Game On: Portugal vs Spain

Let’s be real, this is the first Big Game of the tournament. And appropriately, we have some big songs.

Representing Portugal, it’s the Anarchicks. I’ve got a nice interview with Rita and Ana from the band in the can, which I need to get round to editing for your listening pleasure. We Claim The Right is all about how it’s basically up to you to keep pushing and disobeying and creating your own world. Also, it has a great riff. The Anarchicks are working on new material (the last I heard anyway) and I can’t wait.

Representing Spain, we’ve got a bit of heartfelt pop with the very recent new single from Alice Wonder. With a video featuring a bit of rock and roll destruction and the fabulously telling refrain “You’ve got me making songs for you” it’s something I’m surprised I’ve not heard on UK radio.

Which of our Iberians wins the musical battle?

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Best Youth – Mirrorball and Midnight Rain

Hello there. We’re off to Lisbon for some big musical jamboree in a week and a bit, and I’ve been listening to Portuguese alternative radio to get acclimated. I thought you might want to hear some Portuguese music that wasn’t fado, because I believe there’s going to be a lot of that.

One of the coolest sounding bands I’ve heard is Best Youth. They sound world weary and cool, but they sound like they’re dancing. Mirrorball, from is a 3am low key minimal disco prayer for dancefloor deliverance.

The super-slick late-night aesthetic continues with new single Midnight Rain, which comes really close to having the beat from Sexual Healing, but is distinctly more about regretful tear-streaked mascara. I am glad there are years of their work to explore, because I’m going to luxuriate in it.

Best Youth have a website

Best Youth are on Bandcamp

Sou Cidadão – 800 Gondomar

Seeing as we’re All Aboard for a trip to Portugal in 2018, I thought I’d start paying attention to some weird Portuguese music for you. 800 Gondomar are from Rio Tinto and they describe themselves as ‘The toughest and most heartfelt power trio to come out of Portugal,’ which is fair enough.  Their first album Linhas de Baixo is full of the kind of chuggy, atmospheric noise that goes with smoky rooms and boys who stare at you through lank fringes, but I’ve shared with you their most recent song Sou Cidadão, which has a bit of a groove and you can dance to it. Also, if you’re in Germany, France or the Netherlands you might be able to catch them live with Sunflowers (who’ve also been featured on here).

800 Gondomar are on Bandcamp

800 Gondomar are on Facebook 

Para ti – Luísa Sobral

We got to see a lot more of the Eurovision winning songwriter than normal in 2017, because not only is Luísa Sobral an excellent songwriter and performer, she’s also a big sister who stepped up to the rehearsal plate for her little brother who wasn’t ready to travel. I’d argue any day of the week that at Eurovision the songwriter should be given just as much prominence as the person interpreting the song on stage, so it’s nice that it worked out this way.

So here’s a bit of love for Luísa. She too survived a reality TV singing competition, and got her first album ‘The Cherry On My Cake’ out in 2011. It’s a very relaxed, accessible retro jazz album and her cooing vocals are delicious. Since then she’s had three more albums out – the most recent being ‘Luísa’ which isn’t available on streaming services, but which you can buy from her webstore. [hint hint] 

She’s touring Portugal over the summer, but maybe if we ask very nicely she’ll come and do some gala performances in various capitals around Europe?

But what I really wanted to show you was her homemade video for Para Ti. Be ready to wipe away a tiny happy tear by the end.

Luisa has a website



Love Without Violins – The Gift

You have to promise me that you’re going to watch this one all the way to the end. The Gift come from Portugal and have been making arch, deeply alternative, extraordinarily visual rock music for ten years. Brian Eno is one of popular music’s most important thinkers. Both of them think in terms of grand artistic statements.

Incidentally, if you are interested in Brian Eno’s process and thoughts on the importance of creativity and expression, have a listen to this wonderful rambling Eno interview by Adam Buxton.

So I’m guessing that you just got to the end of the video (the part with the boobs in, seriously I told you to watch to the end) where they show you the incredible intimacy and ambivalent nature of the process of making the artworks featured in the video. Beautiful. Now, go and make some art yourself.

The Gift have a website

Brian Eno has a website


Zombie – The Sunflowers

A bit of rock and roll with a louche sort of menace. Portuguese duo The Sunflowers find themselves experiencing a spot of bother from the undead in their song Zombie. It’s good fun for fans of The Cramps, 80’s Matchbox and campy gory horror movies.

I’m considering buying the album, which comes on red marble vinyl. Mmmm tasty.

The Sunflowers are on Bandcamp 

The Sunflowers are on Facebook


Game on: Portugal vs France [POP VERSION]

And here’s the second half of our Grand Final. This time we’re looking at some music that sits somewhere within the broad church that is pop.

The Gift are an alternative band from Portugal who’ve been going for over 20 years. Their most recent single, Classico is an expansive, emotional piece of chamber pop, with a big billowy string arrangement and a weepy chorus. The rest of the band’s work seems to reach from the Jesus & Mary Chain to chart anthems that you could give to the winner of the X Factor. This band should be enormous everywhere, really.

From France we’ve got the new single from Parisian dance chaps, It’s A Fine Line. You’ll recognise the voice on the track as being that of Alex Kapranos. Even after a few listens I’m still not quite sure what this is about, or what it even is. It’s definitely got a film noir slink to it, so give it a couple of listens to sink in.

Which country has the better music? Portugal or France?

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Clássico -The Gift [Huge, sophisticated widescreen cinematic anthem]

The Delivery – It’s a Fine Line ft. Alex Kapranos.