El Trio De Omar Rodriguez Lopez - "Miercoles"

Ciencia de Los Inutiles is the first 2010 release by Omar Rodriguez Lopez. Ok, that’s supposed to be funny. You know us bloggers complain on the amount of album he puts out every year, but in reality, we admire the fact that he is actually able to pull it off. As we mentioned on the Xenophanes review, Ximena Sariñana’s vocals play astonishingly great among Rodriguez’s expressive hysteria. It’s hard to measure the impact of a release like El Trio de Omar Rodriguez Lopez, but judging from this video alone the magic is still there. "Miercoles" is as smooth and slow-paced as my nostalgic Wednesdays. This is good enough to salivate for Ximena’s sophomore album, which Omar is also producing, but of course, it will be extra special.

Featured: Carla Morrison - "No Viniste" (Natalia Lafourcade Cover)

Featured: Carla Morrison – “No Viniste” (Natalia Lafourcade Cover)
Unreleased, Independiente

Carla Morrison just had a big boost in popularity as her song “Esta Soledad” from her recently digitally-released debut Aprendiendo a Aprender was selected as iTunes’ Free Download of the Week in both iTunes Mexico and iTunes Latino. She has received raves from just about any corner of the blogosphere, which can also be said from the amount of artists who have expressed their admiration towards the ‘new girl on town.’ Recently, she opened a show for Natalia Lafourcade and like most of us, Lafourcade became an instant fan. Later on we had them singing Lykke Li’s “Dance Dance Dance” together and collaborating at Teatro Fru Fru for Natalia’s official presentation of Hu Hu Hu.

Their friendship has endured so much that Natalia is helming Carla’s next album as a producer. We’re probably not supposed to say this but we’ve heard the first finished song from it, and it took our breath away. The album will be titled Mientras Tu Dormías and although it was originally planned as an EP, it has naturally extended into a full length feature. The album will also get a helping hand from Leon Polar, the ex-Sin Bandera singer who is winning our hearts with his support towards new emerging talent, from Pedro Piedra to Torreblanca. But enough said, let’s get to our feature.

On her recent visit to Phoenix, Carla Morrison decided to record Natalia Lafourcade’s “No Viniste”, and it sounds great. Perhaps the cover is a bit too loyal to the original, but it’s so beautiful it gives us goose bumps. Natalia just turned 26 years old, we’re sure this cover is one of the most precious gifts she received this year.

♫♫♫ "No Viniste" (Natalia Lafourcade Cover)
DOWNLOAD! (right click, save as)

Plateado, De Janeiros

Plateado, De Janeiros
Michita Rex, Chile

Rating: 69

by Andrew Casillas

So it’s come to this: I am Club Fonograma’s de facto electronic music writer. So to all of you Beatz-headz out there, I apologize for whatever asinine comparisons I’ll end up writing in this and future reviews. Moving on to new business, we have this release from Chilean troupe De Janeiros. To be honest, this was a bit of a difficult album to review. It’s unquestionably good, though never great; mostly because it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s good about it.

To elaborate: everything about Plateado, from its track titles, to its cover image, to its (seemingly) deliberate track sequencing, seems to revolve around seeing existence through the “bigger picture.” Thus, the album begins at its most immediate before drifting off into subtle, texterous techno pictures. This keeps the music interesting, even at its most unpalatable, but said music never forms a definite shape that you can latch onto to understand why certain sounds are being made or not being made. Thus, the frustration and the lack of understanding.

