“Extrañándote” by Nadia Costa (Live at the Sala Zitarrosa)

nadia costa sala zitarrosa

Nadia Costa was one of the two artists that performed at the Sala Zitarrosa when I presented my newest book, “Ayer La Lluvia” [Yesterday The Rain].

The book is made up of short stories and a novella that deal with different types of love. So, her music was a perfect match for such a title – all of her compositions are nothing but studies on the vagaries of love and affection.

She opened up the show that night and had her live debut as a solo artist on the prized Sala Zitarrosa, a venue reserved for the highest-ranking of performers only.

This is an excerpt from her live performance. The song is titled “Extrañándote” [Missing You], and it’s one of the compositions of hers that cut the deepest. For me, it works in parallel with “Lejos De Ti” [Far Away From You], a scorching ballad that is highly-likely to be her next single.

The clip was shot by Habemus, a new audiovisual team. The music itself was recorded live by producer/composer Nelson “Cable” Silvera, and our great friend Joaquín Vinci lent us a hand, and gave the sound a little more sheen overall.

“Spinning” and “Ghost Train” by The Creeping Ivies, a New Scottish Duo

creeping ivies scotland

A Scottish duo that has just issued their first album, The Creeping Ivies is singer/guitarist Becca Bomb and drummer Duncan Destruction who have ganged together to do just what their stage names suggest: “play wild rock & roll!”.

I suppose they are aware this decimates their chances of opening for Taylor Swift in the upcoming Red Tour of Europe.

But they obviously take that for granted. That’s life for you and me – learning to cope with voluminous loses…

Oh, don’t get me started.
I know what I’m talking about.
I’ve had my share of misfortunes, I have.
For example, I never got to be Prom Queen. But I didn’t put my head into an oven because of that.
I did try to hang myself, though. But I didn’t find a tree that was short enough. Someday I’ll tell you the whole story… Continue reading

Cínica Issues Its First Album, “Transparente”

Cinica transparente

Uruguayan metal band Cínica was the first national artist to be featured on MusicKO, back when they were recording their eponymous EP.

And it’s a great pleasure to break the news they’ve just released their first album (“Transparente”), and that they’ve got a promotional video to go with it.

The video is for the song “Panacea”, one of the tracks that were actually included on the band’s earlier EP. All these cuts are featured on “Transparente”, newly remixed and remastered, along with seven other original compositions.

Cínica’s current line-up comprises Vico Campbell on vocals, Marcelo Simonetti on guitar and backing vocals, Gonzalo Simonetti on bass and Manuel Kastanas on drums.

Marcelo Fontanini (from Snake), Mariana Acosta (the former singer for Dr. Rocka) and Fabián Furtado (from Rey Toro) all have guest spots on the album.

“Transparente” will soon be available for digital purchase, and when that happens I’ll make sure to update this post. In any case, note that if you drop by the band’s website (www.cinica.net) you’ll be able to buy a physical copy using PayPal.

Cinica transparente banda

Casablancas To Release Their Debut EP, “Please Don’t Be Like Me” (Teaser)

Casablancas are back from the atmosphere, with drops of Jupiter in their hairs.

Well, not really. They’ve just released a new video to promote their upcoming EP, that’s all. But (if you’re a bit like me) that’s the best possible news you could ever read. I love the guys, they were the recipients of the most badass post I wrote in the history of this blog (more badass than all the characters from The Expendables I & II put together). In an alternate reality, we’re all brothers, traveling through the English countryside on the back of a train, strumming mandolins and singing about love and life with sartorial eloquence.

Their debut EP is going to be named “Please Don’t Be Like Me”. Watch the clip above, wipe the tears of joy from your eyes and then like Casablancas’ page on Facebook. If you send them a message mentioning MusicKO when doing so, you’ll be entered into a competition for a motorcycle like the one you can see below. Talk about badass…

“Empujen”, The First Music Video By El Gallinero

El Gallinero is a Uruguayan funk band that's just released its first album after 10 years of touring and gigging

“Empujen” [Push] is the first music video by El Gallinero [The Henhouse], a Uruguayan funk band that has actually been around for ten years. It currently comprises Nacho Cejas, Andrés Arnicho, Gerardo Alonso, Pedro Alemany, Leo Méndez, Juan Olivera, Gerónimo De León and Claudio Martínez.

