Tag Archive | "pop"

Music for the Weekend: Mompox

Mompox with all the members of the band: Ale Wonder, Fermin Echeveste, Maxi Russo, Juan Tobal, Maxi Cataldi, Ezequiel Spinelli and Ignacio de Andrés (courtesy of Mompox)

Mompox is the music you’d expect Argentine surfers to put on when resting their muscles after having braved the cold ocean waves.

Tags on the band’s official homepage read: Buenos Aires, electronica, folk, pop, psicodelia, rock, Argentina, indie pop, mompox, triangulo.

Triangle? Yes. Triangular is in fact is the name of their latest release (2011), the shape being one of the only decipherable labels given by the band.

Yet, if it is easy to guess what the three vertexes of the triangle are (rock, folk and psychedelic electro pop), the feel-good harmony they encompass is far from being easily-definable.

Three synthesisers recreate the ludic psychedelia, the complexity of the vocal harmonies and the unexpected rhythm variations of the early surf music. It is reminiscent of MGMT, Arcade Fire, Devo, Flaming Lips and the Beach Boys, all at the same time.

Many tracks are short epiphanies that last less than two and half minutes, songs that seem to be put there to transmit only ‘good vibrations’.

Despite singing in English and defining themselves as an “electro-popabilly-italo-judio” ensemble on their Twitter account, deep down they cannot be more Argentine.

The band saw the light in Buenos Aires, during the hot summer of 2008, when Ignacio de Andrés, Juan Tobal and Ezequiel Spinelli took on the unique quest to achieve the musical perfection they believed appeared in the United States during the 1950s and 60s.

Mompox, was therefore created with the explicit purpose of reviving the era when pop music was eventually submerged and carried towards new shores by a psychedelic wave whose traces are still visible in today’s electronic experimentations.

The recording of ‘Treehouse’ by the parallel band tRilaUs first put Mompox members together with jazz guitarist Tomás Becú, acrobatic pianist and accordionist Alejandro Goldberg, and a versatile DJ-drummer Maximiliano Cataldi.

Needless to say, all these names were known in the scruffiest underground clubs of Buenos Aires, pervaded by the thick rancid smell of Quilmes and wooden floors spotted with dark Fernet stains.

Mompox - Big Umbrella (courtesy of Mompox)

Ignacio de Andrés and his friends already had more than 20 tracks in mind when they finally locked themselves up in a room to record their first studio album, ‘Mompox & The Big Umbrella’ (Panda, El Pie, Mandarina).

With The Beatles, David Bowie and the Kinks in mind the band worked through the summer of 2009. The result was independently released and distributed at the beginning of 2010, and featured the appearance of more than 20 special guests.

‘Mompox & The Big Umbrella’ is a babel of electronic rhythms, psychedelic sounds, folk, pop, orchestra, rockabilly, jazz and bolero that blew the mind of many concert-goers in the capital’s most famous venues: Niceto Club, Teatro Margarita Xirgu, Outsider Festival, Café Vinilo, La Castorera and Plasma, to name a few.

According to the official version, the first 1,000 copies of the original edition were sold out by the end of November, thanks to songs like ‘The Sisters Klein’ (a homage to vaudeville with klezmer airs, where a banjo accompanies the lyrics, and tuba and clarinets duet with a piano), ‘Mary’ (an oneiric and almost Gregorian piece where voices are melted by the smooth sound of the accordion) and ‘Robbery’ (a demonstration of how chameleon-like music can be, thanks to its unique blend of Brit-pop, rockabilly and gypsy tunes).

Mompox are still alive and kicking, and this week are presenting their latest album, ▲. The band will play a series of exclusive concerts at La Fabrica (for a maximum of 30 people and by invitation only).

“We play the whole album. You come inside and you have go through the whole journey, whether you want it or not,” they once said of their live shows.

Genre: Surf-electro pop music

Dates Active: 2008-present

In their own words: “The prolix psychedelic band and the ‘retro-futurism’ that hooked Fabio Alberti up […] We ended up being in love with ourselves.”

