Friday, July 30, 2010

Video: Fuck Her, or the Terrorists Win - "Circumstance"


Monterrey’s pop advancers Bul and Mr. Racoon release the first music video in the young existence of Fuck Her, or the Terrorists Win. While “Circumstance” is not the best song in Fuck Brooklyn (that would be "Heaventaken), it is the source of a very intriguing video by clip director Isho. The duo recreates the album’s artwork and fill up space with steam, and beautiful lofi greens and oranges. When passing through a carwash, FHOTTW wash out their fears in the best of circular motifs.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

MP3: El Guincho - "Bombay"



Here is another song many of you probably already have, but it's so good we can’t let it pass by. El Guincho got many of us confused as he overlaid the promotion of his stellar Piratas de Sudamerica EP with a totally brand new single, “Bombay”, first cut from his anticipated sophomore LP Pop Negro. This has to be one of Pablo’s most accessible songs to date, or at least very close to that amazing collaboration with Julieta Venegas in “Mientes.” In sound and its structure, “Bombay” is very close to that sun-splash pop of fellow Spanish band Delorean. The production work here is phenomenal as the tropical song blends into an R&B tune exported from some deserted island. While it’s no secret he has embraced Latin America through his music since his beginnings, this latest stuff is ready for Latin Music archive.



♫♫♫
"Bombay"

Video: Papa Topo - "Lo Que Me Gusta del Verano"


While some of us were taking a break, Papa Topo released their second video for their best and most defining song, “Lo que me gusta del verano.” This peculiar boy-meets-girl chant really was one of 2010’s summer songs. As we mentioned before, we got tired of “Oso Panda” within a few months, but this one, it’s the real deal. Director Lluis Prieto scopes the song’s bipolar take on those sunny days that bring joy, sweat and that “ice-cream flavor quandary.” The video is a total animated blast, from the coloring to the wardrobe, and the commercial-ready choreography towards the end. If you feel too old watching this, or feel there's too much sugar in it, at least appreciate Adria & Paulita's exuberance. Papa Topo will be releasing an extended 7-track album on Elefant Records later on this year.

New Single: Calle 13 feat. The Mars Volta - "Calma Pueblo"

No one gets more empowered by lyrics than Rene Perez (Residente), one of our most creative ‘leadmen’ in music, and on the shortlist for best rapper in the world. The Puerto Rican duo is back promoting “Calma Pueblo”, the first single from their forthcoming October release, the fourth LP in their shining career. The song features The Mars Volta and, while the premise seems interesting, the song is underwhelming to say the least. I’m trying to figure out if this is as bad as “No Hay Nadie Como Tu” (feat. Café Tacvba), but “Calma Pueblo” is disappointing and very boring. Rene seems uninspired lately, at least judging from his awkward and almost shameful (from his side) collaborations with Dante Spineta, Andres Calamaro and the late Mercedes Sosa.

Calle 13 is probably one of the few acts that could take on the responsibility of speaking for the people, but to do it in such a bland manner is almost offensive to the band’s ideals on superficiality, “lo que sientes tu lo siento yo, porque yo soy como tu.” The lyrics don’t do much and the music is barely there to serve a purpose instead of detonating corporative chains. “Calma Pueblo” is especially irritating because we’ve seen Calle 13 taking on that high-profile character in marvelous songs such as “Querido FBI” or “La Crema.” Here is hoping the group doesn’t lose its edge, “Calma Pueblo” is minor Calle 13, or better worst, Calle 13 trying to hard to be major. Is this ruining our anticipation of the actual album? Not really. After all, they are a step close to being favorite band.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Video: Banda de Turistas - "La Hora del Segundo"



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“La Hora del Segundo” is the new video coming out of Argentina’s top new act, Banda de Turistas, from their sophomore album El Retorno (it doesn't seem to appear on Nacional's Magical Radiophonic Heart). It follows the band’s two previous singles “Lo Comandas” and “El Rogadero” which also featured awesome colorful videos with enough youth, movement and shapes to call them epic. Director Roberto Llauro (who also directed “Todo mio el Otono”) doesn’t seem to mind the hazel effects or the spares of digitalism to put into stage the song’s spirit to live life at the moment.

MP3: Zozaya - "Welcome to my world" (featuring Alejandro Marcovich)



Monterrey’s Zozaya (aka Zozaya Mariachi DJ) is ready to release their fourth physical production titled Martes de PornoPad, the LP that follows their successful 2009 EP The RE Album (the concept album inspired by Café Tacvba). The new album features collaborations from longtime pal Pato Machete, Plastilina Mosh’s Jonaz Gonzalez, Alejandro Marcovich, and Molotov’s Randy Ebright, who collaborates in the single “Bitch You Can Look.” Zozaya is currently giving away a free track from the album, “Welcome to my world”, yet another catchy moment from band members Bul and Porno.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Video: Rey Pila - "No Longer Fun"



Shortly after the disbanding of Los Dynamite, the band’s former vocalist, Diego Solórzano, began working on a new project called Rey Pila. In the short time since then, he has already generated quite a buzz with “No. 114,” which made it to the top spot on The Hype Machine’s Twitter chart. His debut album, produced with the help of Paul Majahan, known for his work with acts like TV on the Radio and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is out tomorrow.

The video for “No Longer Fun” has a bright, yet hazy aesthetic to match the upbeat, yet disillusioned song. The macabre narrative follows a motley assortment of characters who, for various unspoken reasons, are no longer enjoying life and decide to end theirs, some in ceremonious and others in unceremonious fashion. This paired with Rey Pila's irreverence throughout the whole video makes for a slightly twisted dynamic.

(And if the house in the video looks familiar it’s because it’s the Boogie Nights house. So, that 70s porno vibe you were getting? Not at all unfounded.)

Interview - Los Punsetes

Photos by JP Abello

No matter where I went during LAMC, I could expect to hear Los Punsetes’ “Tus Amigos.” It was the unlikeliest of theme songs, but it worked. And often people would be singing along because, not surprisingly, people seem to get a lot of pleasure out of belting out that brazen chorus. When I interviewed the band, huddled in a corner of the hotel, that was the first thing I mentioned.

Blanca: I’ve heard your song “Tus Amigos” everywhere that I’ve gone this week. When you decided to make it your first single off of LP2, did you expect such a reaction?

Ariadna: No. At the beginning we weren’t so sure about the song, about how it would be received.

Chema: As soon as we started playing it live, though, there was a reaction from the crowd. It’s a pop song with a catchy melody. It’s something fun. I think it’s also because we are giving people the chance to tell people off.

Ariadna: Yes, and the chance to say bad words.

Blanca: I know that’s always a selling point for me. And your second single is “Dinero,” right? How do you feel about that as a follow-up to “Tus Amigos?”

Antonna: I don’t think it’s as catchy as “Tus Amigos,” but it doesn’t have to be. We like the song a lot, and the video, whenever it gets finished, is going to be great.

Blanca: Awesome, I’m looking forward to that. Are you working on any other new stuff?

J: In September, we’re releasing a remixes album.

Antonna: We’re constantly working on new music, but right now we’re playing so much that we don’t have as much time to do that.

Blanca: How do you feel about the performances you’ve had at the conference?

Ariadna: The concerts have been very different. The first one, there were so many bands, that everyone was there to see someone different. And a lot of people were just there to hear something new. But at the show we played last night, people knew who they were there to see. So, there were people dancing around, and that was a surprise for us. It was great.

Blanca: Have you gotten a chance to check out any of the other bands?

Ariadna: Yes, at the acoustic showcase.

Antonna: We saw La Bien Querida, who we love, of course.

Ariadna: And Alex Cuba was very interesting. His hair was interesting, too.

Chema: It was like a microphone.


Blanca: Let me take things back a bit. How did y’all (there goes my inner Texan, again) get started as a band?

Gonzalo: We met in college.

Ariadna: Like 14 years ago.

Gonzalo: We’d been friends for a long time, and when we finished college, we didn’t have anything to do. So, we said, “Why don’t we start a band?” When we started out, it was just for fun and, little by little, it’s turning into something more serious.

