Volumina - Ciencia Ficción

Kids, have an awesome Halloween! If there’s something good about this year’s financial chaos is that it’s a great opportunity to get creative, so kids, please make your own costumes and don’t ever stop listening to music. Benjamín Zárate aka Volumina (and member of Antoine Reverb) has released his latest EP titled Ciencia Ficción. It might just be your score for tomorrow’s stormy magical night. It’s only been few hours since we got this but it’s easy to process them when there’s a bunch of your nephews and nieces around you asking you for costume suggestions and candy already. (What they don’t know is that I never went trick-or-treating, oh poor me).

Pay close attention to “Ciencia Ficción I” which I found freaking scary; it sets up a cold mood and those Church-like bells scare the hell out of me. “Friendly Ghouls” is very mechanical and so chop-chop that I had to skip it (I get scared very easily). Volumina has plenty of fun with this, especially because almost all six tracks are set in hide-and-seek conditions. This isn’t just his interpretation of Halloween; it’s also a sonic galore to El Dia de los Muertos. You’ll find samples from Astor Piazolla as well as Los Cinco Latinos, also, an appearance by the king of pop. That’s right, the now gone Michael Jackson is evoked in the danceable thriller-inspired Billie Jean sampled “Vampire Gang.”

Ciencia Ficcion would work great as the soundtrack for a movie; it’s emotionally distressing in its mysterious and playful tones. The first layer (and base) of “Las Ultimas Horas” is the clicking sound of a watch, over it, a waving synth letting itself fly with the wind. This clicking and the outcome of it (like waking up every morning to an alarm clock) is ultimately the album’s most shivering moment. “Ciencia Ficcion II” steps in Burton territory, you know, the tavern sound of the The Bride’s Corpse. This track also works as a negotiation of both celebrations, juxtaposing Hollywood’s mirroring of Halloween with El Dia De Los Muertos and church.

Alexico - "Cadáver Fresco"

Halloween Post #2 belongs to Alexico. This kid is so genuinely demented and the most brilliant way. You probably know him for “Mis amigos y yo te amamos” (and its jaw-dropping video) and his band Selma Oxor. I can’t think of any other day in which his Dios es lo Maximo! EP could sound better; it’s imaginative and scary as hell. The fact that it has 33 tracks (if you can even call them tracks) suggests this is more of an experimental ride. Religion is scary in its nature; it only gets more trembling after Alexico’s bloody approach towards it. “Santisima Trinidad” for example, is a loud erratic track of Alexico screaming “Dios se hizo hombre, se llama Jesus, despues murio, se fue al cielo, y ahora es un pajaro.” But the song I really want to emphasize today is titled “Cadaver Fresco” and it’s creepier than Calle 13’s “John El Esquizofrénico” and Burton’s Sweeny Todd combined. “A-L-E-X-I-C-O se comió a un señor, ALEXICO tiene mucha comezón de cerebros dulces, con mucha sangre, se come tu carne, se come tu carne muscular, y después baila en las noches sin camisa!”

Nacotheque's Jalloween Mix. by Amylulita

You guys remember our Rocolas? It brings nostalgia just thinking of them, not because of what they were but because back then I was trying to be like Nacotheque’s Marcelo Cunning and Amylulita. They’re New York’s coolest party hosts and in the development of this blog, their awesome mixtapes helped me appreciate Latin American pop on its most flashy flamboyant way (blame them). Remezcla has this awesome Jalloween Mix by Amylulita, two sides of pure fun for tonight’s celebration. Download!

Mister Chivo. “Soy Dracula” / Amandititita. “La Mata Viejitas” / Kinder Porno. “Mi novio es un Zombie Null / Desechables. “Labios Ardientes / Rocky Horror Show. “Que le ha pasasado al sábado? / Andres Pajares. “Dracula Ye-Ye” / Timbiriche. “El Baile del Sapo.” / Waldorf Historia. “Vampiros Adolescentes” / Paralisis Permanente. “Sangre” / Kinky. “A donde van los muertos?”

Alaska y Dinamarca. “Mi novio es un zombie”/ McNamara. “Soy Dracula / Shakira. “Loba” (Quemadiscos Mix) / Loco Mia. “Loco Mia” / Los Querubines Negros Molocotongo. “La Cumbia Metalera” / Miser Chivo. “El Monje Loco” / Mister Chivo. “El Hombre Lobo” / Lost Acapulco. “Que monstruos son” / “Adam’s Family Theme Song” / The Moontrekkers. “Night of the Vampire”

Goodbye Victorian Houses, Antoine Reverb

Happy Garlic, Mexico ****
Rating: 88
By Juan Manuel Torreblanca

When I was in college, studying language and literature, I often hated teachers who turned courses that were supposed to be about an author and his work into endless anecdotes about their own encounters with the author. Nevertheless, I am quite tempted to begin this review in just that fashion, as I believe it might summon a useful sort of atmosphere. So please bear with me and let's travel 3 or 4 years back in time to Guadalajara, my first visit there. I will never forget a long summer party night ending up at this beautiful house (not Victorian, though), whose owner I didn't really know. And there, a few minutes after my arrival, the owner's friends cajoled him, a seemingly shy Andy (with his thick, square eyeglasses), into getting his acoustic guitar and singing a few songs. I could’ve never expected what happened then: a bittersweet, perfect, whisper-like voice poured over everyone like a thin layer of bright white snow. We all froze in delighted awe.

