Video: Dani Shivers - "Up!"

More then a half a year has passed since Tijuana’s most occult femme fatale has cursed us with another spine-chilling gift. It was about time! Like a sequel to the bloody and distorted “Witch,” “Up!” was shot in 8 mm in some mysterious forest outside of Tecate, Baja California and mastered on VHS with an anonymous quinceañero cassette tape. Released by Artileria (Tijuana, B.C.) and edited by Jesus Vasquez (who worked with Carla Morrison), the video clip remains faithful to Dani Shivers’ esoteric pursuits—only this time, the lines are blurred between executioner and victim. Shivers and her acolyte are preparing to invoke the spirits as we would prepare the afternoon tea. Just when you thought Shivers had found the perfect disciple for her rituals, she violently ties her up and pours blood all over her prey. The well underway human sacrifice is interrupted when Shivers perceives the presence of an uncanny entity. Yet, the “technical problems” leave us thirsty for more of the macabre empress caprices. All there is left for us is to draw a salt pentagram, light some candles, and pray for her first full-length album, Jinx, to be released soon.

Café Tacvba - El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco

El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco, Café Tacvba
Universal Music Latino, Mexico
Rating: 77
by Claire Frisbie

It had been a while. Five years have passed since Sino was released. There have been side projects, other bands, social and political causes to champion, a documentary, a book, breakup rumors, 20th anniversary festivities, extensive touring, life. And now: El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco (The Object Formerly Known as a Record), Café Tacvba’s seventh studio album.

El Objeto did not take five years to make, and it shows. The songs came together early this year, and in a rather brilliant marketing move (but somewhat ineffective creative technique), were recorded in front of live audiences in Buenos Aires, Santiago, DF, and LA. Dozens of lucky fans and friends sat in on the sessions, while the rest of us followed along on Twitter, piecing together song titles and wondering what the next chapter of Café Tacvba would sound like, anticipation swelling.

And now we know: Café Tacvba five years later sounds a lot like Café Tacvba 15 years ago. Whether this is a good or bad thing is entirely subjective. Many of the songs feel familiar, but a tad less catchy, less raw. The band has returned to the pre-Cuatro Caminos four-core-members-and-a-drum-machine lineup, but instead of the quirky storytelling and earnest experimentation of Cafeta songs of yore, we have introspection and wisdom, nature and spirituality, overall self-reflection. And, alas, minimal innovation. Thirty-nine minutes with 10 tracks mostly written by Meme and Joselo, El Objeto requires some time and a bit of patience. Disclaimer: initial listens might prove unsatisfying, but somewhere around the tenth or eleventh time through, the "object" really starts to grow on you, though the objective might never be clear. It's worth the commitment.

So much of the buzz around El Objeto was tied to the recording process, the different locations, the live audience. The decision to record the entire thing in front of an audience with little preparation was bold and risky, though not unfounded. Café Tacvba’s live shows are one of the most intense, insane, gratifying communal experiences out there, so why not attempt to channel this energy, this connection and rapport with your audience, into a recorded album? But the final product reveals nothing of these intimate itinerant sessions. Not a single song is taken in its entirety from a given recording. Elements from all four recordings were instead cut and pasted to create the tracks we hear now. I’m not pining for another live album, but a bit more spontaneity, some added energy or edginess might have been nice.

That being said, the production (from Tacvba homeboys Gustavo Santaolalla and Anibal Kerpel) is excellent, and El Objeto has some truly beautiful songs. “Tan Mal” makes optimal use of the rhythm machine and Rubén’s vocal range, ebbing from soft whispers to increasingly grating falsetto, intimate and delicate, then frustrated, yet controlled. “Zopilotes” is gorgeous in its mystic simplicity. “Andamios” is classic Cafeta at their best: an upbeat track with layered beats, inquisitive, metaphorical (architectural!) lyrics, and slightly imperfect harmonies. But you almost wonder if you haven’t heard it before, maybe on Re, or perhaps Cuatro Caminos.

