Wednesday, March 31, 2010

El Seminuevo de Manzana, La Banderville

El Seminuevo de Manzana, La Banderville
Pirexia Discos, Mexico
Rating: 71
By Carlos Reyes

There is a small but significant line of bands making folk-rock their starting point, clinching the line of a sound we’re starting to associate with the ‘indies.’ This is of course, not the first time bands embark their music trips with hyphenated genres, but lately, this usually bright and compelling sound has acquired an up-to-the-minute notion of indie as pop, and vice versa. La Banderville joins that group of bands that includes Furland, Mr. Racoon and Torreblanca, bands making music within a very wide horizontal palette that in a way, replicates what happened to Spain’s folk-pop and bands like Francisco Nixon and The New Raemon.

La Banderville attempts redressing melody through personal anecdote and thought, achieving an elegant set that serves them more than well as an introductory album. The music itself doesn’t flourish as much as one would want to, but El Seminuevo de Manzana has enough shades and alignments to defend its polite canon. The album opens with “(85 Mandolinas)”, a stimulating intro where the band invests its high points. We’re immediately submerged into “El Secreto”, the album’s finest track. It’s the first of several tracks where the band opts to make story-telling its primary source of inspiration. This piece is wonderfully dreamy; it amends its speed as it feels it needs to, going neurotic towards the end, and let’s highlight its amusing self- nauseous lyrics, “eres como un secreto mortal, que debo guardar, que me causa una cosquilla estomacal.”

There’s something interesting in the lyrics, a certain practice of shortening phrases in both size and significance. “Super Pasto” best exemplifies this conduct, “disminuyes todo alrededor, lo haces minisculo… lo haces minusculo”, it presents the condition, describes it, and (through refrains) reaffirms it. Most of the album can be divided between anecdote and conversational pieces, which is fine when they go on to explore sound, but confines their lyrics. Songs like “Lucas” and “Siempre Si” forefronts the band’s naïveté, which isn’t a terrible flaw, in fact, it’s quite charming. First single “A la distancia” has a nice curve to it, going from flat to raw, from the simple to the elaborate, in short, it’s a song that would make Emmanuel del Real very proud. El Seminuevo de Manzana is overall, an infectious heart-warming album. It might not be entirely alert but it shafts its light with self-confident ease.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

MtyMX --- by Cheky (Jóvenes y Sexys)

A lot has been said about the first edition of the MtyMx festival in Monterrey, Mexico. I think it has already been covered extensively in reviews by NY Times, Impose, Stereogum, etc. Yes, there was trouble with the organization and logistics. Yes, like one third of the bands in the line-up didn’t show up. Yes, there were issues with the transportation. Yes, there were only a few hundred people in the audience (Monday afternoon was a little depressing, with 20 people or less watching High Places). But let me tell you, I was there, I watched all the bands but two (including after parties), met a lot of people, lived the whole experience, and the truth is I had one of the best times of my life. That being said, I can now talk about the music, focusing on the Iberoamerican bands.

DAY 1:

The first Mexican band to take the stage was Yo! Linares, with an energetic performance. People's reaction to El Resplandor's set took me by surprise. They managed to hypnotize us all with their primitive, minimal, raw, sort of tribal music. Lázaro Valiente made the whole audience get involved in the show, giving us all little toys and instruments to collaborate with by the end of his set. Guadalajara's Soho Riots sounded really tight, giving us a lengthy, noisy, improvisational ending. The guys from Quiero Club weren't so happy with their show, since they had some monitoring problems, but it was a lot of fun. The set mainly covered songs off Nueva América. By the time Los Planetas were playing, I was frozen and my legs weren't responding, so I didn't get to enjoy it as much as I wanted to. But there were a lot of fans singing the songs. I was excited to see Chikita Violenta getting on the stage and setting up their gear, but shortly after they had to get off because of time issues. Bummer.

Kría Brekkan's show was beyond beautiful. Das Racist are incredible. Explode into colors, The Coathangers, Coastings and Teengirl Fantasy had us all dancing. Acid Mothers Temple was epic. Male Bonding are a personal fav. Adventure and Drawlings opened the festival on an experimental mood. But actually one of my favorite moments of day 1 happened at the after party: Aa.

