Jesse's Subjective "Best of 2005"

   El 2006 casi se acaba, y antes de publicar mi muy subjetiva lista de "lo mejor del 2006", supongo que debera terminar mi lista de "lo mejor del 2005", que comenc hace un ao como artculos separados en mi blog, pero nunca llegu ms all del #7 (yendo en reversa). As que lo que har en esta pgina ser copiar la mayor parte del artculo que escrib como prembulo a la lista de los mejores 10 discos (que slo escrib en espaol) y a continuacin pondr la lista. La diferencia este ao, claro, es que ahora podrs escuchar las canciones de las que hablamos haciendo click en los botoncitos de "play" que acompaan a cada ttulo de cancin.
   2006 is almost over, and before I publish my very subjective "best of 2006" list, I suppose I should finish my "best of 2005" list, which I started a year ago as separate entries in my blog but never made it past #7 (going in reverse.) So what I'll do on this page is copy most of the article I published as a preamble to the top 10 list (which I'd only written in Spanish), and then publish the list at the end of the page. The difference this year, of course, is that you'll now be able to actually listen to the songs we're talking about by clicking on the little "play" buttons after the song titles.
   He ido preparando la lista de candidatos durante todo el ao, y me he sorprendido con lo que parece ser una lista bastante extensa de discos que he disfrutado--o han significado--mucho este ao. Uno que merece mencin especial es el ltimo de U2. A pesar de haberlo escuchado hasta el cansancio (sin haberme cansado) por varios meses a principios de este ao, y de haber sido la banda sonora de mi vida en esos meses de tantos extremos emocionales, no lo he puesto entre los 10 mejores de este ao porque... no s por qu. Podra decir que porque sali en el 2004, pero estas listas no son de del ao de publicacin, sino del ao en el que los he absorbido. Quizs sea porque lo asocie una etapa anterior de mi historia. No s. Pero quiero enfatizar que, aunque U2 haya producido tres o ms discos mejores que ste en el pasado, ste est muy lejos de ser un disco decepcionante. Sus conciertos, eso s, parecen mejorar con el tiempo, al ir abandonando los excesos a favor de lo efectivo.
   I've been putting together this list over most of the year, and I'm surprised with what seems to be a pretty long list of albums I've enjoyed--or have meant a lot--this year. One that deserves special mention is U2's last album. Despite having listened to it until I got sick and tired of it (without it becoming tiresome), and of it being the soundtrack of my life during the very emotionally intense early months of '05, I haven't placed it in my "top 10" of this year because... I don't know why. I might say that it's because it came out in '04, but then again, these lists aren't about when they came out, but when I absorbed them. Maybe it's because I associate it to another stage of my life. I don't know. I do want to emphasize that, although U2 has made three or more records better than this one in the past, this is far from being disappointing. There concerts, on the other hand, do seem to improve over time, by abandoning the excesses in favor of what's effective.
   Coldplay nos dio X&Y. "Fix You" tiene que ser una de las peores, ms sosas y ms aburridas cancin que han escrito, pero "Talk" , construda alrededor de una antigua meloda de Kraftwerk, y "Low" , con ayuda de Brian Eno, est entre lo mejor que han hecho. "Square One", "White Shadows", "Speed of Sound", "X&Y" y "A Message" no estn mal tampoco. Esperemos que en el futuro pierdan el miedo a perseguir sus inquietudes musicales y dejen de producir canciones en serie, como "Fix You" o "What If".
   Coldplay gave us X&Y. "Fix You" has to be one of the worst, weakest and most boring songs they've written, but "Talk" , built around an old Kraftwerk melody, and "Low" , with help from Brian Eno, are among the best they've done. "Square One", "White Shadows", "Speed of Sound", "X&Y" y "A Message" aren't bad either. Let's hope that in the future they lose fear of pursuing their musical curiosity and stop producing serial songs such as "Fix You" o "What If".
   De manera casi desapercibida, Robert Plant, junto a su nuevo grupo, The Strange Sensations, hizo un lbum sorprendentemente bueno, Mighty Rearranger. Si no sabes quin es Robert Plant, es muy probable que nunca te ha gustado Led Zeppelin y puedas continuar tu vida tranquilamente, pero si eres de los que peridicamente tiene que "sacar el plomo" ("let the Led out"), este lbum es un estmulo revitalizante para tu mente rockera. Escucha "Shine It All Around" y "All the King's Horses" .
   Almost surreptitiously, Robert Plant, along with his new band, The Strange Sensations, made a surprisingly good album, Mighty Rearranger. If you don't know who Robert plant is, you've probably never liked Led Zeppelin and you can quietly go on with your life, but if you're one of those that periodically needs to "let the Led out", this album will come as a jolt to your rock'n'roll soul. Listen to "Shine It All Around" and "All the King's Horses" .