I vaguely kept in touch with Andy and I later knew about the creation of Antoine Reverb, and even heard a couple demos (which included, yes, lots of reverb). Some time passed and I heard of them finishing a record. Recently I received an invitation to see them live at a hip little venue (seminal to Mexico City’s scene). I went there, survived the horrid sound system, became an instant fan, and got their album too!

So, before I get to the music on Goodbye Victorian Houses, I must say that seeing this kid again, onstage, joined by his 4 band-mates, was a pretty different experience compared to that first time around his garden-table. Allow me to try describing the gig briefly: it was still surprising. Andy led with that confident, natural, poignant voice; but now it was supported and empowered elegantly by the superb harmonies of the band, the warmth of all the strings plucked and strummed, the jazzy punch of some peculiar drumming and the heavenly spacey analog keyboards. He didn’t seem that shy up there, but it’s not like they were dancing nor doing the interactive-show-thing either. The word that could describe the whole band best is, probably, ‘cool’. They’re not trying to be indie as in becoming the umpteenth version of Interpol or The Strokes (thank god!); in fact they look more like an avant garde/shoegaze/folk version of the Scooby Doo crowd, with all due respect. I felt as if a portal had opened between this joint in downtown D.F. and some indie/underground club on Queen St., Toronto, or maybe Sweden. So, yeah, A.R. sounds and looks really good. Even their wooden keyboard stands (reminiscent of art nouveau furniture) stand out. There’s a mysterious depth to them that makes their music very cinematographic. There’s also this intimate immediacy, this low-fi, subtly-punk rawness that makes them very fresh and real. Amazingly, all of this translated from their live performance (which came first to me) to their recording in a rather fantastic way.

Goodbye Victorian Houses takes you somewhere. Stories are being told there; however, something tells me they might not want anyone or everyone to get all the detail right away. You get a glimpse first, and it’s like overhearing a secret, like eavesdropping unintentionally, like arriving in the middle of a conversation: you don’t understand everything, you may not know the full story, but you can still get the feeling of it… and it’s a powerful feeling! And if you come back, and when you do it over and over again, you’ll realize that you probably won’t ever understand it all, but I bet that –before you can tell– their music will have become cherished company.

Damn! I feel I’ve written way more than I should already and I haven’t said all I’d like to. What does the record sound like? for example. Well, to paint a quick picture, I might have to resort to another tool that I usually hate: comparison. Think of Broken Social Scene inviting the guys from Belle and Sebastian to work on an old bunch of songs that Billy Corgan wrote with Brian Wilson… and then keep in mind that Antoine Reverb sounds exactly like none of the above. They sound like kids of the age of global inspiration. A fine example of Guadalajara’s interesting scene. They made a melodically mature, ironic & shimmery album that sometimes offers little hypnotic minimantras (“Lucy” and her “supermarket music” or the intriguing chanting of “we’ll turn into something that makes sense to you and I, something that our mouths won’t be afraid to name” in “Jenny Drives an Automatic”) while it sometimes borders the epic explosive shores of Arcade Fire. Chimes and rattles abound, yes, extremely enjoyable banjos, mandolins & ukuleles too (not to mention the brilliance of the cello, the trombone, the trumpet and the clarinet amongst other special colors used here) but you won’t find no bells and whistles. There’s just enough here to build their unique amber-blue atmosphere, their mix of the sublime and the erratic.

I held myself back before, but now that I’m reaching the end of my review, I must say one last thing about the lyrics (no, I won’t go into the endless question of why won’t you write in Spanish if you’re a Mexican band?) but I will say I wish the lyrics were a bit more intelligible to my ears, ‘cause that’s one of the main paths to my heart. But, still, Goodbye Victorian Houses did take me somewhere, it sorta made me revisit a fictitious memory of speeding on my old bicycle through an autumn-red forest road at sunset (in love).

Systema Solar, Systema Solar

Independiente, Colombia
Rating: 79
By Carlos Reyes

Systema Solar sounds like it could’ve come out of the Nacional Records catalog, it carries that progressiveness of the alter-latino record that is both, a commercial bet and a fest of its own. The genre has found a commercial channel where pop has become a form of exploration; meaning that alternative bands are finally realizing that pop music is as effective to twist as it is to alternize roots music. Systema Solar is not the first band to do it, Los Amigos Invisibles have been doing it for sometime (one of the several reasons why Commercial is so good), it’s just that Systema Solar recollects these rhythms along with its cliches and misconceptions and slices them up in a very commercial album, a very good breakthrough album.

