Nacional 42, Los Claveles
Gramaciones Grabofonicas, Spain
by Carlos Reyes
The return of the 7’’ single is nowadays, one of the few current glimpses of the romanticism of the record. Empty alphabetized CD shelves are the horrific ruins of the physicality of commercial records. Indies are however, on a journey to become music collectors. If such transition causes a generation of MP3 & OGG buffs to start archiving music through discs you can actually touch or lineup, than let’s welcome such consumer conduct with open arms. One of the bands doing their share to prevent the record slaughter is Madrid’s new sensation Los Claveles. Their rock takes them back to the early (and dusty) progression of “new wave”, to a time-gap of stand-by insecurity regarding the genre’s future. The wave found glory with its contextualization of electronic equipment, but as Los Claveles show, the movement left some string-wavers behind.
Taking baby steps towards their debut full-length, Los Claveles have brought us some of the most intricate (and romantic-to-the-skull) rock&roll we’ve heard in a while. Last year, they introduced themselves to the world through the wonderful Tanatorio (EP), followed by a split album with Kana Kapila. The band is known for rushing through time, and so they do in the gorgeously crafted Nacional 42, a 7’’ single-release featuring the title track (and Song of the Year contender), along with 3 other amazing tracks that are neither b-sides nor fillers, and deserve spots among Los Claveles’ breath-taking repertory.
First, let’s go straight into the heart of the disc and attempt to do justice to the empowering title track. “Nacional 42” is a dissertation of Spain’s highway A42, described by Los Claveles, as the horrific road where ruin and routine meet. Like some classic road songs (AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”, Roam’s “B52”, etc), this is not the most optimistic song out there; on the contrary, it’s an emotional tragic squash. The dexterity of guitar riffs is enough to outline an interesting doodle that feels humid, harmonic, and hazard. The band sings about a road without a landscape, and sing-prays they don’t get to die among the dried flowers that populate the road. A man’s confrontation to the road parallels with that of his love life; it haunts him, and it keeps him away. Guilt and redemption flirt with the track’s hooks, even saving some room for irony: “dicen que odiar es mas barato que amar, creo que tu y yo no estamos para gastar.” This is like the precursor and more poetic cousin to Wayne Cochran’s “Last Kiss”, except A42 doesn’t seem to be as slippery.
Although “Nacional 42” is clearly the center, the heart, and the rationale of the album, the rest of the songs go from great to phenomenal. Manolo Dominguez from La Pagina de la Nadadora gets it right when saying “Las Inquietudes de Blanca Maria” smells like burned flesh, I would extend such asserted description to the rest of the songs, and would claim “El Fuego del Recuerdo” is to blame for the 5000+ death birds found in Arkansas early this year. They get more messy and desiccated in “Estupido y Cansado”, the kind of humorous chant that gets hot media interested, and starts all-powerful unions. As vinyl romanticism goes, Nacional 42 should be the essential wax to your ears this year. Of course, as the band shows in their lyrics, nothing in life can be this optimistic. Inventory shows it’s probably too late by now, this is sold out, but even if you go on your way to download it, you’ll get 9.3 MB of some of the year’s best music.