Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Video: "Victoria Roma", Gepe



My iPod is having a Gepe invasion; I’m finally meeting the pop star and the hidden folk in his music proposal. A few months back I was impressed with Las Piedras EP (released by QuemaSuCabeza) and I’m thinking I should have given it a better grade, and although it isn’t his best album yet, it made me go back to his previous works which are exquisite and merit all the positive feedback his fellow singers are giving him. He summed new fans from his performance at Vive Latino and has announced an upcoming LP.

This is the first video from his current EP, for the song “Victoria Roma”, shot between Santiago and New York, it features the beautiful vocals and appearence of Valeria Jara, who is part of his band, this what I had to say about this song on my review “In “Victoria Roma”, Gepe brings some of the best stuff we like in people like Javiera Mena and Ulises Hadjis, they build up forms within the music, give them rhythm and most importantly direction.” Viva la Webcam!

Mr. Shoji, Single


It’s sad to admit, but I buy vynils only for the sake of collecting and showing them off (plus they look great on the wall of any college kid) One thing is for sure, labels never send promotional vynils because that’s what’s hot right now, but you need some friends from La Madre Patria so they can send you the goodies, because unlike any other country in Iberoamerica, the Spaniard labels are on top of the business offering vynils to the market. In some cases, such as Anntona’s En La Cama Con Anntona, the album is given for free as a digital release and they produce a limited number of copies to sell to those people, who like me, want to have the physical thing but will be hearing the songs on the iPod.

Well, there’s that, I received Single’s latest 7’’ titled “Mr. Shijou” but never listened to it, although the artwork cover always intrigued me. But then yesterday, Rulo from Reactor tweeted that the song was the best he had heard this month and maybe the whole year, and he’s not kidding, it is one of the songs to keep in this 2009. For those not aware of this band, this is the project by Teresa Iturrioz and Ibon Errazkin, whose previous works have been featured on our now gone Rocolas. They’re everything Fangoria isn’t, and that’s why I like them so much, don’t get me wrong Fangoria is had its interesting time but now I find them boring? Teresa has a thing for birds, they’re always present and although this time the cover doesn’t feature this animal, you’ll hear plenty of them as they are the soul of this track.

Who is Mr. Shoji? He’s a Japanese DJ who has collaborated with the act on previous albums. “Yo y Mr. Shoji tenemos un asunto” the band explains the reason behind creating the track, they have an issue to resolve, it’s a well-kept secret but seems like they always wanted to do this song and finally got the chance to do it, that’s the easy/lazy interpretation. The song ask for exaggerated guesses, I’d like to think it’s a combat between a man in a horse (Mr. Shoji) and the girl surrounded by birds (Teresa), kind of a dazzling fight a la Kill Bill.


Calidosound, Superlitio

CALIDOSOUND, SUPERLITIO
Volumen 7, Colombia
Rating: 63
By Carlos Reyes

Superlitio is according to a majority, the new most important alternative band from Colombia, but it took them almost five years to release another album after the highly acclaimed Tripping Tropicana which earned them a Latin Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. Colombian rock seems oddly overlooked, thing is, most of the attention goes to popstars Shakira and Juanes, or the tropi-pop sounds of Fanny Lu and Fonseca. A very good friend from Bogota tells me he is “ashamed” (harsh word) to see that such a mediocre act as Don Tetto is seen as the present and future of his country’s alternative scene, and it really is ridiculous, starting with the fact that Aterciopelados is continuing to make tremendously enchanting albums, too good to start making plans to pass the crown.

Is there is an alternative scene? Yes, (they do run Rock Al Parque, the second biggest music fest in Latin America), but with few picks worthy to check; Colombian press has been fussing around Doctor Krapula but I’m not buying it, Sanalejo is better but not particularly great, so I would point to Cabas, Monareta, Choc Quib Town, Bomba Estereo and Superlitio as the true stars to be proud of. Now getting back to Superlitio, it is nice to see them back; their obscure ska underlined by some colorful synths is their big asset, and expect more of it in Calidosound, which was kindly sponsored by a beer brand and so it was released as a free download. Its biggest strength, the warmth and fluency of their grooves taken to the emergency room by very Ozomatli-like robotic beings that pop up from nowhere. Its biggest weakness, lyrically and vocally the songs sound like those popular wanna-be funny hits by Juanes.

“Perro Come Perro” is a great tropical song, it was written for the film by the same name; let me tell you that movie is not fun, but it’s so raw and completely bonded to this piece of music that is skillfully ornamented by the vigor of its trumpets as if it was a pure salsa, plus the crude story recaps a state of mind in a country known for its violence. Also operating from this theme is the opening track “El Cartucho”, where they want to tell everyone to get those ammunitions out of the eye, to keep them rolling until they’re inexistent, only then they’ll be able to smile and get the good times rolling. “Favorite Song” sums up the album as a common place, it aims for freedom but it doesn’t quite get there, but it does release a couple of tracks that merit a dance floor and the attention of those looking for optimism.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mixtape: Dancing Cheetah! - Tropicaliente



Summer time is the time for mixtapes, I googled to see if other blogs had picked up our Summer Jamz: Illegal Accordion Mixtape by Andrew Casillas and Dan Weiss, and among other sites I found a blog from Brazil that really liked it. The blog is called Dancing Cheetah, I went through it and found really good content (in Portuguese), but it was this mixtape that made me stop right away, first because of its savagely awesome cover, a masked monkey with partial grills! Luckily, its cuteness doesn’t stop there, the set is awesome and the execution too, that is if you want to dance to almost 60 mintues of Cumbia, Reggaeton, Carimbo, Merengue and other dancing sensations. Pay close attention to Fonograma favorites Mexican Institute of Sound and our favorite persona from ZZK Records El Remolon.



Vive Latino: Review Day 2



VIVE LATINO 2009
10th edition of “festival iberoamericano de cultura musical”
Day 2
by Juan Manuel Torreblanca

Pictures by Pnacho

Ok so I sorta wanted to get there on time for Neon Walrus but, honestly, it’s a Sunday: I had planned to have breakfast with my dad (who I don’t see all that often) and my little sister; and after that I had to drive to Desierto de los Leones (let’s say it’s almost an opposite corner of the city) to get my free ticket for this day of the Vive, so I had no true hopes of getting there on time.

The day was gray and rainy, a perfect day to be blue. But I had to fight that and talk myself into going (sincerely, I wasn’t expecting anything better than yesterday… & -seeing the rain- I was tempted to make up a plan B which would’ve been indoors, but I had been given a ticket and I wanted to finish my chronicle for club fonograma). So I put on my little red riding ipod and my kicks and Elliot Smith walked me to the subway, breaking my heart and inspiring me on every step I took following his beat and every genius moment that he left us. Stepping out of the subway station, the rain was pouring down. Guys were saying “I’m not going out there” but I saw someone selling cheap plastic garbage bag ponchos (for $15) under the bridge and I got myself one and decided to be brave. Apocalypse baby, yeah!


