Guzmán Méndez presentó “(para) Continuar” en Inmigrantes

El jueves pasado en Inmigrantes, el músico uruguayo Guzmán Méndez presentó su nuevo disco solista: “(para) CONTINUAR”. Tuvimos el agrado de conversar con quien fuera el líder y voz de la banda uruguaya Varsovia sobre ésta nueva obra, y todo lo relativo a su lanzamiento.

Como músico, con Varsovia viste desde dentro la consolidación de la industria uruguaya en los años 2000. Mucho tiempo después (y ya disuelta la banda), editaste una producción por completo independiente titulada “Cabeza” (2013).
Y una vez editado “Cabeza”, te tomaste dos años para presentarlo oficialmente (en el Centro Cultural Terminal Goes, a mediados de 2015).

¿A qué se debió esta dinámica tan comedida en el inicio de tu etapa solista, y qué cambió ahora que editás tu segundo disco, el cual estás presentando casi sin demoras?

En aquel entonces, luego de editar “Cabeza” no tenía intenciones de tocar y presentarme en vivo. No tenía banda, era un desafío armar una banda nueva por lo tanto me tomé con mucha calma el hecho de volver a presentarme en vivo. Hoy con los músicos amigos que estoy tocando ya venimos trabajando juntos hace 5 años, y la base rítmica que me acompaña fue de hecho parte del segundo disco de Varsovia. Son excelentes músicos, me siento muy agradecido y afortunado de contar con ellos. Continue reading

Interview: Fernando Santullo

(Pueden leer este artículo en español aquí)

After leaving an everlasting mark with El Peyote Asesino and in parallel with his collaborations with Bajofondo, Fernando Santullo delves on his solo career with “El Mar Sin Miedo” [The Fearless Sea]. The album will be officially presented in Uruguay in two months’ time, and the musician is also part of the line-up that will represent the country in this year’s SXSW Festival.

This is the interview that Santullo was kind enough to give me, prior to such activities.

Fernando Santullo (Ph: Federico Meneses)

Fernando Santullo (Ph: Federico Meneses)


Any musician who’s been part of a renowned band faces a serious risk when going solo: that of his central appeal becoming peripheral to what he’s doing, and that his audience will be but a group of people listening by inertia.

Your first studio album made the link you had with your current band explicit from its name (“Bajofondo Presenta Santullo”). Then, there was a live show that carried a very interesting temporal reference in its name: “Canciones Del Futuro Reciente” [Songs From The Recent Future]. And now, there comes this new album, and –for the first time– the title conveys something I felt there was missing before: freedom. And freedom as in the act of becoming detached from your own past, the one thing that can truly weigh a person down.

Is such an interpretation accurate?

Well, I think I was free when I made every single album I’ve ever released. Of course, when you’re part of a band you also have to deal with your mates. There’s a lot to settle and agree upon. But you also go through that when you’re a solo artist. There’s deals to be made with your producer, with your record company and so on. What must be understood is that just because you’re making a deal, that doesn’t mean you’re compromising anything. And making a deal is NOT like holding a battle with someone. That’s the way many musicians tend to see it, and (based on my personal experiences) such a viewpoint is not very realistic. It’s always up to you how much you want to concede, and if you don’t want to, then you can self-publish your album and handle its distribution yourself. That’s not the way I work. Maybe I have started to work more on my own when it comes to composing songs, but there comes a point when I always turn to other people for a different insight. Everything is richer when it becomes collective. Continue reading

A Video Of Andrew Bird Playing Live

Born In Chicago, Andrew Bird Is An Multi Instrumentalist Who Is Better-Known For His Skills When Playing The Violin

Born In Chicago, Andrew Bird Is An Multi Instrumentalist Who Is Better-Known For His Skills When Playing The Violin

For those of you who are not acquainted with him, this is a video of multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird doing what he does best. He doesn’t run out of steam for the entire duration of this composition (20 solid minutes).

Just for the record, I discovered Andrew when listening to My Morning Jacket’s “Z”. He handled strings and woodwinds there, and gave everything a true air of magnificence.

Having once founded and captained a band named The Bowl Of Fire, Andrew is currently a solo artist.

