Video: Nina Sky - "Day Dreaming"

Everything you’ve heard about multiple offspring probably has some truth to it. It’s been eight years since “Move Ya Body” broke through the charts, and we’re still referring to Nina Sky as the twin sister act from Queens that made weekend-ready club jams. Nicole and Natalie have grown up in composition and execution but, as they show in this clip for “Day Dreaming,” they’re not shying away from the perks of having a twin sibling. Not that you need to know, but as a twin myself (who also happens to have older twin sisters), I find the twin fascination haunting. In this clip by Adam Sauermilch, we find the sisters taking their genetic similarity to physical extremes by conjoining their sets of hair to become Siamese twins. This is as much about nature psychology as it is about sci-fi. The transformation bonds the sisterhood even further, allowing them to introspect on relationships in ways most people couldn’t.

Capullo - Testigos del fin del mundo

Testigos del fin del mundo, Capullo
Tropic-All, México
Rating: 80
by Enrique Coyotzi

As expected, ever since the theory of the end of the world occurring in 2012 (December 21st to be precise) became so damn popular a few years ago, the phenomenon has become a recurring motif (though not a new one) in arts and in none artistic ways too (screw you, Roland Emmerich!), including global pop music. From Britney Spears’ “Till the World Ends,” to Quierostar’s nostalgic realization of the end of times in “Destrucción Total,” or Michita Rex’s
Música para el fin del mundo, two intriguing volumes of compilations inspired by the belief. But no one has approached the apocalypse in such a fun and blithesome manner as Aguascalientes’ Capullo, with their affable proper first full-length, Testigos del fin del mundo.

Continuing their tradition for assembling catchy, infectious, synth-driven songs, Testigos del fin del mundo finds the Hidrocálidos notoriously improving and aggrandizing their songwriting skills, Isra through richer arrangements and catchier hooks and Cris and Sandunga with luscious vocal melodiousness. Their pop sensibilities have blossomed into smoother, rounder compositions, such as “La Marea” or “Quédate,” or should-be-smash-hits like flamboyant first single “Pretextos,” or “A quien amas en realidad es a mí,” a radiant, dynamic highlight where they team up with Colombian sweetheart Lido Pimienta for an outstanding collaboration. Capullo have developed a more electropoppy sound with this record without getting rid of the characteristic merengue, tropical, cumbia, and reggaeton rhythms that have been present through their previous tracks and made their framework distinctive from other artists with similar styles, like Maria Daniela y su Sonido Lasser, Quiero Club, or Javiera Mena. Even more admirable is the neat production level reached, which can be identified from the self-titled opener, a propulsive electronic rendition of Elmer Bernstein’s The Magnificent Seven theme (aka the infamous Marlboro commercials theme). Each track displays a more defined polished craftsmanship that results in a collection of sheer, gratifying, and finely accomplished pop tunes that, lyrically, don’t speak that much about the world’s destruction, but fuck it, this music makes it sound like Judgement Day would be a sweetly enjoyable event.

Testigos del fin del mundo vigorously starts with some of the best songs the trio has conceived, even incorporating indie rock mannerisms at times (“Veo la Tele”). Unlike their debut EP, Informática romantica para avanzados, listeners will notice how Isra’s singing is much more prominent in this album, which is a welcome expansion. He even assumes the lead singer role in standout “Cuarto Aniversario” and demonstrates how his voice is sufficiently appealing for a principal role, not just backing vocals. As we’ve come to expect from Capullo, the themes surrounding the record are pretty much equivalent to jumping into a teenager’s nihilistic state of being, fascinated with technological gadgets and loneliness, and with a large history of amorous deceptions. Unfortunately, towards the end of the album one can’t help but think it could have flowed better with a bit of editing. Tracks like “Agenda Electrónica” and “Éramos Tan Jóvenes” aren’t bad by any means, but their inclusion here feels like filler and doesn’t help the well-paced rhythm the record had already acquired; perhaps releasing them as a small EP would’ve been a good idea. The only real misstep here is “Adiós Sonámbulos,” which is all over the place and culminates in an absolute, almost intolerable mess. Luckily, the swirling “La Nueva Configuración” was smartly reserved as the closer; a reminder to, quoting Ms. Spears, “keep on dancing till the world ends.”

Capullo sacrifice the chance of a round album, opting to include (probably) the whole material they hand in hands at that moment, not realizing the final minutes can be a hard swallow, as the listener may lose interest. However, each of these pieces (with the exception of “Adiós Sonámbulos”) function magnificently on their own. As a matter of fact, they work as an assemblage of individual hits that make more sense when listened separately, yet time and constant replays reveal they do as well as a whole. In the end, Capullo have reaffirmed why they have been blog favorites for a while now and trace an even brighter future with Testigos del fin del mundo, a refined, joyous giant that commemorates the apocalypse in the most delightful way imaginable, as portrayed by three spectators' eyes.

Arca - Barón Libre

Barón Libre, Arca
UNO NYC, Venezuela
Rating: 84
by Pierre Lestruhaut

Arca, is the 'black canvas' new project of a Venezuelan prodigy. Although not a complicated record to get into, Barón Libre’s immediate references are hard to pin down, and the most difficult thing about it is precisely attempting to categorize it. When I asked the CF staff what they thought of Arca’s debut record and how they’d classify it, CF’s electronic music go-to guy, Andrew Casillas, described it as “kind of like Timbaland meets James Blake but BRASHER, which is exactly what regular people wanted out of James Blake before he revealed his desire to be Joni Mitchell.” The rest of the staff was probably still too busy loving the Talabot record when I asked for their opinion on this.

In describing Arca’s choice of sacrificing pop structures for electronic ones (as opposed to what Blake did), I would have gone for something more like DJ Screw meets Burial, which is actually what you would generally employ to describe (prepare for collective eye-roll) “witch house.” And, more specifically, Salem. The stunning 7-minute closer, “Spira,” uses the chopped and screwed technique to create the same druggy atmosphere of Salem’s “Trapdoor,” while haunted choirs emerge suddenly to spook things up a little just like they do throughout Salem’s King Night. But Arca’s got a lot more versatility than that in his game and, while his sounds and moods are all directly associated to hip-hop, R&B, and many different kinds of electronic music, he still purposefully evades these genres’ traditional structures and operates under a tremendously conceived tension that comes from working between a customary framework and some brash experimentation.

