I have never been to Spain. I don’t speak Spanish. I don’t know much about Spain other than what I’ve been taught by The Food Network. So it is fitting and easily understandable why Spotify’s Discover feature decided to hook me up with a bunch of Spanish rock bands a few weeks ago. Nonetheless, there were some notable ones on the playlist that I’m going to highlight today.
Very chill group whose music varies between a kind of post-punk and “alternative” rock sound. I was pleased with Mil Espejos. It’s a typical song as chord progressions go, but it has a good sense of movement and those rise-and-fall volume dynamics that I sometimes point out in emo music. It is definitely my favorite of theirs, but in the interest of showing off their variety, they’ve got more standard rock tracks like El Hijo De Dios, and Voyeur Amateur shows their “alternative” side.
These guys definitely have the most unusual sound of the bunch. Last.fm suggests “shoegaze” primarily, but I’m more inclined to go with noise-pop. As you can hear on Baila Sumeria, they are fairly upbeat and poppy, and they make frequent use of digital, space-y effects. They sometimes go for more of a wall-of-sound with tracks like Euromaquia. Above all, I find that every shoegaze group has one track where they keep things musically simple in the interest of creating a really memorable, driving, emotive experience. Incidentally, I’d say Mil Espejos is “that track” for Nudozurdo (above), well-known shoegaze artist Ride has Vapour Trail (great song, by the way), and this group has De La Monarquía a La Criptocracia. It’s not a complex song, but it demonstrates how the little things like the first post-chorus (~0:50) can do big things for the mood of a song.
Instrumental rock/metal music is something I hold to a higher standard than regular rock. To me, the decision to forgo vocals sends a message that the musical composition is important to the band, and they want me to pay attention to it. I’m looking for things like exemplary technicality, atmosphere, or at least something unique. With that in mind, I’d say Toundra falls in the “atmosphere” category (although not particularly notable at that). From what I’ve heard so far, they don’t have a bad album. I’ve checked out (II) and IV, and despite my nit picks, I think any post-metal enthusiast would get some value there. A lot of their tracks take you on quite a journey, like the minor epic Bizancio. Their most popular today is Strelka. A slightly softer track, but it has some good headnodding moments. I liked the guitar effects utilized on Magreb.
This group is technically from the Basque Country, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to mention them. They’re quite an interesting band in that I don’t believe I could show you any one song from them and have you correctly guess what the rest of their songs sound like. For example, if I played Sutxakurrak, you might think they’re a stoner metal band. If I played Lemak, Aingurak, you might think they’re a pop punk band. In reality, I have no idea what type of band they consider themselves to be. What impresses me is that they seem to produce genuine, spirited tracks regardless of what sound they’re going for in a given song. Perhaps due to how frequently they change things up across an album, they never come up with a boring song. If you still don’t believe me, explain how Ordaina is on the same album as Aditu Bihurtuak.
These guys possess qualities that remind me of bands like Pianos Become the Teeth and Touché Amoré — a mixture of traditional screamo and contemporary post-rock. No song can demonstrate what I’m describing better than Báltica off Flores, Carne. It’s soft, it’s hard, it’s slow, it’s fast, it’s quiet, it’s loud — while somehow short and sweet. The following track off the same album, De Carne y Flor, is also quite good. Viva Belgrado focuses on the melodic and introspective tones of screamo; they don’t really get into the chaotic/hardcore elements we’ve heard in other posts. I think they’re accessible and a strong entry-level group in the genre. Calathea is another notable track, with spirited drumming, melodic guitars, and an inoffensive level of screaming for new listeners.