viernes, junio 25, 2010

Galactic: celebrating to pay a tribute

Among the several musical tributes paid to New Orleans after the devastating tragedy of Katrina, Galactic's Ya-ka may (2010) has got to be the most uplifting one. Not only because their music is intrinsically festive, but also because they have crafted a music translation of the city's soul: celebration. Galactic has been known as one of the most remarkable jam bands of the US and their acid jazz is meant for the dance floors, but in their latest record their willing to entertain not only is more evident, it has also become sort of a manifesto. With the help of such legendary acts like Allen Toussaint and Irma Thomas, and the emerging talents of Trombone Shorty and the Rebirth Brass Band, Galactic has edited a register of a special homage to the legacy of NOLA. Ya-ka-may is more than just a record filled with special guests and catchy tunes, it's a contemporary music landmark.

This is a video of the making of Ya ka may

viernes, junio 18, 2010

The National: songs for when it rains inside of you

It took me a while to finally like Brooklyn's indie quintet The National. Their music is so painfully introspective and their lyrics are so confrontational that listening to High Violet (2010) turned out to be quite an impact for me. I'm not saying it was an uncomfortable experience, nothing further from the truth. And this is what their music has managed to accomplish so well. I have come to define their proposal as a "hurtful pleasure". Matt Berninger's obscure voice along with a somewhat unpolished sound in the production, add even more appeal to an album you got to listen if you want to get in touch with your inner feelings and confront your fears and doubts. Not only you will end up by getting to know yourself more clearly and hopefully overcoming your issues, but you're also going to end up by enjoying this peculiar experience.

This is a live performance of
Terrible Love

martes, junio 15, 2010


Aquí está la canción
que acaricia mi sueño
cuando sueño que estoy junto a ti


Tú, que guardas besos en los bolsillos.

Tú, que sacas sonrisas de tu cartera.

Tú, que despides girasoles cuando te golpea la brisa de otoño.

Tú, que hueles a vainilla francesa.

Tú, que cantas con tus ojos cuando estás triste.

Tú, que suenas a Bowie en portugués.

Tú, que me pintas con tus manos cuando agarras las mías.

Tú, que bailas cuando te abrazo y me das vueltas sin moverme.

Tú, que eres poesía en verso libre y eres arte abstracto.

Tú, que no te entiendo pero me gustas.

Tú, que eres música en tonalidad mayor.

Tú, que eres sueño y eres color.

Tú, que eres luz, y eres sueño, y eres música, y eres color.

Tú, que eres luz, y eres sueño, y eres música, y eres amor.


sábado, junio 12, 2010

She&Him: spring has never sounded lovelier

This might be the most subjective review I'll ever write. I love so much Zooey Deschanel already to try to sound objective. But that doesn't mean I won't write about -what I consider it's- good music -the premise of this blog. When I listened to She&Him's first album, Volume One (2007), I didn't know that Deschanel was the one that wrote almost all of the songs -the rest were covers. Later I discovered that she is an accomplished musician and songwriter and that the way that She&Him works, is that she first writes the songs and then M. Ward takes over the production. This marriage sounds perfect within this new record. The songs are better written and the production is definitely more mature. Volume 2 (2010) is a great album. It is so good, that at some point you forget that is sang by a "beautiful movie actress" and then you realize you're listening to beautiful songs sang by a beautiful voice. Zooey Deschanel sounds alluring, enchanting, lovely. Lots of blogs and magazines have described Volume 2 as "the perfect spring album". I couldn't agree more.

This is the video for In the sun

viernes, junio 11, 2010

Red: a tribute to the seriousness of art

--> Theater is one of the arts that I've lately managed to appreciate the most. Over the last couple of years that I lived in Caracas, I was a loyal follower of the plays performed by Grupo Actoral 80 -a theater company founded by Juan Carlos Gené and currently ran by the magnificent actor/director Hector Manrique. Watching great plays like El día que me quieras, La cena de los idiotas, Art and Los hombros de América became all memorable happenings.
Here in New York, the shows featured in Broadway are the second reason for which tourists come to visit the Big Apple. And even though Broadway's offer is notoriously topped by musicals, great plays are also featured in Manhattan's iconic Theater District.

