Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NORTEC – Tijuana Sound Machine (Nacional Records, ’08)

You have to give some extra credit to the guys at Nortec. They have based their whole careers in the probably unattainable challenge of trying to make cool music while sampling from the most horrible annoying music that there is in this world. I mean, these guys have it really really hard!
One thing is to match electronic four-by-four beats to adorable bossa nova, sophisticated tango, soulful flamenco or even catchy cumbia, another completely different thing is to try mixing techno with Mexican polka!
I’ve been following from close almost every Nortec releases since 2001 and they usually bore me after the second listen. With a couple of exceptions (like “Tengo La Voz”) I haven’t been able to blend their songs into my sets, but I don’t think the norteño factor is here to blame, I think it’s more about their insistence in groove-less minimalist techno.
Anyway, I had this new release by Bostich and Fussible playing on a loop for two continuous days at work and I enjoy it so much (as background music only, there are no dance-floor tracks here) that it almost doesn’t remind me anymore of the unlistenable noise Mexican painters play on their radios while they work. Good enough.

MJ – Mi Sentimiento (Machete Records, ’08)

I really hate the idea of this blog turning into an I-hate-every-single-release-from-
Machete-Records blog. I mean, I was infatuated with the original idea of Machete Records, and I remember thinking, wow, finally somebody (Toy Machete) with good music taste, knowledge and experience is filling that spot that has been historically vacant in the Latin music subsidiaries of the corporate record labels in the US.
Then, unexpectedly, Machete unleashed this avalanche of clones like this MJ guy (no, he's not the Puerto Rican Michael Jackson) that try to look tough in the pictures but when you play the CD they all start by thanking God and move on to singing predictable love songs over redundant reggaetón beats. Songs that, by the way, they don’t even write themselves, thus, turning what was supposed to be an “urban” music style into a mass-produced laboratory bubblegum pop for virgin teenagers.
I was only able to listen to this album until the beginning of track six and before I was forced to remove it from the CD player I got to hear a decent dance floor filler (“Bésame”) and another song so ridiculous that when he tries to rap he rhymes with the word “sola” five times in five verses (and does this twice along the song). Then the bachata “Si no es amor” kicked in and I had to stop it before I embarrassed myself in front of my coworkers and the workplace janitor.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

TONY DIZE – La Melodía De La Calle (Machete Records, ’08)

Hello, welcome to my 22nd review for this blog... Can you imagine if I started my post like that? Well, that’s exactly how this Tony guy starts his CD, “Good night everybody, for those who don’t know me, this is my first album for WYRecords.” For real! I mean, who is he? Troy McClure?! “You might remember me from insignificant cameos on this and that...”
Right after that embarrassing intro, he goes on thanking God and the producers. Two red flags.
First of all, nobody wants to think about God while dancing to reggaetón. Isn’t the whole point of this music to rub your half-erected manhood against some anonymous sweaty mushy butt? You can’t do that while thanking God! Unless you’re like a total loser and this is like the first time in your life you had the chance to feel some ass grinding on your crotch. But this bling-bling-and-casual-sex-with-nightclub-women-obsessed dude isn’t thanking God for that. That would’ve been so funny, I would’ve bought this album! He is thanking God for saving him and showing him the light, and that happens more than once along the album. Not a hint of irony.
Second. Please guys, save thanking the producers for the CD’s outro or the liner notes. Why in the name of, huh, God, do you need to name the producers on each and every one of the tracks? It’s tacky, pointless and redundant, especially when in the middle of a song that intends to be a romantic r&b you drop the “Wisin & Yandel! La Mente Maestra!” shout-outs. As if it that wasn’t enough you have to hear the same shameless beat-makers yelling incongruent self-promotion ads like “We are the ones who know how to work! All the other producers are 50 years behind us!” (by the way, guys, I hate to brake it down to you, but Calle 13 is 500 years ahead of you and all your friends. Oh, and God, he doesn’t exist. There, I said it).
Anyway, it’s so easy to point out ridiculous contradictions and bad habits (inherited from the worst commercial rap and r&b) in almost any reggaetón CD, that I could go on and on forever. All the same shit I said about El Rookie a few reviews below, applies to Mr. Dize as well. And then again, there are actually a couple of tracks that are danceable enough to fill in the down times of my DJ set, so I’m keeping it. Thank you Machete Records! You guys are like, 2 weeks ahead of all the other –almost inexistent- record labels that send me material for reviews. Thank God!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

DJ RAFF - RAFFOLUTION

I'm totally digging this one and I'm not even that much into turntablism anymore. I mean I used to be one of those that thought turntablism was the music of the future, you know, back in like '99 when all those first albums of the genre started to come out. But then I realized it was just DJ's showing off skills for other DJ's while it was impossible to appreciate by the average dude listener. It was too abstract.
When I bought DJ Raff's first solo album yesterday here, I was scared I was gonna have that same problem I had when I tried to force myself to like Kid Koala's first record. However, I found a very eclectic collection of tracks perfectly balanced between the mandatory scratch show-off and catchy melodies and beats.
For those of you who are not familiar with this type of shit, well this is music recycling at it's best. You'll find bits and pieces of a lot of recognizable sounds mixed together in unpredictable ways. Even if you are absolutely unable to tell superb scratching techniques from amateur scratch, you can still fully enjoy this album from beginning to end, guaranteed. If you enjoyed Bitman & Roban releases (and I know I did), this is a must, it's even better.
Oh, and I almost forgot that you people don't know shit about the amazing Chilean music scene and I need to introduce this guy, even though he's like the best DJ in South America. Well, all you need to know is that DJ Raff was the DJ from the first Chilean rap group to release a serious album, La Pozze Latina, and from then on he's been sharing his scratches with all the luminaries of the genre like Tiro De Gracia and Makiza, and more recently he collaborated on Musatfa Yoda's amazing second solo album. He's also a very nice guy.