Tag Archives: music

What came first, the music or the misery?

With this question Rob Gordon starts telling us his story of music and love failures.

I hadn’t watched High Fidelity in at least 5 years, I can’t believe it took me so much time to recover this jewel. Yep, I like it. I’m not much into romantic comedies, in fact I try to avoid most of them, but this one’s got something special which make it irresistible. At least to me.

Rob Gordon is a music freak who owns an impressive vinyl collection at home, and a super cool record store in some kinky neighborhood. He’s such a wreck in terms of love relationships he can even elaborate a top 5 list of the hardest break ups he’s gone through. Rob used to dj at a club and would love living with a musician.

Not that I’m as immature as him (I’m not such a cunt either), and thank God not so many people has broken my heart throughout these years (oh shit! Yes, I can write my own list!), but there are quite evident similarities between him and me which make me feel kind of reflected on this character.

High Fidelity vinyl

When I read Nick Hornby’s novel I was in London, and Championship Vinyl was located where my ex used to rehearse, in the north. I don’t know if it happens to you, but I love knowing the locations in films and books because they help me to get into the story even better. Anyway, I loved Rob and the story, and I started feeling quite related to the main character, even though I was still in the earlier stages of the development of my passion for music. My vinyl collection is still ridiculous comparing to others’ because I’ve been investing in CDs most of these years (I didn’t have a tuner for 15 years), and at the end of 1990s I had less than 100 CDs. Guess it’s quality rather than quantity what really matters in this case.

15 years after I read the book and about 5-6 years since the last time I watched the film this afternoon seemed to be the perfect time to bring Rob Gordon Cusack (what an adorable man!) to The Hellhouse, and I’ve enjoyed the viewing a lot.

And of course I still love Rob and the resemblances between us are more evident now, as I’ve grown up and music’s been my loyal companion all these years and I’m positive it will be till the end of my days. I particularly love the way he relates everything to music, and the constant top 5 lists for every occasion. I love top 5’ing and writing lists all the time. and I still believe in the power of a compilation tape/CD or a playlist for impressing someone, or at least calling his attention. It’s been ages since I don’t receive any, and nowadays personalized playlists I do, living aside the dj’n sessions, have to do with bands “best ofs” for friends.

compilation

Compilations whose consignee is someone you like are to be taken seriously and imply an extra  effort as you don’t have to fail. That person must like 100% of its content, and at the same time you have to add a subtle message, but still noticeable, but avoiding something too obvious like “I love you” or “I’m gonna fuck you like animal” kind of songs. The story changes when you deal with a playlist for a friend or someone you have to impress in order to get a night at a club booked or your knowledge is put into a test.

I reckon it’s hard living with a guy like Rob, or even with me nowadays. I’m turning into a loner and most of the activities I perform are accompanied by music: cooking, reading, writing, cleaning, having a shower…and it doesn’t matter if I went out the night before and hangover is unbearable. I will play some record for breakfast. My best friend was both surprised and terrified when he discovered this. I used to hate when my ex was playing music all the time, but now I understand the reason why I was so upset was because I never had the chance to choose the music. I don’t think there are many people capable of bearing this lifestyle, and the older we get the harder is to surrender and change.

But hey! High Fidelity is a love story and Laura gets back to Rob, which means there might be someone out there who will understand my concern and stress when writing my top 5 or top 10 albums of the year and won’t mind I play a record when I wake up every morning. There’s still hope! And yes, we must admit sometimes we need happy endings to recover some illusion, don’t you think?

I will leave my top 5 break ups for later, if you allow me 😉

ALBUM OF WEEK 43 – ALGIERS, & CALEXICO ON STAGE

Few weeks ago, Arturo, one of my gig partners in crime I knew thanks to a music forum I regularly visit, told me had a spare ticket for the live show Calexico was offering in November. He had purchased the ticket right after they were available, however he received another ticket for as a birthday present. Instead of putting it for sale and acquainted with my musical tastes, he thought it was a good idea to invite me to the show, a very promising one, convinced I’d likely enjoyed it.

To be honest I had never listened to any single chord of this band till Arturo confirmed the ticket was mine unless I was horrified by their music. Facing such offer I felt immediately pushed to listen to Calexico, and the opening record to start with them was Algiers, their last album, released in September.

It took me half a song to realize Calexico was thousands of miles far from what I expected. I don’t know, I misjudged for their name and thought they were kind of Oi! Reggae ska , or something like that. Guess I mistook them for a band named Dr Calypso. I know…sometimes I think I live in a different planet.

Well, as I was telling, when I started hearing Epic, a super suggestive and atmospheric song, I knew Calexico was something classy and special. In fact, the first word I have in mind when trying to define the band’s style is elegance, and then I’d add their music is a combinations of different sounds, moving from Americana-folkie  to Mexican-border mariachi stuff. Guess my definition is not very helpful to define their style, so you should listen songs such as Puerto or No Te Vayas to undertand what I mean. Brass arrangements and the mighty percussions, adorned with shakers, maracas, in a very old school fashion. Beautiful!

