Thursday, January 31, 2013

MP3: Zutzut - “De Shopping”



The most defining process of global bass is the exploration of the aesthetic lower class. In an indirect search for cultural respect, we engage our sense of distaste with parody, dance, and laughter. The longer we expose ourselves to an initially repugnant aesthetic, the more likely we are to reach a social understanding. With good fortune, bass producers are afforded opportunities for collaboration, which can evolve into healing and bridging relationships (see Dre Skull and Vybz Kartel, but not Diplo, never Diplo).

For myself and, evidently, Club Fonograma readers, reggaetón remains a permissive void of culture. In terms of functionality: Why shouldn’t we be able to enjoy the music that will continue surround us? Where have others failed (mainly Jessy Bulbo), Zutzut helps us re-evaluate the genre by emphasizing perhaps what we hate most about the genre, crass materialism. “De Shopping,” features a conference panel in the middle of a discourse on the merits of excessivley spending on women. The re-crafting of the song (with vocals by Yaga & Mackie, Opi, Arcangel, J Alvarez, Farruko & Jory) is intended for the minority of readers already into Arca and Teengirl Fantasy; however, I am sure we’ll be seeing reggaetons and tons of remixes for a variety of listeners this upcoming year.



♫♫♫  "De Shopping"

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cltrlsndtrck - Cifras EP

Cifras EP, Cltrlsndtrck
PIR▲.MD Records, Mexico
Rating: 64
by Adrian Mata-Anaya

As an audio project, the Cifras EP (PIR▲.MD Records, MX, 2012) involves the expounding of Cltrlsndtrck's musical models rather than the exploration of the artist's impending pursuits. Gloria Lasso, a long-past international diva, is our taxidermy figurine. The Catalunyan, previously performing as a Spaniard in France and then Mexico, has been re-imagined as entirely Mexican. The music of Lasso is indiscernible in Cifras and non-divergent from Cltrlsndtrck’s brain-feeding sound. The lack of resistance made by the stimulated Gloria Lasso, probably attributable to her digital absenteeism, is equated as an endorsement for Cltrlsndtrck and even Arts (MX).

Panning outward, PIR▲.MD Records is releasing a crowdsourced audio-visual sketchbook in the Cifras EP. It is completely digital in presentation, though we cannot ignore it as a product of craft art social scene (usually IRL). The visual-side of the EP involves the collection of five figure-centric paintings, each by a unique illustrator. PIR▲.MD Records states that each image is a digital postcard to be pasted onto a corresponding audiopage. This is not necessarily the most rewarding analogy, considering there are six songs and only five illustrations. To cover the EP’s tracks, I might add a “Footage Not Found” screencap for the future-step trance “Sexta Cifra.”

That’s not to say that this EP is anywhere near forgettable. On the contrary, “4ta Cifra” with our main feature, the entry’s titular image, is as dance-worthy in its rhythm as it is dream-woven in its narrative:

A Bladerunner-esque, smog wave begins to pour in the 4th minute. We’re hurried into an underground club. The space is well-lit, as it allows in natural light, which bleeds together with some watercoloring of acid, allowing us a full glimpse of every adolescent reggaetonto dancing around us. Now we're trippin’, tongues seem to vomit out of their mouths. Now speaking in and out of tongues, I grab what’s right in front me, I’m tripen’. Sirens flash red and blue. I'm abducted by a fuming black and blue alien, speaking Hungarian with a Mexican accent. 

Edgar MT's "Reggaetongue" postcard has been delivered: “Greetings from MY▲MX"


Saturday, January 26, 2013

La Ola Que Quería Ser Chau - La Fuerza del Cariño

La Fuerza del Cariño, 
La Ola Que Quería Ser Chau
Discos Dojo, Argentina
Rating: 80
by Pierre Lestruhaut

One of the very recently found conjuctions among indie rock bands and DIY music in general, is the use of vintage-looking amateurish photographs as cover art. Although sonically it has found a broad spectrum of acts going from African pop lovers Vampire Weekend to '60s revivalists Dum Dum Girls to electro-punk marauders Crystal Castles, its use has met with very similar purposes. In Pitchfork’s This is not a Photograph piece published a few years ago, band members stated Vampire Weekend’s Contra cover was a “suggestive image that [served] as a dartboard for our conflicted feelings about class and commodities” (which single handedly defines VW’s music), while Dee Dee from Dum Dum Girls claimed she just delved into her mother’s collection until she found something that felt like her record. It’s a bit of a riveting thought, that something you're meant to hear can be so naturally equated with something you’re supposed to see, even more so an image that’s so temporarily distant from the record it’s supposed to represent.

Ever since La Ola Que Quería Ser Chau started making music, every single release by the Argentine act has been covered by a photograph that’s shimmering with the heartwarming reminiscence that can only be found in a dusty album of old family photographs. Their origin is easy to guess and rarely matters at all—you’ll find they’re usually childhood photos of some member or acquaintance—but the sense of borrowing an image from an old collection of photographs is an interesting analogy for how the charming guitar-based indie pop La Ola makes seems to borrow so much from a fine record collection. Though it’s surprising just how shameless they are about it. La Fuerza del Cariño starts with a bold recognition of their own tendency to draw inspiration from the past, as meta-song “Canción robada” speaks of how it’s easier to just steal a song when inspiration for writing a new one is hard to find, all of this while claiming to reuse a melody from The Cure’s “In Between Days.”

