Saturday, January 19, 2008
Best of 2007 - Albums @ PT
This year, I exceeded myself a bit with this Best of The Year thing. My work kept me away from my computer more than I thought so.....

One month and a half later than expected, ladies and gentlemen, Portugal's 2007 Top 20 Records.

Before that, I'm quite pleased to say that more than half of these bands released last 2007 their debut album. Some, as Lobster, have been around for longer, but their full-length saw the light only last year.

Top 20 Portuguese Albums

20. U-Clic - Console Pupils

19. Umpletrue - Fab Fight
15. Hipnotica - New Communities For Better Days

14. Cla - Cintura

13. The Partisan Seed - Visions of Solitary Branches

12. DJ Ride - Turntable Food

11. Adolfo Luxuria Canibal & Antonio Rafael - Estilhacos

10.Bezegol - Rude Bwoy Stand

Rude Boy Stand; most likely the best hip hop, ragga, dub album released in Portugal in 2007; most likely, one of the best released in the past few years.

Signing as Bezegol, this DJ, MC and producer delivers here his first solo album, taking a little break from his band Matazoo. Not wanting to limit himself to another hip hop album, another Jamaican-like reggae release or any East side/West side North American influenced product, Bezegol decided, within these 15 tracks, to create something that would take him above all others releasing similar music.
Crossing hip hop with reggae, dub with soul and fado (yes, you read it properly), Bezegol uses his raw, crude and strangely attractive vocals to show us his point of view on society, politics and family.

Moving track after track, we go through some “friendly” reggae tracks (Fire, Roots of Evil), across other dirty and raw ragga beat tunes (Clockwork Bomb, Colision), slow-burnin' soul hymns (Forever Love), to other tunes blinking an eyes to the French hip hop “brothers” with special guests Souljah and Tito on After This, not forgetting the reggae fado-like Let Them Know, perfumed with Pedro Aires’ Portuguese guitar.
The list of special does not finish here. Among others, Rude Boy Stand is perfumed with the contributions of New Max, Condutor, Dj Kronic and Dj Ride.

New skool, old skool…. What the hell!!!!
Rude Boy Stand has arrived and stood strong on 10th!

Fire [Album Preview]

09. The Allstart Project - Your Reward.... A Bullet

Even though, at first sight, you might think The Allstar Project is another super star band, with members from a couple of known rock groups, think twice; TAP are six lads that back in 2002/2003 decided to grab their instruments and come storming down the country with their rampaging and energetic post rock sound!!!

After releasing 2 EPs back in 2003 and 2006 (see reviews on Music@PL.PT), 2007 sees TAP releasing their 8 track full-length debut album.
With influences going from GYBE!, Explosions In The Sky and Mogway, these 6 lads together with their 3 guitar front, bass, piano, percussion and sampling created one of the most interesting debuts this year; a record of many emotions, a record of many faces!!

As the tracks pass in front of us, one after another, it is difficult to keep our emotions low. Some of these tracks kick-off so smoothly, with melodic and melancholic guitars, followed by some piano notes, just to find an immense wall of distortion, feedback and noise ahead of them.

What amazes me about TAP is their ability to create electrifying guitar driven tracks, mix them with unforgettable melodies that dig deep inside our souls and find a little cozy place in there. If not, take a look at the unique Frienemies. It starts with the fingering sound of an acoustic guitar, just to be joined by a Portuguese guitar seconds after. The latter gives this track the soul it had lost ages ago! Together, the two guitars move forth on this quest with Velasquez on the drums, sounding so melancholic and melodic… Then...the acoustic and melancholic sounds just disappear; Now we’re among a tremendous sound orgy.

Great, aesthetic and atmospheric textures, sometimes more cinematic but always in crescendo until it reaches climax; energetic and explosive swirling guitar riffs, aggressive sometimes; beautiful and catchy arrangements; battling and throttling drums, leaving you with no time left to take a breath; softly played piano notes merged with electronic scents, sampled dialogues!!!

If instruments could make love, I’d say it sounded like Your Reward…A Bullet!!!

