brains were overcome and left aside, and they started focusing on working together to deliver more interesting stuff. I can’t erase from my head the idea that perhaps these are the people who need a breaking point and a new start from time to time to keep their talent alive and dynamic, and the more time passes and the older I get, the more I believe that all chapters must have a beginning and an end for the individuals can improve and evolve at all levels. At The Drive-In wouldn’t be so great if they had continued, the same as The Mars Volta wouldn’t exist in such case consequently. Thus if nothing lasts forever, it’s ok that there are many chapters which occupy the timeline.

antemasque on stage

Let’s see what this Antemasque chapter surprises us with. I’m optimistic.

Events occur in real time.

This is my new addiction.

24: season seven logo.

It’s taken me ages to face 24. Probably I disliked the idea it was massively broadcast by one of the Spanish TV channels I hate most, and thought this wasn’t to be a smart series, but something for popular consumption. Well, I’m not gonna theorize about the plot and the quality, and to be honest I must admit thanks to its dynamism it’s actually a series looking for major audience. It’s easy to understand, and easier to get hooked to it, and in terms of sensitivity it doesn’t mess with your head, which is something good sometimes.

After enjoying this massive wave of emotions in the shape of Six Feet Under (I gotta write something about The Fishers, most def), I needed something easy.

For 2 years I’ve had the complete series at home, because a very enthusiastic friend lent it to me (Mayra, I swear I’ll return them in perfect condition), but I always had something more attractive to watch so I left it aside. Probably the pressure of some friends reckoning Jack Bauer was definitely worth it made me approach it this time.

jack-bauer

The expression ‘dog day’ should be changed to ‘Jack Bauer day’, as this poor CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) agent is deep in shit from minute one for 24 hour episodes, trying to save America and the world. He’s a fuckin’ hero who’s able to do whatever it takes to accomplish his mission, risking his own life constantly.

I’ve just finished season 2, at marathon speed. If I have a day off without socializing, I easily watch 8-10 episodes nonstop, because I need to know what comes after. I don’t think I could stand following the seasons in real time. I’d probably get anxious. So many things going on…

The funniest thing of all is that it’s always the same pattern, but you don’t get bored with so much repetition. There’s a major threat and Bauer is summoned to try to sort the shit out, and an insane and reckless race starts. He’s got allies and enemies, even inside the bureau. Several people spend all the time in close spaces, Almeida and President Palmer for instance, while Jack and his daughter get constantly in trouble and move from one place to another. How many times will Kim Bauer get kidnapped through the series? How many times is she about to get raped? How many times does Jack get hit, is injured or tortured? Impossible to count.

kim bauer

By the way, thank God she’s not my daughter. I’ll kill her myself! How can she get in trouble so easily?

Of course if you pay attention, and considering these 24 episodes cover a whole day, there are lots of inconsistencies and free licenses you don’t get too serious because the balance is positive, but clothes, makeup, injures cured, wired places and , sound speed trips are constant, and don’t forget nobody eats nor sleep at all. Ah! Jack Bauer never experiences one of the worst current problems in the first world: his phone never runs out of battery.

Jack Bauer is the 21st Century Chuck Norris, not so strong and muscled, and definitely not so ridiculously kitsch, but at the end of the day he’s unbeatable, and that’s what counts.

Jack, you saved senator Palmer for being assassinated, the city of L.A from the devastating effects of a nuclear bomb, and prevented America to invade 3 middle-East countries, which would have caused World War III. Not bad in just two days. Let’s see how you handle next.

I’m federal agent Jack Bauer, and today is the longest day of my life.

Album of week 42: BEAUTY & RUIN

Can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last post. Not very happy, honestly, but it’s been a weird period with lots of events which have kept me from writing, among them my birthday celebration, a good bunch of shows, and why not? I couldn’t find the proper moment or subject to talk about. Writer’s block again? Maybe, dear friends, since I do this for pleasure, and I got plenty of responsibilities in the real world, I rather write whenever I feel like than feeling I’m obliged to, posting not very interesting shit. Not that what I tell here is gonna change the world, by all means, but at least I wanna feel comfortable with the stuff I pour here. Hope you understand my point.

This been said, I’ve been listening to lots of good stuff lately, new and old, but I reckon I’ve discovered my top album of the year: Beauty & Ruin.

bob mould

I’ve never been into Hüsker Dü, in fact I got my first copy of one of their albums, Candy Apple Grey, a couple of months ago, and it was ok, but not as brilliant as Bob Mould’s last work. There isn’t any specific reason for that, I just didn’t get acquainted with the band back in the day, and to be honest I thought their stuff was more prog or hippier. You know, the same old shit, you can never judge a book by its cover, or at least you shouldn’t.

I always pay attention to inspiring musical heroes and their comments on other artists’ work, and this time Ryan Adams  seemed to be very enthusiastic about this album, and Off! Last release, Wasted Years. I tried both and didn’t get disappointed but the opposite. Likely I’d write about OFF! Later. Moreover, Adams appears on the video of Mould’s song ‘The War’, and there’s a very symbolic scene in which Mould seems to release the baton (two medals) of this alternative punk rock movement, as his direct inheritor. I did like the concept, especially after listening to Adams’ punk ep 1984 and his last album, and made me feel that something good is gonna take place, musically speaking.