Systema is as interesting as Bomba Estereo, Monareta and Superlitio, they’re all very attached to Colombian powerhouse but this band is particular for its humor and the careless almost rude treatment of their beats. “Bienvenidos” is one of those songs that sense you before you sense it; it demands a physical response the second it starts and doesn’t let go until your dance moves find the adequate liberation to enter this very well crafted (and sweaty) Systema Solar. Production-wise, it sounds so pleasantly furnished, it’s got those glimsy funky cumbia forms that reminds me of those created by Visitante (Calle 13) and Toy Selectah. “Mi Kolombia” is what one would expect from a patriotic loving song (locality and borders), it’s quite a charm, actually, the most charming song about Colombia since Naty Botero’s “Colombia.”

In an album full of accessible tracks, “Chico” becomes a priceless challenging piece to assimilate; it’s easy to love but hard to process for its emotional unstability. The introductory wave (first 10 seconds of the song) move me so much, then there’s a bunch of stuff going on that I feel so lost it’s hard not to feel anguished, and then there’s that “vamos a bailar lalalalala” and I can hardly take such celestial heights, a wonderful intentionally messy song. “Malpitando” is as mind blowing as any song by Buraka Som Sistema, “es como confundir El Amazonas.” Systema Solar works better when all its members unify and explode than with certain individual tracks that fail to be memorable. “Quien es el patron?” has the potential to cross into a hit, at the very least, it demands to be considered by third world film supervisors looking for a gritty catchy chant.

♫♫♫ "Bienvenidos" (right click, save as)

Yokozuna II, Yokozuna

Discos Intolerancia, Mexico **1/2
Rating: 57
By Carlos Reyes

Yokozuna may not sound very familiar to you if you’re outside Mexico City, it’s one of the city’s most respected contemporary rock bands, because well, they got the attitude and they rock harder than the average rock band. I’ve always had a blockage with their songs, and that’s really uncomfortable, I feel like the leftside fresa who raises an eyebrow instead of joining the wild jamming crowds. I guess everybody has a number of bands we learn to respect and recognize as valuable participants of the arts, Yokozuna II will not convert me into a fan, but I’ve found this to be their best hour yet. Excuse the self-centralism comment, now let’s get to the actual album.

Yokozuna (Los Hermanos Tranquilino) deliver highly suspended songs for an audience that would probably listen to them on the dark. Ok, not really, but while listening to this it feels like the clouds fill with despair and just might catch on fire (I suspect hardcore fans enjoy that). The music successfully brings all the elements of its cold metalllic prime, when you combine that with such boring lyrics about love as those in “Drogame” and “Ya no queda nada de mi amor”, it’s hard not to feel dissapointed, you can’t just margin a rough storm, make it rain hard enough to threaten people’s safety. It’s not that love lyricism and hard rock can’t coexist, it’s about not falling into middling gray areas where hardly anything trascends.

When it comes to vocal execution and its distance from everything else, this reminds me of Omar Rodriguez Lopez (all of them), except there’s more swagging here than actual riffs. When they get it right, they really get it right; “Zatopec” is bold and explosive, “Slam y Minifaldas” achieves the desired sense of dislocation narrated by the lyrics, “grita mas fuerte, ven y grita para mi.” The rest of the songs are either too monotone to stand out or too ragged that they can only add up to a dense production. Some of my friends say I’ll change my mind once I see them perform live, meanwhile I’ll just tag myself as Yokozuna intolerant.

Video: Rita Indiana y Los Misterios - "La Hora de Volve"

Rita Indiana's visual style is as amazingly crafted as her music, by now "La Hora de Volve" is reaching the 15,000 downloads here at Club Fonograma, making it the third most popular song just after the Julieta Venegas's "Bestia" remix and Rita Indiana's "La Sofi." I think by now we can save words and let the music speak for itself, here is a great video (with great costumes, creatures and patterns) for one of the songs of the year (and the decade).

Indies Love Intocable. Best of Regional Mexican Music 00-09

You may not know it, but I used to listen to a bunch of Mexican (Grupero) music when I was on High School. Most kids follow this genre because of their parent’s like towards these traditional (popular) songs, in my case, I just knew the pop music on local radio and broadcast TV was to crappy to swallow. Strangely, I found Norteño music very edgy, but I never liked the songs my parents played. For example, I still don’t get why my parents discuss about narco violence and the dangers of going back to Mexico while playing a narco-corrido on our living room stereo.

Andrew Casillas, a member of this blog, once called me a pussy when I told him I wasn’t into Los Tigres del Norte but I loved Intocable. He was being funny of course, but he’s right, I’m a softie with this genre. Lyrically, my favorite Norteño songs are formulated on pop standards; that’s why it is so damn easy to like Intocable. They could be the most mainstream group out there; my theory is that they could be Regional Mexican’s Reik, only awesome. It’s not surprising to hear their songs on Latin Pop Airplay. I don’t have a problem with Los Tigres del Norte as story-tellers, but their recycled composition has been stuck for way too long. Intocable is starting to get too repetitive too, but hey, at least they’re attempting to step out of comfort every now and then; like recruited Lloyd Maines (Dixie Chicks producer) to craft Crossroads: Cruce de Caminos, a great country exploration (and their most overlooked album yet).