Blanca: How is the music you make now different from the music you made when you first started?

J: It’s more rock-oriented, faster, harder, not as poppy as the first songs. I like it much better.

Ariadna: They are darker, the new songs.

Chema: More psychadelic, maybe. And a little bit better played.

Antonna: Well, I don’t know about that. We don’t play well really. Chema, maybe.

Ariadna: Chema is the only who is good at this.

Blanca: And as you were developing your sound in Madrid, did you feel that there was a vibrant and supportive community of musicians?

Ariadna: There are a lot of bands in Madrid that maybe don’t play the same style of music but are in the same situation.

Gonzalo: There’s no exclusively Madrid scene. We feel close to a lot of bands outside of Madrid, like in Barcelona.

Antonna: It’s not about isolated scenes in certain cities because we play Barcelona a lot and, in that way, we are connected.

Gonzalo: There is a certain mood in Madrid. I don’t know how to explain it, but I know it’s important to what we do.

Antonna: If we lived in some other town, the music wouldn’t be the same.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Interview - Los Rakas

Photos by JP Abello

The Panamanian by way of Oakland duo, Los Rakas, were probably the coolest dudes at LAMC. Or at least it seemed that way because everybody, and I mean everybody, wanted to talk to them. When I finally got my chance, I was a little intimidated, to be honest. In my glasses, kid backpack, and floral print sneakers, I was obviously nowhere near cool enough to be talking to them. If someone showed you a picture of us, you would be convinced that there was some Photoshop involved. But I was quickly put at ease by how chill the guys were and how genuinely grateful they were to be involved in the conference.

Blanca: I know your turf is Oakland and the Bay Area, so how does it feel to play in New York? Is there a different energy?

DunDun: Both Oakland and New York crowds are hard to please. At first they usually be, like, “Let’s see what they got.” And by the second song they get into it. This time around, there was no hesitation; they went wild from the beginning.

Rico: They already knew what they came to see.

DunDun: There were actually people waiting in line to see us, saying they’ve been waiting for us to come to the east coast.

Blanca: That must be a great feeling, knowing that people have been waiting for you. What must also be a great feeling is winning the LAMC Discovery Award. Congratulations!

DunDun: Thank you. It is a great feeling.

Rico: It feels like a million dollars, and I don’t even know what that feels like yet!

Blanca: How did you first get started making music?

Rico: When we started, it was more of an experiment. Now we have more direction.

DunDun: For me, I started rapping and six months later I had my CD. It was serious, you know. I knew it was going to be a career for me since the beginning.

Rico: I didn’t take it as seriously, but I knew it was something I wanted to do. I love music. The first time I heard my voice on a beat, I was like, “Ugh! I can do it better.” So it was more like a challenge then. But being with DunDun, it made me get a little bit more serious with my music because he was already serious. Before that, I was thinking maybe someone was going to discover me, so I didn’t put no hustle into it. He was the hustler. He was dropping CDs and really pushing it out there.

Blanca: Your sound is something that I don’t hear too much of, and I wish I could hear more of it. But it’s a very American style of hip hop done in Spanish and Spanglish.

Rico: We got that formula to make Spanglish music sound good. There’s artists, I’m not going to say names, that I feel like don’t got that. They got the Latin, but when they want to cross over and put some English in it, it doesn’t sound right. It sounds corny. We have the right ingredients for it because we’ve been around so many cats that do it in English. It’s like cooking; you can’t do too much to it because if you add too much salt, it’s going to mess it up.

Blanca: So, what’s the approach that you take that makes that injection of Spanglish work?

DunDun: We make music in a lot of different ways, but sometimes the songs just come to me a capella, and we add the beat later.

Rico: I’m hard on myself because I don’t want it to sound like any old record. I try to make it melodic for people to grasp on and really feel it, like in their soul.


Blanca: What are you working on right now?

DunDun: We’re working on the video for “Abrazame,” which will be coming out real soon.

Rico: It’s gonna be a little controversial.

Blanca: Awesome. We’re big fans of that song over at Club Fonograma.

DunDun: Cool, cool. That’s what’s up.

Blanca: Do you have any new music in the works?

DunDun: We’re experimenting with more styles of music, not just hip hop, but dancehall and reggae, cumbia and electro.

Blanca: Sounds exciting. Do you still feel most comfortable with hip hop, though?

DunDun: I’m most comfortable in hip hop because it’s straight to the point. You’re expressing yourself. You don’t really have to do too much, just put on the beat and express yourself.

Rico: That’s really what it’s all about.

Blanca: Now that you’ve played this conference, is there anywhere that you’re really looking forward to playing?

Rico: I want to go to Brazil because Brazilians are happy people. They get down and want to dance. I want to just hop off stage and dive into thousands of people. And girls. Hopefully, some girls catch me.

That night at Bowery Ballroom, Rico did hop off the stage to dance with the crowd. Unfortunately, there was not a bevy of beautiful Brazilians to cushion his fall. All in due time, Rico. All in due time.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Interview - Chico Mann

Photos courtesy of When Giants Meet

Not that the Spanish language doesn’t have complex enough verb tenses, but we might have to make up a new one to describe what the guys of Chico Mann are doing with their music. They are giving a nod to the Afro-Cuban beats of the past – or what they could have, should have been – grounding that could have, should have in the present musical landscape, and reworking that landscape to fit into the futuristic world of Chico Mann. If you’re having trouble imagining what this sounds like (I don’t blame you), you need to experience the band live.

Chico Mann was the last band to perform at the indie showcase at the Mercury Lounge during LAMC and, as sparse as the post-1 a.m. crowd was, and as tired as I was from a full day of running around and standing around, the band's unique sound and energy inspired me to dance. That’s why I had to catch up the guys the next day for a quick chat.

Blanca: I was at your show last night at Mercury Lounge and wasn’t familiar with your music beforehand. But I really liked what I heard and I found your sound really intriguing because it’s very distinct and not like anything else I’ve heard before. What approach do you take when you’re making music?

Marcos: The underlying premise of what I do in any given song is to evoke some sort of ecstatic release at some point in the song. And if I can sculpt a piece of music to do that, and if it has that effect on me, I’m pretty confident it will have that effect on other people.

David: It has that effect on me.

Blanca: Do you feel you had that effect on the crowd last night?

Marcos: It’s tough when you play such a short set. I feel like it takes me at least 10 minutes to feel warmed up, and it probably takes the audience that much time, too. At first, people don’t know what to make of it, and eventually the beat wears them down and they get sucked into it.

David: That’s part of the approach for the live show. We’re creating multiple worlds and drawing people into it. It takes a while to establish what the world is and for people to get comfortable in it. But once they’re comfortable, we take it up and take them with us.

Blanca: What kind of world are you creating?

Marcos: It’s a futuristic soundscape with highly syncopated rhythms that originate in Africa and Cuba and are re-contextualized in New York through the experience of living here and being bicultural and having Latin cultural references and American ones. All that informs the music and the Chico sound.

Blanca: And what does it take to create this world?

Marcos: This operation, the music the production, the live shows, everything is DIY. I think it’s important for artists to know that you have to do it yourself if you want it to be done right. As hard as that can be, it’s also really rewarding. I could put together a tour anywhere in the world myself because we have the technology to be able to communicate with people all over the world. It’s really cool, really exciting times.

David: Yeah, there are so many different ways of entering into peoples’ consciousness.


Blanca: Well, you definitely entered into my consciousness. How did your sound come about, and how has it evolved?

Marcos: Imagine an archival recording of a style of music that never was. In my mind, when I started recording the first album, I was imagining a studio in New York, uptown somewhere, when drum machines were starting to be used. Imagine if Afrobeat had made more of an impact and what that would have done in the context of electronic drum machines and the early days of hip hop. That was the mental space that I was in when I was recording.

David: The thing about Marcos is that he’s kind of in his own world, which is why the music comes out, if I may say so, super fresh and genuine. It doesn’t sound like anything else. What’s cool is that people are getting more ready for the sound because there’s this whole tropical bass scene that’s coming up. It’s massaging people’s ears to be ready for it. People won’t be ready, but they’ll be ready, you know? They won’t know that they’re ready. Then afterwards they’ll be, like, "Wow, I was definitely ready for that."