Lasers Go Through Monkeys [mp3]

On his third release, the singer-songwritter Francisco Silva takes us to The Temple Bell, an album released on the Portuguese independent label Bor Land.

As previously on Twice The Humbling Sun and April, Francisco Silva and his project Old Jerusalem keep sailing in a sea of melancholy, spreading the spectrum of folk music, with mellow and beautiful acoustic songs, intimate and emotive lyrics and stories on love and little insignificant things. This might have to do with the fact that some of these songs were supposed to be released on his second album, Twice The Humbling Sun, and that others came to life during on 2005 and 2006 when Francisco was promoting that very same album.

On this third chapter, Francisco's lo-paced vocals, the acoustic tunes that drop slowly out of the guitar and the introduction of such instruments as cello and vibraphone, among others, take us from reality, carrying us to a very special place where there's no disturbance but those fine and intimate tunes coming out of your stereo.....

The album, with its 11 songs, starts wonderfully with Her Scarf, the first single out of this The Temple Bell, with Francisco on vocals and Ana Figueiras supporting him with her delicate and sweet vocal contribution. This song somehow gives us a taste of what Old Jerusalem is up to now. Next we head to Dayspring (go to Sleep, Now), definitely a close encounter with Kurt Wagner's music. The song evolves slowly with the percussion and the guitar setting up the pace to Francisco's whispered lyrics.

Ruler Of My Heart is one of the most beautiful songs out of Old Jerusalem's third album. A step ahead of the material Francisco recorded before, this little song becomes a giant close to all the other ten tracks.

Throughout these 39 minutes there is still time for Grasshoppers, Boxes, Lunar Calendar and Time Time Time, another three pearls on an album that, unfortunately, does keep up with what we are shown on the very beginning. After Lunar Calendar, and with the exception of Time Time Time, the songs start sounding more to each other, loosing that feeling of novelty we could find on the first five tracks.

Her Scarf [mp3]

07.JP Simoes - 1970

JP Simoes has been around for quite a while. Pop dell'Arte, Belle Chase Hotel, Azembla's Quartet and Quinteto Tati all saw his musical contribution. Now, this charismatic artist has moved forth, on a solo career.

2007 saw the birth of 1970, Joao Paulo Simoes' debut solo album. An album where his words play a major role (".... A minha geracao ja se calou, ja se perdeu,...." on 1970 (Retrato); ".... disfarca, finge nao me ver. Diz que nao pode ser, diz que eu morri num acidente qualquer...." on Se por acaso me vires por ai); where the music drinks inspiration from artists such Chico Buarte, Tom Jobim or Sergio Godinho, from bossa nova, samba and the Portuguese popular music.

The delicate and paced songs and their background vocals, instruments, beats and JP's cool voice all add up to deliver a record we listen sitting on a sofa, with a gin and tonic on our hands.

Fabula Bebada [Listen @ MySpace]

06. Mundo Cao - Mundo Cao

They're five. They play rock music: melodic, catchy and for sure, the one that will put you jumping up and down moving your heads to the guitar riffs and the drums beats!!!

Pedro Laginha, all-time actor, debuts with Mundo Cao his latest role, being a lead singer. Regardless if he sings or just talks throughout part of the songs, needless to say, he does it quite well, transforming some of these tracks in instant hits. Miguel Pedro, on drums, might be a name that sounds familiar to some of you. More than 20 years ago, together with the carismatic Adolfo Luxuria Canibal, they started the band Mao Morta, one of Portugal's finest alternative bands to date. Vasco Vaz, on the guitar, is another member of the cult band Mao Morta. Previous adventure include the heavy metal band Braindead. Goncalo "Budda" takes care of the other guitar. Previously, he was one of the Big Fat Mamma. The quintet would not be complete without Duarte Nuno on bass guitar.

With Adolfo Luxuria Canibal in charge of all the lyrics, the band has dedicated themselves to the other activities. The result is in front of us, with the self-titled debut album, Mundo Cao. An album that sweats rock from all its pores, not disregarding a more "poppy" approach to some of these 11 tracks. Just imagine Mao Morta's songs covered by Pluto but with Zen's, or most recent Hiena's, kickin' arse attitude. Got it? Apart from that, the impression I get is that these songs not only work great on the record, but in case these lads deliver the same energy on stage, they should sound pretty damn good played live.