   Otro disco que me sorprendi, pero es tambin probablemente "slo para fans", es Switch, el nuevo de INXS. Por fans me refiero a aquellos que difrutbamos los discos que publicaron a travs de los noventas, no a los que les parecieron chidos los xitos que tuvieron en los ochentas. (Si te parece pattico ser fan de INXS a estas alturas, slo brncate el resto de este prrafo, pero no asumas que el resto de esta pgina ser igual de deprimente.) Luego de sufrir una tremenda desilusin hace un par de aos al ver a INXS una noche en el programa de Adal Ramones, no cre que pudieran caer ms bajo... hasta que me enter de su reality show en busca de un cantante nuevo. No vi un slo episodio... y aunque tuviera una televisin, no lo habra hecho tampoco. Pero parece que el truco les result en la obtencin de un cantante casi tan bueno como Michael Hutchence, pero ms importante an, que congenia con el estilo de la banda (no como el gordo en el programa de Adal). Encima de un conjunto de canciones robustas--comerciales, s, pero eso no las hace automticamente despreciables; escucha "Pretty Vegas" --, hay guios emotivos por todos lados, como las referencias lricas a Hutchence y la inclusin de una de las finalistas del reality show como corista en "Afterglow" ... reforzando la sensacin de que este es un proyecto en el que todos ganan (ganamos?).
   Another record that surprsed me, but is probably also "just for fans", is Switch, the new one from INXS. By fans I mean those of us who enjoyed their output during the 90s, not those who think their hits in the 80s were cool. (If you believe being a fan of INXS at these heights is pathetic, just skip this paragraph, but don't assume the rest of this page will be as depressing.) After suffering a tremendous disillusion one night a couple of years ago when I saw INXS on Adal Ramones' show (a late night variety show in Mexico), I didn't think they could go any lower... until I found out they were hosting a reality show to look for a new singer. I didn't see a single episode... and if I had a TV, I wouldn't have wathed one, either. But it seems like the stint resulted in a singer almost as good as Michael Hutchence, but more importantly, one with a style that fits in the band (not like the chubby dude on Adal's show). On top of a robust set of songs--commercial, yes, but that doesn't make them automatically despicable; listen to "Pretty Vegas" --, there are several emotive winks throughout, like the lyrical references to Hutchence and the inclusion of the reality show runner-up as back-up singer in "Afterglow" ... reinforcing the sensation that this was a project where everyone--including us-- won.
   Daniel Lanois edit Belladonna, su primer disco instrumental, que muchos crticos calificaron como su mejor disco hasta ahora, pero a m no me convenci tanto, quizs porque no soy fan de las guitarras de pedal ("Frozen" ), bastante presentes en este disco. Parte de este disco se grab en Mxico, y de repente se dejan ver influencias en vientos mariachiosos o temas llamados "Oaxaca" . Me gust un poco ms "Rockets", otro disco disco publicado por Lanois este ao con rarezas ("Rockets" ) y versiones alternas y en directo de piezas conocidas ("Space Kay" ). Otro disco con este mismo rollo de guitarras ambientales pero con matices latinoamericanos ms pronunciados que escuch muchas veces este ao (vale, casi siempre mientras haca otras cosas, particularmente aquellas que demandaran algo de concentracin) fue el soundtrack de The Motorcycle Diaries, del argentino Gustavo Santaolalla, a quien yo slo conoca por sus colaboraciones con Caf Tacuba. Escuha "Apertura" o "Sendero" .
   Daniel Lanois published Belladonna, his first instrumental album, which many reviewers called his best album so far, but I wasn't too convinced with, maybe because I'm not a big fan of pedal guitars ("Frozen" ), quite ubiquitous on this record. Part of this record was recorded in Mexico, and once in a while the infuences can be heard in the mariachi winds or song names like "Oaxaca" . I liked "Rockets" a bit more, another record published by Lanois this year with rarities ("Rockets" ) and alternate and live versions of previously released songs ("Space Kay" ). Another record in the vein of ambient guitars but with much stronger Latin American shades that I listened to a lot this year (ok, almost always whie I was doing other stuff, particularly things that demanded concentration) was The Motorcycle Diaries soundtrack, of argentinian Gustavo Santaolalla, who I only knew because of his collaborations with Caf Tacuba. Listen to "Apertura" or "Sendero" .
   Y ahora, mis 10 discos favoritos del 2005, comenzando por el #12:
  And now, my favorite 10 albums of 2005, starting with #12:
Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
Set Yourself On Fire
Ageless Beauty
What I'm Trying To Say
One More Night (Your Ex-Lover Remains Dead)
Set Yourself On Fire
   Otro de mis discos favoritos de este ao fue Set Yourself on Fire, de Stars, un grupo de Montreal que combina melodas dulces con letras cidas, arreglos orquestrales con bases sintticas, y harmoniza voces masculinas con femeninas para crear lo que pareciera un pop independiente perfecto, de no ser por su actitud e ideologa punk (que no estoy criticando... slo que no les facilita el ser ms populares.)