Blanca: What are you working on right now?

Marcos: I’m working on the next album, which might be more than can even fit on an album. But it’s taking on the same concepts of the first album and expanding on them. From there, there are a couple of points of departure into the worlds of merengue and a little bit of digital cumbia, giving it an Afro Cuban sensibility.

David: People need to know that they can’t sleep on Chico Mann because then they’re going to feel so stupid. So, don’t sleep.*

*I second this statement.

Interview - Ana Tijoux

Photo by JP Abello

Rapper Ana Tijoux was one of the busiest and most anticipated acts at LAMC, and I was lucky enough to have a chance to talk to her during the conference. We sat down at the piano near the balcony of the mezzanine level of the Roosevelt Hotel, and the first thing she did was ask me to play a little something. And how could I refuse? So, I played one of the two songs I remembered from the three weeks of piano lessons I took in third grade, “Yankee Doodle.” She had to be reminded she was in America, right?

Blanca: You were great at SummerStage last night. How do you feel about your performances so far?

Ana: It’s always a little bit weird for me to be presented in English. So, I end up laughing a lot because I’m terrible at speaking English. But I try to enjoy it because I know that nobody knows me here. In Latin America, people know me and know the songs when I sing them. Here, I have to introduce every song, which is good.

Blanca: Have you gotten a good reaction from the crowds?

Ana: The general feedback that I’m getting is along the lines of, “I don’t understand everything that you’re saying, but I like it.”

Blanca: That’s great that people are being so open to something they don’t fully understand.

Ana: Yes, because in Latin America, even if we don’t understand everything, we consume a lot of music in English. So, it’s good to see that same, maybe not at the same level, but that same sentiment here.

Blanca: You’ve been making music for quite some time, and now you’re one of the most hyped artists playing this conference. How does it feel to get this sudden wave of recognition?

Ana: Oh, I didn’t know that, that I am one of the most hyped artists. Thanks for telling me, so I can be prepared.

(This would have been a good moment for me to play a campy song on the piano. But, alas, I did not know any.)

Ana: I know I’ve been making music for a long time, and I’m getting older, but Indian people say that we aren’t mature until we are 48, so I am not mature yet. I still have a ways to go. I could be a teenager. So, I try to take things easy because you never know what will happen.

Blanca: When you first started as a musician, did you know that it was going to be your career?

Ana: When I started it was almost like a game. Not that I wasn’t very involved in what I was doing, but I never thought I was going to make my work of it. When I first started, I had a lot of passion and I wasn’t expecting anything from it. It was more like, who knows what’s going to happen? And I never expect much, so everything is amazing for me.

Blanca: That’s a good approach to have.

Ana: It’s good for life. So, when good stuff happens, it’s like “Wow! Wow!” like a kid. And I don’t want to lose that. And I have so many dreams in life. I know I’m a hip hop musician, but I admire so many different kinds of artists.

Blanca: You have a great singing voice. Have you thought about venturing into other genres?

Ana: I really like to rap, but, why not? I would love to make bossa nova. I believe in researching all the formats available for what you want to do. It’s like a painter, who her whole life has just been working in one medium, then all of the sudden discovers sculpture, and it’s like another universe. In creation, you have to be very free, never closed. To be free is the better way to arrive at what you want to arrive at.

Blanca: How is the music that you make now different from what you were doing when you first started?

Ana: I don’t know if it’s very, very different. The change is more in the lyrics. There’s something very interesting about writing. It allows me to say what I really want to say. The lyrics, in the end, are what most interest me. That’s what got me started in music.

Blanca: So, which one of your songs is most lyrically significant to you?

Ana: I really like “Crisis de un MC” because I really identify with the lyrics. It talks about the crisis of an artist, about the contradiction of having so much stimulation while still living in a lonely world. I know that sounds cliché, but I truly feel it. And all artists I’ve spoken to understand it because it spans all mediums. When you show your work to a lot of people, they think that they know you. But when you create your work you’re very selfish because you’re so concentrated on your creation and it’s a very internal work.

Blanca: Of course, an artist’s work is always very personal. So, how does it work when two or more artists are working together? What have been your most successful collaborations?

Ana: That’s a really good question. I don’t know if there’s one collaboration in particular that has been the most successful. But in collaborations, I always learn a lot. We all have so much to offer each other because each person is a universe.

I decided to leave it there, because what a lovely way to end an interview, right? Then I thanked her for her time and explained that the interview would be up on the blog soon. At this point, her eyes light up and she says, “I love blogs! I’ve been reading a lot of blogs about extraterrestrials!” So, of course, I have to tell her about my experience with a group of extraterrestrial enthusiasts when I was a reporter in Cape Town and how fascinating it was to talk to them about alien life. Then she keeps going on about how crazy she is over anything alien-related right now, so I have to ask her, “Are you going to be writing any songs about this?” Then she pauses and considers it, for what seems to be the first time. “Yes! Of course, yes!” So, you heard it here first. Ana Tijoux will be rapping about aliens soon.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Alex Ferreira - Un Domingo Cualquiera

Un Domingo Cualquiera, Alex Ferreira
Warner Music, Spain
Rating: 79
By Juan Manuel Torreblanca


A fresh and sincere sound is usually something that I look for in music. However, sometimes those qualities alone don’t necessarily imply that the product is good. You also need talent and taste for the mix to work. Alex Ferreira has it all. He also has a secure and lighthearted demeanor that translates into his music rather well, giving it a directness that makes it easy to enjoy. His words are carefully chosen, at times witty or playful, at times romantic or personal, often powerfully visual and emotional, but never gratuitous nor corny. The music is pop rock, plain and simple - guitar driven and properly dressed in mature drum, bass, percussion, keyboard and string arrangements. If you wanted to call it traditional, you could.

Un Domingo Cualquiera might not be re-inventing music, but it doesn’t need to and probably doesn’t want to. I bet that Ferreira strove, above all, to achieve a good record full of good songs. And he succeeded in that. Some of the songs are even great, like “Arraigo,” which floats over a thick and sticky groove as it deals with nostalgia and Ferreira’s delicate situation as an undocumented immigrant upon his arrival in Spain, after leaving his home in the Dominican Republic with pretty much nothing but a guitar and a backpack full of dreams. This song features some of the record’s most definitive lyrics “tengo el corazón condenado a pendular."

“Altoparlante” opens the whole thing with a feel-good vibe that almost transports you to the beach. It’s almost ready to take you surfin’, but it’s not that sunny, really. You can tell from this first song that Ferreira’s music is going to come with a pinch of darkness that only makes the record’s unabashed pop much more interesting. And it also offers a sort of personal manifesto for Ferreira as a singer-songwriter: “esto es lo que hay, y lo que no hay es que no me sale natural”. The song that gives the LP its name is another really good bittersweet song. A lazy Sunday is beautifully depicted in a few images where a couple’s doubts and struggles might be hiding under the bed sheets, between the lines, or within the space dividing each note. Un Domingo Cualquiera reaches its end echoing one of Conor Oberst’s most gorgeous songs “This is the first day of my life/Es el primer día del resto de mi vida”. “Tambores del Congo” brings a deep, slow, heavy, sultry, smoky romance to the record that almost aches with that flavor of folk ballads, and maybe there’s even a bit of country there, but Ferreira’s smooth and bright vocals give it his very own sound.