An album to keep close to your stereo and listen at maximum volume. You'll love it and your neighbours will be thrilled to bits!!!

Da Vertigem Sou Mendigo [Listen @ MySpace]

05. Micro Audio Waves - Odd Size Baggage

Claudia Efe, C.Morg and Flak are Micro Audio Waves (MAN). Together, they decided to greet us with their latest album, Odd Size Baggage, a monument to electronic music made in Portugal.

Gathering the likes of Francisco Rebelo (from Cool Hipnoise and Spaceboys) and Samuel Palitos, these five adventured themselves on this 12 track journey. A journey that took them across the green fields of pop music, wondering through the mysteries of minimal electro and diving into a whole new world of refined and experimental electronic tunes.

Still looking back at their past and not fearing to change, this last chapter is their most ambitious and promising album. Odd Size Baggage not only presents beautiful electro pop moments (Shadow of Things, Down by Flow or the highly recommendable aesthetical ambient Long Tongue), but as well some other incursions to other electronic lands (the “trip-hopster”, groovy Curl Like a Cannon Ball, the 120 mph rockin’ beats of 2 Night (U & I), the loopy spoken word fat beats of That’s Me Man, Half a Man,…..).

This is Odd Size Baggage, a trunk carrying a total of 12 fine tracks.

Long Tongue [Listen @ MySpace]

04. Sean Riley & The Slowriders - Farewell

Rock, blues, folk and country.

Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Tim and Jeff Buckley, Neil Young, Howe Gelb, Devendra Banhart and the Doors. Anything in common? Yes, Farewell, the debut album by the Coimbra-based trio Sean Riley & The Slowriders.

Farewell, produced by the Dutch Wout Straatman, is one of the biggest surprises to come out of Portugal this year. It is not that common that a band on their debut album comes up with a bunch of songs - 11 in total - that sound as if they've been around for ages. Afonso Rodrigues (or shall I say Sean Riley) on vocals and guitar; Bruno Simoes, on bass, guitar, percussion, melodica, synths and xylophone; and the ex-Bunnyranch Filipe Costa, on drums, keyboards and harmonica show a maturity several projects haven't achieved after years and years of hard work.

Their music is of beautiful acoustic melodies, sorrow and feelings. Surrounded by silky textures, notes dripping out of the melodica, xylophone and harmonica; dragged, paced and soul warming vocals. It breathes the warm winds of Southern America and drinks inspiration from all the artists mentioned previously.

After the release of the first single, Moving On, I was sure that something special was on its way, I just didn't know that it would be this special!!! The vocals by Sean Riley and the melodies created by Afonso Rodrigues and Bruno Simoes give space to this shiny and special aura, resting above our head, embracing and caressing us. We are taken through some of the memories Mazzy Star left behind; through the sounds Dylan and Tim Buckley taught us to love; through the dry and lonely fields of Bruce "Nebraska" Springsteen. Stories on thousands of nights, departures on the middle of night and difficult decisions. Stories..... 11 of them on this Farewell. Songs as Harry Rivers, Let The Good Times Roll, Lights Out, City Of A Million Thrills and Spider's Blues will be difficult to forget!!!!

Harry Rivers [Listen @ MySpace]

03.Mazgani - Song Of The New Heart

After introducing himself and Mazgani to the world a couple of years ago, when this Setubal-based quintet was featured on the Les Inrockuptibles as one of the 20 best new European bands of 2005, Mazgani released one of 2007's finest records, and definitively one of the most interest debuts, together with Sean Riley & The Slowriders.
Song Of The New Heart, released on Naked Records, gathers 13 tracks that drink inspiration from the likes of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Scott Walker or Nick Drake, among others.
These songs, produced by Shahryar Mazgani and Rui David, are the perfect marriage between acoustic and melancholic tunes with those electric guitar driven (Let Your Lips Blossom In A Kiss and Crazy Wind).

