Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Power of an Austria Song Shines Through

Many people overlook the value of a great song. When your favorite (and most likely world famous) artist's song is being covered by someone you don't know, you don't make a big deal of it; people do this quite frequently. But when an act that isn't quite a household name has its songs recorded and shared on youtube, it's a testament to the power of the the songwriter's craft.

I'm not a youtube expert, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are thousands of youtube performances by people that very few of us know, who play hit songs (that we do know) and share them with the world. In fact, it's been said that a great way to increase the popularity and/or awareness of a musical act is to cover a song that is currently riding the pop charts. The purpose of the cover song is partly to gain an audience that might not initially be interested in the artist. Take the Talking Heads' version of Al Green's "Take Me to the River," for example. "River" was the the Heads' first single and the band's main introduction to the world before their original songs were promoted at radio.

For Latin Alternative act Austria, "Adormecida" (on their current album, "Nada,") - which means "numb" in Spanish - is not getting played on the radio (that I know of) and hasn't, as yet, been included in a popular TV series or motion picture, yet a young man in Argentina not only admires "Adormecida," but decided to perform it and share it with the world.

Is this unique? Maybe not. But if there are people covering songs from artists that aren't quite as popular as, say, Taylor Swift, I doubt the songs they're performing are as powerful as "Adormecida," which was written by Martin Rougier (pictured above).

Make no mistake - when a song from a band on a small independent label is being covered, it's a powerful statement - and I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't the last time we hear an Austria song sung by someone other than the band.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Austria Performs in Buenos Aires and Gains Fans

As posted by the Buenos Aires Herald last week, this piece led up to a Lisandro Aristimuño show that included Austria on the bill. The preview closes by saying, "The doors open tonight at Konex at 8pm, with Austria, a band from Rosario, warming up at 8:15pm."

Well, I guess "warming up" could be used as a description.

More like "fired up."

Buenos Aires is for all intents and purposes, Argentina, much like London is England. It's the epicenter of the country and that includes the music industry.

Austria is no stranger to Buenos Aires; it knows of it's success from the country's third largest city, Rosario, where the group is from, and as popular as the band is in their hometown, from time to time there can be somewhat of a disconnect between Rosario and Buenos Aires, for the band.

Until now.

Due to a series of events, Austria was invited to play one show with Lisandro Aristimuño (a popular Argentinean artist in his own right), and it apparently awakened a sleeping giant. Austria played in front of up to 700 people, largely to a set of ears that had not heard the group before. Like Austria always does, it grabbed the audience's attention, coupling their exceptionally high-level songwriting with a splendid performance. By all reports, there was a spike in the band's social networking sites ("listens," likes," talking about this", especially "talking about this") the next morning, and fans wrote on the band's Facebook page about how delighted they were to hear Austria's set having no expectations of the quality of music they would be faced with while waiting for Aristimuño's set. Some fans didn't wait until the next day; they told the band how great Austria was right after the show and even told Lisandro, himself.

The scenario (and reaction) is all too familiar, especially if you caught the band's set in Southern California a few months ago: From "I have no idea who this band is that I'm about to hear" to "Wow, these guys are great!," Austria consistently prove themselves to music fans.

So, Austria grabbed a few headlines, so to speak, in the capital city last week, and was invited back before moving on to play a few nights later to an immensely enthusiastic hometown crowd that welcomed them back for the band's first show in Rosario since returning from the U.S.

The beginning of a very important trend? We'll see.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Future of Latin Alternative, Pondered

Gabriel San Roman also picked up on the story of Desmond Child's prediction of the future of Latin Alternative, in his 'pondering' column of the OC Weekly today. San Roman sites his own experiences of border radio stations playing bi-lingual rock music within the same block - just what Christian Mejia was talking about. Also, San Roman's observation of what was said at the Latin Grammys the other night is also eye-opening.

While it might be a bit fuzzy, I'm starting to see a picture developing of the Latin music industry dancing around the issue of firmly launching the Alternative format at commercial radio. I think radio is looking around the room to see who is going to step up first. Whoever does, though, will possess a license to print money.

Friday, November 11, 2011

There Will Be a Latin Alternative Music Explosion - Not Maybe

I'm not one to air my views publicly. It's not my thing; but when I'm working on something and absolutely know it's going to happen and someone says it might happen, I have to speak up. I admire Desmond Child. I love some of his songs and even had an opportunity to meet with him when he was producing some tracks with Chynna Phillips back in the 90's at the old EMI Music Publishing studio on Sunset. (He's a nice guy, by the way.) I won't, for a second, forget how talented he is and the many accomplishments he has achieved, but when someone much more steeped in Latin music than I am - and I have only been working in the Latin Alt. world for about a year - says that Latin Alternative might explode (see link to article, below), I can't just let it go. Come on! Latin Alternative is a ticking time bomb - in the United States, anyway.

Great artists like Ximena Sariñana, Zoé, Carla Morrison and Hello Seahorse! are making big strides and all without the aid of a commercial radio format in the U.S.! As Christian Mejia, an Orange County, CA club promoter and head of Intoroq said recently, can you imagine what would happen to the Latin Alternative genre if Latin Alternative artists were played on commercial radio (a la Los Angeles Modern Rock station KROQ) next to Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Florence + The Machine, Rage Against The Machine and Tori Amos? Well, it would blow up. Why? Because there are thousands of young Latinos and Latinas in the United States who are bi-lingual and listen to cutting edge music both in Spanish and English. Ever go to a rock concert featuring current American or British acts and see Latinos? Of course you have! Do you think it's possible that some of them might be fluent in Spanish and have roots in Latin music? Of course it is! Lastly, I've seen the thirst for Latin Alternative music with my own eyes. When Rosario, Argentina's Austria played in Southern California a few months ago, Latinos came up to the band's merch booth with a look in their eyes that said, "Wow, these guys are great! Where are they from?" (By the way, some of those people actually said those words.) One lady at the Long Beach show confessed, "I don't even speak Spanish and I love this band," which gives some credence to the fact that Latin Alternative not only draws in a Spanish-speaking crowd, but can woo the non-Spanish speakers, as well.

So, your music, totally respect you and I'm sure you will have continued success for years to come, but please don't be afraid of predicting the future; I have, and the future is Latin Alternative. It is going to explode.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Austria Teaser of Tour Documentary Released

Austria has put together a teaser to their forthcoming documentary about their Southern California tour this past September. Look for the doc to include interviews, performances and plenty of footage from San Diego to Malibu.