Art Forms

Podcast December-January 2012
Podcast December-January 2012


Hello and welcome to Catalan Music’s December-January 2012 podcast which, as every month, will be keeping you up to date with all the latest news and events on the Catalan music scene, presenting new albums and international concerts by Catalan artists. Catalan Music is the brand name specially created by the ICEC (The Catalan Institute of Cultural Enterprises) for a wide range of musical genres produced in Catalonia, such as Pop, Jazz, Folk, World Music and Electronic, with a stress on international projection.
Let's kick off then with the return of a band who offer a stylized fusion of pop and folk-rock sounds inspired by the West Coast of America. We’re talking about La Brigada, from the coastal town of Vilanova i La Geltrú, a band whose first two albums received great critical acclaim. Now, La Brigada are back with a new album entitled ‘Incerta glòria!’ (Uncertain Glory), which refers both to the words of William Shakespeare, "The uncertain glory of an April day" and the title of a novel written by Catalan writer Joan Sales.
Els Pets are one of Catalonia’s most veteran pop bands, with twenty-five years of experience behind them and a songbook that is part of the Catalans’ collective memory. Now, several artists have got together as part of a tribute album entitled, "Perversions" with a selection of 15 of the band’s songs. The disc features versions by artists from the new Catalan pop scene such as Love of Lesbian, La Casa Azul, Joan Colomo, Roger Mas and Refree, in addition to American artist Brad Jones, who has produced Els Pets’ latest albums.
Brad Jones is a Nashville-based musician, who’s worked with Ron Sexsmith, Matthew Sweet and Steve Earle, and has produced albums by Josh Rouse, Chuck Prophet and Jason & The Scorchers, and he has established increasingly stronger bonds with Catalonia and Spain over the past few years. He recently recorded an album at Josh Rouse’s studio in Valencia, together with musicians Xema Fuertes and Cayo Bellveser, linked to bands such as Ciudadano and Maderita. As a producer, he has signed the latest album by Madrid’s folk-rock singer-songwriter Quique González and Catalonia’s unique experimental creator, Raúl Fernández, alias Refree.
There are quite a number of Catalan musicians who are currently collaborating with international artists, and here are a few examples. One of the most talked-about collaborations this year is the soul band The Pepper Pots who’ve joined forces with American singer Eli ' Paperboy ' Reed to fuse two traditions of the genre: the Tamla Motown label, linked to 1960s she-bands, and the more fiery sounds of the Stax Record label. The Pepper Pots and Eli 'Paperboy' Reed have made an album together which includes a DVD of their encounter, entitled 'Time and place', presented to great acclaim this year at Barcelona’s Sala Apolo.
Another international collaboration involves the evocative, dreamlike folk-pop of Anímic and the alternative country sounds of Texan Will Johnson, leader of Centro-matic. Anímic and Will Johnson have performed concerts together in Barcelona and at the PopArb festival, one of the main showcases of the Catalan pop scene which is held in the town of Arbúcies in the province of Girona. The story of their getting together has been told in a documentary entitled 'From Texas to Arbúcies’.
In the league of American singer-songwriters with Catalan accomplices, we have Eef Barzelay, the charismatic leader of Clem Snide. Barzelay has performed with the Valencian band Sènior i el Cor Brutal, and, on his last tour of Spain, was backed by the members of the Barcelona band Partido. , who, as it were, became Clem Snide for a few days, in an initiative which, we hope, will continue in the context of Barzelay’s future visits to Europe.
Other such international alliances include Joel Gibb, the ideologist of the Canadian indie-pop band The Hidden Cameras, who, some time ago, asked the Barcelona duo Hidrogenesse to remix their song ‘He Falls to Me’. The experience took on greater dimensions when Hidrogenesse asked Joel Gibb for more tracks to reconstruct other songs by the band, and the result is an EP featuring six remixes: ‘Hidrogenesse versus The Hidden Cameras’.
In the field of root and fusion music, we have also seen other examples of interesting collaborations as is the case of creator Yacine Belahcene, the former singer of the band Cheb Balowski. Belahcene, who was born in Italy, of an Algerian father and Catalan mother, formulated a highly communicative Arab rock sound with the band Nour, who teamed up with Franco-Algerian bands Speed Caravan and Rabah Donquishoot. The result was an exciting reworking of chaabi and gnawa sounds with Electronic  and hip-hop influences. Now, Yacine Belahcene has a new project, Yacine & Oriental Groove together with Greek lute-player Yannis Papaioannou.
Yacine & Oriental Groove look to the Mediterranean for their inspiration, and the Mediterranean is also the cultural framework in which Valencian singer Miquel Gil creates his unique sounds. Gil is an ex-member of the veteran folk band, Al tall. This charismatic performer, with a characteristically deep and earthy voice, has sought complicity with the diva of Greek music Savina Yannatou, the band Primavera en Salonico and the Barcelona Arab Orchestra. A tetralogue that has been crystallized on the album entitled ‘Miquel Gil in concert’'.