As stated above, Plateado begins with its most immediate tracks. The opener, “Montreal,” is undoubtedly the album’s greatest peak, with its swirling keyboards and sound effects, and fire alarm-level of urgency; this is a work that could have easily slotted onto Four Tet’s Ringer EP. From here, we get the white noise-laden “Los Caribes,” which veers very close to the line of “formulaic, lumpy big beat” but contains enough happy surprises (and wind instruments!) to make things interesting and enjoyable. From here, the album takes a drastic turn in tone, becoming starry-eyed and contemplative. “Senderos Hacia Planetas Habitables,” aside from having a pretty awesome title for a high school Spanish writing assignment, is wrought with the sort of cinematic expressionism that acts like Pantha du Prince have made en vogue recently. Had the album continued to progress into this sort of expansion-fueled minutia, it may have made for a more compelling listen. What follows on the rest of Plateado are chunky, formless tracks that sound like the interstitial music for a bad science-fiction program. Hell, hearing the title track ALONE makes me wonder about Scott Bakula’s character ever made it back home on Quantum Leap.

This isn’t meant to be a complete slam on De Janeiros, who are obviously capable of making the sort of immediate “good times techno” that even the most casual of listeners would love. Their ambition is duly noted and admirable, but if I could make one suggestion, please cut down on the sci-fi sound effects, and embrace silence. Just like I do when my techno reviews get too long.

Video: La Bien Querida - "Corpus Christi"

It might be because of “Tu Hueles Mejor”, but I find La Bien Querida kind of gangsta, and this video isn't far from such image. Ana Fernandez-Villaverde is making the right moves to keep her momentum; she keeps releasing great singles (the right ones), confirming music festivals and whatnot. It’s hard not to develop a crush over such a cool and classy lady. Her latest video belongs to one of Romancero’s most touching pieces, the lovely “Corpus Christi.” I have to say this video feeds my crush in extraordinary ways, if only because the video justifies its peculiar editing method with such conviction. Quoting Revista69 “Estaremos muy pendientes al movimiento de sus faldas.”

Álamo, Canciones de Madera. Jumbo

Álamo, Canciones de Madera. Jumbo
Home Records, Mexico
Rating: 75
By Carlos Reyes

We all have a band we think are indifferent to but very inside have a great deal of respect for, that sums up Jumbo for me. Although never fully amazed, I’ve learned to recognize their debut album Restaurant as a defining piece in shaping Mexico’s pop rock in the aughts. Also, this is the band that created something as glorious as “Cada vez que me voy” (DD y Ponle Play), where the undeniable qualities of Jumbo are brought in uniform rather than in the brainstorm cloud that, despite its charm, doesn’t add up to much. With that said, I find myself overly pleased with their latest album Alamo, Canciones de Madera, an unusual acoustic set that finds them at balance.

A few months ago Jumbo released a single titled “Vive”, as the mindset of their 2009 tour. I pretty much hated the song and so I wasn’t very excited for a new album. But this atypical Alamo it’s really something to hold on to, they don’t go on to redefine themselves or anything as drastic, but they finally let the warm take over, I can finally sing along. And it’s even noticeable in a very pleasing recreation of “Vive”, where the whole “no lo dejes caer” theme is actually convincing. First single “Transformandonos en Sal” is beautiful; it fervently displays Jumbo as the horizon pop rock band that is both, shimmy and genuine. Clemente Castillo’s vocals had not moved me as much since “Fotografia.”

Canciones de Madera is sweet and generous, the melodies are lovely and catchy, and the lyrics are cheerful and even surprising. In a song like “Invencibles” they almost tune into Furland’s medley of sweet pop and shining prisms. Jumbo leaves its scats home to take on a roadtrip, “No importa la dirección ni el camino, somos tan invencibles.” I can’t think of a better title for an album that is clearly nutritious and absorbing. The execution is impressive but these songs aren't enough to erase my skepticism towards the band, they do however, give me hints of what’s to come, hopefully this good. Alamo, Canciones de Madera isn't groundbreaking (I'm just really surprised) but it's mistakenly overlooked, it’s Jumbo’s best in a long time.