DAY 2:

Piyama Party opened the second day of MtyMx with a great set. White Ninja was disastrously refreshing, marking the first on-stage appearance of Alexico of the festival. Los Llamarada were good, but their music never managed to get my attention entirely. Le Macabre Party was a pleasant surprise, I couldn't stay still with their fast dance punk. This was Alexico's second appearance. Antoine Reverb was for me, no joke here, one of the best moments of the festival, the show was beautiful. Then, XYX took the stage for a few couple of songs, when they decided to quit the show because they couldn't hear anything on stage (besides, Mou's drum kit was falling apart, he plays so damn hard!). It was a shame, it was sounding really good. Los Margaritos' show was amazing, this is a band that has to be seen live. Los Fancy Free brought us one of the biggest rocking moments of the whole festival. They played a 15+ minutes cover of a Paul McCartney song that ended with like 20 people from the audience on stage, dancing, stage diving and playing the band's instruments.

Dan Deacon's show was one of the best I've ever seen. I had never felt so involved in a show. Telepathe were sweet and awesome. Banjo or Freakout was more of a rock band than I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot. Ringo Deathstarr didn't sound so good, but they delivered good songs and great shoegazer moments. Andrew WK was fun, but I feel like people didn't know what to expect.

DAY 3

Sr. Amable & Mr. Raccoon played a rocking set, joined by members of En Ventura. They even played En Ventura's "Ingenuo", presented by Sr. Amable as "one of the best songs of the last decade". Too bad people didn't really connect with them. Mentira Mentira's set was excellent, but mainly because of singer/guitarist Gaby doing crazy things like playing between the audience, climbing the lighting structure, taking his pants off, running around barefoot, etc. Alexico's fourth and final appearance on stage (third one was as a translator of an impromptu comedy show by Dan Deacon's mate, Mason, the previous day) was to play his solo songs, in collaboration with Luxor, from BamBam and Selma Oxor. In fact, she presented the show as Alexico + Selma Oxor, and I think the match went great, fun times. I didn't have the chance to enjoy Mockinpott's show, because I was busy setting up mine, but the little I got to hear sounded pretty nice. Then, at dusk, it was Jóvenes y Sexys' turn. I'm not going to review my own show haha. Loocila couldn't finally make it, so I got some help by Laiza (Celesta en la cesta, uvi.lov) and Lázaro Valiente. Next, I ran to catch one of the bands I was expecting the most: BamBam. I was sad because they only played two songs off their self titled album (both amazing), but the new ones sounded pretty awesome. Ratas del Vaticano had some sound issues, but people were reacting well. Then Neon Indian, one of the main acts, brought us a very fun and great sounding show. At the after party, XYX had a second chance to play and I'm glad they did. This band rocks very much. It reminds me of Lightning Bolt (that's a compliment).

International favorites of the night? Hands down, HEALTH. This is unbelievable. High Places opened the day with a beautiful show, mostly playing new songs. Best Fwends was a lot of fun, ultra energetic and funny. Lemonade was great! Some serious dancing here. Indian Jewelry finally made it, putting a dark, powerful live show. I was too tired by the time Liars took the stage, but it was really good too.

So yeah, I was depressed because half of the bands I wanted to see pulled out, but I'm happier because of the quality of the bands I did see. I hope the organizers don't feel defeated (I'm sure they don't) by the missteps of this edition, and that they learn from their mistakes, because I feel this festival has to be done every year, and it'll only get better. I want to thank Yo Garage's crew, Todd P and his friends, and all the volunteers for making this happen and for inviting us. And I want to say that I feel honored because Jóvenes y Sexys was the only Venezuelan band, and the only Latin, non-Mexican band to play at this inaugural edition of the festival, it means a lot.

On a note aside, I don't feel like being controversial, but I'm having a hard time trying to understand the bands that pulled out of the festival because of fear. Maybe it's because in my country we're so exposed to violence daily and we're sadly getting used to it, I don't know. There was some bad timing with this festival due to isolated events, but people have to realize Latin America is not the Wild Wild West.

Text and photos by Cheky.

