It took me a while, but a Bruno Mars song finally won me over. I had been exposed to the golden-voiced crooner’s output before—indeed, I had heard liberal portions of the very subject of this post enough times in the past to decide that while it was a decent enough song in spots, I wasn’t waiting with baited breath for its next replay. Fine as a singer as Mars is, his material always struck me as the work of yet another R&B smooth operator fixated with trying on the crown left behind by the dearly departed Michael Jackson, and any inclination to explore deeper was dissuaded by his penchant for garbled lyrical metaphors (don’t get me started on “Grenade”).
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It’s not news that Arctic Monkeys have gone through a great metamorphosis since their boom in the UK music scene back in 2005. When they released Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not—a title that reflected adolescence’s rebelliousness—they seemed to be young boys just like any of us. With their ordinary clothes and electrifying riffs, nobody would have expected that they would someday become real rock stars.
Question: What’s it all about?
Answer: I don’t know.
But I do know a few things.
I know some of the things that make me tick.
While my weapons of choice remain pen and paper, I would still say that music has always been the central element of my existence. Or the elemental center. Writing is a compulsion, a hobby, a skill, a craft, an obsession, a mystery, and at times a burden. Music simply is. For just about anyone, all you need is an ear (or two); then it can work its magic. But, as many people come to realize, if you approach it with your mind and your heart, it’s capable of making you aware of other worlds, it can help you achieve the satisfaction material possessions are intended to inspire, it will help you feel the feelings drugs are designed to approximate. Et cetera.
If you are from Argentina, then you must have heard at least once from Juana Molina, especially if you’re also called Juana, like me. I remember that every time a friend’s mother saw me, she used to tell me: “Here comes Juana and her sisters!” Only two years ago I found out that she wasn’t referring to my real sisters, but to Juana Molina’s old TV show, Juana y sus hermanas.
I still can’t remember when or why I was once interested to listen to her music, but I know that my admiration towards her has only increased since then and that, no matter how cliché this phrase is, her music speaks to me like no other. Although many artists use looping, her songs are different for depending on it while still being able to sound organic. Her electro-folk is both serene and eccentric, while her voice can be soft but also hypnotizing in order to fuse with the rest of the instruments (which are all recorded by herself in her house) and become another one.
It was early June 2013 when I found myself in London by complete chance, on a long weekend with nothing but time. Waking up to a lazy Sunday after a heavy Saturday (those pub crawls will get to you after the fourth or fifth shot), I figured I should try and see a show at the West End since I had never done it. I had heard good things about Jersey Boys, so I went to Leicester Square around 9 AM. The bookie had just opened the shop and didn’t look very happy to see me.
// Notes from the Road
"José González's sets during Newport Folk Festival weren't on his birthday (that is today) but each looked to be a special intimate performance.READ the article