Skip to main content.

Introduction

Its unlikely now that we will we ever get over Chorando Apréndese, Emilio Josés sweeping and epic masterwork. Few pop albums, in the Ibero-sphere or anywhere, challenged us the way Chorando did. Its the Infinite Jest of independent music. Everything from the linguistic stunts to the restless, nonlinear style gave Emilio Josés work a mythic, ephemeral quality. Like an elusive beast that only rears its head at certain times of the day. One could then say that his snippet-heavy approach was a courtesy, meaning we werent ready to hear fully fleshed, traditional songs.

This, of course, changed with time. As we learned from later work at http://www.spbobet1.com (the unforgettable A amazide), Emilio José could do more than scurry on their own melodies. They could evolve and build towards something made to stand on its own. Earlier this year we were ecstatic to receive a 20 minute medley teasing his new album, and yet a part of us was also intimated as hell. How could we even begin to imagine a full-length album of songs on this scale?

Thankfully, the two newest teases ( have been an instant delight to experience. Kim Kardashian breathes along to woodwinds and whimsy. The reference to the ubiquitous Kim K (the most popular person on Instagram) is an afterthought. Emilio José sounds smitten by all women, like something out of Les Contes d'Hoffmann (without the heartbreak and deceit). Side B (Bruna Linzmeyer), is a gorgeous dance track made from the scraps of top 40 radio. The song teases a climax that never arrives and takes more joy in the buildup from handclaps and soft vocals in true Emilio José fashion.

Catalan teen band Mourn came to Paris last summer to play at the opening party of French festival La Route du Rock. Ever since I first listened to Mourn I've been curious about the band. They released both an EP (Otitis, Sones, 2014) and a self-titled album (Sones, 2014) last year and are now back with another EP (Gertrudis, Sones, 2015) full of emotional, energetic songs recalling noise bands from the nineties as well as powerful female voices like PJ Harvey. Not that I know everyone in Barcelona, but for the last few years, every new band in the city included members of other bands or someone already known in the scene, thus making the job easier for us writers. This was not the case for Mourn (apart from the father from two of the band members, who wouldnt be a participant from that aforementioned scene either), and then there was the unexpected success story with the signing from Captured Tracks and the spotlight with videos and an interview in Pitchfork which made everything even more exciting. In Paris, I got to talk with Jazz (guitar, lyrics) for about ten minutes after their set and I asked her about Mourns place in the Catalan scene and about their plans for the future.

[Glòria Guso]: Unlike other bands in Barcelona and its area of influence, you first released an EP (Otitis) and an album (self-titled) before starting to play regularly in public. Do you think that this has somehow influenced your music, your way of composing and playing it live?

[Jazz Rodríguez Bueno]: I think that this has maybe influenced our live act, since we had already some recordings and songs but we had never really played live, we had only rehearsed at home, without any public, so we were clumsy and nervous. There has been a progression, we play better, we are more confident and I think everyone can see that. I am not sure that this has influenced the composing process but I can see that we keep evolving and changing our way of doing things, not on purpose because none of us knew this would happen (and maybe if we had known we would have done things differently) but as a result of it.

Do you think that all this learning by means of extensively touring (both in Spain and abroad) is going to somehow influence the making of your next album?

The songs in which we are working right now are not that different generally speaking- from the previously released ones, but I think they are a bit more elaborated, maybe because of the practice.

I guess you all must feel surprised and maybe overwhelmed by this sudden success.

Yes, of course, we didnt expect this at all. We hadnt fully realized it until we were invited [by Captured Tracks] to play in the United States. But we are very happy about it because it allows us to play concerts very often, so as do many other bands from Barcelona, even if they dont play that much outside the country.

Do you feel a bit like a fish out of water in such as scene [the Catalan one] in which a lot of bands share members or play concerts together very often and everyone (musicians, public, bloggers) is friends with everyone ?

We have never really thought about this. Maybe because we dont live right in Barcelona.

Or because you are younger than most of the bands [Univers, Da Souza, Furguson, Beach Beach]?

Yes, definitely. We dont have the same friends nor the same habits for going out. And most of these bands tour and play together very often, which we dont. But we keep, of course, a good relationship with everyone when we get to play together or when we see each other in public. Before we had the band we didnt know any of these people personally, and this of course changes the way we relate to each other.

In this case, I guess any of these bands have been a direct influence to your music or to your decision to start a band or writing songs.

