As I am getting ready to head down to my yearly visit to Philadelphia for the Penn Relays, I made it a priority of mine to get this posting out of the way. Post-Wednesday (21 April 2010), there will be no blog postings (at least not by me) till Sunday the earliest – been working on a big one. So, as I have written before, I have been working hard to catch up on a few releases, and I decided to pair these two bands together: one Spanish, one British; one rock, one electronic. I sort of like writing about two bands that have nothing in common, other than solid craftsmanship. Veterans, TheMistake, from España (Spain) produced their fourth album and live up to all expectations and pressure to put forth a solid post-hardcore album. Newbie, We Have Band, from England produce their debut album, totally unaffected by the buzz around their release. Enjoy!
TheMistake, no space, and not be confused with the Californian band The Mistake, space, hail from España (Spain). And like fellow nationals Amaral and La Oreja De Van Gogh [Van Gogh’s Ear], TheMistake produces current, vibrant, and urgent indie rock – and have decided not to sell out their mother’s tongue, singing in Spanish… ummm Español. Appropriately titling their fourth album “4” (1 February 2010 in the USA via download) on Bcore Disc, that band is subtly making waves in the European and South American indie rock scenes. Their music is best defined as post-punk (revival) meets post-hardcore; while not necessarily radio friendly for España (or the UK or USA, as neither country really plays anything other than English-sung music in its main music outlets), TheMistake’s brand of post-hardcore is more “romantic” and “dreamy” than most, making “4” inviting and alluring in much the same way as early Catherine Wheel.
Though the music may not be as experimental as many other indie bands, there is no dated sound on this album. A typical curse of many Spanish and Latin American bands, which seem to lag behind the Anglo-American dominated rock genre, TheMistake plunges straight forward with attitude and emotionally filled music. With no obvious cues from the current indie scene or previous decades, “4” was composed more along the lines of being sonically a timeless piece. Sure, there are those post-punk moments in the bassline and ambient (and understated) keys in the background, while there are definite post-hardcore beats and a bit of late 70s style punk and 90s indie guitaring, what makes the album so alluring is that it does not degrade itself into clichéd, overdone indie tropes.
Some key tracks to listen to: “Extrarradio” has this powerful undertow and arpeggiated guitar playing that is damn sexy – the song has something of dream pop / shoegaze to it that makes it a definite standout on the album. “Panorámica,” though far from a breather on the album, is one of the most sedate songs on the album, as you are locked into deep introspective mood of the song. As for the most sedate, “Como Lluvia de Plástico” [“Like Plastic Rain”] is definitely the one song on the album that will tug on your heartstrings. The album closes with “Isla de Jura” [“Swearing Island”], the most post-punk song on the album, reminiscent of Joy Division and Bauhaus (and early Interpol); the song is moody, but not broody.
I try to keep my radar tuned to international music, which is sometimes difficult. And, admittedly, there is so much stuff out there (both internationally and domestic) that is just rehashing current successful indie bands and/or just sounds dated. TheMistake does not fall into this category – this is an international band that you should definitely take a listen to. “4” demonstrates that the band continues to grow as songwriters, allowing the power of each song to seep through your speakers. Even if you do not understand Spanish, the music alone is so powerful that with one good listen you may just want to learn a few words in Spanish.
1. La Felguera
3. Alta Definición
5. De Puertas Hacia Fuera
6. Como Lluvia de Plastico
7. Nada Mejor
8. Acto Reflejo
10. Isla de Jura
Keep up with TheMistake at MySpace and Facebook. Currently, on MySpace, they are currently streaming five of the ten songs on their current album, “4.”
Typically, I like to post videos from the album that is being reviewed; I am going to break that “rule” right now. This is an older video by TheMistake, as there does not seem to be any other available at the moment and I want everyone to really get a feel for this band. This is “Un Mundo Sin Alfombras Rojas” [“A World Without Red Carpets”] from the bcoredisc YouTube Channel.
We Have Band: “WHB”
We Have Band crashed into my radar when a friend of mine (Little Sister) kept insisting that this band was all that… better than sliced bread… the next big deal. I watched the videos, and even posted “You Came Out” last June. April sees the release of their full-length debut, “WHB” (5 April 2010 in the UK, 5 April 2010 in the USA as download, 13 April 2010 in the USA as importable CD), and one listen later, then a second… and then a third… and I realized I am hooked! There is a sense of familiarity when you listen to the music, and not just because there are many 80s cues. Though We Have Band have ridden their initial hullabaloo and have kept in pace with current beats and fads, what really makes this album familiar is it is as inviting and warm as standard/classic pop. No major poetic standings, no grandiose virtuoso moments, and no obvious, blatant rehashing, they combine all 80s feel good new wave with the latest trends in electropop and dance. And now four listens into the album, it becomes even more infectious.
Though incorporating rock rifts and kitschy vocal arrangements á la Talking Heads, the rhythm treads onto dance territory. There is no lull on the album, no cliché ballad, no somber (to quote the Cure) “death persistent blues.” This is a feel good album, beautiful escapism for three-quarters of an hour… and sometimes that is exactly what the doctor has ordered. Starting with two piano chords, the album opens with “Piano,” with a mysterious electro-bass line, and slowly melds into “Buffet,” which is easily the most distinct song on the album. The party, however, begins with “Divisive” – instantly you are sonically transported back within the first few seconds to some club, probably in 1986, in a seedy part of town. The cinematic quality of the music starts to ooze through from this point on.
The vocals are interesting, as the harmonies are often in three – covering a wide spectrum. Though kitschy like the Talking Heads, the arrangements are warmer like those of General Public. This allows for more diversity and making it harder to anticipate just what is going to come next vocally. It is obvious that We Have Band capitalize on this fact in songs like “Love, What Your Doing?” and “Centerfold & Empty Screens.” Along side the vocals is the constant play between different sounds: from little electronic blips to (effected) guitar – musically, the arrangements are as fresh and diverse as the vocal arrangements.
We Have Band had to struggle with the worse pressure while recording this album: hype! The reality is that most bands, really none, live up to the hype. There is one thing to have anticipation for an album; it is another thing to already be told how that album will best sound. “WHB” may not deliver exactly what was expected, as never selling itself short – the range of music is greater than the original singles; this is better than what was expected. Now the trick, of course, is going to be for We Have Band to put together a tour, continue to keep an audience's attention (especially in a field congested with electropop), and follow up this album, but something tells me that these three have it all planned out – I mean, they did work in the business side of the industry already, they know how to capitalize on hype, and they have the chops to write solid music.
4. Love, What You Doing?
6. How to Make Friends
8. Hear It in the Cans
9. Centerfolds and Empty Screens
10. You Came Out
12. Here Knows
Keep up with We Have Band at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
Head over to their homepage where there is currently a free download of “Honeytrap.”
Here is their video for “Diverse” from their YouTube Channel: WeHaveBand.