Most famous song: “Perfect Service”

Best Lyric: “Don’t want to freeze, don’t want to get old/ Don’t want a bad dream, don’t want to get lost / I’m on the rooftop ready to fall /Looking for a rush before I get old. ” (Friday Night)

Famous for: Being one of the least definable bands on the Argentine musical panorama: a sound that you might as easily find in some hippy festival in San Francisco or in a dark basement in East London.

Best to listen to: Their CDs are an invitation to sit down, close your eyes and simply go back to the ancestral act of listening to a musical artwork from the beginning to the end.

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Argentina Awaits Kings of Convenience

Originally from Bergen in Norway, self taught musicians Eirik Glambek Bøe and Erlend Øye have come a long way from playing the art house cinemas and university unions of ten years ago.

Finding themselves in the same musical frame of mind, they combined as acoustic pop duo Kings of Convenience and purposefully looked to develop a simplistic, stripped down sound.

Kings of Convenience (Photo courtesy of EMI Music)

Since then, ‘Quiet is the New Loud’ in 2001, ‘Riot on an Empty Street’ in 2004, and ‘Declaration of Independence’ in 2009, have each sought to satisfy the theory of less is more.

Having said before that if they ever strayed too far from what they originally intended to do they’d have to change the name, Kings of Convenience have succeeded in creating three ‘word of mouth classics’ without ever moving too far away from a formula that works.

Limiting themselves almost exclusively to two voices, two guitars and a sparing use of backing instruments, their intimate sound and laid back, easy charm has earned them a dedicated following in places you might not imagine.

With their first big tour of North America in 2005, Asia in 2006, dates in Mexico and South Korea in 2007 and 2008, and longer tours taking in several continents in 2010 and 2011, they’re also much more travelled than people might expect.

Currently in the middle of their first South American tour, The Indy caught up with Erlend as the band arrive in Argentina for the first of two sell out shows at La Trastienda.

The South American segment of your current tour combines Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and a return to Brazil, where you played a one off date back in 2005. Tell us a little about how this leg of the tour came about. Has South America been on your mind for a long time?

Yes. We’ve tried to make it happen before, but the offers were very low – just enough to cover the airfare. But as years have passed, it seems more and more people have come to know our music, and promoters have slowly realised that we also have fans here. That said, the tour was mainly our own initiative.

With successive shows tonight and tomorrow night at La Trastienda, you’re one of the few European acts to play here besides festivals. Why do you think that is?

Many bands sit and wait for an offer to come in, and then it’ll most likely be a case of playing at a festival, because the festivals have bigger budgets and strong sponsorship backing. But we don’t have a manager, or travel with a big crew, so it makes touring in far away places more possible. Because we’re adventurous, and we have the freedom to make our own decisions, we’ve been able to travel to Argentina and other ”peripheral” places like Indonesia and Peru.

Eirik Glambek Bøe and Erlend Øye (Photo courtesy of EMI Music)

You’ve talked before about being musicians who are at once commercial and relatively unknown depending on where you are. Yet tickets for your concert at La Trastienda sold out in a surprisingly short time. Was that something you anticipated?

Well, we often have a strong self-confidence about our popularity, but then the local promoters have a low confidence, and then we start believing they’re right. But then the show always sells out. Experience is a comb life gives you when you’ve lost all your hair.

How did you gauge your following in Argentina and other places in South America when you were planning the tour?

Facebook is, of course, very helpful – and a very new tool for us. We’ve only been in control of our fan-page since this year. But we can also get a sense of our fan base from meeting fans at concerts in Europe who tell us that we have fans in their country.

All of your songs are written and recorded in English, but you seem to have a created a sound that’s very portable to countries where English isn’t a first language or maybe isn’t widely spoken. What do you think about this idea?

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that our English is easier to understand than the English of most English bands. Our lyrics have little slang and a big attention to pronunciation. And we don’t have the insider jokes that only English or Americans understand.

Acoustic pop duo Kings of Convenience (Photo courtesy of EMI Music)

You’ve previously expressed a fondness for old bossa nova and once performed a cover of ‘Garota de Ipanema’ in Portuguese. Besides João Gilberto, are there other Latin American musicians or styles that you find particularly inspirational?

