Bill Yonson - El Príncipe del Mar

El Príncipe del Mar, Bill Yonson
CUU desde el Espacio, Mexico
Rating: 78
by Carlos Reyes

It got my brother through long study sessions for his MCAT exam, and accompanied fellow Fonograma critic, Pierre Lestruhaut throughout his summer trip through Europe. “Chola” was, and is, one of the true summer jams of the summer (and perhaps the most steamy indie tune since MKRNI’s “Humedad”). Sequenced and chopped in a bowl of bedroom pop and dembow, “Chola” (described as “hip pop”) is the type of song that’s easy to put on loop. Despite the base synths that encircle its melody, this track triumphs because of Bill Yonson’s decision to put his heart on his sleeve and burst the song on a single breathe –proving that pop music doesn’t need a repeat of the chorus to be catchy.

At less than three minutes long, “Chola” initially seemed like a teaser of what we would find on Yonson’s latest album, El Príncipe del Mar. Truth is, you won’t find a better or catchier song on the album. Yet the songs that surround it, make the single acquire an ever bigger lush and purpose. Paying an out-loud homage to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on its aesthetics, this is a work that surveys popular culture without fully conceptualizing it. Yonson’s approach is not vague either. Whether singing/poetizing about Whatsapp (a good companion to the surprisingly entertainment hit, “Los Mensajes del Whatsapp” by El Cartel de Santa), or giving a shout out to Tex-Mex diva Selena in “Triangulo,” Yonson comes off as a leisure-loving chronicler more than just a pastiche/opportunist. Comedic hubris goes a long way in times of memes and vines.

Opening its canvas with eerie ambulance sirens in the intro track “Salir en Secreto”, El Príncipe del Mar is smartly paced in its negotiation of beats, vocal hooks, and tropical hues. The initial reactions to the album were truly polarizing –some people even called it controversial. Perhaps those antagonizing it are the same people that still refuse to the idea that urban music can intersect with the so-called introspective genres (like it or not, Mexico is still far behind on its appreciation of urban music). But the suspension of disbelief is not fully unwarranted. For one, the abuse of autotune and decodings here can prove to be taxing (especially in its three collaborative tracks featuring Marinero, Capullo, and Letter D). It’s not an easy swallow, and doubting its cultural appropriations seems appropriate. Perhaps Bill Yonson’s biggest accomplishment here is referring to his music as pop music –serving and contributing to the all-encompassing opportunities offered by the word itself.

Florian Droids - "Vos"

You're probably reading this and have no idea who Florian Droids are. The costarican neopsychodelic band achieved a peculiar saintly glow surrounding after their self-titled debut album and the instant hit "Larvas Salvajes" back in 2011. Their fan base somehow developed a certain affection for the band's genre, and are often seen as the most awesome band from Costa Rica not named Las Robertas. As a genre, neo-psychedelia is certainly vague, but it’s also very prevalent. Generally, it refers to bands appearing in the late 70s onward, heavily influenced by the expansive, pioneering sounds of 60s psychedelia. Many contemporary bands find inspiration in early prog (Pink Floyd, King Crimson) and an obsession with jangly pop bands like The Beatles and The Byrds. Whatever the term “psychedelic” means, a benchmark may exist, and Florian Droids’ minimal chants, pleading, and beguiling in a fuzzed-out haze, clearly put this music well within the psych realm.

It seems that the band's guiding principle in making new music entails a commitment to openness, but more than that, it’s a call for simplicity. Upon first listens of "Vos," their new single from their forthcoming album Osos de Agua, falls into the pop vein, perhaps more toward the Monkees end of the spectrum than the Beatles end. For the most part, 'Vos' is an incredibly low-key, lovelorn ballad about the wonder years melding a Pepe Deluxé-style pipe organ with a early-60s pop shuffle and Beach Boys-like vocals. "Vos" works as their most optimistic and soft-edged release to date. The video was directed by well known producer Neto Villalobos who created a character that grounds a universe of equal parts mirth and growth, humor and honesty, filtered through lenses that we may never fully comprehend. The rest is hard evidence of a distinct creative character taking flight.

