Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kali Mutsa - Souvenance

Souvenance, Kali Mutsa
SHOCK, Chile
Rating: 76
by Sam Rodgers

Everyone's favorite "ninety-four year old" Chilean gypsy princess Kali Mutsa, aka Pharaoh Koralle Esperanza del Carmen Pantic, has finally released her first LP, Souvenance,  over a year since this reviewer commented on first single "El Jardín." Before we go any further, it must be said that this is divisive artistry. It's unlikely Souvenance will impress those that have not jumped on board Kali Mutsa's particular/peculiar style already, and for those of you who do "get" it - there's much here to surprise, exhilarate, and perplex you even further.

Moving away from the EPs' more cabaret lounge style - easier to digest, left-of-center world music stuff (it always teetered precariously towards that) - Souvenance intimidates, getting right in your face from the beginning and rarely letting up the attention demanding beats for its forty minute run time. This is an album so intent on imprinting its singularity on the listener, it can seem a bit too much to handle. There's no wading in here - the ideas are bubbling over, it's disorientating. Kali Mutsa's vocals are incessant, this is no background dance album; like M.I.A., you better be listening. So aggressively does Mutsa avoid aural sublimity it can be jarring. Nearly every moment on the album needs a second, third, or fourth listen to finally hear a track. It doesn't help there's the semi-annoying prevalence of short tracks, which, with this sort of experimental and explosive jam, feels like sorting through half-baked and burnt ones to find the fully-formed cookies.

And unlike the singles we've heard from Kali Mutsa up until now, there's a lack of blank space on Souvenance - she's turned it up, whether actively discouraging an easy-read pop personality or not. There's only "El Jardín" that connects this album with the rest of her catalog: the mood-changes, the sass, the co-starring fiddle riff, the familiar (and thereby readily likable) structure. So, what works? Kali Mutsa's music is perfect to pull out when you want to impress with a "new sound." Any track fits that bill - go on, insert them into a mix tape, get that double-take - but finding the pleasure points on the album - and treating Souvenance as such, not just a collection of cool new sounds - requires the track to restrain itself to an extent. Second single "Canción de Amor Colla" does this well by providing space to the playful distortion and the gradual build up to a signature bat-shit carnival climax. It's quite possibly one of the best tracks of Kali Mutsa's canon to date.  

"Traga Traga" excels at striking the balance between acquired style and originality - borrowing from the Angolan kuduro dance style (and featuring kudurista Francis Boy - who, like his peer Titica, seems to have some beef with Lady Gaga) and then funneling it through the Bollywood flavor Kali Mutsa wears on the album cover art. This hopeful single will make your ass hard and your head wobble. Elsewhere Souvenance takes the listener to a worrisome circus on the Río de la Plata on "El Cuerpo;" through a batucada-infused German discotheque on "Edithcita;" muscly rap over Andean folk on "Sicopompa;" and the almost parody of itself, "Cumbia De Pichi." However, it's not until final track, "Tati Bal Bal (Viento Caliente)," that there's reprieve from the high octane shenanigans of the rest of the album. It gives some much needed gradient to the melodrama - Kali Mutsa can also do a Dance of the Seven Veils, a counterpoint to her explosive witchcraft.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Club Fonograma's Top 12 Must-See Acts at Primavera Sound 2014


Primavera Sound is the most important musical event of the year in Spain and maybe Europe. Held in Barcelona, it hosts more than 200 live acts in 4 days, but it also spreads along the city for more than a week with its programme of concerts in clubs, bars and public places such as parks. This years headliners include Pixies, Arcade Fire, The National and brazilian legend Caetano Veloso among others. As for the iberoamerican acts, which we will be covering, this is our Top 12 in no particular order. Glòria, will be live tweeting from @de_risio and Pierre Lestruhaut will also be there (@pedrito_les). You can also follow us on Instagram (@gloriaguso / @prrlesmac).












Univers
Pitchfork Stage, Saturday May 31 17:400

Only a year and a half after the release of their first EP, La Pedregada (Famèlic Records, 2012), Univers are one of the spanish bands with more international ressonance of the moment. Their first LP L’estat natural (2014) has been critically acclaimed, they have toured the country presenting it and now they play in the Pitchfork stage of Spain’s most important music festival. This show is the opportunity to see how Univers works in a big stage, but also to unveil Barcelona’s musical scene connections between bands, as I am sure a lot of those musicians will be in the audience. - Glòria Guirao-Soro














Lasers
Vice Stage, Thursday May 29 03:000

Barcelona based electro trio Lasers will close the Vice stage with their Chicago Sound inspired rhythms. They are well-known for their very danceable sets for fans of the more disco-like tracks of their last album Exchange Levels (2013) but also for the more poppy chill wave of Juno (2011). - Glòria Guirao-Soro














Astro
Vice Stage, Friday May 30 18:40 & Ray-Ban Unplugged, Friday May 30 23:30

At this point we’re wondering if there's actually any big festival Astro haven’t played yet. A sky-rocketed ascension, which started when they turned heads with their underground hit “Maestro Distorsión” and culminated in their almost universally beloved debut LP, has made the Chilean band a fixture in many summer festivals these last few years. If there’s any indication that their great eponymous album is still holding up more than two years after its release, the fact that they're playing Primavera Sound again after being there in 2012 should be enough. - Pierre Lestruhaut














