Juventud Americana, Ases Falsos
ARCA Discos, Chile
by Carlos Reyes
And so it came true, Fother Muckers is now Ases Falsos. Same formation, bolder direction. Fother Muckers always sounded like Juan Gabriel and they borrow his consecrated image on the stellar album cover of Juventud Americana. The transition of Fother Muckers into Ases Falsos brings forward some of the Chilean band’s most illustrious bridges. While a certain infamous band disrespects the legacy of Juanga again and again, Ases Falsos embrace the most beloved songwriter/performer of the Americas through an original work bravely emerged from inspiration. But Juventud Americana is way beyond an appreciation album for the idol, it’s a work about América (the ONE continent), a climbing introspection on our continental idiosyncrasies, and an update to the “We are Sudamerican Rockers” maxim.
“No soy y nunca sere un artista nacional.” This is one of many memorable roars in Juventud Americana, but the most significant in the band’s shot at reinvention. They are not kidding around; they’ve arrived in full gear to the post-national spectrum. Like Teleradio Donoso did a few years ago in Bailar y Llorar, Ases Falsos articulate on the thin lines that attach and separate social and personal circuits. Juventud Americana isn’t a doorway to the renaissance of the Chilean band. Ases Falsos have crafted a roll-with-the-punches album that blooms in transitions—the end of conservatism and the rise of progressive ideals—specifically as faced by our increasingly nearer continental youth. And yet, there’s nothing technologically accommodated for a Generation X absorption. They’re still using rock instruments as mass-triggering vehicles for emotional discharge and thematic dispersion.
Thunderous opening track “Misterios del Perú” is that grandiose opening number every great album needs and deserves. But don’t confuse the grandness of the sound with posture. There is no trace of self-indulgence to be found here. Because whether it is Fother Muckers or Ases Falsos, no band better captures the comfort/discomfort of pedestrians or the bustle of the great (Latin) American capitals. Cristóbal Briceño’s unsettling vibrato (like that of Juan Gabriel or Jorge González) is the imagery of a decay that hurts us but also comforts us. The way “Salto Alto” and “La Flor del Jazmín” journey back and forth, from ballads to disco-lust numbers, says much about the band’s disposition to keep the beat on the pulse, even if merging into what would be considered melodically venal.
Even in all its continental drift, Juventud Americana is still amply aware of the outside. Or at least of the outsiders penetrating its nucleus. Outstanding single “Venir es Fácil,” about the odd migration of an African man into the American continent, is confronting but ultimately cheerful and inclusive. Meanwhile, Ases Falsos makes a strong case about a fantasized new global economy in “Europa.” It may seem like a step back from cosmopolitism (a progressive ideal), but when economy is tight, taking care of our own just seems like the right thing to do. Ases Falsos’ grounded themes work at a human capacity. No matter how vague Fother Muckers sounded on their suicidal note, their resuscitation is beyond thrilling. Truth is, Fother Muckers never crafted an album nearly as significant as Juventud Americana. Unlike any of their peers, Ases Falsos manage to sound more unapologetic than apocalyptic; they make songs that invite youth for coalition more than we have done in our past. A strong, long hug seems like the first step. Hugging Juan Gabriel = hugging América.