Our inspirations come from so many places it’s hard to trace them now. We don’t really know much about Argentine music, but as far as we know, no young bands in Argentina are working with tango effects. It seems like a dead form of music. But that’s the same story with Brazil and bossa nova. There’s been no great heir to that tradition since the 80s.

Eirik has said that he prefers to keep music as a passion, and in that respect hopes to remain indefinitely amateur, whereas you’ve compared music to carpentry in a professional sense. In between albums, you’ve each taken time away from Kings of Convenience to pursue personal interests and solo projects. What do you enjoy about those independent outlets, and how has it been coming together as a duo again?

Well, I can tell you Eirik has changed his mind about that. When he realized what a normal job means, or working as a psychologist for that matter. But we’re very aware of the line between having fun with the band and feeling like it’s a job. We never want to become numb to it, so for that reason, other projects are important to keep Kings of Convenience special for us.

And finally, you said ten years ago that you expected to find love on the road, and that you also thought you’d die travelling. This time around it seems you’ve got different goals. Is there anything specific you hope to see or do in the South American countries you’ll visit on this tour?

We just visited the Andes mountains near Santiago, which was amazing. And we’re looking forward to seeing Buenos Aires.

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Music for the Weekend: Miranda!

Miranda!'s Photos - 09 de Enero 2011 - Parque Roca

Miranda!'s Parque Roca concert in January 2011 (Courtesy of Miranda!)

Our song for the weekend comes from Miranda!, an Argentine band who formed around this week, ten years ago.

The band, which defines itself as the “group of melodramatic Argentine electro pop”, consists of Alejandro Sergi (vocals), Juliana Gattas (vocals), Lolo Fuentes (guitar) and Nivolás Grimaldi (bass), who joined the band in 2003.

Miranda! are known for their playful songs, catchy lyrics and eccentric shows. Having sold over half a million albums in Latin America, the band achieved platinum sales in Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Argentina.

Thanks to their extraordinary music, style and look, the group did not only find success in Latin America, but also received great attention in the US and Europe.

Miranda! started off the usual way, a group of friends getting together to have fun and make music. Less usual was the quick success Miranda! had during its first year: Giving their debut in 2001, the band spent their first season playing at independent music festivals. In less than a year, they already ranked third place in the annual survey of the Rolling stone magazine and were nominated for the Clarín Award 2002 in the category Rock Music Revelation.

A promising start. In 2002 the band continued to gain fans with its unique live performances, in which the band members focus on entertainment and act according to the lyrics of their songs. In November of that year the band recorded their debut album ‘Es mentira’.

The year of the big breakthrough for Miranda! was 2005. The song ‘Yo te diré’ rotated in the popularity rankings of the biggest radio stations in Buenos Aires, and their second album ‘Sin restricciones’ won the Gardel Award for Best Pop Album Group. (the Gardel Award is the Argentine equivalent to the Grammy). Since the creation of the band, Miranda! was also nominated for countless MTV Latinoamérica Awards and won the Award for Best Artist South in 2008.

Going into a more mature direction, their 2009 album ‘Es impossible’ puts greater weight on the guitars and is not as danceable as the previous albums.

Coinciding with Miranda!’s tenth anniversary, the group revealed the name of their next album: ‘Magistral’.

Fun fact: Miranda! is named after Argentine actor Osvaldo Miranda, who died in April this year at the age of 95. The band met Osvaldo in 2002 for the first time, during the Buen Día Arriba Festival in Buenos Aires.

Genre: Electro Pop

Dates active: 2001 – Present

In their own words: “The most important thing is that we have the chance to make music. We do not care about whether its rock or pop – what matters is the music. It all comes back to the same thing.”

Most famous song: ‘Yo te dire’

Best lyric: “You didn’t listen to me, perhaps unintentionally. Could be though that the sound of my voice is a little weak.”

Famous for: feel-good upbeat music

Best to listen to: Ideal for pre drinking sessions and if you feel like clubbing!

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Bronson Tennis: A Bit of Philly in BA

Bronson Tennis Cover

Somewhere like Buenos Aires always throws up surprises. A musician from Philadelphia, with a four-track EP of country, reggae and pop songs, is just one of these. Bronson Tennis, this Philadelphian, met with me this week to talk about his first studio production.

