Tuesday, 16 August 2011 18:19

Wired In band Review: Manel

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In a Wired In special, Heart editor Marta Martinez reviews a band from Barcelona. Manel are a band who sing in Catalan and have the perfect sound for the final throes of summer.

My perfect summer picture is lying on a rocky beach of the Costa Brava, drinking orxata and staring at the soft waves of the Mediterranean sea while the sun sets. The prefect soundtrack is easy: "Al mar" (To the sea) by the Barcelona band Manel. 



Four years ago, Manel were just four school friends who used to play some music in their free time, unaware of any music trend that would rocket them into stardom –they even had that ridiculous ukelele, who was going to success with that in Spain?

Now Manel have sold more than 50,000 albums and have reached the top 1 in the Spanish music lists. Despite singing in Catalan, Manel have overcome borders with their uncomplicated, distinctive sound. 

It all started when Guillem, Arnau, Martí and Roger –none of them is called Manel, which is a typical male's name in Catalonia– decided to participate in a regional competition for young bands. The prize was attractive: recording an album. Manel's original mix of pop and Catalan folk appealed to the audiences, especially their song "Al mar" but finally another band –currently completely unknown– got the first prize. Manel were 2nd –they say that 2nd place is just the first loser, right? The Barcelona band proved that saying wrong. Their award was cash money, enough to fund the recording of their first album, "Els Millors Professors Europeus" (The Best European Professors)

From here to fame it was just a matter of word of mouth. People began recommending Manel's album to their friends, and the chain grew bigger and bigger. A big help was when famous people, such as Josep Guardiola, coach of F.C.Barcelona, publicly said that Manel was his favorite band. 

"Al mar, al mar!" started to become the sound on Catalan TV and soon their uncomplicated music started to get Spain's attention. In Spain people have been listening to lyrics they don't understand for years, so it didn't really matter whether it was English or, this time, in Catalan. 

Manel's songs talk about daily life and daily conflicts. About breaking up, long-term relationships or meeting your girlfriend's ex-boyfriend on the street and feeling weird. They describe themselves as "normal", and maybe that's why they decided to make an outstanding cover of Pulp's "Common People" –A classic in Manel's own way, with a naïve, Mediterranean rural sound and playing in Barcelona's most famous market, the Boqueria.


This summer Manel are touring Spain with their second album, "10 Milles Per Veure una Bona Armadura" (Ten Miles to See a Good Armor), so if you happen to be around, don't miss them! Or, who knows, maybe you'll meet randomly on a Catalan beach, enjoying a beer next to the Mediterranean. Cheers!

For more Manel check out: http://www.myspace.com/gatmanel

Last modified on Thursday, 18 August 2011 00:55

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