Boogarins
Vice Stage, Saturday May 31 19:35 & Ciutadella, Sunday June 01 16:00

Heirs of the sound of bands such as Os Mutantes but with a psychedelic touch, Brazilian duo Boogarins visit Spain for the first time and will present there their own version of tropical fuzz-rock music. Friends since school times, they come from Goiânia, far from Brazil’s cultural centres, and have developed a very pecualiar mixture of influences that is not to be described as exotic nor as revivalist. Their debut LP, As Plantas Que Curan, is a journey to the sixties with a contemporary soundtrack based on fuzz and sound effects that makes it an atemporal ensemble. - Glòria Guirao-Soro















Juana Molina
BARTS, Sunday June 01 21:50

Duh. I mean, if there’s any Latin act (besides Cateano Veloso) that really needs no introduction, it’s Juana Molina. She could have retired after Un día, and still be one of the hottest acts in the festival, yet with the release of her excellent Wed 21, her output has been reinvigorated, and her live set will certainly be overflowing with crowd favorites and deep cuts. She’ll have the benefit of playing a more intimate show at a local club, for what is very likely to be a haunting performance from the master of horror. - Pierre Lestruhaut














Él Mató A Un Policía Motorizado 
ATP Stage, Wednesday May 28 17:55, La Seca - Espai Brossa, Thursday May 29 15:15 & La Botiga, Saturday May 31 12:30

If you’re looking for shout-along indie rock anthems to sing until your lungs are completely exhausted and your vocal chords are suppressed, Argentine indie darlings El Mató A Un Policía Motorizado are your ideal act for this edition. Granted, Primavera Sound is not devoid of indie rock grandeur, but El Mató has the advantage of 1) playing a free concert, and 2) singing indie rock en tu idioma. So there’s really no excuse to not go shout "Jenny, algún dia Jenny," "Nuevos discos, nuevas drogas" and "Más o menos bien" at any of the three fixtures the Argentines will be playing in this edition of Primavera Sound. - Pierre Lestruhaut














SVPER
Vice Stage, Thursday May 29 21:45

The band formerly known as Pegasvs have been blog favorites ever since their debut album cemented them as one of the most melodically accomplished acts in the brand of progressive pop music. They’ll have some heavyweights playing at the same time (Neutral Milk Hotel, St. Vincent, and Future Islands) but if you’re not a diehard fan of any of those anglo past or future legends, SVPER’s grandiose and forward-thinking pop is a must-see, even more so with the possibilities of them playing unreleased tracks. - Pierre Lestruhaut














El Último Vecino
Vice Stage, Thursday May 29 18:25 & Ray-Ban Unplugged, Thursday May 29 23:30

Cut Copy have serious competition for best synthpop revivalists playing at Primavera Sound this year. The band led by Gerard Alegre Doria made some serious noise last year in the Spaniard underground with their eponymous album (which we kinda slept on, to be honest). With a knack for instant 80s-reminiscent pop hits, this is the one local act we’re trusting will be inducing the biggest collective dancing among festival goers this year. - Pierre Lestruhaut














Beach Beach
La [2] de Apolo, Wednesday May 28 21:30

Having announced the release of their second LP in september, the Mallorca born, Barcelona based quartet just unveiled one of the tracks in The Sea (La Castanya, 2014). “Just like before” can only be described as an instant hit, it evocates the Sarah Records decade but does not forget the 90s influence of the bands last record (Tasteless Peace, 2012) and predicts a great new album. Beach Beach will be playing on wednesday in La [2] de Apolo as part of their label’s showcase, among Me & The Bees (presenting their newest album Mundo Fatal) and Aries, who released her second LP Mermelada Dorada earlier this year. - Glòria Guirao-Soro














Sangre
Sony Club PS14 Stage, Saturday May 31 18:300

There is more than one band called Sangre in Spain, but here we are talking about the girl band from Madrid that released their first EP, Sangre es Amor, in July 2013. Characteristic of Sangre are a low tone of voice and simpe melodies that recall garage pop bands from the 90s. They will be playing on saturday in the Sony Club PS14 stage, in the festival site, as part of the collaboration between Está Pasando blog and the brand, promoting young spanish bands such as Juventud Juché, Lost Fills, Ohios, Perro, Lost Fills or Los Ganglios. - Glòria Guirao-Soro













Oso Leone
Pitchfork Stage, Friday May 30 01:40

It’s not so obvious that folk and dub can be mixed, but that is exactly what Oso Leone have been doing in their last two records. Based in Barcelona, this group of artists and musicians is another of the Mallorca bands playing this year at Primavera Sound, along with Lost Fills and the already mentioned Beach Beach. The result of Oso Leone’s experimentations is a hazy ambient sound, we could say that it is even quite hipnotic, which seems clearer when they use visual effects in their live sets. - Glòria Guirao-Soro













Chicha Libre
Sala Apolo, Tuesday May 27 20:50

Who would have thought that the most Latin-folk inspired music in the festival would actually end up being played by a Brooklyn act? But you still gotta give it to the Primavera Sound curators for giving cumbia a slot in this year’s festival. Brooklyn-based group Chicha Libre have been doing a fine work in revitalizing chicha, the brand of Peruvian cumbia that brought together Latin folk rhythms with psychedelic and surf rock, and their 2012 release Canibalismo was the kind of non-stop dancing party that’s likely to translate seamlessly into a riveting live set. - Pierre Lestruhaut
 