But where La Ola’s use of amateurish vintage-looking photographs as cover art finds itself even more attached to the kind of music they make is in the sense of nostalgia and longing for a previous time in their lives—one filled with unbridled joy, wholehearted naivete, and devoid of any serious responsibilities—they’re so aesthetically fixated on. The heartfelt enthusiasm you hear in Migue’s voice, the playful delight conveyed in the guitar licks, the minimalist and very naive, yet often conspicuously stirring, lyrics, or the immaturely thoughtless chaos and dispute in the "Ojalá que este verano no nos maten" video, are all signifiers of just how much La Ola have internalized their own coming of age nostalgia on so many levels.

As talks about the record started to take place around the CF headquarters, one of its most bumming aspects some of us seemed to agree on, was the inclusion of songs that were already part of a previous release (and thus very well-known among diehard fans). Being sort of let down by how La Fuerza del Cariño wasn’t an album made 100% of unreleased material, our own Enrique Coyotzi said it felt more like a greatest hits collection than a new release. In fact, judging it from the exasperating enterprise that is musical criticism, La Fuerza del Cariño is a good but not substantial addition to the already great collection of songs La Ola and Los Migues have put out so far. What you get when you just re-record some of the best songs in your catalogue and add a few same quality/same aesthetic tracks to them, is a safe album that is too afraid of not pleasing its own existing fanbase.

Another fellow staff member, Jean-Stephane Beriot, pointed us towards the genesis of the record, more precisely how La Ola financed it with donations from fans, and how the intentions of recording these songs with a more proper production had been there for a while (considering the homemade quality of their previous releases, it’s safe to say they had a more demo-ish purpose). It doesn’t speak much about the quality of the album itself, but it sure does give it some indieist romanticism to back up its own existence. Romanticism in itself, actually has a lot to do with La Ola’s own fixation with childhood and adolescence. If you take it as an ideal of sorts—romanticism as a refusal to accept the apathy and baseness of the real world—La Fuerza del Cariño might not tell us much about adulthood or the mundanity of our lives, but it sure does a fine job of portraying and reminding us of a time we all enjoyed living in. It’s pop music as nostalgic escapism at its finest.



Friday, January 25, 2013

Füete Billēte - "La Trilla"


Club Fonograma has started the year witnessing some pretty exciting music coming out of Puerto Rico (Alegría Rampante, AJ Dávila, Unochosiete). It might be coincidential, but it’s not too crazy to suggest 2013 might be a fertile year for the island’s tiny, yet striking indie scene. Following the premiere of AJ Dávila’s “Animal,” a handful of readers pointed us to Füete Billēte, another act connected to Davila 666. This is the side project of Davila's frontman Sir Charles (performing as Pepper Kilo on this one). While side projects Las Ardillas and AJ Dávila maintan the 666 punk core, Füete Billēte goes gangsta with a sole purpose: “to bring explicit rap back to Puerto Rico.” The act released a pretty evil video for first single “Bien Guillao” and some other notable tracks via Soundcloud. They’ve hit the jackpot with “La Trilla,” a rap number (with a thrilling chorus) that negotiates urgency and agency in the most assertive and boldest delivery Latin urban music is likely to see this year.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

MP3: Unochosiete - "Del uno al nueve"


I’m a sucker for unpolished retro sounds, so let’s just say that when I heard about a Puerto Rican act who used to give himself to hip hop and R&B, but now blithely indulges in a rough-edged '60s aesthetic, I had to give it a try. Pedro Luis Muñoz Hernandez aka Unochosiete (you know, “cause it’s 187 on an undercover cop”) says his approach to writing songs didn’t change much from when he was doing hip hop, but the recording process was far more low-key. “Del uno al nueve” (Get it? Sin cero, sincero?), first track off la flor o la pólvora, is a cheeky love song fueled with enough charming nonchalance and handclaps/siren calls to make you do the twist. Recorded in his bedroom last year while on a student exchange in Madrid, la flor o la pólvora features a potent mix of bedroom-size garage, dirty ballads, and raw doo-wop, confirming that Puerto Rico isn’t done giving birth to the coolest filthy rock acts.



Carrie Rodriguez - Give Me All You Got

Give Me All You Got, Carrie Rodriguez
Ninth Street Opus, USA
Rating: 70
by Blanca Méndez

For someone whose preferred approach to country music is more aggressive, more intoxicated, more “don’t talk to me like that I will cut you,” more...Miranda Lambert, it might take some patience to get into Carrie Rodriguez, who is more restrained, even leisurely. She may not be gunpowder and lead, but she ain’t no snoozefest either. Classically trained since childhood, Rodriguez is not only accomplished technically, but versatile enough to break away from her years of training to take up country music and excel at it. 2008’s She Ain’t Me is potent in its display of Rodriguez’s fiddle skills and might be a better starting point for those new to Rodriguez’s work, but Give Me All You Got still showcases her talents, just in a more subtle way.

