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NOS Primavera Sound 17: welcome to our top ten

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(Photo: Hugo Lima / nosprimaverasound.com)

Oh my brothers and oh my other comrades… six years of NOS Primavera Sound, six years we’ve left the Parque da Cidade hungry for more. After another sold out edition, we’re wondering if the festival needs to grow a bit more. And the answer is “no it doesn’t”. We love it just the way it is: a smaller, familiar festival that keeps us from going to Barcelona because we simply don’t need it anymore, even after those two sweet, sweet editions we were a part of (’09 and ‘10).

10. HAMILTON LEITHAUSER

After repeated listens of Leithauser’s debut record (with Vampire Weekend’s Rostam), I Had a Dream That You Were Mine, we couldn’t help but think “A 1000 Times” was a one hit wonder. Things are shaken up a bit live, but the single still stands strong as the major highlight, a contender for one of the best moments of the whole festival, with Leithauser screaming his heart out during the verses.  

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9. THE GROWLERS

Half an hour of The Growlers’ gig was enough to grant them a spot on our top ten. In the end, all you need is a great song – and they’ve delivered it in the form of “Love Test”, off hit record Chinese Fountain. The Growlers have grown from the garage scene and matured well enough to grant them a safe spot at a festival’s major stage, but they remain young at heart. Wish we could have stayed for “Going Gets Tough” later in the set, but some band was calling our names in a stage nearby… (Photo: Miguel Oliveira / pointandshoot.pt)

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8. SLEAFORD MODS

The Nottingham duo sounded a bit less abrasive than in the past, but they’re still what you should look for in a festival stage if you want a good time. Props to Andrew Fearn for keeping the best job ever (traveling the world, hitting the ‘play’ button every now and then and bobbing his head while holding a 50cl can of beer, and drinking it). (Photo: Hugo Lima / nosprimaverasound.com)

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7. SAMUEL ÚRIA

Our favorite Portuguese songwriter of the 21st century had the honor to open NOS Primavera Sound 2017 and of course he was up to the task. It was also the first time in six years that we’ve seen someone dance in the first concert of the festival, when people are usually busy seeing friends they rarely see during the rest of the year and having the first beers while there’s barely any queuing. “É Preciso Que Eu Diminua”, from his latest record, and old favorite “Teimoso” did the trick.

6. JULIEN BAKER

Playing simultaneously with the festival’s headliner, especially since the headliner is also a fellow singer-songwriter, is a tough job. Still, the few hundreds who (rightfully so) thought this kind of music is best enjoyable in a small crowd, close to the stage, and not in the middle of 20-something thousand people were rewarded with what was probably the best solo delivery of this festival. The young Julien Baker, alone at the microphone, presented new songs (“Distant Solar Systems”, “Funeral Pyre”) from her second record, her yet unnamed Matador debut that should be due later this year. We have, indeed, witnessed the beginning of something important. And beautiful.

5. MITSKI

Like The Growlers an hour before, Mitski was hurt (well, not literally, just our appreciation of her gig) by the fact that our annual celebration with a certain Chicago trio did not allow us to be there at 9pm sharp. Still, our swift run to the Pitchfork stage has rewarded us with the chance to witness her playing the song that turned us on to her music, Bury Me at Makeout Creek’s “First Love / Late Spring”. However, the highlight of her show had to be the closer “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars”. Who does not relate to the words “I work better under a deadline”?

4. WEYES BLOOD

Her birthday wasn’t until one hour later, but in the end it was Natalie Mering who gave us a present instead. Playing most of Front Row Seat to Earth, an album we unfortunately haven’t seen her play before – and with a full band – this was one of our most awaited shows and we weren’t disappointed. And, on top of her having the most beautiful voice of the whole festival, the band delivered a pretty decent version of Can’s “Vitamin C”.

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3. JAPANDROIDS

In an edition of the festival where we ended up seeing mostly “quieter” acts, Japandroids – along with our favorite band, read along… – was one of the exceptions to the rule. It’s difficult to stand still while the Canadians are on stage, throwing us punches left and right. (Photo: Miguel Oliveira / pointandshoot.pt)

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2. NIKKI LANE

Playing for an understandably small audience given the options, the Highway Queen still deserved a bigger crowd. Mostly playing songs from her latest album (“700,000 Rednecks”, “Send the Sun”, “Highway Queen”, “Jackpot”), our favorite country princess/queen/just give her a crown already ended things in style with a great version of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”. (Photo: Miguel Oliveira / pointandshoot.pt)

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1. SHELLAC OF NORTH AMERICA

What did you expect? My seventh Shellac show in eight Primaveras (two in Barcelona, six in Porto), although not my favorite from the bunch – 2016 was unreal – was indeed the best of the 2017 edition. Back in the ATP meadow, and earlier than ever (8:30), they didn’t even need two of their biggest classics (“The End of Radio” and “Prayer to God” were absent from the setlist) to set the crowd ablaze. New crowd favorite “Wingwalker” was as fun as ever, “Steady as She Goes”, “My Black Ass” and “Squirrel Song” provided the most headbanging fodder and, by the time the show ended, most people would be perfectly fine with an additional half hour. Yes, it’s true: year after year, Shellac is still the best rock band you can see in a stage. (Photo: Hugo Lima / nosprimaverasound.com)

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live

NOS Primavera Sound 2017: what not to miss

Shellac.