Now let’s talk about his voice. We know that he’s Dominican, but he sounds more like Duncan Dhu than Rita Indiana. So, is it Spanish pop, then? Maybe, maybe not. I know that he sang blues for a while, and I think you could tell that by just hearing him. There’s a raspy quality, a raw and spoken delivery that makes his voice instantly warm and familiar. You might feel you’ve known it for ages. But it’s definitely his own, and it is mysteriously unique as much as it’s seemingly the voice next door. Ferreira has spent evening sing-a-longs with Jorge Drexler and Fito Paez, and he might belong in that club, too. His album also features a brilliant duet with Ximena Sariñana (“Gravedad”). But, I will dare say I find Un Domingo Cualquiera closer to David Gray’s work than to any Latin or Spanish production that I might have heard lately. The kid with the big black mop of hair, the stern eyes and the lovely voice is timeless and universal. He’s going to be a star, and I’ve no doubt about it. But he’s still learning and growing, and he knows it. And all that’s nothing but good. He recently came to Mexico City to get in touch with the scene and play a bit, and I met him. I told him (in full confidentiality) the rating that I was giving his album and he told me he’d probably give it a 7.5. So, what does this mean? Where is this review going (you might rightfully ask)? I think that what I’m trying to say is that Alex appears to me to be a humble, intelligent, versatile, eclectic, talented, charismatic and brave (even daring) character. One that brings a fresh and sincere, and GOOD, revision to pop rock made en Español. And that doesn’t come any given Sunday, these days.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Interview - Furland

Photos by JP Abello

Few things (besides baskets full of puppies) inspire motherly feelings in me. I’m actually kind of scared of babies to be quite honest. But seeing the boys of Furland play at the Mercury Lounge during LAMC kicked my maternal instincts into overdrive. Already a fan of the band’s album Historia de la Luz, I was excited to hear the songs played live. And when I actually saw the band on stage looking adorable and sounding amazing, I just couldn’t help but have a proud mama moment. At one point I think I actually said to myself, “Mira, que chulos mis niños.”

So, the next day, when I had my interview scheduled with the band, I had to refrain from any cheek-pinching and head-patting, which was hard considering how wide-eyed they all were with excitement for their first time playing in New York.

Blanca: Welcome to New York! How are you liking the conference so far?

Jacinto: We’re really liking it. Last night we had a great show, and we are still excited about it.

Blanca: I was at your show last night. You guys were great. (Pause for requisite modest thank yous.) Did you get a good vibe from the crowd?

Jacinto: People approached us and told us that they really liked the music, that we sounded different, that it’s really good to hear something that is fresh and new to them.

Blanca: Is there anyone that you’re really excited to see perform?

Carlos: I’m looking forward to seeing Maldita Vecindad in Central Park.

Jacinto: When I was a kid, I used to cut out of my classes, and I carried around El Circo on cassette. I have clear memories of listening to that album.

Blanca: Yeah, I know a lot of people are pumped for their SummerStage performance. And you guys are playing an acoustic set tonight at Le Poisson Rouge, right? Is that something that you do often?


Ricardo: No, we feel more comfortable doing normal shows.

Carlos: There are a lot of sounds that we feel are basic to our songs, that are really important, that we cannot do in an acoustic set.

Blanca: Yeah, your album, Historia de la Luz, which is all about light, obviously, and color and time and space, has a very cosmic feel to it, which is difficult to convey in an acoustic setting. What was your approach when writing and recording the album?

Sergio: I was trying to incorporate a lot of things from folk music, to communicate the feeling of being in the country, or on the road, or of being in the forest and watching the stars. That was the image I had in mind, of being very down to earth but also thinking about space and the universe and the stars and other planets.

Blanca: That is amazing because that’s exactly how the album came off to me, so good job.

(Here, everyone has a good laugh, and I pat myself on the back for making such a great joke. Except it was not a joke at all, and I seriously would have said the exact same thing about that album that Sergio had just told me if someone asked me to describe Historia de la Luz. I think I actually wrote something very similar at some point.)

Blanca: And how was working on that album with Emmanuel del Real?

Ricardo: It was a very special thing for us. Not just working with Emmanuel, but also with his brothers. They are great people and great musicians. We are very big fans of Cafe Tacuba, so at first we were nervous. But the days passed and it began to feel good to work with them.

Sergio: It became very familiar. And we had a lot of things in common with them. It was very natural all the time. When someone suggested something to record, it was natural.

Blanca: How did you arrive at the final sound for your album and at the sound that you have now?

Jacinto: Oh, it’s been a long road. I’ve always thought of us as a tree. Sergio is the roots of the tree, and the rest of us are the branches because he dreams up most of the songs, and we add in our individual parts.

Sergio: Recording the album transformed our sound because we discovered a lot of new sounds in the process.

Blanca: Are there any artists in any medium who are influencing what you’re doing now?

Sergio: I really love movies, and I like Wes Anderson and the Coen brothers. Even if it’s not music, I like to translate what I see and feel from their movies and photography into my music.

Ricardo: I don’t know if it affects the way I play, but right now I like the painter Pierre Soulages.

Blanca: Are you working on anything new right now?

Sergio: No, right now we are focused on playing in many, many different places.

Jacinto: It took us a really long time to release this album, so now we’re enjoying it.


Blanca: And this conference is your first time playing in New York, right?

Sergio: It’s our first time playing outside of Mexico.

(At this point I did an internal “Oh, haaaay.” I did not externalize because I didn’t think it would translate well.)

Blanca: How is playing in New York different from playing in Mexico?

Ricardo: It’s very similar, actually. If you have your instruments, your drums, in any place and you’re doing what you love, it feels like home. I don’t know, maybe if it were a different crowd, with more non-Latin people, it would feel different. But last night felt like home.

Carlos: And it was really flattering. To hear people who live in New York say that they like your show, and they are used to having a lot of bands come from everywhere, to hear them say that they like your music, it feels good.

Blanca: That’s great. Y’all (yes, the Texan in me emerged, and I said y’all) should definitely come back to play some more shows soon.

Ricardo: We want to play here more. This is a good opportunity for us to get more people to know our music. We hope to come back to have more shows with more people in bigger places.

Jacinto: Like, last night, it was mostly people in media, and we expect next time we’ll come to play for the people, the fans.

Sergio: This is the first step, I think, in a long, long path.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer Jamz 2010 - Let Me Put My Rhythm In You [UPDATED LINK]

It's that time of year. Summertime. Not just the time of year when the sun begins to make you hallucinate so badly that you begin running after a paleta that's JUST OUT OF REACH. No, it's SUMMER JAMZ SEASON! The "Summer Jamz" series started out at wonderful Stylus Magazine, where the staff would create customized mixtapes based on a general mood, theme, or meditation influenced by 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 have been running on that site throughout the summer, and will continue for the next few weeks, and I'd highly recommend checking some of them out.

However, I'm here to post the entry compiled by me and Jeff Siegel, another Stylus ex-pat who's an overall brilliant and talented man. He's also responsible for that funky bit of cover art above. Our general theme was "hypnotic and lazy," and I hope we've delivered. The link and tracklist are below (with many of your Club Fonograma faves!). Please, pick your feet up and enjoy this sweet, sweet digibrilliance.

Link: Let Me Put My Rhythm In You [updated link!]

Disc One*
1) Cluster & Eno - "Schöne Hände"
2) Café Tacuba - "13"
3) Memory Cassette - "Surfin'"
4) Los Espíritus - "Pacifico-Atlantico"
5) Mark E - "Smiling"
6) A Tribe Called Quest - "Electric Relaxation"
7) Emilio José - "Rio Grande do Sul"
8) Hoahio - "Jellyfish"
9) Pérez Prado & His Orchestra - "Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom"
10) El Guincho ft. Julieta Venegas - "Mientes"
11) Horace Andy - "Money Money"
12) Loop - "Mother Sky"
13) Andrew Paine - "The Radioactive Cat"

Disc Two*
1) Los Amparito - "Los Miradas de Magaly"
2) Fantastic Mr. Fox - "Bricka-Brac"
3) Actress - "Hubble"
4) Glissandro 70 - "Bolan Muppets"
5) Prissa - "Lógica"
6) Joyce w/ Nana Vasconcelos & Mauricio Maestro - "Metralhadeira"
7) The Meters - "Cissy Strut"
8) Natalia Lafourcade & Emanuel Del Real - "Diente Blanco, No Te Vayas"
9) Four Tet & Rothko - "Rivers Become Oceans"
10) Illum Sphere - "Psycho"
11) Madame Mboty Mamy & dit Mama Tsara - "Maman Ny'Lisa"
12) Juana Molina - "El Perro"
13) James Ferraro - "Blacktop Tumble Weed"
14) Santo & Johnny - "Sleep Walk"

* This mixtape isn't really two separate folders. I just like to conceptualize it that way.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chetes - Hipnosis

Hipnosis, Chetes
EMI, Mexico
Rating: 54
By Andrew Casillas

Your ultimate feeling on Luis Gerardo Garza essentially rests on your opinion of Paul McCartney. Disdainful or admirable, repulsing or charming; it’s very hard to find a middle ground when analyzing his artistic structure. Musically, each is a big believer in using music as a whimsical and optimistic tool, where to be bittersweet is the ultimate touch of honesty, and any self-façade is completely void of mystery. These are not simple tasks, and, in fact, they've both succeeded within their fields, with their most successful moments so distinctive that they've entered the lexicon as almost aphoristic statements of musical affectivity (and if you don't believe me, just think about how similar "Let It Be" and "Para Siempre" are in the abstract).