I am, usually, really cranky when it comes to getting wet in Mexico City’s acid rain. But today (I told myself) I had to see it as an adventure. The long walk. The checkpoints. The poor security people who sometimes seem absent behind their eyes. I heard nothing (but good old Elliot whispering the sweetest melancholy straight into my noise cancelling head-phones). It was sort of like being the only character and spectator in my own little indie movie. Everything was so beautiful seen through that lens. All the young ones giving up the impossible struggle against it and just getting soaked. The mud and the wet ground (I love that). The army of the ponchoed (like a spontaneous flash mob worthy of an Austin TV new outfit design). Somehow it made it feel more like a festival to me. I walked by the Red Stage, I had NO idea who I heard and then I got me a schedule… um, no, I wasn’t too interested in the bands playing there so I headed straight to my favorite: The “Intolerant Tent” (if you say it repeatedly it’s almost like an Animal Collective beat! intoleranttentintolerantent…). I catched the last bit of Alejandro Otaola’s FRACTALES and I felt a little bit bummed that I hadn’t been on time for the whole of them. It was apparently one of those furiously virtuoso concerts. He and his friends, sons of the prog days; experimental and naughty by complexity while accessible and successful by good taste and musicality. I bet he had more than a couple of interesting guests, but I guess I’ll have to read about that later. He left the stage grateful and smiling and after a while (and after all due whistling and impatient screaming) Sr. Mandril took the stage. I had never seen them live and I had a ball. My first gig of day 2 was brilliant. I especially loved the flute player Maria Emilia Martinez’s performance. I believe she is one of the unsung heroes of our modern-day scene. she adds her magic, her beauty, her commanding stage presence and her gorgeous sound and freedom to an uncanny amount of projects, from the eternal Qué Payasos (a rock band that looks a bit like KISS but is directed to kids) to Natalia Lafourcade’s new band (where she’s my band-mate and the heart of the party ALWAYS), not to mention her two fantastic projects Klezmerson (the name is pretty self explanatory) and Los Aguacates (a bailongo that sometimes plays a cumbia version of Portishead’s glory box to add a little teardrop to the shaking of the hips). So yeah, that’s Maria Emilia, and here she added part of what I loved most in Sr. Mandril: the latino and the simply live. When the sax & the trumpet pulled the flute into rhythmic melodies that made it impossible not to dance. I liked that more than the times in which they relied heavily on sequenced dance beats that sounded a bit dated to me. I was really astounded by their guitar player, he had one of those Roland black toys that turn the guitar sound into anything, and he played it as if it were a Hammond organ, GENIUS. It’s nice to find such a polished project finding a space in a festival that I had previously considered rather raw. Kudos to the drum & bass section, almost as tight as Kinky’s. If I wanted or needed to say anything more, I can finish their review by telling you that people really wanted more once they were finished (“otra, otra otra” no can do amigous).

I was very close to the stage during Sr. Mandril and almost to the center. I suspected Silverio would be crazy and scary and I wanted to survive the gig so I slowly walked towards the back of the tent. I thought I was going to spend the whole vive alone, but at that moment I found @Inchejohn there (my friend from Café Tacvba’s concert!) and we pretty much spent the whole day together.


The staff had problems plugging all of Silverio’s toys (people went beyond loud, of course). He took the stage, a mix between José josé and the Ecoloco (from Odisea Burbujas). The crowd went bonkers. He is really, really intense. A freak. A captivating Frankenstein of his own creation. His movements are almost epileptic. But he’s in control. His show is an ode to testosterone. And also to male stripping. He insults the audience all the time and showers them with obscene hand gestures and nasty drunken-uncle screams into the mic. I think he’s almost Mexico’s answer to Peaches (but her music is like Gershwin with lyrics by Henry Miller compared to his). Call me old and bitter if you will, but I don’t understand the charm of monotony, pure and simple repetition, primitive rhythms –no matter how loud– and unnecessary crassness. Maybe he’s a genius and has a sense of humor that I should envy. It’s true that sometimes long and repetitive jokes are the best jokes. But this one was too long for me. You know? being showered in beer during the first 5 minutes of the gig wasn’t my idea of baptism by Vive Latino (it probably is now… straight to my to do list: next vive, buy beer, lots of beer to throw at people when the moment feels right to “nefastear”). I was almost enjoying the free massage (except the feet part) but I had to quit. It was time to visit the main stage. Bengala was playing there and I was excited to see them fill that huge platform. Getting there, it was impressive to see the floor coverings all torn and shriveled; of course it’s typical of the Vive, and it must happen because it’s by using parts of the huge carpet that groups of people manage to throw the daring ones up into the air. But the poor stadium wouldn’t have endured a third day. God bless the cleaning staff. Rain had stopped by then and it was warm. Bengala walked out and began giving their all. Now, there was a recurrent problem this festival, concerning guitars. It’s as if OCESA had issued a secret memo urging their staff to keep them as quiet as humanely possible. Bengala, thus, had some problems, lack of sound problems… hours later one of the guys told me that monitoring was a nightmare onstage, they never heard the piano in there and the guitars were ridiculously low, etc. Well, my hat is off to them because they didn’t let that bring them down and they delivered. People were responding. Their hits “Miente” and “Carretera” were sung along completely and their cover of La Maldita Vecindad’s “Un Poco de Sangre Roja” (with brass guests courtesy of Salón Victoria) was awesome! A good job from a young band that’s been struggling for years. I hope they keep it up until they’re headlining and sounding like stars.

Then it was time for Cabezas the Cera (arguably Mexico’s best, most original and creative fusion-experimental group) to take the Intolerant Tent. I found some friends from the Panamerika (Red Bull Music Academy) blog there, I was happy to share such a sincere show with them. All those unique instruments that their drummer makes. Wow. I loved their beats and the greatness of seeing three guys (with no poses or gimmicks beyond their exploration of their sounds and performances) create such a huge wall of sound. On their last track “Godzilla” I closed my eyes and they made me see The City (any big city, mine, Tokyo, N.Y., etc) and I heard the cars honking in the traffic, and the cries of the monster as it tore the place.

Uriel Waizel suggested we checked out Banda Bostik and so we headed to the Red Stage. And here I arrive at the core of my review for this day. I came home with one (if only one) thing learnt. And that is: Rock is not dead. (At least not yet).

Banda Bostik (la banda de bandas) is about the streets, the barrio, it’s urban rock (very akin to El Tri). I got a feeling that they’re about being very Mexican, very banda, very close to the people and about giving a message, one uplifting or understanding or lecturing. I feel a bit like a snob here, but I found the rhetoric too naïve and the music too predictable and simple, yet the passion that they have carried through more than two decades can still move mountains. They made me be VERY afraid for the first time in the festival. They urged the crowd to run around like crazy during one of the songs and once it started, I saw a tsunami coming my way and it left me no choice, it was either RUN or be ran over by the crowd. It was heavy!

We left because we had to walk to the other side to witness Adanowsky (and Gush!). We cut through the main field and we saw a bit of División Minúscula. I’ll give it to them, they have improved A LOT. They looked mature, older, elegant. They sounded ok. But the song that they were singing, I don’t know the name of it, but despite it’s “rock” orchestration and glamour, it’s melody could’ve fit in a Timbiriche song. I’m not kidding. And though I don’t see that as necessarily wrong (it just shows how thin the invisible line between rock and pop is, some times) I’m not a fan. But people were seriously into it, singing along from the heart. I actually loved seeing that. It made me reflect upon some serious philosophical aspects concerning the private communion experienced through that mysterious alchemy of making a song we like our own. But I’ll have to wait until a next time to dive deeper into that.



We got to the blue stage and the crowd was surprisingly small. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s son was introduced by a french Master of Ceremonies who belonged either to a Cabaret or a Circus. His fantastic backing band (the French band Gush) appeared wearing classy white jackets over white tux shirts and bright color pants, and the “idolo” was wearing a blood-red jacket over a black vest and a torn black shirt. Fashionably hip. They opened with an ode to erotism. In French they chanted about life being made to make love. Then Adan spoke some about dreaming of being an idol in Mexico, only as a prelude to his song “El Idolo”, during which he danced and moved across the stage with enviable security and grace. He is clearly his father’s son. He takes over the limelight like a magician, a therapist, a cult leader, or even a –hippie and cool– socialist dictator, more than a rock-star. He has enough charisma to fill the Foro Sol three times. And that’s what makes him shine, because his music isn’t necessarily what the world was waiting for, though “Estoy mal” is a decidedly fun song; pure cabaret with a nice & human narrative. & their Michael Jackson cover was so good, it was (musically) the highlight of their concert. Don´t get me wrong, he’s an extraordinarily talented frontman. Beyond his good looks and stylized frame, he has a rich and deliciously dirty voice. However, his show isn’t just about music. His m.c. turns into a Scottish blonde when Adanowsky needs a volunteer to kiss the keyboard player back into life, and then he/she performs a complete striptease and kisses all of the other guys in the mouth, and pretends to play bass with her penis etc. Afterwards, Adanowsky (almost as if he were trying to get us into a massive psico-magic ritual) demanded everyone to kneel… and I mean EVERYONE, he took his time and screamed if necessary to get what he wanted. It was unbelievable, and after that he requested everyone to explode like never before on the count of 3. It pretty much worked (I was more of an observer, but it was really amazing… so amazing it was almost scary hehe).

