Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mementos from LAMC 2013

LUCAS ARRUDA-Sambadi (Favorite, 2012): I arrived in New York on Monday but it was too late and I was too tired to do anything. On Tuesday, however, I woke up and the first thing I did was do a yelp search for vinyl record stores. It was my only day off, aside from the show of RVSB in the Bronx later that evening, and I wanted to spend it digging. So I went to all these stores and spent a lot of money on records and this one here is the best one I got. It's a German pressing in 7'' of this single by this soulful Brazilian multi-instrumentalist who I had recently discovered online thanks to Argentina's soul master Ezequiel Lodeiro who posted a link to his music on his facebook page. I became an instant fan. As I mentioned already in last year's LAMC coverage post, for me the intersection between Brazilian music and funk is the exact location of musical heaven. The original track is pure beauty and it comes with a remix on the b-side that's even funkier. Get it HERE.

BEBE-Un Pokito De Rocanrol (EMI, 2012): Wednesday. Before going to the hotel for the registration I stopped by at Remezcla's office in Williamsburg and I picked a promo copy of Bebe's last year album on vinyl. I don't know who had the insane idea of pressing this at EMI, mayor label vinyl releases, especially deluxe editions like this one, with gatefold cover, are a total mystery to me. It's like once very blue moon they pick the most random artists to press them on vinyl and nobody ever finds out because it doesn't get any distribution anyway. Oh well, the art in this one is pretty cool and there're at least a couple of funky tracks that are definitely DJ-friendly while the rest is, as you might expect from the title, mostly simple rock-based indie pop with silly lyrics. Anyway, I'm not complaining, I love vinyl and I want more Latin music artists to be released in this format, so I welcome this. My only problem was that after going to the hotel for the registration we went straight to a concert, all this while my backpack was progressively getting heavier and heavier which ended leaving me with some serious back pain by the end of the long day. Buy it digitally HERE.

ELEANOR DUBINSKY-Listen To The Music (self released, 2012): So I got to the hotel for the conference registration and it was late so the line was long. As soon as I got in line this one girl, standing in front of me, turned around and gave me the first demo of LAMC 2013. She's not Latina but she sings a little bit in Spanish (besides English and French) and she does it right, plus she's quite pretty. The whole demo is very chill, well produced but lacking of any edge (as you can probably guess by looking at the yoga-inspiring cover). The title-track has some nice flamenco vibes and the most obvious, generic lyrics ever: "Listen to the music, Escucha la música" (seriously, what else can we do? Dance to the music? Oh yeah, she says that too later). Anyway, if I was at a bar having a drink or at a bar mitsvah of some family friend and she was there singing live, I'd be absolutely fine with it, but listening to it on CD doesn't really appeal to me. Get it HERE.

AMAPOLA DRY-Buenos Aires New York (self released, 2013): Right behind me on the line was Argentine producer Martín Fuks, who had worked with some mestizo stars in Barcelona in the past but now lives in New York and does this pop-electro-tango thing called Amapola Dry. There're female and male vocals and Spanish and English lyrics. I like her singing in Spanish and him in English the best, but they both go both ways. The production is slick, chill and elegant, nothing too crazy experimental but neither cliché. I haven't done lounge DJ sets in a long time, but back in the beginnings of my career I used to play all sorts of electro-tango stuff, Gotan Project was the main dish of all my sets for many years, and this one would've fit perfectly right there. One of the highlights of the festival was running into him again during Catupecu Machu's concert and talk about our mutual love for Sumo and the legacy of Luca Prodan. Buy it HERE.

LOS CREMA PARAISO-Sleepwalk (self released, 2013): So you're an struggling upcoming artist and you wanna make a good first impression when you meet music journalists at a crowded conference? You want yours to stand out amid the pile of demos that keeps accumulating in my backpack? Take this piece of wise advice from veteran DJ Afro. Yes, Los Amigos Invisibles composer, guitarist and overall mastermind also was at the registration line but he didn't bring any of his invisible friends with him, he was instead promoting this side-project he has with two other musicians from New York called Los Crema Paraiso, and guess what? His demo was not a CD but a motherfucking cassette tape! That's the way to go! Sure, 7'' vinyl would've been way better, but those are hella expensive to produce, so a tape will get you pretty much the same effect. I haven't got a tape in a long time and this one, by default, went right to the top of my pile of things to listen from LAMC. Plus, if you're so lame that you don't even have a boombox anymore or you're too young and never had one, you don't even know what they are, no worries, it comes with a download code. The two tracks are instrumental only, but on the LAMC compilation (that's only digital this year) they have a bad-ass cover of Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus with some female vocalist. You wanna get it? Read the fucking link on the picture and type it on your browser you lazy mofos.