The album starts off lively enough with the deft diction and slick fiddle of “Devil in Mind” and the snaps and syncopation of the flirtatious “Lake Harriet.” Then there’s the somewhat less dynamic “Whiskey Runs Thicker Than Blood,” a should I, shouldn’t I tune of weighing a lover’s pros and cons, knowing the cons far outway the pros. It’s one of those “I wish I knew how to quit you” situations. But then things quickly mellow down, which is often rewarding, but sometimes loses the listener. While the sauntering pace and clunky lyrics of songs like “Sad Joy” and “I Cry For Love” causes them to fall a bit flat, Rodriguez plays a mean fiddle and, with just a few sharp licks, she’s able to redeem them.

Even so, some of the most gorgeous moments on the album are the ones you have to slow down and listen for the most. Rodriguez is unwavering in "Cut Me Now" because she knows what's coming and she knows what she got herself into ("I have jumped into this fire / I have done it on my own / And I will burn the way I burn"), and in "I Don't Mind Waiting" she's equally resolute, even though she's "been waiting since time began."  “Get Back In Love” is oh so quiet, almost bare instrumentally and level vocally and melodically, but it’s incredibly powerful. When she sings, “it only takes a slow jukebox dance” you can picture the dim bar (maybe a rehabbed barn), twinkle lights hanging from the rafters, vintage jukebox in the corner playing something by Lucinda Williams or Emmylou Harris as a couple sways to the music. What’s especially striking about this song is the way Rodriguez chooses to word it. She doesn’t say “fall back in love” it’s “get back in love.” There’s agency in the love she sings about; it isn’t something that just happens to you, it’s something that you have to open yourself up to.

Give Me All You Got is a slow burner for sure, but that’s not a bad thing. Patience is a virtue, right? And spending time with a record to really let it seep in, to really steep in it, is something of a luxury. Even if you think you can’t afford it, you should splurge on this one because for your patience you’re rewarded with an album that, like the liquor that inspired one of its tracks, tingles on the way down and warms you from the inside.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

AJ Dávila - "Animal"


It’s been almost two years since Dávila 666’s breakthrough Tan Bajo graced us with absolute freshness in its own unadulterated rock revivalism spirit. Ever since, the Puerto Rican ensemble has maintained a pretty active rhythm, gaining success after success. Following last year’s split with The Coathangers and the explosive 7” Pa Qué Vives, 2013 is the year that finds rebel singer-bassist AJ Dávila taking a shot at his own new solo project.

This news comes as extremely exciting for our staff. Considering the list of collaborators that will take part in the boricua’s upcoming debut album, we’re in for a real treat. So far we can confirm contributions of many of CF’s favorites, like Chilean pop prince Alex Anwandter, country prophet Juan Cirerol, Las Robertas’ badass Mercedes Oller, synth punk femme fatale Selma Oxor (who AJ has confirmed as a band member), amongst other thrilling names, including Black Lips’ Cole Alexander and Juanita y los Feos’ singer Juanita Calamidad.

First appetizer “Animal” is a ferociously wild pop banger. From the murky voice effect that takes place in the initial seconds, to the Menudo-esque melodious skeleton, this breezy tune grabs you by the neck while injecting a feeling of savage royal autonomy (“Yo soy un animal/Y yo soy el rey”). Although it preserves the Dávila 666 essence all the way (San Pablo Dávila is on the drums), AJ unleashes such unique confidence in this first cut that we just can’t help but recognize it as a single-mind idea. In its classic punk rocking fashion and fleeting duration, it principally resembles the work of recent contemporary darlings Ave Negra and Los Blenders. An irresistible immediacy is revealed in the first listen. Further plays mark “Animal” as an anthemic enduring candidate, up there with Hypnomango's "El mundo no es real" or even Dávila 666's "Esa nena nunca regresó."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Chancha Vía Circuito - Semillas EP

Semillas EP, Chancha Vía Circuito
ZZK Records, Argentina
Rating: 78
by Carlos Reyes

Pitchfork’s Brent DiCrescenzo recently apologized to Sonic Youth for placing them on the critical guillotine when he evaluated NYC Ghosts & Flowers with a controversial (and deeply unwarranted) 0.0 rating. At the time, the critic panned the turned-classic record because of the intellectual-pinned posture that surrounded (and arguably still surrounds) most of New York’s art. Though we hardly review as many albums as they do, I can’t think of a time we’ve had such a critical change of heart. But as editor of Club Fonograma, I do have a couple of regrets (like not giving Systema Solar a 90+ rating), more recently for dousing a bit of our staff’s excitement towards Chancha Vía Circuito’s Río Arriba.

