17 nov. 2015

Reclaiming The Colonies, One State at a Time... "Fanzine"

It's been a fairly sombre past few days as news of the horrific terrorist attacks on Paris continues to unfurl. The fact that both a gig and a football match - the two constant passions in my life - were amongst the deliberate targets is particularly chilling. But the fact is that music is a cause for celebration and enjoyment. It transcends race, religion, ethnic division and anything else mankind wants to throw in its face... Above all, music should be about having fun...

So it seems quite apt that Los Bonsáis' new EP "¡Fanzine!"  - a collection of four unique interpretations of shamefully long-forgotten gems - should have recently fallen into my possession, and I can't think of anything more appropriate at this moment to cheer me up. Indeed the press release from their label, Elefant, sums up my thoughts far more eloquently than I ever could:

"...Every time we get our hands on a new LOS BONSÁIS release we realise how much we need their songs, like some kind of medicine that gets rid of the routine and the day-to-day, and fills you with joy, freshness, and the desire to live..."

Now I first came across Helena and Nel, from the Asturias region of Spain, thanks to their insanely addictive album "Nordeste" and now the duo have raided their  7" record collection to brighten my day. 

And while they may not be heading to Rough Trade or buying a limited edition of the Lurkers pressed on red vinyl the "Punks a tiempo parcial" still look as depressingly uniform ("...siempre van igual...") as those Part-time punks "walkin' down the Kings Road" of the Television Personalities' tongue-in-cheek original.  

This is a 160 km/h tour-de-force of lo-fi fuzzy guitars, pounding percussion that whizz through Helena's sweet vocals which end up getting gloriously multi-tracked on the song's chorus. The pair's version is faithful enough to the original as to be instantly recognisable yet adds enough of a twist for the band to claim it as their own - and as befits their own musical influences, these weekend punks are searching through the racks for some choice C86 cuts rather than The Banshees or Swell Maps... 

In the hands of The Vaselines, "Son of a gun" hit you with a wall of grungy distorted guitars before it veered towards Twee (especially during Frances McKee's angelic vocals). Here as "Hijo del Señor" Helena and Nel pay homage by giving the song the full-bore fuzzed treatment - buzzing guitars, metronomic drums - and great vocal interplay and harmonies. Trust me, this pair do vocals. The Spanish lyrics are not only a faithful translation, they also resonate well in their native tongue... a resounding "Olé" from over here! 
To be honest I'd never heard of Black Tambourine - an early 90's DC-based Twee band - or their song "Throw Aggi off the bridge", but having listened to the original it most certainly ticks all the prerequisite boxes. Musically, Helena and Nel remain incredibly faithful to the original - there's the added blurring at the edges (but hey, this wouldn't be a Los Bonsaís song otherwise) - while lyrically "El puente de Aggi" may feature a small mischievous sleight of hand - I suspect this is my favourite track of the quartet, if only because even the original is new to me.

The pair bring the curtain down with "Nada que hacer" - their version of The Pastels "Nothing to be done" (from the "Sitting Pretty" album) again remains faithful to the original - if anything this version's lyrics are even more heavenly than the original. For all their mastery of low-fi, guitar wondrousness, Helena and Nel's vocals are to be underestimated at your peril.

"¡Fanzine!" is just what the Doctor ordered. 10 minutes of pure indie-guitar heaven,  sweet vocals - and as hinted by the EP's title - a home made cover and mini-fanzine insert thanks to Helena (indeed the pair have their own fanzine and blog). The EP also gave me an excuse to dig our some of my old favourites to fill my head and escape to a better place.

¡Mil Gracias Helena y Nel!

Los Bonsáis
"¡Fanzine!" ( Bandcamp), Elefant)


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