Music is the greatest communication in the world. Even if people don’t understand the language that you’re singing in, they still know good music when they hear it.
Lou Rawls said that, and Frank Sinatra once said Lou had “the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game” which is a clunky quote but high praise indeed.
Today we’re looking at language, and in particular language we don’t speak and don’t understand! It’s a testament to the universality of melody and rhythm that we can enjoy music in which the words have little or no meaning. Our grasp of French is poor, of Spanish is awful, of Icelandic is one word and of Hopelandic is absolutely non existant! Yet we can listen to and enjoy music with lyrics way beyond our comprehension.
Probably the most oddly successful act in the history of music Sigur Rós have managed to not only sing in Icelandic, a language pretty much nobody outside of Iceland speaks but also Hopelandic a made up language that just sounds nice when you sing it! This hasn’t stopped them having four top 20 albums and probably selling their music to more adverts, films and nature documentaries than anyone other band in history! How did this happen? Because they realised you can say whatever you like in a song but it’s the melody that will make you a star!
They’re of course not the only ones, Serge Gainsbourg maybe far better known in his native France, but his appeal with almost any social group with a vaguely rebellious streak is legendary. His influence on modern French music is unquestionable, but increasingly his influence is stretching beyond the countries borders.
English remains unquestionably the number one language in pop-musics idiom, but in the same way we should encourage people to sing in their own accent, perhaps we should be more receptive of music in it’s own language, as the power of the English speaking world wanes then perhaps so should its hold on the language of music.
Los Bonsáis are male-female duo Nel González and Helena Toraño. As well as being productive musicians they also produce a traditional photocopied fanzine called Temporal, make their own videos plus Helena found time to put on an art show, and produce the bands own artwork. They’re basically about as DIY as DIY can be!
The duo are described as noise-pop, pop-punk and most accurately noise-pop-punk! They combine the easy jangle of Marine Girls, the simplicity of Beat Happening and the effects pedals of The Jesus & Mary Chain into effortless and very short stabs of pop music best bits. Like The Ramones if they were Spanish and had a female singer!
They’re described as an Asturian duo, Asturias being the region of Northern Spain containing both Oviedo and Gijon, it’s also apparently known as “the land of the cheeses” which seems a very good reason to go their! They’re part of a currently very fertile Spanish Indie-Pop scene which has produced the likes of Band À Part, Axolotes Mexicanos (who were a loud blast of joy at last years Indietracks Festival!) and Linda Guilala, who have taken on production duties for Los Bonsáis in the past.
After a couple of self-released demos the band signed with Indie-Pop power house Elefant Records back in 2012. Whilst Elefant is probably best known in the UK as the former home of Camera Obscura, it’s also a vital cog in the Spanish music scene, releasing many great local acts as well as international artists. The band released debut single Ultramarinos as part of The New Adventures in Pop series, before their debut mini-album, the 8-track Martín Pescador arrived in 2013, and we picked up in an Independent record shop in Madrid, probably the coolest record buying story we’ve got! New single Los Perdimos De Vista came out this week, and will be followed by Nordeste a new EP, once again on Elefant Records.
Their first mini-album Martin Pescador was a complete blast, eight tracks in under 18 minutes, the pair raced furiously through a series of bubblegum-punk tracks. With titles like La Mecedora (The Rocker) and Medio Tempo (we’d always assumed Medium Tempo but apparently it means Half-Time), it wasn’t subtle but it was incredibly fun! New single Los Perdimos De Vista (We Lost Sight) is like a distilled version of that, the more saccharine edges filed down into a full blown punk song, whilst even better is the B-side Nubes Y Claros, the most down-beat and sophisticated track they’ve ever done, it’s pure Jesus & Mary Chain jangling, rainy-day pop. If they’re a sign of things to come on their new EP Nordeste, it’s going to be fantastic!
Still bitter about Spain’s role in the global financial collapse? Worried about giving money to anyone who isn’t English in case it increases net-EU migration? Had a disappointing holiday on the Costa Del Sol that’s left you despondent with Spain and all things Spanish? Well in that case you might not like Los Bonsáis, and we might not like you!
Los Bonsáis new single Los Perdimos De Vista is out now, followed by their new EP, Nordeste, on the 16th of February, both on Elefant Records.