So why the change of heart? Let me state my case. Latin American literature has for too many decades been exclusively defined by the world as the paradise of magic realism. World-famed authors (Borges, García Márquez, Allende, Esquivel, etc.) turned their works into classics, but indirectly overshadowed other novelists (the almighty Bolaño above all) who weren’t as explicit in rejecting baroque storytelling. The global depiction of Latin America is still blurred with folk, which has inevitably spread its image to other platforms (film, music). So it’s not surprising that a new wave of Latin American critics reject folk and, consequently, anything that’s easy to export. Río Arriba, the first work by Argentine producer Pedro Canale had all the symptoms of a quintessential folk archetype (a dense production, the minimal use or absence/removal of lyrics, and a sublime illustrated cover that, although beautiful, just seemed to click with the Putumayo retail crowd). Truth is, lately I spin the vinyl at least once a week. Even more surprising is the fact that I love it for the very same reasons that put me off two years ago. The idea of conceptualizing (not sugar-coating) cumbia for a universal response is no longer a threat but something truly beautiful.

Whether you’ve been a fan all along or remain a skeptic, Canale is ready to give Chancha Vía Circuito continuity. He follows his globally acclaimed debut with the five-track EP, Semillas. “It turns out that my neighbor’s tree grew so much recently that one morning I woke up to a large tree branch in the kitchen of my house,” sighs the producer in the EP’s fantastical premise–it was a magical tree full of empathy and disposition to spread its knowledge. Beautifully nuanced and carefully structured, Semillas could’ve easily been a transition EP or an exercise for distillation purposes. It is neither. Opening track “Burkina” underpins Chancha’s expertise at romanticizing beats through space and time. Continuity is the source and desire of this short release, and so, this is an album that transitions from resourceful to profuse (at varying degrees of success).

Album standouts “Vaina” and “Hipopotamo” manifest Chancha’s most sacred approach to cumbia–Canale’s ability to conceptualize cumbia before digitizing it (an artistic approach shared by fellow Latin American producers Ricardo Villalobos and Poliedro). These rumbling and all-circular numbers contemplate the natural world and offer it synthesized journeys. “Tornasol” (featuring music professor/activist Leandro Frias) is equally accomplished and the EP’s most ambitious number–Chancha has never shown so much interest for lyrical militancy. From my experience with Chancha, the worst you can do while listening to Semillas is to sit there and wait to be rewarded for your patience. This is a work that’s eloquently structured and needs no unfolding to cast its spell. If these are the seeds for Chancha’s forthcoming music, it seems we’ll have plenty of chances to redeem ourselves.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Holydrug Couple - "Follow Your Way"


The lineup for the 2013 Festival NRMAL in Monterrey was just announced, and, being our favorite festival in Latin America (and maybe even the world) these past few years, it is naturally once again packed with some of our most esteemed Latin (and non-Latin) acts. Surfing through the list of bands who’ll be performing this year, we inevitably had to start researching some of the acts that we weren’t so familiar with. Among them we came across Santiago-based psych rock duo The Holydrug Couple. Comprised of friends Ives Sepúlveda and Manuel Parra, they’ve been playing as The Holydrug Couple ever since 2008, but it seems 2013 could be the year in which their brand of instrumentally stripped-down but melodically colossal psychedelia finally breaks out. Although their name manifests an association of spirituality and psychedelia that immediately appoints Jason Pierce and Sonic Boom as their musical predecessors, their penchant for homemade psychedelic trance and fuzzy solos suggests they’re also following the steps of mid-tempo groove contemporaries like Kevin Parker’s Tame Impala. Their new LP Noctuary is scheduled to come out next week via NYC-based label Sacred Bones, with forthcoming appearances at SXSW and Austin Psych Fest in addition to their NRMAL call-up. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Video: Alegría Rampante - "Un cuarto más pequeño"


I have been quietly and dutifully mourning the breakup of Superaquello since the Puerto Rican indie faves parted ways in 2011. But you can only put "La Emergencia" on so many mixes before realizing that's not going to bring them back. Thankfully, the future is bright, as Eduardo Alegría (the main aquel in Superaquello) has a new project, Alegría Rampante, and they're churning out songs at a steady-ish pace as part of a “singles collection” titled Se nos fue la mano.

The third treat in this series is the supremely catchy "Un cuarto más pequeño," which made its internet debut just before Christmas, and recently got a simple, equally gorgeous black & white video to go with it. Whirring ceiling fans, band practice, and a stoic protagonist contrast with Eduardo’s effusive joy and charismatic flair, allowing this pop gem to shine with poetic hope and vulnerable humility.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Video: Princesa - "Pa Ke Mueva"


Earlier today I heard “Danza Kuduro” on the radio. I’ll admit that it’s a fine song—maybe Don Omar’s best—but people realize that kuduro is, like, an actual musical genre, right? One that’s pretty awesome at times, and easily adaptable to reggaetón and other Carribbean rap music? Well, apparently Princesa is listening to Angolan dancehall instead of “Bandz A Make Her Dance.”