Of course, Paul McCartney is roughly 2,386x more popular than Garza, better known as Chetes, will ever be. Not to mention that Macca started his career 35 years earlier, too. So to really call any of the distinctions made in this piece a strict comparison isn’t quite fair. Still, Chetes’ career trajectory seems to be leading him towards essentially becoming Paul McCartney. From his place in Mexican rock powerhouse Zurdok, where his more relaxed and professional lead approach stood in clear contrast to Fernando Martz’s raw vocal styling, to his solo output’s blatant-pop direction, Chetes clearly commiserates and understands what it’s like to be a pop storyteller operating under a normative rock band scheme. As his solo career has progressed, Chetes' work has become increasingly sentimental and technical, sometimes to great effect (“Efecto Domino,” “Completamente,” and the giddy, peak-era McCartney pastiche of “Camino a Casa”), but wasn’t afraid to let his eccentricity bounce off the wall (notably on the bubblegum stomper “Cancion Optimista” and the traditional Mexican homage “El Sonido de Tu Voz”--which, for what it’s worth, I’ve always thought of as the first cousin of Selena’s “No Me Queda Mas”). Two albums in, Chetes had carved out a commendable, if still not remarkable, niche of reliability within the Mexican pop scene.

Moving on to the third album, one would expect more of the same, right? Not for Chetes, who uses Hipnosis as an opportunity to open up his sound by actually reining it in. No more fanciful excursions to other genres, no more backbeat time keeping, no more…rock and roll. Nope, this is the sound of Chetes indulging his pop sensibilities, resulting in one of the most disappointing albums of the year. Things start out more than okay, “Espera Tu Turno” finding Chetes’ vocals in top form, with a slinky and cool orchestra exterior weaving with some ace percussion and bass playing. Really, if there are any readers out there writing a spy thriller of some kind, you’d be wise to try appropriating this into your screenplay at some point (and believe me, I know there are a few of you doing that exact same thing as we speak).

But aside from that grand highlight, Hipnosis gradually eviscerates into a mix of MOR arena rock and aimless pop star posturing, akin to some of the filler off of U2’s No Line on the Horizon. Perhaps most suspect is “La Ciencia No Es Exacta,” which contains one of the album’s few distinctive instrumentals and pairs it with what sounds like Chetes mumbling. This approach would work if the song had something interesting to say or developed any sense of evocative mood, but it’s simply lifeless. There are a few half-decent tracks on the album (“Ecos y Ruidos” hits the right note, if you’re still awake to even pay attention to it), but it’s telling that the album’s second best moment is actually a demo of the title track. As a working song, “Hipnosis” is stripped of its sheen and pomp, and instead concentrates on Chetes’ vocals while production effects play with the acoustic guitar at the song’s center. That the final effect is to complete a track worthy of being described as “Blackbird” mixed with Ram is no small compliment. And that takes me back to my original proposition: At his best, Chetes, just like the master Macca, can create singular music for the sensitive, ever-youthful soul. At his worst, you’re left with something without weight or tact. Of course, if this “Blackbird” mixed with Ram doesn’t sound appealing to you, well then forget everything I've said, since this probably isn't for you. Let's just hope to God that Chetes gets back on track before he starts putting out shit like this.

LAMC in photos


Photos by JP Abello

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Piratas de Sudamérica Vol. 1, El Guincho


Piratas de Sudamérica Vol. 1, El Guincho
Young Turks, Spain
Rating: 89
By Andrew Casillas

A few Christmases ago, I unearthed my old Super Nintendo from my family closet. Seeing as I had nothing to do, and I really wanted to see if my Madden ‘94 skills were as great as I remembered (they weren’t), I plugged the system in and played virtually every game that I had held onto for an entire week or so. Aside from the obvious shock factor at how much gameplay has progressed over almost two decades, I began to reflect on my feelings on these quaint, socially ancient artifacts, and how much more amazing they seemed in their intangible state. To put it another way: NBA Jam is much more awesome in one’s memories than in the modern world.

This sense of embellishment of one’s past experiences afflicts us all on an almost a daily basis; and the feeling only becomes more palpable when there’s a physical embodiment or property that has no greater value than to bring back those memories. In the world of music, a common scenario would be when you discuss pop songs that were popular when you were in grade school with friends of a similar age. To you, “Pelo Suelto,” “Motownphilly,” or “MMMBop,” (depending on your age, of course) were the “jam,” and you still love those songs today. And that’s not to say that said songs are awful per se, but whenever you hear them outside of the “I haven’t heard this song in forever!” context, you realize that your love of them may be more than a little exaggerated.

This is what makes the first volume of El Guincho’s Piratas de Sudamérica so special and, indeed, El Guincho himself so special. He trades in this exact sort of “exaggerated perception,” and also plays towards the audience’s natural slant by bolstering these feelings until the embellishment seems completely natural and at a fixed point. Take “Palmitos Park,” Alegranza!’s opening track (and Club Fonograma’s #1 song of 2008): from its opening vocal sample to its reoccurring applause track to its cooing background harmonies, it’s obviously meant to evoke some sort of hip, late-night, booze-flowing, white suit optional, speakeasy. So rather than just engage toward the audience’s natural expectation, he smothers the samples in a wash of rhythmic drum work, conflicting percussion, and half-chanted vocals. All of a sudden, the song doesn’t sound like something that reminds you of that one time you went to the coolest basement bar in the biggest city you’ve ever gotten drunk in—it sounds EXACTLY like that time, and just as bad ass as you remembered it the first time. Alegranza! has a few more moments like this, the most notable being the beach party caprice of “Kalise.” But, for the most part, El Guincho was working with exclusively personal moods—you had to be there in the first place in order to grasp the feeling.

Of course, it didn’t help that that debut album was stacked with cacophonous sampling and instrumentation—you couldn’t exactly be blamed for not loving every song on it, especially if you aren’t the type of person who salivates over Animal Collective leaks. But on Piratas de Sudamérica, El Guincho trades the disparate sound collages for “straightforward” (by his standards) covers of the Cuban and South American songbooks. And it’s fantastic.

Operating within this “exaggerated perception” method, El Guincho makes you feel that you know just as much about these songs as he does, even if you’ve never heard the originals before (and if you haven’t, you should). Take the opener (and lead single), “Hindou,” a classic from Cuban pianist Armando Orefiche, which El Guincho re-imagines as a soulful lament. With guitars seemingly lifted straight from Santo & Johnny’s rock-n-roll classic “Sleepwalk” and steel drums that could melt your heart, this is exactly what you would expect to pass for a slow jam in 1950’s Havana. Does anyone reading this know that? Not a chance (and if you do, congratulations on the great eyesight in your old age). But that embodies what El Guincho does so successfully with this concept. You know these are new covers of dusty, old pop songs, but you don’t even think about the “newness” of it—as far as you’re concerned, this is the real deal; this is what music sounded like back then. You’re being transported to a time that you weren’t around for, but everything still sounds familiar and right.

