This will be the most personal article I will write to date in this house. I’m going to replace ‘WtMM’ with more personal experiences, not least because that’s what this world is all about: human connections and how rhythmic phrases can bring people together.
At the beginning of this year, my dear friend and one of the creators of this wonderful website, José Baptista Coelho, invited me to something I had always wanted: to have a weekly article, where I could write about music that had been released the week before. At first, I had my doubts: I listen to a bit of everything, I’m less hipster than the other members and more focused on the so-called mainstream and, here, it’s quicker to discover the next Britney Spears than to dance and praise the moves of …Baby One More Time. José, with his always special friendly and very fatherly touch, told me to relax that, with time, I would end up absorbing a bit of everything. Without further ado, I jumped at the chance and accepted.
And wasn’t he right?
I started with You Me At Six, a band I saw a few years ago with one of my best friends, who I consider a sister, at the mythical Paradise Garage, one of Lisbon’s most iconic venues. It was beautiful, it went very well and clearly, it was meant to continue. I played the maximum mainstream with the Foo Fighters, but from there on we adjusted depending on the discoveries I made during the week. And from the emerging to the more well-known, the New Week New Album would blossom, every week, on the same day, with the most extraordinary song of the preceding Friday.
From that point until today there were more than 70 articles, separated between Where The Music Meets Portugal and the English (this one), with interviews with my favourite artists and a lot of sweat and creativity along the way.
And what motivated me the most to write everything was you: friends, acquaintances, readers and artists. This article is also yours, and it’s time to talk about what I consider to be the most iconic records of 2021, with many stories and memories along the way. I started with thirty, cut down to fifteen and stayed with seven: one of my lucky numbers. Take them, in no particular order.
Moullinex – Requiem for Empathy
Moullinex is the alter-ego of DJ and multi-instrumentalist Luís Clara Gomes, a modern-day genius who can make music with any material he has. This year he released his fourth album, ‘Requiem for Empathy‘, and it’s the purest and most personal, one of those records you want to listen to for hours and every time you listen you find new and delicious details.
Not having exactly creative fingers for making music, I can always say I’m his colleague if he wasn’t also a computer engineer. Geek mode on, always!
Back to the music. I’ve known Moullinex’s repertoire for a long time. From Flora to Requiem for Empathy, almost ten years have passed, and between a thousand and one rooms, lives and DJ-sets, there was a day that, devoid of shame, we decided to go talk to the artist.
It was early June 2019, the Musa brewery decided, in collaboration with Jameson Caskmates, to merge completely different genres of music, which could go from metal with fado, to rock with electronic music, and make this several thematic nights where anything was possible. With a group of friends, including Cátia and Madalena, we decided to go to the night where Moullinex and Quim Albergaria, a punk rocker, with various spectacular works by The Vicious Five, Caveira and PAUS, got together. It was spectacular, one of those nights we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. As the space is small, Madalena and I glimpsed, at the back of the room, the drummer from one of our favourite bands, Anna Prior, from Metronomy. We confess: we are very adult and responsible people, so in our heads, we were too embarrassed to go there to say hello. In the meantime, Moullinex talks to Anna and… that’s it. Madalena decided to approach them and talk to them. Anna Prior a little more reserved, Luís Clara Gomes with friendliness the size of the world, talking to us as if she had known us for a thousand years. We introduced ourselves with our usernames, with which we usually interact with him, through social networks. He didn’t associate it with msteaddict, but tomrogeiro already seemed like a brand, were it not for his 1001 concerts. tomrogeiro 1, msteaddict 0.
Continuing our adventures, we spend a few months until January 2020, a few months before the first lockdown and the real start of the pandemic. Moullinex decides to do a residency at Musicbox, where each night was dedicated to an album (Flora, Elsewhere and Hypersex, respectively). I went to the last two nights, taking a thousand and one friends with me – those who already knew what to expect, and those who had no idea what they were going to. And, of course, the magic happened: two extraordinary concerts, listening to the records from the first to the last minute, and a real avalanche of feelings, if we hadn’t taken the craziest person I know in my life: my dear Regina Ferraz. Regina is the most adult but at the same time the most creative and forward. And it’s with this healthy energy that she decides to grab Moullinex’s arm and, well, we all stayed there chatting a bit with the whole band for a good many minutes. In the end, the usual photo, which immortalises the moment, and also a signed Elsewhere.