Princesa is a young Argentinian rapper/Tito “El Bambino" Fan Club President with a real affinity for island rhythms and fitted hats. “Pa Ke Mueva” is her latest single, and it’s fucking amazing. Like “Danza Kuduro” but with balls. Kuduro may be the hook to reel you in, but there’s plenty going on beyond first listen: island percussion, jittery keyboards, that thing they always do in reggaetón song where the rapper says random nonsense before the beat kicks in. And then there’s that video! It’s like something Rita Indiana would make if she started going to parties with Tego Calderon and Grimes. We have our first great song of 2013 here, folks.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Julieta Venegas - "Te Vi"


During the middle of our big year-end round-up, Julieta Venegas dropped the video for “Tuve Para Dar,” the lead single from Los Momentos, her upcoming seventh(!) studio album. Well, we obviously had bigger things going on, like making sure you remembered that “Baby Tropical” is a powerhouse. Reaction to “Tuve Para Dar” was a bit muted, at least as far as the song was concerned (the video, on the other hand, is pretty memorable), hence the rush-release of “Te Vi,” a brighter, more conventional addition to the Venegas oeuvre.

And this one definitely delivers more than the constrained comeback single. “Te Vi,” like the best Venegas radio pop songs, delivers a saccharine melody backed by lyrics with enough pathos to fill a P.T. Anderson film. Here we have, ostensibly, yet another ode to the “friend zone,” but without all the whining or self-victimization that goes for most rejection-pop. “Te Vi” is about real people surprised, yet aware, that their feelings aren’t reciprocated and acknowledging the deep cut but not dwelling on it. Harsh, indeed—but, thankfully, the song is hummable.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Club Fonograma's Overlooked Albums of 2012

Matilda
Las acciones cotidianas
INDEPENDIENTE, ARGENTINA

Rosarian techno pop duo Matilda isn’t new to the scene. They’ve been crafting infectious tunes for over a decade, but it wasn't until their fourth album, Las acciones cotidianas, came out that they grabbed the attention of the international blogosphere. And it was about time their talent was widely applauded. Fortunately, this came along with one of the finest and most polished works in their enduring trajectory. Named after Jorge Luis Borges’ poem “Los justos,” Las acciones cotidianas is a collection of ten positive reflections to be plenty enjoyed. Fueled with positive vibes all the way, this is pop music with a message. Lead singer Juan Manuel Godoy invites the listener to self-analysis, causing awareness of our planet, the entities that get it moving, and, most of all, of our own beings. Musically, this is organic synth pop that would make Hot Chip proud. “Una nueva verdad” swirls over flashing beats and vivid strings, while “La prueba y el error,” as accurately pointed out by Bill Yonson, is reminiscent of Moenia circa Adición, and “Los anónimos” beautifully eludes Borges’ text in its lyrics. Packed with hits, the album’s biggest moment comes with the bombastic “Cuerpo y energía,” an overlooked pop gem on par with Javiera Mena’s or Alex Anwandter’s greatest club-infused numbers.  - Enrique Coyotzi



Jamez Manuel
Agua EP
NAAFI, MEXICO/CHILE

If you’re of the belief that contemporary Latin American hip-hop has reached a cul-de-sac of juvenile, innuendo-laden one-liners and re-hashed dembow beats, I beg you, download Jamez Manuel’s Agua EP. Then reconsider every notion you held of what Latin American hip hop, hell, of what pop music could be. Jamez Manuel delivers twenty-minutes of raw, dysphemistic verses that offers very little in the way of reservations. Yet even when exploring the darkest recesses of desire, Agua never looses its swagger. Fluid like its title, Manuel delivers every line with a commanding air of sophistication that seems all but lost in the trite work of his contemporaries. - Reuben Torres




Husky
Bambino
INDEPENDIENTE, MEXICO

A steady drum beat, a subtle three chord progression, some measured guitar strumming, and the line “You wanna say it’s a TV, it’s all you wanna say,” all seemingly repeated to death until...earth-shattering 15-second break. Husky’s narcotic fixation for an object like a television is anachronistic in itself, but by the time the new-wavey intro guitar line of “Easy Girl” kicks in, it’s hard to tell if they’re a misplaced rock band from Monterrey, something you found in your dad’s vinyl collection, or a band you came upon surfing through '80s one hit wonders on YouTube. I’ve had my doubts about Husky’s brand of deliberately brainless tunes many times—I'll seriously never be able to shut down my own skepticism for a band that sings about TVs, getting younger, summer, and girls, all the while surfing on an '80s revival that sounds at times like a polished Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, and then like a guitar-infused version of Cut Copy. What’s more irritating, though, is that they’re actually really good at it. Their purpose at diving into rock revivalism feels as little innovative or forward-thinking as an old-timer garage obscurities compilation, but the fact they’ve decided to make this kind of tuneful rock in such an un-quirky, un-artsy manner, so uninterested in whatever’s musically going on around them (and giving the almighty hook the importance it so much deserves), that it makes Bambino (or at least its excellent first half) a round success for a band we didn’t think we’d end up liking this much. - Pierre Lestruhaut




Alejandro Paz
Free
CÓMEME, CHILE

Scientific research about apes has found how among certain species, beta males have a tendency to grow an erection while being around fertile females. Such betas will also hide their erections with their hands in the presence of an alpha male. If you read Carlos Reyes’ venereal year-end take on Alejandro Paz’s “Duro,” you’ll have figured we’re of the kind who think the Chilean producer was aiming at uninhibited phallic enhance and release. Biology lesson musical counterpart is, he does so in such life-affirming confidence and crude corporeality that the savage intimidation of an alpha could be looming on the beta house producers of the world.