The biggest critical cop-out a writer could ever fall for though, is saying words are not enough to describe the wide spectrum of feelings that a work of art can have in one person. Yet every single attempt of describing Arca as some sort of “X meets Y,” every witch house, Houston rap, dubstep reference I’ve been thinking of ever since starting to listen to Barón Libre feels like a terrible reduction of his work, one that even fails at being a clever display of musical knowledge. As a pop fan, listening to it is an absolutely satisfying experience, but as a music writer trying to dissect why Arca’s approach to electronic music is so appealing, it is something that is absolutely frustrating. There’s a reason why something like Rustie’s maximal approach to electronic music or 0PN’s sample-heavy digital retroism fell short in our end of year list to something like Nicolas Jaar’s highly textured, yet immediately hummable tracks.

After forty spins or so of this 15-minute EP, I think I finally came to find a way to formulate my admiration for it in a personally satisfying way. For some reason I’ve been having these highly hedonistic dreams, which are always about something that has absolutely no apparent reason to be, something like say having KRS-One DJing at your non-existing friend’s house by the beach where you end up making out with your high school crush (to cite the most innocent one of them). But the sheer pleasure of enjoying the moment never leaves any time for questioning the irrationality that lies behind it. That is, until you try to make some sense of it all the next day and end up chuckling about the insanity of the whole thing and how little we can ever really know about what really drives us into dreaming such things.

Arca has succeeded at blending the gap between the pop fan’s illogical hedonistic enjoyment of the record and the music writer’s indulgence in trying to grasp a logical understanding of his enjoyment of it through his own understanding of past and present music. The experience of traveling through Barón Libre’s 15 minutes of slowed down vocals, half-assed sampled raps, haunting choirs, and stabbing synths, leaves the pop kid ecstatic and filled with enjoyment for such a strange sonic feast. But when the music writer starts to make sense of what was really happening there, he begins drawing lines between Arca and other stuff like Burial, DJ Screw, or fucking Salem, thinking of ridiculous reasons for sampling an unimportant DMX track, it’s as difficult as trying to understand the reason that drives you into dreaming whatever it is you dream about. In your dreams you always feel like you absolutely know the characters and the sceneries, you understand the situations. But whatever is configuring those elements in your head, whatever is making you dream of that specifically, that’s something you’ll never be able to seize well, something a whole lot bigger than yourself. And, just like being stuck with Barón Libre on repeat, all you can do is get up the next day and admire just how fucked up the shit really is.

♫♫♫ "Spira" | Download EP

Video: Dani Shivers - "Graves"

For over a year, Tijuana’s
Pan Rock have been responsible for producing a series of great clips that document some of the city's coolest gigs, mainly by local artists. They’ve expanded and now Pan Rock Films is also presenting official music videos. Under Sergio Valdez’s direction, the first one to be featured is for Dani Shivers’ chilling, cutesy-as-hell “Graves.” Shot with charming photography, this lovely clip shows our heroine through different urban locations and looking adorable while holding her cat, hugging a unicorn plush, and licking a big lollipop. Improving the demo version with the addition of exhilarating beats, a handclap effect, and further emphasis on wistful keyboard work, Shivers encounters the fitting balance between candied synth pop and tenebrously heartwarming horror film score melodies. “Follow you where you are,” she incessantly repeats on the chorus, providing the sense of an unbreakable promise; a vow, possibly to herself. We’ve been impatiently waiting for her first full-length, Jinx, for a while now. The final version of “Graves” has set the anticipation bar even higher.

Linda Mirada - "Secundario"

While Linda Mirada’s debut album, China es otra cultura, ultimately didn’t transcend into something bigger, it adequately worked as a pleasing collection of harmless '80s pop revivalist tunes with clear influences, unfolding a glamorous new revelation to watch. Following the release of last year’s superb 12”, Fabuloso San José, Ana Naranjo returns with her chic brand new single off her yet untitled sophomore record (and first with Discoteca Océano), “Secundario.” Now, I might be kind of obsessed lately with Nicolas Winding Refn’s astounding Drive, but I can definitely imagine this track included in the film’s soundtrack. It’s not synth-charged as anything included in it, but Linda Mirada’s stylish confection is as striking as that eye-catching magenta vintage typography of the movie’s initial credits—it simply clicks. Kudos to the “All My Friends”-like piano base and New Order-esque guitar work, as both splendidly combine with Naranjo’s gorgeous vocals. Instantly catchy, for sure.

Video: Isla de los Estados - "Gozo"

Lolo Gasparini is on our shortlist for the coolest person in our circuit. We’re captivated by the songwriting, the body-orchestrated moves, and that killer bone structure. Directors Maria Zanetti and Laura Manson have provided Isla de los Estados with the eerie lighting and camera tricks to put the visual narrative to “Gozo.” The theatricality of the clip blossoms in its own romantic dialogue–this is an ode to illusionism as a prime performance art. It starts with a heart-beating spotlight and ends with Lolo’s silhouette shading into the dark. The use of space here is stunning, particularly because of its pristine alignment with the track’s strings and synths (by Kelley Pollar). Between “Balanceo” and “Gozo,” Isla de los Estados is bound to internationalize sooner or later, in the meantime, join the cult.

3ball MTY - Inténtalo

3ball MTY - Inténtalo
UMLE/Fonovisa, Mexico

Rating: 79

by Conejito Colvin

So, now that a certain Mexploitation piece by Vice has and continues to spread virally (and not in the network phenomenon sense, but more like in the infective disease sort of way), and everyone from the New York Times to your dyed-in-the-wool Chicano neighbor has reached a verdict on it, what’s left to be said, really? I mean, does an album like this—a game changer in the truest sense of the term—even warrant a trite appraisal based on its...what? Musical merit? As I type, “Inténtalo” is comfortably perched at #2 on Billboard’s Latin charts, having occupied the Top 10 list for what seems like an eternity (in Internet years, anyway). Lest the reader forget, we’re talking about rave music. Nay, Mexican rave music!

Meanwhile, The Tribal Triad continues to make the rounds at every single show on the Univision-cum-Telemundo apparatus, and then some (award shows). Hell, I can’t even drive to the grocery store without hearing “Inténtalo” blasting out of someone’s car speakers. That and Rihanna. I can’t begin to think of all the demographics this thing is exposing. All of which, I’m sure, 3ball MTY’s PR peeps are hell-bent on conquering.

