Spanish Prisoners
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Spanish Prisoners

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Alternative


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This band has not uploaded any videos



""Turns out 'Songs to Forget' is anything but""

"Music can mean different things for different people. For some, music can be simple and something used sparingly, while for others it can be something much deeper and more complex – it can define the very emotions by which we live.

For Leonid Maymind, music is something worth losing sleep over; the perfect lyrics combined with the right melody can bridge the gap between a listener and his or her inner soul. This opportunity to fill that void helped him write the songs that comprise his debut CD, 'Songs to Forget,' recorded under the moniker Spanish Prisoners.

"I am largely trying to express a particular human feeling, action, event, in a way that people can connect with," said Columbus-based Maymind. "In no way am I trying to really 'rock' people or make people dance or anything like that… I want the songs to sort of express something that I believe should be expressed."

Born in Latvia and raised in New Orleans, Maymind's heritage played less of a role in inspiring his musical direction than did many other simple pleasures in life, such as poetry and daydreaming. Upon recently learning guitar, Maymind finally started spinning his thoughts into songwriting, and has since taught himself bass, piano, harmonica, banjo, and other instruments to help with the process.

"I've played alto saxophone since middle school and that helped a little," he said, "but only since I've been playing guitar for a few years did I really start exploring songwriting and pouring myself into it."

Maymind has been playing as Spanish Prisoners for about a year. The name was derived through three different sources: a dream about his dog; a favorite poet of Maymind's who died in the Spanish Civil War; and a film by David Mamet. With name in tow, he set off to tour the area and share his newfound passion for song with others.

"My first show was about a year ago in a house with a ton of sweaty kids packed inside," he said. "I drank way too much wine and had everyone sit down for a song. A successful debut."

For the last eight months Maymind has been recording 'Songs to Forget' in a recording studio in his basement. He recorded nearly every instrument himself, playing guitar, banjo, harmonica, and more. He released the final product last week.

Turns out 'Songs to Forget' is anything but, stocked with eight very memorable tracks that showcase Maymind's impressive, genre-crossing talents. With no firm blueprint to guide the way, he has created an album that travels to all corners of this musical earth, exploring (but never settling with) sounds of folk, electronica, psychedelia, garage rock, and more.

Maymind doesn't hesitate to grasp the listener's attention, kicking the album off with the thick, beautiful, and painfully sad 'Song for the Weary.' Building a mix of violin, accordion and slide guitar on top of a steady banjo strum, Maymind sings of being taken advantage of by lost love: "I was once a flower/and you were a bee…but after drinking my nectar/how soon did you flee." The gentle lyrics are eventually swept away by a gut-wrenching violin, sadly lamenting a lost flame.

'Some Among Them Are Killers' quickly changes the pace of the record, dropping the swaying strings and replacing them with an electronic beat and simple, dark, almost accusatory guitar riff that prods through as Maymind sings of a violent, war state.

Again Maymind abruptly shifts gears, finding solace from the darkness of 'Some Among Them Are Killers' in the soft acoustic guitar of 'How the Fallen Fell,' a gentle but deceiving song; though the guitar and harmonica sound soothing and warm, Maymind's lyrics are dripping with loneliness and loss.

Two tracks on 'Songs to Forget' purposefully stray from the surprisingly crisp production Maymind has accomplished on the album. 'A Thousand Zimmermans' and 'Periwinkle Blues' both employ a raw, lo-fi approach that nicely complements their garage rock sound. While the former is a bouncy track that will get stuck in your head, the latter truly stands out on the album because of its dark, cynical lyrics about the rampant materialism of the world. Maymind opens the song with, 'It's a tough world/and I don't want to share it with you,' before sharing such cynical lines as 'See a beggar down on his knees/save your dimes and nickels please/But if there's a squirrel, slow down and take heed.'

Immediately following the psychedelic, Pink Floyd-esque instrumental intermission 'This is Not That,' 'Mantequilla' is the best track on 'Songs to Forget.' It is a stunningly gorgeous love song, the sweet vocals riding on top of a flow of soft acoustic guitar, violin and pedal steel (the latter two played by Eric Kang of Margot and the Nuclear So and So's) that never overpower the touching strength of the beautiful lyrics. 'And I don't need nobody/nobody else's arms,' Maymind sings, 'It is to your steady cadence/which I tune my beating heart.'

Closing 'Songs to Forget' is the piano-driven 'Ballad of an Unfolding,' a tale of an unraveling relationship. Slowly the song falls into despair until Maymind closes the song, and the album, with this sad line: 'For there are so many songs, but none about you/For so long, so long, I thought that was my job to do.'

