Friday, April 29, 2011

What I Know Now

This is an attempt at retrospective musical analysis, specifically to enshrine a few of the artists that I've recently uncovered that did not form part of my recent listening diet. The most significant musical landmark is Davila 666, a Puerto Rican indie garage rock band that flat out rocks. Following the release of their excellent album Tan Bajo this year, I began to peruse the internet for reviews and stumbled upon, a site that specializes in reviewing and promoting independent Latin music. A flood of new music soon flowed downhill into my eardrums, so I've only just scraped the surface of the thriving Latin indie scene that I've been wanting for years.

Café Tacvba - Cuatro Caminos (2003)

Released in 2003, this album plays like a time capsule of best indie rock of the past two decades. Often irreverent and straightforward, with an equal dose of genuineness, this album holds its own as a monument to off-kilter rock/n/roll Mexico style. The particular flair of the singing style affords enough versatility to be able to include such tracks as "Eres" and "Cero y Uno" in the same cohesive body. Fresh and accesible, I can't believe this album is almost a decade old.

Javiera Mena - Esquemas Juveniles (2006)

Her voice is weak, her style is shamelessly retro/hipster, yet Javiera Mena has a trump card: she means every bit of it. After my first listen through of "Al Siguiente Nivel," Mena's major single from the album, I felt like I'd heard an inspired, once-in-a-generation claim that I couldn't help but embrace. She stamps the end of the song's chorus with "This is going in the direction of my generation, which is going to move on to the next level," and, cynic that I am, I was helpless to oppose her anthem despite the retro overkill and synthe-saturation. She's got my ear. 2010's "Mena" wasn't quite as revolutionary, but it still makes Mena an artist that I'll be following for some time to come.

Cass McCombs - Catacombs (2009)

This album was on my year-end list for 2009 in the 9th spot out of 10, so it may seem strange to speak of it in the same breath as these newer-to-me albums. All I can say is that this album refuses to leave me alone. I walk down the street and find myself humming a melody, pigeoning my head forward and back to a riff, or concentrating on a specific lyric's meaning. It's a collection of songs that are sarcastic, clever and soulful, all while being just catchy enough to keep my interest - like that pinch of salt that seems to pull all the flavors together. There is a palpable world-weariness throughout the songs, leaking out through the restrained sincerity of McCombs's voice. Good song: "You Saved My Life". Fun song: "The Executioner's Song".

Odisea - Odisea Odiseo (2010)

These guys (this guy) sound not unlike a Chilean version of Scissor Sisters, employing plenty of hooky poppy dance-y "hooky dance-pop". "Cabros" is the single and standout, but there's a whole summer's worth of fun crammed into this one. Lucky I found it before the heat did this year. Now I'm ready.