Video: Klaus&Kinski - "Ley y Moral"


New video from Klaus & Kinski, the outstandingly melodic project of Alejandro Martinez and Marina Gomez that won everyone’s hearts with their gorgeous debut Tu Hoguera Esta Ardiendo. “Ley y Moral” is the first single from their second album titled Tierra, Ttrágalos, out next week on Jabalina Records. The video is destructive to say the least; it puts on these visual attractions and nicely-looking food, only to violent on them. Defenetely not what we would expect to see accompanying that beautiful voice. A wonderfully creative angry mess.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Iconoscopio #1: Emilio José - "Eirasvedras"


While Emilio José is finishing up his first music video for “Febreiro” from the amazing Chorando Aprendese, the Spanish website Iconoscopio did a wonderfully loopy video for “Eirasvedras”, a song not even us had heard of. My friend claims all of his songs sound the same, and indeed they’re structured similarly, but he’s a master working on proximity. Iconoscopio is a videoblog that constructs videos for songs that are sent to them, the songs cannot exceed the 2-minute mark, which of course wasn’t a problem for Emilio José. The project is directed by Juan Lesta and Belen Montero, who have previously worked with some of Spain’s most renowned artists such as Fangoria, La Buena Vida and Astrud. Although the video isn’t as groundbreaking as those clips from 31 Minutos, it’s damn FRESH.

Hijosnietos - "Muchachita de Chiclayo"



While I surfed MySpace looking for potential bands to be included on our latest compilation, I stumbled upon this Chilean band called Hijosnietos, considering Chile already had six assured spots (more than any other country), my exhausted click turned cute once I saw a picture of Alex Anwandter on the band's profile. Turns out, this is a side project of the ex-Teleradio Donoso lead vocalist with Adrianigual’s Go Vargas. Seems like Hijosnietos has been put on standby for over a year, sadly, considering how catchy “Muchachita de Chiclayo” turns out to be, plus the Peruvian-meets-Chile voyage in the sound was truly unsuspected. It will be interesting to see Anwandter’s career shifts. He could be the most interesting male pop vocalist in our circuit, perhaps not as serious as Gepe or Pedro Piedra, but he’s blooms in pop star qualities.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Video: Papa Topo - "Oso Panda"


Spain’s Elephant Records are easy to understand, they love the pop, and the pop loves them. Or at least, they understand each other. Others might not though, if you hate pastel colors and want to strangle a care bear, stay away from their latest single release “Oso Panda” by Papa Topo. If you’ve been following us, you’ve heard the song, perhaps you hate it already (or all along), we got a bit tired of it by the end of the year but it was still close to earning a spot on our year’s countdown. But these kids are fun and charming, this first video shows them beating a panda, they will burn in hell... happily.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fonogramaticos Vol.7: Los Colores No Dejan de Sonar



Fonogramaticos Vol.7

A compilation by Club Fonograma

DOWNLOAD!
(right click > save as)
20 songs, 117 MB
Theme: "Los colores no dejan de sonar"
Genre: Cancion Popular Alegre

Artwork by Carlos Reyes




01 Rita Indiana (Casifull). “Platanitos” (unreleased, republica dominicana)
02 Lido Pimienta. “Aquí Conmigo” (independiente, colombia)
03 Protistas. “Videocámara” (cazador, chile)
04 Anita Tijoux. “Partir de cero” (nacional records, chile)
05 Fakuta. “Armar y Desarmar” (michita rex, chile)
06 Esteman. “El dance floor” (unreleased, colombia)
07 Los Punsetes. “Tus Amigos” (recordings from the other side, españa)
08 Banda de Turistas. “El Rogadero” (nacional records, argentina)
09 Corazón Attack. “Mi Motivo Particular” (noiselab, méxico)
10 Tomäs Preuss. “Hipnotismo” (independiente, chile)
11 Papa Topo. “La Chica Vampira” (independiente, españa)
12 Juan Manuel Torreblanca y Marian Ruzzi. “Everything (Oda al Consumismo)” (unreleased, méxico)
13 Prisma En Llamas. “Cadete” (gsshgssh records, españa)
14 Balún. “Las Olas” (sgulp records, puerto rico)
15 Los Mil Jinetes. “Terminal” (cazador, chile)
16 María y José. “Mi Chulita” (grabaciones amor, méxico)
17 Charades. “Grito tu Nombre” (bcore disc, españa)
18 La Vida Boheme. “Danz!” (independiente, venezuela)
19 Fother Muckers. “Ola de Terror” (cazador, chile)
20 Bi-Log. “El Navegante” (unreleased, venezuela)

Triángulo de Amor Bizarro - "De la monarquía a la criptocracia"


Triángulo de Amor Bizarro is Spain’s great new band, in fact, I’m pretty sure they’re my favorite band from Spain, ever. Now that I have your attention, let me reinforce that I am serious about this, they are phenomenal. They scored our #3 Song of the Decade with “El Fantasma de la Transicion” and their debut (and so far only) self-titled album was our #8 Album of the Decade. But we aren’t the only fans around; in fact, they probably had one of the most critically-acclaimed debuts in our circuit last decade. It took them four years to return, but TAB is back.