After Adanowsky we had to walk back to the best tent of the festival, tongue-twister tent, to see Anita Tijoux. On our way we heard a bit of Molotov, it was sounding powerful. My time to eat something arrived and the choice of the day was Villamelón tacos, I had to mention it because it was exquisite.

The crowd for Anita Tijoux was really small too, but I actually enjoyed the kind of Vive Latino that I experienced; not so much into the big, big acts…

I must say I became a fan of Anita instantly. Her voice is like liquid. It flows with such a laid-back ease it’s probably what Billie Holiday would be singing if she were alive today. Her lyrics are smart and definitely nothing like the shallow and materialistic violence some of the genre shows. She had a very special guest, Julieta Venegas, rapping for the first time (and singing beautifully too). Well, I love Julieta, but Anita had me so enthralled that I couldn’t hear nor see anyone else.

We only got to see a bit of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs because when it was their turn, the rain started pouring down again, and this time it was cold, so it wasn’t as nice as it was during the day. Also, they really drew everyone to the stadium to see their epic performance. I can only say they are true greats. They sounded perfect. They brought deep and sincere emotion, and performances that surely brought waves of nostalgia and admiration upon all of their fans present.

We ran to the Intolerant Tent (yes, once again) to see the dirty rock of Yokozuna. I had never seen the Tranquilino brothers live. And they only confirmed my hunch of earlier: rock is not dead. They prove that the combo of a high and powerful voice plus a loud guitar and rabid drums is as vital and effective today as it’s ever been. They seem to keep an unlimited supply of brilliant riffs and guitar hooks in their sleeves, and I know (just from hearing them) that they really, really love music. That they hear a really diverse variety of things. I say it because their power rock (no matter how many times they invited people to “romperse la madre”) is fun, sophisticated and ridiculously musical. They also enjoy what they do SO MUCH that it’s impossible not to as part of the audience. My visit to the festival today ended on a circular note as Alejandro Otaola appeared as a guest with Yokozuna… and finally… I had to skip the Nortec Collective, as we were all beyond beat…

I am so tired I could fall asleep on this keyboard… still I believe I witnessed the best Vive Latino ever! A 10th anniversary that they should be proud of.

Today was SO much fun (with a little help from my friends)… I feel as if I’d been attending master classes on everything related to live music… I hope it somehow translates into my future endeavors sooner or later.

I’m finally in love with this festival… and my to-do list now includes: being thrown over a piece of the floor carpet, dying my hair or getting a piercing or a tattoo, screaming and whistling while the production staff connects everything between shows… and if I remember anything else I’ll write it down later.

‘til the next time,

Juan

PS. if only Gogol Bordello had been able to make it… it would have been heaven.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vive Latino: Review Day 1



VIVE LATINO 2009
10th edition of “festival iberoamericano de cultura musical”
first day (long day – long review)
by Juan Manuel Torreblanca

Pictures by Pnacho

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Gepe
I got there a bit late, I must confess, but I managed to get a good glimpse of this first day. I must say that I felt this time the sponsors and the efforts concerning all the inside little shops, stages, art installations & ornaments were much more visible, making it a more spectacular festival. My entrance to the “foro sol” was distracted by a voice that I (sincerely) confused with Mexican pop star Belinda, but I said to myself “it seriously can’t be her… it was to early for a Moderatto surprise appearance anyway. So I looked into the Red Stage and it was Satin Dolls. Nope… I decided to just get inside to get a better view of the main stage. I caught a bit of San Pascualito Rey, it was sounding nice but I wanted to check out Gepe (I’m a big fan) so I made my way to the Carpa Intolerante “intolerant tent?” it sounds a bit like a tongue-twister… well, I got there and it was almost empty, 30 persons tops. I bumped into a couple of friends there and stood in front of the stage, really close, eating gummy bears (that I had brought along from home) until Gepe (joined by the wonderful Pedro Piedra) stepped onstage. They blew my mind away. I had seen him live a couple of times before here in Mexico City (at La Faena and el Centro Cultural España) but he had never sounded so great, he owned the stage, filled it up with his voice his unique dancing style and his folkloric electro-pop; and the tent continuously saw more and more people join the party. We all danced and sang along. They truly lifted our spirits. That’s what a music festival is supposed to do, I’d say. Gepe made me fall in love with the Vive Latino.

After that, I headed to the Red Stage to catch the Simplifires. That stage had a bit of a Coachella thing going on. The green grass, the palm trees surrounding it, the sun. The neo-hippies scattered all over the field. The Simplifires took the stage and Dave O took off with that outrageous yowl he delivers out of nowhere. His deep lyrics floated over their tight rock beat & despite a slight lack of presence of the guitar (talking about the mix not Shine’s performance here), the audience responded with warmth and a grateful ovation. They also went from a middle sized crowd at the beginning, to a rather big and captive bunch when they said their goodbyes.
Little Joy
I had to walk to the opposite side of the stadium to get to the Blue Stage where I wanted to stay for Little Joy, Ximena Sariñana and Hello Seahorse!

I got there and Little Joy had already started. I enjoyed them a lot! They had such an ease and an indescribable grace to them that it was just beautiful. Rodrigo Amarante’s voice has all the flavor of the Brazilian giants. He even sang some Gilberto Gil and kept me smiling all through it, under the partly-cloudy sun. Fab Moretti (beyond famous thanks to the Strokes) and Binky Shapiro (with her blonde hippie-chic chick glamour and sweetness) complete the band; but they fill it out for their live performances with Todd Dahlhoff and Matt Borg from The Dead Trees (on bass and guitar, respectively), and Matt Romano from Albert Hammond Jr's band (on drums). They’re delightful.

They had warned (on their MySpace) that Fabrizio would be busy recording with the Strokes for most of their June dates, but (unless my glasses aren’t working anymore for me) he was here with them.

I got to see a bit of Kinky’s set through the screens while they were prepping everyting for Ximena Sariñana. It looked cool and it was probably a blast (as usual). It was also fun for me to see how impatient people were with the unavoidable burden of reconnecting and line-checking (the nightmare of festivals, for the staff)… however the creativity shown by their desperate yells got more than a couple smiles out of me.

After a bit more than expected, Ximena Sariñana and her band of virtuosos took the stage. She opened with Eric Couts’ cover of “Rara” and the first thing that made my jaw drop was her drummer Hernan Hecht’s amazing strength as he drove the song into a version that’s a million times more energetic and interesting than the album’s (that sort of happened to me with all of their arrangements for her live performance), Aarón Cruz (on bass) kept up and took the jazz concept of the “walking bass” to another level, one where it was more like dancing and hopping and painting the harmonic structures of the song surprising colors. And, of course, there’s Ximena. Her beauty and undeniable charisma really shone beneath the evening sun. Her voice was full and healthy (though the mix on it was a bit low at first) and she was really confident and enjoying herself. Visibly nervous and excited to be playing her first Vive to a medium-sized crowd which (nonetheless) sang along LOUDly to all her songs. I especially enjoyed the brief moments in which she improvised a bit and just let go. She ended her set (a bit short due to the problems they had setting her up) with a slightly faster take on “Vidas Paralelas” and I loved it like I never loved the album version.

