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When talking about Spanish pop in the nineties, it's essential to mention the deceased band Penelope Trip. Born in the town of Gijón in the early nineties, they helped to build up the so-called “Xixón Sound” tag, alongside with some other local outfits which shared a similar innovative approach to music more than a specific sound.

Three albums and a handful of EPs conform their legacy, proving that naivety and good intentions can sometimes be surprisingly fruitful. In a rather bleak music scene, where very few bands -Cancer Moon, Surfin' Bichos- displayed contemporary influences, five high-school kids from Gijón decided to start a band. They took their name from a Felt song called “Penelope Tree”, which they transformed to Penelope Trip. Shortly after gathering some music equipment, they recorded a demo tape while they were still learning to play their instruments. In spite of their amateurism, they get a record deal with indie label Munster Records in 1991. Hammerhead!, their first EP, is released in the same year to cause a commotion among the Spanish music press, surprised by the band's weird, unradio-friendly sound, heavily influenced by some British and American bands of the time. Even though Covadonga -the girl playing drums- had won some poetry contests in high school, the song lyrics are almost inexistent: melodies are merely vocalized by singer Tito, though we occasionally get the impression that he sings in English… A truly amateur thing.

More and more bands start forming in Gijón -Australian Blonde, Kactus Jack, Dr. Explosión...- and a new local scene is started to be talked about, in spite of the musical diversity among all these names. In 1992 Penelope Trip's first album, Politomanía, is released. That same year, the band embarks on their first Spanish tour -Noise Pop Tour- with some other bands alike: Usura, El Regalo de Silvia and Bach is Dead. Some other groups -El Inquilino Comunista (from Getxo) or catalonians Parkinson D.C.- spread the syndrome by releasing albums that move away from the typical Spanish pop cliches, boasting English lyrics and rough productions as their main identifying marks. Preceded by an EP (Galaxina, 1993), 1994 sees the release of Usted morirá en su nave espacial (1994), Penelope Trip's second album.

By that time, Covadonga has left the band to focus on her side project Nosoträsh, whereas Australian Blonde's “Chup Chup” turns out to be the first Spanish indie pop hit. Despite the progression experimented by the band, Penelope Trip can't seem to get out of the underground circles or to be properly promoted. Because of their prestige among the Spanish music press -and obviously not due to their rather scarce sales figures- the band gets a special deal with major RCA to release their following album. ¿Quién puede matar a un niño? (1996) is widely considered their best effort, but doesn't manage to get higher sales, not even with the support of a strong label. Again, the album gets rave reviews in the music press, but general audiences are not that impressed, still unprepared for Penelope Trip's highly creative talent. Being reduced to a foursome, and assuming the impossibility of making a living off their music, the band splits after the album promotion tour.

Original text taken from MTV Spain website: www.mtv.es
Translation into English by Tito Pintado

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