A resident of 18 months in this fine city, Tennis has retained much of his American influence, whilst absorbing the atmosphere South America. This EP marks the culmination of years of concerts, jamming sessions and practising. Asked why it took so long to get into the studio and recording, he replied that it was a fear of never coming out with a finished product. After his two weeks in Philadelphia in late May/early June this year he has achieved his goal; a professional record, which he describes as a “taster” of his live shows.

Produced by Tim Sonnefeld, an up and coming producer in Philadelphia, this EP is also an insight into the wealth of talent present in the city.

The opening track is definitely my favourite. ‘Don’t Say Goodbye’, described by Tennis as a pop love song, achieves his goal of being instantly likeable. After three listens I was already serenading my slightly bemused flatmates in the kitchen. The summery guitar riff and Tennis’s smooth vocal evoke a nostalgic memory of a past event. Tennis also sings the song in Spanish ‘No me digas adios’. For me this version is better. Maybe because the playfulness of the Spanish language fits the tone of the song better, or maybe it is just because I rather like the idea of an Argentine singing me the song.

One goal of Tennis is to combine rhythms from different genres and countries. Indeed to bring part of Philadelphia’s rich musical heritage to Argentina. He does this in the other two songs on the EP. ‘Couldn’t Take You Along’ is a country inspired piece about having to leave a love behind to go on an adventure. Surely a position many have been in when far from home like Tennis. The final track ‘Take My Pain Away’ mixes a reggae beat with the pop like lyrics of the first song. It offers a different message to the second – of a couple running away to a far-away place together.

Bronson Tennis in studio (Photo: Johanna Austin)

Tennis credited Buenos Aires with helping him develop his song writing, musical skill and confidence. For example his voice is “better, much better after the 200 or so shows” he has played since arriving here. The inspiration he has got from travelling and new experiences also led him to an intense three-week song writing period, where he wrote nine songs; a product he said of learning to “open his ears”. Currently taking classes in Brazilian Samba guitar, it appears that his thirst for exotic musical experiences is still as strong as ever.

Tennis’s EP is a short, sweet experience. Three very different songs, which do indeed make you want to go see the fun of his live shows. Hopefully the confidence which Tennis has found here will stay with him for a long, prosperous career.

The release date is TBC, but will be available from August after Tennis’s live concerts. There are also plans to put the songs on iTunes.

His next show will be at the Open Mic nights that he helps run on Tuesday 26th July, where he will perform an acoustic set. 10pm at Gitano Restobar, San Telmo.  Chile 424, esq. Defensa.  (20 peso cover with consumición)

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Retrospective: The Rise and Rise of Marta Minujín

Contextualising Marta Minujín proves difficult, and would possibly do a disservice to the celebrated artist: her work constantly re-imagines artistic characteristics and looks beyond any confines and rigid barriers. Sprawling across specific categories, Minujín works not only outside the box but seemingly against it.

As one of Argentina’s most prominent contemporary artists she has the city bowing before her as she takes over the top floor of Malba in her latest exhibition. With over 30 years in the making, the long anticipated retrospective promises to be Malba’s biggest show of the year, encapsulating the grand status of Minujín and her diverse variety of work. Crossing boundaries in each and every direction, her work incorporates eccentric ideas, elaborate sculptures, and humorous undertones to her often political motivations.

The Parthenon of books from 1983 in Buenos Aires (archival file Marta Minujín)

Meandering through the immaculately organised space, visitors are guided chronologically across three decades of Minujíns’ work. The exhibition’s guest curator, Victoria Noorthoorn, revisited the depths of the archives, carefully scouring Minujíns’ monumental collection to select an array that epitomises the artists’ range of styles. Discussing the most important elements of the work exhibited, Noorthoorn comments that the exhibition showcases not only the elaborate and extravagant work that Minujín creates but the critical thought and realisation of political themes, having used her work to denounce political realities.

