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Chris Brokaw & Viva las Vegas


Other Music

We here in Boston usually play this when Mr. Brokaw, our fellow OMer, is out of the shop; but we know he'd be pleased with the customer response. A split EP with the Spanish post-whodaddy duo Viva Las Vegas, this 15-minute EP is a brief respite from the sometimes over-thought sounds coming from indie-rock today. On 'Bricks' Mr. B sings, accompanied only by Thalia Zedek, his guitar, and some well-placed rock action. 'La Playa' is a lovely instrumental track, reminiscent of Brokaw's work on the Pullman record. Viva Las Vegas could be sat next to Papa M at the global indie luncheon, intertwined guitars loop through their instrumental contribution, while their vocal track 'Una vez mas' is downright Calexicoian. A delicious morsel, and a taste of what our beloved Brokaw has in store for his full-length coming out on Atavistic sometime this year. [DD]


Four songs, maybe twenty minutes total, and it’s a split. The extended play formula is one of the most maligned in all the giant kingdom of music, but this split EP has enough of a goodness vibe to keep me coming back for more.

Anyway, I am not overly familiar with these artists, but Acuarela released the fabulous Aroah EP earlier this year, so when I first got this I had high hopes. And they were met! Chris Brokaw (Come, Pullman) goes the way of Rex on this release, mixing heartfelt country-folk with meandering instrumental tastiness. Also, the first song, “Bricks”, features the staunch and recognizable drawl of Matt Kadane, Bedhead alumnus and now New Year homeboy. The second song is a lot like the first, except minus the vocals. So, that makes it… a meandering country inspired instrumental. Pretty sweet. The music, too, is much more joyful than any of the Bedhead stuff (just using it as a reference point, here, team), so I find myself liking Chris Brokaw.

On the other hand, Viva Las Vegas, much like their label mates Migala, suffer a little on their part of the disc. The first track is another free-flowing instrumental, but the second track, and the worst number on the entire disc, is, as my dawg Jim Steed describe Migala, Antonio Banderas sexy. Is that a good thing? Well, yeah, if you like breathy baritone vocals sung in Spanish. I don’t mind the Spanish part, but man, breathy baritone? No way! The instrumental, though; there is the love.

But the reason most EPs are maligned is because they only serve as a teaser to something coming up. Exceptions, there are many, which I’m not going to go into, but this isn’t one of them. Still, it’s worth it for the three awesome tracks on here. Check it out if you get the chance!

anthony grace


The Aquarian Arts Weekly

Breaking story: Downer guitar hero presents sadness with a new view from the garden of beauty's grassy hill ("La Playa"). Even better though, said hero still steps all over the flowers in the bluesy "Bricks," a Thalia Zedek-backed number as strong and sturdy as the chains of an engine hoist.

From Spain, Viva las Vegas conjure all the Come-stained darkness and intrigue of Brokaw's full-time gig but with a feverishly seductive hunt-is-better-than -the-kill air that sweats the romantic allure of their homeland. Grade: A-

Silver Juice

This is a gorgeous doubleheader. The emphasis is on evocative broodiness. Er... yeah. Chris Brokaw has played with a lot of the American underground elite and shows that he can play the tuneful card just as well as he can play the abstract one. Viva Las Vegas construct luxurious songs to lose yourself in whilst watching the nicer parts of Surrey unwind before you on a Connex South Central rail journey. They're that good that they take your mind off the sticky coke patch on the floor in front of you.


Chris Brokaw is an excellent guitarist, and he makes his talent plain on "La Playa". However, though the song sounds great, it is diminished by its lack of vocals (judging by the way he sounds on "Bricks", Brokaw is a far better guitarist than he is a vocalist). There's something about "La Playa"'s melody and chord progressions that cries out for the finishing touch that only good lyrics can provide.

Brokaw shares album space with Viva Las Vegas, whose half of the CD is sombre, moody and mysterious. Their "El rio llamado Orbigo" is an instrumental rock piece with an odd charm, which succeeds in creating an entire ambient world of mystery and happiness in only three minutes. The other song VLV contributes to the EP, "Una vez más", is a delightfully sinister affair that'll have you reaching for your Spanish phrasebook. It certainly sounds as if lead singer Jose Luis Aguado is telling a delicious tale of love, lust and deceit -- but even if he's actually reading his grocery list, the song is a great listen.