Over the past few years I've felt deeply fascinated by the lives of creative people. So when I found out that there was a play in Broadway about the life of legendary painter Mark Rothko, I knew I had to go see it.

After reading several great reviews published in the New York media, and been encouraged to watch the play by a teacher and my roommate -both theater lovers-, I finally made up my mind and decided to buy a ticket.

The play goes by the name of Red, and it describes the two years Rothko invested in creating, along with the help of his assistant, a series of paintings that would be displayed at a new restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel of New York City.

Over the 90 minutes of the play, a strong mentor-disciple bond will develop between the only two characters of the play -outstandingly interpreted by the award-winning actor Alfred Molina (Frida, An education) and the Broadway debutant Eddie Redmayne.

However, Red is first and foremost a master class of art. Each and every one of the several lessons Rothko offers to his assistant is an absolute intellectual treat. Additionally, many of the reactions of the young apprentice towards the egotistic attacks of his pupil are simply astonishing.

According to John Logan (writer) and Michael Grandage (director), Red "constitutes an intellectual and emotional debate, and it also represents an exploration inside Rothko's creativity" -one of the most attractive and interesting features of the play.

The stage recreates a small part of the studio where Rothko and his helper worked on the paintings -the other characters of the play, silent yet of an intimidating presence. The opportunity to have a glimpse of the genius, the ego and even some doubts of such an artist as Rothko is the best gift a play like this brings to the public.

Another remarkable achievement of the play, from the authors' point of view, is "its construction of the portrait of the titanic figure of the 'mentor', that person that challenges you and defies you constantly to give your best effort to become a better artist, to think more profoundly". Nonetheless, not only Ken (Eddie Redmayne's character) is the receptacle of all those lessons, but it's also the audience who end up by receiving all these wonderful thoughts on art.

According to Alfred Molina, "Mark Rothko embodies the greatest quality of any artist, that consists in being more preoccupied in being listened or understood, than in being liked, admired or adored. The rage that you can sense in Rothko over certain passages of the play is filled by passion, and not by anger. That's what motivates him -besides the fact that he was obsessed with tragedy. For Rothko, there had to be tragedy in every brush. And that's what painting meant to him."

One of the things that shocked me the most about the profile of this fascinating artist, was the seriousness with which Rothko took his job. Because that's what painting meant literally to him -an occupation. Mark Rothko used to come every day to his studio at nine o'clock in the morning and worked until five in the afternoon, wearing a suit and a tie and carrying a suitcase. "Just like a banker", he says in one scene of the play.

During one of the most powerful passages of Red, Rothko inquires his assistant to give him an opinion on one of the paintings he has just finished:

- What do you see? Tell me, what is it that you see? Look carefully. This paintings need compassion, that's what they were created for. Look at the paintings, with attention, with respect, with sensibility. Look at them, but like a human being. Tell me then, what is it that you see? What's your opinion?

- I like it -Ken answers, shortly.

- Of course you like it! Everyone likes everything nowadays! But tell me, where is the discernment? Where is the difference between what you like and what you respect? Where is the significance?

When you get out of the theater, a warning seems to start ringing inside your head. The next time you stand before a painting, you better look at it with all the attention and seriousness its art certainly deserves.

* Update: The play has received 7 Tony Award nominations including Best Play, Best Actor (Alfred Molina), Best Featured Actor (Eddie Redmayne) and Best Director (Michael Grandage)

domingo, junio 06, 2010

The Dead Weather: this is blues, as hot as hell

Jack White is arguably one of the most talented, creative and prolific musicians nowadays. Not only he's the leader of The White Stripes, but he's also formed other interesting and successful acts -The Raconteurs and, most recently, The Dead Weather. Within less than a year after releasing Horehound (2009), The Dead Weather released their sophomore record called Sea of cowards (2010). While in their opera prima they delivered some sort of a gothic blues through remarkable tunes, in their latest record they have managed to sound more cohesive as a band and more coherent as music makers -all of the tracks last, in average, three minutes and they all tend to fall into a conceptual sound. You can tell, by listening to these songs, that each musician involved is more secure of their role inside the band and of what they can bring to the table. Alison Mosshart sings more loosely, Dean Fertita's guitar and synth are definitely more outrageous, Jack Lawrence's bass sounds exquisitely timid and Jack White's drums couldn't be more ferocious. On their sophomore record, The Dead Weather sounds darker, heavier. On Sea of cowards, they sound better.