Mushroom Pillow will be releasing their second album titled Año Santo on May 3rd in both CD & Vinyl, yes, we’re drooling. The first single “De la monarquia a la criptocracia” is utterly gorgeous. While we loved Triángulo de Amor Bizarro on its entirely, those moments with Isa leading the vocals were simply stunning. Well, she’s back and while lyrically, this doesn’t reach “El Fantasma de la Transicion”, it’s still the best single of the year so far. Muffling some late 80s nostalgia and scratching on 90s melancholy, the song pumps blood as it shoegazes inter-wars. It’s mind-expanding and unsettling, like its lyrics on leaving your man behind… “después yo le explico, sin detalles, que simplemente te has ido, y que esta vez no te sigo.”


Sunday, March 21, 2010

SXSW Entry #8: Leaving Our Mark...

Well folks, that's it for this year's coverage of SXSW. We've sure come a long way. To think, just four days ago, I was under the impression that Austin had the breakfast tacos in the world (THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE SAYING, NEW YORK TIMES!). But...it's over. Luckily, I found this dirty urinal that will forever (or until the health inspector makes his annual visit) immortalize the fun we've had during the past week.

I'd like to thank all the artists, writers, and labels who helped make this week easier for me, including Matias Aguayo, Bomba Estereo, ChocQuibTown, Jeff Weiss, Paul Dryden and Nacional Records, and Kompakt. And of course, thank you to Carlos for allowing me to take over this blog. I'm sure he's scratching at the bit to reclaim his throne.

As for me, I'll be back in a few days (apparently I have to review some big album that came out last Tuesday by some singer...Julia something or other). But I'll be around Austin, so if any of you guys see me, come say "Hi," and we'll go get some elote and a fruit cup. Besos.

SXSW Entry #7: Los Outsiders

I'd like to thank the SXSW people for making sure that any Latin music show of interest on Saturday night was relegated to the post-midnight grid, with the most notable show (by Ratas del Vaticano) at a venue literally 15 blocks from the main part of downtown. Although I did get to catch a single Ratas song earlier in the week and yeah, that's one remarkably insane (and awesome) "punk stew" thing they've got going.

ANYWAY, all of this leaves me with nothing else to review from last night. So, here's a list of my favorite "Outsider" sets that I'd highly recommend you see if they come to your area.

5) Best Coast: This L.A. rocker's LP is #1 on my personal "Most Anticipated Debut" list (hmmm, maybe I do make too many lists). For now, Best Coast gave us virtually every song from her first three singles, along with a handful of new songs. Her musical style could be best described as "The Ronettes filtered through Hüsker Dü's New Day Rising" (or "The Pipettes meets No Age," for you younger hipsters) and sounded absolutely radiant through the club's modest speakers. Her vocal was also top notch, filtered and full of echo, without losing any of the vulnerability that makes songs like "When I'm With You" and "Something In the Way" so affecting. The set only lasted for 20 minutes, but its impact definitely stayed with me for much longer.

4) Flosstradamus: Sandwiched in-between Delorean and Matias Aguayo, these two Chicago DJ's were really more of an afterthought during the evening, a trek I'd have to go through in order to get to the Beatz prize of the festival. But what we got was an energetic, booty-shaking monster of a set, capped off by a cameo by Kid Sister. I'd recall more details, but my neck still hurts from all the dancing and inadvertent head-banging.

3) Band of Horses: One of the most high-profile acts at SXSW, Band of Horses has always come off as one of those bands who I should REALLY like, but have never really gotten into. But in concert these guys were pretty legit. Playing a pretty accessible setlist which included every one of their "hits" along with four pretty damn decent new tracks, the crowd of devotees obviously ate it up, but even the casual fan could appreciate their energetic stage show.