Political undercurrents

Attaining the Guggenheim scholarship in 1966 Minujín relocated to New York. This fortunate opportunity inadvertantly enabled her to leave Argentina before the coup d’etat of that year, the newly installed government frequently banning and censoring elaborate performances such as hers.

From such geographical distance Minujíns’ works became further politicised and following Argentina’s return to democracy in 1983 she celebrated with an installation on the grand boulevard of Nueve de Julio. Drawing attention to the censorship imposed during the series of dictatorships, Minujín built ‘The Parthenon of Books’, a collection of previously banned books that were then redistributed to the public. In collaboration with Andy Warhol ‘The Debt’ put the Latin American debt crisis on a stage. Minujín symbolically handed Warhol a shipment of maize in a performance celebrated for its continued political analyses.

Marta Minujín paying the Argentine external debt to Andy Warhol in 1985

Destruction and Participation

At first sight the exhibition appears surprisingly reserved: a series of low reliefs line the walls of the first gallery, appearing like cross sections of industrial machinery sculpted from old iron and steel. Quickly the energy of her work picks up pace and the visitor gains a sense of Minujíns’ transition. Moving from piece to piece photographs show how she physically put herself within her work. Her series of sculptures ’The Destruction’ indirectly maintain this idea as the unoccupied bed in disarray presents the trace of a person. Mattresses seemingly tugged apart and up-ended as though a victim of a quarrel, the works also reflect the recurrent theme of destruction evident in Minujíns’ work, a theme Noorthoorn claims to be one of the most important within the exhibition. Recurrent also in her sculptures exhibited on the Terrace, her works often more literally capture the moment in which they tumble to the ground.

Preoccupied with dismantling her art the theme of destruction cemented itself within her work during the 1960′s and underscores many of her grand interactive installations. One example documented in the exhibition is ‘The James Joyce Tower in Bread’, a public installation that took place in Ireland. “In this way you will participate in one action of instantaneous culture” reads the photograph of her participatory project. Building an enormous frame structure packed with loaves of bread, Minujín lowered the sculpture onto its side, creating a participatory project in which she invited the public to destroy her work by each taking one of the 5,000 loaves. Following the re-evaluation of art in the years that preceded this era, the notion of publicly ‘unmaking’ art was a preoccupation typical of this modernist period. Other performances of the same time paralleled these ideas, the 1966 performance by Raphael Montañez Ortíz reminiscent of this when he encouraged audience members to each burst a paper bag in a concert in London.

In this way Minujín collects together and subsequently pulls apart her work, not precious about her art and it’s significance, refreshingly light hearted in her attitude. This adds an interesting dimension to the exhibition: the show is pulled together from the archives, documenting and reconstructing work while simultaneously engaged with the works inability to exist. Her pieces occupy an ephemeral platform, their original performances retold.

‘The Mattress House’ is emblematic of the importance of participation to her work. As opposed to a work of art, the space is described as a “soft gallery”, constructed from 200 mattresses tied together with ropes, encouraging the audience to bounce within the space and becoming living exhibits.

In comparison a reconstructed performance piece encourages more self-conscious analysis. The audience become voyeurs, witnessing a couple in a stifling bedroom scene as the pair lie in bed the sound of their bickering drowned out by the incessant noise of the television.

Transforming Malba into a space of interaction and participation, the gallery has brought together each of the themes which Minujín herself embeds within her work. Combining the concepts of construction and fragmentation, the exhibition demonstrates the undercurrents of cohesion and dissemination in Minujíns’ work. Any notion of art synonymous with elitism or boredom is destroyed, the show effectively celebrating the elevation and continuation of the last three decades.

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Fiesta Pop Ups + Avantt Club

Fancy a bit of the best of 80′s, 90′s and 00′s pop? How about some New Wave // Retro Rock // Post Punk // Glam Rock // Britpop // Nu Rave // Disco Punk // Indie Rock?  With resident DJ MIN, send an email with your name and surname to fiestapopups@gmail.com, with the title Lista Pop. Admission is free until 2am, and thereafter will set you back $15. Find it going on at Alsina 921.

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This week, we revisit Lindsey Hoshaw's 2008 article on the worryingly high incidence of eating orders in Argentina.

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