Tag Archives: album of the week

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.

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.

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.

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!

Album of weeks 24-26: Möngol Hörde

It’s been some time since I wanted to talk about this album, but truth is that I wasn’t in the mood for writing and it was very difficult to concentrate on posting because I was on holidays last week, besides energy after the festival in Vitoria was too low. I feel some regret though as last week I wasn’t very profitable at all, but on the other hand it was a fact that I needed some rest from everything. Seems that I relaxed too much as I’ve caught a flu again.

Anyway, I’m back in the saddle, back to work, and trying to adjust to my routines again. Honestly I’ve missed them more than in other occasions, perhaps because level of disconnecting hadn’t been so high, and I’m getting less and less used to so many free days at once.

mongol horde

Until last week I hadn’t listened to Frank Turner’s proper stuff, no matter he’s been a highlighted artist at RockZone magazine, and also praised by some friends, I didn’t have the time and like I always reckon is that I can’t cope with everything. After reading some suggestions I listened to England Keep My Bones and liked it much. A couple of weeks earlier for the same  reason I approached Möngol Hörde, in an attempt to get a bit acquainted with the guy, who had been defined as a folk punk writer or something similar. I heard the name of the band which was quite appealing, the name of the artist, and the tip that it was his hardcore project, so I thought some kicking ass stuff would be much better as a start than something deep and possibly moving, considering my current mood. The funniest thing is that I listened to the album once at 2am at a very low volume, so I decided to listen to it properly while walking to my landlord’s new flat, which is 5-6km from my office. The album was so powerful I reached my destination earlier than expected, and I damn sweated like a bitch, as it was one of these sweltering spring evenings in Barcelona, you can only drink beer and pray for a storm to break.

I had already listened and watch the introducing video of ‘Make Way’, with those kids making noise, really killer, and I was quite enthusiastic about what I was to discover next, but to be honest, I didn’t expect I’d enjoy the album so much. It’s an outburst of rage and energy, with lots of attitude and great lyrics, so contagious, I was thinking about few things bothering me up to a point that I reached a very simple but the most convincing  conclusion: “fuck’em!”. Yep, I do believe in the inspirational power of music translated to our thoughts, and Möngol Hörde suggests relief through anger, so that was my exercise at that time.

I’ve been hooked to the album and as you can imagine the effect upon me now it’s not so brutal, but it still works for me. I’m totally hooked to songs such as ‘Staff to the Refund Counter’ or ‘Stillborn Unicorn’.

horde live

I was reading Turner’s comments on Twitter about the shows. Bruises, injuries, pain… and at the same time the guy was so excited and amazed by the audience response every night of their UK tour, I’d love to attend one of the shows and flip with ‘How the Communists Ruined Christmas’, ‘Weighed and Found Wanting’, and put my life at risk with ‘Winky Face the Mark of a Moron’. I dig that organized and calculated mayhem in really well played songs. You feel the insanity but also realize that everything is under control. Probably not being a pro in hardcore punk style causes I’m so impressed by this. I always have the feeling that the bands play with balls and guts, and I like that.

Thus my first approach to Frank Turner’s universe has been absolutely delightful. In fact, I reckon you’ll see this record included in my favorite records of 2014 at the end of the year. Hell of a debut!

Pretty, pretty… pretty good.

Album of weeks 20-22: MEIR

Kvelertak-Meir

I had heard of Kvelertak (which means Stranglehold in English) more or less 10 months ago. The fact that their lyrics were written in Norwegian prevented me from giving them a try, remembering how boring Sigur Ros are (no offense, but I can’t stand them). On the other hand, I’d seen the cover of their last album Meir (More), created by the leader of Baroness John Dyer Baizley, and thought that perhaps it was some sort of doom-prog album. Well, something similar happened with Baroness, until I listened to Yellow & Green, and shit on my pants right away. Guess these are more examples which prove I shouldn’t trust appearances so much.  It is true, I’m going through a period of time I need feeling overwhelmed by music, to listen to a record and end up motionless with my mouth wide open, babbling and thinking “what the fuck is that!”, as if receiving a hard blow right in my face, this is, I’m looking for energy, rage and powerful riffs, and nowadays metal can fulfill this need.

Lately I’m making jokes about my upcoming midlife crisis, as I’m getting closer to turning 40, saying  my personal issues are reflected in my recently taste for metal stuff. In the past years I was too mild, listening to lots of folk and Americana, however from a couple of years or so, I’m very into harder stuff, and to be honest, the energy of these bands I’m so enthusiastic with, really make me feel younger. Whatever! I might be talking nonsense here, and I’m still 37 ha ha ha.

kvelertak band

Anyway, the Norwegian band Kvelertak was confirmed as part of the line up for the Primavera Sound Festival 2014, which was held this last weekend (I’m intend to write a more detailed post about it asap), and since I had heard so many good reviews, I found some time to listen to both their albums. I don’t know if I’m a very impressible musically speaking, or perhaps I’m overreceptive to new stuff, but I found them mindblowing.