2) Flying Lotus: I was a bit wary of attending seeing this show, seeing as Flying Lotus (or FlyLo, as the kids are known to call him) was playing in one of Austin's most douchey, bottle-service encouraging bars (complete with reprints of Napoleonic-era paintings that no one can name!). Yet the moment FlyLo walked up to the decks, and blurry erotic green imagery began playing on-screen, the entire world seemed to stop. FlyLo spun seemingly irreconcilable sounds together into a collage of hip-hop etrécissement, where nothing begins or ends. Maybe I was tired from a long day of walking and reviewing, maybe I had heard so much music that my brain was making things up, maybe I inhaled too much of whatever was in the air at the show, but for a brief moment, it was as if time slowed down.

1) Local Natives: Another L.A. band, they've been described (sometimes pejoratively) as "Fleet Foxes meets Vampire Weekend meets Arcade Fire." While this tag is slightly misleading, and wholly unfair, they've certainly proved themselves worthy of all the hyperbole that's been directed their way. What surprised me about Local Natives live wasn't that their pitch-perfect three-part harmonies sounded just as magnificent live as they do on record, or that they were much more tight musically than virtually any other "new" band that I saw, but that they played with so much heart. It wasn't just that they have a passion for their music or playing live, what I noticed was that these guys believed in their songs, and ate up every moment that they had on stage. Their high-energy, never relaxed demeanor bled through their audience and seemed to convert new listeners almost interesting. And everything about "Sun Hands" live was just insanely perfect--I don't even have words to describe it...at least not until I have to justify (inevitably) placing Gorilla Manor in my EOY top 10 albums list.

I have one more SXSW post to write before I officially hand the site's reins back to Carlos. So until I get that one up, here's a sign that pretty much encapsulates the SXSW 2010 experience:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

SXSW Entry #6: Matias Aguayo - LA ENTREVISTA


(OK, I know these entries are bordering on becoming Matias Aguayo's personal PR blog, but in my defense: A) he's a crazy awesome musician, B) his show schedule just ended up syncing with me, and C) he's a very gracious man who made the time to give us this insightful interview. I want to thank him and the guys at Kompakt and Cómeme for making this happen.)

Q: Over the last couple of years, your reputation critically has gotten bigger and bigger. Do you feel that you’re not being judged as honestly as you used to be when you weren’t so well-known and well-reviewed?

A: Obviously that happens, but it’s something that I really don’t consider so important for myself. It’s more a part of the job. What’s more important for me is that I can help my friends and network in South America and enjoy new possibilities. Sure, it’s challenging in a way, but it’s more encouraging and keeps me unafraid of things. I think my friends and I have a lot of stories to tell and stuff and we’re really looking forward to, new gigs, new productions. So I feel quite easy about it.

Q: You were mentioning South America, Chile is not Germany, or Bristol, New York, or Detroit, that has a lot of techno artists come out of it. What’s the stuff that got you in the techno scene?

A: All of my music history and roots are reflected in what I do today and nowadays I also think that for me, places like Santiago, Buenos Aires and all of Latin America are even more interesting than many think because I think the freshest stuff, the stuff that interests me most and makes me dance most, comes from there at the moment. It’s certainly stuff with its own possibilities and its own roots.

Q: Then do you feel like an outsider in the scene? I think of “Minimal,” it was kinda of a defiant/challenging song ("got no groove, got no balls")--you’re challenging the peers who you feel are lacking. Are you an outsider, or do you just feel like you’re part of everything, but with your own aesthetic?

A: I think sometimes that I might be an outsider. But on the other hand, I think that the techno scene is a place for outsiders, so I feel very free, especially in the past few years, when I've gotten the impression that people are more open to music and I can feel more free when playing music, and I feel that people don’t know what they want to hear, so it’s a very good moment to play the new, fresh stuff and stuff that comes from places that maybe were in the cultural periphery.

Q: Where do you get much of the stuff you’re into? Europe—connected to the scene? Or is seeking out music just a part of your daily life?

A: I have a sort of parallel life in the sense that I grew up in Germany, Cologne specifically, and I’m proud of the music there. On the other hand, there was always a very strong link to South America, so what I do is produce stuff that’s atypical, like coming from somewhere else. Not having a “hometown” now has become an advantage in the sense that I can combine things, musical and racial, and my friendships of South America with a very good infrastructure and administration from Germany, considering Kompakt is here and encourages this sort of thing.

Q: Have you ever given thought to doing a full-length album with professional singers, or do you not comfortable with this aspect of the collaborative process?