I guess the real question left to ask here is, will you like it (faceless mipster, thou)? Pues, I’d say the odds are split at an even 50. Meaning, you’ll either LUUURVE it, or you’ll want to pry your ears off. Possibly both! The hard-boiled fact of the matter is that the very reasons to love this album are the same ones that could, just maybe, rub some people in an inadequate fashion. Erm, how to put this bluntly? It just sounds sooo Mexican. But, hey, don’t get me wrong, I grew up on this kind of music. I should add that, amazingly, listening to “Inténtalo” approximately 948 times since last summer hasn’t, in fact, made me want to pry my ears off (that, I expect, will happen around the 1,000 mark). So, unless you’re one of them self-loathing Mexican’t types, I don’t really see you taking an issue with this incessantly hook-heavy album.

Case in point: the auto-tune heavy “Mala Mujer.” What initially appears like an ill-conceived Latin Explosion 2.0 number eventually reveals itself to be, well, not that. It manages to stand out in a record filled with more hooks than an Australian bra factory, and it’s my dark horse for dethroning the lead single’s unparalleled state of ubiquity. Other times, the focus is less geared on the airwaves, and back where it all started, with a relentless four-to-the-floor rhythm. “Baile de Amor” is ample proof of 3ball MTY’s continued flair for stirring up the most idle of dance floors.

If you’re part of the one percent of fans out there who have been following 3ball MTY from day one—which I’ll assume, for the purposes of this review, that you exist and are reading this—then I have some bad, and possibly sad, news for you. This is the most watered-down incarnation of their sound that you will hear. BUT, if (like this writer and fellow fan), you came upon them before the bonanza, then I’ll infer that you don’t purchase records in Compact Disc format at your local retailer (which is what these days, Best Buy? Wal-Mart? I’m seriously asking, I don’t know anybody who does this!), but rather prefer downloading your tribal music from the Interwebz and will continue to do so, in spite of Erick, Sheeqo, and Otto becoming the Menudo of Mexican rave music. In which case you should disregard everything I just wrote, and instead refer to the following three words: 3BALL MTY PUTOS!

3Ball mty - Amantes Guaracheros by Steven A.

Granit - Granit EP

Granit, Granit EP
Independiente, Spain
Rating: 82
by Giovanni Guillén

When “Aresta” surfaced late last year it quickly propelled Granit into one of the more talked about bands on the Ibero-blogosphere. The buzz was certainly well deserved. The Barcelona duo had created a song that was inspired, gave light to a new facet of the Spanish indie scene, and had seemingly come out of nowhere. Amidst all the acclaim and excitement, however, it felt like fans and bloggers were stuck comparing Granit to a certain dream pop duo from Baltimore. There’s no denying the Beach House comparison holds some truth, but what grew frustrating about it was how it minimized the scope of Granit’s ambitions. The thing is Beach House, even at their most resplendent and anthemic have always favored a sense of intimacy, an attachment to enclosed spaces and structures (bedrooms, cathedrals, gardens, etc.) while Granit, on the other hand, seem more engaged with the world around them (nature, the cosmos, the elements). It is precisely that feature which makes Granit’s self-titled EP such a captivating and refreshing debut.

Even before the video for “Marea Viva” was released, Granit’s music already had me thinking of the early days of cinema, namely the work of Georges Méliès. Fantasy worlds in which the on-screen illusions weren’t the only magic to behold. Even a mere stare or ordinary gesture could be enchanting simply because it was captured on film. Opener “Aresta” echoes the spirit of such an era, balancing a fantastic wash of synths with slow percussion and a downtempo beat. In listening to the space between the rhythm, it’s hard not to imagine mysterious faces in black and white moving along at a matching frame rate. Perhaps that is why “Aresta” has aged so well, the track seesaws between opposing moods to the point where its intricacies can only be mapped out through repeated listens.

In terms of quality, the production is excellent; Granit’s rich sound pallet remains clean and sophisticated, at times even recalling the Michita Rex catalog. I like to imagine a fertile pop landscape in which Granit mine the earth right next to the likes of Fakuta and even Andrea Roca. There’s also something almost regal in the way band members Alba Blasi and Cristina Checa navigate through their own instruments. “Multiversos” shimmers as if each note was a jewel-encrusted phoneme. The extension of sounds as a form of speech allows both parts to dance ceremoniously.

Regality intersects with nature on the heartbreaking “Flames de Sorra.” The song’s vocals reflect total isolation with a setting to compliment the mindset. I immediately thought of desolate beach cliffs (think Dave Gahan in Enjoy the Silence minus the beach chair), places indifferent to finery and excess to expose real emptiness. The closer ends things on a decidedly uplifting note. What is interesting about the especially super-charged “Marea Viva" is that it finds Granit challenging all of the order the EP worked to maintain. Not that there’s anything inconsistent about it, it’s merely evidence that Granit are already looking forward, ready to engage with world in new ways.

Video: Lido Pimienta - "Rouletta"

When we first fell in love with Lido Pimienta, she was singing about moving through good vibrations, about healing the soul with music, and about designing life as one would please. Time changes us in unexpected ways. The release of “Luces” last year unveiled a Lido Pimienta that had been in and out of the road to redemption, granting us access to a nuanced depth of her persona. Toronto-based music collective StudioFeed has documented the transition of the Colombian virtuoso in this gorgeously shot clip in which Pimienta goes fully confessional about the changes in her life that have consequently changed her composition. Her story is painfully familiar but, as Lido confesses, it’s the event that has pushed her to find the most honest of grounds. As she preps her bound-to-go-darker sophomore album, Lido is giving us a little taste of it in the new track “Rouletta.” Lido’s performance is ethereal and, at least for a couple of minutes, the world aches alongside her. As two of her closest friends in the biz (Gepe and Javiera Mena) would say, “es una tristeza tan linda.”

MP3: Juan Cirerol - "Sentimental" (Joan Sebastian Cover)

Going through our writers’ individual best of 2011 lists, I see that Juan Cirerol’s Ofrenda al Mictlan did particularly well with the non-Texan, non-Mexican portion of our staff (Montreal’s Souad Martin-Saoudi, Buenos Aires’ Jean-Stephane Beriot, and San Jose’s Pierre Lestruhaut). Which comes to show how accurate Jean-Stephane was when writing that the expansion of Mexican folklore to “the cool kids of the world” was no longer exclusive to Café Tacvba. Well, hopefully this remarkable version of “Sentimental” (which is flickering poetry for the senses) makes some estranged hipsters fall in love with Joan Sebastian. "Hoy no hubo sol por eso es que estoy así... el cielo gris siempre me pone el corazón sentimental," — they don't call him "El Poeta del Pueblo" for nothing. Cirerol’s heart is in solidarity with the fathers of Mexican music and, although mildly to the naked eye, he’s making his own firm trail. Juan Cirerol has a heavy schedule ahead of him performing at Vive Latino, SXSW, and Festival Nrmal.