Onda Temporal, Episodio Nueve: San Pedro El Cortez

While Carlos Matsuo (the man behind the curation, lensing, and development of Onda Temporal) is known for several contributions to cultural production, he’s best known for helming BASURA, a documentary about San Pedro El Cortez (as the subject to survey an up-and-coming reform in Mexican music). In a way, we can see Onda Temporal as an extension of BASURA, and opening its themes and geographic agency through twelve different subjects. This episode reunites Matsuo with the Tijuana garage band, who perform an acoustic –or as they call it, “la version chiilleta”- of “Poder Crudo.” Shot at night with glimpses of a not-so-well lighted city behind them, the camera registers the band in an elliptic movement. The confronting and close proximity of the camera speaks of the relationship between the band (that is or acts intoxicated) and the man with the camera (whose camera also starts to get dizzy towards the end).

Onda Temporal, Episodio Ocho: White Ninja

The newest episode of Onda Temporal presents an untitled new track by White Ninja. The previous seven episodes of the series served from an outside setting that in cases defined their purpose –they sure where easier to dissect than this one. Shot in a rehearsal room (recording room?) filled with both analog and digital machines, this might be the less memorable episoide yet on the surface, but as part of the Onda Temporal narrative, it’s truly significant. Leaving the topics of pedestrian and suburban life, White Ninja and director Carlos Matsuo choose to stay within walls as a way to shelter a song that’s still a work in progress. As the camera circles around, surveying the space and its subjects, it’s especially fascinating to see the blinding light coming out of the window. Whatever lives outside that room must be magnificient, for it manifests its prescence through splendorous white noise.

Diosque - Constante

Constante, Diosque
Quemasucabeza, Argentina
Rating: 93
by Carlos Reyes

One of the greatest joys of making Club Fonograma is the privilege of artists sending us their music before it hits the public light. When Juan Roman Diosque sent me a couple of songs from Constante, he was getting pretty close to releasing it via his website, like he did with his last record, Bote. “I honestly believe this album deserves more than it just being uploaded into a website,” Diosque wrote as he consulted other options. It only took one spin of “La Cura” for me to agree –I was moved and visibly shaken the power of of his crescendos of both, the music and the vernacular. That same week, I forwarded the MP3 of the song to Rodrigo Santis from Quemasucabeza, who quickly set everything up to add Diosque to the label’s roster, where he now finds his name next to the likes of Gepe, Ases Falsos and his compatriot, Coiffeur.

Since its birth, Constante (produced by Jean Deon) collapsed and aligned itself for a healthy, vibrant life. Not only is Constante Diosque’s revelation piece (time might credit it as a masterpiece one day) it’s also Quemasucabeza’s best release since Audiovisión. “Recopilo pedazos tuyos que me das cuando te miro,” sings Diosque in Bote’s beautiful single “La dictadura de tu belleza.” When dissecting his last album, I accused the Argentine songwriter of showing symptoms of voyeurism and paraphilia. Looking back, I really sound like a desperate critic trying to make sense of Diosque’s many vocal and melodic fragmentations. But whereas a title like Constante would make you think he would subscribe to form and shift towards more stable and digestible narratives, Diosque gold-brushes and shines his sequencing tools, placing a rare faith in the listener’s aural sense.

Seeing music as a provocation of the senses, it’s almost cruel how disturbing and shockingly vivid Diosque allows himself to be throughout Constante. Take for example the vocal tab of “Arriba,” where Diosque defies the opportunity to sound fluid to instead, fit his content within the fragmented space of his composition. Think of it as those ultra-conscious walks when you suddenly become aware of the amount of steps you fit within the same tile – and how it's inevitable to develop negotiations with balance and patterns on the long run. The aesthetics and concepts of Constante redirect us to the concepts of infinity in time and space. “Aprovecho la eternidad mientras viva” sighs Diosque in “Una Naranja,” seeing his quest for stability as a continual emotional detachment. This is a work that rewards the demands it makes to its listeners.

From its very first track, Constante reveals itself as a puzzling work. Album opener “Fuego” is chopped and tormented –as if Diosque wanted us to see the unlikely construction of his composition (perhaps hoping for a deconstruction of our own). We may question his methods of storytelling, but it’s that progressively unlikeliness of Diosque’s melodies and hooks that brings it its appeal. That incessant search for a chorus and its half a dozen rhythm shifts make “La Cura” a marvel of a song. What’s truly interesting here is the almost anti-climatic approach on its fast-paced canvas. Structurally, “La Cura” lacks a chorus. Making that realization is as distressing as it is fascinating. The vocal decoding in the second half of the song is the most heart-breaking digital mumbling since Kanye West’s “Runway.” The song hits its peak on its final output through a couple of NASA rockets (digital raptures) that Diosque treats beautifully – glimpsing them only once and resisting to make a loop out of them like everyone has done ever since “Midnight City.”

