Monday, October 25, 2010

KUMBIA QUEERS-La Gran Estafa Del TropiPunk (2010)

I used to get asked a lot about my sexual orientation (I don't know, maybe some people see my open-mindness and my lack of macho taboos as some sort of suspicious sign of ambiguity, or maybe it's the fact that I used to go-go dance at gay clubs, who knows!) and my answer was always the same, "I'm bisexual." And then I'd add, "I like women and lesbians."
I know, it's and old douchy joke that high-school kids used to say back in the day, but there's a lot of truth in it. The thing is I've said that same statement to many of my lesbian friends (and I had quite many throughout my life, I used to DJ at a lesbian club night for a while too) and surprisingly, they all found it a lot funnier than my straight friends.
I say surprisingly, because according to popular mythology you would assume that lesbians would
instantly read in my self-description the intrinsically offensive connotation (insinuating lesbians are not exactly women) and their "feminazi agendas" wouldn't let it pass, and I would be forever excluded from their circles and my name would be written on pussy blood on the ever-expanding list of men to castrate (ok, that last bit might've gone a little too far).
Nothing further from reality. Lesbians, at least in my personal experience, have a great sense of humor especially when making fun of themselves and not taking themselves seriously.
Kumbia Queers are the best example of this that I could ever think of. Not only they are the incarnation of the coolest idea for a transnational band to come up in the last decade. Not only do they make some kick ass tunes. They also make me piss my pants laughing out loud when I listen to their lyrics. That ironic approach to cumbia's kitschness that I've mentioned infinite times in this blog, so relevant to the cumbia's new school, particularly in Mexico and Argentina, finds its epitome in the work of these Mexican-Argentine super team of punky amazons.
La Gran Estafa Del TropiPunk (title obviously referring to the Sex Pistol's movie, dude I would've love being the Queers' Malcom McLaren!) is one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year (it has Toy Selectah and Pablo Lescano lending some hands in the production!) and I got it right before its official release, sent to me by Queer Ali Gua Gua herself! (Sorry, I'm not sharing, you gotta wait until it comes out). I played a couple of tracks ("Feriado Nacional" and "Daniela") yesterday at Celso Piña's concert and the crowd instantly loved them. Unlike their first album, which was crowded with hilarious bastard covers of very well known songs (by the likes of The Ramones, The Cure, Madonna, Black Sabbath), in this new album there's a lot more original and the covers are a lot more obscure: one of my favorite moments of listening to this album was when I found their version of April March's "Chick Habit," a song immortalized by Tarantino in Death Proof (a.k.a. the best movie EVER!). Just that 30 seconds intro of that song ("Mal Caracter"), with all the profanity and the self-deprecating humor and the inside jokes ("I'm not mixing this. Go do your recording with Toy!") are enough to convert any Kumbia infidel into a fundamentalist Queers' fan.
I've never met this chicks personally (I did however meet Ali once, a long time ago when she was with riot-grrrl punk group Las Ultrasónicas. I don't even thinks she remembers this, but back then I was supposed to do an interview with them backstage after a show and somehow, my coworker found me making out with one or was it two of them? I don't know, those memories are very blurry, but I know Ali is an avid reader of this blog and I wanted to share this here because I know she might find it funny, was it you Ali?) but I know we would get along great because we have one thing in common, we all like women, and lesbians, and kumbia, with a "k".

Thursday, October 7, 2010

SPANGLISH FLY-Let My People Bugalú (Electric Cowbell Records, 2010)

This review should've been attached to the previous one. But I've just got this in the mail today. Yes, another 45RPM single released by another fairly new record label that exclusively presses singles in that format and are also located in New York. Also, another release by a New York-based band with an unfortunately lame name. In this case however, there's a lot more funk, in fact, that's the main ingredient.
This guys make some really cool old-school flavor Latin funk/soul. There are some vocals sung by a girl but the main focus is on the instrumental stuff and I like it like that. Maybe they're not as solid as Bronx River Parkway or Spam Allstars yet, but I like it quite a bit and I think they can get a lot more interesting if they keep progressing in the correct direction. So don't let the horrible amateurish artwork guide your decisions and give them a chance.
Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that I'm very optimistic about this revival of the vinyl and the 7'' format in particular, that's finally reaching Latin music (remember how excited I was last year by Shakira's 7'' release?). I know most of you people don't give a shit about this vinyl fetish, only shared by a few DJ's and nerdy collectors, but I'm planning to come out soon with a 7'' of my own and I think the market conditions for such an enterprise are more than proper. With CD's almost completely out of the race and legal digital sales representing less than 5% of the music downloaded from the internet (less than 0.1% in Latin America) it's time for a cute tangible format like this to makes its glorious come back.

Listen/Buy HERE

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

TATO TORRES & YERBABUENA-La Casita de Chema (Alala Records, 2010)

First I was excited when I saw this one at the record store because I thought it was a collaboration between some dude called Tato Torres and that Yerba Buena band of Andrés Levin that made a lot of noise back in the early 2000's. Then I was disappointed to find out that this Yerbabuena is not really Yerba Buena, they are two completely different bands... from the same city, New York.
Now, how dumb is that? You guys have not heard of a thing called Google where you can type any bullshit made-up word you came up with and see how many hundreds of suckers around the globe are already using that as a band name?
Anyway, then I played the record and I was again disappointed because it was just traditional Puerto Rican music, and I was expecting some sort of modern fusion or at least something more funky (in a Bronx River Parkway kinda way). Ok, one of the tracks has a monumental drum break (that I'll probably sample), but still I'm not really that deep into Boricua shit. 
But then I went on-line to see who is it that's putting out this stuff and I found out Alala Records is a fairly new label (they only have three releases that I know of) started by no other than the great Bobbito García, a DJ and old school hip-hop radio personality that I always admired. And to know that this legit Latino with a b-boy soul has started a record label that's releasing exclusively 7'' singles (my favorite format!), that got me way more excited than I ever was in the beginning of this post when I first encountered the record. I love 7'' singles and I'll buy any release in this format that's remotely "Latin but cool" and having the seal of approval of a taste-maker I respect, well, you can count me in as a regular customer, Alala Records. Keep 'em coming!

Listen/Buy HERE