His lyrical stuff may sound rather minimal, but in “Duro” and the rest of his Free EP, it conveys grand emotional (“New Guy in Town”) and political (“Free”) statements, showing a verbal dexterity that’s hard to find in most of the house music we generally tend to come upon. Considering nearly all of Cómeme’s roster has a certain flair for well placed syllables and riveting rhetorical statements, Paz himself has spoken on the influence his labelmates—particularly Daniel Maloso, and crew chief Matías Aguayo—have had on his own singing style (something of a Latin robotic baritone?); but curiously enough, his best dancefloor filler here is the happy house, near vocal-less track “Texit.” Finding worldwide recognition as a son of Cómeme, Paz is steadily earning his place among noteworthy Latin producers who have emigrated to the Old World; with Free he’s successfully asserted his palette as yet another synthesis of the Anglo-Saxon precision of techno, house, EBM, and a dose of Latin rhythm's warmth. - Pierre Lestruhaut




Xenia Rubinos
Magic Trix
JABA JABA MUSIC, USA

Voices as compelling as Xenia Rubinos' are rare. From the low register in the verses of "Hair Receding," like a leaden anchor grounding the clear higher notes, to the soft cooing and shrill, electronic-sounding sections of "When You Come," to the beatboxing on "I Like Being Alone" and the expertly looped and layered "Whirlwind," Rubinos scoops and swoops with the agility and ease of an acrobat. In "Cherry Tree" she takes her voice to its limit, letting it expand so that it seems like it will break, then right when it's teetering on the precipice, she takes control, holds it steady, and brings it back. It's one of the most captivating moments on the album, as gripping as a pivotal action sequence in a movie. Rubinos knows how to draw the listener in and hold their attention, not just with her voice, but with her storytelling. Many of the songs sound like they're meant for children, but they're not childlike. The whimsy is in Rubinos' approach. As she sings, you can picture her acting out the songs with grand gestures and exaggerated facial expressions, as if her audience is a kindergarten class. It's charming. Even when a plot detail catches you off guard, like when she sings that she wants to "lay you an egg straight into your mouth," and you're like, "hmmm, that's pretty weird," it's still endearing. Magic Trix is a wonderfully strange album that's like a collection of short stories told in the voice of a woman who is all the characters at once. - Blanca Méndez




Wyno
Meow LP
LOWERS, MEXICO

Wyno’s Meow LP properly kicks off what is sure to be one of the most exciting netlabels of 2013. It is a lackadaisical, at times melancholic, soundtrack of fleeting youth obfuscated by substances and state-imposed curfews. The fact that it stems from one of the bloodiest cities in the world no doubt exacerbates the album’s most morose moments. It is equal parts reverie and nightmare. Yet, beneath the dark veneer there is also an air of poignancy that comes with every coming-of-age story (drug wars notwithstanding). - Reuben Torres










Mentira Mentira
No Way Out
VALE VERGAS DISCOS, MEXICO

I remember being 14, locking myself in my room after another of what seemed like endless arguments with my parents. I would blast my Bleach CD, lie on my bed, and let Kurt formulate my angst through heavily distorted guitar riffs and emotional, raspy vox. Not that I miss feeling like no one really understands me or like I don’t belong, but I will always hold a special place for grunge in my music collection (as the soundtrack to all my anti-establishment endeavors). Some may say the fury and anguish of Mentira Mentira is artlessly modeled after the late Seattle sound, but Gaby Noriega’s conflicted attitude and unkempt aesthetic is far from being a poser’s use of hipster nostalgia. To me it seems that with No Way Out, MM participates in their own disorientated and disenchanted way in a broader artistic movement that runs against the prevailing status quo in Mexico. The Tijuana-born, Mexico City-based hard rock act displays more influences this time around, while still boasting the “odio la vida” vibe. The grunge and psych inflections are ever present, yet Noriega gets more punk (the mosh pit-ready “Make something up” and “Lars Hetfield,” as the Ramones cover, “Blitzkrieg Bop,” attest to this shift), and that’s pretty darn exciting! With No Way Out, Mentira Mentira may have found a way of reviving, transforming, even transcending our teenage rage and bitterness by delivering their most tangled and turbulent work yet. - Souad Martin-Saoudi




el raveVarious Artists
El Rave Azteca / Negative Youth México
CHOLES RECORDS, USA / MALIGNA, MEXICO

In 2011, Club Fonograma put a pause on the Fonogramaticos compilations because, among other reasons, there seemed to be a boom of blog-released compilations solely devoted to the Iberoamerican indie field (with virtually no real departure in concept, form, or aesthetic to ours). The format had a great amount of distillation in 2012, and it witnessed the rise of a couple of ambitious selectors that earned our applause. Texas-based label Choles Records released El Rave Azteca, the first 3ball compilation, described by its creators as “a new future full of pre-hispanix wisdom and hardstyle tension.” It’s full of hard-hitting beats and inherited bliss. Highlight appearances include that of Pacheko in the oddball “3ball City,” Meneo’s hypersexual “Asstech,” and Mexicans with Guns highly conceptualized “Cool Arrow.” To quote fellow Fonograma writer Reuben Torres, El Rave Azteca is an album to “dance without remorse.”