The most musical variation and experimentation can be found in the middle of El Objeto. The earthy “Espuma” features finger harps and other pre-Columbian instruments, but teeters dangerously close to world music/songs your mom might love. The repetitive “Olita de Altamar” has an undeniable Andean tinge, drawing from Peruvian chicha and huayno music. And then comes “Aprovéchate,” the true standout of El Objeto. A love song sung by Meme, it feels almost Argentine or Chilean in its guitar-driven rock sound and tone, but is undeniably Cafeta when it comes to the chorus. This isn’t “Eres” Meme—his voice is deeper, more forthright. The lyrics are dark, sexy, submissive. And it’s wonderful: “ahora eres tú la agresora / desquítate conmigo ahora / me puedes usar, me puedes amar / te aprovecharás de mí...”

But “Aprovéchate” almost feels out of place on the album, which brings us to what may be the main fault of our “object”: an overall lack of cohesion. El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco is a collection of ten different songs, not a cohesive album. Café Tacvba is so revered for their continuous and relevant reinvention, and each of their past albums has had a definitive theme or feel, while managing to maintain a sound that is distinctly Tacvba. But El Objeto lacks a strong identity, though one could argue that this is precisely the point: the record as we once knew it is, after all, obsolete.

Video: Extraperlo - "Ardiente Figura"

Two years ago when the Latin American Cinemateca of Los Angeles and Grand Performances asked Club Fonograma to curate Video Jukebox (“a night of amazing Latin music videos”), Extraperlo’s “Bañadores” was the first clip we enlisted in our program. There’s something so strangely cinematic about Extraperlo’s music–subtropical flourishing is a great opportunity for visual narration. The band’s sophomore album, Delirio Específico, was released a few weeks ago under the record label imprint of CANADA and, as expected, they’re taking good care of the band with a memorable clip for leading single “Ardiente Figura.” Shot on a gorgeous S16mm, the beautifully contrasting clip arrives with perfect timing for Halloween. Like any video by CANADA, it’s scattered in many directions. But it’s that random spirit that ultimately allows the band and production crew to gear up for their loopy and ultimately charming Olympics.

Video: Espanto - "Rock'n roll"

Slowly but steadily earning more and more attention from varied Spaniard and Latin music sites is this surprising duo from Logroño under the name Espanto. Their recent promotional video for "Rock'n Roll," the first cut from their forthcoming album, had me immediately doing a mandatory exploration through our own archive in search of previous material from them. Though all I could find was a mention of their first record by the now defunct Spaniard indie pop go-to-site La Págna de la Nadadora in CF’s 2009 First Semester Review. Their previous work Ísimos y Érrimos, as you would expect from a band praised by the blog, was the kind of record that aligned itself more with the poetic and melodic drifting of Le Mans (and Stephin Merritt's indie pop geekdom), yet “Rock‘n Roll” seems to draw more from the boldness of the Stones’ rawest jams, as well as from the disengaging indulgence of Giorgio Moroder-produced disco hits. Either praising the rock form as their new aesthetic tenet, or conceivably just borrowing it to lay down a really damn addictive groove, Espanto’s new track and video close in on such eye-catchingly defiant simplicity in their visuals, rhythm, and lyrics (“No soporto las personas que nos tratan como idiotas,” “Sólo me importa de verdad solo me importa el rock ‘n roll”) that we’ll probably keep on spinning this track until their new record drops via Austrohúngaro next month.

Video: Silva - "Mais Cedo"

In less than two years, Silva (solo project of Lúcio Souza) emerged from relative obscurity to become Brazil's breakout indie star, playing the country's top festivals and amassing a huge online following. Why, then, has his music gone virtually unnoticed by most Spanish-language music publications? Could it be that after Michel Teló, Spanish speakers (perhaps unconsciously) are now just unwilling to give Brazilian indie a chance? Not even Club Fonograma managed to review his standout EP, though, in our defense, "12 de maio" did land a spot on last year's best of list.

The video for promo single "Mais Cedo," which also coincided with the release of Silva's first full-length, Claridão, makes a pretty convincing case as to why not only indie kids should be listening, but everyone. Ignoring those overwhelming Instagram filters, the clip is an honest and beautiful effort to let the music speak for itself. Here, Silva trades his usual orchestral flair for a smooth blend of electronic textures with a voice that recalls those rare occasions when waking up to a sun-lit room isn't a total pain, especially if it's next to the right person. Adding to its brilliance, the song ends midway through and uses the remaining time as an outro, resulting in a sound that's somewhere between Torreblanca and Jessie Ware. And, if you’re lucky, listening will also make you forget you ever had the words “nossa” stuck in your head.