It’s beautiful to see the discourse of Constante unveil before our eyes. For instance, how Diosque begins to employ certain conducts to his composition. If something made Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty almost an unbearable watch for me was its harassment of providing with beautiful images one after the other. Diosque chooses its moments and chooses them well. Moments like the “papapahs” in “La Verdad Rota,” the disco rapture of “Soy Las Seis,” and the intoxicatingly beautiful elevation of a bridge cascading itself up to a climax in “Broncedado.” Perhaps what gets Constante further than other recent works from Diosque’s contemporaries like Coiffeur and Helado Negro are its monumental pop pieces. “La Cura” and “Bronceado” are as grandeur as any single by Javiera Mena or Astro, and that make Constante truly stunning to behold even during its uncanny moods and quietly gripping conclusion.

Free Download for 24 Hours (Tuesday) HERE. 

Viva Pomona 2014: Festival Report

Despite being the fifth largest city in the U.S, nothing really happens in Phoenix when it comes to the music festival circuit. What is fortunate though, is its proximity to cities where cultural production (in the form of events) is fruitful. We didn’t hesitate to take a 6-hour drive to Rosarito Beach a month ago to see Fuete Billete at All My Friends, and it was a no brainer to do the same for El mató a un policía motorizado at this year’s edition of Viva Pomona.

Although it had featured several bands from our “Iberoamerican Indie” world on last year’s lineup, this year Viva Pomona became a stronghold and acquired real relevancy in our circuit. Following the example of Monterrey’s NRMAL and Tijuana’s All My Friends, this year the curation of Vive Pomona emphasized the bicultural need of featuring bands from the region, and from down the border. While Coachella raised eyebrows with the last minute inclusion of Zoe as their Latin token card, there’s no cultural desperation felt in the curation of Rene Contreras and his Viva Pomona crew.

Taken place at the Glass House, the festival witnessed a mixed crowd of hipsters and alternative kids. On its first day (Saturday), the event had a discrete crowd. My twin brother and I had one mission: get as close to the stage during El mató's set. But before that festival highlight, there were some good surprises earlier that night. Guadalajara’s Dorotheo (who are on a west coast tour with Francisco y Madero), really sounded bold and blended nicely with the Californian chilly weather (for us Phoenicians, anything below 90 degrees is cold). If anything, Dorotheo proved to be entertaining and far less alienating than how they sound on record. Austin-based, via Monterrey Gus Goose (who’s put out one of the most memorable music clips of the year) showed just how convenient (and awesomely great) one-man acts can be at music festivals. There was warmth, energy, and rage in his performance –if somebody single-handedly embodied the DIY essence of the fest, it was Gus Solis.

The main stage inside The Glass House was uncomfortably dark, with what seemed like ten pounds of smoke floating on the stage. But no scenery or lighting flaws could prevent us from enjoying El mató a un policía motorizado. I had always imagined they would open their set with “Nuevos Discos” and they did. The restraint in this song might have angst a few, but once they released that “Nuevos discos, nuevas drogas” chorus, everyone understood the band’s negotiation with melody. The set was focused on promoting La Dinastia Scorpio, which is being released in the states by Nacional Records next week. Songs like “Mujeres Bella y Fueres,” “Chica de Oro,” and especially “Yoni B” sounded truly grand and transgressive. Not to forget the pulling of our heartstrings in the always-beautiful “Más o Menos Bien.” They sure made the trip worth it.