Hello Seahorse!
Then came the time for one of the hippest bands playing this festival to take the stage: Hello Seahorse! I have believed for some time that, in the end, it doesn’t matter all that much how beautiful or charismatic the frontman (or frontwoman) of a band is; it doesn’t matter how well he or she might sing or how cool they might all be; it’s the songs that matter. And Hello Seahorse! have risen to a new level thanks to a bunch of really good songs, increasingly better with every release; but mostly, thanks to one song that really conquered the airwaves the past months, "Bestia", and it’s been said before, but it was so clear to see now. The people were really excited to see them, and they asked for that song from the first moment. So, I must add that they too had some problems getting everything ready, and it took enough time for me to catch a bit of Zoe on the screens (boy, they had some gorgeous visuals) but back to HSH!, once they got going, it was up up up… Lo Blondo’s voice was awesome and present (in her ethereal high & crystalline almost soprano style), her face couldn’t hide her joy & wonder at such a warm reception from the crowd, well they were all SUPER happy to be honest. Oro de Neta had the coolest little red keytar and he rocked it like it was 1985, I was so jealous hehe… and he & Bonnz provided the powerful thread that managed to join the old and the new HSH! into a mature young band, darker, fresher and promising. Unexpected but fun was the guest appearance of Niña Dioz rapping to the early hit “Cassette” a bit awkward to see the hip-hop young star jumping to the happy twee of that song once the rapping was over, but they really pulled it together to end it cool and tight.

I meant to race back to the “Intolerant Tent” (hehe) but I had to eat something so I made a stop and had some tacos & soda before I got to see Los Dorados. I might dare say that tent was my favourite. The lighting with them was brilliant, they really evoked a fire: smoke that erased the limits that draw walls and roof and orange and neon yellow lights that found glimmering ways between the musicians. Demián (the guitar player) had just played with Ximena (as part of her virtuoso band) and here he was really letting himself go crazy. Dan Zlotnik is probably my favourite sax player in the world, and the rhythm base created by Rodrigo Barbosa & Carlos Maldonado (plus the DJ and his excellent scratching) is a fantastic mix of Radiohead and Jazz and godknowswhat… it made me think about a quote I heard not long ago (& sadly I forgot who said it but) it said “all music is experimental, really” and I believe it’s a bit true…anyway… Los Dorados had a full tent and the people were really into it… I started hearing the rumour (Austin… Austin…) so I guessed Austin TV would be the surprise this year… and apparently they were going to play that tent just then… and they did.


Austin TV
Austin TV were announced as Zanate y asociados, and somehow fans (I am, obviously, not one of them) figured out it was them. They took a stage that was half electronic devices, half a tropical jungle, donned in their little green grass smurfs masks, with cool Victorian school-boy (and school-girl for Chiosan) outfits. I must say I wasn’t expecting what I saw then. It was the wildest crowd of the night. They LOVE Austin, capital letters, absolute devotion. The kids give their all onstage, and they sprinkle the songs with heart-felt speeches in-between. The audience clap to the rhythms, they draw all the melodies on the air with their hands (Austin brings the orchestra conductor out in most of them). And despite it being an instrumental project, with no singing and no lyrics, people sing along to the melodies and “hey hey hey” and “ho ho ho” whenever it fits. It is amazing. They played two covers, first “around the world” originally by Daft Punk, and near the end a bit of “el baile y el salón” originally by Café Tacvba (for which they brought onstage Rubén Albarran) it was a highly exciting moment. Everyone burst into that anthemic “papa rupapa eu eooo” and sang along, even though the structure of the song was very different and it was just a fragment of it, the rest was those ups and downs in intensity that drive Austin TV fans crazy. Mosh-pit-slam-jump-up-&-down-scream-your-lungs-out crazy. I must confess that, personally, I don’t quite get it. I mean, they don’t do it for me. BUT it is a phenomenon to watch. And it also proves that an audience fully involved makes a concert huge like no one other performance can. So it was a nice surprise, when it ended, people were happy, you could hear comments on how “cabrón” it was etc.

And then it was time to head to the main stage, the Green Stage, to see Andrés Calamaro. It was dark and I could appreciate some details better before he appeared onstage; like the Olympic flame that lit the middle of the arena or a series of 6 really iconic Mexico City buildings that stood on one side of the seated area (the VIP area) and beautifully lit you could see the Torre Latinoamericana alongside the Monumento a la Revolución & others. I believe this is the nicest Vive Latino so far. By the time Calamaro & his band took the stage, I was rather tired and I had to watch the first part sitting down, but that didn’t make his concert a bit less spectacular nor less worthy of a headliner’s position (i.m.o.).

It was the perfect example of a mature and ripe show. Everything in its right place, every song a great song. A grateful crowd enjoying the presence of a poet & pop-star (all in one), of a master of hooks & an expert craftsman when it comes to the architectural side of songwriting. An Argentinean friend told me during his concert that Calamaro was such a prolific giant that in 2000 he released a CD that included more than 100 songs (well, it was 5CDs actually) and it was called “El Salmón” because it made reference to those who swim against the current… ain’t that cool? It was a brilliant, exciting and moving show. You could tell that time and life have given him quite a ride and his voice the raspy color of experience, of tango, of cante flamenco & -of course- of old-school rock & roll. He made a couple mentions of Michael Jackson. He quoted (musically & lyrically) Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. Above us a sky that remained cloudy but spared us the burden of rain. And Calamaro gave all until the end. He sang about La Alta Suciedad, he sang La Flaca and to finish Sin Documentos. He kneeled, he owned every corner of the stage, he harmonized beautifully with his bandmates and he won his crowd with his colossal talent.

I had to catch the subway to get back home and my feet were starting to ache by then, so I decided to pass on La Castañeda and, the IMS (I had seen them before at Pasaje America and danced –what seemed like– all night to their music, I felt I wasn’t going to die for missing them this time. So that was it, my first day, and now it’s almost 3am and I don’t remember what the Matchbox 20 song said about that… but I know that once I’m randomly rambling, it means I must get some sleep.

If your poor and humble servant gets tickets for tomorrow, I will gladly send another review… if I don’t, then that’s that!

a vive latino hug

juan

Vive Latino: Sabado II

Despite not having Telehit on my TV the guys from Union Rock (whoever they are, thanks), had a live feed broadcast of the channel, so I got to see many of the performances and went back & forth from Telehit to Reactor, they both focused on the main stage (Escenario Verde) but had recordings from the highlights of the other stages. As far as I know Telehit didn't show Hello Seahorse! at all, I was really hoping they would just to see the people singing "Bestia", but if they want ratings Zoe will give it to them, so that's understandable.

I wasn't planing to say this, but Jaguares was pretty good, mostly because their set included way more of Caifanes (who I loved) and few Jaguares (which I respect but don't excite me much). Juan Manuel Torreblanca's coverage is coming in a few minutes, but here is one of my favorite performances I was able to catch, Los Bunkers are a Mexican favorite by now, so much that they could headline the festival in a few years without a problem. Also check out this performance of "Matenme Porque Me Muero" by Jaguares and Zoe's Leon Laguerri. And to end this post, a request for all those YouTube users uploading the fest into the web, Telehit supposedly showed a piece from GEPE! we all want to see it!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Vive Latino 09: Sabado


Until this morning we had no plan to cover this year’s Vive Latino (today and tomorrow) but Juan Manuel Torreblanca will be there! For those of us not attending, Telehit always has live stream, if like me you don’t have that channel, wait a few hours and video rips will start to show up on YouTube. Reactor also has great coverage through their live radio stream, go have fun! Most promising acts today: Enjambre, Niña Dioz, Gepe, Los Bunkers, Kinky, Simplifires, Zoe, Andres Calamaro, Hello Seahorse!, Ximena Sariñana, Disco Ruido! And Instituto Mexicano del Sonido.

UPDATE:

<

Live Video Stream Via Justin.TV >UnionRockerTV>Telehit @ Escenario Verde

Reactor's Live Stream


Friday, June 26, 2009

Pitchfork Reviews Bestia by Hello Seahorse!


