giovedì 26 aprile 2018

PHOENIX - "MUGUR DE FLUIER" (1974)

Phoenix are the most important rock band from Romania.
This is their second album, the one with stronger folk influences. In fact, Whilst you could hear traces of Romanian tradition even in their debut album, here it becomes the dominant force. Many songs are acoustic, and the electric ones have one foot in folk music as well, with violin, percussion, and odd meter patterns.

Even though the band had to cope with the censorship of Ceaucescu's regime, the album was another huge success and songs like "Strunga" and the title track became classics.
The sound quality may come across as slightly muffled, but if you like progressive rock and folk music, you should not miss this little gem.

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mercoledì 10 gennaio 2018

JAROMÍR NOHAVICA - "PORUBA" (2017)

Jaromír Nohavica is the greatest and most popular Czech singer-songwriter. 

He was born in Ostrava in 1953 and has occasionally written lyrics for other artists while having his own day job. Only at the start of the Eighties he began to sing his own songs.
As his ambition grew, his work got more and more political, which prompted the authorities to ban him from performing and recording. He was able to release his first album only in 1988, when the Soviet system was collapsing. He was already 35 years old. 

The enormous popularity in his home country has important echoes in Slovakia and Poland as well, where he may not be a star, but can surely claim cult status. 

I am introducing him on this blog with this brand new album, which he released last November. Since most of his old music is message-centered, I think "Poruba" is better suited as a gateway to his world rather than a simple voice-and-guitar album. 
In fact, the tracklist proves Nohavica's curious spirit, with tense piano ballads ("Empire State"), grotesque doggerels with accordion ("Černá jáma"), and even hip hop experiments (the title track). There are not many singers out there that can claim such a fresh album at the age of 64.


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mercoledì 22 novembre 2017

L.STADT - "L.STORY" (2017)

L.Stadt are a Polish band from Łódź, founded in 2003 by singer and multi-instrumentalist Łukasz Lach. Their moniker is a contracted form of Litzmannstadt, the name of their city during the nazi occupation.
Despite never making it to the mainstream, L.Stadt have been celebrated for years as one of Poland's best rock bands.
I have to admit that before this new studio effort I wasn't impressed with them, but now I'm fully supporting their new sound.

"L.Story" is a great album. Arrangements are ambitious, incorporating folk elements, prog structures, and background vocals by the young and talented Wielki Chór Młodej Chorei. Acoustic guitars, synthesizers, and traditional instruments mingle with electric instrumentation to create refined, layered songs full of harmony and melancholy.
Words are written by poet and theatre author Konrad Dworakowski, as in the great tradition of poezja śpiewana. In fact, the whole album is influeced by the movement, just think to the choral arrangements in the last song, "Od nowa", and compare them to Marek Grechuta's "Świat w obłokach".
All in all, this may be the best Polish album of 2017.


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martedì 17 ottobre 2017

KORTEZ - "BUMERANG" (2015) + "MINIALBUM" (2016)

Kortez is a Polish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. 
In 2013 he tried to enter a talent show, but he was discarded during the auditions. Luckily, the chief of Jazzboy Records, Paweł Jóźwicki, noticed him and decided to offer him a contract. 

"Bumerang" (2015) is his beautiful debut album. It consists of ten ballads recorded with both acoustic and electronic instruments, and ecompassing styles like dreampop and downtempo. Some songs are soft, whilst others indulge in noir atmospheres. 
"Zostań" is the most popular song on the album, and one of the most important singles of the decade, at least in the Polish alternative scene. On the wake of its success, the album reached no. 2 and as of today it has been in the local charts for 94 weeks.

In 2016 an EP called "Minialbum" was also released. It is notable for containing an extended version of "Z imbirem", one of the best songs on "Bumerang".

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lunedì 2 ottobre 2017

ARMIA - "LEGENDA" (1991)

Robert Brylewski is one of the most important musicians in the history of Polish rock, having been the guitar player and main composer of legendary bands such as Brygada Kryzys, Izrael, and Armia
He founded Armia in December 1984, along with singer Tomasz Budzyński, a former member of Siekiera

Armia are still going today under Budzyński's guidance, whilst Brylewski left them in 1994. "Legenda" is their second album. It was released in 1991, showing a band quite distant from the canonical hardcore punk sound of their eponymous debut. While still classifiable under that style, "Legenda" is one of the most original records of its era. 
Its riffing is somehow influenced by thrash metal, the symphonic sound of guitars is not far from black metal, and some songs have open structures which remind of progressive rock. While distorted guitars and frantic rhythms dominate the arrangements, here and there you can hear unusual tricks like synthesizer drones, French horn, and acoustic guitars. 
Budzyński's vocal style is also worth of mention, taking a strong departure from hardcore punk shouting, and choosing a clean, melodic style that makes the tunes catchier, while still being aggressive. 

Not so popular at the time, "Legenda" is today considered a classic. Often mentioned among the best Polish albums ever, its cult is unexpectedly solid among hardcore punk followers from all over the world.


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)