Algiers moves through intense and  relaxing stages, more emotional, as Para or Fortune Teller, more easy going as Algiers or Splitter.  Vocals are carefully taken care of, showing beautiful melodies, supported by work on every single detail. Drums, bass, guitars, trumpets, accordions, lap steels… the amount of instruments used to achieve sound perfection is overwhelming. The work behind this album has been a very dedicated one, no doubt.

Considering some parts are under a strong Latin influence, which I’m not very acquainted with, and usually not interested in, the general impression is that Algiers is probably one of the best albums released this year. PERIOD.

I was so impressed Algiers became the album of the week, as in preparation of what was to come on Sunday.

After Saturday off, meaning free of any scheduled show, I spent writing, baking cookies and chilling out, having rested from this intense week, I was in the mood for enjoying some music for my senses. You know, a show you’re delighted by the music, and admiring the performance on stage, the way the musicians were displayed, they changed instruments, from the point of view of a person who is barely acquainted with the band. I just knew Algiers was fantastic, however I wasn’t too much sure of what was going to happen.

We were 5 of the rock troop eventually, Elena and I were the rookies, while the other three guys were every enthusiastic for seeing this band.

We had been told Apolo theatre was sold out the night The Gaslight Anthem played, however, the audience outnumbered, and the venue was packed. Probably more tickets were on sale, because it was the kind of show bookers know people are not to jump, stage dive, nor get crazy. I thing average age was 40, with people in their 50s and some proud dads with their older children.

The show was very interesting. Epic, the opening song of Algiers, was also chosen for a perfect start. The set list included some tracks of their new album, such as Para, Splitter or Puerto, and there were several in which the Spanish singer Amparo (Amparanoia), who I can’t stand much, was accompanying with some relevant moments. Her voice is powerful and matches perfectly all this Latin sound Calexico is trying to provide their songs with, however as an artist on stage, I loathed her. I know I’m tough. She made a good job, but in my opinion, seeking for extra attention, very noticeable and forced.

 One of the nice suprises they give me was they covered Love’s song Alone Again Or. Been ages since I don’t listen to Forever Changes, and brought me back tons of memories from my teenage days.

With encores, the progression and consequently extension of certain songs, the show lasted almost 2 hours, with all the audience, me included, enthusiastic.

Attending this Calexico show made me think of me becoming more and more open minded, and digesting certain sounds in a very positive manner, something I wouldn’t have thought of 5 years ago. Thus, guess I’m growing up, not only in age and size, but also musically speaking, and have to say I’m proud of it. On the other hand, finishing this last crazy week attending such show made me really happy.

Damn, it was a great week, and I’ve managed to survive.

** Thanks a lot, Arturo. I Owe U

A YEAR THAT MARKED MY GENERATION

Aaah! Music! What would I do without it? Basically everything I am, and all the paths walked, and options chosen, no matter which aspect of my life, involve music.

Since I was 5, I’ve always wanted to be a rockstar, and wanted to lead a band as a singer. Truth is, my voice is crap, and after many many attempts, I reached the conclusion that I’m not suitable for such enterprise. Instead I chose to become a music addict, buy as much music as possible, attend as many gigs as possible, and, if given the chance, perform some dj’n sessions for people amusement.

There’s a starting point in my life timeline for all this. I had always loved music, but wasn’t too focused on anything in particular until we had this satellite TV, mostly orientated to catch sports and porn, which enabled MTV to be watched in our building. We’re talking about a different channel as what we know now, a compilation of terrible reality shows of car tunning, dating, pregnant teenagers and more crap. MTV was the opportunity to discover many bands abroad, you didn’t get the chance to be acquainted with otherwise. Yo! MTV Raps, Headbanger’s Ball, the themed days playing looong lists of bands… and the awards.

1991 was the year the deal with the Devil was signed in blood for good.  The year that marked my path.

Just take a look at the following list I’ve found on a music forum I often visit, and tell me what you think. I can only say, 14-15, young, innocent and too sensitive…with all this, can you understand I had such a crush and got crazy?

 

JANUARY

A Little Ain’t Enough David Lee Roth

Uncle Anesthesia Screaming Trees

Tyranny (For You) Front 242
Babyteeth Therapy?
Innuendo Queen

FEBRUARY
Green Mind Dinosaur Jr
Road Apples Tragically Hip
Pioughd Butthole Surfers
Hooked Great White
1916 Motörhead

APRIL
Mama Said Lenny Kravitz

Temple of the Dog

MAY
Niggaz4Life N.W.A.
Sailing the Seas of Cheese Primus
Gish The Smashing Pumpkins

JUNE
Slave to the Grind Skid Row
Hollywood Vampires L.A. Guns

JULY
Into the Great Wide Open Tom Petty
Biscuits (EP) Living Colour
Steady Diet of Nothing Fugazi

AUGUST
Metallica (“The Black Album”) Metallica
Pocket Full of Kryptonite Spin Doctors
Ten Pearl Jam

SEPTEMBER
Psychotic Supper Tesla
Use Your Illusion I Guns N’ Roses
Use Your Illusion II Guns N’ Roses
Pretty on the Inside Hole