It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Pitchfork is our biggest influence; we can really call them the evangelicals of avant-garde music, we may not always agree with their reviews (like in their Aterciopelados review when they argued Colombia didn’t need rock music) but they’re the main filter to discover the truly worthy releases to check out (I would also recommend Slant Magazine and The A.V. Club for album reviews). Unfortunately there’s not much attention towards any of the stuff coming from Iberoamerica, but it’s kind of exciting when one of those does pop up.

They gave a big boost to El Guincho’s Alegranza! last year when they gave him a BestNewMusic tag, perhaps because they didn’t need to understand his words, for the rest of the latin artists, among them Juana Molina and Café Tacvba, they always confess that they don’t really understand the language, and that’s a letdown because Spanish is Beautiful.

I visit the FrontPage every single night and today there it was, the album cover of Bestia stood up immediately, they’re known to be really strict with their scores and Hello Seahorse! gets a 7.1 rating, which is pretty good for an album “sure to kill a lot of stereotypes” and hopefully bring more attention to our exciting pool of music. Congrats to the trio, the whole world is watching!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson :(


Descanse en paz el Rey del Pop.

"Keep On With The Force Don't Stop
Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."


Cyané


Carlos Pesina (Pepepe, Los Amparito, Pesina Siller) sent us an album by Cyane, a girl from Guadalajara with a beautiful voice and who collaborates with Pepepe in Roba Orgon de Plantas y Animales. Not too long ago I had given up with ‘good vocals’ but with emerging artists like La Bien Querida, Carla Morrison and now Cyane, I must say I missed the great taste of engaging vocals surrounded by equally engaging musical accompaniment. He posted the song “Burbuja” over at I See Noises (the reincarnation of Turn That Shit Off, but not really?) and calls it his favorite song, we agree! Reminds us of Maria Rita, she's a fonograma favorite, don't miss out.


♫♫♫ "Burbuja"
MySpace

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Delhotel Records: Essentials

It's been a while since we had the idea of compiling a list of our favorite netlabel releases, these albums make up a big chunk of the music we review so we’ve decided to let the list aside in order to keep the -Best Albums of the Decade- upcoming especial more unexpected. But because we’re serious followers of Delhotel Records, the half label half free music storage site, and to applaud their efforts in its first anniversary we decided to go through their catalog to dig deep for what we belief is the cream of the crop, the essential albums everyone should have on their hard drives. Album is the heart of the entire project and we also give a shout out to We Shall Be Free, Noche Pasta, BeamTV, Decireves and Reactor for letting the world know about their movement. There’s a highly detailed post about the first year of Delhotel over at Reactor’s Huixal, with statistics and everything… But let’s start our list, honorable mentions: Zozaya’s The Re Album, The Mocks M is Correct, Album’s Microbricolages and Pipe Llorens’s Como Sea, No Te Creas. (We left out the albums from Nene Records by the way, they’re well sustained ).

EN VENTURA LOS GANDHARVAS
Because it really was the best Mexican rock album released last year, the band may be apart and it’s difficult for many of us to deal with it. But hey, they left a masterwork behind that will be rediscovered in years to come. Get yourself some modern anthems, maybe the pessimistic “Bienaventura”, the sneaky “Ingenuo” or the rural vs urban collision in “Los Granjeros del Amor.” – Jean-Stephane Beriot
MP3: “Ingenuo”
Download LP



ALBUMCANCER BABY
Our fellow bloggers couldn’t control themselves praising this band, and the fuss is worth it. Album is either too eclectic or too hyper to hold on to a genre, they have too many albums as well, but Cancer Baby gets everything right, it is able to embrace its international aim and its fascinating generational themes. “Teatro Griego” and “amaramA” burst in tenderness while “Stab You” and “Some People Get Rich” reach breaking points. – Carlos Reyes
MP3: “Stab You”
Download LP



MR RACOON – KATY
Our MAP selection on May got a big exposure throughout international audiences, we’ll never know if he summed any new fans or if the ‘outsiders’ understood his mastery with both lyrics and instruments, but Katy is a great opportunity to meet some of the sweetest vocals, compositions and overall sonic charm in Mexico. Look for the sensitivity in “Katy” (about pregnancy), “Ferry 3” (about loneliness) or “Papalote en un Arbol” (about images and life itself). – Jean-Stephane Beriot
MP3: "Asi de Simple"
Download LP


SR. AMABLE – SR. AMABLE WAS HERE
This is my second favorite album at Delhotel just after Los Gandharvas; I don’t know much about this guy but I know he’s the person behind Noche Pasta and that he can work wonders with pop. It’s weird, but he sounds like a cat, and I’m saying that in the nicest way possible, it’s just very vague, nocturnal and fascinatingly agile. He can get all wild to defend his country with “Down Mexico”, or be the nicest face for a breakup in “Gary Ew Ew” (the intro screams here kill me!) – Jean-Stephane Beriot
MP3: “Down Mexico”
Download EP


LOS ROMANTICOS DE ZACATECAS – LOS ROMANTICOS DE ZACATECAS EP
We have included them in two of our compilations; they gather all the clichés in Mexican rock and manufacture the most honest adolescent poprock there is. It’s very easy to fall in love with these guys; they distance themselves from any kind of complicated tissue and are not afraid of injecting corny music and words into the scene, for us Teleradio Donoso fans, check out “En Esta Melodia” and “Nuestro Amor” (that “Nena como tarda nuestro amor” line is priceless) – Carlos Reyes
MP3: “Nuestro Amor”
Download Album

CLUB COMFORTBRUJITA POP
This is probably Delhotel’s most underserved overlooked release, Club Comfort seems to be one of the most respected acts by fellow bands but Brujita Pop has been sleeping for way too long. There’s nothing really new here, we’ve been here before, but it doesn’t matter, Roberto ‘Mr. Racoon’ Polo has plenty of talent to divide himself into, this is his most electronic moment (+ he's in good company); get lost in the grooves of “Acuestate” or revive the 90’s with “Chicas Corazon.” – Carlos Reyes
MP3: "Groove Mates"
Download EP


60 TIGRES – LOS EMIGRANTES
Their second release Garage might not be too exciting, but their debut was a truly notable breakthrough. Los Emigrantes got a lot of attention in the U.S. as well, they got enough potential to get a record deal and spread their music around. Don’t forget to download their party starters “Dentro de Mi Cuerpo” and “El Motivo”, they’re like motivational songs to get you to jump into the dance floor. – Jean-Stephane Beriot
MP3: "Arma Secreta"
Download LP



MENUDA COINCIDENCIA – AI CON PERMISITO
Probably the most popular album on the entire catalog, “Sin Enganche” is the biggest hit to come out of it, they’re responsible for bringing a bunch of visitors to the site. The venture adds vibes of nu-jazz, and before you know it, the enchantment settles down to recognize one of the factual premise acts not only of urban music, but alternative fields as well. – Carlos Reyes
MP3: “Sin Enganche”
Download Album

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

El Bosque En Llamas, Pumuky



EL BOSQUE EN LLAMAS, PUMUKY
Jabalina, Spain ****
Rating: 85
By Carlos Reyes

El Bosque En Llamas is a musical storm with all the mystery to hold its name to any altitude. Somewhere in between Bigott, Nacho Vegas, Sr. Chinarro and Zurdok, Pumuky’s second album holds its melody with a terrific merge of obscure strings, powerful distressing lyrics and the night’s scary and heart-trenching roar, these are the signs and souls of loneliness and despair in search of salvation. The album opens with the dreamy and hard folky “El Innombrable”, our third encounter with purgatory this year after Veracruz’s “Odetta Satan’s Rum” and Hello Seahorse’s “Bestia.” This is not only about a forest in flames; it’s about ‘the man in the forest in flames’, I might not want to visit this bloodcurdling place myself but it sounds like a great place to get rid of fears or to get lost in from time to time. This is how Pumuky first introduces this place for escapism, “si desaparezco es porque ya no tiemblas cuando voy y te abrazo, y te beso por el cuello”; indifference does hurts like few things in life and it’s reason enough to dissapear and hide with the wolves and the wild horses as the album’s cover suggests.

