Wednesday, April 7, 2010
VERY BE CAREFUL-Escape Room (Barbés Records, 2010)
I have no answers for any of these questions, but judging by their music, these guys seem pretty serious about what they play and I don't sense a hint of irony in their lyrics or interpretation. They basically just play plain cumbia vallenata, an accordion-and-percussion driven style of cumbia that's quite different from the pop cumbia that crossed over worldwide.
In fact, I'd argue that if cumbia started as a Colombian music genre to end up becoming the Panamerican music genre of choice, cumbia's cousin vallenato on the other hand managed to remain strictly a Colombian phenomenon and (outside of the pop/rock influenced vallenato of Carlos Vives) the style hasn't crossed over to the rest of the Spanish-speaking continent (whenever I'm DJing and I get a request for vallenato, 100% chances it's a Colombian doing the request, but when they ask for cumbia, they can be from anywhere).
So, when you're first confronted with this LA-based band of vallenato players with a cult following and on top of that you add an English name and and English title for an album where all the songs are in Spanish... it's like WTF dude? Are you for reals? And, even though I've never met them, my guess is that yes, they are.
Very Be Careful had been around for a while now, and they have like seven albums out, they even released some vinyl LP's and 7'' in the past but recently they signed with Barbés records, the guys who put out all that amazing Peruvian psychedelic cumbia, and released this, their newest album, Escape Room, that comes with a 3D cover and 3D glasses if you buy the physical version. There are eleven tracks, all original compositions, all of them in the same style that remains loyal to the roots of vallenato (no neo-cumbia electronic experiments here), all of them very dance-floor friendly, with catchy melodies and OK lyrics. The singer's voice is the only thing I didn't like too much, but then again, I don't really like the singers of that period they're sort of recreating and as a DJ I'd like longer instrumental breaks with less emphasis on the ever-present accordion (it does get a little annoying after a while) and more emphasis on the percussion.
Listen to Very Be Careful's "La Furgoneta" here. Buy "Escape Room" at your usual digital outlets and/or record store.