It had to be mine so I ordered it right away and since the day it arrived, it’s been my main soundrack of the last 3 weeks.

Perhaps the voice of their leader, Erlend Hjelvik is not the most accessible at first hearing in the world, in fact guttural voices are not usually my kind, but combined with the reckless rhythm and dynamism, the addictive riffs and the job of 3 guitars, the rough drums, the stomping bass lines, their power and the huge energy, this album can conquer anyone in metal mood. And once again, considering the language barriers, at the end of the day, you let the music do the talking, just focus on it and forget about the message, which apparently is quite epic according to the clues inside the booklet. Every song is accompanied by a clarifying sentence, so ‘Åpebaring’ (Revelation) is something related to “a feather clad man breaks into your skull. He has such sights to show you”; ‘Evig Vandrar’ (Eternal Wanderer) is about “an unholy pact has doomed this man to walk the earth until the end of time”; ‘Tordenbrank’ (Thunderclap)“there is a storm coming. All you can do is pray”. Pure metal inspiration from savage lands.

kvelertak

Regarding their performance last Thursday, I can advance you they didn’t disappoint at all, and the rockin’ audience of the festival crowned them as one of the winning bands of the line up. They came, played and demolished, and we got crazy. What a fuckin’ blast.

Lenge leve norsk strøm! Helvete!

UH!

Album of week 17: ALICE IN CHAINS

aic aic

There are things I don’t understand, like for instance discovering 10 minutes ago that I hadn’t written yet about the self-titled album of Alice In Chains. Isn’t it silly knowing how much I love this band?

The only explanation I can find for such a terrible mistake is that every time I listen to this wonderful masterpiece, I think of my first pressing vinyl I bought  for just £1 in Edinburgh in 1998 in hands of certain asshole who took it away from me in a moment of confusion and never gave it back. Eventually I will get another copy on vinyl but this shit still gets me angry.

Anyway, FUCK HIM.

In 1995 I was a bit disappointed with the band after the release of the ep Jar of Flies, which I told you, I found very soft when it came out, but now I’m in love with, so when I heard that a new album was coming I decided not to buy it immediately waiting for comments about it. But Christmas time came, and Diana’s mum, Carmen, asked me what I wanted as a present, so I thought it was a good chance to listen to the new album, Alice In Chains, without taking many risks.

You must understand I was 19, always short of money (similar to nowadays but with no responsibilities nor bills, hahaha), thus purchasing a CD meant an investment and a sacrifice, because even though album releases were as expensive as nowadays, our buying power was lower. Thus you had to choose wisely.

The tripod dog album came to my life in Xmas, 1995-1996, and I remember the first time I played it at my studio room at my yaya’s, for I had started living with her full time a couple of years earlier. How evocative! Now that I remember, it was one of these winter dark evenings. I was sitting in the armchair, covered with a wool blanket, with subtle light, handling the booklet with all those sick yet fascinating illustrations, not very convinced about what was gonna happen.

5 seconds of ‘Grind’ and I already knew Alice In Chains was gonna blow my mind. And it did, believe me. Personally speaking, I reckon is the perfect combination of the darkest side of Dirt with the sweet & sour beauty of Jar of Flies. Not being perhaps as hard and insane as its predecessor, truth is that riffs are heavier and more doom metal like, as in ‘Grind’, ‘Sludge Factory’ or ‘God AM’, and on the other hand, the melodic side of the album is more highlighted, with a great work on vocals, and Jerry Cantrell’s role on vocals was more important, leading in ‘Heaven Beside You’ and ‘It’s Over Now’.

Again, songs were the portrait of Cantrell’s struggle with drugs, not being capable to overcome his addiction to heroin, which, at this point, was killing him. Lyrics were related to drugs, isolation and frustration. And death. Apparently the recording was tough issue, with Staley being fucked up most of time or absent, due to heroin. Not that the rest of the band were saints, but the stage Layne was at that time was way beyond his band mates, who constantly frustrated for not being able to help him. Really sad.

alice in chains band

From this point, the self-destruction spiral Staley went through was dragging him down and down. The band never toured to support this album, and one year after they recorded the acoustic unplugged show for MTV, with Layne, so pale and static, everybody knew his days were numbered and the end was getting close for him. But that’s another story.

If I had to choose between Dirt and Alice In Chains it’d take me long time to decide, because both are some great, and are so connected to my mood, that my decision changes every time I listen to any of them . Like heroin, I got hooked to both in an obsessive way. The struggling tone of both, leaving the musical part aside, was what we had in common. When you are a teenager, there’s a part of yourself which is constantly struggling to find its place in the world, and even though there were many good things around, I still had to fight for self-assertiveness.

This was the third and the last studio album of Alice In Chains as I like to think of them, with Layne alive. The art of creating greatness from something totally rotten it’s a skill not everybody can afford, however Alice In Chains masterly sculpted beauty from filth.

I love them.