It finds in nature an unwelcoming environment, but it’s obscure and isolated enough to cry in it, sometimes that’s the only way to find the precious peace. “Tu Marca” is painfully depressing and its deafening burst can alienate more than a few, but it plays as a key piece in the album because it complies into broader efforts than just giving continuation to a ‘lament’ album, it distorts and creates images that manage to filter any obtrusive dramatic echo for our advantage. “El Electrico Romance de Lev Termen y La Diva del Eter” it’s a moon-like sublimal trip that tries to reconcile the distorted idea of Russian inventor Leon Theremin, whose invention –Theremin- managed to “control electronic frequency and volume without contact from the player.” (Wikipedia) Like many avant-garde bands Pumuky utilizes it to polish its sound, but also extracts poetry from it as it believes in co-participation if either construction or reconciliation wants to be achieved.

“Los Enamorados” is a sweet tune that challenges the album’s biggest strengths and it turns victorious as it is the most memorable piece, it’s affectionate and holds a happy momentum, the album never goes back to this paradise and gets even darker, not losing a bit of magic even in the crying yells of “El Exilio de los Invisibles.” If Juan Son submerged himself in water in Mermaid Sashimi, Pumuky does that in El Bosque en Llamas. The band gets acquainted to the wild, uncompassionate and cold-hearted place, witnessing a fight in “Lobo Estepario Contra Caballos Desbocados”, a moment in the mirror in “El Hombre Bosque En Llamas”, and a metamorphosis in “La Metamorphosis”, pay close attention to the background layering and the narrative, it’s not an easy album whatsoever, I slept over it for many weeks not knowing what to do with it, it’s totally fine if it makes you sleepy or alienates the heck out of you, who says a forest on fire is a comfy place to witness? It’s hell.


"Matemos esas hormigas de la cocina, quitemos lo podrido del frutero, limpiemos la nevera, llenemosla, hagamos algo para enamorarnos ... otra vez. Gastemos el dinero que nos queda, en fuegos de articifia y chucherias, hagamos algo absurdo, amemonos, hagamos algo para enamorarnos ... otra vez."

Video: "Lucky", Jason Mraz feat. Ximena Sariñana

Another post linked to Ximena Sariñana, we really like her for a bunch of reasons (mainly because Mediocre is a beautiful album and “Normal” is a jewel), but this collaboration with Jason Mraz is a bore, because the guy is not very interesting (good voice though…) She looks cute in the video but nothing else to really care about, it’s not upsetting or anything, but just plainfully ‘meh’ and yes she finally gives us something worthy to call Mediocre. I can’t put it in better words than those of Josh Kun, “Ximena Sarinana has recorded a duet with Jason Mraz. Yikes. For a Spanish version of his latest album. Double Yikes.”


"Rara", Erik Couts



If you follow my tweets, you know I was out of town (main cause for the lack of content on the weekend), but on my way back to Phoenix with my iPod on shuffle I realized how much I like “Rara” by Erik Couts, you’ve heard Ximena Sariñana’s “Sintiendo Rara” and it’s a great cover indeed, but Mr. Couts shy and distant vocals really embrace the song’s situational disorder on self-awareness. This is the main cut from Cout’s Pampero EP (produced by Bajofondo’s Juan Campodonico), so make sure to get it since it’s got 4 other great tracks to discover.

♫♫♫ "Rara"
MySpace

Monday, June 22, 2009

Marcha, DJs Pareja

MARCHA, DJs PAREJA
Multinacional, Argentina ***1/2
Rating: 70

By Juan Manuel Torreblanca

It took him 25 years to get there, but thanks to DJs Pareja, that sad runaway kid from Bronski Beat’s old hit Small Town Boy found a happy ending to his story and an open arms welcome to The Big City (and it’s liberating and promising nightlife) as the main character in Llegaste, the great opening track in this Argentinean couple’s second LP. At least, up to this starting point, I’d say that such a moving gesture deserves a round of applause on its own. Marcha has (almost) nothing to do with what most chilangos (those surviving Mexico City daily… like me) might think; no main avenues taken by naked teachers or campesinos demanding respect of their rights (unless we were to see that as part of a gay-pride parade). Diego Irasusta & Mariano Caloso chose this title for all its possible definitions; I found that electronic music used to be called that way in Argentina, but now it probably relates better to the Spanish way of referring to a night out partying: ir de marcha.

Here we have a cool, elegant techno-pop/post-disco record. Less is more is a philosophy that they understand. And hearing the whole album closely, you can tell that it was carefully crafted by two skilled pairs of ears who seriously enjoy playing with sound. Fun. Upbeat (despite a charming feeling of drowsy after-party dancing). Smart. Ironic. I often have found Argentineans to have a way with words that other Spanish-speakers could envy, Djs Pareja are no exception to my observation, though the lyrics in Marcha are not always up to par. Delightful & playful imagery can be found in "Nuestros Trajes" (“escapemos mi amor quiero verte correr, correr hacia mí, caerte y sonreir”, this really tender scene depicting your loved one running towards you at the beach really shines amidst a clever collection of snapshots from an office routine shared by both lovers), "Gente Copada" (which paints for us a Jordi Labanda-like crowd of over-tanned pijos inspired by a nasty DJing-for-the-super-rich experience), and "Calle Sin Salida" (which suggests some erotic automotive adventures over a beat that reminds me 2006’s James Figurine and his gorgeous Apologies); yet there are some passages that leave me just a tad underwhelmed, like "8 Preguntas" (which ruins for me what was a terribly interesting long instrumental intro, with a really unnecessary melody, plus those promised 8 questions turn out to be sorta whiny and could’ve remained in a private diary as they don’t really add enough to the whole album, in my humble opinion) and "Spanish is Beautiful" (which half-jokingly addresses a topic that has been relevant within modern Latin music for quite a while now: “why don’t you sing in Spanish?” if it’s your mother tongue “the language of your heart, the language of your soul”; not a bad song at all, but –still– I kinda feel they had a brilliant idea, they grabbed an excellent subject, raw material for what could’ve become an anthem for our times… and they gave us a rather shallow & half-baked argument).

Now, I don’t wanna end on this severe note. I’d prefer to do so commending their exciting synth work all over, or the fantastic collaborators (Juliana Gattas, from Miranda!, in "Llegaste", and some funky & melancholic guitars from Leo García & Diosque). Giving kudos to Ismael Pinkler for helping make Marcha sound clear and powerful. Adding that Mariano’s vocals work really well here (and almost make me want to go on in praise of a more spoken singing, but this is enough from me already). And thanking Javiera Mena for leading the blog’s ears to this project. If I’ve done a good job, you’ll leave my text curious to hear DJs Pareja and… you know? that’s all I wanted to do here.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Voy a Explotar in Mexican theaters

After a long round of festival screenings, Voy a Explotar will hit Mexican commercial theaters tomorrow, thanks to all the blogs, podcasters, internet radio and followers for the good feedback and word-of-mouth regarding the soundtrack. And once again, thanks to all the artists and labels that contributed to this project. Don't forget that this is an alternative soundtrack, so don't expect these artists to show up in the actual movie (although you will find Juan Son and Prin' La La in there), but hopefully you'll understand the soundtrack fully as you watch the film. Here are some stills from the pic and also some quotes I found from reviews and commentary about the compilation.