The second day of the festival (Sunday) brought about twice the crowd of Saturday (a whiter crowd, I should point out). That sure is unusual, but not entirely unreasonable considering the attraction of bands like Thee Oh Sees and Crystal Antlers. First time playing in the U.S., house favorites Los Blenders were terrific. Not exactly looking like the surf/poptart culture they often sound like, they were probably the band that earned more new fans after the festival. Their blood-curling performance of new single “Chavos Bien,” was the best individual number at the festival. Another highlight was Chicano Batman (with their awesome blue outfits and retro hair styles… yes, even the drummer’s mullet and the shiny bald head of the guitarist) who managed to be simultaneously classy and funky. But the nicest surprise out of the entire lineup was L.A.-based band Santoros. Excuse my lack of sources, but I just couldn’t figure out if the band was made out of Latinos or Philipinos. But it really doesn’t matter. Their awesome performance made up for any technical (the lack of printed programs made it difficult to move around the three stages) or lineup flaws (Porter) of the entire fest.

If there’s anything to change for next year, is to point out the lack of popular music. Not meaning mainstream, but a bit of ruidoson or cumbia would’ve made everything that much more special. And here is hoping the fest maintains the interest for showcasing bands from both the anglo, and Iberoamerican worlds. Because really at the end, those of us traveling from places like Tijuana, San Francisco, and Phoenix made the effort of fueling our gas tanks to support that foundation. Viva Pomona! could do well with all-California bands, but what ultimately made this edition a relative success is that push to attract that inevitable “latin hipster” audience that’s soon to arrive in bigger, more profitable ways.

Onda Temporal, Episodio Siete: Verano Peligroso

Episode seven of the Onda Temporal webseries features the most chilling setting so far. It’s a travelogue of a tiny strip of what makes up Mexico City, starting at the infamous Bar Heaven, a club where twelve people were dissapeared (murdered) by organized crime. We can see the wall of the bar stamped with posters made by the victims’ families. While La Blogotheque’s visit to Mexico brought out lovely performances (framed by beautiful touristic vignettes), you really can’t beat the profound and emotional rawness idiosyncracy offers to director Carlos Matsuo. The travelogue is musicalized by Verano Peligroso, a little known duo by two familiar names to most of us: JackintoDiYEah! (member of Furland) and EsaMiPau! (radio host at Mexico City’s Ibero 90.9). “This goes to any people that has suffered a dissapearence,” they say on the intro, quickly establishing an emotional connection (contrasted to the expansive architecture of the buildings that surround them) with all of us that have gone through the estrangement of a loved one, including love itself of course. With brushes of twee and a beautiful cascade of whistles, Verano Peligroso encounter a great way to take their pop melodies out of the bedroom.

Video + MP3: Los Blenders - "Chavos Bien"

The surprise success of Los Blenders' early EPs, namely last year's Meta y Dinero, has given what once Mexico's most overlooked band a well-earned spot as one of the most sought-after national acts. Anticipation is growing for their proper debut, and one would think this might be the chance to grow up, get serious and uphold that spot. Newest single "Chavos Bien" is a rejoinder that revels in the exact opposite: this is still proto porn pop and we love them for it.

Joey Muñoz directs the titular clip wherein the chavos amuse themselves full-on appropriating mirreyes culture- the most privileged and preppy of Mexican youth (stateside they invade Texas outlet malls in November to stock up on Lacoste and Ralph Lauren Polos). While this drug-fueled vision of ATV/boat rides and tennis playing is easily one of the funniest videos of the year, those images would be nothing if this wasn't also the summer's most quotable song: ("Vamos a comprarnos drogas / y después nos las metemos todas."). Right now, though, i'll probably be stuck on "FA / FA-FA-FA-FA-FA-FA" (8) for weeks. Equis.

Download the MP3 of "Chavos Bien" HERE.

Video: Chico Unicornio - "Ahora Te Puedes Marchar"

Pop always proves every generation’s need to revive the memory and legacy of the dead or seemingly retired idols. As Jean Baudrillard once said, “every possible art form has already been explored. All that’s left is to deconstruct an play with the pieces.” Strange and colorful, Chico Uniconrnio has subscribed to this exercise by reconditioning one of Luis Miguel’s most renowned post-childhood hits, “Ahora Te Puedes Marchar” from one of his first mature records, Soy Como Quiero Ser released back in 1987.