A: I consider myself a singer. It’s my main instrument. My way of singing has a special relationship to the music I make, but on the other hand, I’m very open to collaborations and I think that’s going to be the next step, like Cómeme [Aguayo's Kompakt spin-off label] is already a collaboration with a lot of people and inviting people to sing and put their vocals on other people’s tracks so I think something like that is the logical next step. I’m not afraid of the challenge because I enjoy music-making so much that this is the most important for me.



♫♫♫ "Rollerskate" (Radio Edit)


SXSW Entry #5: Charades, Delorean/Aguayo

Friday night at SXSW answered many long-pondered questions: Can I make it an entire day of just Chick Fil A and tortilla chips? (yes) Does chasing whiskey with Heineken leave your mouth feeling minty fresh? (no) Does Bill Murray appreciate random fans coming up to him as he tries to watch Fool's Gold? (no) Can a drunk quadriplegic have his wheelchair cited for drunk driving? (yes, although I'm sure you could weasel your way out of a citation by blaming the wheels in some way)

And with my brain now resting a bit easier, I can reflect on the actual music that I caught last night. I started the night at Mi Casa Cantina (which is neither a casa nor a cantina) to see the Spanish indie group Charades attempt to impress a group of stragglers. They seemed in fine form, as the songs on their recent Revolución Solar sounded just right during the terror twilight period. Of course, the consistent sound problems (which also plagued Los Amparito the night before) dulled a bit of the band's energy, although to their credit, they persevered and gave an ultimately worthy show.

From there, I kicked around in a hotel room (amidst a slew of e-mail and Twitter links from El Jefe Reyes) before going to Emo's Jr. for some techno grooves. First up was the Barcelona electro-pop act Delorean, who quickly went in for the kill by opening their set with their hit "Seasun." What was notable about this version (and really, the set in general) was how much more organic they sounded live than on record. It was also surprisingly how Spanish they actually sounded too. Believe it or not, there's not that thick of a line between Delorean and, say, Los Planetas--just a few instruments and some Resident Advisor-approved material. I will admit that the set began to meander when every song began to sound epic in that "the world's about to be swallowed in an ocean of unrestrained noise" kind of way, but by the end of the set, they began laying down some !!!-esque funk that got the crowd dancing and switching sunglasses among one another. And yes, that really happened. I have pictures to prove it.

Closing the night was another set from who's quickly becoming the MVP of SXSW 2010, Matias Aguayo. This show was a much more traditional house set than the day party from two days ago. The beats were more stacked, and the crowd was much more devoted and patient. Aguayo didn't deliver them the standard techno goods though--every track was accentuated with more traditional Latin rhythms, ranging from distinctive drums to maracas, which reflected the "sound of the border" that Aguayo has inadvertently evoked. Even while frantically searching for the right button, instrument, or sample (HE'S NOT USING A COMPUTER, PEOPLE!), Aguayo still found time to unleash his dance moves every so often...which made me dance...and the girl next to me dance...and so on and so on. I'm telling you, Aguayo is infectious!! The set concluded with the 1-2 uppercut of "Bo Jack" and "Rollerskate," which blended referee whistles, 808, and female-sung gibberish into a euphoria of house bliss. It didn't matter that we were approaching 2 am, it seemed like the party was only starting which, in the case of someone with Aguayo's M.O., may be the highest compliment I can pay.

MtyMX Begins


I’m interrupting Andrew Casillas’ tasteful SXSW coverage to begin our exciting MtyMX coverage, wait… we’re not going! You guys have no idea how excited we are about this festival, but you can’t travel too far without money. Everyone was expecting us to go considering we’re one of the few blogs out there that has heard all the Mexican bands set to perform. Yesterday, Pitchfork’s founder Ryan Schreiber posted a wonderful mix of Mexican bands (+ Jovenes y Sexys) playing at the fest, mentioning Club Fonograma among his references for his DIY Mexico Mix. If you have reading us since then, know we’re not based in Mexico, but the U.S. It was great to see our link a P4k, although it added to our disappointing of not being able to get ourselves down there.

But we won’t let this landmark event just pass by us; our dear Venezuelan friend Cheky from Jóvenes y Sexys will be covering the fest for us (at least in pictures). His band will be playing on Monday, so if you’re down there, don’t miss it. In an effort to get you on the mood, for all those who can’t be there, here are some mp3s from most of the Mexican bands playing today. The headliners for this kickoff Saturday: Los Planetas, Acid Mothers Temple, Chikita Violenta, Telepathe & Quiero Club.