Friday, May 23, 2014

La Santa Cecilia - Someday New

Someday New, La Santa Cecilia
Universal Music Latino, USA
Rating: 43
by Carlos Reyes

Wearing a fluorescent green tutu and a flowery bandana on her head, La Marisoul was the first hit at Vive Latino this year. “Who is she?” questioned the people around me in the audience, not knowing that her band La Santa Cecilia (the very first opening act of this year’s Vive) is a Grammy award winning band –an award for which only about three percent of the lineup had even been nominated for. Performing at such a magnus festival was a big deal to the L.A. band, which was virtually unknown down in Mexico. When their thirty-minute set was over, they walked back to the backstage knowing they had finally showcased their songs to a very pleased audience –a much more Mexican and much younger crowd than what you’d found in their gigs in the states.

It’s not that fun to play the hipster snub critic game, but there was something that bothered me about their performance, and other La Santa Cecilia shows I’ve attended in the past. As a way of connecting to the audience, La Marisoul keeps shouting populist formulated expressions -sworn in Spanish of course- looking for the instant gratification that comes with it. Not to say that such stage practice isn’t genuine from such a fervid live act, but there’s a whole box of cheap thrills that they open up when subscribing to such an obvious provocation. Because really, there’s not much of a difference between the straining effect of shouting “Eso Chingao!” and that offered by putting Día de los Muertos skulls on the poster of your next Latin event. I was hoping it wouldn’t, but a lot of that discomfort transfers to tape in their latest record. At 29 minutes long, Someday New is a set of pristine-produced songs that are just a bit too polished and straightforward for their own good.

A chicanonized (via a Tejano accordion) cover of the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” opens the album. La Marisoul’s voice is undeniably profound and indeed, soulful. It’s inevitable not to take such an opening as a statement for cultural clashing and a tailoring of identity. But don’t trust me too much on Chicano agency; my idea of the best Chicano musicmaker around is Central Valley’s Installed, who really couldn’t care less about these cultural wanderings. The record quickly changes gears with album highlight “Cumbia Morada,” practicing a very quintessential (but nicely paced) approach to cumbia. Things don’t get any better from there as they get into an all-encompassing conduct of covering every Pan-American sound they can, from the ranchera “Como Dios Manda” to covering José José’s “Cuidado” in tango. The execution of the music is clean, but there’s little outside-the-box exploration of the language of music.

Writing about Someday New is neither entertaining nor a shore. It’s almost a responsibility considering La Santa Cecilia has dethroned Ozomatli as the Latin token card in the industry. La Marisoul appeared next to Gloria Trevi, Kat Dahlia, and Leslie Grace at Billboard’s Divas Panel this year, sitting on the alternative music slot Carla Morrison took last year. There’s no denying La Santa Cecilia has worked hard to get here, and the intentions are certainly in the right place. Becoming the it band puts attention and responsibility right in front of you. And it's for the same reason, that the public and the media should demand to be represented with a less obvious sound and more awe-inspiring risk.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Video: Diosque - "Una Naranja"


We are in the process of bringing you a new compilation, which means there’s a lot of awesome free music coming your way. Out of the hundreds of entries we’ve gotten on our inbox, one of the artists that has stood out the most is Argentine melody maverick, Diosque. While we applauded his last album, Bote, the tracks we’ve heard from his forthcoming album Constante hint we’ll be listening to the record that will do the job of internationalizing his music. Serving as a bit of a teaser of what’s to come, Diosque has unveiled one of his new songs and a layered cinéma vérité video helmed by Agustín Carbonere.

The black frame shades out to find a zoomed shot of a hand holding a stone. Talk about visual impact and intimidation. “A ver quien tira la primera piedra,” sings Diosque in the first line of “Una Naranja.” In the best way of cinéma vérité (or many literal fables), the clip opens the frame in a continuous pace, unveiling its subject in a fascinating and cruel way. After the video zooms out, we realize the man holding the stone isn’t as intimidating anymore. The ant-sized man aims to hit a giant, yet defeated, version of himself. He's gasping words hoping to acquire visibility. The frame keeps zooming out, adjusting to his third and last encounter with an even bigger, human version of the now triumphant man rocking out a keytar amidst the brutal and decaying background. The loop of the narrative, the grainy/dreamy superimposition of the subject(s), and the melodic risks and digital blows of the song itself make this a true feast for the senses.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I Can Chase Dragons! - "Mañana"


Fellow writer Pierre Lestruhaut's recent observation on the nature of bloggers couldn't be more dead on, albeit, I'd add a point about music that looks too attractive. That's pretty much how Julio Gudiño's solo project I Can Chase Dragons! has been received here at the blog. Even as many sites gushed over his 2012 debut, we've remained skeptical, letting Expansión go un-reviewed as hype for the project took off.

