Tuesday, February 26, 2013

FRIKSTAILERS-En Son De Paz (ZZK Record, 2013)

This one is kind of a mystery to me. Mainly because I'm a huge fan of these guys, I've been playing their music in my mixes consistently since 2008 and I can't wrap my head around the idea that it took them this long to put together a debut album. I mean, how is that even possible? 
Frikstailers are the most genius visionaries in the whole ZZK collective, they definitely put the best live show of all the label's artists and they have an original marketable image. Plus they crossed over world-wide with that remix they did for Major Laser and its mind blowing video, the best video ever done by any ZZK artist, I might add.
Still, while many of those other lesser-known label-mates got preferential treatment and even deluxe vinyl pressings of their music, Frikstailers were only featured in compilations, remixing other people or releasing their music as free MP3s. If it was up to me I would've forced the Córdoba-based duo into the studio and I would've have locked them up in there until they came out with a finished full length album... four years ago!
Still, better late than never, right? 
Frikstailers are still ahead of their time and making music that's unqualifiable and out of this world, so I guess, you could argue that it's never too late to release it. Maybe that's the whole reason why they got their debut postponed for so long, it was too futuristic. I don't know. 
If you've been following the ZZK releases closely, there're a couple of tracks on this one that you might already have, but the rest is all dope shit that you must acquire no matter what (I only dislike one song, the one featuring Boogat, and I don't understand the insistance of ZZK producers to have him as a guest MC, having so many much better rappers in their own country). 
Unfortunately at the moment there's no confirmation regarding possible vinyl pressing or I'd be a million times more excited when writing this. Still, I'm pretty stocked to finally see their debut out after expecting it for almost five years. 

Buy it here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ORQUESTA EL MACABEO-Salsa Bestial (Vampisoul, 2013)

I used to DJ a lot of gigs for lame-ass audiences of mixed Latinos with no musical education beyond trite classics and current top40 cheesy hits. So I got used to dealing with the most annoying requests and just for fun I'd make up fake rules concerning the music I play and I don't play, just to fuck with these moron's minds a bit. Whenever somebody would come and ask me for some "salsita" or "un merenguito" (and request it like that, in diminutive, which makes it even more annoying) I'd say something like "sorry, I don't play songs that include the word candela in their lyrics." I could've also said something like "I don't play songs with lyrics that rhyme the word bailar with gozar," with the exact same purpose. So it happens that those are words and combinations of words that are extremely abused in salsa and a lot of other Latin-Caribbean music, including reggaetón, and they hurt my Argentine ears. (Now that I think about it I should've also have a rule against songs that rhyme the words amor and dolor, and in one move get rid of half of all songs ever written by Maná).
The thing is, growing up in Argentina I was as detached from salsa as an average midwestern gringo is detached from Cambodian folk. Meaning, I didn't listen to any salsa, I didn't know any salsa, I never danced to any salsa and it never bothered me because nobody else around me cared about salsa either. It was never on the menu. So I didn't actually hate it, it was just completely outside of my musical/cultural spectrum. I only started hating salsa once I moved to the United States and was automatically thrown into the "Latino" segment of the country's demographics and I realized how salsa music and dance were so intimately linked to this group of people I was suddenly associated with. "Oh, you're Latino! You must really know how to salsa, teach me!"
First of all, if something hurts my ears more than the word candela is people using salsa (or tango!) as a verb. You dance salsa, you sing salsa, you play salsa, you don't just salsa. Period. But, linguistic aberrations aside, what bothered me the most was that people assumed that because I was a Spanish-speaking immigrant I'd know how to dance to that music that was as foreign to me as it was to them.
Later as a DJ I began hating salsa even more because of the annoying requests and because of how playing salsa would ruin the flow of my DJ sets (as already explained on this other post).
Also because I didn't really know any good salsa.
As a stranger to the culture I had only been exposed to the most horrible side of it, the cheesiest crap ever made under the all-encompassing salsa umbrella. It took me many years and a lot of fight against my inner-demons of Argentine snobbism to reconcile with the idea that some salsa could, potentially, be listenable. Fast forward a few years more and voilà, I'm loving this salsa album, virtually from beginning to end. So I'm glad it reached me now and not five or six years ago when I would've probably dismiss it without giving it one chance.
Puerto Rico's Orquesta El Macabeo describes themselves, in their lyrics, as rockeros who play salsa, and they come to imprint salsa with some long-gone indie cred. They play hard, they have some memorable funky moments, their arrangements are beautiful and their lyrics deal with real, current issues that anybody (or at least me) could relate to, like you know, checking out the big boobs of that 17 year old girl at the supermarket when you're a married man. Best of all, I'm pretty sure I listened to the whole album without hearing the word candela once.
Following the example of other legit current salsa revivalists like Bio-Ritmo, Orquesta El Macabeo releases their music on vinyl. I reviewed their 7'' singles already in the past, now they have an LP, dropping soon on Vampisoul and I beg you to keep and eye open for this one and grab a copy if you see it at the record store. Even if you grew up ignoring and/or hating salsa.

Friday, February 1, 2013

VERY BE CAREFUL-El Millonario/El Rapidol (Steady Beat, 2013)

The best US-based vallenato band ever is also the only one I know of. Honestly, as much as I love cumbia, I'm not a big fan of its cousin vallenato so I don't really follow any artist of this genre. Mainly because of the cheesy pop-vallenato that became mainstream in Colombia in the '90s and pretty much ruined it for me. 
But this LA dudes are nothing like that, so they have all my respect. This guys play vallenato with attitude, an attitude mixed of nostalgia and punk-rock drunkenness and they do it right. 
Best of all, they've been doing it since way before it was  hipster-cool to listen to cumbia or any traditional Colombian music for the matter. And even better, they been pressing it on vinyl since way before it was retro-cool to own a turntable again. 
How come? Basically because as the band name and the art that comes with their releases might indicate they really don't give a fuck, they just do their thing, their way and don't follow any fads or music trends and it's been historically proven that if you don't give a fuck and you persever long enough, sooner or later, the people that matter will get you and appreciate what you're doing and create a whole cult following around you. That's how Very Be Careful does it and if you wanna join the cult, I suggest you grab a copy of their latest limited edition 7'' release. Plus there's a really dope upbeat dance track there. 

Buy it here.