Thunderfingers: The Best Of John Entwistle

"Thunderfingers: The Best Of John Entwistle" Gathers Together The Salient Tracks From John's First Five Solo Albums. Special Emphasis Is Placed On "Smash Your Head Against The Wall" (1971) and "Whiste Rhymes" (1972).

"Thunderfingers: The Best Of John Entwistle" Gathers Together The Standout Tracks From John's First Five Solo Albums. Special Emphasis Is Placed On "Smash Your Head Against The Wall" (1971) and "Whiste Rhymes" (1972).

Not many would guess it, but the first member of The Who to issue a solo album wasn’t Pete Townshend. It wasn’t even Roger Daltrey. It was no other than John Entwistle, the stolid Ox, the man who anchored the sound of the band onstage to a degree that surpassed anything ever did in the history or music before (or since, for that matter).

The fact that Entwistle was the first band member to put a solo record out is not that surprising if you begin digging into the story of the band. He was “discovered” as a songwriter at the time of the “A Quick One” sessions, when manager Kit Lambert signed everybody to Essex music to get a meaty advance. The terms of the contract necessitated every member of the band write two songs for the forthcoming album, and John came up with the enduring “Boris The Spider” and the hysterical “Whisky Man”. From that point onwards, he would continue honing his skills and providing one or two tracks for each subsequent Who album.

Yet, his songs could never dominate a Who record. His approach differed drastically from Townshend’s. Pete was more of a traditionalist, while John was an absurdist. Had he ever taken the major writing credit for a Who album, the shift in style would have been too abrupt. Only die-hards would have gotten it.

That is why his songs were mostly relegated to B-sides. And album filler. Only one Entwistle song was ever released as a Who A-side, and that was because the album was masterminded by John. The song “Postcard” was the lead single off “Odds & Sods”, The Who’s “official bootleg”. John was asked to compile it while the other members of the band were occupied by film and stage projects.

So, it could be said that his frustration at having his own material relegated time after time gave birth to his solo career. But Keith Moon once remarked something that had more than an inkling of truth: John did not want The Who to record many of his songs. He was afraid they would “ruin” them to some extent. Continue reading

Wildflowers (Tom Petty) – Album Review

Tom Petty's Second Solo Album, "Wildflowers" (1994) Was Produced By Rick Rubin, With Michael Kamen Adding Many Orchestrations.

Tom Petty's Second Solo Album, "Wildflowers" (1994) Was Produced By Rick Rubin, With Michael Kamen Adding Many Orchestrations.

Tom Petty’s second solo album is clearly a more modest effort than his previous solo offering (“Full Moon Fever“, issued in 1989). This time around there are no superstars backing Mr. Integrity (fellow Traveling Wilburys Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and George Harrison had contributed substantially to the making of “Full Moon Fever”), and “Wildflowers” was to end up sandwiched between two of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers better releases: “Into The Great Wide Open” (1991) and the tragedy-inspired “Echo” (1999). If anything, “Wildflowers” seems to me a canvass upon which “Echo” was to be painted. In some cases, a couple of brushes have already been either insinuated or put into place in “Wildflowers” – the songs “Crawling Back To You” and “Don’t Fade On Me” constitute a true link in the chain of despondency and abatement that would come to define the most endemic material to “Echo” (“Rhino Skin”, “One More Day, One More Night”).

By my reckoning, there are only a handful of tracks here that are real keepers. These include “Time To Move On” and “A Better Place”, both reasonably upbeat (or at the very least positive) compositions, and the relatively loud “Honey Bee”, a number in which Tom and Mike Campbell have one of their best guitar duels on record with the instrument of each having a separate speaker all to itself.

The three-chord rocker “You Wreck Me” was a successful single, and so was the mellow, autobiographical  “It’s Good To Be King” . I think they are good, but not that good.  I wouldn’t call “You Wreck Me” rote, but I would call it perfunctory.  And when I listen to “It’s Good To Be King” I get the feeling Petty is holding something back – something he would unleash to good effect on “Echo”, and to disastrous consequences on “The Last DJ”.  In the end, Michael Kamen’s orchestral arrangement is what makes this rumination on fame remotely memorable.