No, not really. We like Beach Beach a lot (and of course Tomeu has designed our covers), but it would be too much to say that they have been an influence, if anything a later one. Leia and I used to listen to The Unfinished Sympathy a lot but it is mostly through Minimúsica that we have gotten to know bands like Doble Pletina, Anímic, Beach Beach

Would you rather say that your father being a musician has been this model figure?

Yes, definitely. Leia and I have seen my father rehearse and tour since we were very young, sometimes we went to his concerts, he played in the living room or taught us how to play guitar I have always liked it and wanted to do the same.

You only play concerts during the weekends or the holidays. I have been told that this is because of Leias age and school schedule [Leai, the bassist, is 16 years old]. Do you plan on becoming a professional band or, like Leia, the priority for the moment is not a career in music?

In my case, I am just starting a degree in video, so a career in music will have to wait. Leia is continuing her studies as well . As for Antonio and Carla, they are not that concerned about this at the moment, but we all agree that we want to do something else aside because we dont know if we are going to do music forever. For us, it's important to have fun and that is what we are doing right now.

In your latest EP, Gertrudis (Sones, 2015), theres a song in Catalan...

We composed this song long ago for Minimúsica [a Catalan festival in which bands play songs for kids. They collaborate with big festivals like Primavera Sound and Sonar] and we decided to include it now in this EP because we thought it was a fun. We have been thinking about writing in Catalan or Spanish or whatever, as it comes for now it has come in English because of the music we have been listening to, not because of other reasons. We dont have the objective of singing exclusively in English, we are open to mix songs in different languages.

Are you already working on a second album?

Yes, we are working on some new songs.


Arca is back. But somehow it feels like he never left. Our Club Fonograma staff picks usually take years to germinate between album cycles, so the fact that Mutant will drop a little more than a year after Xen feelsgenerous. Or maybe it's that Arca has been cornering the sensuous / disfigured R&B market in the interim, (mother) creeping up on FKA Twig's M3L155X (an EP that is decidedly weirder than LP1, a respectable decision given that shes since become a household name) and carrying Kelela down similar, if more reserved, tropes on the very good Hallucinogenic EP. And then there was Arca's majestic work on the dense Vulnicura alongside Björk.

Even I was tossing out descriptors such as the "Next Big Thing"and "The Future of Music" to conceptualize Arcas music in 2014. Since then we have had ample time to assimilate Arca's tumultuous, wondrous soundscapes so the great "Vanity" did not feel as monumental. Then again, what can come close to the reggaeton-dembow structured masterpiece, Thievery? Arca's sonic continuum seems unchanged since Xen- our 4th best album of 2014. "EN" is also not necessarily new as most of it belongs to his commendable Sheep soundtrack. Visually, Arca is contoured (or contorted) to a more decidedly human presentation, its own. The visuals for EN introduce a big ass yellow bota-tacón distrocionada, attached to Ghersi's slender frame which slowly descends into the picture, revealing some gratuitous booty shots, as it beautifully sways its arms around, does that thing with its shoulders, its black dress fluttering. Remezcla called EN 'next level' and 'a statement on gender' but "EN", like the visual treatment for Soichiro", feels like something out of the local School of the Art Institute. And can wearing gendered clothing in 2015 really be seen as that much of a statement? Gender destruction has been the next frontier- notice the use of it as a gender neutral pronoun. And that's what the trans(anti?)human gender-void of Xen was all about- the absence of gender, even though Xen preferred 'female' gender pronouns. We will be listening to Mutant with open ears, which arrives November 20th.

Pop chicloso is what Mariana Montenegro indicated in the days before the release of Sangre Cita, as we were masticating through its second single, the ebullient Mai Luv. We were still processing first single Los Vampiros (On first listen: did I click on the wrong song? Is this even Dënver? What happened to Milton Mahans silvery vocals? Those inconsolable piano touches sound like Dënver but is Milton even on this track?), still contemplating its b-side, Noche Profunda. We could have been given El Fondo Del Barro, a track that had already been making the rounds on tour and would have allowed devotees to better assimilate Dënvers transition from chamber obsession to Pop Stars. Dënver was excellent since Música, Gramática, Gimnasia, larger than life since (should have been Club Fonograma Record of the Year in 2013, nothing against La Trilla") Revista de Gimnasia, but Dënver in 2015 has been, if anything, abrasive.

