Now I feel so much better…

LaHellGang_291113Being one of the more self-conscious (not to mention idle) bloggers around, I’ve been increasingly aware that these days most of the material eddying from these parts is pretty, well, Latin. Great dollops of chicha, second (and third) helpings of cumbia and side dishes of Spanish indie… Maybe I should just carry on ladling it out, but I guess that in the interests of balance and fairness, I could make it clear that I do spend a fair amount of time listening to other stuff…

So, anyhow, I give you La Hell Gang.

La Hell Gang

We-e-e-ll… turns out that La Hell Gang are from Santiago and whilst technically this makes them as Latin as everything else I’ve been posting recently, in spirit they’re as far away from the accordion folk sounds of Cumbia as it’s possible to be. In truth, I didn’t realise any of this until a good couple of weeks after I’d started enthusiastically tucking into the boisterous guitars of Thru Me Again (released last month on Mexican Summer – the “thru” bothers me, by the way…). But by then, it was all too late.

Some wag has made a flippant remark on one of the La Hell Gang vids on YouTube referring to Sigur Ros, but you shouldn’t let that bother you (no matter how much this also bothers me…) It’s principally a massive slab of psych-ey, guitar-dominated indie-rock – vocals well down the mix, drummer on half-time, wah-wah and all manner of other jiggery-pokery echoing about the place. And, my friends, I really like it. Maybe, you will too…

 

One of the reasons I didn’t link this lot to their Chilean chums The Holydrug Couple and Föllakzoid is that I initially misread their name as LA Hell Gang (while we’re onto things that bother me…) and to be fair it’s not hard to make some sort of languid biker gang connection, when you see the photos and hear the first strains of Inside My Fall.

Actually, I’ve only just found out that despite reading to the contrary (I’m sure) Thru Me Again is not actually their first record – 2009’s Just What Is Real was released in South America (and probably over here) on BYMRecords. And I’ve just found it on Emusic too. First listen tells you it’s a much more garagey affair than the new one, and makes you realise that no matter how raucous and coarse the new record sounds, there’s actually been a certain amount of “maturing” going on here… Scary!

Witness..

 

Looking forward to getting into the childish stuff!

Energetic and sincere, addictive and accessible…

vicente pratsI’m going to talk about Spain again, which seems a bit ridiculous – it’s over a month ago that we were there – but work has barged in again and, gosh darn!, I’ve done almost no posts about it. What’s the matter with me?

In fact, it was almost a month later before I picked this record off the shelf and ripped it to my laptop. Criminal, really…

Vicente Prats

Came across this record on the Discos Amsterdam website, as it featured heavily on one of the 39 Sonidos de Juan Victorio podcasts which the owner of the shop does periodically (and which are worth a listen, I should add…).

I’m now not clear whether the gentleman I met in the shop in Valencia was actually Juan (he said he was) but at any rate, when I asked about the Vicente Prats record both he and his lady friend became very enthusiastic (far more so than my cack-handed Spanish could cope with…).

Vicente Prats is a Valencia-based singer and band leader who clearly has a strong connection with earthy, powerful pop songs – songs that display old-fashioned pop sentimentalities, unashamed, unrepentant.

Interviewed, here, for Efe Eme magazine, he wears his heart well and truly on his sleeve:

“I make pop songs that are energetic and sincere, addictive and accessible, just as pop has always been. Songs that you can sing and hum along to, that will remain with the listener.”

Here they are playing Tiempo Perido on YouTube:

 

The record I bought in Valencia is his self-titled debut, released officially this year, I think, but actually written and recorded at home five or six years earlier. And it’s a lovely, rich collection of eight songs. Reviews of it make mention of the Byrds, Big Star and Los Brincos (need to look that one up), but unsurprisingly the strongest influence that comes through is from everyone’s favourite band, Teenage Fanclub. Now the line between “influenced by” and “blatant copyist” is a little bit in the eye of the beho¡der. I just don’t have a problem with bands sounding like one of my much-loved, pet sounds – there’s not been enough from them in recent years, in my book – but I suspect there’ll be those who hear this record and think that it’s just too close to the Fannies. Fair enough, but you’re missing out, my friends…

 

And by the way “Tiempo Perdido”, is currently free to download from Sr Prats’ Bandcamp page.

¡Vamonos!