If the passion for concerts remained in my memory for few or no moments during 2020, 2021 kept, unfortunately, that rhythm, but the return to the dance floors clearly had a special place in my heart: it happened to the sound of the incredible Requiem for Empathy, at Culturgest, in Lisbon. In a go, no go, with operations and dental complications on the way, I attended with Sara, a friend and colleague from Computer Engineering. With masks full of gas in our faces and a lot of energy to discharge, we danced effusively for about an hour and a quarter, with a huge desire to do it again for hours on end, for the rest of our lives.
To close, my festival life in 2021 ended in a big way, also with Moullinex, together with Anna Prior, at Lisbon’s Coliseu, on Superbock em Stock, in one of those DJ sets that deserved a long night until dawn, on my birthday. I received an incredible gift: happy birthday, by voice message, from the artist himself. Thanks, Luís!
Oh, and before I forget, there was a New Week New Album about this album, when it was released. I talked to Luís, who gave us some great answers in the article. You can read it here.
The most remarkable song Moullinex left us this year? “Kelvin Wake Pattern“.
IDLES – Crawler
When I hear about this band from Bristol I immediately feel sweat, punk and lots and lots of moshpits down my throat. And if in the first albums we had this up to the last drop that ran down our faces, “Crawler” manages to surprise us, with an album that attacks all the possible and imaginary sides of the punk-rock existing in the world.
We have the IDLES everybody knows, with much calmer sections and that reach the rock-alternative, passing through a more psychedelic and imaginary side, with a lot of magic to the mix.
If in 2019 IDLES brought to Portugal one of the best concerts of the year, at the NOS Alive festival, where I almost lost a tooth by the number of moshpits existing in the middle of the track, 2022 will bring a more thoughtful and addictive version of the Bristol band, to which we promise not to be indifferent.
To listen on repeat? “When The Lights Come On“.
Balthazar – Sand
The most wonderful discovery I’ve had this year.
It was by chance, on one of those listens to try to decipher the New Week New Album I was going to write that week. I had heard the Belgians before, but with very little attention. They end up as one of my, my Mother’s, Cátia and Rita’s favourite bands. The artistic volume that Maarten Devoldere, Jinte Deprez, Simon Casier, Michiel Balcaen and Tijs Delbeke have in their veins is immense, with a sensual touch that gives you goosebumps from one end to the other from the first to the last second.
Sand is exactly that: an orgasmic explosion of sensations, rhythms and vibrations, almost similar to a play heard. It starts, for that very reason, with the cover: a Zhdun, Homunculus Loxodontus, is a statue created by Margriet van Brevoort in 2016 that symbolizes the emotions of people who wait at the doctor’s office. After seeing it, we are never the same again, because it enters our skin with an emotion that we just want to hug it so much, it’s so cute.
In one of the few concerts this year, I had the opportunity to see them, with Cátia, in Aula Magna, in Lisbon. It was a holiday, and it had hit exactly on a long weekend where I had gone with some dear friends, Carlota, César and Joana, to Cogula, a small village in Beira-Alta of Portugal, near Trancoso. Between Trancoso, Salamanca and Lisbon, an amazing atmospheric storm almost left us with our plans cut short along the way. The good times always catch up with the best, and so on Monday, the day of the concert, the weather improved significantly, in time to reach Lisbon safe and sound. All the way here, you’ve heard every Balthazar song to exhaustion – I hope you still like them.
Lisbon’s mythical hall had seats marked, seated, to welcome the Belgian band. Of course, with so much sensuality and goodwill, by the middle of the concert no one was sitting down and everyone wanted to dance to the rhythm of the best riffs in memory for 2021. And so it was. The concert was extraordinary, the vibe even better. The longings we had for a live concert were satisfied for a few hours, but the will to have this in our lives again was significant. And so we tried: we almost went to Antwerp, the hometown of the band, twenty-five days later, to see them again, closing the tour of this record. For a change, the pandemic didn’t allow us to do that, with COVID-19 exchanging our plans for the warmth of our home.