Split EPs are a pretty pointless breed, and this one won't justify their existence. That said, Brokaw and Viva Las Vegas have succeeded in making this sketchy format a win/win situation. -- Matthew Pollesel


Dusted Magazine

Short albums are good. The shorter the better. Years of television and video games have worn my attention span down to a nub, and I know that I'm not the only one for whom this is the case. I cringed when cds broke free of their original 74-minute capacity, and I cringed again when I found that musicians were actually trying to make albums that were longer than 74 minutes. Rappers have been the biggest culprits. And Metallica too. Nobody can record 74 great minutes. Mogwai's Rock Action was a sensible 34 minutes, and even though I didn't much care for it, I think back on it fondly, knowing that I was able to listen to it all the way through in one sitting. I like EPs. Four good songs out of five is better than six great songs out of twelve. None of this is completely true, but all of it is a little true. Thus I am biased towards liking this new Chris Brokaw/Viva las Vegas split EP. It is short. It has four songs. Two of them are excellent and two are not so excellent. When I finish listening to it, I have the satisfaction of having heard two songs that I enjoyed (one by Brokaw, and one by Viva la Vegas), and I only had to sit through two that I didn't enjoy.

Chris Brokaw has done a lot of things and played/plays in a lot of bands. His two contributions were recorded almost entirely solo, save for background company-keeping by bandmates Thalia Zedek and Bubba Kadane. The first song, "Bricks," is an off-kilter but fantastically straightforward rock song. Brokaw's conversational lyrics ("Steven turned to me and he said 'fuck!'") are a fine match for his own crispy guitar playing. His long, somewhat arpeggiated guitar lines never stray very far from the foundational melody but remain consistent. The song's acoustic-to-electric-to-cymbal-smashing-and-quiet-again format seems conventional enough, but actually has outlasted its period of un-hipness and is surprisingly refreshing. Brokaw's slightly raspy vocals are a good fit for his instrumentation, and even his brief "lai dai dai" bridge flows smoothly back into the initial relative hush. His next song, "La Playa" is not nearly as dynamic, but rather sounds like Brokaw just messing around with a fairly simple and uninteresting guitar line (with a tambourine, for effect).

The next two (and last two) songs are by the Spanish band Viva las Vegas. Their first offering, "El rio llamado Orbigo," would not sound out of place on Fridge's recent masterpiece, Happiness. It builds slowly and easily as punctuated drums delicately cut through the tension built by the guitar's lead-lines, feedback, and harmonics. "Una vez mas" comes dangerously close to discrediting Viva las Vegas entirely, as it imitates Calexico a bit too closely, and not just because they're speaking Spanish (although that certainly doesn't help). Viva las Vegas' combination of echoey vibes, brush-stroked drums, and synth harmonica is such a Calexico trademark that even if the song didn't sound like a Tex-Mex ballad (which it does, kinda), it would probably still sound like Calexico (For more information on this phenomenon, check out the latest album by Migala).

So here we are, not 17 minutes later, and look at all of the things that we have learned and experienced. There were so many highs (two), so many lows (two), and in infinite number of in betweens. For a very reasonable $7.99, I'm sold.

-- Sam Hunt


Mundane Sounds

Four song EP from two artists from two continents. Chris Brokaw (formerly of Codeine, Come, Willard Grant Conspiracy, New Year) makes his solo debut with this two-track of moody sounds. The first cut, "Bricks," is a folky tune, with back-up vocals from Thalia Zedek (Come) and Matt Kadane (Bedhead, New Year) on organ. It's a nice, non-threatening tune, reminiscent of mid-90s indie rock. "La Playa" is a perky little instrumental affiar that's quite a pleasure on the ears. Viva Las Vegas is a duo from Spain, Frank Rudow and JosŽ Luis Garc”a, and though I'd never heard of them before this record, their two songs, "El R”o Ilamado Orbigo," and "Una vez más," are both interestingly moody instrumentals, with the latter track having some most unique backwards tracked vocals (at least I think they're backward-tracked!) in Spanish. Both artists on this little record are interesting, and you wouldn't be disappointed in either if you like slightly acoustic, sun-baked stoner rock.



Viva Las Vegas zijn José Luis Aguado en Frank Rudow van Manta Ray, een van de grote uit de spaande independent scène. Ze traden samen op met Come en van het één kwam het ander.