   Another of my favorite records this year was Set Yourself on Fire, by Stars, a Montreal band that combines sweet melodies with acid lyrics, orchestral arrangements with synthetic bases, and harmonizes male and female voices to create what would seem to be perfect indy-pop, were it not for their punk ideology and attitude (which I'm not criticizing... just saying it makes the road to popularity a little more difficult.)
Club Foot
Processed Beats
Reason Is Treason
Butcher Blues
L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)
Future Lovers
Forbidden Love
How High
Confessions on a Dance Floor
   Aunque siempre he querido creer que estoy, aunque sea un poco, al margen del mainstream, siempre he tenido tambin guilty pleasures, y desde 1998, cuando se public Ray of Light, Madonna es uno de ellos. Ray of Light, producido por el britnico William Orbit, fue sencillamente un disco que a la vez era fresco y maduro, tanto lrica como snicamente. Music, en el 2000, no fue tan slido, aunque el cambio de productor (al francs Mirwais Ahmadzai) result en algunas piezas que mantenan a Madonna en la vanguardia. Por alguna extraa razn, Madonna volvi a colaborar con Mirwais en el 2003 para American Life; sin ser conocedor de su carrera, creo que Madonna nunca haba repetido productores, lo cual probablemente explique su vigencia durante ms de dos dcadas, y quizs explique por qu este disco fue un fracaso comercial y artstico. (Otra posible razn es que no tena canciones buenas.) Ahora ha vuelto con Confessions On a Dance Floor, producido por el anglo/galo Stuart Price. El disco es, s, bastante discotequero, incluso las pistas se funden una en otra como un mix de DJ, pero este disco no es ningn "bacalao".
   Although I've always wanted to believe that I am, even if its just a little bit, on the edge of the mainstream, I've also always given in to some guilty pleasures, and since 1998, when Ray of Light was published, Madonna has been one of them. Ray of Light, produced by the englishman William Orbit, was basically an album that was at the same time fresh and mature, both lyrically and sonically. 2000's Music wasn't as solid, but the change in producer (to frenchman Mirwais Ahmadzai) resulted in some pieces that kept Madonna in the vanguard. For some strange reason, Madonna collaborated with Mirwais again in 2003 for American Life; I'm no expert in her career, but I think Madonna had never repeated a producer, which probably explains her relevance over two decades, and probably explains why this album was a commercial and critical failure. (Another possible reason is that there weren't any good songs on it.) Now she's back with Confessions On a Dance Floor, produced by brit/gallic Stuart Price. The record is, yes, pretty club-friendly, with the tracks even blended together like on a mix CD, but this album is no "bacalao".
   Grabado en una habitacin del apartamento de Stuart en Londres, es, a mi gusto, un conjunto de canciones muy slidas, el mejor desde Ray of Light. Ritmos inescapabales y melodas bastante pegajosas son la fundacin de todas las piezas, cuyos arreglos abracan toda una gama de estilos de msica bailable desde los 70s hasta la presente dcada. Algunos de las referencias son un poco descaradas, como el sample de la cancin "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" de Abba en "Hung Up", o los sintes galopantes de "Future Lovers" bajo una voz sensual -la "I Feel Love" de Donna Summer (una cancin que en 1978 llev a Brian Eno a decirle a David Bowie "He escuchado el futuro."). A pesar de que Stuart es el cerebro del grupo francs Les Rhythmes Digitales, "Get Together" suena ms a algo de Daft Punk, y "How High" recuerda a "Can't Get You Out of My Head" de Kylie Minogue. Que no los desaliente lo que pareciera una serie de refritos; el disco no aburre ni suena repetitivo, sino todo lo contrario, suena bastante fresco a pesar de los 47 aos de la seora de Ritchie.
   Recorded in a room in Stuart's apartment in London, it is, in my opinion, a set of very solid songs, the best since Ray of Light. Infectuous grooves and catchy melodies are the foundation of all the pieces, arranged in a fashion that covers most dance styles from the 70s to the current decade. Some of the references are somewhat blatant, like the sample from Abba's song "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" in "Hung Up", or the galloping synth of "Future Lovers" under a sensual voice -la Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" (a song that in 1978 drove Brian Eno to tell David Bowie "I've heard the future".). Even though Stuart is behind the French band Les Rhythmes Digitales, "Get Together" sounds more like something from Daft Punk, and "How High" reminds of Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head". Don't let what would seem a series of rehashes discourage you; the album does not bore and is not repetitive; on the contrary, it sounds pretty fresh despite Mrs. Ritchie's 47 years.
   Una satisfaccin bastante ms personal es observar cmo se utilizan en mltiples pistas los "filtros dinmicos de frecuencia", que son este efecto que hacen que, por ejemplo, se escuche como si se estuviera bajo el agua. En el 2001 comenc a trabajar en lo que se supone sera un lbum-remix de canciones de U2, y la primera (y nica) pieza que complet--la que abrira el disco--fue una pieza que combinaba versiones de "Elevation" y "Mysterious Ways" y haca un uso algo extenso de susodicho efecto en el primer minuto o dos de la cancin. (Puedes escucharla aqu: .)