In December there will be several opportunities to see Catalan artists at international venues. Lovers of high octane rock, note down the following dates for the band '77, who, with great power and devotion, reconstruct the potent sounds of the AC/DC school and hard-rock classics. '77 will be performing on December 7th in Freudenburg, Germany, and on December 8th in the Dutch city of Eindhoven.
Still on the rock front, Belgian fans will be able to enjoy the infectious garage rock of Barcelona band Mujeres, well-known for their volcanic live performances. The band will be presenting their second album 'Soft gems' at the Glimps Festival in Ghent.
Another important winter festival, the Eurosonic, which is held in Groningen, Holland, will also be welcoming two Catalan bands. On January 10th you’ll be able to enjoy the refined pop of Evripidis and his Tragedies, fronted by Greek-born, Barcelona-based Evripidis Sabatis. And on January 11th, we have a very different menu, with the rousing, tribal, experimental sounds of Za!, who are putting the finishing touches to their new album, the follow-up to the much acclaimed ‘Megaflow’.
We close this month’s agenda with international performances by two powerful exponents of our fusion scene, which is always highly active throughout Europe. Firstly, Txarango, one of the season’s great revelation bands who have attracted full-houses in Catalonia with their fusion of Latin rhythms, ska and pop. They’ll be presenting their first album, ‘Benvinguts al llarg viatge’ (Welcome to the Long Journey) in Copenhagen, on December 7th, and in neighboring Malmö, Sweden, on the 8th.
And Che Sudaka, a Barcelona-based band made up of South-American musicians specializing in Latin rhythms will be performing in Macedonia's capital, Skopje, at the Taksirat Festival. Che Sudaka, a band who regularly perform throughout Europe, will be presenting '10', an album celebrating their 10th anniversary.
On the fusion scene, one of the most exciting new discs of the moment is the Bongo Botrako’s second album entitled 'Revoltosa' (Rebellious). Bongo Botrako is a Tarragona band who fuse reggae and Latin genres with socially critical ingredients. The title “Revoltosa” refers openly to revolt and revolution, and the album has been produced by a key figure on the fusion scene, Amparo Sánchez, former leader of the band Amparanoia, and includes collaborators such as Joan Garriga, from La Troba Kung-Fú, members of the band Canteca de Macao and La Kinky Beat. With this production, Bongo Botrako will surely be taking a number of international venues by storm, after their previous successful tours of France, Italy, Belgium and Holland.
From the world of fusion, we’ll now go to Afro-American music par excellence, the blues, and a group from Perpignan, in the region known as Northern Catalonia, a Catalan-speaking territory with Catalan roots under French administration. We’re talking about Blues de Picolat, a band who have been going strong for some 20 years have just released their sixth album, ‘Àngel de la nit’ (Angel of the night), with the peculiarity that the texts are signed by well-known novelists and poets from North Catalonian such as Joan-Daniel Bezsonoff, Joan-Lluís Lluís and singer-songwriter Gerard Jacquet. Literature at the service of a repertoire which is full of universal feeling.
To conclude this month’s podcast, we have another example of music and literature coming together, but on this occasion in a different and more experimental context. We’re referring to the album featuring the minimalist electronic pop band Bradien and the poet Eduard Escoffet. In 2007 Bradien released a joint album with the Scottish band Dosimat and in 2009 they made their debut with the LP entitled  'Linden', which featured a track called 'Everyone gets lighter’, with a recital by American poet John Giorno. And with the same approach, on the basis of an encounter between electronic music and the voice of poetry, thus avoiding the more customary role of singers in the pop world, Bradien have produced a new album entitled ‘Pols’ (Dust) with the collaboration of Eduard Escoffet, a young poet from the coastal town of Cadaqués on the Costa Brava.
This suggestive encounter between the poetic voice of Escoffet and the electronics of Bradien brings us to the end of December’s Catalan Music podcast, in which, in addition to filling you in on new albums and international tours, we have also attempted to highlight some of the most interesting and fruitful collaborations of Catalan artists with acclaimed artists from abroad, whether in terms of joint recordings or live performances. On the basis of such mutually rewarding collaborations, we’re sure that the Catalan music scene will continue to abound in exciting products in 2013. As always,we’ll be back again next month and we hope you’ll join us. Happy New Year! Moltes gràcies, molt bon any i fins la propera!


La Brigada "Joves feliços i radiants"

Love of Lesbian "Agost"

Josh Rouse "Lemon tree"

The Pepper pots "Wanna blindly trust you"

Anímic "Trenco una branca"

Senior i el cor brutal "Tots els ianquis que vull"

Hidrogenesse & Hidden Cameras "Kigdom come"

Nour "Nar"

Miquel Gil "Per marcianes"

77' "Give me a dollar"

Mujeres "Far away"

Za! "PachaMadreTierraWah! #1"

Txarango "Amagada primavera"

Bongo Botrako "Revoltosa"

Blues de picolat "Aquest home"

Bradien "Festa"

Bradien "Terra"