Elke keer als ik de opening track "Brick" van Chris Brokaw hoorde dacht ik dit ken ik. Voor de bespreking mijn platen en CD kast ondersteboven gehaald en platen van Polvo, Archers of Loaf en aanverwante beluistert om raakvlakken te vinden…Tot de biografie meer duidelijkheid bracht. Chris was lid van Come en heeft daarvoor zelf in Codeine gespeelt. Op deze CD zijn, zijn eerste stappen als solo artiest te horen. "Brick" krijgt de medewerking van Thalia Zedek (Come) en Matt Kadane (Bedhead) en is een gitaar nummer waar mensen die met weemoed aan midden jaren 90 gitaar groepen terugdenken van zullen genieten. Van zijn tweede song "La Playa" maakt hij een mooi instrumentaaltje op gitaar dat me steeds aan "She god a blue spell" van Billy Brag doet denken.

Viva Las Vegas gaat met het instrumentale "El rio Llamado Orbigo" richting post-rock met een toegankelijke experimenteer drift. "Una vez mas" is met vocalen en een mooie slepende track.

Twee acts om in het oog te houden en waar we kortelings meer werk van mogen verwachten.

>>> entrepot


La mitad de una esfera es exactamente una semiesfera.

Tras esta breve (y necesaria) introducción teórica, nos adentramos en un concepto más avanzado -el split EP- un disco a medias, normalmente pequeño y en el que las mitades no son mitades ni simétricas.

En este ejemplo el elemento esta elaborado por un lado por Chris Brokaw (Codeine y Come) y por otro lado por Viva las Vegas (dos mantas, Ray).

Chris es un veterano experimentado al que le ha costado mucho tiempo salir de detrás de las cortinas de grupos de los que era parte o simple colaborador (Thalia Zedek, Steve Wynn, ettttttcccc.). Como aperitivo de lo que será su primer disco ante el peligro, una serie instrumental -"Red Cities"- que aparecerá en el cercano (ya) 2002, publica dos canciones en este split. Un ladrillo, "Bricks", más un delicioso instrumental serpenteando entre arena e indios de la india vendiendo Fanta y cerveza totalmente vestidos, "La Playa", que presagia unas hermosas ciudades rojas para la primavera que viene.

Por su parte Viva las Vegas intentan, desde Gijón, renovar el aire de la habitación sin apenas conseguirlo. Un instrumental -"El Río Llamado Orbigo"- soso y una canción cantada -"Una Vez Más"- son su carta de presentación. Se espera más y mejor podía ser la conclusión.

En cualquier caso Viva yo y Come. 5/10

Texto: El Ojo Calvo



Por fin tenemos en nuestras manos el debut de Viva las Vegas, dúo formado por dos de los miembros de Manta Ray, José Luis García y Frank Rudow, pero vamos por partes, ¿quién es Chris Brokaw?, Chris Brokaw es uno de los más influyentes músicos de los noventa ya que ha formado parte de dos de las bandas más citadas como punto de referencia de gran parte de la música actual, hablamos de Codeine y de Come. Tras un bagaje de tal calado debe resultar muy complicado soltar lastre y afrontar el camino en solitario, de ahí que, por ahora, sólo podamos escuchar dos temas. El primero de ellos, Bricks, toma como base unas guitarras consistentes pero sosegadas a las que el propio Chris pone voz, pero haciéndose acompañar de Thalia Zedek (su compañera en Come) en unos coros que suponen una auténtica eclosión pop para lo que Chris Brokaw nos tenía acostumbrados.

El segundo tema, que responde al título de La Playa es un instrumental de casi cinco minutos con la guitarra nuevamente como protagonista y que puede presumir de tener unos cuidadísimos arreglos de cuerda. La Playa sirve para tender un puente desde Boston hasta Gijón, que es donde toman el testigo Viva las Vegas, que abren con El río llamado Orbigo, también instrumental, pero este mucho más oscuro que el anterior; una guitarra que te acaricia y una percusión suave pero insistente, sirven de colchón a todo tipo de experimentos sonoros, que presentan como principal característica su moderación, nada chirría, nada está fuera de tono, dando como resultado una instrumentación compacta y consistente.

Una vez más, corte que cierra este split ep supone el debut vocal de Viva las Vegas, un texto apesadumbrado y sombrío cantado con el corazón en la mano rodeado por un manto instrumental casi hipnótico y que se mueve en unas coordenadas musicales muy parejas al tema anterior.

El lp de Viva las Vegas se editará en el mes de diciembre, y hasta entonces, y para abrir el apetito, tenemos la oportunidad de empezar a disfrutar con estos dos temas que nos avanzan su sonido y sus intenciones, y la cosa promete... mucho.