Latest single "Mañana" arrives, once again, armed with all the bloggable fixings: sleek artwork, seal of approval from a respected label (Arts & Crafts Mexico), paired with an early summer release where one can already anticipate its inclusion on a Nylon+Urban Outfitters playlist next to style guides about the best music festival looks. The good news is "Mañana" won't leave the same gross feelings from seeing tribal pattern skirts, it's a bouncy and light entry that's also genuinely fun.

Mixing straightforward samples, steel drums, and echoes of house, Gudiño never commits to cranking up either one of these elements. It works because the constant movement recreates touristic impressions of busy streets and crowded squares, which at times can be more exciting than the destination.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Escuela de Trance - [Volveremos] a ser amigos

[Volveremos] a ser amigos, Escuela de Trance
Independiente, Argentina
Rating: 79
by Carlos Reyes

My closest friends and I meet at least once a week for something we call El Cineclub. It’s exactly what it sounds like: an evening where we allow celluloid to transport us and confront us. We took this to heart when deciding that our very first film to be screened would be Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom –a bold choice for the purpose we had outlined for ourselves. When the credits started rolling, we took a sip of our drinks and found ourselves discussing its social politics and cinematic agency for the next three hours. Somewhere down in Buenos Aires, another group of friends must’ve met to see the same film, and it must’ve had hit them as hard as it hit us. Their way of responding to it? Crafting a melody to accompany the film for which Pasolini was murdered.

“Vacaciones en Sodoma, 120 días de pura felicidad,” sighs the song as it negotiates the transferring of the film’s topics into the narrative and resources of indie rock. Dissecting the film’s poignancy on sexual awakening (by means of perversion, corruption, and torture) it’s the academic approach to be expected. Escuela de Trance knows it’s best to approach it differently. They opt to celebrate the premise and subscribe to the team of torturers, offering a lyrical score to the rituals the recent pubescent teens will undergo during their stay in the mansion. There’s something almost cruel about where Escuela de Trance chooses to melodically transport the film, but the reasoning of the texts and its stream of happy-go-lucky orchestration sure make it one of the most memorable moments I’ve heard in music this year.

By the way, [Volveremos] a ser amigos (an EP), isn’t a conceptual album about Salò. My review has focused on that particular track because it hits a personal affinity I have with my own friendships. The rest of the EP deals with other ventures about friendship that hopefully other critics will articulate about. Musically, it’s nothing short from exhilarating. Album opener “Todas las fiestas del mañana” starts off the album with the quintessential chord progressions that usually lead a band into anthemic territory. Escuela de Trance could have gotten away with a larger-than-life statement. Instead, they twist their rhythmic excursion to unlikely places –achieving greatness because of their daring choices. Take for example when they decide to push the organ-based playground of “Chicas!” into a rock opera. Talk about a no guts no glory exercise.

This is a band whose sound doesn’t quite fit its musical community (La Ola Que Quería Ser Chau being the closest). Escuela de Trance rather sounds closer to other enfant terrible contemporaries like Joe Crepúsculo, 31 Minutos, Alexico, and even Saúl Hernández (in his golden age) in “Tan mágica, tan especial,” which could totally blow out in Mexican radio the same way “AV Corrientes” and “Lo Hecharon del Bar” have in the last couple of years. Despite only being a couple minutes shorter than its predecessor, [Volveremos] is missing a bit of roundness, and maybe a little more attention in the aesthetic department. And although as a whole it doesn’t one-up the stellar Doktor Van Der Ger Ger Ger Ger Ger, Escuela de Trance, Buenos Aires, Argentina (the full name of the band) shows plenty of musical command and a lot of bravery in the topics and texts they choose to tackle on their near obscene, uncouth quest for harmony.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Las hermanas - ep

ep, La hermanas
Discos Muertos, Colombia
Rating: 85
by Pierre Lestruhaut

One of the more frustrating imperatives of being a music blogger is the need for constantly having to shallowly and quickly dismiss a lot of music for lack of listening time. Doesn't have a nice looking cover art... NEXT. Didn't attract attention from relevant blogs... NEXT. Cites Zoé as an influence... NEXT. Surfing the internet for new music actually feels like using Tinder, the popular dating app where you like or reject people's profiles almost exclusively by looking at their photos. Eventually when I found myself faced with the possibility of listening to a cryptic project from Bogotá, despite the fact that there wasn't any recommendation from trusted tastemakers, no reference to who was involved in the project, and that quite honestly I'd never even heard of Discos Muertos either, I still decided to give it a try, and found myself instantly hooked from the first few minutes of hitting play.

On first impression, Las hermanas is an act that bursts with inventiveness: soul and jazz strings cut and pasted into breathtaking soundscapes, bolero vocal samples laid over música de plancha orchestras. And all of this supposedly coming from the sampling of old vinyl records, hitting the luscious sweet spot between the crate digging swagger of Stones Throw and the hazy abstraction of vaporwave, but with a tinge of Latin pop in its palette. I'll be honest, I initially didn't want to find out who was really making this music, and was willing to not only accept, but feel rather intrigued by the fact that I wouldn't know who was behind this intoxicatingly arcane music. But eventually, such desire for abstruseness lasts little in the internet era, and I quickly stumbled across an interview for Vice where it's revealed that a certain Diego Cuéllar (from previously unheard of noise project Mc Perro) is the man behind Las hermanas.

