guiri (spanish): a foreigner, a tourist, usually a white person
There’s a lot to recommend self-imposed exile in Spain. The three-dollar Rioja, for one. The less-than-three-dollar healthcare, for two. But if you travel a bit farther down the list (or, my personal list) you come across the line-item that the Spanish alternative scene is goddamn bursting with creativity. I’m not actively trying to disparage the U.S. music scene here—Yucky Duster is cool, Soccer Mommy is great, Parquet Courts are good in like a Post-Doctoral-Student-Agitating-Outside-The-G7 way, Ezra Furman’s output is consummately fun—but Spanish punk and alternative in the last 5 years (perhaps due to the resurgent rise of creepy little NeoFrancoist psychopaths in the country’s South) has seen a bunch of intensely worthy entries into alternative canon.
To start, there’s the Salamanca band Estrogenuinas (amazing name) who are a raw ball of snarling riot grrrl brilliance. Their 2017 record Sonido Chrll-Out (“Chill-out Sound,” basically, like everything else about the band, the title is coated in industrial levels of irony) from Subterfuge Records is a triumph of form. Every song on the album reads like a poison pen love letter that’s been strapped to a brick and lobbed through a plate-glass bank window. The headbanging feel-goodery of a song like “M.A.D.R.I.Z.” (an affectionate nickname for Madrid) bleed into songs like “Nietzsche Es Mi Fetiche” (“Nietzche Is My Fetish”), “Orgia En Case De Los Buendia” (“Orgy In The House of the Rising Sun”—a song that in typical form includes as part of it’s chorus the sound of an orgy in progress), “Puesta En Escena” (Mise En Scene) which is just plain good. Every track on the album in addition to being acerbically brilliant, or ridiculously irreverent, also hearkens back to a sort of 1970’s punk aesthetic that’s so without-fetters joyful you’re nearly apt to overlook the band’s systematic dismantling of everything you hold dear.
Then, there’s Terrier, the Madrid lo-fi garage rock band that in 2018 dropped the stunningly fully-realized album Algo Para Romper (“Something To Break”). Is it markedly poppier than anything Estrogenuinas churn out? Sure, yes. Is it infectiously good? Absolutely. The album’s centerpiece is the Gen-Y ennui-anthem “La Constitucion.” Without trafficking too much in stereotypes here, in a country where youth unemployment is at 32 percent, institutional corruption is manifestly apparent, and everybody lives with their parents, there is no way to read the shouted chorus “Viva La Constitucion!” As anything other than a scorching systemic indictment, especially amid the detritus of the narrator’s wrecked relationship, the furniture of dead romance. The fact that an album this smart is also this easy to listen to is a credit to the band which has been on a steady creative upswing since they dropped the single “Tus Ojos Son Punales” (“Your Eyes Are Daggers”) in 2016. It’s an absolute idiot shame that because of American rock music’s monolingual bias, these bands have been unable to find a wider audience across the pond, but the fact remains they’re doing some of the most interesting work in their respective genres and it’s high time someone, anyone, everyone took notice.