“An amazing compilation”We like It Indie
“Vamos a encontrar representantes de todos los rincones del mundo de habla hispana, cantantes y grupos de los denominados indies” – Señor Pollo
“Una compilación musical inspirada por y utilizada en la peli, sin el respaldo de una compañía disquera y con la participación voluntaria de los artistas que lo componen.”Extended Play
“Welcome to the free downloadable soundtracks” – The Voice
“La verdad no se que tan buena vaya a estar esta movie, pero el soundtrack es una gran colección de canciones de bandas y proyectos tan disímbolos y tan dispersos que le dan forma a una banda sonora tan heterogénea y espectacular”Decireves
“Entendiendo a una nueva generación de amantes alternativos por la música guarda en ella un puñado de propuestas sonoras alrededor del mundo de habla hispana, como un sentido transnacional y más universalista de comprender lo que guarda la historia.” – Rock en las Americas
“Es una verdadera caja de Pandora del pop latino que se esta haciendo ahora mismo”Crisol de Musicas

Los Amparito Remixes Panda Bear



Los Amparito, our MAP pick this month keeps delivering fantastic material, and for those who enjoyed the remixes for María y José ("Corazón Corazón") and Animal Collective ("Brothersport"), make sure to download the remix for Panda Bear's "Bros", one of my favorite songs of the decade from Person Pitch, one of my favorite albums of the decade. Los Amparito made a cumbia out of it, sounds like Bronco and El Remolon, don't miss out.

♫♫♫ "Bros" (Los Amparito Remix)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Last, Aventura

THE LAST, AVENTURA
Sony, USA/Dominican Republic
Rating: 43
By Carlos Reyes

I don’t usually take the time to listen or write about such unconvincing artists like Aventura, but The Last is one of those releases we can’t ignore as they’re firm spots of the music tendencies surrounding the music we like. If you live outside the U.S. there’s a slight possibility that you’re unaware of Aventura, for us Hispanics in the states, they’re the successors of RBD in terms of popularity and fan-rage. But there’s more to Aventura than being the latest boy band storming across their Bachata-meets-R&B. They are giving Bachata a new face, injected some personality into contemporary tropical music and have a legit and quite talented leader with a voice that is perhaps too sweet to shine but effective nonetheless. It’s been 10 years since their highly ambitious but loopy debut Generation Next; since then, they’ve been walking themselves as the representatives of both, the Dominican Republic and The Bronx, New York. Their biggest strength comes with Anthony Romeo Santos; the singer, writer and producer that is fully aware of pop culture and still holds a hand reaching out to the state of mind of the urban Hispanic teenager. But, is it our answer to the “the definitive 21st-century New York musical act?”, Joey Rosen from The New York Times jumps in to answer that question for us, and although it hurts to agree with him, he’s not too far out claiming the ‘common’ radio-hit listener thinks of New York when listening to Aventura. Based on this assumption, it would be predictable to see Aventura as the one Latin act our Hispanic youth is embracing, and that’s just abominably sad.

The Last continues to bring very poorly constructed melodies; they don’t lack any passion but surely sound so sensationalistic even in Romeo’s overly sweet vocals. The sound did get better but they don’t grow a bit, it’s all very adolescent in composition and still terrified to step out of its zone or make anthem-songs. Bachata might not have enough performers and so media has given approval to a work that is overly flawed, but the most important thing to realize here is that Aventura is pop and they are making pop music, they’re not too far away from Reik in musical formation, they’re just wearing different clothing. “Intro” reminds me of those uncharismatic A.B. Quintanilla Presents Kumbia Kings skits that tried too hard to reaffirm their ego; Aventura manages to use their albums’ titles to make sure everyone knows they are “God’s Project.” Leading track “Por Un Segundo” is the common place Aventura visits in every single; a heartbroken song with diminutive wording with some bouncing covering plot holes. If they wanted a more notable song “Yo Quisiera Amarla” would’ve done the job just by the accurate spacing it gives itself after every sequence. This is the album to make ‘the breakthrough’ and so they have invited Ludacris, Wyclef Jean, Akon and Wisin & Yandel along, every guest falls short adjusting themselves to the swamp of melancholia that invades the quartet. For all these reasons The Last is tremendously tiring, I’m wishing for them to at least go back to “Mi Corazoncito”, their last and perhaps only great song in their catalog.

Video: "Bañadores", Extraperlo

The first video from Extraperlo, whose debut release Desayuno Continental gets a whole lot better during the summer. I was hoping to see a video for their first single "Las Palmeras del Amor", but they decide to give "Bañadores" a chance and I must say, this is my second favorite video of the year, just after Alexico's bloody and religiously codified video for "Mis amigos y yo te amamos." I love the non-linear narrative of the video, the bleak sensitivity from director Oriol Barbera and specially the video's ability to defy time and age. All that plus, doesn't it look great particularly in this site? We kinda have that look & feel.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Jamz 09: Andrew Casillas & Dan Weiss–Manischewitz and Margaritas


As I've stated before, I was a writer for glorious-but-defunct Stylus Magazine. One of the more popular re-occuring bits on the site was a feature that we called "Summer Jamz," which were customized mixtapes curated by the individual writers. The purpose was for each writer to compile a playlist to celebrate a mood, theme, or meditation based on the season. And even though Stylus lies in the internet graveyard, many of its writers still continue the "Summer Jamz" tradition through the website The Passion of the Weiss, which is run by the world's greatest hip-hop writer (and former Stylus alum) Jeff Weiss. This year's other Summer Jamz are running on that site through the next few weeks, and I'd highly recommend checking some of these out.

However, I'm here to post the entry compiled by me and Dan Weiss, another Stylus ex-pat who contributes to The Village Voice and Pitchfork. He's also responsible for that awful (and hilarious) cover art. Be warned that this mixtape sounds better with sugar around the rim of your glass. Now please, enjoy!

Premise: The year is 2109. Accordions are banned. This is because 100 years ago, two rogue, outlaw music critics made a mixtape so important, so inspiring, so…fucking amazing that all bandwidth worldwide swallowed itself and left all civilization in darkness for over 5 years. After President Obama restored electricity to the northeastern states, the newly formed Republi-Whig party, which controlled both houses of Congress, the British Parliament, and 3/4 of the Legion of Doom, passed the accordion ban of 2016, to prevent such awesomeness from ever coalescing and concentrating this violently ever again. As for the two music writers who created the mixtape, after the passage of the accordion ban, they were sent to an undisclosed location somewhere north of Helsinki, where they were placed in a highly experimental procedure conducted by Greg Gillis and Kanye West to see if the very essence of a human being could be sampled on record and auto-tuned (turns out, yes it could). The following is the notation of their original mixtape…

Download: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=NMMCFLVL

1. Los Lobos – “Kiko and the Lavender Moon”

Pro accordion-to-rock transfigurationist David Hidalgo’s smokier, cinematic tendencies got the best of him in the early 90s, resulting in the Tom Waits-ish Latin Playboys project, and bleeding over quite a few Lobos tunes, like this slow-burning candle. (Dan)

2. The Pogues – “London Girl”

Rapid-fire accordion riff? Horn accents? Bitchin’ rhythm section? If anything, there’s too much to love here. Personally, I’m struck by how a blistering fusion of punk and Irish folk like this could also be such a heartfelt love song. The sense of optimism and passion makes it the ideal choice for a summer romance. In a way, this song does for London lasses what “The Girl from Ipanema” did for Brazilian beach babes. (Andrew)

3. The Klezmatics – “Man in a Hat”

A decade before Gogol Bordello and Golem it’s truly surprising after hearing neo-trad klezmer that fits and wiggles like this (straitjacketed bassline, speed-metal tempo) that the Klezmatics are still one of the only acts to do this sort of thing. (Dan)

4. Bowerbirds – “In Our Talons”

I have a weakness for creepy-erotic, predator-prey songs, like the spider “come to wrap you up tight until it’s time to bite down” in Cursive’s “The Recluse.” Read into this what you will. (Dan)

5. Calle 13 – “La Jirafa”

Sometimes I like to lie in the grass and let the Dada in me wander. Then I get bored and start looking around for pretty girls. Luckily, this song proves a viable soundtrack for each situation. Seriously, try telling the next pretty girl you see that you want to wrap her in a tortilla. If she laughs, she’s yours. If she’s puzzled, she’s probably the type that brings an umbrella to the beach. You don’t want to be with that girl. (Andrew)