   A much more personal satisfaction is noticing how several tracks use the "dynamic frequency filter" effect, an effect that, for example, makes the source sound as if it were under water. In 2001 I began working on what was supposed to be a remix album of U2 songs, and the first (and only) piece I completed--the one that would open the record--was one that combined versions of "Elevation" and "Mysterious Ways" and made heavy use of that effect in the first minute or two of the song. (You can listen to it here: .)
   Los dejo con un extracto de la crtica del disco de Madonna de la revista Time (traduccin de un servidor):
   I'll leave you with a bit of Time's review of the album:
   "...antes de proseguir con el album, necesitars preguntarte, Soy una persona seria que escucha msica para iluminacin intelectual y toma orgullo en no bailar bajo ninguna circunstancia? O soy solamente una persona semi-seria que se asegura de no ser visto/a bailando bajo ninguna circunstancia? Si eres lo primero/a, Confessions on a Dance Floor no es para t. Si eres lo segundo/a, cierra las persianas."
   "...before you press on with the album, you will need to ask yourself, Am I a serious person who listens to music for intellectual enlightenment and makes it a point of pride not to dance under any circumstances? Or am I merely a semi-serious person who makes it a point not to be seen dancing under any circumstances? If you're the former, Confessions on a Dance Floor is not for you. If you are the latter, close the blinds."
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
Une Annee Sans Lumiere
Wake Up
Rebellion (Lies)
The Arcade Fire
   A pesar de haber sido publicado en noviembre del 2004, este disco alcanz a salir en varias listas de "lo mejor" de ese ao. Yo no lo escuch sino hasta mayo, cuando lo compr Chuy en su visita a Boston. Una par de escuchadas me dejaron claro el fervor de los crticos respecto a este lbum. En las notas que acompaan al CD--excelente presentacin, como suelen ser los CDs "indies" de Canad--mencionan que fue grabado durante dos crueles inviernos (qu esperaban encontrar cuando se mudaron a Montreal?) en los que murieron varios parientes directos de la banda, y decidieron llamar al disco "Funeral". Y aunque la intensidad emocional asociada est ah, est canalizada en interpretaciones tan eufricas, tan catrticas, tan vivas, que no recuerdo haber escuchado cosas as desde, no s, desde algunas piezas James. Quin que an tenga una temperatura corporal mayor a 35 puede no perderse en estas piezas realizadas con tanto abandono? Esperemos solamente que no haya sido suerte de principiantes--ste es su debut--y que no tengan que seguir muriendo sus padres y abuelos para lograr estas alturas. (Para los que se estn preguntando, "Bueno, pero, y qu tipo de msica es?", pues... tratar de describir msica con palabras siempre es un poco en vano, pero si de algo les sirve, llammosle "pop de cmara".)
   Despite having been published in November of 2004, this album still made it into several of that year's "best of" lists. I didn't listen to it until May, when Chuy bought it during his visit to Boston. A couple of spins made all the critics' fervor clear. In the "booklet"--excellent presentation, as Canadian indie CDs usually have--they mention it was recorded during two cruel winters (what did they expect when they moved to Montreal?) in which several direct relatives of the band members passed away, and they decided to call the album "Funeral". And even though the associated emotional intensity is there, it's channeled into performances so euphoric, so cathartic, so alive, I don't remember listening to anything like this since, I don't know, some of James' songs. Who with a body temperature still over 98 can't help but lose themselves in these pieces made with such abandon? Let's just hope this wasn't beginner's luck--this is their debut--and that their parents and grandparents don't have to keep dying for them to reach these heights. (For those of you wondering, "OK, but, what do they sound like?", well... trying to describe music with words is always a bit in vain, but if it helps, let's call it "chamber pop".)
Don't Save Us from the Flames
Teen Angst
Car Chase Terror
A Guitar and a Heart
Before the Dawn Heals Us
   Alrededor de febrero del 2005 escuch este lbum el directorio compartido de iTunes de un colega y fue de esos que te ganchan a primer oda. Segn como lo recuerdo, era fin de semana y la oficina estaba vaca, lo cual favoreca la apreciacin del viaje que estaba por emprender. Antes de que termine el primer minuto, ests advertido de lo que viene: un disco que es a la vez retro y futurista, acstico y electrnico, orgnico y sinttico, sencillo y pretencioso, callado y ruidoso, estimulante y deprimente, pop y progresivo, romntico y terrorfico, urbano y espacial, humano y extraterrestre. M83 es una banda francesa que hasta donde s, se ha reducido a un miembro fijo, Anthony Gonzalez, y hacen estos discos de carcter cinematogrfico que, si no pones mucha resistencia, te pueden transportar a otros tiempos y lugares, tanto buenos como malos.