♫♫♫ Quiero Club feat. Jorge Gonzalez. "Minutos de Aire"

♫♫♫ Yo! Linares. "Unos amigos, unos vatos, unos güeyes"
♫♫♫ Lazaro Valiente. "Benvindo"
♫♫♫ Chikita Violenta. "Laydown"
♫♫♫ Soho Riots. "Mr. Tambourine Man"


Friday, March 19, 2010

SXSW Entry #4: "Los Amparito"/Banda de Turistas

So...last night was very interesting. I'll address what I mean in a sec. But for now, look at this funny sign:
Good Lord, that male stick figure has the body of Mighty Mouse.

ANYWAY, last night I was supposed to catch shows from Los Amparito and Banda de Turistas. Sadly, as soon as I walked into their gig, the band was finishing a song, complained of sound issues, and then silently packed their gear up. It was a shocking and somewhat sad development, considering the other recent issues the group has seen lately. Hopefully they don't leave sour on Austin or Texas, because they're a VERY talented band, one who I've successfully impressed on some friends in the past few days.

A few days ago, the New York Times made the outrageous statement that Austin was the "breakfast taco capital of the world" (Guanabee should also get credit for alerting me to this shocking development). Listen, I love you Austin, you've been my home for years now, but if I see ANYONE in this city boasting of this "proclamation," I will put on my soccer cleats and slide tackle you in the shin. First of all, Austin only has ONE decent taco place that's open 24 hours. Secondly, I don't think I've ever seen anyone in Austin eat a taco that DIDN'T have cheddar cheese in it (and if you don't know why it's wrong to put cheddar cheese in your taco, you must also write for the Times). Thirdly, and most criminally, STORE BOUGHT TORTILLAS. There's plenty of other circumstantial evidence I could use to disprove the Times' statement, but this is still a music site...until Carlos hires a food editor. As I've said before, I'm from San Antonio, a town of MUCH MORE taco authenticity, and the big city who should rightly be called "breakfast taco capital of the world." Now, obviously anyone who's ever been to the Rio Grande Valley can rightly proclaim that area to have the best tacos in Texas, but good luck getting a New York Times reporter to go down there and say that (kiddiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing, I love the Valley). And I'd love to rep for SoCal, but every time I go over there, some tells me that they "don't eat tacos here...we eat burritos." Well, excuuuuuuuuuuuuse me! Anyway, we all have the right to rep whatever city's tacos that we want, but please, anywhere but Austin, right?

But I digress, I went over to Flamingo Cantina (home of last year's super-awesome Natalia Lafourcade/Hello Seahorse!/Juan Son gig--I maintain that the showcase should have been called "Los Descatados curated by Carlos Reyes") to check out the super-handsome Banda de Turistas. In a sense, their show was a microcosm for the Latin rock star experience at SXSW. Here they are, a band virtually worshiped in their homeland Argentina, but now playing for 50 die-hard American (and maybe Argentinean) fans, yet they still have the mindset that they're playing for thousands of their countrymen. The two guitarists wandered the stage as if they had dozens of feet of free space, always in danger of bumping up against the other. Their keyboard player was tucked away next to the wall, never looking comfortable with what he had to work with. Their lead singer looked away, never seeing a camera that he didn't like. In a way, it was charming, especially because their show hardly suffered from this "demotion." At first, I was going to complain that their music rarely strayed from either a "struting" or "striding" tone, but as I looked at the crowd's reaction (and the reaction of my friend/photographer), I realized that this is precisely what got them this far. Particularly when the band hit its high note on "Sueno O," you could understand how this textured approach to pop-rock can be infectious at times. They still come off to me as a bit too much like Babasonicos-devotees rather than their own band, but after seeing the crowd last night, maybe I really don't know anything. Except where to get a good breakfast taco of course...

SXSW Entry #3: Neon Indian/Bomba Estereo @ FADER Fort

Hi everybody! I'm coming to you LIVE from the "Blogger's Lounge" at the FADER Fort east of downtown. I have proof! See...
...And yes, the "Lounge" is that sad. I mean, Unless you love typing while begging for a press pass to another party. But that's a whole 'nother thing. Because yesterday's FADER Fort shows allowed me the opportunity to catch full shows from Neon Indian and Bomba Estereo.

