I'm back from my hols in Bulgaria. Originally we were going to spend a few days in Plovdiv then head to the Black Sea coast, but then WizzAir cancelled the flights from Burgas back to London so we went on to Sofia instead.
I had a good time and can recommend the Old Town in Plovdiv, the Rila Monastery and the Museum of Socialist Art in Sofia as worth a visit if you are in the area. In the highly unlikely event that you are interested in my holiday snaps you can find them here.
It was a less successful trip when it came to finding local music. There are a few record shops but they don't seem to stock much local stuff, and those CDs that they do have are fairly pricy for what is basically a complete stab in the dark. I picked up three though.
The pick of the bunch by some distance is a compilation of previously unavailable recordings made between 1979 and 1995 by Novi Tsvetya (New Flowers), one of the first Bulgarian punk bands. The sound quality is pretty ropey at times but there is plenty to enjoy.
To quote the sleeve notes "The band was made of a bunch of kids that heard some punk stuff on the Yugoslavian radio and decided to become punks... back in 1979. They made their own instruments and recorded demos in their summer kitchen using a simple reel to reel recorder". And it shows on the earlier recordings on the album.
Next up is Monolith. Formed in 1991 they have been described as "one of the few Bulgarian bands that successfully combine blues music, rock and roll, and art-rock". In their pomp that may have been true, but by the time they released the self-titled 2019 album that I acquired they were a bog-standard blues rock band. Not unpleasant but nothing special.
Finally there is Nina Nikolina & Kalin Velov, whose 2018 album "Absinthe" was misleadingly described to me as "ethno" by the woman in the record shop. It is actually dreadful Latin lounge and this is the only half-decent track.
I will try to do better on my work trips to Bucharest and Macedonia next month.
"Патриот (Patriot)" - Novi Tsvetya
"Ostni Spira" - Monolith
"Всичко е игра (It's All A Game)" - Nina Nikolina & Kalin Velov
Now this is more like it...