   Somewhere around February of 2005 I heard this album in the shared iTunes folder of a co-worker of mine (that would be James) and it was one of those that hooks you in the very first time you listen to it. As I remember it, it was a weekend and and the office was empty, which was all the better for the trip I was about make. Before the first minute is over, you're warned of what's in store: a record that's at the same time retro and futuristic, acoustic and electronic, organic and synthetic, simple and pretentious, quiet and noisy, stimulatng and depressing, pop and progressive, romantic and terrifying, urban and spacey, human and alien. M83 is a French band that as far as I know, has been reduced to one permanent member, Anthony Gonzalez, and make these records of cinematic character, that if you dont' resist too much, can transport you to other times and places, both good and bad.
   El da de mi cumpleaos pude verlos en vivo (y curiosamente, justo ese mismo da un ao antes vi otra banda francesa de electrnica con tendencias experimentales de la que quizs han odo hablar, Air) y al centro del escenario haba dos tos, uno frente al otro, tocando lo que parecan ser dos teclados vintage de los 70s. Desde donde estaba yo slo poda ver uno de ellos, y era obvio que el otro era el que produca los sonidos ms graves y orgnicos. Al final del concierto fui a ver qu dispositivo era el que generaba tales sonidos psicodlicos, esperaba encontrarme con un sinte de estos de perillas y palancas, pero lo que encontr fue algo bastante sorprendente: una guitarra elctrica sobre una mesa, con un desarmador entrelazado entre las cuerdas sobre el cuello.
   On my birthday I was able to see them perform live (and curiously, on that same day a year before I saw another electronic French band with experimental tendencies that you may have heard of, Air) and at the center front of the stage there were these two guys, facing each other, playing what seemed to be two vintage synths from the 70s. From where I was I could only see one of them, and it was obvious that it was the other one that was producing the thicker, deeper, more organic sounds. When the show was over I went to see what device generated these psychedelic sounds; I expected to find one of these old synths with knobs and levers, but what I found was quite surprising: laying on top of a table, an electric guitar with a screwdiver caught between the strings over the neck.
First Wave Intact
Nowhere Again
The Road Leads Where It's Led
You Are Chains
Lights On
The Secret Machines
Now Here Is Nowhere
   El disco con el que ms fantaseaba estar tocando la batera en el 2005 (y quizs tambin estar detrs de un micrfono). Now Here Is Nowhere (el track) cerraba el CD de "lo mejor del 2004" que vena con la edicin de fin de ao de Q. No es comn que este tipo de compilaciones incluyan tracks de 9 minutos, pero el largo pasaje instrumental y acelerado con el que termina la cancin pareca un final adecuado. El track me gustaba, se perciba el entusiasmo y la emocin de los miembros en su ejecucin, pero no investigu ms acerca de ellos. En abril o mayo me encontr una copia de promocin del CD en una tienda de discos usados a precio reducido, y tiene que ser una de las mejores compras que he hecho. Fui arrastrado por esa batera Zeppelinesca, esa psicodelia Floydesca, esos pasajes Flaming-Lipescos, armonas Beatlescas, cubiertas con una voz que proyectaba mucha ms confianza que la que se halla usualmente en un debut. peras primas con tantos aires de grandeza, tanta ambicin y grandilocuencia abundan, pero rara vez se ven respaldadas con tanta sinceridad y sudor.
   The record I day-dreamed I was playing drums to the most during 2005 (and maybe shouting into a microphone, too.) Now Here Is Nowhere (the track) closed the "Best of 2004" CD in Q's year-end edition. It's not common for compilation CDs like those to have 9-minute songs, but the long and accelerated instrumental passage the song ends with seemed an adequate finale. I liked the track, you could sense the enthusiasm and excitement in the performance, but I didn't look into them any more at the time. In April or May I found a promo CD in a used-record store quite cheap, and that has to be one of the best purchases I've ever made. I was swept away by the Zeppelin-esque drums, Floydian psychadelia, Flaming Lip passages, and Beatle-esque harmonies, all capped off by a voice with way more confidence than is usually found in a debut. First efforts with such airs of greatness, so much ambition and grandiloquence are plentiful, but they are rarely backed up with so much sincerity and sweat.
Almost Forgot Myself
Walk In The Fire
One of These Days
Someday Soon
Some Cities
   El primer CD que me compr cuando me mud a Boston en la primavera de 2002 fue "The Last Broadcast" de Doves. Lo compr el da que me invitaron a trabajar en VPG, en el Virgin Megastore que estaba cruzando la calle; esto fue despus de estar sin empleo por alrededor de ao y medio, y unos meses antes de casarme. El primer concierto al que fui en Boston fue uno de Doves (con otra buena banda de Manchester, Elbow, abriendo) en el Axis, a unas cuantas cuadras del trabajo y an ms cerca del departamento al que me ira a vivir en el ao siguiente. No dud en comprar aquel disco o en asisitir a aquel concierto porque "Lost Souls", el primer disco de Doves, era, y sigue siendo, uno de mis favoritos de todos los tiempos. No pude evitar notar, entonces, que el primer CD que me compr despus de mi divorcio en la primavera de 2005 fue "Some Cities" de Doves, y no mucho tiempo despus estaba asistiendo a un concierto de Doves en el Avalon, el hermano mayor (al lado) del Axis. Se senta casi como si se cerrara un crculo, o se repitiera un ciclo, o algo as.