ANDREA ECHEVERRI (Nacional Records, 2005): Aterciopelados' singer Andrea Echeverri released a second solo album in 2011, but this one here was her first one and, I'm not 100% sure, but it was probably also the very first release by the label Nacional Records. Well, somehow that CD appeared on my LAMC goodie bag, in an odd move that can only be interpreted as Nacional Records cleaning up their storage room and getting rid of slow-moving overstock to make room for more social media interns in their office. Also on that same bag there was Manu Chao's third album (from 2007) and every single LAMC compilation starting in 2002 (these are tripple albums, so do the math and add that to my backback). At least those I can give away, but that CD of Andrea singing about giving birth and breastfeeding, that one nobody likes it, not even my female friends who are Aterciopelados fans and have babies of their own. If you pay for the shipping I give you my copy for free, if not, you can Get it HERE.

HACHE ST-Zafra (Quilombo Arte, 2013): Now here's some really dope shit. I've been meaning to get a copy of this since it came out a couple of months ago, mainly because that track, "Conmemoración" is one of my favorite songs of 2013, so far. So, right after I was done with the registration I headed down to Central Park where they had a Latin hip-hop showcase with Fat Joe as a headliner plus Venezuela's Cuarto Poder, Oakland's Los Rakas and Chile's Latin Bitman. In the middle of the crowd I ran into Mexico's premier MC, Bocafloja and his Dominican protégé Hache ST, who are respectively the equivalents of Talib Kweli and Common in the Spanish-language hip-hop arena. The CD is full of leftist, politically-conscious, combative, intellectual lyrics, and jazzy, organic-sounding beats. No auto-tune, no bling, no booty-shaking hooks. In other words, the exact opposite of what was going on on stage at that very same moment, with Los Rakas. This is exactly the kind of rap in Spanish that used to wet my panties back in the day and nowadays mostly appeals to my nostalgia. If I've heard this in 1998, when I was going crazy for Jazz-Two, this would've been my all-time favorite album. I kinda outgrew that purist hip-hop format since then and as a DJ I lean more towards funkier beats that will put people on the dance-floor instead of lecturing them with complex lyrics about the history of African slaves in Latin America. I might not play this at my parties (where I do play Los Rakas) but I'm definitely adding all its 15 tracks to my playlist to listen on my iPod while commuting. Get it HERE.

VINILOVERSUS-Cambié De Nombre (Altamira, 2012): Appearances can be deceptive and when I first heard the name of this band, or actually saw it in the list of artists that I was expected to interview, I got excited only because they had the word "vinilo" in their name and I instantly assumed, naively, that it had something to do with vinyl records manipulation. That's my shit, right? Then I saw their photo and they looked like a pop-rock band with pretty boys and I thought they'd start singing corny love songs. Then I pressed play and they sounded like Black Sabbath. Seriously, I saw people walking out of their showcase after hearing their first riff arguing that they were "heavy metal." Viniloversus is essentially a Venezuelan rock band with one guitar and to bass players so you can imagine their sound is super dense. They do have some corny love songs for the ladies but they're at their best in tracks like "Yunque" that ignited an fierce instant moshpit in the Mercury Lounge on Wednesday night, something you don't usually get to see in LAMC shows. If I wasn't carrying my backpack full of crap, I would've joined. Buy it HERE.

SUBSUELO-Me Quedo Con Los Recuerdos/El Viejo Boombap (Gnawledge Records, 2013): It was Thursday at the conference when I got to interview Los Rakas, for the first time. We live in the same town and we constantly cross paths, but I never had an opportunity to sit down and talk to them. Not that I was dying for it either, I'm not their biggest fan, but I am a fan of their touring DJ, DJ Ethos, from Mexico-via-Los Angeles, who I met back in 2010 when he was the touring DJ for Ana Tijoux. Ethos did a great set the day before at Central Park and I would've love to have him in the interview too, but only the two MCs of Los Rakas showed up, so as soon as I was done talking to them, I went up to Ethos to say hi and he surprised me with this 7'' record. Besides DJing for Los Rakas and the Quilombo Arte crew, Ethos is also part of the multidisciplinary Subsuelo crew who are behind the best global bass party in East LA and are now releasing some music too. They put this beautiful little record together and it's not commercially available yet so I'm happy to be among the firsts to review it. It's pressed in 33rpm instead of the standard 45, so it fits a lot of extra stuff, including some bonus beats, intros by a sonidero announcer that are fucking awesome and a scratch track for Ethos to do this thing. Yes, you read that right, a 7'' record with a scratch track! The A side is very rootsy flamenco and downtempo, the B side mixes flamenco guitar with a boom-bap beat an some scratching. So far you can only get this personally at the Subsuelo parties in Los Angeles, but keep an eye out for it dropping soon.

LOS CHINCHILLOS DEL CARIBE-Demo (Self Release, 2013): Right after I interviewed Los Rakas I met these guys who apparently work with their same publicist. They are a modern cumbia band from Puerto Rico. Yes, now even fucking Puerto Rico has their own cumbia! I've heard cumbia coming from Denmark, Australia and the UK, but never in a million years did I expect somebody to start doing cumbia in this Caribbean island. Mainly because in my DJing experience, all the Puerto Ricans that I've encountered fucking HATE cumbia. Puerto Rico is one of the few countries of Latin America (along with Brazil, Cuba and Dominican Republic) where cumbia was never popular. But these guys, apparently, enjoy swimming against the current and I applaud that. They sound like commercial Argentine cumbia villera mixed with some Mexican cumbia elements and aesthetics and their lyrics are hella cheesy. There's basically nothing "alternative" or "ñu-cumbia" about them so I don't know what they're doing in this conference but I welcome them with open arms anyway. After all, they wear Mexican wrestling masks and told me their debut album will be titled Nos Fuimos, deja-fucking-vu, right? Download their demo HERE.