Though the musicianship on 'Songs to Forget' is impressively appropriate and concise, it is Maymind's lyrics that shine through the album more than anything. The passion that he pours into his words is obvious, and the music takes a back seat to such intense emotion that he portrays with such simple words. Surely it would take a long, long time to forget any of these powerful songs.

Spanish Prisoners will be playing the Union tomorrow night at 9 p.m. with Southeast Engine and Nostra Nova. - Athens Messenger

"Songs to Forget glowing review"

"Might as well talk about the weather as there's physically no other way for me to break the ice when introducing the Spanish Prisoners. We are in the midst of a heatwave in case you haven't noticed, and the endless beads of sweat and feverish hallucinations such extremes create match well with the chilly atmosphere of Leonid Maymind's earnest batch of ghostly folk. By naming his debut Songs to Forget he's either set himself up for an inevitable punchline or (keeping my fingers crossed) turned a phrase that inherently describes his music. Like no other album released in the city this year, Songs to Forget is powerful in the sense that it has the ability to transport or at least make one "forget" they're stuck in the middle of Ohio.

Where most Americana is steeped in regional celebration and local color, Maymind's imagination tends to roam though a number of exotic climes. Being born in Latvia, raised in New Orleans, and finally spit-shined in Columbus, the guy's obviously a xenophile without a comfortable home, perpetually fueled by his wanderlust. "Song for the Weary" has the slow-motioned crawl of the most tragic of love stories, only Maymind's unsure of its shape, hovering between Appalachian spiritual, deep Southern blues, and even deeper swamp lore. I was reminded of the first time I heard the Palace Brothers, and whether there was a place in contemporary indie music for such stark authenticity. More Oldham than Oberst, the album's sincerity towards traditional sounds is its most rewarding attribute.

Clearly though, the prize here lies in the Spanish Prisoner's modest bent for experimentation. "Some Among Them are Killers" and stunning closer "Ballad of an Unfolding," both weave the acoustic with the electronic, making for spooky rustic pop built with scattered beats and digital skree. The Postal Service or early Califone would be a convenient reference point, but Maymind's fragile voice and imploding structures give off the feeling that it could all topple over with a strong wind. Even his ramshackle attempts at slacker salvos, found in the Pavement (prolly more Silver Jews) inspired "Periwinkle Blues" and "A Thousand Zimmermans," are skinny and skeletal, and that's all part of the charm.
Of course it's too early to call Maymind a wunderkind -- I've yet to see this unfold live (and have heard it's not exactly the bee's knees...yet) and Songs to Forget was aided by a long cast of local luminaries, including Sarah Asher, Eric Metronome, and the CDR crew (c'mon guys, sink some money into this record, this is something that could really expand the fam'), but that doesn't mean that Maymind's vision isn't intriguing, unique, and completely from the heart. We should all be paying attention.
The Spanish Prisoners will celebrate the release of Songs to Forget tomorrow night at The Basement. Recent Misra additions, Southeast Engine and (don't get me started) The Slide Machine will round out an amazing little show at a crappy little club." - Kevin Elliott,

""one of those songwriters who channels a distinct voice in just about any way he pleases""

"Call him naïve, but Leo Maymind maintains a romantic vision of the singer-songwriter process, despite the ever-shortening attention span of the ringtone generation.

"I'm interested in being a part of the musical discourse," the 23-year-old singer-songwriter behind Spanish Prisoners said last week as he spoke about his debut CD, set for release Friday at the Basement.

Then again, anybody who titles his album Songs to Forget must be in on the joke.

The album, a mostly self-made collection featuring contributions from a host of notable Columbus musicians, is Maymind's first attempt to engage in sonic conversation. From the sounds of it, he has a lot to say. The songs are fueled by grand artistic ambition that succeeds beautifully sometimes and falls flat elsewhere.

To Maymind's credit, it's hard to pigeonhole Songs to Forget. "Freak folk" is too easy, "lo-fi" not quite right. He's one of those songwriters who channels a distinct voice in just about any way he pleases, from the gorgeous, melancholy strains of "Song for the Weary" to the mid-period Pavement clatter of "A Thousand Zimmermans."

His closest contemporary is Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, though one gets the sense Maymind would prefer to be lumped in with the songwriters that influenced them both: Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and the slew of underground heroes in their wake.

But the Bright Eyes parallels are too keen to ignore. Like Oberst, Maymind is a chameleon, willing to turn to dance beats ("Some Among Them Are Killers"), Delta riffs ("Periwinkle Blues") and tearful screeds ("Ballad of an Unfolding") to get his point across.