The clip has been shot at the Centro Cultural Florencio Sánchez (named after one of Uruguay’s most celebrated playwrights), and it features Rubén Rada, one of the seminal figures in the development of Uruguayan music in the 20th Century. Along with Eduardo Mateo, Rada was at the forefront of the “Candombe Beat” movement – a movement that married candombe and murga with rock & roll music.

It’s well-known that one day Paul McCartney wanted to know more about South American music, and he asked his assistants to gather as many albums and singles as they could. And out of all the singers and performers they presented him with, Rada was the one that marveled the former Beatle more.

And as if that wasn’t impressive enough, “Empujen” also features a cameo by… Max Headroom! Gotta love it…

Visit El Gallinero’s MySpace profile to know more about the band. In Uruguay, their debut album has been published by Sondor.


“Mr. Hide”, The First Single From Italian Band The R’s (Video)

“De Fauna Et Flora" is The R's debut album in America. The band is led by bass player (and singer) Pietro Paletti.

A new Italian band, The R’s have just released the first single from their American debut (“De Fauna Et Flora”). The song is called “Mr. Hide”, and it is a fine exploration of duality set to an undiluted pop background.  Suitably-enough, the clip is dominated by black and white. And more mirrors than Kelly Clarkson’s “Because Of You” video.

What do you think? Is this trio poised for some visibility? Or will the three of them just become Messrs. Hide themselves?

Whatever you opinion is, give “De Fauna Et Flora” a listen. I like many of the songs on the album better than “Mr. Hide” – try out “Colossus”, “Easy Way Out” and the set opener, “On Our Minds”.

The Blueberries (Uruguayan Independent Artist)


The Blueberries Are Ernesto Pasarisa, Virginia Álvarez, Fede Hell And Santiago Jaureguy

In one of the poems he wrote during the final phase of his literary career, W.B. Yeats defined the inspiration which drives artists as the appetite for the apple in the bough that is the furthest away from reach. I find no better allegory for the musical vision of the many Uruguayans who hold both British and American performers as ultimate role models. The difficulties they have to face the moment they decide to make music in English in what is a Spanish-speaking country are tantalizing, including a coma-inducing lack of airplay and a barrage of misconceptions regarding what they really want to do. Onlookers claim that they are selling out, that they have no respect for Uruguayan culture, that they are posh bastards… nobody minces words. They are called all kinds of things.

There is one thing they are seldom called, though.

They are not called people with the ability to cast their aspirations beyond the logical barriers of the context they live in, and with the endurance to follow such aspirations wherever they might take them, and whichever obstacles they might end up facing. Which I think we have to agree is the truest sign of strength – the person who falls and picks himself up constantly is by far stronger than the one who never falls down.

I have already covered many artists who have chosen to sign in English in this country. Having written in English my whole life (and having gone as far as to publish a book of lyric poetry in English in Uruguay, no less) I’m naturally interested in what they do. If you read the blog frequently, you know the reviews I write about such bands usually revolve around the same set of considerations – while I profess a larger or lesser sympathy for what they do, I also tend to have reservations about how they do it. Sometimes I criticize their over-reliance on specific bands (to the point they end up sounding like cheap imitators), and other times the lyrics make me just disgruntle owing to the grammar violations and disregard for British/American naturalness they evidence. But I mainly end up the coverage of such artists remarking how much I appreciate what they intend to do, which is nothing short of an Herculean task: making people understand that one will go as far as his ability to dream and stand for these dreams can go, that only then can monotony be overtaken. Notwithstanding which shortcomings I might (or not) perceive, I always conclude that these bands are transcendental simply because of the motivational role they do play for people who have the certainty there’s something more to life than what the eye can see.