Cuéllar qualifies his music as experimental, which always feels like a cop-out of sorts -- if people don't like it then they're probably just not ready for it. Certainly, this is the type of music that's difficult to write about, its appeal is expressionist more than anything else, yet there's a strict formalism to it that makes the EP a coherent work as a whole. His choices for samples, instrumentation, and song structure remain flexible enough that it stays away from any thoughtless reductions of his craft (such as: "J Dilla if he had lots of Latin records"), while the modus operandi is almost always inflexible: samples over a steady beat. It's been almost 10 years since J Dilla passed away so we can safely ditch the "experimental" tag that's put on the brand of vinyl-sampled, Ableton-chopped, and MPC-shaped beats made by Cuéllar.

From a commercial and cultural standpoint it remains more difficult to sell than, say, Peruvian digital cumbia. But despite the fact that it's disconnected, scene-wise, there's something about the haze of old 60's soul and plancha records being sampled that's wholly inviting, even if it doesn't have the ear-candiness of El sueño de la casa propia's more pop-oriented samples. It's a hip-hop album in the same way most of the Stones Throw and Brainfeeder catalogs are: it's not hip-hop in the institutionalized form of breakbeats, sellin' dope, and gang signs, but rather hip-hop as the communion of diversity that is achieved by looking elsewhere for inspiration. In the context of contemporary Latin electronica, it's a stellar addition to the crop of producers that are successfully revamping the nucleus of past Latin pop music into something completely new.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Video: Gus Goose - "Dulces en tu Coche"


The latest inductee to the Abstrakt Muzak family (house of White Ninja and Memo) is Gus Goose, a former member of Monterrey band, Husky. The label has announced the release of his first EP, Larchmont, and has unveiled a frame-within-frame clip for first single “Dulces en tu Coche” by Sefardico (director of Memo’s “Separate Leaves”). With the promise of “La paciencia siempre se recompensa,” the clip is fragmented like a book –with a prologue, chapters, and a resolution. While the image of a sink and a water tub filled with buttered popcorn sounds like something hard to get away with, Sefardico provides the scope of the clip with enough warmth and frame divisions to afford such an image. The clip goes on to transfix the wise and not-so-wise choices of a character that seems to have a lack of direction. You can’t help but to sheer for him (and his patience) at all times. I found myself wanting to offer him my own intermission notecards in hopes of getting him there. Also, big props for the best use of the color red since Her.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

P3CULIAR - Role-Play

Role-Play, P3CULIAR
Kin Kon Records, Mexico/USA
Rating: 71
by Carlos Reyes

We can count with one hand the number of legitimate tastemakeres the latin hipster world has seen. Nacotheque was one of them. “Let’s make a Latin party music night like that of Nacotheque,” local Phoenix entrepreneurs have told me over the years. Every city has tried to emulate their spirit at some point. Amylulita and Marcelo Báez (aka Marcelo Cunning) set the example on how to party with Indie Pop En Español, making it cool before any of the blogs did. Most importantly, Nacotheque’s downloadable mixes provided the aughts with a taste that blurred social barricades. From their disposition at affording guilty pleasure, to their embracing of a nonchalant queerness, Nacotheque was crucial in the social equalizing of the new audience of Iberoamerican indie.

There are no guidelines to following something like Nacotheque, but in the last couple of years Marcelo Báez found ways to keep himself active and current. He put the turntable aside and entered the world of music blogging. Whether goofing off on trends via Guanabee, or acquiring a critical boldness via Manero, I confess Báez is one of my favorite people on the Internet. While his labor might seem less shiny and relevant than his past, he’s maintained a level of curation and asserted taste for the common goal of us music commentators: cultural production. Báez is not stopping at tastemaker and blogger though, now putting his own cents as a musicmaking man.

Under the moniker of P3CULIAR, Báez is embracing his past roles in music, keeping the faithful proposition of providing a broad audience with shameless and defragmented popular music. Role-Play, his first release, is in its essence, an ode to everything that’s populachero. Favoring cumbia amongst all the sounds he helped to establish as cool, Báez surveys the genre without appropriating its culture. This is a wise choice that consequently elevates him from the near-mockery of bands like Los Master Plus or Sonido San Francisco. P3CULIAR is still unable to escape its somewhat privileged conception. First single “Menea” (feat. Cakes Da Killa) is almost a bit too tailored to sound pedestrian, and yet it’s polished with luxurious synths that fade in and out of the scope, almost defeating the integrationist purpose. This doesn’t stop the song from being deliciously catchy, and it happens to be attached to a pretty memorable video.

The other cumbia numbers are better accomplished because they embrace their bourgeois and condenchi nature. Album opener “Hazme El Amor” has an enchanting andean fabric to it you’d think Kali Mutsa is in it, while “Star” has such a strong anthemic proposition (gleaming sequencers, earnest lyrics) to call it cosmopolitan. The rest of the album is less exciting on paper. With the help of a female voice that sounds very much like that of María Daniela, Báez approaches techno pop with the same regard of affordability as he does with cumbia. Some tracks push the right buttons (the whimsical and macabre “Wicked,” and the rendition of Yuri’s “Yo Te Amo Te Amo”), while others feel obsolete as if they had been part of the Nuevos Ricos catalogue a decade ago. This is not to say Báez is holding on to the glorious days of Nacotheque. If Role-Play earns self-sustainability is because of Marcelo’s many cultural cultivations. Stick with the cumbia next time colleague.