And there’s stuff that’s just so effortlessly awesome like Joan Sebastian, Vicente Fernandez, Ramon Ayala, Los Alegres de la Sierra, Michael Salgado and basically anything related to Luis “Loui” Padilla (La Firma’s frontman, and Intocable’s head songwriter). Hope you don’t mind me saying it, but Ana Barbara is like Shakira and El Pasito Duranguense equals Reggaeton. Everything progresses and I actually find groups like Colmillo Norteño and Los Pikadientes de Caborca to be very creative, reminds me of when A.B. Quintanilla was actually interesting to listen to. It’s highly unlikely the genre will reach the fans of Nortec or Los Macuanos anytime soon.

Through the years I’ve found most non-Mexicans hate Norteño, Banda and Grupero (Tejano is dead); no one can really resist Ranchero, especially now that Mr. Fernandez’s Para Siempre has raised the bar as a career-best major achievement. Some of my friends like Jean-Stephane Beriot and the We Like It Indie staff were discussing about our admiration towards Intocable, so I found this post to be a good idea. Here is a list of songs I recommend, honestly, I only have two of them on my iPod, so I’m probably not your best source if you’re looking for a passionate list or a reference. Hope you're able to take the challenge, and by that I mean to watch these videos, horrible stuff, but good tunes! We’ll get into our Favorite 100 Songs of the Decade special really soon.

01 Intocable. “Estas que te pelas”
02 La Firma. “Con la intención de lastimarte”
03 Intocable. “A Veces”
04 Vicente Fernández. “Estos Celos”
05 Graciela Beltrán. “Eso es cosa de el”
06 Siggno. “Pero Hablame”
07 Solido. “Dile la verdad”
08 Los Palominos. “Me vuelvo loco”
09 Ana Gabriel. “Con las alas atadas”
10 Michael Salgado. “Sangre de Rey”

11 Joan Sebastian. “Sentimental”
12 Intocable. “Eso Duele”
13 Arnulfo Jr. “Adultera”
14 La Firma. “A mí que me importa”
15 La Firma. “Le Dire”
16 Los Pikadientes de Caborca. “La tenia mas grande”
17 Tigrillos. “Mira Oye!”
18 Colmilludo Norteño. “Hotel El Cid”
19 Intocable. “Es mejor decir adiós”
20 Limite. “Ay! Papacito”

Esteman - "No te metas a mi Facebook"

When we tell you Julieta Venegas is our lost fonogramatica sister it’s for reals, she’s got an awesome taste, or so we think so; just look at our MySpace top friends and Julieta’s top friends and you’ll notice what I’m talking about. If you’re already following her you probably know a bunch of new bands and today she linked her 15,000 followers to Colombia’s Esteman. We don’t get many male solo pop acts and this is an exciting one, Esteban Mateus Williamson is as infectious as one can get. His first single (and probably first hit) is titled “No Te Metas En Mi Facebook”, I was expecting a dull song or at least an overcute piece too sweet to feel sympathy for, I was right... in part.

Esteman recollects pop’s norms and makes beautiful music, just like Capullo’s “No Conectado”, he has made a wonderful song on social networking and it’s so bouncy and saucy that it bursts in virtue from begining to end. It could’ve been an annoying song (many will find it annoying), but the guy masters his music with Timberlake-meets-Glee charisma. This is pop in excess on a thrilling up-tempo string (something we also love from Emmanuel Horvilleur), and look at this video, it’s wonderfully choreographed and to its fortune, very commercial. “Cuando escribas melodrama, no me lo hagas en el wall.”

She Wolf, Shakira

Sony, Colombia
Rating: 55
by Andrew Casillas

I guess I should start by saying that I’m one of Shakira’s most ardent supporters in the music-crit community. Her faux-poetry is capable of reaching grand, vivid expressions of romantic imagery. Her voice, while understandably grating for some, is one of the most distinctive and well-utilized tools in modern pop music. Her music is as eclectic as any Latin pop star this side of Café Tacuba’s Re. To me, she’s essentially Morrissey with a Prince fetish.

But that’s just in reference to her Spanish-language records, which are all varying levels of excellent. Since Shakira became the great lasting Latin pop star hope in 2001’s Laundry Service, there’s been a seemingly never-ending debate about to what degree her music has “suffered” since the transition to English. Some people love her awkward attempts at sarcastic quips (“I hope you don’t confuse my breasts for mountains,” etc.), some people think her music has suffered from “Anglo-ization,” others just don’t care as long as her music videos maintain the same level of, um, excellence.

But we’re not here to debate this (that’s what the comments section is for, folks). We’re here to discuss her new “crossover” album, She Wolf. Specifically, what a disappointment it is. It’s with a heavy heart that I report that this is Shakira’s least-inspired English-language album to date. The problems, you could say, start from the top, with the title track. I’m not usually the type of person to dismiss a song for its lyrical content, I’ve gotta say that the lyrics of this track completely derail any attempts at taking the song seriously (although “I'm starting to feel just a little abused/like a coffee machine in an office” is admittedly somewhat awesome). While it’s Spanish-language counterpart “Loba” (included here as a bonus track) is a whirlwind of sound coupled angry sexual politics, exemplified by the double-meaning of the title in her native tongue, the lyrics of “She Wolf” are merely clunky and gawky, like at 7th grader’s first attempt at poetry. I guess some of the credit/blame could be passed off to the song’s respective songwriters, Jorge Drexler for “Loba” and the guy from the Bravery for “She Wolf,” but Shakira’s too smart to let someone else take too much control of her music.