No More Tears Ozzy Osbourne
Wretch Kyuss

Trompe le Monde Pixies
Ceremony The Cult
Nevermind Nirvana

Prove You Wrong Prong
Blood Sugar Sex Magik Red Hot Chili Peppers

OCTOBER
Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black Public Enemy
Badmotorfinger Soundgarden
The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move… It’s the Infectious Grooves Infectious Grooves
As Ugly as They Wanna Be Ugly Kid Joe
Decade of Decadence Mötley Crüe
Girlfriend Matthew Sweet

NOVEMBER
Achtung Baby U2
Spine of God Monster Magnet

** Positive there are many missing, feel free to add more to the list.

ABOUT PERSEVERANCE…

One year ago, someone who’s not in my life any longer (you can guess who…it’s easy), told me I wasn’t constant with things in my life. Coming from him was like a bad joke, but I’m not the one to judge anybody’s life and choices, especially if deep feelings are involved. Perhaps I should, but I’m not a pushy person, I take things as they go, if I like them I get along, if not, then I move my ass as far as possible.

After the initial shock of such statement, a quick thought came to my mind: I might not be constant with certain obligations, or things which don’t give me enough satisfaction sometimes, what I’m constant with all that matters. I will never forget my answer: listen, XXXX, right now I can name 3 things I’m constant at, which I consider the quite important: You, my friends and my job.

Yes, one of my problems, yet a virtue too, regarding couples, is that I’m so constant I never give up, and sometimes I should, for both my pride and state of mind. I’ve never fired anyone, always hoping everything could improve. Thus, when everything is ruined, I feel like shit thinking I could have put things to an end earlier. At least, I never have the typical regrets thinking  what I did wasn’t enough.

Regarding my friends, they are my life, I’ve told this hundreds of times, but it’s true. I would be nothing without my friends, and you have to treat them the best you can, and that’s a constant thing in my life.

I’m a hard worker. First company related to container business I worked for, during 4 years, I really felt involved with maybe too much. Not that it was an obsession, but issues trespassed the line to my private life. I’m trying this does not happen anymore, but if I have a commitment, and get paid for that, I have to give my best when required. Of course, there are seasons I’m ball scratching, like everybody else, but when stressing peak seasons, such the one I’m currently suffering, are on, I squeeze my brain and do whatever is at hand, meaning overtime, to say the least. I don’t care. Better times are to come.

The subject of perseverance has come to discussion many times among friends. You know, certain statements, despite you clearly disagree with them and know they’re wrong, depending on your state, can affect you a lot. I guess this happened to me, because this frequently comes to my mind.

My friends get upset when I remind them of this moment, they cannot disagree more.

Could you think of 5 things you’re persevering at, right now? And being horny all day long is not valid 😉

I’ve told you three, although one is not currently active. And more have come to my mind, thank God!

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Nefer remarked something that had never occurred to me, the funniest about it is that this is something that has been with me since I was 9 and discovered it was great: English language. Some people can accuse of being a snob, I’m not going to justify myself nor give extra explanations, but that’s complete bullshit.

Little story here. When I was 9, a couple of Americans started to live on the flat next door. The woman, Maria, was actually in her 20’s, and her husband Marc, was in the army (there was a US army base in my hometown those days). She was mos of time on her own, quite bored, and had this awesome portable Pac-man machine she let us play with at the swimming pool in our building. Thus we became friends. She could speak a bit of Spanish, for she was born in Phillipines, and I could say few things in English, so our friendship was one to improve our language skills and mimics. She loved Wham, and had a collection of videos we used to watch every weekend. And then she played me cartoons, which I didn’t understand much, but loved them anyway.

Eventually both families got close, and we used to hang out at the base. That was a blast! Bowling, the coolest swimming pool ever, and for just one dollar, you could get a cheeseburger and play arcade games for long time.

My cousins also lived in a residence area full of Yankees, so they got acquainted with other teeneagers, and soon I was introduced to other kids. Language barrier was a problem I had to sort out, because I wanted to communicate, and know about their culture, understand Teen Wolf and other cool movies… At that point it was decided, I HAD TO learn English.

And since then, English has been a constant in my life. Most stuff I consume is English spoken/written: music, films and books; I studied English philology at college (never finished it though, degree was a crap); stayed in London for a couple of years… After many years I’ve realized, despite my mistakes, I feel more comfortable writing in English, and in both very intimate moments and heavy drunk states, it’s easier for me to express myself in such language. Now you tell me, am I a snob? Well, then I am, and proud of it!

And to end with this, perhaps, nonsense deep thinking of the day, one of the most important constants, which has marked the track to follow for good, music. I’ll never give up on music, and will attend as many gigs as possible as long as I’m physically capable of. Without rock, and music in general terms, I would be a complete different person, probably empty and boring. There’s nothing that can excite me more, or bring out my most extreme emotions. Music can help me to concentrate in certain tasks, can cheer up or depress me, make me laugh and cry, turn me on or get me more aggressive. Music is the law!

Once all this said, I really wanna know, am I constant or not?