by Carlos Reyes
“The modern kids don’t like folk anymore” say the generation-driven guys from En Ventura. Well, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, considering the recent bombardment of indie folk acts emerging from all across Latin America. The placement of the indie tag in front of the now politically discarded genre apparently made any acoustic assembly relevant, even those with a pure, transitory vertebrate. While the abrupt novelty wave might have found its all-compassing summer hit in the utterly awful “Tahoma 32” by Andy Mountains (which apparently is “Pump Up Kicks” south of the border), there are better examples of indie folk worth talking about.
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. Although quiet and seemingly inoffensive, their self-titled debut is of special interest because it shows the latest shift of Latin music fusion: traditional idiosyncratic genres moving away from electronica and going back to the oral, folkloric tradition. Opening track “Cumbia” is deliciously sassy, the kind of whimsical intro that is exclusive to live performance. “Si se ponen a bailar tocamos 15 temas mas” is the kind of embedded vernacular that breaks the band out of its shell and elevates them from other acoustic chord-strumming groups whose only real chance to thrive relies on the act of iPod shuffling.
Pequeña Orquesta de Trovadores are clever storytellers that often strike for melodic sprawl but never really get there. They do, however, provide their templates with enough energy and well-structured crescendos to reach some level of visceral emotion. Album highlights “Caramelos de Limon” and “Linda Melodia” are not only wonderfully crafted, they’re also understated and affecting in their alt-folk coating. Pequeña Orquesta de Trovadores is above all, a group of friends appreciative of the little moments. There’s plenty of room for improvement, though. When the band realizes life is more than a picnic, I’m sure they’ll come back with a pop gamut worthy of their wholehearted spirits.