Ok, ok, let’s get a little bit deeper than this.

First, the playlist:

THURSDAY, JUNE 8

We know it’s hard to go to the festival this early, especially when the only artist playing that early is a Portuguese singer-songwriter singing in a language you probably don’t understand. But really, give him a shot: Samuel Úria (17:00, Super Bock stage) is probably our favorite dude-with-a-guitar-singing-in-Portuguese. This should have been Grandaddy’s night, but misfortune knocked at their door and we’ll get Arab Strap instead (21:10, Super Bock). Recently reunited after a 10-year hiatus, the Scottish influent duo might look oddly placed between Miguel’s adventurous R&B (20:00, NOS) and Run the Jewels’ (22:20, NOS) raucous hip hop set, but hey, this is Primavera.


FRIDAY, JUNE 9

Painful decisions are to be made early in the day, with Whitney **(18:50, Super Bock) and **Royal Trux (19:00, Palco., or “the stage formerly known as ATP”) fighting for your attention. Last year’s _Light Upon the Lake _and their recent new single “You’ve Got a Woman” brought Whitney to the spotlight and were one of our highlights at last years’ Vodafone Paredes de Coura Festival. If they bring the full band to Porto it will be difficult to not see at least part of their show, but the prospect of witnessing Royal Trux’s reunion show swings the pendulum on the other direction. Last year, Neil Hagerty walked all over whoever was seeing him at the same stage, and this year he brings his lifelong partner Jennifer Herrema along. Well, at least **Angel Olsen **(19:50, NOS), who needs no introduction (seriously, she doesn’t – this is usually what people say when they’re too lazy to write anything substantial about an artist, but she really doesn’t) has no opposition, so I guess we’ll all be there, right?

Same with the first 30min of Sleaford Mods (20:30, Palco.), we’re guessing. Their music is definitely not for everyone, but then again most music isn’t. Just one day after the British election, expect the Nottingham working class heroes to be extra angry while spitting their verses. We were similarly angry when we realized two of our favorite acts in the whole festival, Nikki Lane (21:00, Pitchfork) and Teenage Fanclub (21:00, Super Bock) are clashing. Life isn’t fair. Country darling Nikki Lane has just released her third solo album, Highway Queen, and has a mountain to climb trying to win over a crowd that usually disregards country music as food for hillbillies’ ears. Teenage Fanclub, lords of British indie rock, have been touring relentlessly after releasing one of the finest albums of their almost 3 decades long career, Here. The toughest choice of the year.

And here’s to hoping we can hear Julien Baker (22:30, Pitchfork) during Swans’ set a few metres away (22:00, Palco.). The young songwriter from Memphis is set for indie stardom, releasing her sophomore record later this year on Matador, and faces fierce opposition, not only from Swans (on their last tour, at least with this lineup) but from bearded-folky-guy-turned-glitchy-weirdo Bon Iver. Later on, Hamilton Leithauser (00:00, Pitchfork) returns to Primavera without his Walkmen and the party goes on with King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard (01:00, Palco.) and Nicolas Jaar (01:00, NOS) splitting the audience in half: rockers to the left, dancers to the right.


SATURDAY, JUNE 10

The Growlers’ (19:50, NOS) make some of the catchiest songs of modern rock and roll, and their latest record, produced by the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, is filled to the brink with such tracks. Expect fun. Then, it’s time for the yearly pilgrimage to wherever Shellac are playing (20:30, Palco.). This year, they play unusually early, but maybe that’s a good thing – they’re back to the stage where they originally played every year. Steve Albini, Bob Weston and Todd Trainer will – of course – once again provide us with the best show of the festival. I’m pretty sure we wrote the same exact thing last year.

Mitski (21:00, Pitchfork) is not exactly a good kept secret anymore, with her Dead Oceans-released latest album, Puberty 2, making her reach new heights. She will be followed by another songwriter at the top of her career, **Weyes Blood **(22:30, Pitchfork). _Front Row Seat to Earth _was one of our favorite records of 2016. Like Julien Baker the night before, she’s playing simultaneously with two of the most popular artists in the festival, but will have no trouble catching the attention of whoever passes casually through that stage.

Towards the end of the festival we switch to full-on party mode, with Canadian garage rock duo Japandroids (23:20, Super Bock) warming up to Aphex Twin (00:30, NOS)’s clusterfuck of a set (preview here) and The Black Angels (01:00, Palco.)’s psychedelic rock. And while we’re still longing for another of those DJ Coco sets at closing time that (again) won’t happen this year, there’s still a lot of dance to be had until the sun comes up for the last time.

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Bolachas Now Playing

#86: Flo Morrissey & Matthew E. White, “Gentlewoman, Ruby Man”

This week in Bolachas Now Playing we focus on Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White’s duet album Gentlewoman, Ruby Man.