In fact, it’s her approach to collaborations that seems to submarine her attempts at improving her sound. While previously, she let Emilio Estefan, Gustavo Cerati, and Rick Rubin stay in the background as quality control men of sort, this time she allows John Hill, the Neptunes, and Wyclef Jean run rampant all over the record. What results is the loss of the “Shakira-ness” that makes her music distinctive. Listen to the Neptunes “Why Wait,” which has the Middle Eastern elements that Shakira has always deftly infused into many of her better songs, but are made bland by generic synthesizers. Or how “Good Stuff” tries too hard to sound like Crystal Castles with a club beat, when it could easily be a slice of Javiera Mena-like casual electro pop. And that’s not even mentioning the quickly forgettable and rudimentary “Men in this Town” or “Gypsy.” Oh, and as for the Wyclef-assisted “Spy,” I recommend just deleting that song from your iTunes as soon as you upload this record.

Luckily, Shakira always provides one nugget of hope on every one of her English albums. This time, it’s “Mon Amour,” a delicious little rocker that closes the English part of the album. Like previous standouts “Objection (Tango)” and “Timor,” this track is full of bite and vigor as Shakira portrays the “betrayed and pissed-off lover” persona to perfection. Lily Allen would kill for a song like this.

Overall, this isn’t a completely gawd-awful record; just a huge disappointment. Regardless of your personal feelings about her music, Shakira is an important figure in Latin pop’s evolution towards general acceptance, and we hope that she makes a record as essential and powerful as any of her Spanish records so the population-at-large can appreciate the treasure that we’ve all known for years. And while this sadly won’t be that elusive great English recording, it’s great to think that we have musicians like her in the first place, and that she even has this opportunity to begin with.

Un Disparo Al Centro, Como Asesinar Felipes

Potoco Discos, Chile
Rating: 79
By Carlos Reyes

Objective CAF: “Derretir el tempano, porque estamos como tú, destruyendo el templo.” They’re Chile’s coolest coolest urban act and they have the coolest band name, Como Asesinar Felipes are back with yet another schycophrenic set of songs. Santiago’s bleakest quientet is already known for their rich tragic phrasing, the obtrusiveness of their rhymes, and the industrial manufacturing of their rap. Prior material had exposed a bold and confident band, but this time the orchestration has been broaden to fit the lyrics, sometimes even taking protagonism from the rappers, the fact that there are two instrumental pieces here is an indication of their jump into an actual band. 2009 has been weak for Urban music in general, but this would stand as one of the notable latin urban albums of the year along with Menuda Coincidencia’s Ai Con Permisito.

Como Asesinar Felipes are legit speakers of the human kind, while most rapers extract their juice from social-minded reasoning, these guys keep it classy and jazzy: “escucha en tu interior la palabra mas intima.” Un Disparo Al Centro is not a socio-political statement or a reinforcement of their ego, it’s a critique on music. It’s nothing like Calle 13’s critique on the industry, which deals mainly on them evolving music. The chilean band appproaches things through a deeper attack on authorship and by that, a critique on themselves since they are participants of the whole thing. It sees music as the fascinating art form it is and also as the harmful distraction that it ends up being to many of us. “Cuando la verdad no encaja” is in its mystery, a pessimistic song about music as an escapism, “ahora escribo lo que dicta mi latido, cuando la realidad no encaja, tu realidad sera un drama”, next time one of their songs depresses the heck out of you, remember they did warn you.

“Nos reune el proposito” is built upon the introductory sampling, a tool that becomes essential throughout the album. “La Puerta no se abre sola” is the result of criminal desire, they truly sound like a mafia trying to resolve tedious music, “tu musica dolorosa que nos obliga a pensar cosas, nos obliga a pensar cosas que pensar no queremos.” The jazz elements are especially prominent in “Un Disparo al Centro”, they emphasize their will to make a disaster out of ‘dumb easy music’, to strike it down in its core. Un Disparo Al Centro is only about 20 minutes long, gladly it's fully armed and round that it feels like a full feature, quoting the first sampling in the album: “Es un álbum de experiencias, yo le sugiero a cualquiera persona que escuche el disco, que lo oigan en su casa si es posible, completa tranquilidad, y que lo escuchen de principio a fin. Es un álbum de reflexión, puede bailar también si quiere, pero la intención no era crear ese frenesí de baile, si no una circunstancia más emocional, más reflexiva.”