The video directed by Chilean Andrea Guzman (who is also Chico Unicornio’s drummer), shows a character that, consumed by stifling routine, is falling into insanity and gets disconnected from reality and the people around him. These are witty images that are very well connected with the sound. Completely different from its original, the Peruvian band turns to a lo-fi arrangement, transforming the pop cues into rock, and the rock cues into punk. Without the intention to sound fatalistic, the verse “si no supiste amar, ahora te puedes marchar” transfers in this narrative as an advice for this quirky young man –it pushes him to either escape and never look back, and presents him with the ironic option of committing suicide. A nice addition to accompany other covers like that of Capullo’s “Déjame Vivir” and Los Abandoned’s “Como La Flor”.

Onda Temporal, Episodio Seis: Ases Falsos

Having a somewhat relevant blog allows you to virtually “meet” the people you most admire. Totally showing off here, but I once exchanged a couple emails with Shakira. In times where having a strong virtual presence transfers as currency, it’s interesting how Cristobal Briceño has maintained a distance from social media. As we know, he rather keeps an omnipresence through his several bands: Los Mil Jinetes, Las Chaquetas Amarillas, and of course, his magnum opus, Ases Falsos. The sixth episode of Onda Temporal gets close into the personal space of Briceño and (part of) his band. Shot at the corner of Tijuana’s Latinoamericana (in the border of Mexico and the U.S.), we hear Ases Falsos deploy the melody of “Simetría” to bare bones. The warm and circular movement of Matsuo’s camera (capturing the beach, the sunlight and the border) enhances the themes of “Simetría” (form, depth, human welfare), and juxtaposes it (without scandalization) with the politics of the border. Also included in this episode, is a second part featuring an acoustic version of Juventud Americana's “Misterios del Perú,” as well as a lovely flirtation of Briceño looking straight into the camera singing “La Gran Curva.”

Onda Temporal, Episodio Cinco: Ulises Zarazua

The fifth episode of Onda Temporal presents us with another virtually unknown artist, one whose only reference (at least to us) is his association to the roster of Vale Vergas Discos, which recently announced it would be re-launching as Estados Unidos de America Latina. Arriving right at the middle of the series, Guerrero Negro and Carlos Matsuo shot what’s the most obscure number of the project so far. Or what the what the color palette and time of shooting would make you believe. While all the previous episodes carried a somber element to them, seeing Ulises Zarazua tune his guitar as he walks by a man that’s digging through trash, underlines the series’ thematic alignment between artists and the common pedestrians. A lovely little wink at the sixth second makes us remember the previous episode featuring Los Nuevos Maevans. As he parks on a corner to bleed his heart out, it’s quite moving to see the lights of cars and a scattered companionship of life passing by, even when the sun has yet to manifest its presence.

Onda Temporal, Episodio Cuatro: Los Nuevos Maevans

Whenever I’ve had to practice my film scholar studies to advice very resourceful projects, I often encourage them to shoot at super markets. Because really, when working with a tight budget, that’s all the art direction you need. Who knew the little store at the corner of your neighborhood would also do the job? On the fourth episode of Onda Temporal, we witness hardcore punk band Los Nuevos Maevans march into a miscelanea and turn the tight space into a sprawling arena for one very assaultive and memorable number. Using one of the members as keyboard legs and featuring a mysteriously small sound technician are only a few of the well executed gimmicks by a band that’s known as a performance act –so much that they practice playback on their gigs. When they’re done detonating the noise of “Antorcha Campesina,” they walk out civilized. The woman at the counter watches with some amuse (hard not to find it hysterical), but she’s not terrorized by it –she’s probably seen much, much worse.

Onda Temporal, Episodio Tres: Sanidad Mental

The third episode of Onda Temporal (following the first numbers featuring Capullo and Alberto Acinas) showcases the conception of Sanidad Mental, a new act by two of the most exciting rising music makers around. New-blooded and full of urban urgency, Josué Josué and Siete Catorce first showed they made a terrific team in the single “Linus” (from Josué Josué's debut EP) where they showed introspection of lyrical and musical forms, and even flirted with reggaeton. As framed by this project by Guerrero Negro, Sanidad Mental (performing "Demencia" and "Morras") bolds up the visceral and suburban-decaying discourse. Rejecting to shoot in pretty, or rather digestible places, director Carlos Matsuo elevated and wired-up his guests on the roof of a neighborhood in Tijuana, registering forgotten construction developments, pointy wired fences, and even a dog cage. These are powerful (if circumstantial) images that serve as symbolism for the struggle of the common pedestrian (including the artists) against their thorny surroundings.