Video: Fuckaine - "Hooray"


For some reason the exterior shots of this video by Madrileños, Fuckaine, are in Queensland, Australia (streuth!). And for some reason, a curly-haired boy slingshots a dead marsupial with its baby still alive and kicking inside its pouch. Inexplicably, there's bloody ragu, fatty hearts, a plate of maggots, and a disciplinary priest. Things get even more surreal (or really just more symbolic) when the boy walks in on his anteater-cum-koala-cum-elephant head parents fornicating while the Third Reich marches on the TV in the background. It's all rosary beads and phallic noses until, for some reason, the boy fashions a mask from a Hessian sack to find acceptance into this bizarre family. Cake ensues.

For some reason this take on psych/surf-rock seems rather fresh. It could be the tight production that emphasizes the melodic noise while muffling the more standard instrumentation, and the not-really-all-that-important lyrics. Not to mention getting back to the feeling of rock: the fuck yeah, I'm horny and disgusted at the same time feels; the growing up's a joke feels; the wtf is lyf feels; and the what the fuck is wrong with that communion wafer thought you'll have by the end of this video.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dënver - Remixes de Campo


Yeah, you might be looking at that cover and trying to figure out what’s going on. Milton has apparently kept the bleach blonde hair that accompanied their festival circuit, and Mariana took the line of “Hasta el bikini me estorba” very seriously. In all honesty, both Mariana and Milton are looking mad sexy. The duo recently surprised us with a cover of Juan Gabriel’s “Pero Que Necesidad,” made aware they’ll be swinging by Primavera Sound, announced the release of their album on vinyl, and today, they’re bringing us another treat. They’ve unveiled Remixes de Campo, a short collection of remixes (of various achievements) for some of the tracks of the initially divisive, but increasingly appreciated latest album Fuera de Campo. Highlights include an auteristic dance treatment of “Concentracion de Campos” by Chilean beatmaker Motivado, the transporting of “Medio Loca” to a whole new place by AJ Davila, and two remixes of “Revista de Gimnasia,” including a cumbia. Download the remixes through their website.

Eric Curiel - "...De tú corazón"


After 14 years of founding, producing and playing with a plethora of musical acts –such as Shantelle, Electric Healing Sound, Dancing Strangers, PL DVNA, Perros Cobardes– Eric Curiel has decided to launch his solo career. His debut solo album, La llamada de lo ideal is housed under Tijuana’s independent record label, Prima Crush, which has also released other endearing acts such as María y José, Dani Shivers, Late Nite Howl and Ibi Ego. 

Jesús Vasquez, filmmaker habitué of Tijuana’s independent music scene, directed “De tú corazón” – Eric Curiel’s first single and music video–.  With a straightforward approach, Vasquez’s places Curiel as the main subject of the video. With out of focus lights and zooming effect, the video merely delivers nothing more but the in-your-face realization that Curiel has now, after years, taken a solo path. The song is reminiscent of synth pop of the late 80s; tender beats with looped noise-drenched guitars. Yes it’s joyful, the melody is catchy and the sound is charming – but like an Almodóvar movie, it carries an “eerie- between-the-lines” feeling; as the surfaces exudes splendid and colorful imagery, the fine bottom line hides a complex and obscure narrative.



MP3: El Remolón (feat. Lido Pimienta) - "Vestido"


We last heard this duo on El Remolón's 2010 EP with the slower marching song "Basta Ya (Todos somos inmigrantes),"where Lido gave a taste of her unique phrasing, and 2012's sassy "Atras". As we wait, eyes bulging with anticipation, for her sophomore LP, La Papessa, BA-scenester, El Remolón, has returned with his fifth release, Selva, and a tantalizing appetizer of a more mature-sounding diva. Her vocals are getting looser and bolder. Meanwhile, the cumbia maestro scaffolds the song with a bouncing, but sultry, framework, on top of which Lido gets down to business. This is straight forward, earworm pop. The theme is blatant, the storyline an instant - if somewhat repetitive. There's no mystery here. She'll take off her own heels; but you better get off the end of the bed to help by the time Lido's excellent harmonic refrain returns. You can currently download the mp3 of the track via Soundcloud.

Monday, May 12, 2014

107 Faunos - Últimos días del tren fantasma

Últimos días del tren fantasma, 107 Faunos
Discos Laptra, Argentina
Rating: 83
by Carlos Reyes

“A regression in concept and pop veracity” –was my response to 107 Faunos’ promotional cut “Cosas Caras Rotas.” As a sole offering, the one-minute-and-a-half track seemed half-cooked and antagonistic to what had been accomplished in the expansive greatness of previous single “El Tigre de las Facultades” (from El tesoro que nadie quiere). Fragile and unconvincing as a single, one comes to realize 107 Faunos was actually winking at all of us offering an anti-single of sorts –one that’s difficult for non-fans to grab and challenging for bloggers to articulate about. “Cosas Caras Rotas” acquires visibility and a whole yarn of virtue as part of Últimos días del tren fantasma, the third LP (going by the amount of tracks rather than running time) and most accomplished record the Argentine band has offered us thus far.