The folksy contingent of the album is best-represented by the title track, which is a lovely air and one of Petty’s most realized incursions in the genre. Conversely, cuts like “To Find A Friend” are easy to listen to, but also easy to be forgotten. Continue reading

Full Moon Fever (Tom Petty) – Album Review

"Full Moon Fever" Was Tom Petty's Debut. It Came Out In 1989, And It Yielded Three it Singles.

"Full Moon Fever" Was Tom Petty's Solo Debut. It Came Out In 1989, And It Yielded Three Hit Singles.

An immensely accomplished record, “Full Moon Fever” was Tom Petty’s first solo album. It was released in 1989, right after The Traveling Wilburys’ beloved debut. Jeff Lynne was to helm Petty’s record, and both Harrison and Orbison would lend their talents too. That was the reason many pronounced “Full Moon Fever” the “true” continuation to “The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1”, and they also took the fact the next recording issued by the Wilburys was called Volume 3 at face value.

Well, that is always something which could (and will) be disputed and counter-disputed till the rivers all run dry. But everybody will always agree on something: Petty came up with a wondrous record from start to finish.

Five tracks were released as singles, and three of them have become staples of classic rock stations: “Free Fallin’”, “I Won’t Back Down” and “Runnin’ Down A Dream”. “Free Fallin’” is a dexterous study on growing up, with somehow childish verses at the beginning that eventually give way to a sudden, mature conclusion in a way that is beautifully startling.

On the other hand, “I Won’t back Down” is as cocky as its tile suggests, and it is the one cut to which George Harrison added backing vocals. The song was to be covered by Johnny Cash for his third American album, “Solitary Man”.

Finally, “Runnin’ Down A Dream” rocks and swings in equal measures, showcasing Petty’s influences in a distinct way. “Runnin’ Down A Dream” references Del Shannon in the first verse, and the song that is mentioned (“Runaway”) was actually covered by The Traveling Wilburys. It is now found on every remastered edition of the “The Traveling Wilburys – Vol. 3”. “Runnin’ Down A Dream” was written by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne along with Mike Campbell. Campbell also got together with Petty to compose “Love Is A Long Road”, a song that fully recalls the sound of Petty’s combo. Yet, the production by Lynne gives it a sheen of its own, and the song was rightfully issued as a single. Continue reading

Auto (Mateo Moreno) – Uruguayan Music

"Auto" Is The First Solo Album Issued By Former NTVG Member Mateo Moreno

"Auto" Is The First Solo Album Issued By Former NTVG Member Mateo Moreno

The debut of Mateo Moreno (the former bass player for No Te Va Gustar, and one of its founding members) hit the shelves in Uruguay in 2009. Mateo is actually a multi-instrumentalist, and he handled the majority of guitars (including charangos) and also some percussion on his first solo offering. He also arranged all woodwinds and strings.

I became interested enough to buy this album upon listening to its first single (the outstanding “Simple”) on the radio. The song is a true capsule of sensibility and sensitivity in which different facets of affection are studied as if they were in the same plane, concluding in each case that love is a simple manifestation in itself. You can try to overcomplicate it, and you can also try to make it stand even simpler than it is. It will be all to no avail.

“Simple” is the best cut of the whole disc, and I also have a lot of time for the unbridled folk of “Souvenir” and the moody “Princesa Oscura” [Dark Princess], a song that mixes electronic passages with autochthonous sections in a surprisingly spontaneous way. And those who long for Mateo’s own evolution of the sound of No Te Va Gustar can always check out “Anestesiandote” [Anesthetizing Yourself], the best exponent of rock & roll the disc has to offer. Continue reading

The Iron Man (Pete Townshend) – Album Review (Part 2)

Don’t forget to read the introduction to this review.

Pete wrote 20 songs for this musical, 11 of which are included on this album. Some were released as B-sides, too. The singles from the CD were going to be “A Friend Is A Friend” (a song that does not sound like a Townshend composition at all – maybe that was the reason why it was a single) and the excellent set opener, “I Won’t Run Anymore”. Sung by Pete (as Hogarth) and Deborah Conway, the song details the protagonist’s initial encounter with the lumbering giant, and his determination to be as courageous as an adult would be and face the situation instead of fleeing.

The song is immediately followed by “Over The Top”, my personal favorite of the two songs in which John Lee Hooker takes the lead. The other is “I Eat Heavy Metal”, and I am certain most of you will actually like it best than “Over The Top” as it treads bluesier territory, hence Hooker is more at home. In any case, John Lee Hooker as the Iron Man was the best casting decision of the whole disc.