Even if you take this “exaggerated perception” thing with a huge grain of salt, there’s still plenty to enjoy at face value. From the everything-but-the-maracas baile thump of “Cuerpo Sin Alma” to the cumbia-bordering “Frutas del Caney,” there’s plenty here that’ll sound right at home soundtracking those hot summer days. And I certainly cannot leave out the album’s centerpiece, the Julieta Venegas-assisted “Mientes.” In short: this track is a stone cold masterpiece. A finely-tuned, insistent, pungent piece of music. There isn’t a wasted second of tape spared throughout the entire thing. Where the original Los Trio Matamoros cut was a breezy, nice little tune, this version sounds like its being broadcasted from some far away period in time and space, where boys and girls only speak to each other with a cadence reserved for the finest screwball comedies. And we haven’t even begun to mention the beat’s spry little rhythm, which clicks and flounces all the way into your cranium.

In all honesty, the only thing that keeps this thing from higher marks is its anticlimactic (but by no means awful) final track, and its short length (it is an EP after all). But as the tally stands, El Guincho has delivered on his debut’s substantial promise, expanded his sound, and established a greater foundation of personality all within this 5-song salvo. Hopefully, the rest of his Piratas series will hold serve, but at the least, he’s given us a lot to enjoy, absorb, and remember.



Monday, July 12, 2010

LAMC Entry #4: Shake off the negative vibes

Saturday was the final day of LAMC, and having Maldita Vecindad play the SummerStage was a great way to close the conference. When I arrived at the press tent, I found that my name was still not on the list and had to talk to the organizer to get clearance. He remembered me from the first time my name was not on the list and felt bad that this was happening again, so he gave me a special wristband for the Jet Blue tent. After a quick walk through the crowd, I decided that the Jet Blue tent was, indeed, the best place to watch the show. And this was confirmed when, as soon as I sat down, I was offered a drink.

The Pinker Tones took the stage as I sipped my beer from the comfort of the tent, and they spread their buoyant energy to the crowd with their upbeat electro pop rock. They played a lot of songs from the new album, Modular, and I was especially happy when they played “Sampleame,” which I find wonderfully cheeky. As energetic as the crowd was for The Pinker Tones set, it was nothing compared to the passion they had for the legendary Maldita Vecindad. The band played a killer show, and folks went insane. There were mosh pits and crowd surfers and dance circles, as well as anything you can think of (really, anything) being thrown in the air. When JP came back to the tent after his photo session, he reported that there was a baby dangling over the barricade between the crowd and the stage. And there were an unacceptable number of small children in that crowd. I seriously feared for their lives. It seems like everyone made it through relatively unscathed, though, which might be due to the shaking off of the negative vibes initiated by the band during their set.

Photos by JP Abello

After the show, JP and I headed to Candle Cafe for dinner, which was such a good decision. The food was incredible. Even you non-veg*ns would love it. Then we were so full, that we each headed home for a disco nap before hitting up the Remezcla after party, where Isa GT was spinning. After hanging at that party for a bit, we decided to wander the neighborhood, which turned into a long trek punctuated by quick stops to judge bars (if it’s full of people singing along to John Mellencamp, we do not want to go to there) before moving on. We ended up at Cienfuegos for lime daiquiris and complaining about the lack of satisfactory bars. And also toasting to not being lame when we’re in our 30s.

That’s it for my LAMC ramblings. I had a great time at the conference and hope to be back next year. Stay tuned for a photo slideshow and interviews, after which we’ll be back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

LAMC Entry #3: Too many chocolate chips in my pancake

After hitting the snooze button about five times Friday morning, I finally made it out of bed, out the door, and back to the Roosevelt Hotel for what would turn out to be my favorite day of the conference for one reason, and one reason only, which I will get to soon. I started the day with an interview with Los Punsetes, who were hilariously self-deprecating. Also, Ariadna’s blue eyeshadow (not pictured here, sorry) was mesmerizing, and I made a mental note to try that look for myself soon.

Photo by JP Abello

As I was wandering around later that day, I spotted one of my favorite people ever, and this is why Friday was the best day of LAMC. Standing near the Remezcla table was none other than Juan Son. First, I did a double take to confirm that it was, in fact, the mermaid-obsessed musician that I thought it was. Then I had a quick freak out the likes of which I haven’t had since I was 13 and in the presence of Brandon Boyd. Okay, I lie. I had one a couple of weeks ago, when I saw Alan Palomo at The Creators Project. But I digress. Actually, this whole post is turning into one giant digression, huh? Anyway, I managed to pull it together (quite gracefully, if I do say so myself) and went up to talk to him about music and New York living and such. Good news for Juan Son fans, he is working on the new album and collaborating with some great folks, like Blonde Redhead. I know I’m excited.

I would have probably tried to milk that conversation for all it was worth, but I had an interview scheduled with Toy Selectah. This is the part where my roommate would look at me and roll her eyes and say, “Boo, I have too many chocolate chips in my pancake.” We ended up talking a lot about Erick Rincón, who I am still 100 percent behind, no matter what anyone says. And Toy Selectah’s on my side, so I think I win.

The last panel scheduled was Cutting Through the Clutter: Opportunities in an Ever-Fragmented Music and Media Landscape, and I got to catch the whole thing. The panelists, including Julianne Escobedo Shepherd from The Fader, Adam Shore from The Daily Swarm, and Jose Tillan from MTV Tr3s brought up some great points about how musicians can get heard through all the noise.

Then, JP and I hopped on the subway and headed to Brooklyn for Toy Selectah, Fidel Nadal, and Ozomatli. Unfortunately, neither of us new New Yorkers, despite both Google mapping the trip, could figure out which stop would get us closest to the correct entrance to Prospect Park. So, we ended up walking through the park for about a mile and missed Toy Selectah’s short set. But we managed to get him to come out afterward for some quick photos before we headed out in search of dinner because we were starving and were about to get a contact high from the Fidel Nadal crowd. We decided to be responsible adults that night and turned in early to rest up for the following night’s mischief, which wasn’t so much mischief as it was a lot of walking, but I’ll save that for the next post.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

LAMC Entry #2: Don't you see we're having a moment here?

I spoke too soon about being able to successfully navigate the city because the first thing I did Thursday morning was get lost. And at the Port Authority subway station, no less! That place is massive and confusing to someone operating on little sleep and zero coffee. I still made it to the hotel in time for my interview with Furland, who are the nicest guys, by the way. It was the band’s first time in New York and their first time playing in the States and they were very excited.

Right after that, I had another interview lined up with the lovely Ana Tijoux. We looked for a quiet place to chat, and ended up sitting at a piano. Tijoux asked me to play a little something, to which I gladly obliged. (I play a mean “Yankee Doodle.”) We talked about her music and collaborations, and the conversation eventually ended up on the topic of extraterrestrials, which I won’t get into right now. You’ll have to wait until I post the interview.

Later, I met up with the guys from Chico Mann for a quick chat about their music and the world they create with that music. It’s a world you want to inhabit, trust me. After a quick granola bar break, I tracked down Los Rakas, the most sought after act of the day. Though the dynamic duo must have been tired from their marathon of interviews, they still had a great energy and I could tell they had a genuine passion for their music.

Then I mistakenly walked by the Jack Daniel's table and, well, it was free, so I got some straight up before heading in to catch the last part of the From Colombia to Coachella, Mexico City to Tokyo: Latin Alternative’s Global Rise in the Touring Market panel. And, being the poor vegan that I am, and having only had a bowl of cereal and a granola bar that day, I got a nice little buzz right away.

Photos by JP Abello

The acoustic showcase at Le Poisson Rouge, where I met up with JP, was a little awkward because the bands only played two songs each. La Bien Querida was up first and, before I knew it, she was leaving the stage. We also caught performances from Locos Por Juana, Alex Cuba, Jumbo, The Pinker Tones, Sol Okarina, Los Punsetes, San Pascualito Rey (there was a Jamiroquai hat involved for this one, and it was very distracting), Furland, and Moderatto. Yes, Moderatto played an acoustic set, and it was not was bad as it sounds. It was actually kind of awesome. And Jay de la Cueva, or Brian Amadeus Moderatto, or whatever you want to call him, was sporting a big, scraggly beard and giving me a total Charlie Day vibe (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, anyone?). I seriously thought it he was going to bust out the Green Man suit.

