Life is what goes on between one Bon Iver album and another. Or, at least, this is what happens to Justin Vernon. His increasingly complicated relationship with fame and his ego have pushed the author of For Emma, Forever Ago towards unexplored terrains like those of Volcano Choir, The Shouting Matches and now Big Red Machine, a project that actually began years ago when doing a collaboration for a charity compilation together with his brother from another mother, Aaron Dessner from The National. Together they organise utopic festivals (Eaux Claires), create alternative models for the industry (the streaming portal PEOPLE) and they also write music, of course. They are surrounded by so many artist friends that it is surprising that the result of Big Red Machine, the album, is so spot on. It’s a dream crossover, a perfect fit of Dessner’s intimate epic and Bon Iver’s melancholic evocations, of Justin’s experimental laments and Aaron’s astounding progressions. Music as an excuse, as a way and as a purpose.
What a tricky lover the memory can be. And if the memory is about the night, about making out and wizz-fizz smooching, then it is even more likely to play tricks on us. Is it possible that Jungle have ONLY just released their second album? But we saw them in 2015 setting the Ray-Ban stage on fire with Busy Earnin’, and in 2017 we danced at their sold out shows in Barcelona and Madrid. Well, yes you friends of incredible funk, For Ever is hot off the press and it comes ready for action. They will sweet-talk you with their falsetto, they will fool around with their sonic passport (and will forge it so that California takes the place of their native London, California where they seem to belong to), and they will have you on rollerblades skating into the 70s until bang! You are drenched in sweat again, with that familiar groovy tingling between your legs and with a filter on your vision that makes all the congregation in front of the Ray-Ban (or whatever stage it is) look the most stylish and hottest on whatever side of the Atlantic. So now that you have been forewarned, you know: for the next one, don’t let them catch you out and make sure your memory records it well.
Everything in Hop Along revolves around Frances Quinlan. Because, as well as being the founder of the band, Quinlan has one of those magnetic personalities that charms you from the word go. It is said, and it is true, that she doesn’t have one voice but 10: she can carry whatever song you want sounding tough, sweet, bluesy or screaming her head off, whatever the occasion requires. She makes you to actually believe in something. Luckily her bandmates (that include her brother on drums) are a versatile and nervy combo that carries Hop Along straight to the golden era of Pavement, Neutral Milk Hotel and Modest Mouse. But this is 2018 and they are in Philadelphia. So besides their indoubtable indie rock skills, they offer a wide stylistic range and an empowering feminist discourse. Get on board, this is addictive.
In Spiritualized’s music three states of matter exist in harmony: the foundations of his songs are as hard as silex and his arrangements pour out, flow and fill spaces like a liquid. The fact that from this combination comes a music that rises gas-like to the skies is a mystery that only Jason Pierce himself holds the key to. With both Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized, Jason has been the guardian of an alchemical secret that transforms noise into gospel, traditional blues into futuristic avant-garde music and psychedelic garage into chamber music.
Now after the stellar show with an orchestra and choir in the Auditori del Fòrum at the recent edition of Primavera Sound, Spiritualized are coming back to perform live in Barcelona, this time with a classical formation to present the songs from their recently announced eighth album, And Nothing Hurt, after 6 years of studio silence. An album composed and recorded solo by Jason Pierce, on which bedroom folk sounds like a sonic Big Bang Theory. With them, neither the number of musicians on stage nor how the tracks were originally recorded count: what is important is the matter (and its three states) which constitute their songs. Tonight at Razzmatazz.
If revenge is a dish best served cold, Iceage have waited for it to be frozen before serving it up. They don’t really have any scores to settle, as the first three records by this post punk quartet from Copenhagen (Denmark) were unanimously acclaimed by audiences and the musical press. But Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, Dan Kjær Nielsen, Johan Suurballe Wieth and Jakob Tvilling Pless have waited patiently for four years to give shape to their fourth album, the first that was recorded all-analog: it will be called Beyondless, and will be released on May 4th on Matador.
If the two tasters that they have already released are anything to go by, there is no doubt that the fourth album will not be a disappointment: the first Catch It, is an amazing apocalyptic post punk anthem; whilst Pain Killer, with the collaboration of the damned diva Sky Ferreira, is an ode to love with trumpet, saxophone and trombone. In this new incarnation, Iceage are deeper, more incisive, and more powerful. Beyondless sounds like the culmination of an unapologetic career, which started with the dark debut New Brigade in 2011 and from then on each album has brought glimmers of light into the cavern. Iceage will display all these credentials at their visit todayat La (2) de Apolo.
There are artists who only know how to write from anger, and there are those who know how to turn everyday life, the day to day, into a universal pop song. Jaume Benedito is the latter, as you can clearly appreciate after just one listen to Oh, Tokyo!, an uncomplicated story of a journey to the Japanese capital with a declaration of love included: “I always wanted to be the man who took you to Japan”, says the chorus. This everyday life epic performed according to the teachings of maestros of refined chamber pop such as Neil Hannon, Edwyn Collins and Jens Lekman, is the backbone of Silent James. His songs are fleeting embraces of life to enjoy a sunny morning, to cheer up an afternoon or to let yourself be carried away by a calm nostalgia, the type that can condense our whole story into the best song in the world. Today in concert at 1PM at Centre Cultural Albareda, Primavera Club.