For its part, Simon Townshend tackles “Man Machines”, a brief passage that deals with the same theory that movies like “Terminator” have popularized – we come up with machines to fight our wars for us, and in the end they will nab us.

The song leads into the first Who tune, “Dig”. Roger fills in as Hogarth’s father (no doubt he got an added thrill for lecturing Pete on the song), and the song gave everybody renewed faith on the Who. But the band was not going to record any new tracks after a lackluster cover of Elton John’s “Saturday’s Night Alright For Fighting”. The next recordings would already take place after Entwistle had passed away. Continue reading

The Iron Man (Pete Townshend) – Album Review (Part 1)

"The Iron Man" (1989) Was A Musical That Ended Reuniting Pete Townshend With The Who

"The Iron Man" (1989) Was A Musical That Ended Reuniting Pete Townshend With The Who

When Tommy was being recorded, there was a big issue: whether or not to use outside musicians to fill in all the different roles. The Who finally decided not to, and it was the right choice – the whole opera would have escalated otherwise, and replicating it onstage would have been impossible without dazzling logistics. The legendary performances that we can listen to today in albums like Live At The Isle of Wight and the Woodstock soundtrack would never have been. And the sanitized performances that we have as part of boxed sets like Join Together just put a fine point on it all.

However, knowing that Tommy was once considered as a multitudinous project is vital, as it shows that big conceptual schemes in terms of participants had been lodged on Pete’s brain for a long time. He finally had a chance to let that come to fruition in 1989 with the musical “The Iron Man”.

The CD marked the first time Pete had adapted somebody else’s work, as the opera was based on the child’s tale by poet laureate Ted Hughes. Townshend invited musicians from all over the specter to lend their talents, and these ranged from blues legend John Lee Hooker and jazz stalwart Nina Simone to vocalists like Chyna and Australian rocker Deborah Conway. Likewise, he drafted his younger brother Simon and old-time associate Billy Nicholls to sing backup. But most importantly (and tellingly in the long run) was that the Who guested on two tracks, the excellent “Dig” and the ineffective cover of “Fire” by the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (a song Pete had produced in the 60s and taken all the way to number one).

The reunion with the Who was most tellingly because Pete (who had resisted touring with his former compadres for so long) was to finally abdicate and agree to a massive tour of arenas backed by a large ensemble band including percussionists, vocalists and someone else playing electric guitar – Pete was to play mostly acoustic on the “quiet” side of the stage, shielded from the wall of sound. These performances were to result on the live “Join Together” boxed set, a much-reviled collection of live songs. In a certain sense, Pete and the guys had the right to try something different. They had never toured with such a band before, so they had a good excuse. Money also factored heavily at that time, but I already discussed that here. Continue reading

All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes (Pete Townshend) – Album Review (Part 2)

This is the second part of the review. Learn about the context the album is circumscribed in and the first four tracks here.

“Exquisitely Bored” is the fifth song on the album. It is one of the two direct analyses on fame and stardom, the other being (obviously enough) “Stardom In Acton”. “Exquisitely Bored” is Pete’s lyrical take on a theme assayed by The Eagles not long before: life in the “Hotel California”. The message is basically the same, although in “Hotel California” it is implied that no-one can get out, whereas Pete’s song seems to be saying that the ennui is a true choice, that it is comforting, and that “there are good times walking in Laguna…” before finishing the excellent chorus with the line “but it rains in my heart”. One is tempted to ask the question first posed by Creedence Clearwater Revival there and then, namely “Who will stop the rain?”.

The fact is that things don’t look too sunny either when we talk about the London scene. As described by the song “Stardom In Acton”, local success seems every bit as vitiated, and also more transfiguring in the long run. The one song that describes all the vices you can imagine is this one, not “Exquisitely Bored” – “want my stash, want my cash, want omnipotence”, “the long cigarette full of hash”, “don’t admire anonymity”… It seems that making it in your hometown is the most dizzying event that could ever occur. It probably has to do with the fact you can then look down your nose at those who put down your aspirations all your life, and snort “I made it!” in their very faces. Continue reading