CHIQUITA Y CHATARRA
Discos Humeantes, Spain
by Pierre Lestruhaut
It’s after listening albums like this one that I think there might be one positive aspect to having only a handful of blogs covering Ibero-American music. And, when I say “covering,” I mean that they manage to somehow surpass the personal music blog format of those blogs that you only visit when you don’t get too many results after googling “Band Name Album Name.” The one good reason coming from this lack of coverage of our small Latino-Hispanic niche is that it can, to a certain extent, isolate itself from every discussion there might ever be about...all-girl bands. Or, what many people would probably try saying in other words, the fact that women making revivalist rock in a post-riot grrrl context is infinitely cooler and sexier than just some dudes holding guitars.
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. And even if we thought there was a male voice in “Oh Cherry Cherry,” apparently we were wrong; they’re really just two girls making some new rock music that really sounds kinda old (and, of course, releasing it on vinyl). Insert reference to Vivian Girls, and another to Las Robertas and Las Kellies about the geographical transcendence of garage and punk all-girl acts, or whatever. Yet this version of “Oh Cherry Cherry” is not only a great blend of the nakedness of punk ideals with the melodic richness of a Venezuelan '80s pop song, but it’s actually a very straightforward take on the “Menudo on drugs” self-description of Dávila 666 in how it reappropriates a pop tune with great hooks for the interest of garage rock revival. Garage fans would probably even judge Los Chamos as being too catchy and not dirty enough anyway.
For most of the album, it’s in their reduced line-up that allows them to use only vocals, guitar and drums and their self-imposed restraint of rarely going for anything over two and a half minutes long that the duo is actually more interested in embracing punk (and riot-grrrl) ideals of building songs around a single guitar line with lots and lots of yelling and squealing than going for anything too catchy. Insert reference to Kathleen Hanna or Corin Tucker. But Animal de Amor does seem to work better when they decide to extend both the sound wave and the verse length, thus building songs that actually manage to breathe and progress, like in “Motorbike” and “Alta Tensión.” Yet, overall, you do get the feeling that the album finds a good balance between the shorter riff-driven songs and the more traditionally structured verse-chorus pieces that make it over the 3-minute mark, making for one of the more minimalist and straightforward approaches to rock we’ve had so far this year. Insert reference to Wire...No, wait, those were just some English dudes with guitars.