Ramona - "Tristes Ojos"

Among the soft pop contributions to Papasquiaro, “Tristes Ojos” is the song with the most anachronistic sound in the compilation. Recalling the great pop d’auteur of the sixties and seventies with the piano line and the brass call, but not totally out of tune, since there are other artists and bands bringing back that classic style –I am thinking of Spaniard bands like Elsa de Alfonso and Capitán and Mexico's Enjambre, just to drop some names. Well surrounded by the other pop tracks in this half of Papasquiaro, Ramona’s song stands out because of its deeply melancholic lyrics –about love, of course, but a love that is coming to its end. Tijuana quartet Ramona formed in 2011 with the aim of “writing songs about feelings” and to this date they have released an EP called “Vamos a viajar” and a debut album which is going to be published very soon under Carla Morrison's Pan Dulce imprint.

Onda Temporal, Episodio Dos: Alberto Acinas

The second episode of Onda Temporal scopes the oddball mind of Spaniard songwriter, Alberto Acinas. Certainly one of the most eccentric and divisive acts from Vale Vergas Discos, he’s been slowly percolating fans into his own little cult. Which is why this performance of Acinas performing at a cemetery, inside a chapel dedicated to Juan Soldado (a folk saint with an ever-growing cult) sustains the concepts of devotion, cult, and the riveting of the flesh into a very rewarding whole. Surrounded by grateful plaques of the miracles accredited to Juan Soldado, Acinas rumbles his chords with bold conviction. His voice however, registers a sense of tragedy (for both, the rejected embrace Acinas sings about in the song, and for the alleged false accusations of rape and murder for which Juan Soldado was executed). Director Carlos Matsuo surveys the humble temple with respect (offering no vignettes), but with enough curiosity to capture some devotees as they wait in line for their turn to light up a few candles and worship the saint with flowers.

Video: Coiffeur - "Guarida"

Quemasucabeza keeps providing us and encouraging us with a source of essential, brave, and diverse tunes like their recently signing of Diosque and, of course, bumping Ases Falsos to the first leagues with their formidable sophomore album, Conducción. Now we have Coiffeur’s newest video for "Guarida" from last year’s album, but still resilient in our eardrums, Conquista de lo Inútil. The video directed by Luciano Rubio (who also directed the controversial "Mientras Tanto") captures Coiffeur’s musical call for liberation, the transcendental physics in movement and time, the escapism from Plato’s cave, the truth that we find in science, art, nature, and dreams. Coiffeur’s Conquista de lo Inútil showed us that being brave enough to venture into different rhythms will more often than not, provide us with great results.

Ases Falsos - Conducción

Conducción, Ases Falsos
Quemasucabeza, Chile
Rating: 87
by Pierre Lestruhaut

If our own twitter feed was a representative sample size for all of Latin America, then Ases Falsos would already be international superstars. Although they may not be the most universally loved indie darlings (it does have its good share of skeptics), there’s not another band that has garnered so much enthusiasm among bloggers and tastemakers, in large part thanks to the scope and ambition of their “debut” album Juventud Americana. A fiercely cathartic and politically charged record, the strength of Juventud Americana’s lyricism relied not so much on its content but on its form. “Europa” was essentially 21st century resentment of European colonialism, and “La Sinceridad del Cosmos” was yet another defense of left-wing street protests, but the elegance of its delivery — the European crisis seen through an I-don’t-give-a-fuck punk attitude, or the nobility of street protesting personified by the animals appearing on each side of the conflict — is what elevated them towards lyrical pop grandeur.

If you listen to Juventud Americana back-to-back with its follow-up record Conducción, you’ll notice that Cristóbal Briceño and his band are turning the cathartic and revolutionary knobs a few levels down. It’s not just the shift in mood here but also the shift in content: going from subversive youthful energy towards adult apprehension. Sonically, the very obvious comparison with mainstream Anglo rock here may be Springsteen’s Nebraska or Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, going from anthemic to intimate. It’s a record that tries to look inwards rather than outwards, as from the first few bars Briceño claims sociopolitical issues need to be saved for later, as it’s time to focus on personal ones “Habrá tiempo para hablar de la confrontación, antes vamos a sondear la gruta personal.”

