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Optimus Primavera Sound 2014: the unsung heroes, part I

A couple of weeks ago, while at the official presentation of Optimus Primavera Sound 2014’s full lineup at the Porto city hall, I was surprised to see a lot of people cheering uncontrollably whenever a band they liked appeared on the big screen. Seriously, when “The National” appeared printed on the jacket of one of the characters on the (great) short video that announced the festival’s lineup, I thought FC Porto had scored or something. Shouts of similar magnitude could be heard when Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Kendrick Lamar or Haim were announced, but a lot of names went unnoticed and are naturally confined to the last few lines of the lineup poster.

Courtney Barnett is one of those names. Sure, the Australian 90s-slacker-indie-rock-inspired (read: Pavement and Built to Spill) singer-songwriter hasn’t even released a proper album besides A Sea of Split Peas, a compilation combining her two first EPs released last year, but there’s enough juice on it (“Avant Gardener”, “History Eraser”, “David”, “Lance Jr.”…) to make sure we’re in for a treat next June.

Following the demise of the shoegazy Sian Alice Group, who back in the day toured with artists as big and musically as far apart as Spiritualized and Florence and the Machine, Sian Ahern may have stopped for a while but couldn’t stay away for long. Eaux is her new band and, like Courtney Barnett, a full album is still to be released, but their debut EP, i, is enough to make us pumped for their shows in both Porto and Barcelona. Track picks: “New Peaks”, “Too Dark to Tell”.

Speedy Ortiz has caught my eye last year with the spectacular Major Arcana, top 20 material in my albums of 2013 list that I didn’t bother to publish here, but who cares. Indie rock like it used to be, you know, in the good ol’ days. Something to make up for the lack of Superchunk in the Portuguese edition of the festival.  “No Below” is easily one of my favorite songs of this decade. It could be yours, too.

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