Beauty & Ruin is basically a compilation of vitality and energy. Straight punk rock, solid guitars, songs with catchy chorus, wonderful melodies, and quite revealing lyrics. Seems that Mould had a bad time struggling with his homosexuality on one hand, and has been trying hard to overcome the legacy of his former band  Hüsker Dü aiming to show the world his talent as one individual. It must be hard to live under the shadow of a legendary band which split up almost 30 years ago, don’t you think?

Anyway, since the moment you put the needle on the vinyl and the hypnotic and atmospheric ‘Low Season’ starts, you enter into a world of pleasure, simple, easy and beautiful, and you fall deep into it. Curiously what happened to me the first time I listened to Beauty & Ruin was that I was invaded by some warm familiar feeling, not as if it was a copy of something, but a summary of the sounds I’m currently looking for nowadays. Energy and melody, easy to listen, easy to like, and easy to memorize.  I love walking on the streets on my way to the office singing these songs. They give me enough strength and good vibes to face one of those days.

Some say his previous album Silver Age is even better. I haven’t had the chance to check it out yet but since I’m so enthusiastic with this last release, of course I will dig. If only it’s a good as this one I might start considering to dedicate some time to this prolific and talented artist.

My first Roller Coaster

September 2014 is being weird. Trying to get back to my routines, fortunately gigs are back and at this point heat is weakening and days are getting shorter. However my office is a mess, and we haven’t yet overcome the fucking summer peak season, so I’m doing lots of overtime and I’m working frenetically, so I feel tired and frustrated quite often lately, and it’s hard to keep this thing updated, which annoys me even more. Really, can’t wait to see the day everything goes back to normality, at least temporarily.

Few weeks ago I said I felt like going to an amusement park to spend any random day. I was thinking of the typical shabby local park in my hometown, or perhaps Tibidabo in Barcelona. You know, beers, carousels, boats, candy floss, the labyrinth and the fun house… as if I was 10 years old again. In my mind it was a very simple plan. I only needed the right company.

Partners in crime

Partners in crime

There are some times I think people don’t pay me attention, but when my friend Jack reminded me of this wish I expressed out loud, I realized how wrong I was. He told me he wanted to visit this huge amusement theme park in Salou, Port Aventura, the most popular in Spain after almost 20 years since its opening, and one of the most established in Europe. I was so surprised I confessed him that I had never had a ride on a rollercoaster, and that I felt like trying at least once in my life, but of course I was thinking of some humble and harmless ride. It didn’t him much to convince me to go to this hue park with him, and he even set the day, September 24th, as our target. Being local holiday in Barcelona on the second half of September would grant less visitors and nice and warm weather. Everything sounded perfect, so we went ahead.

The last week before the event was a bit distressing due to tons of work and a very changeable weather, which might ruin our plan. We couldn’t decide whether going or not until 12 hours before catching the train. Everything done at the very last minute.

We got really lucky. It was a magnificent day in all senses, too damn perfect.

It’s hard to choose the first attraction to start with, especially when I was a virgin on the subject. Many people was stuck in the first tough one, and there was a 90min queue, so we decided to move forward, and start in the typical water ride which gets you  completely soaked (thank Universe for not wearing a white tee!), especially when you are sit in the first row. It was sunny and warm so to be honest, the shower was even a reward., but my hair was a mess for the rest of the day (I couldn’t care less).

shambala2

We decided to go towards Shambala, aka the expedition to the Himalayas, and wait for half an hour. In brief, this is Europe’s highest (78m) and fastest (134 km/h) hyper coaster, and that was to be my christening in roller coaster. Cool, huh? Not for me, really. I was observing the fall and it seemed that the angle was so vertical (actually 86º) I started to shit on my pants and get nervous, so I had a beer. Jack adores roller coasters, but he hadn’t tried this one either and seemed to be excited yet relaxed. So the ride started and the wagon went upwards. It seemed like an eternity, and I took a watch around and saw how beautiful Tarragona port was, but at the same time I was very concerned about the height, till we reached the top, and all of a sudden

Zzzzzzzzzzzzuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmm!

Holy shit!!! that fall was endless (apparently it has also the longest drop in Europe) and I had this funny feeling in my lungs, and then it went up, and down, up and down, quite violently and I couldn’t do anything but cursing yelling. My feeling was that the action was quite long (3 minutes ride), I never felt I was going to die or end up smashed against the floor. The fear was what if I couldn’t handle that overwhelming body feeling. When we to left the wagon I was shaking, my legs were weak and I was laughing and crying hysterically. I know my friend didn’t expect such reaction and got frightened not knowing if I was ok. My inner self was questioning if I could spend the whole day having these feelings, and then I went for another beer, to calm down. It worked. As usual.

dragon khan

I’m not gonna recall all the roller coasters I rode, but believe me I had a great time and even though I was yelling all the time. I had a crush on Dragon Khan’s loops, rolls and its 8 inversions. In fact it was so dynamic I flipped. It was fuckin’ awesome. And Furious Baco, an intamine accelerator coaster, was absolutely insane. That feeling of being propelled from 0 to 135km/h in just 3.5 seconds was one of the most exciting ones ever.

furious baco

Thus it took me almost 38 years to realize that I like roller coasters. Never too late they say. It’s similar to my taste for horror movies. I got scared, I shit on my pants easily, but when the tension ends the relief invading my body is one of the greatest pleasures I can enjoy, and the final conclusion is that I’ve had a great time. The difference is that with roller coasters I can’t stop yelling and laughing with every ride.

It was one of the most perfect days of 2014, with the best company.

There’ll be a next time, I swear.

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 ❤