Video: DJ Raff - "Soul Streets"

As stated before, DJ Raff released an awesome album last year we're glad he keeps extracting singles from it. Travelling Pants was the outcome of a trip to several big industrial cities, borrowing from the same idea is the formation of his new video, about 50,000 photos were recollected from his last tour and were given a shape and direction to serve as the video for "Soul Streets." It's all flashy and electrifying, but best of all, it's aware of the YouTube widescreen as a virtual window. Download "Soul Streets" here (right click, save as)

Un Niño Antiguo, Juango Dávalos

Juango Dávalos’s “De Verdad” brought us our Fonogramaticos Vol.5 theme: “Te Quiero Ver Bailar.” It was love at first sight; the song is so classy it can barely restrain its dim melancholy. “Yo quiero vivir de verdad, te quiero ver bailar, yo quiero sentir, de verdad, lo lindo que es amar.” Just like Chile’s Pedropiedra or Teleradio Donoso, this young Dominican singer-songwriter belts traditional popular music as it critiques it. Not to say Davalos doesn’t sound contemporary, his composition just retains a glossy template of those gigantic ballads our parents grew up listening to. This confection and deeply emotional approach makes songs not only aspire for the transcendental, they’re thinking ageless.

As expected, Dávalos’s sophomore album Un Niño Antiguo (fitting title) has some other solid tracks; for those who like Adanowsky or Gustavo Cerati, this is a must. They go from the sexy/cabaretesque “Cancion a las Mujeres” and “La Muchacha Ideal” to the avant-garde pieces “La Vida Sobre Un Árbol” and “Tu Versus Yo.” There’s also a gorgeous texture surrounding “Los Discos Daban Vueltas” (features Alex Ferreira on vocals), circular rococo anyone? Considering Santo Domingo ranks as our third most popular city on page hits (behind Austin and Mexico City), I think you’re going to like this: we’re giving free wings to Un Niño Antiguo, it’s here for you to download on its entirely.

Download Album

Video: "Nosotros Los Rockers", Piyama Party

Here is the charmingly explicit new video by Piyama Party, who recently released one of the year’s best rock albums (review + download here). “Nosotros Los Rockers” is the opening track from Mas Mejor, and I guess this video would make it the third single from it following the very awesome “Solo te veo en bodas” and bestoftheyear contender “Fan de Carcass.” The two cute cats and the dog wearing pajamas on the album cover are injected some stop motion in this animated short. Loving the modularity of the video, the cardboard look and the Sonic Youth poster, oh those naughty rockers. Not to repeat myself, this is an excerpt from my album review regarding this song. “Nosotros Los Rockers” is a bittersweet manifesto to anyone who has been on a band; it really puts the audience at the same level by telling us about their bootleg disc by The Strokes and their need for guitars and a new amplifier. It really establishes an eye-level agreement that is respected all throughout the album.

ZZK Mixtapes Vol.7 - King Coya

I'll eat my words for my upcoming review of King Coya's Cumbias de Villa Donde (out now digitally through Nacional Records), to post ZZK's Mixtape Vol.7. It's an amazing set by King Coya (Gaby Kerpel), I could keep writing but instead, I'll just paste the release text, also, I declare "Un niño que llora en los montes de María" as one of my ultimate favorite tracks from our latest compilation.

King Coya, from the Northern Argentine Andes, is the digitalized, imaginary version of Gaby Kerpel, who blends traditional Colombian cumbia and Argentine folklore with electronic music.

For the newest ZZK mixtape, Vol. 7, King Coya proposes a collection of tracks from his first album, Cumbias de Villa Donde, mixing, remixing, and mashuping songs that have got plenty a Zizek Club crowd a movin, (his "English Lesson" opener is a Zizek classic if there ever was one). Petrona Martinez, Missy Elliot, La Yegros, PG13 from Calle 13 are some of the voices that appear among the flow of downtempo "cumbias from anywhere" and Latin American folkloric music. Enjoy the ride.

Fuerza Natural, Gustavo Cerati


Sony, Argentina
Rating: 74
By Carlos Reyes

Gustavo Cerati goes from rangy to mellow in Fuerza Natural, the follow up to his terrific and career-best Ahi Vamos (2006). First, I must mention that I’m one of those people out there that admire Cerati as a solo institution far more than with his work with Soda Estereo. His transition as a one-man act polished his authorship; not only is his music more individualized, his composition finally strikes for inner expression. Ahi Vamos is wonderfully unstable and scattered across rock’s most precious legs, exploration and raw aesthetics. Fuerza Natural doesn’t lack effort, but it does lack charm and attitude; it has nothing to do with it being a softer down-tuned record, it’s just that while the sound reaches a zone of mature stability, the songs are pleading to move elsewhere. Cerati is skillfully still in command, hearing “Magia” solves much of my concerns with the album, “todo me sirve, nada se pierde, yo lo transformo… el universo esta a mi favor.”

Some have mistakenly found Fuerza Natural to be Cerati’s first pop album when it isn’t; it’s just unbalanced, that accessibility many have praised it’s more of an uneven gap waiting to be patched. Let’s not confuse ourselves thinking of it as Cerati’s Magic (Bruce Springsteen), it is a proper set for a stadium-scale audience but put it on mainstream radio and more than a few will cry. While the music doesn’t travel much, Cerati does expands his topics; he steps away from superstition and devotee forgo, instead, he devotes more earthly words, perhaps too hipsy for him. In this way, the title makes sense, musically, the album is a bit too flat to brag about force; that is unless Cerati’s search for a more electronic sound is seen as a pure strength. Listen to “Déjà vu” and it clearly substitutes the grasp guitars for hearty electro sequences.