Ana Tijoux - La Bala

La Bala, Ana Tijoux
Nacional Records, Chile
Rating: 74
by Carlos Reyes

I didn’t care much about the star-making appearance of “1977” on last year’s infamous summer playlist by Thom Yorke, but when that song popped up on an episode of what’s arguably the best TV series of all time (Breaking Bad), I confess I got territorial at the grace of music supervisor Thomas Golubic. Which comes to show that songs do evolve in the course of different narratives. The cosmopolitanism of Ana Tijoux is endearing and truthful, inclusive of varied infrastructures, as well as deep personal venture. Tijoux’s life story knows about exile and landing, about expression and repression - qualities that have found meaning and purpose in her folk-tinged urban artillery that’s, indeed, addressing global unrest in rhyme.

“Soy el ultimo eslabón de la pirámide,” sighs the French-Chilean musician in the album's defining number, "Desclasificado." Ana Tijoux is a lot of things, amongst them: an exceptional rapper, a troubadour (with a killer front-to-back flow), and an immaculate listener. On her third album, La Bala, Tijoux has bolded the melodic response of her delivery, arriving at what’s easily her best record to date. When in the album’s single “Shock” Tijoux sings about the rotting of a golden throne, her mind shields in a collective, marching conviction - the rhymes trail her mind through successive hard punches in the pursuit of corrupt decomposition. This is Tijoux at her best, in full harmony with the times and owning the medium through a commendable dexterity.

Although a career-high, La Bala still suffers from what ultimately prevented its predecessors from becoming great records. It’s missing the beats. She has yet to find the producers that will provide the sonic grassland in which a big portion of her mantra will ultimately flourish. Nothing goes wrong when she’s rapping/singing, but production-wise, her songs are bruised by run-of-the-mill orchestrations that would only work in a pre-industrialized environment. Yes, it’s not too hard to make a conversation between La Bala and an agricultural economy, but the multi-dimensions of her topics and rhymes speak less about a revivalist and more of an artist who is looking forward. But, while that production plot hole is certainly there, Tijoux’s arsenal keeps the flow running with her outspoken, powerful performance. La Bala is Ana Tijoux's shot at breaking bad, and she proves to be more than capable of wearing the ribbon of an outlaw hero.

Video: Alexico - "El Nombre del Perro"

When you get a video with a crimson-colored disclaimer, you know things will get interesting. Particularly if the clip also happens to be animated. So does it live up to the warning premise? Well, there's puking, bloody kitchenware, and even some cosmic penetration. Monterrey’s Alexico is known for leaving open ends to many of his songs, perhaps for future nurturing. Rising animated group Crómpëfk have injected glorifying motion to “El Nombre del Perro,” making something huge out of it. This galaxy-hoping adventure finds Alexico and his dog immersing themselves in the cavities of worlds they can’t quite understand. They are, however, naturally curious. Alexico has always struck me as someone who probably grew up watching/imitating Pinky and the Brain (Warner Bros’ most scientifically-introspective and erotic cartoon), this fantastical clip assures my theory.

Pegasvs - "Brillar"

After an impressive series of jaw-dropping songs released last year (one of them even finding a spot in our own Top 20), 2011 never really saw that very much anticipated debut album of Barcelona’s intriguing prog-pop duo Pegasvs having its foreseeable winning lap at the blogs. However, it seems like the waiting for that will be over soon, since Pegasvs have just dropped a new track as an early treat from their forthcoming self-titled album, which they’re planning to release at the end of this month. “Brillar” is another sharp slice of enthralling synth-driven pop, still keeping everything mostly unchanged in their own aesthetic, with their instrumentation, singing style, use of synth hooks, song structure, and lyrical minimalism remaining very much alike to what we’d been accustomed to hear. But even with all of their blatant Pegasvs-ness, they can still succeed in leaping through a wide range of moods. While “Atlántico” was their warm and summery anthem, and “El Final de la Noche” was more like their kinetic travel into nocturnal rapture, “Brillar” is their most lighthearted song to date, the one where their airy hooks find pop bliss and precisely...shine.

Video + MP3: LSS - "El Valle"

Most emerging acts share an anxiety to coagulate virtual identities. For novel electronic acts, this preoccupation is twice as hard to undertake because of the genre’s longwinded use of templates (usually satiated in potholed habits). Mexico’s LSS (Los Sensacionales Squidrose) fall into this blueprint. For their first impression, they’ve released a clip featuring an array of footage from an array of cultures, telling us plenty about their ability to synchronize but very little about their tangible aesthetic proportions. While vague in their approach, LSS has nonetheless made an impression. Mostly because of how uplifting “El Valle” is. The bouncy track is so giddy that it’s actually silly. It also happens to have an Aguayo-esque chorus that will pop in your head when you least expect it.

♫♫♫ "El Valle"

Bosques - Eomaia Nam

Eomaia Nam, Bosques
Black Fish Discos/Isla Visión, Argentina
Rating: 76
by Pierre Lestruhaut

There are reasons to balk here. There’s the 7-minute ambient drone opener “Amniosis,” the series of unending reverb-laden guitar jams, the rather druggy (“Mis manos son las manos de alguien extraño pero no es extraño el hombre que toca mis manos”) and often unintelligible lyrics, and the album name’s excessive search for some sort of spirituality (Eomaia: greek for dawn mother, Nam: devotion of body and mind in Buddhism). Because many of us, more often than not, would think of an album exploring the haze between psych rock and noise, as more of an alienating series of trance-inducing tracks that you could only really enjoy after consuming some kind of drug. 17-minute jams haven’t really aged well with pop and indie audiences anyway, so let’s just say you have been dutifully warned about what's roughly to expect here.