First up was yet another victory lap from Alan Palomo's "chillwave" (ugh, how I hate that term) act which, despite some bleeding sound issues (which plagued every show at the Fort), was pretty interesting. While it was a tad disappointing not to hear any new tracks, particularly the intriguing new song "Sleep Paralysis," the Neon Indian "band" wasn't satisfied to just hash out Psychic Chasms in live-form. The keyboards and guitars were much more accentuated, and Palomo's vocals were virtually ambient; merely another instrument that could be manipulated and controlled like strings, keys, or skins. Any sign of discomfort with his rising profile or expectations were washed out by the charisma and histrionics of the performance--particularly on closer "Deadbeat Summer," which was stacked with distortion and heavy mixing, proving that it can still be a jam in any context. After it was over, one could begin to wonder about the appropriateness of bestowing the "father of glo-fi" tag on Neon Indian, but while this paternity could rightfully be questioned, a gig like this shows that it can't be outright dismissed.

About an hour (and a vaguely racist contest centered around the name "Juan") later, Bomba Estereo came on stage and almost broke my left ear. The Bogota collective certainly had the crowd shaking, but the pesky sound issues at FADER Fort slowly began to eat away at the band's initial bright start, driving some people to do their dancing at the back of the tent. Despite the, um, "intensity" of the vocals, the band was still playing in good form. Liliana's "la Mala meets Petrona Martinez" cadence juxtaposed nicely with her band's cumbia/funk-indebted sound, which sounds like what Pacha Massive and a million Brooklyn Latin bands are attempting to sound like. There was even a brief moment when I even began pondering whether to coin a new phrase for this sort of music--"cumbiastep" is what I'm thinking. Pass it on.

[NOTE: this piece WAS written in the "Blogger's Lounge," but the Lounge's internet speed was lacking. So let's keep this time mismatch between us, cool?]

Thursday, March 18, 2010

SXSW Entry #2: Live Nation Latino Showcase

Last night saw your faithful correspondent catching the Live Nation Latino showcase at Antone's. Walking to the venerable venue, located on the western edge of Austin's mega-downtown, was perhaps the night's hardest endeavor. Besides the previously mentioned parking troubles, and the borderline-extortionist tactics taken by virtually every vendor in the city, there were still St. Patrick's Day party-goers more than eager to solicit random high-fives, inadvertent pushing, and enthusiastic cheering for a cover band who I can only describe as "the Killers meet Journey." It was a nightmare far worse than anything I ever read in Scary Short Stories.

Thankfully, what I ended up seeing at the venue was absolutely radiant. At first, it was great to see that this Latin showcase (which also included Bomba Estereo, who I caught a bit of, but will see again at today's FADER Fort, and Maltida Vecindad, who I was sadly unable to see again) was well-attended to say the least, as the line to get in stretched around the corner and down another block. As soon as I walked in, I was then treated to a rousing 40-minute set from Monterrey's funk-alicious 60 Tigres. Coming across as a palatable cross of Los Amigos Invisibles and Austin TV, they worked the ever-growing crowd with a mix of loud, delectable party music with a bourgeois touch (designer jeans!). I was very surprised by this band's technical proficiency, since most bands whose purpose is to give their audience a "good time" mask their lack of prowess with enough shuffle that you don't notice a few missed chords. They also weren't afraid to be irreverent at times, leading the audience into a chant of "Yeah! Guey!" on their closing number. Oh, and their keyboardist looks like Nick Cave...or rather, bearded Nick Cave. I dare you to find a cooler look.

Following that set was a towering prospect, but Columbia's ChocQuibTown totally knocked it out of the park. Their wondrous mixture of hip-hop, reggae, Carribean, cumbia, and baile funk sounds pretty good on record, but in person it was unlike anything that I had ever heard. While they aren't going to be mistaken for Residente or Arcangel in terms of lyrical quality, their flow and energy were beyond reproach. The show's climax was undoubtedly the "Latin empowerment anthem" of "Somos Pacificos," a tribute and call for celebrating Latino pride through artistic empowerment. It's also one hell of a jam, great for thinking and getting a party going. It wasn't all beats and rhymes though. At one point, the band's percussion began to thump with the ferocity of a jackhammer, and a manic saxophone soon engulfed the speakers as the group willed the crowd to chant along. It was a masterclass in audience management and almost-poetically reflected their passionate approach to music-making. By the end of the group's set, I was stuck in my place, and could only write one sentence into my BlackBerry MemoPad: "This band is Important." A day later, I have no reason to dispute that initial assessment.