Video: Gepe - "En la Naturaleza (4-3-2-1-0)"

"En la Naturaleza (4-3-2-1-0)," a song as charming as its performer, finds Gepe fully committing to the folk reggaeton that he experimented with on "Por La Ventana," and the video for first single off the upcoming GP also seems like an extension of the video for the song that foreshadowed it. While not nearly as bright and festive as "Por La Ventana," this video has similar framing and character focal points, while the darker color palette and layered footage adds texture and dimension. And, since Gepe's already done the natural setting thing in videos before, for this one he established a clear boundary between the natural world and the manmade one. Despite the song's title, the closest Gepe gets to nature is the landscapes projected behind him and his supporting cast. Two of the women in the cast are working out for the duration of the video in what may be an allusion to Darwinism. But Gepe and co-star Pedropiedra don't seem too concerned with survival of the fittest. Gepe, in a snazzy blazer and wayferers, looks a little too cool for his signature white boy dance moves, while Pedropiedra in his geo-bling and cartographer's jacket is the most simultaneously austere and absurd rapper ever and looks like someone who would love to talk to you about the healing power of crystals. Probably not people you want to be lost in the woods with.

María y José - "Club Negro"

As the anticipation for María y José's first ever (and much-deserved) appearance at Corona Capital builds, the líder juvenil just keeps teasing his devoted fan base with fresh tracks from the upcoming Rey de Reyes. "Club Negro," as Matinée as Hell also touched on, marks a significant turn in Tony’s sound in that his projects are clearly starting to influence each other. A fact that partly explains why this new single is the perfect follow-up to this summer’s “Tormento.” While “Tormento” channeled Gosling-in-Drive bravado with a wounded heart, there was also a looming threat that hung in the air. In "Club Negro," that threat finally explodes into complete chaos, leaving behind a mess of carnage on the dance floor.

Set to a ferocious tribal beat, the song finds Tony assuming two distinct voices. The first describes a wild night of dancing and grinding, further highlighted by its sweat-inducing and hedonistic arpeggios. As the tropical drums kick in, an evil presence (almost demonic) enters the club, unleashing a round of gunfire that leaves no survivors. There's even a line which declares “sus cuerpos no saldrán en tele nacional, a nadie le importa, ganamos el mundial.” Unsettling, sure. But it definitely exposes the realities (and priorities) of the Mexican press. And though it ranks among María y José's darkest work to date, there's another side to it (especially within the clean production) which hints at some mainstream/top 40 aspirations. For fans of Tony this will hardly come as a surprise. In fact, it’s about time the quality of his recordings matched the giant he really is. Even if “Club Negro” doesn’t take over the radio, we all know it’s a complete hitazo.

MP3: Sudakistan - El Movimiento

"The numbers are staggering: there are more and more foreigners in the world." This semantic gem, signed Luis Rego and reported by Pierre Desproges on September 28, 1982, continues to resonate 30 years later. Sudakistan, composed of five well-traveled friends—Carlos Amigo on percussion & vocals (Chile), Maikel Gonzalez on bass (Venezuela), Juan Espindola on drums (Argentina), Michell Serrano Arias on guitar and vocals (Chile/Sweden), and Arvid Sjö on lead guitar (Sweden)—illustrates it with flying colors. I’ll spare you the long lyrical surges on the globalized world and the interbreeding of different genres or styles that crossed my mind upon learning the existence of this Stockholm based act, but I’ll say one thing: wherever they hail from, their cow bell and bongo-inflicted garage rock is total dance party material. Since the online release by PNKSLM of “El Movimiento (Teenhäze Edit),” which was recorded with the help of Henry Withers (Lovvers, Sex Beet, Human Hair), the band has been the subject of many discussions in the blogosphere. And these discussions are likely to carry on, as Sudakistan will release their first 7" single early next year. With a title echoing Chicanismo, “El Movimiento” deservedly reclaims the band’s evident cultural ties with the New World and, by screaming non-conformity, somehow celebrates the cultural bringing of outsiders. The line between genius and ridiculous is often thin, especially in fusing genres, and Sudakistan seems to deliberately cruise through lo-fi and Latin heritage, creating a sound and image all their own.

 ♫♫♫ "El Movimiento"  Facebook