But, despite not being an album your more pop-friendly radio station would be too keen on playing, there are a few old touchstones that are being well scoped here. Previously released “El fantasma sagrado” and “Mis manos las manos” will have fans of Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized churning over simple chord progressions, smooth country licks and string sections, slices of humming gospel organ, and salvation pleading vocals. But where every Spacemen 3 song ever recorded had a more spiritual dimension to it (finding Jesus or getting stoned, which for them was probably the same thing), the Argentine duo finds organic motives in their use of musical repetition. Litanies of birth and death (“Lo que murió nutre el árbol”) are sung over minimal chord patterns, and swelling layers of guitar frame contrived refrains about evolution (“Las alteraciones, las mutaciones, suceden en función de la evolución”). Even the three wordless tracks here have a spiritual/organic dimension to them in the same way New Age music has always alluded to themes of environment and spiritual journeys, or recent post-rock acts like Godspeed You! Black Emperor have used layered textures to create an ethereal mood to their music

The more die-hard indie rock fans, though, might be better off with Bosques' more shoegazy debut EP, Pleroma Sum, even if some people are still classifying Eomaia Nam as somewhat of a shoegaze record because of it’s obvious wall-of-sound approach. But, overall, this new album feels a lot more exhaustive than simple guitar reverie would suggest, giving plenty of room for contrasting musical ideas of folk instruments versus electronic beats, or rock riffs versus ambient drones. Which is why, in addition to all of the spiritual/organic associations you can find in Eomaia Nam, one of its main appeals resides in its great musical execution and its courage to anachronistically take on long-running tracks even when the era of the 60-minute CD is long gone.

Video: Kokoshca - "La Fuerza"

If like much of the Fonograma staff, you also happen to think Pony Bravo’s Un Gramo de Fe has the best album cover in recent memory, then the chances you’ll enjoy Kokoshca’s clip for “La Fuerza” are certain. Iker Insausti and Jeffrey Frigula helmed a clip that cloaks religious cynicism and pukes on the sanity of human dimension. The clip’s narrative linearity grasps its subjects with a divine intellect, finding a main purpose in that morbid “force” that drives agnosticism. The song itself is thrilling – it’s fatalist but bruised in humor, hard-hitting but greedy for hugs. How this is enlisted in the twee-colonized catalog of Elefant Records is beyond reason. Now, if only “La Fuerza” could find its way onto Mexican radio, it would be an absolute hit.

Video: Caravana - "Sigue Sus Ojos"

Melodic resonance is best appreciated under minimalistic frames. “Sigue Sus Ojos,” one of the most heartfelt tracks of last year, has finally been given the single treatment. This song dips deep into the laws of attraction, piercing emotions on every hook. Luciano Rubio has crafted a monochrome video that celebrates the analog formation of Caravana, balancing the dreamy haze of instruments with the stark silhouettes of their musicians. Caravana’s Rodrigo Santis is accompanied by an all-star band comprised by Felicia Morales, Fernando Milagros, Gepe, and Pedropiedra (all looking gorgeous and wearing awesome sweaters). Caravana will be performing on the first day of Vive Latino at Carpa Intolerante (March 23rd), in what’s one of the not-to-be-missed performances of the entire three-day fest.

Video: Granit - "Marea Viva"

Though it’s early in the year to be making these kinds of predictions, and though they only have a short EP under their belt, I fully expect the ladies of Granit to make a big impact this year. The Barcelona band’s Aresta EP has been on heavy rotation because it beautifully navigates that space between haunting and gorgeous, light and somber, celestial and aquatic. “Marea Viva” and its accompanying video is a perfect example of this. The layer of rippling water beneath the images of graceful ballerinas evokes a more romantic version of synchronized swimming, while the pink and green hues hint at seapunk color palettes. (Sorry I brought up seapunk.) But this video isn’t part of the Tumblr kitsch, it’s far more subtle and a synchronized dance in its own right, the lilting percussion matching up with the lapping waves, the dreamy vocals with the bright full moon, the visual layers with the sonic ones.

Bebe - Un Pokito de Rocanrol

Un Pokito de Rocanrol, Bebe
EMI Music, Spain
Rating: 57
by Carlos Reyes

Oh, how I distrust people that exchange the “c” (or the "qu" in Spanish) for the “k." I guess it’s not such a bad thing if you signed your name that way in rebellion on your junior high midterms, but, later than that, the grammatical rock and roll exertion turns into comatose accessory. Which is why, despite Bebe’s extensive legitimation as an out-of-the-margins artist, I still distrust the outline of her third album, Un Pokito de Rocanrol. To be fair, there’s probably a great regard of intended irony behind the album’s witty title, its heavy rock album cover, and its unearned Parental Advisory sticker, but still, that only takes the album into cheap gimmick territory.

Un Pokito de Rocanrol is aesthetically and thematically shaped as an attention-getter. Which is why attempting to jump straight into the songs would be not only negligent to the artist’s profile, but also culturally irresponsible. How much of a rock star does Bebe really have in her? Well, let’s see. Back in 2005 she showed plenty of it at the Latin Grammys. It was the first year L.A.R.A.S. broadcasted the ceremony fully in Spanish and through Univision, which meant that, despite the conservatism of the network, most artists sat somewhat comfortably. But not Bebe, who outsmarted the show’s ultra-suppressive producers on more than one occasion smuggling “PUTA!” into her performance of “Malo,” and shouting “a follar que se chocan los planetas” during the acceptance speech of her Best New Artist award. Yes, all that happened under the network presidency of Ray Rodriguez and in the presence of renowned singer/pastor Marcos Witt.

Following her creativly-flopping sophomore album, Y, María Nieves Rebolledo has swapped her head producer Carlos Jean for the also experienced Renaud Letang, whose all-encompassing credits include the likes of Manu Chao, Seu Jorge, and Feist. This change in the infrastructure has allowed Bebe to work on her most expansive canvas yet. And by expansive, I mean the most extroverted and unmeasured of canvases. The album starts with the politically-driven “ABC” in a wraithlike metal passage that later turns urban - an abrupt change in attitude that shows more insecurity than an intended versatility. The rickety start is redeemed right afterward with the pleasant “Adios,” which melts doo-wop with ranchero and hip hop quite effortlessly. These two initial tracks are a reflection of the fragmentation in quality that’s found all throughout the hit-or-miss record, and for most cases, also serves as a forecasting device to spot the good songs from the rest.

Shockingly, the unfortunate packaging of these songs isn’t the weakest thing about Un Pokito de Rocanrol. The album’s single “K.I.E.R.E.M.E.” is in its own frenetic league - it’s that bad. Bebe’s efforts to do M.I.A. and flamenco (on parallel) end up as a superfluous track that simply drowns in mantra mysticism. There’s more shock value in this album than Bebe would probably admit to, and that’s perhaps the most discomforting thing here. Un Pokito de Rocanrol is still one of the better albums to appear on the next L.A.R.A.S. entry list, and in that regard, I can still applaud the artist’s middle-of-the-road bravery. Bebe has not ran out of the ideas, but this time around she has certainly misplaced them. Because when you’re about to miss the train it’s not enough to run and click on the door button, you put your hand in between the sliding doors to make that train stop.