When we got to Bowery Ballroom, the stage was still being set up, so we headed upstairs to chill in a cozy little nook, or, as JP put it, the baby-making alcove. But our space was invaded by a group of people who could not see we were having a moment (read: tweeting about having a moment). So, we headed back downstairs just in time for a performance by Los Rakas, a great way to get the show started. Also performing were Afro Cuban Punk, La Bien Querida, and Isa GT, who, in her leggings and leopard print jacket, got the crowd dancing to her M.I.A.-esque beats. But the real show that night, at least for me, and by the looks and sound of it, for a lot of other folks, too, was Mexican Institute of Sound. Best way to end the night that I can think of.

Friday, July 9, 2010

LAMC Entry #1: Go ahead and enjoy each other!


New York City is like one giant oven right now. Seriously, I could bake bread out here (the vegan kind, of course). The east coast heat wave may be due to science, or whatever, but I’m going to go ahead and say it’s because of the Latin Alternative Music Conference. I arrived at the Roosevelt Hotel Wednesday afternoon to pick up my badge, and there were LAMC posters everywhere. The masked wrestler was amusingly out of place inthe midst of the hotel décor, and the entire mezzanine level was crawling with Carlos’ brethren (the hipster cholos).

With the badge around my neck and swag bag on my shoulder, I headed down to the hotel bar, where folks were gathered to watch the Spain vs. Germany game. This turned out to be a wise decision because, however begrudgingly I now support Spain, they played a beautiful game and the folks in the bar were giddy about the win.

Later in the evening, I headed over to Central Park and met up with my photographer, JP, to see Ana Tijoux, El Guincho, and Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich + Fussible on the SummerStage. Unfortunately, the show’s early start time meant the crowd was sparse at first. Ana Tijoux still killed it and was a total sweetheart about it – an admirable skill. “Sube” was a crowd-pleaser, as was “1977,” for which Tijoux invited two Brazilian percussionist friends on stage to jam with her. Then El Guincho got everyone in the summer spirit, not that we really needed it in the 100 degree weather. He played the hits in his short shorts (bless those Europeans) and at one point, he and his band got really (like, really) into the music. Afterwards El Guincho apologized saying that it had been a while since they had played together and they were just enjoying each other. To which I said, go ahead and enjoy each other!

Then nightfall came, things cooled down, and Nortec Collective began setting up. As soon as I saw their robot computer control center, I knew it was going to be good because how can anything involving a robot computer control center not be good? Dudes were playing iPads all nonchalant-like! The band’s energy was amazing and infectious and soon there was an all out dance party in Central Park.

Photos by JP Abello

After that amazing set, I rushed over to Mercury Lounge to catch the second half of the indie showcase. When I got there, Furland was setting up. I think this is the part where I reveal my fangirldom. Everything I say from here on out concerning Furland will be dripping with praise, so bear with me. They just played such a great show! And little Sergio was so I-just-want-to-pinch-your-cheeks adorable. I felt like a proud mama. San Pascualito Rey followed with a crowd-energizing set of what I’m going to call dad rock, and Chico Mann closed the night with a stirring set of Afro Cuban electronic jams that I wish more folks had stuck around for because the band is bringing some fresh sounds to the scene. But I guess it was a weeknight and people have to work in the morning, or whatever. Also, you should all be very proud of me because I managed to navigate the city all day without getting lost once. Success!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Remezcla live streams LAMC

For you poor unfortunate souls who are missing this year's Latin Alternative Music Conference, turns out you don't have to miss it after all. Remezcla will be live streaming the conference on their website, with performances and interviews with the artists, so make sure to check in.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We've got LAMC fever

The Latin Alternative Music Conference is currently taking over New York City, and I couldn’t be happier about it. The party kicked off last night, with a performance by Ana Tijoux at the SoHo Apple Store, and the rest of the week promises to be a mind-blowing lineup of great music and discussion, with acts like La Bien Querida and Los Rakas and panelists like Todd Patrick and Camilo Lara. There is so much to do that I can hardly contain my music nerd self.

Tonight, make sure to catch Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich+Fussible, El Guincho, and Ana Tijoux at the Central Park SummerStage. It's free and open to the public, so you have no excuse. You can also see Moderatto at the SoHo Apple Store and, if you have one of the coveted LAMC badges, you'll want to stop by Mercury Lounge for the LAMC Indie showcase featuring Club Fonograma favorites, Los Punsetes and Furland, among others.

If you’re not in town for the conference, don’t worry. I’ll be keeping you up-to-date on all the LAMC action, so make sure to check back here regularly.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Album Reviews

Animal de Amor
CHIQUITA Y CHATARRA

DISCOS HUMEANTES, SPAIN
★★★
½

"Chiquita y Chatarra, a band comprised of two girls from Oviedo, Spain, gave us a great cover of Los Chamos for Fonogramáticos Vol. 12 and is yet another addition to the collection of all-girl bands hitting our radar."

BY PIERRE LESTRUHAUT | REVIEW

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Pequeña Orquesta
de Trovadores

PEQUEÑA ORQUESTA DE TROVADORES
INDEPENDIENTE, ARGENTINA
★★★
"Argentina’s Pequeña Orquesta de Trovadores brings analog mellowness in a five-piece formation that, although middling at best, makes genuine efforts to maximize sonic splendor."
BY CARLOS REYES | REVIEW
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I Don't Smoke
MATIAS AGUAYO

KOMPAKT, CHILE

★★★½
"I Don’t Smoke is not so much an EP as it is a couple of solid tracks accompanied by a decent set of DJ tools. Its scattershot character serves as an apt manifestation of an increasingly multifarious producer. There is enough material on here, however, to spark genuine interest in Aguayo’s future ventures. That is, if he ever decides to stop touring."
BY REUBEN "JUDAH" TORRES | REVIEW

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Amor, Palmeras y Glitch ARMONIACIDA
TROPIC-ALL, MEXICO
★★★
½

"Armoniacida’s debut EP on Tropic-All, Amor, Palmeras, y Glitch (APyG), steers clear of digital life’s pitfalls to create an ehanced DJ set. Overall, APyG is a poignant statement on the re-consignment of vintage elements in the blogosphere’s saturated global music market."
BY ADRIAN MATA ANAYA | REVIEW
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Ritmos del Mundo
JAVIER ESTRADA
INDEPENDIENTE/MAD DECENT, MEXICO

★★★
½

"Mixes, remixes, refixes, and originals from DJ Javier Estrada have been giving Soundcloud’s bandwidth a run for its money. Also catapulting his name to the frontlines of almost every relevant urban publication out there. The Monterrey-based DJ is building an impressive resume, melting genres and cultures alike with culinary effervescence in his series
Ritmos del Mundo."
BY CARLOS REYES
| REVIEW
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Fuerteventura
RUSSIA
N RED
SONY MUSIC, SPAIN
★★★½
"Russian Red’s sophomore album accentuates her satiated pedigree and brings her incandescent imperfections afloat. Modulated with artistry rather than personal choices, Fuerteaventura survives its florid mimicry for what it does and what it doesn’t do."
BY CARLOS REYES | REVIEW
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#2
YELLOW YESTERDAY
INDEPENDIENTE, MEXICO
★★★
"While there’s nothing really unique in the band’s methods or technique, the band succeeds in the innate simplicity of its chords, revealing polished synths, and stirring echoes."
BY JEAN-STEPHANE BERIOT | REVIEW


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Kellies
LAS KELLIES
FIRE RECORDS, ARGENTINA
★★★½
"Ceci Kelly, Betty Kelly, and Sil Kelly comprise Argentina’s dazzling trio Las Kellies. These Buenos Aires girls distance themselves from the modern noise pop cookie cutter, opting instead for the flippant waters of post-punk."
BY CARLOS REYES
| REVIEW
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When the Sun Goes Down
SELENA GOMEZ

& THE SCENE
HOLLYWOOD RECORDS, USA
★★★
"Selena Gomez's new albu
m is expertly produced and executed with the kind of poise and profe
ssionalism that can only come from having gone through the hated Disney machine."
BY BLANCA MÉNDEZ
| REVIEW
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Uno / Otro