Sangre Cita begins with the dreamlike R&B of "Noche Profunda. Mariana is rhyming about being narcotized, consumed by bad premonitions, wanting to be silenced by kisses- she sounds like she's cooing. A raconteur pondering nighttime conspiracies, Miltons vocals are transmuted cold, interrogating that which we yearn for, that which we conceal. The fact that Milton doesnt sound like himself on most of Sangre Cita, only adds to the mystique of an almost completely reformatted band. Among the catchiest and greatest works in the Dënver catalogue, El Fondo Del Barro has to be Dënvers next single. It is prodigious, fervent, earnest- disco house- a song for those of us living in the margins to feel our own eminence. Mai Lov is just as luminary, the perfect analgesic, full of endorphins. An obvious comparison points to J-Pop and its nominal leader, the fascinating Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, mixed with the stultified PC Music crew, but lets not forget the nuanced eccentricities of Otra Era compatriots, La Joya & La Carretera. The opening lines of Bola Disco function as the criterion of not just Sangre Citas hits, but also Dënver's greatest accomplishments:
"Puede que muramos en un baile / Que ese coro nos haga explotar paf!
It sounds like traditional Dënver, a return to the disco soft of Los Bikers. At first listen it feels like a misstep, especially in between titans "Mai Lov" and the epic, La Última Canción. But the dainty arrangements, the otherworldly electronic effects, its funky climax make Bola Disco a victor.

Marianas character development on Sangre Cita is pretty impressive, another factor in the mystique of Dënver refurbished, adding to our mounting anticipation for her debut single as a solo artist under the potential pseudonym, Nausica. She seems more candid, vulnerable but astute. On La Última Canción shes even moaning with desire, Acércate a mí / Desvísteme. She even has her lover drinking liquor from her ankles. Miltons sexy confidence in the background, Mariana fully aware of her youth, flaunting it. Carly Rae Jepsen alongside superproducers Ariel Rechtshaid & Devonté Hynes tried their best at crafting a Dënver & succeeded in the should have been global hit All That. Cinematographic coming of age nostalgia from 1980s teen flicks, a sweeping chorus, compelling synths, La Última Canción succeeds where All That couldnt, namely in storytelling. Mariana is moaning again, masturbating to piano touches on the sparse Pequeños Momentos de Satisfacción. Sonically, it has much more in common with Las Caras de La Muerte than anything else on Sangre Cita so this isnt sex appeal, this is about tears and those tiny moments that give us hope about our own agency. This is almost as personal as "Jesús, María, No Sé". Sunny verses that blur the line between adoration and adulation (much like this album review), a chorus that makes Milton sound like a boy band on an ominous dance floor, Yo Para Ti No Soy Nadie goes back and forth between a semblance of old Dënver and their current obsession with the nightlife. & we are definitely at the club on "Mi Derrota". Mariana is moaning again, this time like Shakira on "She Wolf or Britney on "I'm A Slave 4 U". Unequivocally, this is another era of Dënver.

Los adolescentes have grown up in El Infierno and this time they're going after the Establishment in true BBHMM fashion. They are robbing banks, dodging $tate bullets, swirling in a noisy technicolor pop insurrection, and escaping by train. Bombastic hand clap verses, Milton singing from 1 to 6 (even the English only crowd can sing along), an escapist, jaccuse, vox populi chorus, this one would fill a stadium. Who said our generational protest anthems had to exist within the realm of the legal? Or that pop hits arent subject to détournement? In the Chilean political reality, don't doubt that El Infierno" isn't mirroring lived lawlessness. From Chiles first ever bank robbery in 1925 by Buenaventura Durruti, countless bank expropriations during the U.$. installed dictatorship, to 2013 when 26 year old anarchist Sebastián Oversluij was gunned down by BancoEstado security, to the biggest robbery in Chilean history in 2014. Remember when Dënver stated they were more interested in making music for our parents generation? They finally accomplish this on "La Lava" with the help of Fanny Leona from 2015 Club Fonogrammy "Best New Artist Nominee, Playa Gótica. We hear traces of Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush, Milton's voice altered to sound like Miguel Bosé. They sing about being impenetrable, surrounding themselves with contemplative maturity and graceful restraint- this is some of the most powerful sonic energy Dënver has ever crafted. Lyrically it is the most poetic song on the album, creating surreal imagery about washing one's hands with a lover's saliva, with a foam emanating from their lips. Is this the image conveyed in that striking cover art? Fanny wistfully bemoans, "las ratas, la falta" then interjects "de una tecnologia capaz de conservar la moral subversiva al paso del tiempo!" This song is about nourishing weary souls & energizing our magic. Against demons, against vampires...