This is a live performance of Die by the drop

jueves, junio 03, 2010

Carta abierta para alguien que no la va a leer

Para que algún día me leyeras.

Ésa fue una de las tres razones por las cuales abrí este blog. Postear mis escritos y recomendar discos eran las otras dos.

Y esto nunca se lo había dicho a nadie. Hasta ahora.

No sé si lo logré. Una vez llegaste a decirme que te habían sorprendido los escritos que habías leído en mi blog, pero nunca estuve convencido de que en efecto lo hubieses hecho. Y no me refiero a la sorpresa que te pudo haber ocasionado leerlos, sino al simple hecho de haberlos leído.

No sonaste sincera cuando lo dijiste. De la misma forma en que dijiste muchas otras cosas que me llegué a creer, provocando la inútil y dolorosa consecuencia de enamorarme (aún más) de ti.

Estoy seguro de que tampoco leerás esto. Lo que pasa es que esta carta, más que para que tú la leyeras, fue escrita para que todo esto saliera de mí. Finalmente.

Esta carta la he escrito para mí.

Y para poder hacer esto, ha pasado mucho. Mucho tiempo y muchas otras cosas que ya no valen la pena comentar. Y ha tenido que pasar mucho más de lo que en un principio llegué a calcular (cosa por la que aún sigo reprochándome).

Sin embargo, ese "mucho" ha logrado sanar lo que una vez llegué a sentir por ti. (El verbo "sanar" no es exageración. En algún momento lo que llegué a sentir por ti se me hizo dañino.)

Muchas veces llegué a creerme que ya había superado todo esto, pero siempre volvía una canción/foto/película para darme un coñazo en la cara y hacerme entender que todo no era más que una ilusión.

Lo que hoy siento hacia ti es definitivo.

No es amor, pero tampoco es ese odio que llegué a tener en algún momento. Y no sé tampoco si sea indiferencia -porque eso, considerando la situación, bien pudiera verse como algo positivo.

Lo que siento hoy es calma. Silencio en mi cabeza. Estabilidad en mi pulso.

He dejado de quererte. He dejado de tenerte arrechera. He dejado.

No creas tampoco que fue como una revelación, que fue algo que sentí de repente y entonces miré al cielo y comencé a bailar como un idiota.

Esto es un después.

Como dije al principio de esta entrada, esta carta ha sido para mí, pero inevitablemente te incluye. ¿Qué le vamos a hacer?

El hecho de saber que no leerás esta carta incluso me ha impulsado más para escribirla. No sólo porque estoy seguro de que otras personas sí la leerán, sino porque ellas son las que más me importan.

Si alguna de mis primeras motivaciones para crear este blog te incluía, una de las más grandes recompensas que he obtenido, y sin haberla siquiera imaginado, es haber conocido a personas que se han ganado el adjetivo de "especiales" en el vocabulario de mi vida. Personas a las que se saluda con la calidez de los abrazos prolongados.

No creas que es que estoy usando palabras bonitas en un intento por sonar poético. Eso ya lo hice con muchos escritos que puse en este mismo sitio, inspirado por lo que sentía por ti, y con la afónica esperanza de que leyeras tan sólo uno de ellos.

En este momento, lo único que me inspira es la sinceridad.

La verdad, que alguna vez llegó a herirme tanto, es lo que ahora me da poder.

Nunca he negado, ni negaré, que mucho me hubiese gustado que tú me hubieses amado de vuelta, ¿pero sabes qué? It is what it is.

Con el tiempo he llegado a comprobar que en la vida no existe algo así como un solo amor. "El amor de mi vida", a fin de cuentas, es un amor que se desplaza, que aparece y desaparece, que no sabe de aduanas.

Y si te digo esto, es porque alguna vez llegué a pensar que lo eras. Que eras el amor de mi vida. Pero en eso, desafortunadamente, estuvo depositada la intencionalidad de mi deseo.

La vida me tiene amor.

Y sé que ella está por ahí, rondando.

Esperando por mí.

Y para conocerla, y para amarla, y para que ella me ame de vuelta, es sólo cuestión de tiempo.

Como esto que acaba de pasar contigo, es sólo cuestión de tiempo.