   The very first CD I bought when I moved to Boston in the spring of '02 was Doves' "Last Broadcast". I bought it on the day I got the invitation to work at VPG, at the Virgin Megastore that was across the street; this was after being without a job for about a year and a half, and a few months before I got married. The very first concert I went to in Boston was a Doves show (with fellow Mancunians Elbow opening for them) at the Axis, a few minutes walk from work and even fewer from the apartment I'd move into the following year. I didn't hesitate in purchasing this record because Doves' "Lost Souls" was, and still is, one of my all-time favorite CDs, and although "The Last Broadcast", with songs like "Words", "There Goes the Fear" and "M62 Song", has one of the best opening suites I can think of, the rest of the album isn't as consistent. I couldn't help noticing, then, that the very first CD I purchased after my divorce in the spring of '05 was Doves' "Some Cities", and not too long after that I was catching a Doves show at the Avalon, a bigger venue right next door to the Axis. It almost felt like a circle was closing, or a cycle was repeating, or something along those lines.
   A pesar de ser una de mis bandas favoritas, siempre me ha resultado difcil expresar por qu tienen un efecto hipntico en mi, o siquiera describir en qu categora musical caen. No es rock, a pesar de la configuracin de guitarra/bajo/batera; no es pop, a pesar de las melodas pegajosas; no es psicodelia, a pesar de los tonos etreos y los amplios espacios que evocan; no es "adulto", a pesar de las barbas. Y aunnque su msica s me lleva a un estado reflexivo y se presta para escucharse de noche, est lejos de ser msica de fondo. Lo nico que puedo decir es que de algn modo agita emociones complejas.
   Despite being one of my favorite bands, I've always found it difficult to express why their songs have such a hypnotic effect on me, or even describe what category their music falls in. It's not quite rock, despite the guitar/bass/dums set-up; not quite pop, despite the catchy melodies; not quite psychadelia, despite the dreamy tunes and wide ambiences; not quite adult, despite the beards. And although their music does seem to put me in a reflective mood and lends itself to be listened to at night, it's far from being "background music". All I can seem to say is that it somehow stirs complex emotions.
   Ms cohesivo (y en general mejor) que "Last Broadcast" pero no tan bueno como "Lost Souls", "Some Cities" encuentra a Doves en plena forma, perfeccionando sus habilidades compositivas y de "paisajismo snico" en prcticamente todas las pistas. Aunque nunca me volv loco con el track promocional "Black and White Town" o con la cancin que da nombre al disco--que son las primeras dos canciones en el disco--y siempre me brinco "Shadows of Salford", es difcil elegir una favorita entre las 8 restantes. Tan pronto arranca "Almost Forgot Myself" con su ritmo adictivo, sus crescendos y los alivios de las guitarras elctricas pulsadas a dedo, uno es arrasado por los coros celestiales de "Snowden", para luego ser arrastrado al snar submarino de "The Storm", slo para luego ser lentamente elevado a la estratsfera con la gradual construccin de "Walk In the Fire". Cuando crees que esto no puede seguir, "One of These Days" de algn modo resume los giros emocionales de las 4 canciones anteriores en una. "Someday Soon" provee un descanso de la euforia acumulada visitando otro de los territorios snicos favoritos de Doves: pulidas canciones conducidas por la rtmica de una guitarra acstica. El lbum cierra con una pieza melanclica llamada "Ambition", una meloda placentera un poco ahogada en un exceso de reverberaciones, cortesa de los espacios y las paredes del monasterio benedectino cercano a Lochness donde parte de este disco fue grabado.
   More cohesive (and overall better) than "The Last Broadcast" but not as good as "Lost Souls", "Some Cities" finds Doves in fine form, honing their songcrafting and soundscaping skills on parctically all the tracks. Although I never quite went crazy for presentation single "Black and White Town" or the title track--which happen to be the first two tracks on the album--and I always skip "Shadows of Salford", it's hard to pinpoint a favorite song out of the remaining 8. As soon as "Almost Forgot Myself" kicks off with its addictive rhythm, its crescendos and relieving finger-picked electric guitar, one is swept away into the heavenly choruses of "Snowden", to then be dragged into the submarine sonar of "The Storm", only to be slowly elevated back into the stratosphere with the gradual building of "Walk In the Fire". When you think this just can't keep on going, "One of These Days" somehow sums up all the emotional twists of the previous 4 songs into one song. "Someday Soon" provides a rest from the accumulated euphoria by visitng another of Doves' favorite sonic territories: polished acoustic guitar-driven songs. The album closes with a melancholic piece called "Ambition", a pleasant melody somewhat drowned in an excess of reverb, courtesy of the space and walls of the benedictine monastery near Lochness where part of the album was recorded.