The leading track is uninspired as a single, but is well founded in the album. “Amor Sin Rodeos” is a road trip chant, at the same time, a national piece on defiance, despite its upbeat spirit is one of the album’s most obscure pieces. “Traccion a Sangre” is one of those great songs where Cerati reaffirms his mastery as a lyricist; this is a precious mid-life insight, specifically for musicians, those that live following a melody. Part of the album is too gray to function, the songs aren’t particularly boring, they just feel awkwardly programmable; especially those tricky Beatlesque tunes (“He Visto a Lucy”), I have better things to say about the folky side of the album (“Cactus”, “Convoy”). As with any Gustavo Cerati album, repeated spins are a must, not a problem when you’re introduced to this trip with the wonderful opener “Fuerza Natural”, now that’s magic. Fuerza Natural is uneven, but the great songs are GREAT songs, keep galloping mysterious man!

Fonogramaticos Vol.5 + Bonuses

Fonogramaticos Vol.5 + Bonuses

A compilation by Club Fonograma

(right click > save as)
23 songs, 137 MB, 1 Hour & 23 Minutes
Theme: "Te Quiero Ver Bailar"
Genre: Del Corazón, Tropical Sensacional, Con Acento y Sin Acento

Artwork by Carlos Reyes

01 Nuuro feat. Nana Cadavieco – “Brawl” (Unreleased, Venezuela)
02 Capullo – “Compatibles” (Unreleased, Mexico)
03 White Ninja – “Zombie Town” (Records are Dead, Mexico)
04 Neon Indian– “Chill Out” (Lefse Records, USA/Mexico)
05 Petrona Martínez– “Un niño que llora en los montes de María" (El Hueso King Coya Remix) (ZZK Records/Nacional Records, Argentina)
06 Anti – “Lovers Rock” (Federación de Universos Pop, Spain)
07 Bigott – “She’s My Man” (Grabaciones en el Mar, Spain)
08 Rita Indiana y Los Misterios – “La Hora de Volve” (Unreleased, Dominican Republic)
09 Juango Dávalos – “De Verdad” (Independiente, Dominican Republic)
10 María y José – “Corazón Corazón” (Los Amparito Remix) (Unreleased, Mexico)
11 Emilio José – “Adeus, Feijoo” (Independiente, Spain)
12 Systema Solar – “Bienvenidos” (Independiente, Colombia)
13 Piyama Party – “24 horas no son suficientes” (Independiente, Mexico)
14 Linda Mirada – “San Valentín” (Independiente, Spain)
15 Sr. Amable feat. Mr. Racoon – “Betún” (Delhotel Records, Mexico)
16 Extraperlo – “Las Palmeras del Amor” (Mushroom Pillow, Spain)
17 XYX – “Nunca Nunca” (Nene Records, Mexico)
18 DJs Pareja – “Gente Copada” (Transnacional, Argentina)
19 Franny Glass – “Hoy no quiero verte nunca más” (Contrapedal, Uruguay)
20 The Mocks– "Flaunt" (Independiente, Mexico)
21 Balún – “Camila” (Si No Puedo Bailar, Puerto Rico)
22 Internet2 – “Dar Penita” (Producciones Doradas, Spain)

23 Hello Sehorse! – “Bestia” (Julieta Venegas Remix) (MUN/Nacional Records, Mexico)

Neon Indian covers Piero's "Mi Viejo"

Many have asked why we’re not going nuts over Neon Indian, or if we know about it. Of course we’re aware of Alan Palomo; we actually met him some time ago while he was singing some Spanish-language songs, the guy and the people around him are very creative people. Honestly, I’ve had a rough time digesting his songs, but his CD arrived a few days ago and it sounds pretty good as a whole. It will be interesting to see how his live shows have evolved; I suspect they have changed greatly. The blog fuzz has been on fire over Neon Indian lately; not to mention he just got a BestNewMusic tag at Pitchfork. Here is a performance by Neon Indian covering Piero’s classic “Mi Viejo”, it’s nothing like “Should Have Taken Acid With You” or any of his other promotional songs, people are bound to be surprised.

MP3: Superaquello - "El Viaje"

We honestly don’t know much about Superaquello aside from their Puerto Rican origin and their pretty catchy hit “La Emergencia” (plus that great video). They’re about to release their fifth album titled Superaquello Interpreta Latarde, hopefully I find the time to go through their first albums so I don’t get caught by surprise when it's time to review them. They have placed a piece from this new album titled “El Viaje” as a free download. I can hardly resist hand claps and wheeling bytes, so I’m quite pleased by it. It’s harmless cute pop for a hopefully sober Monday. The album cover is awesome by the way, faultless moustache.

