I have yet to establish myself as a superguay member of the Madrid cultural elite, and thus I’m surely missing out on a lot of great music, but as an outsider looking into the Spanish music scene I mostly just see bands like this, which can best be described as “just like Los Planetas, but not as good.” However! There are definitely good things happening. You just have to ask the right person at the right time of day and click on just the right “related videos” on YouTube.
Attention all MIrah fans: you will almost by default love Aroah. Why? Because Aroah might as well be Spanish for Mirah. Actually it might as well be an English synonym for Mirah, considering that she sings the majority of her songs in English. According to her bio she’s a “madrileña de padre español y madre americana,” which must be why she sings in such flawless English while maintaining a nice mellow Spanish vibe. A good mix, to be sure, and she doesn’t let it go to waste. Her songs–again, much like Mirah’s–are ostensibly simple acoustic pop, but there’s something lurking in the melodies that makes them a cut above the rest. An example would be the excellent “Katharine Says,” which you can hear on her MySpace page.
The similarities to Mirah continue on the lyrical front–they’re fairly personal, but maintain a poetic distance which makes Aroah infinitely more intriguing. “Flavour of the Month” (on the MySpace page) has the line “You tasted so sad, I had to wash you down with gin,” which is definitely one of the best turns of phrase I’ve heard in a long while. Plus, there’s a song on her latest album, El Día Después, called “Canción Para Follar” (“Song for Fucking”–or “screwing,” if you want to be more delicate about it). Does that remind you of anything?
“En los días cuerdos” from El Día Después:
One of her sleepier (some might say boring) songs, but it gives a pretty good idea of her general sound.
I’ve got her 2004 album, The Last Laugh, which is folksy and complex, and from what I can tell from the iTunes thirty-second samples of El Día Después, it’s equally strong. She’s definitely one of my favorite discoveries since I’ve been here.
Bonus: pretty good interview with her on Pop Madrid (in Spanish).
The Sunday Drivers
It’s always nice to find solidly enjoyable, Wilco-ish melodic rock (if you’re into that kind of thing, I guess). The Sunday Drivers probably won’t change anyone’s life, but they’ve got a really reassuring air about them that recalls bands like Spoon–solid, well-crafted music with all the right notes in the right places. My one qualm is that, despite being from the proudly historic town of Toledo in the heart of Spain’s central Castilla-La Mancha region, they sing in English. It’s not bad English–in fact it’s virtually flawless–but I can’t help but feel that their whole vibe would improve if they’d stick to the native language. But that’s really neither here nor there. They’re really quite pleasant as is, and they put an electric organ to fantastic ends. Their MySpace page has a few good songs, my favorites being “Little Chat,” “Often,” and “Paranoid.”
“Often” from Little Heart Attacks
“Day In Day Out” from Tiny Telephone
Dig that bass line.
“Rainbows of Colors” from Tiny Telephone
“Do It” from Tiny Telephone
“On My Mind” from Little Heart Attacks
La Cultural Solynieve
Fans of Los Planetas may recognize lead singer Juan Rodríguez’s oddly appealing nasally drone as the voice of La Cultural Solynieve, his mellower side project. While maintaining the hazy, melodic sound of Los Planetas, Rodríguez takes La Cultural Solynieve in a more lackadaisical direction. The MySpace page has a few good tracks, the best of which being “Rifle de repeticion,” “No vuelvo a quedar contigo,” and “Con quien yo he sido.” (Thanks to Kelsey for the suggestion!)