Happy to say, I was delighted with this movie…..Stan & Ollie is a biographical movie about one of the most iconic comedy duos of early cinema.
Laurel and Hardy were comedy legends known for their slapstick style of comedy. They were one of the few acts to successfully transition from silent black & white cinema into talking pictures.
Stanley Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver “Babe” Hardy (John C. Reilly) find themselves at the tail end of their legendary and prestigious career. They reunite and embark on a stage tour of the UK and Ireland with the hopes of securing a movie deal at the end of their tour. The performances are outstanding by both Coogan and Reilly, most notably the incredible physical resemblance this duo has to the real-life Laurel and Hardy. The timing of their slapstick style of comedy is remarkable. This movie serves as a reminder of how gifted both Coogan and Reilly are. Throughout the movie; It felt like the duo were brought back to life, especially during the recreation of their popular sketches and routines; Particularly their famous “Hard-boiled eggs” routine, which was one of their most popular sketches.
Directed by John S. Baird(Filth, 2013), and Written by Jeff Pope(Philomena, 2013), Remarkable work by these two.
Stan and Ollie is a warm, funny, and highly enjoyable movie. It reminds us that although the evolution of comedy on film has come a long way since the days of Laurel and Hardy, there still is something magical about their style of physical comedy and the legacy they left behind.
On my first listen I didn’t like it, and I didn’t really get it, It sounded like the same old and outdated Fito Paez from his 90s glory days. But I gave it a second listen, and then it grew on me. I tend to be very critical of musicians/bands who don’t take chances, who play it safe. Releasing albums that sound and feel the same as their previous albums or their older work. It just feels like they refuse to explore new sounds or don’t have anything new to express musically—and that is what I first thought when I first listened to La Conquista del Espacio.
But then, on my second listen, I paid closer attention to the lyrics and begun to notice just how much personal reflection and socially relevant issues are expressed on most of this nine-track album. There are things on this record that work and some things that I can do without. For example; there are way too many Argentinian slangs and regional issues mentioned throughout this album, which I feel is an issue when trying to connect with audiences outside of Argentina. This has been the Achilles heel for rock en Español artists coming out of Argentina for at least the last 10-15 years. Look, although those issues are important—I feel that an International superstar like Fito Páez can exercise tremendous influence all over the Spanish speaking world with his music. It is also important to note that music has an enormous role to play in creating change and inspiring activism, which is why I take issue with parts of this album.
La Conquista del Espacio was produced by Gustavo Porner, who also produced Calamaro’s Cargar La Suerte—which explains why I had similar issues with both albums. The return of Guillermo Vadalá adds to the importance of this record. Vadalá collaborated previously with Fito on nine albums, most notably on the classic album “El Amor Después del Amor” (1992). The highly accomplished drummer Abraham ‘abe’ Laboriel jr also joins this album—Abe has been playing drums with Paul McCartney’s band since 2001 and has worked with Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, and Shakira to name a few. Juanes also makes a quick cameo.
Although short and fast, with just nine tracks and under 37 minutes of playing time, La Conquista del Espacio is a solid, well-made album that grows on you pretty quickly. There are a couple of tracks that are destined to become classics, and Maelstrom is my new Fito Paez favorite song. Here is my take:
La Conquista del Espacio: Opening track sounds like classic Fito Paez, making a mission statement on what this album is all about; Love and freedom—is the thesis of not just this song but the whole album. Juanes and Maria Campos lend their vocals here.
Resucitar: This track was the first promotional single. It’s all about the contradictions of our human condition.
Las Cosas Que Me Hacen Bien: A quote from the “Art of War” by Sun Tzu opens this socially conscious track. The police state, the current social and cultural issues plaguing society are expressed here using examples of modern life and trends.
La Canción de las Bestias: Now, this is one of my favorite tracks on this album. It sounds raw and reflective. Fito bears his soul while asking deep questions about our humanity.