Video: Julieta Venegas - "Bien o Mal"

House favorite Julieta Venegas is responsible for one of the few current great songs circulating in FM radio, and now one truly mesmerizing video for Otra Cosa’s first single “Bien o Mal.” Mesmerizing for its colossal beauty, reminiscent of Sokurov’s Russian Ark and to a lesser extent, Haas’ Angels and Insects. The clip is directed by Agustin Alberdi, a young director who’s already putting a signature to its creations. He was the director of Babasonicos’ “Pijamas” and “Microdancing”, and if you’ve seen any of them you’ll recognize his touch for craft and his unusual yet intelligent approach to humor; in an almost pastiche scope which pretty much substantiates and embraces the farting butterflies in this video as means of landscape flourishing. Music video is not my favorite audiovisual format, in fact, most of the time I suffer (and over-analyze everything) but for a cinephile music fan, videos as complex as "Bien o Mal" are also beautiful challenges.

Judging from the premise “Chicas Extranas, Pueden Casarse, Tener Hijos, Ser Felices?” and the images themselves, it seems like we’re submerged some kind of paradise where women are doing just fine without men. Although there is representation of the male figure, present with a hipster dude who stands behind the beautiful women and dances chaotically, meaning he is no treat. In this sense, the video bounds on male spectatorship. Offering Julieta’s ownership, a sword and a throne to Facebook's ‘Like’ button. But despite the conditions and romanticized world, we don’t really see smiles until the end, outside that paradise and with a bouncing fragmented screen (and a male voice behind that camera). It’s as if she was negotiating love, in its inter-war and confusing butterfly-stomach state, two different universes, equally confusing... “me gusta encontrar que exista en la vida esta posibilidad, de que todo se de vuelta, cuando no esperaba ya novedad.”

Sneak Peak: Los Planetas feat. La Bien Querida - "No se como te atreves"

We've been waiting for a proper rip of this song for a while, but it's taking too long. Los Planetas are back with a new single, such news good news is enough for Spain's indie scene to tremble. But if you add La Bien Querida in there, well, let’s say we can hardly hold ourselves for this one. We’re talking about Spain’s pop royalty band working with 2009’s breakthrough artist, exciting! Los Planetas will be performing at both SXSW and MtyMX, eventually releasing their new album Opera Egipcia next month, so be aware that they’ll probably bring copies to sell during both festivals. And last time we heard, Nacional Records will be releasing Romancero (our #6 album of 2009) in the states, very thrilled! This single is titled “No se como te atreves”, we hesitate to comment on its quality for obvious reasons, but it’s living up to the hype. You can read more info on Los Planetas forthcoming release via Hipersonica.

Video: El Cuarto - "Las Cosas Han Cambiado"

Another visual fest from a promising Argentinean band called El Cuarto for their new single titled “Las Cosas Han Cambiado.” We don’t know much about them but we think they live in Monterrey and we danced to “Minimal” (included in Happy-Fi Compilation 5: Coyote Nights) quite a lot during 2009. They remind of Los Prisioneros, maybe, they’re just really weird and fun to figure out. Judging from this one song, it seems like their sound is still in the cooks, very undefined, and I love that. Happy-Fi is looking strong this year, this should be interesting, plus let’s not forget there’s new stuff coming up from She’s a Tease and Yo! Linares.

Video: Banda de Turistas - "El Rogadero"

This video has been out since last month and it is the bomb! Distorted fields will dislocate your vision, while the song tries to clear up the space for datamoshion to become less obtrusive; it’s a frustrating and spellbinding battle. “El Rogadero” is truly something; I will go far and say it’s the best Banda de Turistas song yet. Jean-Stephane Beriot quoted me on his review of Magical Radiophonic Heart, but this time I’m quoting him back: “El Rogadero is amazing, national irony on the hands of nostalgic kids, mesmerizing, “no escucharemos mas ni un solo ruego, no es que no queramos, es que no podemos." Catch Banda de Turistas at this years Vive Latino and Festival Nrml.