Video: Super Guachin - "La Gorra"

Super Guachin’s "La Gorra," the second promo cut off their Piratas y Fichines EP (ZZK Records), is not only a sweaty, slo-mo accomplished track, but it also happens to have a superb recreational video (perhaps the best we've seen this year so far). Brothers Ignacio and Luciano Brasolin have always introduced Super Guachin as a forward-thinking audiovisual duo, and this clip (with graphics from Ukrainian artist Mykola Dosenko) shows them doing just that. Of course, there’s no way to look into the future without having nostalgia on your side. This is pop referencing heaven here, like Universal Soldier meeting Wrestlemania, DJ Hero, and then some.

This story takes place in the near future. The modern world as we know it came to an end in 2012, when a politically powerful mega-corporation set up an evil plan of world domination. They removed all neutral media outlets including television, radio and ultimately the internet, where they restricted all access to share any type of information for free, chasing and criminalizing those who violated this policy and protested against it. Then a dangerous virus was scattered and spread throughout the globe that transformed 90% of the human race into mindless mutants, thus forming a zombie army that the corporation controlled at its whim. Surrounded by censorship, chaos and propaganda, two fugitives indicted on charges of "digital piracy" under the alias SUPER GUACHIN decide to strike back at the corporation through their music. Loaded with an arsenal of computers and instruments, they would perform concerts in secret to save the human race and to regain the right to free information for all ...

Diosque - Bote

Bote, Diosque
Independiente, Argentina
Rating: 77
by Carlos Reyes

“You’re one of those people who likes to stare at accidents” says the punching opening line in Los Punsetes’ brutally visceral, “Accidentes.” Argentine composer Juan Roman Diosque strikes me as one of those people. Through his music, he defies the proportions of a bird’s-eye elevated view to instead observe its subjects at a depraved proximity. There’s something very neurotic about an anti-panoramic songwriter (e.g. Marco Antonio Solís), especially when the short distance devotion hints early symptoms of voyeurism and, even more fascinating, paraphilia. But Diosque’s condition as a romantic makes him less concerned about carnal fervor and more thoughtful about the retrenchment of emotional restriction.

Co-produced by Daniel Melero, Diosque’s latest album, Bote, is like the gore-less, musical follow-up to David Cronenberg’s Crash. But please don’t expect motorized collisions or body scarring as the prime stimulants of this ride, we’re dealing with a different kind of impact here. As with most mavericks of lyrical spacing, Diosque plays with timing and tangents more than your average singer-songwriter. In fact, throughout the 13-track album, Diosque’s vocals have a prime mission: catching up to the melody. “Pienso en la distancia cuando estoy con vos, y pienso en vos cuando estoy a la distancia,” sighs Diosque in one of the songs, making his affinity for emotional dimension thrive for balance. Blending synth harmonies with dreamy grooves, Bote is another piece of the impressive harvest coming out of the province of Tucuman, which last year brought us lovely albums from Luciana Tagliapietra and Violeta Castillo.

Profound themes demand profound molding, and this is exactly where Diosque’s anxiety to keep things close finds absolute gist. Album single “La Dictadura de tu Belleza” has the gradual delivery of Grizzly Bear and the shimmering vastness of Gepe. This track finds Diosque singing about a dictating beauty that blinds the heart and molds it into throbbing, remorseful defaults. In an album that pulls its thumps from unconventional corners, Bote feels aptly modulated. Yet, in the ferrying of dualistic ideas, the clashing of folk and electronic shades sometimes only adds up to garment (as exemplified in the album’s conclusive segment of gratuitous experimentation). If after reading this review you’re getting a vibe that Diosque is needy, then I have done a terrible job describing him. Diosque’s music is far from needy; it’s confronting, gutsy, and arresting. Not only do I not mind the emotional trespassing, I’d be willing to experience a fender-bender bump with Bote as my conspicuous, cuddling soundtrack.

Fonocast #8: Truly, Madly, Deeply

Fonocast #8: Truly, Madly, Deeply
by Blanca Méndez & Belén Plasencia

In honor of Valentine's Day, we bring you a show full of love—enough to make even the most hopeless romantic want to puke. But isn't that what love should do? Maybe not induce nausea exactly, but tap into some really deep emotional and physical levels of yourself you didn't even know existed. We know that sounds kinda scary. And it is. Especially for those of us who like to be in control. But it's also one of the most amazing things you could ever experience. Even if you're the most cynical of cynics, LOVE HAPPENS. So, let it. And let Capullo, Intocable, and Daniela Romo help you get in touch with your inner sap. We recommend that you listen to this show with your boo, "Un audífono tú, un audífono yo"-style.

  • Calle 13 - "La Jirafa"
  • Pipe Llorens - "Dame Un Besito"
  • Capullo - "Power Point de Amor"
  • Linda Mirada - "San Valentin"
  • Alex Anwandter - "Como Puedes Vivir Contigo Mismo"
  • Daniela Romo - "Yo No Te Pido La Luna"
  • Grupo Limite - "Solo Contigo"
  • Intocable - "Aire"
  • Shakira - "Que Me Quedes Tu"
  • Ely Guerra - "Mi Playa"
  • Demi Lovato & Selena Gomez - "One and the Same"

John Talabot - ƒin

ƒin, John Talabot
Permanent Vacation, Spain
Rating: 88
by Andrew Casillas

Jungle sounds clash with plucked strings clash with electronic claps until wait for it: a beat. John Talabot sees your ambivalence and accusations of rhythmical homogeny and raises your Super Vato funk. But, lest you think he’s only got the versatility of a relief pitcher, Talabot proves over the course of an hour that he’s working with an array of techniques—suck one, Tom Emanski.

ƒin is the culmination of the Barcelona-based producer’s measured rise through the techno ranks over the past half-decade. He’s made acquaintances and worked with a wide variety of artists, such as Delorean and Luke Abbott, while taking a deliberate approach to leaking output under his own name. For his debut full-length, Talabot takes off the slack and lets loose. Disco beats, Middle Eastern strings, head stomping bangers, scuzzy harmonies. It’s Balearic dream house at its most decadent and pleasurable.

So, the majority of folks reading this probably can’t readily distinguish amongst the various forms of techno, and, if you’re in this group, you’re wondering: why should I take my time to listen to this? What distinguishes this from everything else? Well, my beautiful friend, what makes ƒin so special isn’t its reliance on hipster cool (though it is indeed very hip and too cool for school) but rather, it’s all about the soooooongs, man.