Milton & Mariana enacting choreography fit for a girl/boy band from the early 2000s, a crucifixion inside a bathhouse pumping testosterone, unobtrusive and tasteful lasers, the visual treatment for "Los Vampiros" was everything. Attempting to dispel suspicions about accessorizing their aesthetic with Black bodies for the Los Vampiros video, Dënver talked to me at length about their indebtedness to Black music, specifically Black music from the U.S. Fuera de Campo was their homage to soul, disco, funk, Motown. At times Sangre Cita continues that tribute (and expands into R&B with "Noche Profunda") albeit in a more plastic, less orchestral way. "Los Vampiros, assisted wonderfully by (me llamo) Sebastian & Fanny Leona, will be remembered as one of the most jarring reintroductions in Iberopop band history, without a doubt Song of Summer 2015, and among the greatest records of the year. Where "La Lava" served as a protective spell, "Los Vampiros" works as a declaratory hex on the dance floor. Dënver has a history of epic closing numbers. "En Medio de Una Fiesta adorned the melancholy of failure with cosmic phenomenon, whereas "Medio Loca (Hasta El Bikini Me Estorba)" pulsated tragedy & redemption in its final moments. Sangrecita", the title track, announces itself like 80s heavy metal (King Diamond, anyone?)- the drums menacing- backed by a nonsecular choir. Instead of a brutal metal arena, we enter an esoteric cocktail party lavishing in disco rhythms, Milton singing through the sublime theatrics, sounding subdued, his vocals permuted beyond recognition. The entire affair is eerie, escapist, beautiful. The chorus features a few good friends in harmony, sounding universal, powerful. The final moments of Sangre Cita- Pedropiedra on guitar- function as a response to our own Giovanni Guillen's question in reference: who needs guitars anyway? And then those closing heartbeats, the vibrations of an album resplendent enough to elevate, heal, mesmerize.

In many ways, Dënver needed Sangre Cita, a colossal maneuver designed to revamp Dënver as genuine Pop Stars capable of infecting and delighting masses, in their trademark beguiling sense of course. Dënver has accomplished and is destined for great things, among them bigger arenas. Milton joked in Chicago (I had the opportunity to hang & interview with Dënver in Chicago this year, a feat that didn't seem possible until it was) about their aspirations to hire full orchestras for every live show, like when Juan Gabriel sells out El Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Sangre Cita has already superseded Música, Gramática, Gimnasia, but in due time it might even come to rival their previous masterpiece Fuera de Campo. Love it or hate it- you cant be blasé about this- Sangre Cita leaves an indelible mark on our archives on a year with such few albums for the ages.

Like most of us when we were kids, Karen Freire grew up in a house where soap operas were televised all the time. The María's trilogy starring Thalía, Rebelde, Muñeca Brava, you name it. She was born and lived her childhood in Guayaquil, Ecuador until she was 14 when her mother remarried and moved to Minnesota. "I grew up watching soap operas with my nanny every day, that's why my lyrical style has always been melodramatic. Then I thought it would be a good idea for a song" says Karen, explaining where the inspiration for this track comes. She's no newbie in this field, and explains, "I had a project my first year of college with a friend but nothing ever happened, I mean, we wrote like five songs and played three shows but then I stopped playing with him because his personality was very intense." She adds, "He thought I would be his great project of pop music and he was going to make me famous [laughs] but then I realized he just wanted something romantic from me so I stopped making music with him." Which brings us to Buffalo Moon, its largest project. They released three albums, one was Machista, the third one just dropped last year. It was one of the best albums of 2014 and one of the most underrated too. A real gem that went unnoticed against many media and audience.

After the release of Machista, Karen moved onto other things. But at the end of the day she was self-conscious about her talent. "So my hairdresser is Italian and he always calls me Monella," she says. Armed with a nickname and a couple of unfinished songs, she decided to goes solo. Introducing her first single "Telenovela" Karen Freire aka Monella lead us into this finesse and natural beauty, almost cruel. Her powerful and melodic voice diluted between synthesizers, beating at the rhythm of a lyric inspired in the drama of soap operas and pop glamour. A complete delight that draws us to the memory of great heroines of the past pop like Amanda Miguel and modern pop such as Javiera Mena. With this hit, Monella is introduced at best, giving way to generate a buzz. We want to hear more of this woman, who not only conveys a powerful female presence, but makes us love the woman behind the alter ego and shows that this talent goes beyond its beauty or sexuality. "Tú y yo una telenovela, que no tiene final" One for all of those melodramatic fools (like us).