By Jesus Lillo.

Neither boleros nor psychedelics: what the founder of Grupo Fantasma and the Black Pumas is doing is recovering the light song that, with more Italian and French influence than Latin American itself, was developed on a continent whose musical potential now explodes with noise, technology and perreo . From courtship and courtship to intercourse; from the pain caused by lack of love to the chafing that an almost animal mating leaves on the genitals. The difficulty of reviving the bolero lies in the height, above all lyrical, reached by a genre whose superb classical repertoire blocks any attempt to add new compositions to it. It is still possible to discover half-buried pieces, as the Breeders did with ‘Regálame esta noche’, by Roberto Cantoral, but writing boleros today is audacity, due to the excess of pretension that it entails.

Better play it safe.

What Quesada does is make melodies from the friendly echo of the love songs of the sixties and seventies, orchestrally arranged with an uninhibited retro air in which percussion and old-generation keyboards are hardly out of tune. The Texan composer surrounds himself with a group of performers (Mireya Ramos, Natalia Clavier, Gaby Moreno or Angélica García; Money Mark and Marc Ribot also collaborate), to whom he delivers a catalog of ballads that from afar sounds like an old tape. Betacam with an anthology of ‘Young people’ and that closes, a whole transatlantic detail, ‘The boy with the sad eyes’ that Manuel Alejandro wrote to Jeanette.

What these ‘Psychedelic Boleros’ lead us to, a good accompaniment of a glass of anise dipped in water rather than a hallucinogenic mushroom, is the OTI Festival, that contest that came to rival Eurovision and whose reactivation, far from thread , as befits, today would represent a great showcase of the musical diversity of the American continent, in which electronic experimentation, the reconversion of local folklore and the remixing of subgenres has turned it into a mine, bottomless at the moment, for universal fun . Let no one look for psychedelia in these boleros. For that there are still recent reissues like the one by Venezuelans Franky and La Inquietos de él or anthologies like ‘La Rebajada de los Sonideros’, ‘Chicha Popular’ or ‘Paths of Pain: The Caife Label’. The Quesada thing is more of the OTI, as we knew it, the soundtrack of a Summit of the Americas from another century, with well-understood and better-tempered populism.



By David Moran.

On the ‘All Mirrors’ tour, one of the last musical memories from before the pandemic and the penultimate step before embracing indie stardom, Angel Olsen already seemed to sing from behind the red velvet of ‘Twin Peaks’; from that tempestuous and timeless space in which the classics are born and the artists called to leave their mark are forged. On that occasion, the singer from North Carolina took the audience for a walk through emotional abysses full of ‘torch songs’ with fracture and high-intensity rock, a guided tour through her darkness that, two and a half years later, it has its echo in ‘Big Time’, an album of trembling folk and panoramic country that will make even people who hate country fall in love.

Because, and to give an example close in time, everything that you had to make an effort to find on Wilco’s last album by removing drawers and lifting rugs, everything that didn’t jump out at first sight in Jeff Tweedy’s new songs, is what that runs over here from the first listen. From the first breath of ‘All The Good Times’. Emotion and tear. Nashville heaven and the subtle arrangements of Memphis soul. Roy Orbison and Dusty Springfield joining forces wherever they are while Lucinda Williams doesn’t miss a thing. Wonderful, come on.

Emotionally connected to the latest work by Sharon Van Etten, with whom he signed the sensational ‘Like I Used To Be’ last year, ‘Big Time’ is, like ‘We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong’, an album born of desolation: an album marked by love and mourning that Olsen began recording shortly after coming out of the closet and the death of his parents. A work that travels from despair to celebration and from the tremors of ‘Ghost On’ to the sophisticated rawness of ‘Through The Fires’ to bring country and ballad up to date and, already put, sign delights like ‘Chasing The Sun’ or the overflowing ‘Go Home’, in which Angel sings as if his life depended on it. All things considered, there is a bit of the latter on an album that is, above all, a brutal display of honesty.



By Israel Viana.

Rocío Márquez has shed her skin again and we have already lost count of the times she has done it since, in 2008, she won the Mining Lamp. His latest trip has been undertaken with Jerez-born producer Santiago Gonzalo, better known as Bronquio, who borrows his old influences from punk and hardcore to couple them unapologetically to electronics and write, together with the Huelva-born cantaora, the last page of the flamingo history. Yes, you heard right, about flamenco…

What is heard on ‘Tercer cielo’ (Universal) are seguiriyas, soleás, tonás and other old cantes whose purity Lorca and Falla already wanted to protect a century ago, fearful that they might disappear, but that Márquez and Bronquio pass through the filter of electro and break beat to keep them more alive than ever. There are also bulerías, verdiales, tangos, that portentous rumba entitled ‘De mí’, which the Chunguitos could well have written in their golden age, or the traditional garrotín ‘Un ala rota’, to which the cantaora changes the lyrics to reflect on the loss of freedom in the era of capitalism: «Putting myself first / and doing my will / Being queen in my hole / I lost my freedom», he sings, while a Martian sample plays.