And as Oberst does, Maymind occasionally goes a little overboard, as on "Ballad of an Unfolding," in which he sabotages a haunting melody with melodramatic words about tears running down an ex-lover's cheek.

The lyrical subtlety will grow with time. As for the well-developed diversity of sound, chalk it up to Maymind's wide musical palette, the large cast of collaborators (Sarah Asher, Chris Burney and Eric Metronome are only a few) and a childhood spent hopping from Latvia to New Orleans, to Morgantown, West Virgina, to Columbus.

As mentioned before, Maymind has ambition to spare. He sought out Jim Diamond (White Stripes) and Jack McKeever (Rufus Wainwright) for some of the recording on Songs to Forget, and he hopes to find a label to release an expanded version of the album in the near future. He spent last month on a solo tour of the East Coast, and he'll play out West in September. He may not be long for Columbus.

"I've lived here for almost 10 years, and I'm just a little bit restless," Maymind said.

In the short term, though, Spanish Prisoners have a bevy of shows scheduled in town, starting with Friday's release show with Southeast Engine and the Slide Machine. For the celebratory evening, Maymind will be joined by a full ensemble to give his songs the treatment they deserve." - Chris Deville, Columbus Alive

"Show Preview"

"Essentially the one-man-as-a-band project of local musician Leonid Maymind, the Spanish Prisoners are set to celebrate his/their full-length debut "Songs to Forget." Maymind was assisted by a host of other local talents, but the record's disparate ideas and kitchen-sink approach are obviously the products of creative freedom (as opposed to consensus). Each of the album's songs are clustered in varied sonic textures (strings, electronics, strange murky noises, etc.), but at the heart of each is an attention to songcraft. Maymind may alter between neo-folkie and lo-fi tinkerer, but more than anything he's a singer with a song." - Steven Slaybaugh, UWeekly

"Critic's Pick"

Spanish Prisoners are the critic's pick in the Other Paper for Comfest for Saturday, June 23rd for the Solar Stage.
- The Other Paper

"Not to Miss:"

"... upstarts worth keeping an ear on and hearing now, not later: ...Latvian-born Leonid Maymind grew up in New Orleans, but his garage-psych act Spanish Prisoners blends its late-night textures with irregular sounds and a touch of angularity." - Independent Weekly, Chapel Hill


"Songs to Forget"- debut 10 song CD/ LP/ Digital
April 29th, 2008
OH Crap Vol. 4 Compilation
Airplay on many college radio stations
Airplay on CD101 FM frontstage



In 1987, a few short years before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, a three-year-old Leonid Maymind, his parents and twin brother left behind their lives in Latvia---a small Baltic country that had been swallowed by the USSR, and was struggling to maintain its identity—and departed for New Orleans, LA. In the face of uncertainty, the family had the task of trying to create an identity in a new and unfamiliar world. This journey began with the contents of four orange suitcases, which was all the authorities “allowed” the family to bring.
Twenty years later, the theme of finding oneself amidst a large and unknown world is still apropos to Maymind, the main songwriter, singer, and orchestrator of the musical collective Spanish Prisoners, now based in Brooklyn, NY. The music created by Maymind is as unique and varied as the cities where he has lived---and the journey embarked on all those years ago is apparent throughout. Using an expansive arsenal of instruments (ranging from banjo, accordion, dobro, wheezing harmonica, electronics, etc.) and an extensive cast of collaborators, Maymind’s music conjures up the quiet anger of Neil Young’s “On the Beach,” the lyrical mysticism of Leonard Cohen’s “Songs from a Room,” Dylan’s oft-discussed “Basement Tapes,” and the pseudo-psychotic musings of one Charles Thompson.
The debut record, entitled “Songs to Forget,” contains songs that were mostly recorded alone in a meager basement studio in Columbus, Ohio, after the hours of ten PM, when the neighborhood traffic slowed and the joyous screams of children slowly drifted off. Other songs were recorded with such analog luminaries as Jack Mckeever (Rufus Wainright ), Jim Diamond (White Stripes). One final song was recorded with Todd Tobias of Guided by Voices fame. While naming an album “Songs to Forget” may appear at first to be a common indie-rock form of self-deprecation---don’t be fooled! The songs contained herein will not allow you to forget the music but, rather, time, place, and age; they stand their ground in a world of quick fixes and plastic synthetic futures.
In the past year Maymind spent considerable time on the road, including shows with such luminaries as Califone, the Rosebuds, Castanets and a special show in NYC supporting and backing the legendary songwriter Daniel Johnston. Now with a steady, full-scale band behind him, Spanish Prisoners are able to recreate the richness and depth of “Songs to Forget” live, in a most memorable way.