But not everything was less bad: at the end of the concert I had promised Cátia an immediate meeting with the band, and so it happened. Maarten and Tijs received a strong and affectionate hug from my dearest friend from the Alentejo, who had not expected such warmth. Sweaty and tired, they welcomed such a gift and we exchanged a few words with the band, which was very nice and positive.
We already adored them until the 01st of November, now we have a pure love for them.
Although my favourite is ‘Hourglass’, I choose ‘Moment’ as one of the most amazing songs listened to this year.
Jungle – Loving in Stereo
Happiness, summer and lots and lots of music.
That’s the best way to succinctly describe the wonderful Jungle album, Loving in Stereo. It was my 50th article in this house, and it was a beautiful tribute to the best things that happen in Portugal during August: friends, summer, passion and many ways of celebrating the best things in life.
This is the British band’s third album of originals and the electronic rhythm meets jazz voices and sounds are more and more refined, which promises to leave no one indifferent.
The band has played more than five times here in Portugal, from NOS Alive to Super Bock Super Rock and even in one of the most magical venues in Portugal, Lisbon’s Coliseu. I’ve always nominated each of these as one of the best concerts I saw that year, always with some magic in between. Let’s start:
2014 marks the band’s debut on Portuguese soil, at NOS Alive in Oeiras. They played on the Clubbing Stage, close to midnight and with heavyweight partners such as A-Trak, Nina Kraviz or Phantogram. They completely demolished the competition, with one of the best concerts of that edition. The promise was made: these were artists who were going to be giants in the future.
And, four years later, at the Super Bock em Stock, only technical problems prevented them from doing even better, at the Lisbon Coliseu. They came and went a few times, but there was always some instrument or microphone that, unfortunately, didn’t want to perform that night. But those who have talent never let us down, right? And that’s what they did: no matter how many adversities they encountered along the way, they turned them into opportunities, culminating in one of the best performances/improvisations ever in that hall.
The passage through Portugal closes in a pre-pandemic, in 2019, at Super Bock Super Rock, where I went, again, with my faithful festival companion to the concert, Madalena. With extraordinary weather and an evening worthy of a fairytale, everything was ready for a kick-ass party. And that’s what happened: the band closed the afternoon and started the night with the rhythms that characterize them so well and that were spread by all the people who were there for only one reason: to listen to one of the best bands of today.
And the song they leave us with? “Keep Moving”, because there’s no way to slow down with this thunderous beat.
Olivia Rodrigo – Sour
“GOD, IT’S BRUTAL OUT HERE” – and this is how Olivia Rodrigo, a little girl born in 2005, currently 18 years old, fills our hearts with pride and assures us that POP is very much alive.
Sour fills our imagination from one end to the other, with eleven vibrant themes that start from a more rocky and depressive version, in “Brutal“, a theme that brings together the mythical band Hole, by Courtney Love, with the biggest POP stars, such as Britney Spears, where the lyrics explore a very stressed generation, with problems from one end of their lives to the other, where personal life intersects with professional, the good with the bad, the politically correct with the incorrect – and all this while we laureate in the head of the artist as if her problems were ours.
And the reality is that we see in Olivia what was our youth, our problems, dramas, whatever you want to call it. We see the bands that marked our era, MTV, the blockbuster shops and their endless movies for rent, everything. Our happiness, our anguish, our loves, crushes, longings, irritations, everything is present in this album and it’s beautiful to see.
As a beautiful memory, I cannot forget to shout, on repeat, all the lyrics of “Brutal” with Rita, on the mythical road that connects Lisbon to Cascais, very close to the Tagus River. More than a honk, it is beautiful to see that we still have the immaculate vocal cords we had twenty years ago.
To be heard even more? Brutal, of course.
David & Miguel – Palavras Cruzadas
David Bruno and Miguel Caixeiro, Gaia and Telheiras, North and Centre, with a strong focal point: Portugal. The duo, better known in the music world as David Bruno and Mike El Nite (from Michael Knight, from the series Knight Rider), decided to bring together their most incredible inspirations and set their sights on romantic Portuguese music, with a little satire and magic along the way.