   Creo que fue la revista Blender la que llam a Doves "un Coldplay ms viejo y ms sabio." Si ms viejo y ms sabio tambin quieren decir mejores y menos atentos a las opiniones de los dems, entonces espero que nunca "enjvenezcan".
   I believe it was Blender magazine that called Doves an "older, wiser Coldplay." If older and wiser also means better and caring less about others' opinions, then I hope Doves never grows any younger.
Love Will Tear Us Apart
Just Can't Get Enough
In a Manner of Speaking
This Is Not A Love Song
Making Plans for Nigel
Nouvelle Vague
Nouvelle Vague
   La premisa parece desastrosa: grabemos un conjunto de clsicos del New Wave ("nueva ola" en ingls) con arreglos de bossa nova ("nueva ola" en portugus) y llamemos a la banda Nouvelle Vague ("nueva ola" en francs.) Au contraire: funciona, y muy bien. Algunos se podrn espantar con la sola idea de regrabar, de la manera que sea, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" de Joy Division o "A Forest" de The Cure--ms an si son como bossa novas etreas cantadas por chanteusses francesitas. Pero desde la perspectiva de alguien que creci escuchando estas canciones, las escucho y siento que la aproximacin fue con reverencia y respeto, y el hecho de que funcionan tan bien a pesar de los cambios de estilo, tempo y arreglos slo demuestran que esas canciones eran clsicas para comenzar. Con excepcin de la versin samba de "I Just Can't Enough" de Depeche Mode y la festiva toma de "Too Drunk to Fuck" de los Dead Kennedys, muchas de las otras canciones reciben un tratamiento de madrugada ntima: "In a Manner of Speaking" de Tuxedomoon, "Guns of Brixton" de The Clash, "This Is Not a Love Song" de Public Image LTD, "Marian" de The Sisters of Mercy, "I Melt for You" de Modern English y "Sorry for Laughing" de Josef K. Mi pieza favorita del disco, sin embargo, y la que probablemente mejor representa de qu va este disco, es "Making Plans for Nigel", una cancin grabada originalmente por XTC. Por qu me parece representativa? Me atrevo a afirmar que es mejor que la original. La paradoja presentada por la acidez de las letras que confrontan el amor y orgullo ciego de unos padres por su retoo con su verdadera triste existencia no podra ser entregada mejor que por la cariosa y agridulce voz de Camille y con los arreglos de casi cancin de cuna. En cualquier caso, nunca hubo n solo "sonido new wave", y esto es tan bueno (o mejor que) cualquiera de los estilos sobre los que se construyeron los originales.
   The premise sounds disastrous: let's record a set of New Wave classics arranged in the style of bossa nova (which means "new wave" in portuguese) and call the band Nouvelle Vague (which means "new wave" in french.) Au contraire: it works, and pretty damn well. Some may cringe at the thought of any reworking whatsoever of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" or The Cure's "A Forest"--more so as dreamy bossa nova ballads sung by french chanteusses. But as someone who grew up on these songs, I listen to them and feel they were approached with reverence and affection, and the fact that they work so well despite the changes in style, tempo and arrangements only go to show these songs were classics to begin with. With the exception of the samba version of Depeche Mode's "I Just Can't Enough" and the perky take on Dead Kennedy's "Too Drunk to Fuck", most of the others get a late-night, intimate treatment: Tuxedomoon's "In a Manner of Speaking", The Clash's "Guns of Brixton", Public Image Ltd.'s "This Is Not a Love Song", The Sisters of Mercy's "Marian", Modern English's "I Melt for You" and Josef K's "Sorry for Laughing". My favorite piece on the record, though, and the one that probably best represents what this album was all about, is "Making Plans for Nigel", a song originally recorded by XTC. Why do I find it representative? I dare say it actually improves on the original. The paradox presented by the acid lyrics that confront the parents' blind pride and love for their offspring with his sad state of existence could not be better delivered than through the bittersweet and caring voice of Camille and the almost bed-time song arrangements. In any case, there was never really just one "new wave sound", and this is as good as (or better than) any of the styles the originals were built on.
My Name Is Love
The Night
Intelligent People
Rob Dickinson
Fresh Wine for the Horses
   Compr este disco casi accidentalmente. Recuerdo haber ido a Newbury comics para buscar el CD nuevo de Sigur Ros, y vi que ste haba salido el mismo da. Ni siquiera saba que Rob Dickinson estaba trabajando en un proyecto en solitario, aunque s me haba, en ms de una ocasin, detenido para preguntarme qu habi pasado con The Catherine Wheel despus de "Wishville". Conoc a la banda alrededor del tiempo en el que se separaron, y me volv un gran fan de sus discos finales de pop-rock (pero no tanto de sus primeros como "shoegazers"). Unna de las cosas que ms me gustaban de ellos era la voz de Rob, as que lo compr y termin escuchndolo muchas, muchas, muchas ms veces que el CD de Sigur Ros.