Another compilation earned plenty of praise from our staff, Maligna’s Negative Youth Mexico. Weird-as-fuck blog Negative Youth recruited 11 of Mexico’s most unorthodox new soundmakers in a compilation inspired by Mexico. It was an election year for the country, and so we find a highly political album that sounds as dangerous and controversial as one would imagine. Whether it’s Javier Estrada exploiting the classic Mariachi “Guadalajara,” or Teehn Bwitches distorting/scoring Enrique Peña Nieto’s gone-viral WorldFuture speech, this is a V.A. album that pushes forward. While most compilations add up to something, Negative Youth Mexico triumphs as a deconstruction. - Carlos Reyes






Espanto
Rock'n Roll
AUSTROHÚNGARO, SPAIN

Despite peaking somewhere in the early-to-mid '90s, Spaniard indie pop still continues to produce its fair amount of releases that look back to the golden days of acts like Le Mans and Family: from old guard staying true to their original sound and refusing to look forward (Sr. Chinarro, Single), to blooming neophytes drawing inspiration from the long gone days of romantic indie pop prosperity (pretty much everyone at Elefant Records). Espanto could hardly save themselves from falling under the latter category with their first release Ísimos y Érrimos, but with 2012’s Rock’n Roll they’ve inspired themselves by looking even further backwards in time: to the early days of good ol’ rock ’n’ roll, and the kind of time-warp cultism that believes rock ’n’ roll died with the airplane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper.

Musically obliged to the youthful sounds of the '50s, but lyrically paying homage to rockers from later eras (icons of psychedelia, folk, and glam), Rock’n roll seems to share the thought that the artification of rock is precisely where it took its own turn for worse. Peculiarly though, the album's biggest flaw is that none of the songs—aside from eponymous track and the likewise tuneful “Panteras”—really evince the visceral the qualities of the good ol’ rock’n’roll it wants to epitomize here. Its biggest virtue though, are the multiple readings it allows its listeners to make of it; whether it’s a rupture and discontent with the current Spaniard indie pop landscape, a half-baked tribute to the fathers of rock, or a suggestive critique of both rock’s time-warp cultists and its new generation of fake nostalgics (yeah, those who didn’t even live rock ’n' roll's golden era in the first place). - Pierre Lestruhaut

