Monday, July 12, 2010

Spain - A Rough Guide

This is about the band called Spain, not the country and winners of the
2010 FIFA World Cup.  The timing is purely coincidental :)

From All Music:
"Spain do have some decided jazz influences, particularly in the
 refined, spacious arrangements and precise rhythm section, both of
 which reflect the influence of cool/lounge jazz. But they are most
 definitely a rock band, performing songs with lyrics and vocals in a
 sedate but moody style that bears some resemblance to the work of
 early Cowboy Junkies, or (more vaguely) the Velvet Underground's
 third album. The songs are slow, but not quite lethargic; reflective,
 but not quite depressed; moody, but not chilly."

The singer, bassist and songwriter is Josh Haden, son of Jazz legend
Charlie Haden.  He has three sisters, who also have performed with
alternative rock bands.  Critics often point out the limits of Josh's
vocal delivery, but the music makes up for it I think.

The band's official web site:

Pretty much all of the band's songs can be listened to in full on
the official site, so instead of linking to YouTube clips, this rough
guide highlights some of the standout tracks from the band's work so
far.  You can listen to the tracks via the Music Player:

If you want to see videos of the band, check out the clips on the
or try searching on YouTube.

The "rough guide" ...

1. "It's So True"
The opening track from the band's debut album, "The Blue Moods of
Spain", released in 1995.  The song features a simple melancholy
melody over a hypnotic bass line.

2. "Dreaming Of Love"
A single and probably my favourite track from the first album.
There's some nice guitar playing and a great little solo.  The vocal
delivery builds a bit of tension, and the use of effects helps flesh
the vocals out.

3. "Untitled #1"
The first single from the debut album.  This is the first track I
heard by the band.  It stood out from the teen angst stuff that JJJ
were playing at the time, and prompted me to check out the rest of
the album.

There are several other strong tracks on the debut album, such as
"Her Used-to-Been" and "Ray of Light".  The closing track, the aptly
named "Spiritual", was covered by Johnny Cash.

4. "Every Time I Try"
In 1997 the band put out a track on the soundtrack for "The End Of
Violence".  It's a slower, more contemplative version than that which
would appear on the band's second album, and I still consider it the
definitive rendition.  There was an official video, but the only
place I could find the clip is on this Chinese site:
You may note the source of the clip was the ABC's rage.  Apologies
for the ads.

5. "It's All Over"
In 1999 the band released its second album, "She Haunts My Dreams".
It shares the distinctive style of the first album, with the song-
writing and performance, maturing.  The use of a hammond organ on this
track is a welcome addition to the band's sound.

6. "Before It All Went Wrong"
7. "Nobody Has To Know"
Another couple of slices of melodic melancholy from the second album.

8. "She Haunts My Dreams"
In 2001 the band's third album, "I Believe", was released.  Oddly,
the first track shares its name with the title of their previous

9. "You Were Meant For Me"
10. "Mary"
Another couple of standouts from "I Believe".

In 2003 the band released a retrospective: "Spirituals - The Best Of
Spain".  The band did split for a while, and Josh Haden released a solo
album, "Devoted", in 2007.

11. "I'm Still Free"
Haden has recently reformed the band, and its fourth album will be
released later this year.  This is the first single from the new album.