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


Anonymous said...

Great article!

Have you listened to Natalia y La Forquetina - Casa (meme produced some of it I believed)

Also be in the look out for Ximena Sariñana's debut cd. Great stuff.

RADD said...


Very nice article indeed.

It is kind of validating to me that I see that you, just as me, found "Esta Vez" to be a song worth writing a complete essay. Just because of this song alone with its early-Aerosmith feel combined with elements of psychodely, make the whole album worth getting .

And yet, the rest of the album also speaks tons by itself. And this comming from me must mean something: by no means I consider my self an aficionado of Café Tacuba's music (or should I write "Tacvba"). I always knew that they were an important band for Mexico's rock scene, specially for being known as the main pioneers of this music genre known as "Ethnic Rock" (me being more of a POP-rock guy, Café's music was always outside my music radar).

Starting with Cuatro Camino's "Eres", I started to pay a bit more attention and now with this album SiNo, my gosh, they bravely took a whole new direction, one that is much more classic rock, yet commercial friendly. Very high standars on the songs.

Saying that I've now been converted into a fan of them would be a bit of an overstatment, as well as premature, but if these guys keep releasing stuff like this for the comming years, I would not have any problems at all in saying that they might reach the same levels of what I consider one of Spanish's best rock legends: Soda Stereo... maybe I'm coming ahead of my self; we'll see, only time will tell.

One more song worth mentioning that I could easily see being a blast in commercial radio: "Vámonos" (if someone had given me this song to listen, I would've had never guessed it was by Tacvba). This only shows once again their versatility, something they always proofed to have since their early days.


Chapín said...

@Edgar: I love Natalia y la Forquetina, and yes, Meme produced their album "Casa". I even wrote about "Ser Humano" here!

@radd: Thanks for a well-funded and interesting opinion about Café Tacvba. You write very well, start your own blog man! ;)

Barbara said...

I'm just discovering Latin pop/rock music. I'm an old 60s head/punk rocker. Lately, nothing seems to have been kicking my a**, except Latin stuff I've heard in restaurants and wafting out of car windows. Thanks for doing this blog, it's wonderful!

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