Gente en la Calle (feat. Lali): A jazzy love letter to Buenos Aires. Beautiful melody, thoughtful social lyrics. Lali Espósito lends her vocals here.
Ey, You (feat. Mala Mama): My least favorite track, and allthough the lyrics have some social relevance, still, the musical choices do not work for me. We get some funk, rock, cumbia, and some English and Italian phrases (“Fucking bastard-Vaffanculo”). The Argentinian cumbia band Mala Fama and it’s lead vocalist Hernan Coronel add an unnecessary ingredient. I felt like this song could have worked without the cumbia element.
Nadie es Nadie: Fito is reaching far here, with lyrics that attempt to appeal to a more inclusive audience, while balancing his classic style of rock. Forgettable track.
Maelstrom: Now here we have the highest mark on this album and my new favorite Fito Paez song. The songwriting and melody are excellent; it is Fito at his best. Everything about this song works. It elevates this album to new heights.
Todo Se Olvida: This final track is a declaration of where he stands after all these years in music and an icon of rock en Español. A solid way to end this remarkable album.
Rock en Español is not just “rock in Spanish,” it is a hell of a lot more. Out of the many categories and subcategories for Spanish language music, rock en Español is, without a doubt, the richest and most diverse of all Spanish music genres. The name itself should be synonymous with sui generis. While at the same time, it is essential to point out that this genre is not only infused with traditional Latin sounds but also infused with jazz, blues, country, folk, soul, reggae, funk, and even metal. And musicians like Diego Vasallo are a clear example of why this genre is particularly exceptional when compared to other genres of Spanish language music.
Las Rutas Desiertas is Diego Vasallo’s follow up album to the excellent “Baladas para un Autoretrato“(Subterfuge Records,2016). Both records were co-produced by Fernando Macaya, who also plays guitar on this new album, and often plays on some touring gigs with Mikel Erentxun. Although Las Rutas Desiertas has somewhat of a dark sound and feel to it—it is not as bleak as it seems, or as the album title suggests (Deserted Routes). The lyrics are full of positive outtakes, and a hopeful outlook into the future. There is a lot more light and positive vibes on this record, which is a departure in tone from Vasallo’s previous album.
Diego Vasallo is a master lyricist, and this album is a confirmation of his mastery. At times, he sounds similar to Andres Calamaro, which is not a bad thing. Still, If you are sick and tire of Calamaro’s nonsensical lyrics as of late, then Vasallo is the perfect antidote. Diego Vasallo has delivered another fantastic album—full of soul, rock, folk, and a touch of blues. An album worth multiple listening sessions, and I feel that it will age exceptionably well with time.
Here is a quick breakdown of Las Rutas Desiertas.
Mi Historia: Cabaret vibes are the best way to describe this track. Diego has a deep affinity for Bob Fosse’s film Cabaret (1972), which has always inspired and influenced some of his solo work.
Cargamento: It is all about the good times ahead and the promise of a better tomorrow. This is a beautiful song.
Mecha en la Tormenta: This is such an alluring song. The lyrics are just magical and full of hope. The harmonica makes a cameo and adds a touch of blues towards the end.
Esta Noche No Se Parece a Ninguna: One of my favorite tracks on this album. Everything about this song works. Vasallo is at his songwriting best here.
Entre el Olvido y el Perdón: This song is pure poetry wrapped in melody.
Erase Una Vez: This track has a cinematic feel to it. I picture the opening of a film, set somewhere in the desert.
Alli Te Esperare: My favorite track in this album. A beautiful love ballad. The lyrics, the vocals, the guitar play—they are all flawless.
El Rio Baja Crecido: The electric guitar shows up here, and it is impeccable.
Intemperie: Folksy and mellow. Reminds me of early Duncan Dhu.
No Me Niegues Nada: There is this air of blues and folk here. Reminds me of early Eric Clapton and Leonard Cohen.
Las Rutas Desiertas: Melancholic notes bring this masterpiece to a close. This final track sounds like a declaration of hope and the possibilities lying ahead in an uncertain future.