Truccatore, Domingo En Llamas

Truccatore, Domingo En Llamas
Independiente, Venezuela
Rating: 80
By Carlos Reyes

Domingo en Llamas is the audacious project of José Ignacio Benítez, a bright young artist from Venezuela responsible of producing Jóvenes y Sexys’ Bruno EP and whose delightful songs are nothing short from exhilarating. Domingo en Llamas is a vigorous experience; Benitez has an eye for history and a fascination for words. The obvious prototype for such description would add up to a ‘trovador’, and in a way, it fits him. But he is a rare breed of virtuoso; a kind of Dave Longstreet meets Alexander Sokurov and then some. But when you have such a distinct voice and a naturally pleasing way to let it out, it’s easy to dismiss the folksy in it and discover its wild attributes, mostly in its lyrics.

Truccatore (makeup artist in Italian) distances from Fledermaus (2008) as it moves away from strings, to instead, boost up its harmonies, percussion and electric guitars. This is wonderfully crafted; precise symphonies for mountain sing-along chants. The most significant shift from one album to another is the quintessence from which this album takes its course. Instead of the folksy mountaintop songs in Fledermaus, in Truccatore we get something closer to rock ‘n’ roll; which makes everything go up a notch (and complicates things), including its provocative traits and its country-side extravaganza. Without making a freak show or a musical out of it, Truccatore handles eroticism as if it was second nature, something truly admirable and distinct. The opening track “Poltergeist” opens up the sardonic stage with enough energy to surprise to scratch out its brash pierce.

Unlike his last installment, this album does need a fair amount of invest as some songs become claustrophobic and hard to breathe on. Specifically “Concertina Celesta” and “Danza de San Blas” which sound eternal, to the point of fatigue. But almost everything else in Truccatore is great; starting with the extraordinary “Ofensas Florales” which oddly enough reminded me of a time I assisted Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses, meaning that this is a spectacle of all sorts (and it can be fascinating and pale out easily). While Benítez’s word choice might be more complicated than your average lyricist, I’d say André Bazin would approve his condition as an auteur that keeps and reflects his personality in his art, but is conscious that he is a participant of a bigger whole, the 'no man is its own island rule.'

Domingo En Llamas shines in “Somos los bandidos del ritmo”, a verocious display of symphonic control, vocal heights and most importantly, how well time is managed through forward-pause-stop-rewind motion. “Vibratio Del Patio” is equally stunning, the accommodation of its orchestral sides are perfectly framed with its melodic detours. On top of that, lyrically, it’s the best song in the album; “Cada 20 años vienes por mi… Cada cicatriz significa un febrero… Cada 25 años mueves los mares.” Truccatore is a sophisticated album, sometimes too agressive and conflicting on its sepia universe, but it's adventurous as well as imaginative, always keeping its pedestrian spirit as the main force of its crescendos.

Featured: Pau y Amigos feat. Bufi - "Fiesta Permanente

Feature: Pau y Amigos feat Bufi – “Fiesta Permanente”

El Bar de Peter Pan, Discos Tormento

Pau y Amigos is an electropop (En Español) from Mexico City who are about to present their debut álbum titled El Bar de Peter Pan. The band is signed under Discos Tormento and if you anything about that label is that their artists are hipster cool, a sort of kitsch grandeur sound for weekend-ready lovers. Disco strings dictate “Fiesta Permanente”, pushing it forward into steaming electro pods and on the process, transcoding its computerized world to the dance floor. The lyrics are wise enough to parallel the song’s structure in a reverse-shot-reverse exchange and precise vocals by Paulina Lasa, “Sabemos que el momento pronto tendra que terminar, pero con tus instrumentos el tiempo puede parar de contar.”

We can’t say it is as infectious as “Datos Intimos” by She’s a Tease, but it certainly grabs you and puts you in that state of permanent celebration, “ya no siento mi cuerpo, mi he vuelto puro sonido y luz.” Big part of what makes “Fiesta Permanente” so good is Bufi, who just keeps conditioning his posture as an electro gruru. Certainly a song to grab on momentum, it certainly took me back to those great disco-ball cinematic moments by Julian Hernandez (El Cielo Dividido) and Fernando Mierelles (Cidade de Deus). Pop plugs for all.

