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ABC Best Of The Year Part 3: Interpol, Joanna Newsom, Kurt Cobain And Los Lobos

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I have decided to look back at this past year in alphabetic order,… and this is the third part of the game….

I as in Interpol: El Pintor was released in 2014 but the New York band has continued their tour though 2015 and I got to see them at the Shrine Hall expo…. it was not a very intimate place but their music exploded in the spacious venue,… this is what I wrote back in April: Interpol’s music is a dark beauty that can be savored without any artifices, they actually don’t do much on stage. They may have an album called Antics, but there are none going on during their shows, Paul Banks doesn’t move much, although guitarist Daniel Kessler put some real fire in the performance… Banks’ monochord, nasal and detached baritone, and their signature sound built around these layers of piercing, soaring or dancing guitars and distinctive bass lines,… The band wrapped the large hall in a kaleidoscopic trance, with a pulsating chaos pounding like a fast heartbeat, pulverizing the place with elegance and confidence.

J as in Joanna Newsom: Joanna released her album ‘Divers’ this year, with a top-notch video directed by famous director and friend Paul Thomas Anderson who had already casted her as Sortilège in his last movie ‘Inherent Vice’. Her music often slowly sprawl with harp, piano and her squeaky vocals which can be as eccentric as there are emotional. I have always found her to be quite a quirky one, a sort of American Bjork with a harp and a very versatile voice, sometimes turning into an ethereal operatic howl, sometimes sounding like a female version of Andy Gibbs’ weird tremolo… This year, Joanna also teamed up with the anti-streamers, criticizing Spotify in an interview: ‘Spotify is the banana of the music industry, it just gives off a fume. You can just smell that something’s wrong with it.’

K as in Kurt Cobain: It was a very Cobain year with the release of two very different movies, lots of memorabilia on eBay, and a lot of controversy. Brett Morgen’s ‘Montage of Heck’ was acclaimed by everyone except by me, The Melvins’ Buzz Osborne, who said it that 90% of it was bullshit and by Nirvana photographer Alice Wheeler who talked to me and called the movie ‘montage of crap’. It was a pitiful exploitation, with the release of the soundtrack and some very personal tapes that Kurt Cobain very probably didn’t want you to hear. Then there was Ben Statler’s ‘Soaked in Bleach’ which certainly went where ‘Montage of Heck’ didn’t go… it was the movie Courtney Love didn’t want you to see and Tom Grant’s personal battle. I guess the 2016 question is: will the investigation into his death be reopened as all the experts in the movie would like to?

L as in Los Lobos: With the release of the new album ‘Gates of Gold’, a book by Music journalist Chris Morris, and many concerts – I got to see them in September, Iman saw them a few days ago – the band from East LA is still doing very strong. Rosas and Perez still do amazing things on guitars, while David Hidalgo’s voice is still intact, highly recognizable at the first note of their 1984 hit ‘How Will the Wolf Survive’. The humble wolves are east LA’s true spirit, raw and powerful, they continue to embrace a giant musical melting pot and turn it into a signature golden sound.

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