Monday, February 28, 2011
Someone pointed out to me that Austria’s lyrics aren’t very sophisticated when translated into English. I told her that is why the songs were written in Spanish; it sounds and reads a whole lot better in the native tongue. This individual, who was trying to poke holes in Austria’s artistic reputation, then came back with, “but if you don’t speak Spanish, you won’t like the song because you don’t know what they’re saying!”
I took my time formulating my answer, trying really hard not to make this person sound like a fool. “What about La Bamba?” I asked slowly.
“Isn’t that song in English?” The individual asked.
I told her it was in Spanish, but not to take my word for it and check out the recordings herself. (I don’t know if she ever did, but she never brought up the subject again.)
The exchange does bring up a good question: Do non-Spanish speaking music fans listen to music in Spanish? The answer is yes. I believe The Latin Alternative is geared for people who like music in Spanish, but don’t necessarily speak it. NPR's Alt.Latino might reach out to non-Spanish speakers, as well.
So how does this affect Austria? It doesn’t, really. Many people focus on the melody and the beat when listening to a song (La Bamba), and the lyrics can almost be secondary; but here’s a secret: I spoke to two people whose native language is Spanish and are both in the music business and they both say the same thing – the lyrics are really, really good.
Should you be a non-Spanish speaker and then learn the language and then read Austria’s lyrics, rest assured, you will be impressed by not only what they say, but how they say it.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
A common response I get from people who listen to Austria’s “Nada” album is that the lyrics are such a bummer. Song titles such as “Descender” (Down), “Adormecida” (Numb), “Solo” (Alone), “Nada" (Nothing). How much can one listener take? Well guess what, some of the greatest songs every written have some of the most depressing lyrics ever written. Songs with lyrics that include, “…my baby left me…” or “I used to lover her, but I had to kill her…” or try “Girl in a comma…” These lyrics are in hit songs! So apply that to Austria. You know why people keep coming back to see them? Because of the stories they tell and the wonderful melodies that surround them. Take this lyric: “No los puedo esperar, nada de esto me alcanza y ya no puedo guardar, lo que tengo no es nada.” Roughly translated, “I just can´t wait for you, none of this works, I can´t keep saving because I have nothing.” This is from the Lautaro Gonzalez de Cap-penned, “Nada.” On the face of it, whether it is in English or Spanish, it’s enough to take someone out of their Happy Spell in a snap, but coupled with the verse and chorus of the song, you have a wonderful five minutes-plus of music.
Take a few lines from “Solo,” also written by Gonzalez: "Cuando me despierto y ya no queda nada, busco entre los restos y vos no estás. Y pienso en las cosas que aprendí de niño, cuando aún no quería huir de acá." / "When I wake up and there is nothing left, I look for you among the remains and you are not there.” Once again, not exactly words that inspires happiness…but wow, what a song!
So what’s the point? The point is songs that are sad and dark can also be the songs you sing and listen to many times over in your life. Austria’s “Nada” album is filled with sad and dark – and they can keep you humming all day long.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Every band has a reason for why they chose their name. Some for very interesting and complex reasons and some out of sheer stupidity (I can name a few from the latter, but that would offend). As mentioned in my blog 2/24, several people have asked, why “Austria”? One person even asked, wouldn’t it be more appropriate if they were called “Argentina”? Noooo. The artist is trying to accomplish something. The group’s moniker is an extension of their music, no matter how ridiculous you might think it is; it’s part of who they are. So why “Austria”? I will admit, when I first got to know the guys, I asked Lautaro Gonzalez de Cap, one of the writers and vocalists of the group, the same question. He replied, and I’m paraphrasing, “Our music is pristine, like the country Austria.” A more detailed explanation is this: If you have seen images of the country Austria, or have visited it, most likely you saw beautiful steeples and lovely architecture with snow-capped mountains in the background, backed by a gorgeous sky of blue. You could describe some of the images of the country as clean, crisp and pristine. Gonzalez also added that great musicians, such as Wolfgang Mozart were native Austrians. Possibly a deeper look at the reason for the band’s affinity toward this European country might be that they are in some way paying homage not only to its physical beauty, but to the people it has produced…and the lads from Rosario, Argentina aspire to be as great as them.
So, there you have it. You may still think the reasoning stinks, but that’s what the band decided and you shall know them by that one name.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
So now that Austria's NADA album has finally been released, it will be interesting to see how the public perceives this Latin Alternative band. Industry has warmed to the group nicely, from Argentine Elder Statesman, Nito Mestre, to Specialty Radio, to bloggers. Even industry veterans such as Mike Busch of Emanon Records, who is very particular about the quality of recordings, commented on how good the album sounded. As far as the sound of the disc, credit goes to the band, obviously, but also to producer (and band member) Franco Mascotti and multiple Grammy winner and mastering guru, Gavin Lurssen. With all that aside, it's time to hear from music fans.
In Argentina, where the album was released in October, fans embraced the album immediately. The guys play to full houses in their hometown of Rosario, Santa Fe, so their core audience is in place...and growing. In Buenos Aires (about a 2-1/2 drive south of Rosario), it's been a steady climb, as there seems to be some sort of stigma that comes with being from Rosario (possibly more on that another time). In the United States, where the band really wants to make its mark, the path to stardom is very attainable.
The marketing and promotion around the U.S. release (it's virtually a worldwide release once it's on iTunes), consists of the obligatory servicing to radio, press, etc., as well as being listed on popular websites, such as Last.fm and SoundCloud. Last.fm, through ways that nobody understands (including the band), has had Austria's (older) songs on its site for a few years now - possibly a testament to the quality of their songwriting. More interviews are being scheduled, mostly at radio, and sales are just getting started.
One drawback in regard to promoting the band has been its name. Not that people can't get their head around a band named after a country, but that there are so many records (mostly compilations) that have the artist listed as "Austria" or "Austria (fill in the blank)". This has confused people; and while Last.fm's services are greatly appreciated, the site merges multiple artists with the name "Austria" - on one page! When people contact me asking why it's so difficult to look them up online from a Google search, I tell them that their name isn't unique enough (more on why the band chose its name, some other time) and to simply type in "Austria Nada" and most assuredly, you will find them.
Hopefully more music fans will find Austria, as the story of (hopefully) the rise of Austria (the band from Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina formed in 2006, not another "Austria") continues...
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Nito Mestre, of Sui Generis fame, as well as having a highly successful solo career, is a big fan of the "Nada" album. Mestre has been a major supporter of Austria's music for quite some time now.