At face value, this is one of the most satisfying pop albums of 2012. Even one spin of this record will reveal a bevy of deep, yet eager to please, cuts designed for virtually any listener who will have them. Just listen to the fluorescent '80s-inspired “When the Past was Present” (which honestly sounds like GTA: Vice City if it were about line-dancing), or the indie dream pop of “Journeys” (which sounds a lot like Delorean, which makes sense because that band’s lead singer takes the vocals here), or the strutting lite funk of “Oro y Sangre.”

And for the beatz-knowledgeable, this still hits as hard as you’d want any house record to hit. You can hear the hints of Pantha du Prince backing up “Destiny,” or get your Mount Kimbie fix from “So Will Be Now…,” or if you’re anxious for Real House Music, there’s always the Ibiza-dizzy “Last Land.” Really, the only thing missing is a singular EPIC number—but that’s not really necessary when complimented by such a well-tooled arsenal.

In terms of Iberoamerican beatz, ƒin perfectly fits in with the lineage of instant classics from Matías Aguayo and Rebolledo. Indeed, where Super Vato documents the sort of leather-clad epic night of your dreams, and Ay Ay Ay represents the never-ending rush of an early morning after-party, Talabot serves up the satisfying comedown. The carnival is all packed up and on the road, bottles serve no purpose save as decorations and glass shards, and someone won’t stop complaining about going to work that afternoon. But dammit, it was the best night you’ve had in years, and ain’t no reason you can’t be as bad ass when you head back into the real world as you were when you were escaping it for the past 12 hours. The end.

MP3: Nubes En Mi Casa - "Aceleremos"

Building high expectations for a tiny band known for its “little pop gems” seems like something that could eventually harm them, but Nubes En Mi Casa has the wood to trounce any outcome. The Argentine band, led by Josefina Mac Loughlin and Hernan Dadamo, is wrapping up the post-production of Me Suelto y Vuelvo (Molecula Records), the full-length follow-up to their gorgeous 2008 self-titled debut. After the success of last year’s heart-wrenching “La Ventana,” the band unveiled a new track through the January edition of the Music Alliance Pact. “Aceleremos” shows Nubes En Mi Casa progressing their balladry emoticon into a pulsating, forward-moving watercourse. This is a song about moving forward while dragging your favorite person by your side. It’s wonderfully timorous, but consistent on its build up.

Video: White Ninja - "PCU"

White Ninja’s second visual piece, following the weird-as-fuck/can’t turn away video for “El Alfa,” is another monster of a clip. This time we hear “PCU” soundtracking a mockumentary (at least I hope) that takes us into the home life of an artist. An artist that dresses like the dude, collects mirrors, and makes electronic music that goes unappreciated in his own country. The footage is both depressing and hilarious. Director Patricio Hinojosa pokes fun at the current culture where everyone is an artist, and yet most of us are just as basic as the next dut. We see this point further illustrated by the artist’s bouts of ennui, ennui that eventually lead him to playing with guns, stealing a car, then getting kidnapped himself. Absurd? Yes. But we wouldn’t expect any other kind of clip from White Ninja. P.S. I fully anticipate moderno to enter into the mipster lexicon very soon.

MP3: Nina Sky - "Day Dreaming"

Everyone's favorite Queens-born female identical twin duo is back in action. Nina Sky were the vocalists on one of 2011's best left-field singles, CREEP's haunting and tense "You." Now they're back with "Day Dreaming," their comeback track supporting their upcoming album, Nicole & Natalie.

Judging from the single, it appears that Nina Sky has taken all of the compliments from their CREEP collaboration to heart. "Day Dreaming" is 200 seconds of cool and hushed harmonies, augmented by a light 2-step beat with the occasional *snap* tossed in for good measure. This song is pretty decent, but doesn't really capture the essence of "You," which was far more nuanced than the lite-R&B here. It's understandable for Nina Sky to feel trapped at a crossroadsgo down the hip indie pop road or build off of their (retroactively critically approved) previous commercial success. Here's hoping they pick a road and own their decisionthey're too good to fall by the wayside again.

Video: LINCE - "Sombras en mi corazón" [LINCE rework]

Yet another artist among the handful of Iberoamericans who’ve found Germany as the adequate place to develop their music and find a receptive audience, Madrid-born LINCE has been working as a DJ in Berlin since 2009, while also making encompassing ambient and minimal techno. The video for the rework of his track "Sombras en mi corazón," a gorgeously crafted recollection of images edited by Machines Désirantes Buró and taken from the film The Endless Summer, uses the idea of moving water in the form of ocean waves as a consistent theme and aesthetic for his repetitive, vaguely melodious and lingering sounds. The association of moving water with music is one that can be easily found recently in popular music: on the more avant-garde end, there’s Fennesz framing his records around the element of water and, on the poppier end, there’s the origin of the term “chillwave.” Here, LINCE shows us just how well he excels not just in finding beautiful melodies, but also developing the perfect texture, something that will likely gain him followers from all musical backgrounds. Sombras en mi corazón EP can be heard in its entirety on the artist's Bandcamp page.

Tony Gallardo II - Líder Juvenil

Líder Juvenil, Tony Gallardo II
Bad Pop, México
Rating: 81
by Enrique Coyotzi

After the shutdown of Megaupload, a general discontent was manifested, principally on social networks. However, I remember reading opinions that expressed how this platform had been “ruining music” since its creation in 2005. Yes, we know there are thousands of disposable acts on the Internet, but the fact that an artist gives away their music shouldn’t be directly related with artistic quality or creativity level. This is where Antonio Jiménez Gallardo comes in, a guy who since his Unsexy Nerd Ponies days has offered for free each of his top-notch releases, who has found a voice through the web as well as a strong legion of devoted followers.

On his first EP for his new side project, Tony Gallardo II (one which I like to envision as a sort of reincarnation), the ruidosón pioneer celebrates both the passion of making music and his profound relationship with the Internet. If the title track is, as I had previously described, “another delicious slice of genius” from Gallardo’s mind, then this whole cake divided in four exquisitely sexy pieces is a reminder of why we’re so eagerly excited about where his career might go next. Líder Juvenil is a dazzling achievement that presents the artist’s hottest ready-for-the-dance-floor tracks to date, as well as his impressive submergence into tech-house (“Mi Presa”), mostly inspired by Rebolledo (look for that still of the “Guerrero” video in the booklet) and last year’s unforgettable Super Vato, with Alex Anwandter-esque pop finesse (“Líder Juvenil”) in melodies, and subtle traces of tribal guarachero (“Costa Drums (I Need 2 Let U Go)”).