VIOLETA CASTILLO
YOCONVOZ, ARGENTINA
★★★

"Having dissolved her band, Castillo Violeta, the 22-year-old artist went solo and, in a period of less than a month, recorded a glorious, miniature wonderland. A refined debut album which she peculiarly decided to split into two EPs, Uno and Otro."
BY ENRIQUE COYOTZI
| REVIEW
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Caracoles
KANAKU Y EL TIGRE
OMBLIGO RECORDS, PERU
★★★½
"As wandering folk goes, these Peruvian newcomers are bubbly songcrafters whose well-trod melodies spoil their resourceful dynamics and enchanting camaraderie. Caracoles is an intriguing debut even within its flaws."
BY CARLOS REYES | REVIEW
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Planet Pit
PITBULL

J RECORDS, USA
★★
"The Pitbull story is one of great promotion and brand positioning, increasing your notoriety without actually engaging what you’re supposedly notorious for doing, carefully and painstakingly creating an impenetrable persona and affixing yourself to the right groups, then PROFIT!"
BY ANDREW CASILLAS
| REVIEW
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Ceremony
MEXICANS WITH GUNS
INNOVATIVE LEISURE RECORDS
★★★½
"What
Ceremony is most like, in fact, is a
n oughty-teens update of the nineties-era Mo' Wax/Ninja Tune template: stylistic shifts through all the colors of the electronic-music rainbow, peppered with exoticism like falling confetti, and focused on very-Now fractal syncopation and American-style trunk rattle."
BY JEFF SIEGEL
| REVIEW

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Diagrama de Ben
LUCIANA
TAGLIAP
IETRA
YOCONVOZ, ARGENTINA

★★★
"Of gargantuan confection and gorgeous sophistication, Luciana Tagliapietra’s sophomore album, Diagrama de Ben, is an astounding collection of sonic motifs packed with enough progressive elements for an individual’s revolution and a collective warfare."
BY CARLOS REYES
| REVIEW

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Love?
JENNIFER LOPE
Z
ISLAND RECORDS
½

"So apparently J.Lo was now somehow relevant to our small music sphere? All these years of gladly ignoring most mainstream Latin pop, and now I had to review a Jennifer Lopez record? How the hell was I actually gonna be able to pull this one off?"
BY PIERRE LESTRUHAUT
| REVIEW

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Harto Tropical
DOMINGO EN LLAMAS
INDEPENDIENTE, VENEZUELA
★★★
"While the entrance to the Harto Tropical is a bit jumbled and might require a few first steps for some of us, the hassle is worthy for a one-man act that has crafted one of the most interesting profiles in Venezuelan music today."
BY JEAN-STEPHANE BERIOT | REVIEW


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Little Ethiopia EP
LITTLE ETHIOPIA

INDEPENDIENTE, MEXICO
★★★
Little Ethiopia is the localized embarkment of José Solé and "Santiago Gómez, two 17-year-old kids whose idea of cosmopolitanism involves a good set of rhythmic shifts and plenty of buoyancy."
BY CARLOS REYES | REVIEW


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Exito Mundial
ADRIANIGUAL

CAZADOR, CHILE
★★★
"Éxito Mundial feels like a tailor-made blockbuster full blown into a pop record. Adrianigual’s practices are often questionable and relentlessly aggressive, yet for every midnight escapade they also kiss the sun. Self-empowerment at its core."
BY JEAN-STEPHANE BERIOT | REVIEW

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MTV Unplugged
LOS TIGRES DEL NORTE
AND FRIENDS

FONOVISA, MEXICO
★★
"Well, I guess that's the problem with these Unplugged records as a whole.Unless you're doing something outside of your M.O. (Julieta, Nirvana, Jay-Z), it's gonna be a one-time listen thing for anyone. I'm glad MTV chose this tribute to Los Tigres del Norte (for whatever reason) but don't think I need to hear this ever again."
BY ANDREW CASILLAS & BLANCA MÉNDEZ | REVIEW
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Hombre Solo
VOZ DE HOMBRE
MICHITA REX, CHILE
★★★½
"Like many of the “michitos," Gajardo sets his music’s backbone on a ground constituted by minimal techno and its child branches of electronic music in order to give birth to songs that are traditional in structure and interpretation."
BY PIERRE LESTRUHAUT | REVIEW


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Niños Azules
CLDSCP
BIG MAKING RECORDS, ARGENTINA
★★
"Niños Azules is far more interesting in its lyrics, dropping one remarkable line after another. The winning line has to be “me siento mas lindo.” Ultimately, the success of this record will depend on your level of progressiveness and your appreciation of semi-masqueraded victories."
BY CARLOS REYES | REVIEW

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Mateo de la Luna
en Compañia
Terrestrial
MATEO DE LA LUNA...
INDEPENDIENTE, ARGENTINA
★★★½
"Comprised of five short, dazzling pieces,this is the home of some of the year’s most arresting music; precious small melodies about love that are acutely affective and, simultaneously, feel intimately familiar."
BY ENRIQUE COYOTZI | REVIEW

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Enlazando Mundos
PIPE LLORENS

DELHOTEL RECORDS, MEXICO
★★★½
"Pipe Llorens is a maverick in the abridgment of hip hop and rock and roll, but his melodic search is unsettling, almost insensitive. Yet this punk spirit showcases him as a sort of self-aware Mexican Jay Reatard, with all the occasional trial and error risks involved."
BY CARLOS REYES | REVIEW

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Alterablesperanza
MR. RACOON

CASA BUENAVENTURA, MEXICO
★★★½
"Moving away from the tenderness of Katy, his latest effort named Alterablesperanza, seems to be more about Polo wanting to expand his influences and diversify his song’s immediate references rather than attempting to develop an identifiable songwriting style."
BY PIERRE LESTRUHAUT | REVIEW

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A Propósito
BABASONICOS
UNIVERSAL MUSIC LATINO, ARGENTINA
★★★
"Babasónicos understands the basics of discography digestion and, after a trio of precedent establishments (Infame, Anoche, Mucho), they’re back into the field of narcotized rhythms and baroque distortions."
BY CARLOS REYES | REVIEW

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La Joven Dolores
CHRISTINA ROSEN
VINGE
WARNER MUSIC, SPAIN
★★★½
"Throughout La Joven Dolores, I found myself adjusting the volume a bit too much; it was as if I was syntonizing some kind of emotional intellect, disquieting yet picturesque at the same time."
BY JEAN-STEPHANE BERIOT | REVIEW


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Sin Sin Sin
LE BUTCHERETTES

OMAR RODRIGUEZ LOPEZ PRODUCTIONS, MEXICO
★★½
"It’s difficult to extract a message from Sin Sin Sin, even though it’s evident that there must be some passion driving the songs and that the band has something to say. They just need to be more direct with it."
BY BLANCA MÉNDEZ | REVIEW

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Crossing Fields
IL ABANICO

INDEPENDIENTE, COLOMBIA/USA
★★★½
"Crossing Colors sequences hints of domestic bliss with the spectrum of a flowershop, a smart (and cleaner than you think) mediation of the artists’ lives and the streets they walk on."
BY CARLOS REYES | REVIEW


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Odio París
ODIO PARÍS

EL GENIO EQUIVOCADO, SPAIN
★★★
"Here’s a quick summary for the simpletons in the audience: Odio París’ debut full-length sounds pretty similar to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. So however you feel about that band’s first record, this album will leave you with pretty much the same taste in your mouth."
BY ANDREW CASILLAS | REVIEW
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Drama y Luz
MANÁ

WARNER MUSIC LATINA, MEXICO
½
"Working under the same lazy (and still undeveloped) song composition that have made them “rock” superstars for decades, the band, led by Fher Olvera and Alex Gonzalez, brings yet another abominable record stuffed with misfires and unabashed Maná-isms."
BY CARLOS REYES | REVIEW

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Futura Vía
BAM BAM

ARTS & CRAFTS, MEXICO
★★★½
"Bam Bam has surpassed all expectations, opening an exciting new chapter in Mexican rock history. Futura Vía is bound to be a reference in years to come, a majestic exercise about the universe, a meticulous work in conceptualization, and an undeniably fantastic achievement in the psychedelic field."
BY ENRIQUE COYOTZI | REVIEW