The Blueberries is a band that certainly does. Led by Ernesto Pasarisa (who sings, plays guitar and composes the songs performed by the band), they became publicly-known when they were nominated for a Graffiti Award for “Best Alternative Pop Album” just a couple of months ago. But the story of the band actually went a long way back, more precisely to the year 2007 when it was founded by Ernesto and some good friends to keep the music and essence of artists like The Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, The Hives, The Libertines, The Strokes, The Moldy Peaches, Oasis and Blur well alive. Over the course of the years, they settled on their actual line-up which comprises Ernesto on lead vocals and guitar, Santiago “Saji” Jaureguy on guitar and backing vocals, Virginia Álvarez on bass and Fede Hell on drums. An indie band at heart, The Blueberries recorded a self-titled album that they chose to make available as a free download on their own site. It was produced by Max Capote, and mastered by Juan Branaa.

An Earlier Line-up Of The Blueberries Playing Live

As regards the way in which the band chose to market their music, this is what Saji recently told a Uruguayan portal:

“The dream of many an artist is to see his album on the racks of stores, and to be supported by a record company which has contacts along with logistic and marketing resources. That sounds quite tempting, but the truth is there are very few people willing to make an investment on emerging artists. Right now, everything revolves around placing an album in a rack and little else. If the album is successful, you will become best friends with the owner of the record company, and he will take your calls. If not (and that is something lots of bands we know can attest to) you will be moved down the pecking order, and nobody will lift a finger for you. And the thing is, few are willing to take a risk – the cost of recording an album is on the artist/band, and so is the cost of pressing it. Yet, the label is the one taking up to 80 % of what is earned just by placing it on a store.”

Thus, the band chose to make their debut album freely available to whomever wished to get it. And Ernesto wrote about 200 personalized emails introducing the band to radio stations, bloggers and the press. That’s how I became acquainted with their music.  Continue reading

Espiral (Miguel Campal) – Uruguayan Independent Artist

Miguel Campal Playing Live.

Miguel Campal Playing Live.

Do you remember the post I published last month in which I announced that both Grubb and Miguel Campal had released their respective debut albums? Admit it, you do – it was the closest you came to an epiphany when reading a piece of music-related news ever since you learnt Paul was not dead.

Well, maybe not. But the bit in which I insulted Five For Fighting was fun.

Anyway, that eventful day I promised Miguel I would cover his album on MusicKO. And since I forgot to cross my fingers, now I find myself floating over a strange land, with a sequined showbiz moon keeping me company as I do the hard drive equivalent of spinning his record.

Leaving aside allusions to other artists, arbitrary jokes that only three people would get and quotations from “Chalkhills & Children” (which even less people would understand, notwithstanding I supplied the name of the song and linked to the album it was on), I must say that forgetting to cross my fingers when talking to Miguel was actually a very good thing.

I became acquainted with a really, really fine album in the shape of “Espiral” [Spiral] – an album which is a worthy addition to the imaginary of works detailing how resolution is circumstanced by emotional frailness (try Lucas Meyer’s “Un Accidente Feliz”, and Laura Chinelli’s “Historias de Invierno” for good related listens). An album where the singer manages to turn dejection around, and make it become the kind of beauty that only experience can name between smiles. An album that is “dark, yet glowingly alive”, to rip off some bloke that wrote the preface to a book by Joseph Conrad I once bought in a moment of madness.

Miguel released “Espiral” two months ago, in an online-only edition. And since Miguel adheres to Bob Dylan’s dictum for living (IE, “money don’t talk, it swears”) he decided to make it a free download.

Espiral Miguel Campal
“Espiral” is a pop/rock album in the most vivid sense of the word. Musically, it connotes the work of tunesmiths like Paul McCartney and Noel Gallagher, with a clear debt being paid to the production techniques used in works by either. And the vocal melodies in particular remind me a lot of Blur at its finest.