It’s very complicated to explain outside Portugal, not least because the songs are all sung in Portuguese and touch on themes that only we can relate to in our culture. From Passadiços do Paiva to the luxury charm of the Inatel resorts, all the clichés and the right words to put a smile from ear to ear are there and convince anyone to explore further the themes, with a rhythm capable of envying the most recognized artists in this field in Portugal, like Tony Carreira, José Malhoa or Mónica Sintra, or the Brazilians Lucas e Matheus.
If the debut album, Palavras Cruzadas, had already sent shivers down our spine, live everything made even more sense.
With my eloquent friends Madalena and Rita, we embraced the challenge of touring David & Miguel live, from one end to the other, at Super Bock em Stock. The venue? Tivoli BBVA Theatre, in Avenida da Liberdade, was founded in 1924 and is one of the most glamorous venues in Portugal. It was the 20th of November, my birthday, and it was promised to be a great party. Around 11 pm, we arrived at the venue, where we couldn’t sit for a second, with so much enthusiasm visible all around us.
And they delivered with excellence: with António Bandeiras, Marquito, David and Miguel on stage, the party was made to the sound of what they know so well, with the greatest clichés and national trump cards that we know so well from our Portuguese culture. The riffs, the typical style of the ’80s and 90’s, the romance, the passion, the love. Everything is right, at the idyllic moment.
We felt loved and we were definitely conquered: one of the best ideas of the year culminated in a concert of art and vibrancy, where everything is defined to the smallest detail.
The music that marks the year for me? “Inatel“.
Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend
Yes, I know, I didn’t want to define one as the best album of the year, but this masterpiece won me over in its entirety, as it had already done in 2015 on the release of their first album, “My Love Is Cool“.
Like the rest of them, Wolf Alice are one of my bands of choice. Each album has had its preponderance in my life, marking turning points in it.
2015 was the first time I saw them, at NOS Alive, Heineken Stage. They were presenting their first album and, as usual, I went with Madalena to the middle of the crowd. They shone, with many people singing their song “Lisbon“, which has nothing to do with our capital, but with the Lisbon sisters, from Sofia Coppola’s film, The Virgin Suicides. They loved it, we loved it.
Two years later they bring to us “Visions of a Life“, a mix of reality with a perfect utopia, which very much resembled my life during that year. From problems to the abyss we are quickly connected in seconds, but it is the force that urges us to do more and better that makes us even more mature. And it was with him that I was able to fight my biggest ghosts and everything I took for granted. One of the songs of my life? ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses‘, that at the time made me cry so much that I couldn’t even listen to it that nowadays I repeat it with all my heart and I remember how it was in those times, how everything changed and how I’m actually a happier and more fulfilled person.
In the middle of the presentation of this record, I decided to do a real ‘you only live once’ and, almost overnight, I leave alone, in 2018, to Berlin, in order to see them at Lollapalooza Berlin. With not many people listening to them, the concert was masterful, being one of the best solo experiences I’ve ever had in my life.
And it was still in 2018 that I had the opportunity to see them at NOS Alive and, months later, at Coliseu de Lisboa. All magical and unique, always with a touch of hope accompanying them in between.
With 2021 about to begin, Wolf Alice start to release snippets of what will be the band’s future, with ‘The Last Man On Earth‘ on the bill, where we have Ellie Rowsell in the foreground enchanting us, either on piano or just with her incredible voice. It’s masterful, and still has a special touch that I want so badly to see live.
And this record is exactly that: the most mature version of the British band, a kind of conclusion of a puzzle full of magical, different and irreverent pieces. It’s everything we expect from that favourite band of ours, with all those key points we felt were right from the first moment we heard the band.
Wolf Alice song of the year? “Delicious Things“, no doubt about it.
If I haven’t bored you to this point, I’d like to thank you all for being on that side. It’s been an incredible year, with, finally, a whiff of normality. It’s time to take a break from all this because writing about new music every week is very tiring on the fingers.
And don’t forget, the music industry is nothing without you: the storytellers and the ardent listeners. Because that’s what our whole life is based on: warm human connection.
See you around!