Bolachas Now Playing, 02/2017 (#86):

Peter Silberman – New York
Wharfer – Breeze (Since I Was Born)
Julie Byrne – Melting Grid
Dead Man Winter – Red Wing Blue Wing
Conor Oberst – Napalm
Ryan Adams – Doomsday
Nikki Lane – Jackpot
Hand Habits – Flower Glass
Max Richter – Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works / Mrs Dalloway, In The Garden
Timber Timbre – Sewer Blues
Grandaddy – Evermore
Flo Morrissey & Matthew E. White – Thinking Bout You
Flo Morrissey & Matthew E. White – Grease
Foxygen – On Lankershim
Tim Darcy – Tall Glass of Water
Half Japanese – Do It Now
Strand of Oaks – Rest of It
Cloud Nothings – Enter Entirely
Sleaford Mods – B.H.S.

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Bolachas Now Playing

#81: Jess Williamson, “Heart Song”

Highlight of the week: Jess Williamson’s Heart Song

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live

Vodafone Paredes de Coura 2016: welcome to our top ten

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You and everyone you know already know you shouldn’t miss LCD Soundsystem, The Tallest Man on Earth, Sleaford Mods, and Thee Oh Sees, so we’ll skip the obvious parts of the programme and go straight to the fine print. 



MINOR VICTORIES (Wednesday 17): Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell and Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite – two old favorites of the Paredes de Coura crowd (Slowdive has played the festival last year; Mogwai were there in 1999 and 2011) are half of this so-called superband, along with the Lockey brothers (you might recognize Justin as Editors’ guitar player). Minor Victories’ self-titled debut album sounds exactly like you think it does: dark pop rock passing through a post-rock filter.

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RYLEY WALKER (Thursday 18): Walker’s concert at Paredes de Coura is the last before Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, his third LP, finally sees the light of day. Playing his first Portugal show ever, the American guitarist closely follows the footsteps of Steve Gunn, who debuted in the country exactly in the second day of the last year’s edition of the festival. Here’s to hoping the weather will be great while he plays – his “contemplative” guitar work is an ode to the sun.

WHITNEY (Thursday 18): Rising from the ashes of late-00s indie darlings Smith Westerns, Whitney has just released their debut album, Light Upon the Lake, on Secretly Canadian, to almost universal acclaim. Right place at the right time for someone who fancies the record, something that’s not so usual for Portuguese fans.

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JOANA SERRAT (Thursday 18): The Catalan singer-songwriter signed to Primavera Sound’s record label finally crosses the border to Portugal. Her newest album, Cross the Verge, was recorded at the mighty Hotel2Tango in Montréal, a name that instantly tickles the brain of any Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Vic Chesnutt, Basia Bulat, or Arcade Fire fan.

SUUNS (Thursday 18): It’s SUUNS’ fourth time in Portugal, after a delightful tour with Battles some five years ago, a clubshow alongside Jerusalem in My Heart in Lisbon and a more recent trip to the Azores islands at the Tremor festival this year. The synthy, psychedelic outfit will certainly have a blast where they seem to fit better: the after-hours stage, as that post-LCD Soundsystem balm not everyone wants because they still don’t know they need it.

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KEVIN MORBY (Friday 19): The absolute champion of the Now everybody likes it label returns to Portugal for the third time, less than two years after his debut at a Bolachas-organized concert in Aveiro. Now playing for way more than the seventy lucky people who witnessed his first concert in the country, the LA-based singer-songwriter who was once half of The Babies and the bass player for Woods will present the songs off his third LP, Singing Saw, released earlier this week.

JACCO GARDNER (Friday 19): As a Portuguese living in the Netherlands, it’s not hard to understand why the Dutch songwriter (and master melody crafter) can usually be found enjoying the Portuguese summer every year. I don’t know who’s the luckiest, the ones who are able to witness his live shows or Jacco himself. Be sure to bring a sweater for the cold nights of Coura, though. It can be as cold as your typical summer day in Terschelling.

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PSYCHIC ILLS (Friday 19): Their transformation from being a duo playing exploratory trippy niche music for 20 people in old basements ten years ago to a full grown six piece band that draws big crowds in festivals is one to behold. Carrying their latest album, Inner Journey Out, all around Europe since the beginning of this summer, this is the opportunity to see Psychic Ills in their prime.

SEAN RILEY & THE SLOWRIDERS (Friday 19): This summer was supposed to be one to celebrate for the Coimbra-based indie rock band, playing two of the biggest festivals in the country (NOS Alive and Vodafone Paredes de Coura) after the release of their third album in the beginning of April. But since tragedy struck the band with the disappearance of bassist Bruno Simões last June, it’s his life and legacy that will be celebrated instead. 

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LUST FOR YOUTH (Saturday 20): The last band in the last night of the festival. Hannes Norrvide and his pals created some waves with International a couple of years ago, and they’re back in the country with a new album released in the spring. If you’re into Scandinavian danceable (but not euphoric) electronica, this is what you want to finish your Paredes de Coura experience.