   I bought this record almost accidentally. I remember I went to Newbury Comics to get the new Sigur Ros CD, and saw that this was released on the same day. I didn't even know a solo project by Rob Dickinson was in the works, although I had, more than once, stopped to wonder what had happenned to The Catherine Wheel after "Wishville". I came to know the band almost around the time they ended up splitting, and became a big fan of many of their later-day pop-rock pieces (not so much of their early shoegazing stuff). One of the things I liked the most about them was Rob's voice, so I went ahead and bought it and ended up listening to it many, many, many more times than Sigur Ros's CD.
   No hay mucho que pueda decir acerca de este disco. No hay revoluciones o siquiera evoluciones aqu; es bsicamente un conjunto slido de buenas canciones--desde baladas picas hasta dinmicas canciones de rock--entregadas apasionadamente por la rica y rasposa (pero gentil) voz de Rob encima de muchas guitarras. No puedo elegir una o dos o siquiera cinco canciones favoritas en este disco; es simplemente uno de esos CDs que puedes escuchar repetidamente y disfrutarlo siempre igual. Las composiciones son tan buenas que pueden sostenerse simplemente con una guitarra acstica, como lo hizo en TT the Bear's en octubre. La mayor parte de las letras pueden parece simplistas al principio, pero mi sentir es que vienen de alquien que ha madurado y ha decidido quitarle lo complicado a la vida. Debo admitir que las canciones tienen un gancho ms bien emocional que tcnico, y en casos como estos, intentar disecarlas puede no slo no tener sentido, sino ser contraproducente, pues las partes son mucho menos que el entero. Escucha.
   There's not a lot I can say about this record. No revolutions or even evolutions here; it's basically a solid collection of great songs--from epic ballads to cascading rock songs--passionately delivered by Rob's rich and rapsy (but gentle) voice over lots of guitars. I can't pick one or two even five favorite songs off this record; it's just one of those CDs you can listen to over and over again and enjoy it each time. The songcrafting is so good that they can be delivered with just one acoustic guitar, like he did at TT the Bear's in October. Most of the lyrics may seem simplistic at first, but my sense is that they're coming from someone who's matured and decided to take the complicated out of life. I have to admit the songs have more of an emotional hook than a technical one, and in cases like this, trying to dissect them any further may not only be pointless, but counterproductive, as the parts amount to much less than the whole. Have a listen.
Last Living Souls
Feel Good Inc.
El Maana
All Alone
Demon Days
An Honest Mistake
Give In
Out of Line
The Bravery
The Bravery
The Fallen
Do You Want To
Walk Away
I'm Your Villain
Franz Ferdinand
You Could Have It So Much Better
   Y el Franz Ferdinand de este ao fue ... Franz Ferdinand! Los consentidos del 2004 vuelven con segundo disco tan bueno como, si no mejor, que el primero para impedir que desacelere su recorrido en montaa rusa. Un poco mas serio y "maduro" que su debut, acertaron al lanzar "Do You Want To" como su primer sencillo, una cancin que se construye sobre la misma frmula y estructura que "Take Me Out" un ao antes, para dejar claro que no estaban listos para ser destronados como los reyes del dance-rock. El resto de las canciones pueden no ser tan festivas, algunas con capas ms oscuras ("The Fallen" y "Outsiders") y riffs y armazones Zeppelinescas ("I'm Your Villain"), pero son todas igual de groovies y pegajosas. Y aun cuando se lanzan al inevitable ruedo de las baladas de rock, parecen incapaces de acercarse a las cursileras que arruinan estas canciones con el tiempo ("Walk Away", "Eleanor Put Your Boots On", "Fade Together"). As que, siendo un disco para rocanrolear, para bailar, para cantar y hasta para susurrar, es mi favorito de 2005. Esperemos que su mojo no se les acabe pronto!
   And this year's Franz Ferdinand was ... Franz Ferdinand! 2004's darlings followed up with an as-impressive, if not better, sophomore effort just in time to prevent their roller coaster to slow down. A tad more mature and "serious" than their debut, they smartly chose to launch "Do You Want To" as the first single, a song that builds on a similar formula and structure they used for "Take Me Out" a year earlier, to leave it clear they were not ready to be out-throned as the kings of dance-rock. The rest of the songs may not be as festive, some of them carrying darker undertones ("The Fallen" and "Outsiders") and Zeppelinesque riffs and constructs ("I'm Your Villain"), but they are all still very groovy and infectuouos. And even when dipping their toes in the inevitable waters of rock ballads, they seem incapable of coming anywhere near the cheese that usually makes these songs stink over time ("Walk Away", "Eleanor Put Your Boots On", "Fade Together"). So, being a record to rock-out to, to dance to, to strum to, to sing to and even to whisper to, it's my favorite of 2005. Here's hoping their mojo doesn't run out any time soon!