The lyrics themselves are good in relation to the music, IE neither distracts from each other, and their concomitance is dexterous (the processed ballad “Michi” and the spacious “Deseos” [Wishes] are very organic examples). Yet, they are functional in terms of form. Continue reading

Free Uruguayan Music For Download: “Amigos Imaginarios” By Picnic

"Amigos Imaginarios" By Picnic

"Amigos Imaginarios" By Picnic

Picnic is a Uruguayan punk band whose debut EP has just become available for download. It is named “Amigos Imaginarios”, it has four punchy cuts (mainly dealing with vices, personality and emotions too torrid to mention) and you can get it for free here.

It also has a cover that would make Frank Zappa, The Mothers of Invention and the whole cast from “200 Motels” proud. I have discovered that if you stare at it for a couple of minutes and then look at the wall, you’re seeing a hybrid of Guernica, the movie poster for “The Lovely Bones” and the face of Doc Brown. Well, I did at least. I suppose that’s what happens when you have been fixedly watching nothing but Placebo videos the whole week.

Boy, “The Bitter End” is badass. And what about “This Picture”? Atomic. If Picnic ever shoots one like these, then I’m creating a category on the blog solely for them.

Picnic Playing Live. Left To Right: Mato, So and Germán.

Picnic Playing Live. Left To Right: Mato, So and Germán.

Anyway, “Amigos Imaginarios” is a greatly-enjoyable EP. Sassy references to The Ramones abound, with songs like “Él Es Punk” [He Is A Punk] paying a direct homage to compositions such as “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” and “Judy Is A Punk”. The ensemble playing is good, and the way the voice of singer Sofía is juxtaposed with that of her cohorts (guitarist Mato and drummer Germán) is really ear-catching (specially on the title track). Continue reading

Historias De Invierno (Laura Chinelli) – Uruguayan Independent Artist

The basic band who recorded “Historias De Invierno” is Laura singing and playing guitar and keyboards, Fran playing bass, drums and sequencers, Nicolás Demczylo handling additional guitars and sequencers, and Álvaro Barneche on cello. Laura wrote  all the songs.

“Historias De Invierno” is Laura Chinelli's debut album. The band that recorded it included Fran Nasser, Nicolás Demczylo and Álvaro Barneche.

Is there life before love? Is there a time that exists outside of the prolongation of single moments that come to define us sentimentally? Or must we all live slave to that prolongation of moments, as if caught in an emotional ebb and flow which means all that happens will be validated by what had once come to be, ever and ever again?

Laura Chinelli’s debut album is nestled between all these questions, in a point where eyes are wide open, but often can only stare straight into that night which is not darkness but the blinding light of conscience. The majority of the songs on the album (which has been suitably named “Historias De Invierno” [Winter Tales]) have the singer retracing her steps through bridges that are not even there any longer, or burning with the kind of aching fire that is forever starting and stopping.

Laura Chinelli

Laura Chinelli

In more places than one, “Historias De Invierno” feels like a musical variation on Villiers de L’Isle-Adams’ “Axel” – a story where the memory of love can modify all the present layers of perception. On songs like “Si Me Pierdo” [If I Get Lost], characters can’t see each other any longer. But their reflections still live in their eyes, and will keep on being there in spite of that blinding light which tries to overcome their staying force.

Other songs such as “Debajo De La Lluvia” [In The Rain] are more direct and rueful, very similar in tone and message to the defeatism of a song like Richard Thompson’s “She Sang Angels To Rest”. Compare Laura’s “puedo no volver a ser, puedo no ver, puedo no creer” [I might never be again, never see, never believe] and “Y si hoy soy lo que soy, y si no tengo a donde ir, y si hoy pierdo la razón” [And what if today I’m what I’m not, what if I have nowhere to go, what if I lose my mind] to Richard’s “how do you fall when you have already fell for the best”.

Yet, there are also moments of sentimental victory. The deepest comes as the album is ending with the song “Llévame“ [Carry Me]:

Llévame en tu mente
Búscame en los paisajes que te gustan
Búscame entre la gente
Búscame también en la oscuridad

[Carry me in your mind
Look for me in that scenery you love
Look for me in the crowd
And also, look for me in the darkness] Continue reading