Although pop and rock are the quintessential forms to express the ideals of political engagement and undying love, Conducción is actually more about the hard realizations of adulthood. In “Búscate Un Lugar Para Ensayar” Briceño sings like the old been-there-done-that former student who participated in way too many street protests with strong catchphrases that eventually ended in partying, thus highly critical of how protesting values posturing instead of ideas (“pero son frases hechas que se olvidan con facilidad, después de unas cervezas nadie sabe dónde quedó la rabia.”). “Mi Ejército” is regretful of past days spent fighting against the world (“Parece que fue ayer cuando creí en la lucha contra el mundo”), and arrives at the realization that all humans must make their own way in the world (“soy mi comandante y a la vez mi primera línea”).

Throughout Conducción, you can sense that these are the thoughts of an almost thirty something that is digesting the hard truths of life that go against the ideals of the rock realm. In “Ivanka” Briceño speaks about perhaps the hardest one of them all: the futility of everlasting love, and the acceptance that romantic relationships must come to an end (“Te encontré saliendo herida de una relación dañina, siendo justos yo no sé si exista otro final”). Conducción is a poignant record at times, even if its surface can be uplifting. Briceño just loves playing with the contradictions between form and content: the album’s most delicate and gorgeously sounding song (“Niña por favor”) is actually about the importance of despise and how deep down we all really love to hate, while its most gimmicky lyrics are found in a catchy 80’s power pop number that’s about loneliness and depression (“Plácidamente”).

In “Cae la cortina” the record enters the territory of morality. A song about how in reality everyone is the same in their own private domains, (“cuando cae la cortina, queda claro como vives”) it resonates tremendously in our times given how social media has made well-known figures who fuck up subject to public scrutiny, even though we are all the same behind those curtains. But the most accomplished song here is probably “Yo No Quiero Volver.” Using the metaphor of a computer as a crystal ball connecting the world and allowing us to see the past of humanity, it might seem like it would initially be critical about how, despite owning magical boxes allowing us to access knowledge and information within seconds, we’ve done so few to actually use it as something beneficial to society. Yet it concludes that free access to information is a lot better than being subject to the all-dominance of information that television and newspapers previously had.

A lot is made of Cristóbal Briceño’s magical mystery mind from which emanate wonderful words and melodies, but the quality of his accompanying band here is often understated. The band’s sonics are perfectly in step with Briceño’s simple ideas, and Conducción is yet another work of timeless and well-crafted pop music, romantic lyricism, and sociopolitical reflection. Briceño himself has talked about how the surface should be just as important as the content, and there may not be an explicit reference to Juan Gabriel here, but more than ever, Ases Falsos show the same obsession for melodical efficiency that Juanga always did. Ases Falsos has always been a sensory experience as much as an intellectual one: strong powerful poignant content that gives it its cultural relevancy, but always presented in a shiny glittering surface. And it’s that surface that has you eventually coming back to the songs months or even years after they were released.

Onda Temporal, Episodio Uno: Capullo

We start the unveiling of Onda Temporal, a 12-episode web series by Guerrero Negro featuring live performances from some of our favorite artists, with none other than our favorite pop group from Mexico: Capullo. As if there weren't enough reasons to love them, this clip makes Capullo more real, at least to those of us not lucky enough to have seen them live. They put the emoticons and virtual windows aside and allow director Carlos Matsuo into their personal space. Shot on a roof that seems to just have been showered by the sky, Capullo performs their rendition of Juan Gabriel and Rocio Durcal’s “Dejame Vivir” (with a second part featuring another cover of Los Ganglios). With all due respect to the gentlemen of Capullo, singers Cri Cornejo and Sandunga Mil really steal the show. When the ladies choose to walk away from the guys, they create the space to show their strong bond. Watch the rest of the Onda Temporal web series here at Club Fonograma during the next two weeks.

Onda Temporal: Demo

We are beyond thrilled to present Onda Temporal, a series of live performances shot by the sharp and poignant scope of Carlos Matsuo through documentary production company, Guerrero Negro. This isn’t the first time Club Fonograma is approached with the proposal of presenting Vicent Moon-inspired clips, but this is the first time we’re genuinely moved by the power of celluloid to capture/provoke raw and unnerving faculty from the performers. In the search for attaining artistic freedom. Perhaps half of the merit itself belongs to the curation of the series, which includes house favorites such as Ases Falsos, Capullo, and Matilda Manzana, and is sure to present us with future obsessions. Watch the series unfold its 12 episodes here at Club Fonograma in the next two weeks.