Lyrically, per usual, these songs are basically about Gallardo’s life: girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, daily monotonous routines. Take for instance “Costa Drums,” a cathartic eruption that could be read as instructions on how to overcome a breakup (“córtate el pelo”/”salte de tu casa”/”métete en la onda”), where the line “I need 2 let u go” is repeated as a mantra to bring himself to his senses. This is also the first time since Unsexy Nerd Ponies disappeared that we’ve heard him singing in English again (the mixture of Spanish and English in “Costa Drums” and “Mi Presa” are specially amusing). It’s also remarkable how the pitch of his voice is generally low in all the songs. It sounds grave, but not in a spooky manner such as what The Knife or Fever Ray do, instead it turns out excitingly provocative and latently lascivious, like the ideal soundtrack to a wild, erotic night. So, I guess, then, it’s no coincidence that the most sexually-fueled track, “Mango Sweat,” is the closer, the cherry on top.

Considering the visible Internet influence on this EP, one has to check out the amazing artwork (don’t you adore the detail of the lyrics written on Notepad?) that accompanies it, where he even thanks it in the credits. Gallardo is an artist whom we’ve seen grow through this medium, but who ultimately deserves more exposition. The merits are there. He has openly expressed his desire to become famous, and these shouldn’t be pipe dreams. After all, he’s got the entire arsenal and will to fulfill it. While this year has to yet to see his proper follow-up to 2010’s Espíritu Invisible as María y José, Líder Juvenil should satisfy those who are anxiously salivating for it. Meanwhile, these sensuous bangers by the self-proclaimed youth leader should do it.

♫♫♫ "Mi Presa" | Download EP

Dávila 666 - "Pa Que Vives"

Dávila 666 were, hands down, the most popular kids in our yearbook. Puerto Rico Indie did a pretty good rundown (and interview) of their accomplishments last year: rave reviews from every relevant publication out there, an oblique presence in the music festival circuit, a Taco Bell commercial, and a Jack White-produced live album. We would add the fact that they were also responsible for the year’s indie rock hit across the Iberoamerican region. The uncouth, six-member band was so irresistible that even Hollywood actresses like Scarlett Johansen and Kristen Stewart were spotted shoegazing at Davila’s urgent, lubricated vein. Indeed, 2011 will be remembered as the year that witnessed the blossoming of Dávila 666 from a garage boricua band to a universally acclaimed force of nature.

As the band heads down to Mexico to play at Festival NRMAL in March, they have released a gorgeous, 600-unit 7’’ vinyl through Oops Baby Records. A Puerto Rican flag vinyl version of the disc sold out on pre-order. The front single “Pa Que Vives” and its B-side (“Sera Sera”) aren’t exactly new. Both songs were recorded in 2007 and are part of an ammunition of songs that lacked proper publishing. When we asked the band for the file of the single (for your streaming pleasure) they sent a .wma file, which pretty much tells you about the appraising of “Pa Que Vives” as a wax spinning experience (the main reason why I’m holding back on any critical annotations for now). In the meantime, the band is still prepping the recording of Que Viva El Veneno, the band’s forthcoming second album with In The Red Records.

Video: Klaus & Kinski - "Ojo Por Diente"

Spain’s most consolidated indie labels (Elefant, Jabalina, among others) are way too dependent on Spotify’s services, to the point they’ve all stopped pushing promotional singles outside the Swedish streaming platform. Which is why the release of Klaus & Kinski’s clip for “Ojo Por Diente” brings not only the first visual impression of their new album, but it’s also our first time listening to the single in a less-secluded, uninterrupted environment. The leading cut from the duo’s third full-length album, Herreros y Fatigas, is a continuation of K&K’s lenience with popcraft. It is, however, too safe and proverbial to assimilate a new album identity. Yet again, we’re talking about a band that has a reputation for weighting more on versatility than album coherence. Unconditional love (the kind that outstrips physical warfare) plays well alongside a story of a bride and groom whose marriage has come to define who they are as individuals. Next stop for the couple: The Wayfarers Chapel.

Vampire Slayer - Dumb Death

Dumb Death, Vampire Slayer
Indiangold Records, Mexico
Rating: 69
by Carlos Reyes

For all those kids modifying the preposition in Drake's advising line on “overdosing on confidence,” here we have an album that spells its title on a potential upshot: a dumb death. Okay, referencing something as arguable as a dumb death through a rap line isn’t the most fitting way to start a review of a former member of Maniqui Lazer, but this is the kind of unmatched-to-this-scene record that merits a significant amount of editorial stretching. And, indeed, Torres’ latest album under the Vampire Slayer moniker is one that will probably do better with publications that don’t carry the pop voucher in their jingle. But that doesn’t mean we’re completely oblivious to it - its rhythm sections alone warrant ample enthusiasm.

Under the punk institution of Maniqui Lazer (which keeps going back and forth about its breathing status), Valentin Torres became known as the man responsible for adding the lasers to the band’s mutinous plate. Vampire Slayer goes full throttle when it comes to spreading new seeds. The perfectly timed Dumb Death is a wide-ranging collection of digital schemes put to varied use. From the horizontal alignment of synth chords in “Lofi Sky” to the lashing of triad progressions in “Creepy Monkey,” Vampire Slayer’s posture comes off as sadistic, and you know that outcome usually makes for a double-edged sword. By moving away from the gasping essence of mannequins, Torres encounters a more liberal and scaled-to-the-beats terrain and, although exhaustive at times, the experience shifts towards completion more often than not.

With Bandcamp tags that go from drone to improv, Vampire Slayer does not shy away from its resources. If anything, Dumb Death is so in-collision with its own narratives that an accusation of self-indulgence would only be conflicting. As a pop devotee, I resonate with Slayer’s torching glam, but also crave for something more. The lack of bold vocal decoding here is almost cruel. But, again, I’m the kind of consumer that will always pick the heart-lifting John Maus over the almost infertile Fuck Buttons. Those with a thick skin for anything but pop structures aren’t completely out of luck; in its last breath, the album does escalate its functions with the alluring closing numbers, “Bffs” and “Bathroom Melody.” Structurally, it’s perhaps too late for an accessible experience but, as the history of lo-fi has taught us, gradual albums can be fun too. Dumb Death may be narrowed in accessibility, but it’s wide open for interpretation.