6. Los Inquietos del Norte – “La Gripa”

Forget everything you ever liked about cocaine songs. “La Gripa” out-balls every single one of them. Without providing a line-by-line translation, here’s what you need to know about this track: The narrator loves coke, his buddies love coke, they particularly love snorting coke while drinking tequila and…well, everything after that is kind of disturbing and offensive. But good Lord is it fun! Hell, you would have to be on coke yourself to move to this—it’s played that fast. Oh, and those snorting noises that bookend the track? They’re not faking. Take THAT, Clipse… (Andrew)

7. Clipse – “Momma I’m Sorry”

With all respect to Eminem’s “Square Dance” and MF Doom’s “Accordion,” it’s hard to spit bars over accordion without sounding gimmicky or tacked-on. The Neptunes make it sound stark and menacing. Pusha T and Malice ignore it altogether; they’re so obsessively single-minded they could be manufacturing coke-talk over an accordion for all they care. So they did. (Dan)

8. Gogol Bordello – “Think Locally, Fuck Globally”

As improbable, bracing and out-of-nowhere as the White Stripes or Nirvana, I could’ve picked almost anything from the planet’s best onstage bet. So I picked the one that yells “Party!” after claiming to invent the country. (Dan)

9. Celso Piña – “Cumbia Poder”

Cumbia, for those who aren’t aware, is a centuries-old fusion of African and South American sounds whose origins as a courtship dance ritual. Modern Latinos have continued this tradition—mostly by dedicating long sections of our wedding reception playlists to this music. This track, a mix of traditional cumbia and hip-hop music, is a celebration of the power of cumbia as party-starter, booty-shaker, and baby-maker. (Andrew)

10. Nortec Collective – “Tijuana Sound Machine”

Mexican folk music (norteño, banda, etc.) gets a bad rap from American audiences for being too rigid. This wordless techno track from members of Mexico’s renowned Nortec Collective is a virtual bitch-slap to that round of thinking. And if the song’s video teaches us anything, this will make attractive people break dance right in front of you. And who doesn’t love that? (Andrew)

11. Jordan Knight – “Give It to You”

Probably not the only Billboard smash in many a year to feature accordion—not with all that experimental Timbaland and Nashville crossover. But this has-been (never-was?) came back from one of the least-retained fames of all time to deliver this sweet little telegram about his dick. (Dan)

12. Paul Simon – “Boy in the Bubble”

A few years ago, VH-1 Classic began airing a series called “Classic Albums,” and this was one of the first episodes. During one pivotal scene, Paul Simon shows the production techniques that went into mastering this song. After complementing himself on how surreal his lyrical technique was, he revealed that the accordion track was actually mixed in reverse. That may be common knowledge to some people, but this was quite the revelation for me, considering I had been fascinated by what I thought was expert accordion playing. Instead, it’s all lies. Yet I still love this song. Damn, that Paul Simon has got some balls on him… (Dan)

13. Ramon Ayala – “La Rama de Mezquite”

Ramon Ayala’s music epitomizes the perfect summer night. Locating a bar where the $1 drink specials flow like wine. Where a bartender can serve you a “four horsemen” shot followed by a double shot of Grey Goose and not lose his liquor license. Where the DJ plays what you want him to play. When the dance floor is so packed that you can’t even find the exit. Where the prettiest girl in the world dances with you all night and doesn’t even tell you her name. Why do I say all of this about “La Rama de Mezquite”? Because that night once happened to me. And it was perfect. (Andrew)

14. Beirut – “Scenic World” (Lon Gisland version)

Not really a fan in the first place, I considered Zach Condon over after he dusted the Balkan Brass for less interesting Euro-pursuits. This is his bon voyage. You know it’s one of the catchier death rattles when your then-girlfriend agrees to sing it at the open mic if you’ll kazoo the horn part. (Dan)

15. Lila Downs – “Skeleton”

I hate the term “world music,” mostly because it doesn’t mean ANYTHING. Yet, if anyone is ever going to fit that label, it’s Lila Downs. Specializing in traditional Mexican folk, American blues, rock and roll, South American cumbia, vocal jazz, etc., she can play any style of music she wants and do it convincingly. This track, a zydeco-influenced romper, may be about death and spiritual rebirth, but it swings like the best that NOLA has to offer. Sounds great with a hurricane cocktail and orange peel. (Andrew)

16. Dead Milkmen – “Punk Rock Girl”

I discovered this song as a kid and even then it was easy to see past their shit. With the accordion arrangement and big Broadway send-off (“Eat fudge banana swirl/ We’ll travel ’round the world”), this wanted to be a parody but these boneheads just didn’t have the heart to sabotage this lovely melody they stumbled upon. Bonus sentiment for stuff from my youth like Zipperhead. (Dan)

17. The Hold Steady – “You Can Make Him Like You” (Live)

I’m not a big Hold Steady fan, mostly cause we’ve got our own “bar band made good” down here in Texas (Los Lonely Boys anyone? Anyone? *chirp*), but this song is just fantastic. This was by far my favorite track on Boys & Girls in America, but the juxtaposition of acoustic guitar and accordion on this version accentuates the tension between friendly advice and romantic yearning that seems to be at the center of this song. There are very few songs that can balance these without making their protagonist sound like a complete loser, but this, this is just perfect. (Andrew)

18. Bumnandi Utshwala Bakho – “Kati Elimnyama”

The mix was finished except for some sequencing scruples when I finally acquired the elusive Heartbeat of Soweto compilation on Soulseek, something I’ve been too cheap to just order since I fell in love with The Indestructible Beat of Soweto years ago. Predictably, mind-blowingly beautiful mbaqanga, but this one I had to play over and over. Then I sent it to Andrew. There weren’t many qualms about squeezing it in. (Dan)

19. Barenaked Ladies – “Straw Hat and Old Dirty Hank” (Live)

What, never heard “Barenaked Ladies” and “intense” in the same sentence? “I know your address!” Also “I bring you flowers and a .22 with shells”—this is about Anne Murray’s stalker. I’d only known the excellent live version on Rock Spectacle, so I played the tepid studio take just to be sure; doesn’t do it justice at all. Doesn’t even have accordion. (Dan)

20. Julieta Venegas – “De Mis Pasos”

Julieta Venegas is the undisputed Queen of Mexican alternative rock and, for my money, the greatest female musician of the past decade (no, I’m not kidding). This track, from her debut album, is pretty straightforward lyrically (by her high standards), but it’s as musically rich as left-field pop/rock can get. Her accordion doesn’t lead the song, but rather guides it through subtle note changes and varying tempos. The track builds, and builds, and builds, until the final rush of the chorus gives way to exasperation and finality. And if it weren’t so enthralling, you’d be hard-pressed to catch your breath too. (Andrew)

21. Lily Allen – “Never Gonna Happen”

To the six people aside from me who still think Alright, Still is a masterpiece: Yes, it still is. But let’s stop pretending that It’s Not Me, It’s You is anything more than serviceable. Instead, let us focus our attentions on this little nugget buried in the middle of that record. The lite-tango beat (with handclaps!), the conversational delivery, the down-to-earth bitter smirk of every verse—it’d be deplorable if it wasn’t so damn effective. So rejoice, and even if my words don’t convince you, that sweet accordion will. (Andrew)

22. Charles Mann – “The Walk of Life”

There’s a long list of songs I could-have-sworn had accordion that I wanted to sneak onto this and the wretched Dire Straits’ not-wretched “Walk of Life” would be at the top. So I did a little research and dug up this Cajun guy. Yeah, this is cheating. But it’s every bit as good and you’ve never heard it and hey, bonus Mark Knopfler exorcism. Loophole of the year. (Dan)

23. Shakira – “Objection (Tango)”

Andrew—whose Spanish is better than mine let’s say—understandably bristled. But there’s something to be said for her strange command of English; I think during our argument I called the use of the word “unfixable” Stephin Merritt-esque. But this is a great tune and a thematically sound closer: America and non-America clashing culturally, discomforts and misunderstandings intact, raging, lying and stealing. Plus we needed a tango and with respect to like, Astor Piazzolla, this one rocks. (Dan)