Month In Review – July 2010

The coverage of the Uruguayan independent artist Soundays turned to be one of the best posts ever since the blog started. And I also finally wrote about RostbiF, one of the bands I actually collaborate with. Don’t forget to read the interview, too.

The one artist I added this month was Patti Smith, a key figure in the development of punk music. And like the genre or not, she has some albums that should never be overlooked. Read the general introduction and my review of her debut “Horses” and see if you agree or not with the points I make.

For its part, the startups that were reviewed during this month included SoundzAbound, Mixest and Lystener – the first is an innovative tool for educators, whereas the other two can be used to discover new indie bands and lyrics respectively.  And I also covered a startup named Venossi on the week of its launch – it takes the news feed we all are familiarized with thanks to Facebook, and applies it to the recommendation and discovery of new music. And Kilian Valkhof from Lystener and Barry Starlin from Soundzabound also sat for an interview.

Finally, I was as happy as punch the day I walked into the Uruguayan National Library to discover that some charitable soul had placed “Once” on prominent display. Like a proud father, I tool a zillion pictures. And like any proud father, I got unbearable and wrote a post with the best pictures for you to take a lot at them. I haven’t been flamed yet, so I guess I didn’t get that unbearable…

Soundays (Uruguayan Independent Artist)

Logo Soundays

Soundays Are Pepelo Curcio (vocals and guitar), Fede Sacarelo (guitar), Juanma Oholeguy (drums) and Diego Placeres (bass).

Soundays Are Pepelo Curcio (vocals and guitar), Fede Sacarelo (guitar), Juanma Oholeguy (drums) and Diego Placeres (bass).

There is a 1975 movie named “Dog Day Afternoon” which tells the story of a pair of bankrobbers who are led by Sonny Wortzik (played by Al Pacino). The movie was directed by Sidney Lumet, and it is still considered a seminal work in the history of anti-establishment films.

I remember that movie every single time I come across any Uruguayan brit pop band. It is the perfect summation of what these bands are attempting to do over here, and I specially think of the scene in which Pacino starts screaming “Attica! Attica!” (an allusion to the Attica Prison riots) in a desperate attempt to make those who have been forced into their company to join them and fight against the system. It just reminds me all too clearly of the fight that such Uruguayan bands aim to put up, and the reactions they cause for all the right and wrong reasons.

I was already disenchanted with the first wave of brit pop bands that emerged in Uruguay (led by Astroboy and Boomerang), if only because those bands always propounded that paying an unveiled homage was synonymous with being creative, and that singing in English challenged the status quo of Uruguayan music. It did not. The ways those bands imitated the music created elsewhere only spoke of a lack of imagination, and it polarized the music scene in a way that meant you couldn’t like La Vela Puerca or No Te Va Gustar if you listened to the Beatles or The Who. I just wonder how many of the musicians involved in Astroboy or Boomerang actually realized that the favorite album of Sebastián Teysera (La Vela Puerca’s singer) was no other than “Tommy” by The Who.

Soundays is a little different from these bands because their influences are certainly wider and that they are very good instrumentalists, but the band is not far removed from other Uruguayan ensembles that sing in English in the sense that you don’t have a thorough understanding of who they are when you listen to their songs. When you listen to their latest EP (“OLHA”; it can be downloaded for free on their site), you just get a mix of styles and influences that don’t add to a cohesive identity. You get to know the bands they appreciate, not the band that they think they are, or the performers that they want to become.

The British influence is all over “Colourful Face” and “Locked Love”, songs that are reminiscent of bands like Blur and Franz Ferdinand – and not necessarily in the best way. For its part, “To Hawaii” adds a West Coast vibe through harmonies that are a bit uneasy, as is the garage rock of “She Feels Like The Weather” (a cut that sounds like The Jam at their most primeval). But it must be said that both “Ghost In My Town” and “Don’t Matter If It Hurts Lights Will Guide Us To The Sun” are distinguished compositions that elicit full-on performances. The latter in particular provides their drummer with a ready chance to take off, and I have to say he is one of the most exciting Uruguayan drummers I have listened to in quite some time. Continue reading