As much electronic music as there is, Márquez shows, as always, an absolute respect for tradition. The cantaora is the past, the present and the future of flamenco, in the same way that they were before –don’t jump on my neck!– Camarón, Morente, Pepe Marchena, La Niña de los Peines and even Silverio Franconetti, all mistreated at the time for their own adventures.

In Bronquio and Márquez everything is, for the moment, praise. The most enthusiastic followers have spoken of ‘The legend of time’ or a new ‘Omega’, but those are big words. The time of revolutions and of the tiresome debate between orthodoxy and heterodoxy seems to have passed. Let’s leave it in that this ‘Third Heaven’ is on its way to becoming one of the albums of the year. And he will be deserved… «With the stick, with the stick!».


(Last Gang Records)

By Fernando Perez.

As if they were an Alexandre Pato or a Monta Ellis of ‘chamber pop’, there was a moment, with the impact of that precious sentimental catharsis that was ‘Set Yourself On Fire’ (2005), still fresh, in which the feeling of that Stars could be destined to reign, more or less. If it is that even the name accompanied them… The great hopes around the Quebec collective vanished quickly due to constant irregularity and their irrepressible tendency to grandiloquence, although in that field they could never compete from you to you with your compatriots from Arcade Fire (neither they nor practically anyone, go). However, their albums have never lacked occasional dazzling flashes that have served to feed a cultured species around them. Minority and not too militant, but less gives a stone.

His ninth work in more than two decades of career, which also means the return after five years of silence, will not serve to dispel that bittersweet feeling left by missed opportunities (“We were the best applicants,” they acknowledge with disenchanted euphoria in ‘Pretenders’ ), but it is probably the most complete and brilliant sampler of songs since they began to descend from their creative peak. In a career that has taken more twists than expected (from the theatricality of ‘In Our Bedroom After the War’ to the exploration of danceable sounds on ‘No One Is Lost’), they always knew how to maintain a characteristic sound formula that, Despite not being a display of originality, it ended up providing them with something similar to an identity. And its most effective and enjoyable elements seem to come together as a compendium in ‘From Capelton Hill’: here is the interpretive complicity of Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan, some unappealable melodies, the ability to combine the melancholy of chamber pop (Paddy Mcaloon in the top of their altar, fools they are not) with euphoric indie-rock outbursts and eighties guitars, the suggestive electronic underlines that look at New Order as well as The Postal Service…

The novelty is that the reflections on the passage of time and its ravages in relationships, another common thread of his discography, take on a much deeper dimension once he has passed the barrier of fifty. There are no signs of emotional artifice or that puerile affectation with which they sometimes spoiled everything on this mature (in a good way), believable and honest album, in which they dare to ask where the hell “all our bets” went. for being forever young. They will never score the decisive goal or play the ‘All Star’ (although if Andrew Wiggins has become a starter, they should not lose hope), but at times they are still able to shine with that unique intensity that only emanates from beautiful losers.


(Boy sound)

By Maria Alcaraz.

Lena Dunham filled her mouth saying that she was the voice of her generation. She probably was; ‘Girls’ is one of the most accurate portraits of life at that time. Sure, they were four posh girls from New York, but at least they had realistically small apartments and they were as stupid as everyone else is at that age. The thing, that I’m going in other directions. That if I were to start looking for the voice (or one of the voices) of my generation, it would be a much less cosmopolitan thing, but I truly believe that our Lena Dunham is Marcelo Criminal from Murcia.

I explain. The singer-songwriter, already struggling in the native indie, has just published under the umbrella of Sonido Muchado ‘Medio Mensaje’, a very short EP with only four songs: ‘Cine de Barrio’, ‘Cuarto Milenio’, ‘First Dates’ and ‘ To know and to win’. Through four audiovisual products that everyone has seen at least once, Marcelo takes a journey through his life and, consequently, that of many others. He begins by saying that “his neighborhood movie theater is now a gym,” and that “money doesn’t matter to him, he just wants to see Cuarto Milenio.” And then he moves on to two of the funniest and most successful songs this year. ‘First Dates’, which has an unmissable start: «We met at First Dates, I didn’t believe in love. Sobera laughed at me, I was thinking of a song »and ‘Saber y Ganar’ in which he pays homage to one of the funniest videos of the last 15 years: the rap of the Moors and Christians. Marcelo, my son, I’ll give you a flat.

The rest of the EP, well, as usual. Marcelo has a strange voice that you get used to, some effective melodies and not very complex chords, bases and keyboards that go well with his lyrics. And these are the ones that go further. “We half paid, you agreed to a second date. I don’t know how to call you and tell you that I really love you. Well, that’s the most.