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Album Reviews 2013

★★★ Siete Catorce - EP2
MEXICO. NAAFI. BY ENRIQUE COYOTZI
★★★1/2 Systema Solar - La Revancha del Burro
COLOMBIA. SAMBUMBIA. BY MONIKA FABIAN
★★★ Arca - &&&&&
VENEZUELA. HIPPOS IN TANKS. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★1/2 Cancioneira - Mar Muerto
VENEZUELA. YOCONVOZ/ENTORNO DOMÉSTICO. BY SAM RODGERS
★★★1/2 Alizzz - Whoa! EP
SPAIN. ARKESTRA DISCOS. BY PIERRE LESTRUHAUT
★★★1/2 Frikstailers - En Son de Paz
ARGENTINA. ZZK RECORDS. BY ANDREW CASILLAS
★★★1/2 Kinetica - II
CHILE. DILEMA INDUSTRIAL. BY ANDREW CASILLAS
★★★1/2 Füete Billēte - Música de Capsulón
PUERTO RICO. INDEPENDIENTE. BY ENRIQUE COYOTZI
★★★1/2 Cuello - Mi Brazo Que Te Sobre
SPAIN. BCORE DISC. BY GLÒRIA GUIRAO SORO
★★★ Arcángel - Sentimiento, Elegancia & Maldad
PUERTO RICO. PINA RECORDS. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★ Capitán - Compulsión
SPAIN. DISCOTECA OCEANO. BY GLÒRIA GUIRAO SORO
1/2 Zoé - Programaton
MEXICO. EMI LATIN. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★ Fonobisa - 12:68
MEXICO. BAD POP. BY ENRIQUE COYOTZI
★★★1/2 María Magdalena - CVMC
CHILE. MMD. BY PIERRE LESTRUHAUT
★★★1/2 Roy Valentín - Crónica
VENEZUELA. ENTORNO DOMESTICO. BY SOUAD MARTIN-SAOUDI
★★★1/2 Nicole - Panal
CHILE. CHIKA ENTERTAINMENT. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★ Coiffeur - Conquista de lo Inútil
ARGENTINA. QUEMASUCABEZA. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★1/2 Juan Cirerol - Cachanilla y Flor de Azar
MEXICO. INDEPENDIENTE. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★ Ibi Ego - MCMXCVIII
MEXICO. PRIMA CRUSH/DISCOS TORMENTO. BY MARTY PRECIADO
★★★1/2 Las Acevedo - Fiesta en la Vitrola
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. INDEPENDIENTE. BY MONIKA FABIAN
★★★ Dënver - Fuera de campo
CHILE. FERIA MUSIC. BY ENRIQUE COYOTZI
★★★1/2 Matias Aguayo - The Visitor
GERMANY/CHILE. COMEME. BY MONIKA FABIAN
★★★★★ BFlecha - βeta
SPAIN. ARKESTRA DISCOS. BY PIERRE LESTRUHAUT
★★★1/2 Memo - material.
MEXICO. ABSTRAKT MUZAK. BY SAM RODGERS
★★★1/2 Juana Molina - Wed 21
ARGENTINA. CRAMMED DISCS. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★1/2 San Pedro El Cortez - Creaturas
MEXICO. VALE VERGAS DISCOS. BY JEZIEL JOVEL
★★★1/2 Pedropiedra - Emanuel
CHILE. QUEMASUCABEZA. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★1/2 Joe Crepúsculo - Baile de Magos
SPAIN. MUSHROOM PILLOW. BY GLÒRIA GUIRAO SORO
★★★ Mariel Mariel - Foto Pa Ti
CHILE. PAN DULCE PRODUCTIONS/COSMICA RECORDS. BY CARLOS REYES
1/2 Babasónicos - Romantisísmico
ARGENTINA. SONY MUSIC. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★1/2 Mahmundi - Setembro EP
BRAZIL. INDEPENDIENTE. BY SOUAD MARTIN-SAOUDI
★★★ Fishlights - Fishlights EP
MEXICO. DOS PELÍCANOS. BY GIOVANNI GUILLÉN
★★★ Triángulo de Amor Bizarro - Victoria Mística
SPAIN. MUSHROOM PILLOW. BY ANDREW CASILLAS
★★★ Bam Bam - Arre Krishna
MEXICO. ARTS & CRAFTS. BY PIERRE LESTRUHAUT
★★★1/2 Wild Honey - Big Flash
SPAIN. LAZY RECORDINGS/LOVEMONK. BY SOUAD MARTIN-SAOUDI
★★★1/2 Silva de Alegría - Polifónica Polinesia
MEXICO. INDEPENDIENTE. BY SAM RODGERS
★★★ Mañaneros - Hexágono Final
CHILE. INDEPENDIENTE. BY PIERRE LESTRUHAUT
★★★1/2 Helado Negro - Invisible Life
USA. ASTHMATIC KITTY. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★1/2 Los Ángeles Azules - Cómo te voy a olvidar
MEXICO. SONY BMG. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★ Bajofondo - Presente
ARGENTINA/URUGUAY. SONY MASTERWORKS. BY SAM RODGERS
★★★ El sueño de la casa propia - Doble ola EP
CHILE. MICHITA REX. BY PIERRE LESTRUHAUT
★★★1/2 Devendra Banhart - Mala
USA. NONESUCH RECORDS. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★ Los Amigos Invisibles - Repeat After Me
VENEZUELA. NACIONAL RECORDS. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★1/2 María y José - Club Negro
MEXICO. CASETE. BY ANDREW CASILLAS
★★★ Empress Of - Systems EP
USA. TERRIBLE RECORDS/DOUBLE DENIM. BY GIOVANNI GUILLÉN
★★★1/2 Amor Elefante - Parque Miñaqui
ARGENTINA. INDEPENDIENTE. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★1/2 Julieta Venegas - Los Momentos
MEXICO. SONY MUSIC. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★1/2 Lê Almeida - (covers) pt.1
BRAZIL. TRANSFUSAO NOISE RECORDS. BY ENRIQUE COYOTZI
★★★1/2 Piñata - Amics/Enemics
SPAIN. HAO!DISCOS. BY PIERRE LESTRUHAUT
★★★1/2 Los Blenders - Meta y Dinero
MEXICO. INDEPENDIENTE. BY ENRIQUE COYOTZI
★★★ Alex & Daniel - Alex & Daniel
CHILE. QUEMASUCABEZA. BY GIOVANNI GUILLÉN
★★★ Quiero Club - El Techo es el Suelo
MEXICO. CASETE. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★1/2 Boogat - El Dorado Sunset
CANADA. MAISONETTE. BY SOUAD MARTIN-SAOUDI
★★★ Iconili - Tupi Novo Mundo
BRAZIL. INDEPENDIENTE. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★1/2 Michael Mike - Música Negra
ARGENTINA. INDEPENDIENTE. BY CARLOS REYES
★★★ CLTRL SNDTRCK - Cifras EP
MEXICO. PIR▲.MD RECORDS. BY ADRIAN MATA-ANAYA
★★★ La Ola Que Quería Ser Chau - La Fuerza del Cariño
ARGENTINA. DISCOS DOJO. BY PIERRE LESTRUHAUT
★★★1/2 Carrie Rodríguez - Give Me All You Got
USA. NINTH STREET OPUS. BY BLANCA MÉNDEZ
★★★1/2 Chancha Vía Circuito - Semillas EP
ARGENTINA. ZZK RECORDS. BY CARLOS REYES