Do we have to keep digging into the intentions behind 107 Faunos’ obsession at crafting snippets rather than round songs? Maybe we should embrace the cult and look past it already, but when a band attains to a reputation of not following recognizable structures, the critic must consider this as an earnest provocation (at the very least). The band surpassed the three-minute mark not once but twice on their last EP, which redirected us to calling it their most adult record yet. With their latest record, the band rejects prescribed expectations keeping the tracks near the two-minute mark. Unfortunately there isn't a grand peak single for the masses. This doesn’t mean the band is rewinding on the maturity of their discourse, if anything, it strengthens their artistic assertion. Not that it makes the music any less subversive (the lyrics for one can get to be quite eccentric).

Últimos días del tren fantasma doesn’t acquire greatness just because the band sticks to its guns. Their previous works seemed to shade away into existential despair, but this time around they’re employing human effort as the vehicle to encounter grandeur. And by this, I’m referring to the warmth and execution of their unlikely melodies. Take for example, the improvement of Javier Sisti Ripoll’s vocals in this record. The man still has a near-unpleasant voice, but listen at how he expands his voice to parallel the lyrics in the intro. “Vision de aire que agiganta y enfurece las cosas,” he sings as he swells and raptures his low voice to a near falsetto. In “Por ir a comprar” the chord progressions escalate to the stars, and in “Jazmín chino,” they somehow trigger your sense of smell through your ears. Like the burgeoning of the vocals, it seems just about every other technical element (not to mention the aesthetics) of 107 Faunos has come of age.

All of us critics love to conclude middling album reviews hinting potentially better things to come. But in all honesty, that rarely happens. It’s refreshing to see a band grow in their discourse and diegesis as opposed to the usual band that knocks it out of the park with a debut album and follows it with variants of decay. 107 Faunos’ nuanced journey makes for a better story. If something had us reviewing each one of their releases throughout the years (without us ever really raving about them) was the promise that sustained the uncalled, perhaps expandable empathy towards the understated band. Mostly whimsical, although at times on a deadpan tone, Últimos días del tren fantasma hardly negotiates with the zeitgeist or the idiosyncratic. In fact, they chop the spacious discourses of their much-celebrated peers (Él Mató a un Policía Motorizado, Valentín y Los Volcanes, Los Reyes del Falsete) and not only get away with it, but sound truly proud of their own bearings.

Video: Marineros - "Oh Oh"


Like its predecessor “Espero,” the new single by Marineros isn’t brand new to us. That is, of course, if you’ve been as engaged in the unfolding of Marineros as Chile’s most promising newcomers. “Oh Oh” (in its finished edit) was first presented to our staff last year by Cristian Heyne, when the track was meant to accompany “Espero” as a b-track. We are glad they chose to hold on to the track instead, and even happier they’ve given it the audiovisual and promotional treatment. Not only does the single offers Marineros great amounts of momentum, it also validates the act’s atemporal craftsmanship. Under the scope of Álvaro Puentes (director of “Espero”), the clip is like a marketing dossier whose almost-static use of space keeps the song’s melody and urban flirtations clear and focused. Constanza and Soledad are still in the shade, wearing black, and keeping themselves distant to the camera –a personal-detachment practice that keeps their promising career that much more exciting.

Hey Chica! - "Intentaré"


2007 put forth one of Gudalajara’s most emblematic noise-pop bands, Hey Chica! A year later, the band revealed their debut EP Do You Really Believe? (Poni Republic/Happy Garlic), an all-English album bathed in glitches of synth-pop and a contrast around the edges filled with noise. In 2012, Hey Chica! got heads turning for their first LP, Lo Que Nadie Ve, the album was ushered with a changeover to include songs in Spanish. The meticulous production and wholesome rich and charming lyrics became an instant staple of the band’s sound.

Now, seven years later since their musical birth, Guadalajara’s gem delivers their new EP, Tres, housed by SourPop Records. “Intentaré” is the band’s single and a clear result of years of momentum. The band has acquired a solid and mature sound, yet has remained true to its underlining quality. The wistful lyrics from Itzell (“Kiwi”) and Jesica­’s behest highlight its pop melody and are contrasted with a punk garage attitude in heighten noise-drenched guitars. A shining melodic piece very atypical of traditional verse-chorus-verse structure since it offers an interlude providing exuberant and fierce friction of two sounds; a genuine contrast of sweet and raw. Drum beats – provided by Bonnz of Hello Seashorse! –brace a complete circle to the song's surprising and radiating composition.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

VIDEO: FÖLLAKZOID - “RIO”


Chilean psych rockers Föllakzoid’s new video for “Rio,” featured in their second LP, takes us in a brutal road trip along the edge of a burning forest. Made up of multidisciplinary artists working on architecture, photography, festival producing and filmmaking, the band formed in Santiago in 2007 and has ever since delivered two albums and an EP. Like its predecessor, II (via Sacred Bones Records, alongside Chilean compatriots The Holydrug Couple) is a collection of krautrock tracks with a special mystical bearing and developed rhythmic structures. “Rio” is the second of these long cosmic songs and, like the video, it makes us travel from one point to another, just through organic rhythmic progressions. Föllakzoid will be playing at the end of May at Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona, which Club Fonograma will be covering for the first time this year.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Los Rakas - El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo

El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo, Los Rakas
Universal Music Latino, Panama
Rating: 63
by Pierre Lestruhaut

"It's not what the pussy can do for you, but what you can do for the pussy" claims Mickey Rourke’s character in his own apotheosizing speech in Jonas Akerlund's forgettable film Spun. The speech, it seems, is essentially what the new Los Rakas album is about. Hardly 10 minutes after hitting play and you already start to see what you're in for: a massive, head-over-heels, unhindered cult to the almighty pussy (and thus, we assume, pussy-fucking). But rest assured, Dun Dun and Ricardo do keep it all relatively old-fashioned and non-explicit, steering clear of a potential parental advisory label in their own quixotic quest for pussy.

