Too many times we’ve started writing a review without finishing for several reasons: lack of time, lack of inspiration, and boredom. MINIS will be occasional posts with mini-reviews; from my part at least it is the most convenient way to talk about mediocre albums that don’t deserve a full review. Also, the fact that EPs are multiplying in numbers deserve a glance of our attention.
Minis #1 by Carlos Reyes
Imprevisto, Nina Pilots (Movic Records, México) **
Nina Pilots is an all girl rock pop band that struggles to visualize its own aspirations. Imprevisto is an unsecure debut album that appears to be fresh among the commercial audiences, but it’s nothing more than a less inspired Paramore. But this is not a complete disaster; it is a well intentioned approach to popular music. In their MySpace they list bands like The Killers, No Doubt or The Strokes as their biggest influences, their music doesn’t even scratch those important bands but at least aims to get there. First single “Estas” steps right away into silly territory, at least is a straightforward single of what to expect in the exhausting 14 track LP. The band has not exploded internationally yet, but it might just get the undeserved attention of radio stations that program this teenage bands to fill their quota for rock programming. Add Nina Pilots to that list of weak and immature bands that reach the masses: Allison, Nikki Clan, Kudai, Don Tetto, etc. But isn’t the album cover lovely? I think so, bonus points for that.
Key track: “Estas”
Numeric Rating: 48
Amigos EP, Nuuro (Poni Republic, Venezuela) ****
Alejandro Ghersi is an 18 year old Venezuelan genius of music software. Poni Republic released during the summer his return to the Spanish language. A sensational three track EP consisting of pure fun, upbeats and the transformations New York is inputting in his music. Nuuro is one act to follow, particularly during this early stage of musical ambiguity where we can see him falling and rising with plenty of revelation. Amigos EP is nothing like his full length album All Clear; his first jewel recorded when he was only 16 years old. This EP isn’t a contemplation search constructed of cohesive pieces, this time we get a refreshingly linear session of illuminated pop. “Diamante” is a blast of colors, “ABC” is freaking dazzling and “Un Paseo” has to be one of the most charming songs I’ve heard this year, great to play around your date. Just like most of the Poni Republic releases, this EP is available for free download at the label’s website.
Key track: “Un Paseo”
Numeric Rating: 87
Dame Mas, Sussie 4 (Home Records, México) **1/2
Dame Mas is the new EP from Sussie 4, the much acclaimed electronic act that enjoyed fame with its previous installment Red Album (2006). Their music always demands careful listeners; I’ve always found their music very hard to digest. But the talent is undeniable; they seem to be in control of their musical ornaments that may scare too many people off. Dame Mas is probably the only release that will not deliver extremist opinions, it’s drastic enough to please the conceptual critics and sufficiently classy to keep the purists happy. And that opens spaces for the intermediate reactions like mine; I hear a middling product from two gurus with a lot more potential. “Dame Mas” is the song that gives title to the album is one of those songs that tries too hard to be different (on all six versions of it), that it transforms into a mechanical hybrid that has no fuel to work properly.
Key track: “Wanna feel you”
Numeric Rating: 58
2C, Intocable (EMI Music, México) ***1/2
Intocable is in my opinión, the most important regional Mexican group nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, Los Tigres del Norte did their thing decades ago but their music has got stocked right after their classic “De America Yo Soy”, a song that would supposedly internationalize norteño music. The music of Intocable shows clear influences from popular norteño, but also registers a great amount of conjunto bands from Texas, and the defining melodies that Ramon Ayala brought to accordion. It is perhaps the only norteño band that keeps evolving. Their previous release Crossroads was an unprecedented encounter of norteño and country music, a majestic work from Dixie Chicks producer Lloyd Maines. A misunderstood album that I’m sure will serve as a base for future generations of Mexican-Americans. Their 12th studio album is a comeback to traditional music, but always improving acoustics and doing wonders for the genre. The opening (Estela) and closing (Como me las pongan brinco) tracks are two extraordinary instrumental pieces of folka (polka+folk). My only complain is its weak lyrics, Intocable has an established group of songwriters and it is time for them to chase new waves, let their music also evolve lyrically.
Key track: “Que fácil es amarte”
Numeric Rating: 74
Indienella, Indienella (Unsigned, Spain) **1/2
I didn’t catch the wordplay behind the name of this new pop duo from Spain until I visited their MySpace. Argentina’s Pimpinela (also a male/female duet) was a sensation during the 80s and 90s, back on the day when labels didn’t care about age. I always found Pimpinela very lousy and excessively lazy; Indienella’s music isn’t so distanced from the topics handled by their godfathers. Debut albums should be anything but safe. Indienella fails to contribute anything new to Spain’s exciting indie movement and ends as a forgettable phonogram. For those wound up about its happy pop and garage premise I suggest to jump on the NIZA wagon, one of the great kitsch bands early this decade. A very flawed album in production and lyrics, but at least they maintain a level of confidence in their naïf punk, something quite rare in first productions.
Key track: “Secretos de Belleza”
Numeric Rating: 56