Listening to Song Of The New Heart is like being on an emotional turmoil: Shahryar's voice is both calm and warm, capable of comforting us on those cold and lonely Winter days, but sometimes, is strong and quite alive, as a storm ready to burst, keeping us with our eyes wide-open. Sergio Mendes, on electric guitar, loading these melodies with a rockin' attitude and Hugo Novo, on the keyboards, digging into more intimate backgrounds. This would not be complete without Rui David on drums and Reinaldo Paixao on bass guitar.

Acoustic mellow folk music, broken-hearted stories, sorrow-drunken vocals, whipping guitar chords and dreamy melodies.... Altogether they define the 13 songs out of Song Of The New Heart.

Unageing Games [Listen @ MySpace]

02.David Fonseca - Dreams In Colour

After the release of 2003's Sing Me Something New and 2005's Our Hearts Will Beat As One, the expectation was quite big towards David Fonseca's latest release, Dreams In Colour. After listening to the latter, I must say that it is much better than what I expected.

With three albums up to today, we are constantly surprised by his new songs and the way each record evolves compared to its predecessors. Dreams In Colour is only his most accomplished release so far, the perfect follow-up to his previous two albums. With an handful of tracks, (11 in total), we are taken into a swirl of indie pop, 80's electro, catchy, melodic and heavily contagious dancing tunes, where constant changes in mood take place; songs run in epic crescendos. It's a sea of emotions and amazing pop pearls!!!

Songs like the poppy Kiss me, Oh Kiss me, the mind-blowing dance melodies of Silent Void, the crescendo on This Wind, Temptation and the superb cover to Elton John's Rocket Man (I Think It's Going To Be a Long, Long Time) are more than the perfect welcome card to one of my favourites this 2007.

This is Dreams In Colour, a hymn to pop music, one of the best pop albums Portugal has seen on recent years. An album suiting those that, like me, love pop music, or those that prefer more alternative/indie music.

Take a deep breath!!! Press play and enjoy. It's all about Dreams in Colour.

Silent Void [Listen @ MySpace]

01.Wraygunn - Shangri-La

Lord, I'll never turn back .... No more..

Ever felt the need for something extra?
Ever felt the need for something that could lift you off the ground, and take you away from the day to day boredom?
Yes? So you've come to the right place!!!

Welcome to Shangri-la, the amazing follow-up to Wraygunn's highly acclaimed second release Esclesiastes 1.11.

If on their previous release, Paulo Furtado and his fellow companions were more into the world of gospel, this time, they've put it behind their backs and went more rock, more blues, more soul, and guess what, there's even a taste of funk, pop, punk and electronic music.

Blues going punk (with the explosive and highly addictive Love Letters from a Muthafucka); pop kissing electronic music; devilish gospel embracing soul (with the divine gospel-like choirs of two amazing ladies, Selma Uamusse and Raquel Ralha). On this third release, we see mainly Raquel Ralha enchanting us with her powerful and seductive vocals. Together with Selma Uamusse they are the voice whispering behind your hear, taking you deeper into the world of Shangri-La.

The album kicks off with Ain't it Nice, the perfect introduction to the 12 chapters to come next. By the second track, and while singing Love Is My New Drug, we come together with Raquel and Selma and their powerful, soulful and melodic vocal contribution, while Mr. Paulo Furtado is left to his guitar. Ain't it Nice reveals as well Raquel's writting skills.

Going forth, we encounter Hoop Hoola Woman, the first track sailing on the seas of calmness; seductive pop, dreamy and catchy..... How beautiful music can be!!!

Until the end, there's still time to discover Work Me Out, a dirty rock'n'roll guitar soul anthem, with Raquel and Selma sounding amazing once again. These two ladies do it again on the closing track, No More, My Lord. This gospel spiced soul version starts smoothly. Then, the chorus sounds louder and louder. The guitar gets noisier, trapped in addictive loops. Altogether, this whirlwind of sounds finished Shagri-La at its best.

And this way we close our best of, with Portugal's number one, Wraygunn and their Shangri-la.

She's a Go-go Dancer [mp3]

Labels: , ,

posted by SKL @ 2:04 AM   1 comments