Classic, Intocable

Classic. Intocable
Sony International, Mexico
Rating: 63
By Carlos Reyes

Intocable’s conception of ‘classic’ is very out there; considering they’re always aiming for reinvention it’s not that big of a shock that their latest album cover references the counter-culture movement in the most miscellaneous of ways. It’s this kind of detailing that reinforces the group’s sense for uniqueness, something truly noticeable in their beginnings and not as prevalent nowadays. Like Pegasso did on its time, Intocable’s songs are inclined towards a sort of alternative audience but keeping their arena-size reach also in mind. Classic isn’t necessarily a change in sound but a return to an earlier Intocable (Fuego Eterno, Otro Mundo), which most people never really new in the first place. Before all the cutesy songs (and a couple of anthems), this band from Zapata, Texas had much of Los Tigres del Norte and Cornelio Reyna in them. The same way they are declared fans of The Smiths or Jay Z, their music has never really shown such eclectic inspirations but it has led them to explore new lands. They quickly lost the ‘Tejano’ tag to own a spot as one of Norteño’s most engaging and influential names, ever.

It’s hard to think of Intocable as a Mexican-American act, they’re fully embedded in Mexico’s hot-selling industry, perhaps the only Regional Mexican group with constant Top40 (pop) airplay. In such way, it’s not all surprising that they have ended up collaborating with Ricardo Arjona or AB Quintanilla, their incursion to Latin Pop has not been very fortunate, but it’s nice to see them try. If anything, it has been nice to see their songs on the hands of people like Natalia Lafourcade, Tego Calderon, Jumbo and Kinky. And let’s not forget that lately, Volovan sounds just like them. Through the last decade or so, we’ve seen hundreds of groups picking up their aesthetics, it will be interesting to see just how much Classic affects them, for one, it’s like the album Intocable had been trying to avoid. First single “Hay Ojitos” is a chart-topper, an endearing song that sums up what Classic sounds like. Other standouts include “Tu amor y mi amor”, “Rompiendo el Retrato” and the really weird “Estamos en Algo.”

Monterrey’s Luis ‘Louie’ Padilla gave them a bunch of hits, but lately the group was sinking in its own mellowness. Their country album, Crossroads being the excuse, it was refreshing, but also misunderstood. It would’ve been nice to see them explore that channel even further; instead, they have tightened their outfits to sing ranchero songs with Norteño instruments and techniques. In Classic, they team up with legendary Ramon Ayala and pay homage to their idol and Los Relampagos del Norte. The result is a bit too conservative and respectful but nonetheless, these guys are damn classy. Ayala was on charge of the album’s well adjusted production, Intocable is recognizable but a bit restrained. But asking them to suddenly transform themselves is harsh, still, I was hoping for something as magical as “Estas Que Te Pelas” or at least for them to take notice (and apply) Michael Salgado’s tricks, if you’re not aware yet, the guy is Norteño’s most exciting persona.

Classic is obviously another effort to prevent Intocable from settling in, and it works fine, I’m just not caught-up to the rushed rhymes of Norteño’s standardized pace. But my dad loved this, meaning Intocable accomplished their goal of breaking continuity, and that’s always a virtue.

Download "Impacto" (Enjambre + LoBlondo) at Reactor's Zona de Descargas

We're not really sure how long it's been out but Enjambre’s collaboration with Hello Seahorse!’s LoBlondo is now available for freee download through Reactor’s Zona de Descargas. The track features two of our favorite voices in Latin Alternative and was recently released on a digital edition of Enjambre’s El Segundo Es Felino, this is your chance to freeload one of our favorite songs of 2009 (at #42) and one of Reactor’s Top 10 songs on their year’s countdown. Download it HERE.