Los intercambios de electrones entre las neuronas y las sinapsis dentro del cerebro están sometidos a la imprevisibilidad cuántica; sin embargo, el gran número de neuronas hace que el comportamiento humano esté tan rigurosamente determinado como cualquier otro sistema natural. No obstante, en ciertas circunstancias extremadamente raras una nueva onda de coherencia surge y se propaga dentro del cerebro; aparece un comportamiento nuevo, de forma temporal o definitiva, regido por un sistema completamente distinto de osciladores armónicos; entonces podemos observar lo que hemos dado en llamar acto libre.

Capullo - "Orientación Vocacional"

In which Capullo sing about magic tricks and bring us to tears. No stranger to Fonograma compilations, the beloved Mexican group's Papasquiaro contribution is practically a ballad next to the more flashy cuts found elsewhere. Previous single "No pases más por mí" had us yearning for that kind of Capullo; more noise but forget that. "Orientación Vocacional" is the kind of song we didn't even know we needed. Even the title sounds special. Like it could've come from an un-produced Bernardo Quesney script. A protagonist that sneaks off to the restroom to practice magic. And like such a script it suggests comedy and absurdity yet equally touching. Thematically it's classic Capullo, but instead of rehashing old synth tricks, they work with less for more hypnotic and dazzling results. Not to mention that bittersweet guitar carries the spirit of the most devastating Camera Obscura songs (who remembers "Eighties Fan"?).

Reconciling adulthood with the world of magic is dificult, ("Sé que es difícil de creer, una cuchara yo doblé. Es que no estamos acostumbrados") with Capullo's help we'll always believe.

Tunacola - "Danky"

Even amongst Papasquiaro’s multitude of riches, Tunacola’s “Danky” stands out as a welcome surprise. This is mainly because, as compared to much of the compilation, “Danky” is an instant winner. Indeed, my reaction on first listen was “Wow, I’ve been waiting for the Go! Team to make something this great for ten damn years.” Not to say that Tunacola’s breakthrough track is beholden to early 2000s mash-up culture. In fact, where “Danky” really shines is in its infectious verses, which invoke Len’s eternal “Steal My Sunshine.” But this isn’t some twee shit—the last minute throws out the coyness and throws in the entire kitchen sink, to dizzying effect. While there may be more important songs on Club Fonograma’s latest compilation, none of them are as destined to last as a classic summer jam.

El sueño de la casa propia - "Color Piel"

The keystone for electronic music (perhaps for any music) is to succeed in creating something like an interiority without succumbing to some sort of hermetic art. El sueño de la casa propia’s vibrant and cohesive elemental landscape illustrates that principle, providing something perhaps a bit more “human” to a genre that can sometimes be too intellectual or abstract. “Color Piel,” which was released on our latest compilation, Papasquiaro, gives a glimpse at José Manuel Cerda's further exploration of undefined shapes, textures and resonance, but always with greater ambience and confidence. Without saying a word, Cerda deftly translates the reality of a multi-facetted, polymorphous contemporary identity. The sonic collage of chops and glitches leaves the abiding impression of a distant memory creating a universal truth beyond time and place.

Mañaneros - "The Vass"

Around the one minute mark of Mañaneros’ new track “The Vass,” right when the accordion finally kicks in, you can’t help but think of one of the more defining phrases of 2000’s Latin pop: “Suena, suena y emociona, nuestra, nuestra acordeona.” It’s not a surprising move, given how Mañaneros tend to reappropriate all sorts of popular Latin rhythms, movements, and symbols, and then proceed to reinterpret them through their own lens of post-internet holy-fucking-shitdom. It’s about recontextualizing Latin folk in the digital era as much as it is about getting drunk on aguardiente and passing out next to some cumbia blasting speakers. I’ll admit that the Celso Piña connection might be a little too far-fetched here, but with Mañaneros, you get the feeling that their music is about everything and nothing at the same time. For these guys, no connection is too crazy. Especially when you’re this crazy.  "The Vass" is the first song unveiled from Mañaneros' forthcoming release, download the track via Papasquiaro.