Immediately after the borderline braggadocio intro kicks off the album, "Demencia y Locura" drops a killer subbass, and then goes on a tale that is basically about the power of musicianship as a pussy magnet. "Así me gusta" is reminiscent of "Bandz a Make Her Dance" but without the exploitative ambience of strip clubs, rather focusing on female dancing as a sensual art form. "X-Tacy" doesn't adhere to the Rick Ross school of using molly as a backdoor aphrodisiac, but rather as a parallel between the effects of the drug and the influence a woman can have. It's like these guys actually have moral standards: They are the victims of the pussy here. Get just one taste of it and you are subject to the whims and wishes of the omnipotent vagina.

"Africana" feels like their new not-so-successful attempt at hitting that perfect spot between dancehall-influenced romantic songwriting and heartbroken rapping that Big Boy had found some 20 years ago, and that Los Rakas themselves brought up to date with their hit "Abrázame" back in 2010. It's followed by a short-lived attempt at bringing back the previously quite common subject of their own Latin origins. A cappella number “Mi País” does a quick shout out to the homies, and “Sueño Americano” goes into sociopolitical territory, touching on the themes of immigrant exclusion in the USA, although it doesn't have the vivid imagery of Kap G's "Fuck La Policía," nor the all-encompassing ambition of The-Dream's recent “BLACK.”

The album's last run is essentially a deviation towards crowdpleasing chart-topping dance-pop. “Periódico de ayer” and “X-Tacy” seem to draw heavily from Eurodance, and places the duo much closer to current Latin pop stars that have been riding the Eurodance wave, and pretty far away from the independent hip-hop they proudly claimed to be part of a few years ago. “Malibú Girl” sounds like it was dusted from the lost archives of late 90's early 00's french house, while “Siente la Música” seems to have been written by a soulless machine that orders club goers to dance till dawn.

One would like to think that the shift from their own trademarked Panabay twist towards average everyday contemporary club songs is in no way correlated to the fact they've gone from being independent artists to being signed with Universal Music, but there's not much evidence to refute that. Their Chancletas y Camisetas Bordadas EP succeeded not only because it was sonically inventive and accomplished (the folkloric tones of “Camisetas Borda,” the cosmopolitan urbanism in “Ta Lista”), but also for how it felt extremely personal in its depiction of family, gials, and identity. If anything, El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo feels like a talented hip-hop duo that's sacrificing personal vision for commercial success. And maybe, just as well, for pussy.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Video: Pearls Negras - "Guerreira"



Pearls Negras, hip-hop trio from Vidigal (a favela located in the south of Rio de Janeiro), managed to gather some international attention late last year with Biggie Apple, a highly unpredictable, tastefully produced short mixtape made up of electronic dance beats that would have made a perfect fit among the Mad Decent catalog. Their new song “Guerreira” isn’t a deviation from their established sound, the beat has the epic build-ups of any recent club stomping trap anthem, yet instead of a destructive drop you get a ghostly piano part. The production remains off-kilter, but it’s the MCing that really shines here. Although the tempo is a little too high for us to be able to distinguish more than just a few words, the girls’ flow is raw, enticing, and catchy enough to fulfill its purpose of making you want to fuck shit up. Yet the girls are so charismatic that instead of feeling intimidated by their warrior posture, you really just wanna start a block party with them. For now it seems that these three girls from Brazil might be Danny Brown’s only rival when it comes to hyper-aggressive flow and oddball beat selection.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Panty Pantera - "Cocodrilo" / "Apestoso"


While I was preparing an album review for Russian Red’s latest record Agent Cooper (which let’s just say is as pompous as The Great Gatsby), I realized I’d rather be writing on something less postured. Fellow Spaniard newcomers Panty Pantera have that cleansing quality of brightening your day. While they could easily carry the title for the “latest twee indiepop act from Spain,” Panty Pantera seems to have nursed from the same understated grunge that makes Carmen Sandiego and Piyama Party house favorites. Their demo for relative hit single “Cocodrilo” sneaked into our Best Songs of 2013 countdown, where we celebrated the track’s ability to sound “grandiloquent and equally small.” The track has now been published on 7’’ via Discos Humeantes and Discos Alta Fidelidad. It seems the band has kept the demo edit of the single for this track –if they follow the tradition, they’ll eventually polish it for mass appeal in the future, that is, assuming Elefant Records takes them under their wing. The album comes with “Apestoso” as a B-side, which is like the anti-thesis of Antonna’s “Tu Hueles Mejor” and reminded me of this guy. The single is available for name-your-price via Bandcamp.