Vecindad Maldita, Philipina Bitch

Vecindad Maldita. Philipina Bitch
Discos Tue Tue, Chile
Rating: 79
By Carlos Reyes

Somewhere along the very thin line of psychedelic rock and an eruption, we find the sounds of Philipina Bitch; the most induced, serious and combusting band in the recent boom of Chilean pop. It’s an ethereal mindset and a thriving experience, perhaps too stiffly on its procedure but it’s a well thought, a well executed album on measure. Let me start by saying “Aplasta tu generación ” is one hell of a good song, its nonstop rush and eventual collapse make up a glorifying anti-anthem, it disjoints generational thought and even gimmicks from it. In a sort of “here you have your goddamn generation, now squash it”, the song becomes a hymn of its own.

Vecindad Maldita is the duo’s sophomore album, a brave one considering how compulsive it is and how well it manages to get away with it. See, much of the album’s potential and success lays in its anti-hero posture; that sort of disinterest and disjointed riffs and harmonies and their weird, sometimes fantastic encounter with vocals. In this way, Philipina Bitch accomplishes to sound ferocious without valve or over sweat, it’s nice to see a band with this depth on its form that actually sounds like a rock band. Without stepping on eclecticism, the band finds folksy rock and approaches it as if it was experimenting with the oddest of sounds. “Polera de Verano” is approached in such a way that it almost sounds naïf, while “No Es Mentira” (El Sauce) was probably the ‘standard’ form and ended up in Molotov’s territory.

Philipina Bitch is in a way, an exhausted band; but they make it work as that exhaustion is in tune with the dark exuberance of their harmonies and witty lyrics. The promotional single “Seis Arriba” shows a band that rejects guidelines, like No Age or Abe Vigoda, they hook and pledge for mood that sum up right quick and don’t necessarily end but find a way to escape through the crowded musical scope. They even handle jazzy rock in “Tan rapido como Juan”, which is actually a Tango, a very smoky one. The last two tracks return to those great bursts of “Aplasta tu generación”, but sounding more like The Smith Westerns and White Denim. With 17 songs, some pieces redeem to fill up space, not necessarily their purpose but it’s quite easy to place them there and not feel any guilty for doing so. It might not be the album that maps out their rationale in music, but it pushes them forward in extraordinary ways.

MP3: Ardnaxela - "Tirijala"

Most songs we get on our mail don’t get into our blog, especially if they’re not entirely current. Well, this song certainly breaks the pattern. Ardnaxela is a Puerto Rican singer who knows resides in Mexico City, she released an album titled Telecine de la Tarde back in 2005, but I never got to listen to the album or read/heard much about it, except for this one song “Tirijala.” Now, that was five years ago and I had horrible taste, I didn’t know better, but I remember getting this song from a kid from Barcelona during my senior year in High School. It inhabited my iPod for a while until it died, then I lost all my mp3s and to be honest, I forgot about this song.

This morning this track showed up on our inbox and asked if we wanted to share it, you should’ve seen my smile. But I was scare to play it, although it’s always nice to revive past moments I’m a different kid now and my ears are different too. Now I find myself singing it again, and surprised at how much I like it. It’s got that nice timeless fashion, very soundtrack oriented. In fact, I can’t seem to think of the song without thinking of Florinda Meza! For those of you who have enjoyed my recent obsession for ‘la canción latinoamericana' revival (Esteman, Pedro Piedra, Adanowsky, Juango Davalos) you’ll love this. It also reminds me of Ely Guerra and Spain’s Single.

Ok, enough with my coming of age and download this. Ardnaxela is currently working on new songs for an EP, looking forward to hear it. “Busco un amigo, mi amante bien amable.”

Video: Camila Moreno - "Lo Cierto"

Many of us were deeply surprised by the Latin Grammy nomination for Camila Moreno’s “Millones”, it was well deserved. It certainly brought her attention and her awesome Almismotiempo debut is slowly internationalizing as the atypical folk album it is. “Lo Cierto” is the album’s second single, and this is the video shot ‘en super ocho’, kind of replicating the album cover. She’s stunningly gorgeous and her voice is simply a vocal rush of emotion. Here is hoping for upcoming videos for “Cae y Calla” and “Primero Que Apune”, our favorite tracks from the album.