Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rock: Café Tacvba - Sino

Cafe Tacuba Café Tacvba - Sino Si No - Volver A Comenzar - Alternative Latin Pop Rock Mexico
I have to admit that - up until now - I kinda underestimated the importance of Café Tacvba. You have to forgive me: my first contact with latin music was only four years ago, when the hype following their 2003 masterpiece Cuatro Caminos was settled down, and the band members decided to take a sabbatical. Proof: when I dared to write the band had dissolved in this post, irate reactions of the extensive 'cafeta' fanbase followed.

No, Café Tacvba is very much alive, and they are probably Mexico's single most important rock band. Since 1989, they've been the missing link between rock and Mexican folk (Re, 1992), the best cover band of the continent (Avalancha De Exitos, 1996), Grammy winners with instrumental art-pop (Reves/YoSoy, 1999), and the Mexican answer to Radiohead (Cuatro Caminos, 2003). They're the most diverse band in latin rock history - and that's still an understatement.

Sino, the first Café Tacvba album in four years, is another example of the constant evolution that marks their career. Folk elements are rare, and the combination of lead guitarist Joselo Rangel and drummer Victor Indrizzo (Beck) leads to stormy rock explosions ("De Acuerdo"). Gone is the somewhat cheesy pop of hit single "Eres", but instead we hear powerful guitar songs. There's even room for experimental ("Arrulo") and epic stadium rock ("Esta Vez"). What stays, are the existentialist lyrics, and the feeling that you're listening to something truly great.

The album opens delicately, with a soft piano and a fragile Meme building up the tension, until "Tengo Todo" breaks loose: a beautiful pop song, adding some Beatles psychidelica near the end. "53100" makes me think of "No Surprises" (there's that Radiohead comparison again..) while "Y Es Que..." has a very Catupecu Machu harmonica melody. And "El Outsider" adds some funky electro bleeps, while lead vocalist Ruben Albarrán declares himself the number one individualist.

I could write a whole page on "Volver A Comenzar" alone, the sublime first single. It's an eight-minute epic of 80s disco dancerock (New Order, Depeche Mode) interrupted by an acoustic chill moment. The chorus rocks, and the band sings great. It's only matched by "Esta Vez": equally epic, the same touching lyrics. A calm and melodic start soon derails into a rock classic worthy of Muse (or for the older readers: quite reminiscent of Led Zeppelin). In short: two rock gems you need to download ASAP.

But these two songs alone can't give you an impression of the whole album... so much is happening here, between The Who (experimental jam "Gracias") and The Beach Boys (the harmonic "Quiero Ver") is a disc with nothing but highlights. Maybe the four 'tacubos' aren't the most technical singers, they solve that by variation (all of them take the role of lead singer), and they are genious musicians who write indestructible songs. The most exciting album of the year.

Café Tacvba - Volver A Comenzar mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon
Café Tacvba - Esta Vez mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon

Show Videos...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

En La Misma Onda

The MTV LatinoAmerica Awards again managed to ignore new talent and sent the most obnoxiously commercial acts home with the 'Moonman' statue. Maná won 'Artist of the Year' and 'Best Group', Avril Lavigne took 'Song of the Year' and 'International Pop Artist', and there were awards for Evanescence, Belinda and Panda. Or as Crisol de Musicas sums it up: something smells rotten.

Latina Viva reports that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez cancelled an Alejandro Sanz concert, just because Alejandro once said he's not a big fan of the prez. Maybe he sees Sanz as too big a competition - Chavez recently released his own folk CD. Talk about a nutcase.

The Latin Americanist had the wonderful idea to adapt VH1's 'The Greatest' to latin music: they're gonna compile a list of the best latin rock songs of the nineties. Mail your favorites to!

More rock at The Latin Americanist: the return of Soda Stereo was a big success - over 70,000 people attended the reunion concert of the Argentinean supergroup. The post further mentions the "piss-poor" tribute to Soda held at the MTV Awards. They can't get anything right, huh? :)

The video for "Promesas" by Los Mono (see this post) has become quite the YouTube hit: over 350,000 people have watched it after it was featured on the YouTube home page. Now that's an exposure an alternative latin artist can only dream of! Watch the video here and here.

And finally, to prepare for 'Dia de los Muertos' (All Saints Day) next thursday, Ritmo Latino has a specially themed podcast. Creepy! :)

Show Videos...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Reggaeton: Casa de Leones, Alexis y Fido

It's been a while since we've given you some good ass booty-movin', party-startin', muscle-rollin' REGGAETON! Consider this as damage control for the weeks I haven't been posting: the two big reggaeton hits of last summer.

Alexis y Fido might not be as much in the spotlights as, let's say, Wisin y Yandel, but the duo has its occasional smash reggaeton hit. "Cinco Letras" is a perfect example. This song is just made for the dancefloor, with the delicate electronic accents, and the chant-and-response chorus makes it irrestitably catchy. Nothing new on the beat or lyric front, but hey, that's not what we're looking for here ;) Their next album Sobrenatural is scheduled for an October 20th release.

An up-and-coming duo that's here to stay: Jowell y Randy. After guest rapping on almost every reggaeton album released the last few months, they've recently joined the group Casa de Leones, with relatively unknown raperos Guelo Star, Maximan and J-King. But they're not just another reggaeton boysband: debut single "No Te Veo" betrays a more club-oriented approach with a poppy edge. The beat is more soca than classic dembow, perfectly mixable with house or techno stuff, similar to the more experimental tracks on Daddy Yankee's latest. A nice evolution!

Alexis y Fido - Cinco Letras mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon
Casa de Leones - No Te Veo mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon

Alexis y Fido - Cinco Letras

Casa de Leones - No Te Veo

Show Videos...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

En La Misma Onda

I'm back! Thanks to El Guiri for filling the void, and the mp3s accompanying his Manu Chao review are up at last.
Of course the music industry didn't sleep while I was trekking through Slovenia. An overview!

Opinions vary on the new Gloria Estefan album 90 Millas. She supposedly went searching for her musical roots, resulting in a 'modern take on classic Cuban rhythms'. Mister Bryans says

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what her politics are, it doesn't matter how many famous musicians played on her new album, or how powerful her husband is, it just matters if her music is any good.

Well, About Latin Music gives 90 millas a five-star review, while the Miami Herald think it's worth only two. This just begs for an Onda review, no?

Babyfaced rapper Tito El Bambino has recorded a track with superproducer Pharrell Williams for his new album It's My Time. But "El Booty" isn't as hot as the first single, "Solo Dime Que Si". BlogReggaeton has the info, Richard Liriano has the tracks!

This Tuesday is the big day for Café Tacvba: the release of their first studio album in four years, Sino. Here's the extra long video to their epic single "Volver A Comenzar" on YouTube. The video follows the track in its sound & feel: 80's disco dancerock interluded by serene acoustic chills. Well, maybe the bootylicious bling-bling part is a little out of place ;) Be quick - Universal Records is taking the videos down...

Of course you'll hear more of these albums soon here at La Onda. Glad to be back ;)

Show Videos...