(photo: Zuleira Ch)
Las Robertas are a rock band from San Jose, Costa Rica. They play hazy lo-fi pop tunes with a blend of wailing guitars, heart pounding drums, and echoing vocals. This band consists of four ladies named Meche (Guitar/Vocals), Lola (Vocals/Pandereta), Monse (Bass/Vocals), and Ana María (Drums). With a style that could easily be mistaken for coming from Southern California or Brooklyn, Las Robertas are proof that music is truly universal and you can never be too sure of what’s blasting from speakers in a tropical city and sparking inspiration inside aspiring young artists.
I recently caught wind of Las Robertas and quickly grabbed a copy of their stellar debut record Cry Out Loud. There was little information available about this band, so I contacted them in an attempt to get the scoop on what’s going on with them down in Costa Rica. They were happy to answer some questions for us and talked about their inspiration, finding themselves outsiders among local bands, and being excited about the future.
– Tell us a little bit about how you met each other, and started Las Robertas?
Monse and Meche met through MySpace a long time ago…they liked similar stuff (Isobel Campbell and 60’s New Wave among others), then early 2009 they met up with Lola and decided to start practicing and making songs. Meche used to know Ana M. from school, they both go to the same one, it’s a design-arts specialized university. So approximately 2 months after starting to play, Ana M. joined. Since then, we all became great friends, we’re always hanging out together, also with our manager M. Hortensia.
– What has influenced your music and personal styles?
It’s as if someone asked the band Harlem if there’s a limit to how many pop songs you can fit on one indie album without it becoming cheesy or commercial, and they responded with Hippies as a resounding “no”. On the Austin trio’s Matador debut they supply sixteen songs that sound as if Buddy Holly went outside and rolled around in the mud before taking stage. Hippies is packed with quick, dirty classic pop tunes; a style which allows Harlem to pull off being catchy without entering Top 40 rock radio territory.
Someone unexposed to Italy may only think of scenes from The Godfather and music from an Opera as reference, but anyone who steps foot on Italian soil could find rock bands break out original material and Kinks covers like it’s nobody’s business (have witnessed this first-hand). However, Ofelia Dorme could come as a pleasant surprise to anyone. The Bologna based rock band has a minimalist style combined with a depth of sounds entrenched in prog rock. Lead singer Francesca Bono delivers concise vocals with cunning precision over moody soundscapes that rise and fall like audio recorded inside a stormy dream. Instead of imitating music imported from abroad, Ofelia Dorme aims to create their own export. They have a self-released EP titled Sometimes It’s Better To Wait, recently played gigs in the UK, and have several more European shows lined up. When put in contact with Ofelia Dorme I was immediately interested in finding out what’s happening behind the scenes because of their home country, ambition, and most importantly the music.
Q: Tell us a little about how you all met, and decided to start the band Ofelia Dorme?
The Morning Benders sophomore release, Big Echo, is a tapestry of well composed, wistful baroque-pop that lightly balances somewhere between the feelings of nostalgia and regret. Reminiscent of the moments in life you reflect back on, undecided if you truly regret them now, but are positive that you wouldn’t live them different if you had the chance.
Big Echo contains traces of the orchestral peaks and valleys of producer Chris Taylor’s band Grizzly Bear, but The Morning Benders stand on their own feet and put a subtle yet effective sun soaked spin on a style Taylor seems to have become a master at producing. Continue reading
Calling Broken Bells a side-project would be inaccurate. Side-projects usually consist of a band member with a desire to create music in their singular vision, going off and finding other musicians outside their band to play it with. Consisting of Shins front man James Mercer and Brian Burton (Danger Mouse), it would be more precise to term Broken Bells a collaboration. Multi-instrumentalist Burton lays down the beats over which Mercer provides his vocals and guitar. Together they deliver an album of smooth and seemingly effortless tracks; perfect for both cruising in the car on a summer afternoon or keeping a party going early in the morning. Continue reading
On their 2007 debut, All Hour Symbols, Yeasayer brought a unique brand of folk, highlighted by a few danceable tracks placed throughout the album. With their sophomore release, Odd Blood, they turn down the folk, turn up the dance, and provide an album of electro-laden tracks inspired by world-music and futurism. Continue reading
Owen Pallett may be one of the best new artists you’ve never heard of. How can I say that? Don’t I know that you’re on the cutting edge of indie music, and if he were really all that great then you’d know about him? Well, first, Pallett’s resume includes indie giants Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear (among others), he is credited with arranging the strings on the albums and contributing to remixes. This should not be downplayed, as both Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear have been lauded in large part for their sophisticated orchestral arrangements, but it seems that Pallett may have fell by the wayside as these bands entered the mainstream consciousness (Jay-Z didn’t exactly reference Owen Pallett when he praised Grizzly Bear). Second, until recently, Pallett had been known as Final Fantasy. He’s actually been around for years, but really, try telling your friends about a dude who plays violin and calls himself Final Fantasy and see how far you get. As you can probably tell, it doesn’t sound especially appealing. Final Fantasy did manage to generate a modest amount of fanfare, though (especially in Canada where he won the coveted Polaris Music Prize). Continue reading