♫♫♫ "El Viaje" (right click, save as)

Antillas EP, El Guincho

Young Turks, Spain
Rating: 69
By Carlos Reyes

Beggars Group (XL, Young Turks) has released an EP for “Antillas”, an extracted piece from my favorite record of 2008, El Guincho’s Alegranza! This is the second track to get its own release; “Palmitos Park” got its own 7'' vinyl, along with a bonus cover track by The Ruby Suns. El Guincho’s sophomore album is said to be out by the end of this year, no ‘indie’ artist from our region had ever gathered so much attention by music blogs across the web (Pitchfork and its aficionados, including us), he must be feeling some pressure. While that’s on the oven, this Antillas EP is not a bad idea, nothing to die for, but it serves as a nice complementary collection of remixes by several hot remixers.

“Antillas” is not only one of El Guincho’s catchiest tunes; it’s one of his few songs that are lyrically-guided on its structure. Sure a lot of its direction is carried by its surf-like tribal manner, but they’re only obeying the roundness of its lyrics. “A bailar venimos a bailar, venimos al compas y a aguantar el compas y si lo aguantas tu me podras compensar con tu danza sin par…” I suspect most people have taken the song’s vocal layer as a rhythmic tool when it is the heart of its greatness. It’s the tale of a great luminous dancer, the sun and the Caribbean archipelago. The attached sound is brutally repetitious but only to rope the mystical and sunny words; “yo se que tienes luz, no se puede apagar, abrigame en tu sol…”, everything flows without falling into rhyme subversives (the music pattern does that).

Awesome track, but how about the remixes? They are the whole reason to have a proper release in the first place. Well, turns out there are two ‘versions’ of this EP; a not so stimulating Electro-European 4-piece set, and a less strained, more ‘Latino’ 5-piece set. I didn’t care much about the former, but the latter does include memorable takes that can go beyond DJ sets and into personal iPods. Brooklyn’s xxxchange delivers a hazardous simplification of the song, and he pulls it off for the most part. Cee El Haca’s low-rider striking mix is way too timid to stand out. Cumbia’s well known party house Bersa Discos dresses “Antillas” as an infectious cumbia. The closing remix is done by Venezuela’s Todosantos, a great electropop act that’s sadly dispersed now, they have left us with great tunes, their remix being one of them, they really owned it. Great track, middling remixes.

Rita Indiana y Los Misterios - "Equeibol" (Acustico en Vivo)

Carlos asked me to post this 'demo' because he wants to save some compliments for the upcoming Rita Indiana y Los Misterios debut album. Well, I guess he’s just passing that task on to me, because I have nothing but amazing things to say about our favorite new act. No, we’re not over hyping it, it’s been years since we’ve been sharing music and this is one of the most exciting projects we’ve witness. Rita Indiana is one of those characters that come every few years or so to reshape the way we think about music, her use of space and story-telling abilities are groundbreaking, so intimate and yet so wonderfully accessible.

Dominican music had never been so appealing to us and we feel confident to call Rita Indiana y Los Misterios as today’s best new alternative band and Rita as one of the most creative personas from our region. And believe us, we’re no longer easily amazed by those bands recollecting roots music and twisting it, this is so much beyond that. We got this new cool acoustic and trashy recording titled “Equeibol” (as in skateboard), the quietest track we’ve heard thus far. “Voy a empeñar los aretes de mi mai pa comprame un equeibol … cuando yo tenga equeibol voy a rodar como ellos en un equeibol.”

Ulises Hadjis Remixes

We’re big fans of Ulises Hadjis, one of those few young singer-songwriters that merit to be referred as cantautores. His debut album Presente, was one of our favorite albums of 2008, a quiet concise listen of temporal excursion, it’s also a seamless and intimate offering in its way to transcend into the realm of the melodramatic popular song. Everything is set for the re-release of the album, which includes five remixes from Dr. Phono, Dolli, Odnam (from Los Amigos Invisibles), Roberto Rincon and Nuuro. He won’t make you buy his album again, so we’re releasing these remixes, tracks 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 for you to download.


"El mirador" Remezclada por Dr. Phono
Producida, grabada* y mezclada por Claudio Ramírez en Cromo AudioLab, Caracas, Venezuela. Mayo 2009.

"En un pozo" Remezclada por Dolli
Producido y grabado* en Pin y punk studios en Abril 2009 por Erly J. Ruiz.
Mezclado en Cromo Audiolab por Claudio Ramírez. Caracas, Venezuela.

"Como Nunca" Remezclada por Odnam
Producida y grabada* por Armando Figueredo en Mister casanova studio, New York City en
Marzo 2009. Mezcla adicional por Roberto Rincón en aldea producciones.

"Sin caer" Remezclada por Roberto Rincón
Producida, grabada* y mezclada en Aldea Producciones por Roberto Rincón en Junio 2009.

"Lunes" Remezclada por Nuuro
Chocobo Studios Caracas, Junio 2009
Grabado*, producido y mezclado por Alejandro Ghersi

*El crédito de grabación en estos remixes hace referencia a los sonidos adicionales incluidos por los Artistas invitados y no los tracks originales que fueron grabados en Aldea Producciones y Sonoaudio por Roberto Rincón, Ulises Hadjis, José La Roche y Carlos Luis "Lol" Sanchez Ricovery.
Arte: Aquiles Hadjis

Todas la canciones escritas por Ulises Hadjis.

DOWNLOAD! (right click, save as)