Informa: Pablo Suárez & Marta Luis


IndyRock Ideal

Contribuyendo a la reciente edición de discos claramente norteños (que se completaría de algún modo con otro disco compartido, el de Nacho Vegas y Aroah) el estupendo EP homónimo que ha reunido al ex Codeine y ex Come Chris Brokaw y a Viva las Vegas (proyecto de los Manta Ray Frank Rudow y José Luis García) alimenta la idea de que algo está cambiando en el rock y que hay una escena muy inquieta (una escena no ya local sino mundial, compuesta por bandas nacionales, británicas o americanas) que se complementa, se conoce y se enriquece continuamente, en parte gracias a discos como éste que acercan a músicos distanciados sólo por los kilómetros (algunos, incluso las propias bandas, se sienten cómodos con etiquetas como Post Rock, y a mi, la verdad es que no me disgusta). El disco se abre con dos temas de Chris Brokaw. Si en "Bricks", está más cerca de Come (con Thalia Zedek en los coros) y afianza sus intenciones literarias ("Steven turn to me and said: Fuck" dice la primera estrofa de esta pequeña canción de pop enfermo) con la hermosísima "La Playa" (así, en español) un tristón instrumental a una guitarra, Brokaw dibuja musicalmente, evoca, casi transmite, una desangelada despedida frente a algún mar atlántico. Viva la vegas, por su parte, no se apartan mucho de su banda origen, reincidiendo en las atmósferas cargadas, en las guitarras precisas, en los textos crípticos, turbadores ("Una Vez Más") pero distanciándose con una propuesta más íntima. Carente de los ritmos obsesivos y las piruetas conceptuales de Manta Ray, Viva las Vegas ofrecen un sonido más desnudo, completamente analógico, casi acústico, que transmite una sensación de soledad a veces irrespirable. Fernando Navarro



La question du split-single suscite toujours le "pourquoi" rétrospectif. Ce split ep joint l'Américain Chris Brokaw (qu'on a déjà croisé au sein de Codeine, Come, Willard Grant Conspiracy, Pullman, The New Year, Consonant ou avec Steve Wynn, Thalia Zedek et bientôt Evan Dando) aux espagnols de Viva Las Vegas (duo formé par José Luis Aguado et Frank Rudow, respectivement chanteur et percussionniste du groupe espagnol indépendant Manta Ray).

Ce split est une collaboration transatlantique entre le label madrilène Acuarela et le label américain d'Ipswich dans le Massachusetts, Kimchee Records. Les deux artistes ont de nombreux points communs musicalement car ils appartiennent à la même sphère de folk d'influence américaine. L' intérieur de la pochette cartonnée tente l'explication poétique avec le dessin de deux cartes côtières. Chris Brokaw et Viva Las Vegas ont ceci en commun d'être issus de deux villes portuaires, Boston pour le premier et Gijon pour le second.

La première plage de Chris Brokaw est un country rock us assez standard qui rappelle Rex, Come ou Neil Young. Il y est aidé par Thalia Zedek aux backing vocals et pat Matt Kadane (Bedhead, The New Year) à l'orgue. Le morceau est bien fait, le bonhomme a de l'expérience, mais ne se démarque pas tellement car Chris Brokaw n'est pas un chanteur exceptionnel.

« La Playa » qui suit est nettement plus séduisante, sans être indispensable : des percussions peinardes à la Bedhead, une basse chaude et mélancolique, une guitare à la John Fahey pour un résultat qui oscille entre Pullman et les Red House Painters de « Ocean Beach ».

Le premier morceau de Viva Las Vegas prend le temps de s'installer et l'on sent que, même s'il chante en espagnol, même si on sent un cousinage évident avec Sr Chinarro, Aroah ou Migala, le cour du duo est de l'autre côté de l' Atlantique. Une plage instrumentale, sombre et atmosphérique.

« Una vez mas » jette un pont entre Migala et Calexico, l'espace des premiers, la chaleur des seconds. La musique est douce, le chant discret, pâle et émotif. Tout ça donne envie découvrir plus à fond le premier album de Viva Las Vegas sorti début de cette année sur Acuarela afin de s'en faire une idée plus aboutie.

Ce split ep fonctionne donc comme un teaser, complément aux premiers albums à la fois de Chris Brokaw (Red Cities sur Atavistic) et Viva Las Vegas (s/t sur Acuarela).



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