EVA CAUTIVA-Mil Idiomas (Self Release, 2013): Some people still think that I like "rock en español," I don't know why, maybe because they don't read my blog. I guess this publicist I met at the conference on Thursday is one of them. She's also one of the kind of publicists that gets mad at you and takes it personal if you ignore her pitches and don't review the music that she gives you. So I feel pressured to review this album, that's totally not my style and under normal conditions I would've skipped after reading their bio and seeing that they still use "rock en español" to describe their music. Anyway, they're from Puerto Rico and they definitely have some influences from some iconic '80s pop-rock, which I guess is the reason they still use the expired label "rock en español." Their initial three tracks were very energetic and I actually enjoyed it, but then they went limp-dick on me on the fourth and I almost pressed eject. Instead I skipped and the following track wasn't bad at all but with their sixth they reached the limit of my patience for this kind of music and the eject was definitive this time. On a side note, the album art is pretty amazing. The album is not yet available in the US.

CATUPECU MACHU-El Mezcal & La Cobra (EMI, 2011): Thursday night. I was never a fan of these guys but I got to see them playing live a few times back in the mid-to-late nineties in Buenos Aires and then again in Los Angeles in 2002 and always had a great time at their shows. They're one of the few Argentine alternative rock acts from that era that enjoys cult following at home but never quite crossed over to international audiences with success, and I think that's because their music doesn't make almost any sense in recorded form; Catupecu Machu is one of those bands that must be experienced live. They have so much energy on stage, it's like an overdose of power and loudness. Amid the Latin Alternative scene, that's been dominated for the last couple of years by the sans-balls-ness of skinny Chilean indie boys who sing like 13 year old girls, their injection of pure, high-octane testosterone muscle rock, can be refreshing, to say the least. Even to me, that I don't even like rock and I don't have a hint of macho chromosome on my DNA. But I don't know, somehow they appeal to my primal instincts and to my nostalgia and bring me back to my stage-diving days before I went fully b-boy. Also, it was a pleasure interviewing them on Friday because they're surprisingly intelligent and articulate. The album is not yet available in the US.

ZUZUKA PODEROSA-Carioca Bass (Self Release 2013): Friday night, it was raining so I skipped the M.I.S. show at Prospect Park and went to take a nap instead, so I could attend this party where I finally got to meet her majesty, the queen of baile funk, Zuzuka Poderosa herself, in person. I had interviewed her in the past and she was one of the funnest interviewees I've ever encountered. I was really glad to find out that she's as charming, playful, and sexy in real life. Plus she's so gorgeous that I had to drink a couple of beers before I gathered the courage to walk up to her and introduce my dorky self. If there's one thing that LAMC has historically failed at was including more Brazilian acts in their line-up. I'm always perplexed by the whole bullshit demographic segmentation of the music industry in the US; to me (and everybody else with half a working neuron) Brazil is a part of Latin America and Portuguese-language music, like Zuzuka's, deserves to be included along the music en español and not crammed in the world music section. Maybe it's because I grew up next door to Brazil and I'm way more familiar with their music and culture than the average Mexican or Puerto Rican immigrant, who are the main target audience of Latin Alternative music in the US. I don't know. Anyway, Carioca Bass is her latest EP, it has two explosive bunda-shaking tracks in multiple versions each and they'll make anybody dance regardless of their knowledge of Portuguese. Get it HERE.

ATROPOLIS-Transitions (Cumba Mela, 2013): After spending a good amount of time chatting with Zuzuka Poderosa, I saw her climb on stage and join the performance of Lido Pimienta, resulting on one of the hottest impromptu moments in LAMC 2013. I don't know if the guy DJing during Lido Pimienta's show was in fact Atropolis, because I don't really know what he looks like but he might have been, since well, that was in part his party at Drom. I think. I don't know, all my recollections from that specific night are kinda blurry. In a good way. All I know for sure is that this Atropolis guy has Lido Pimienta doing a beautiful song on his upcoming debut album, and that's why I made the connection. I also know that Lido's performance was very sexy, but it was late at night and I was already drunk so I may have imagined it. Atropolis debut album, Transitions, was actually waiting for me in my mailbox when I came back from New York and it instantly took me back to that amazing unofficial after-party of LAMC. Not available yet, dropping August 13th.

K.SABROSO-Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Funky (Breaking Bread, 2013): Aside from the long chats I had with my former editor, some of the best moments during this conference days had been my conversations with K.Sabroso, both that Friday night at Drom and on Sunday at the NYTC backyard bbq party. We have plenty in common, me and this guy who I had never met before, he comes from a hip-hop/b-boy background and approached Latin music from a break-beat angle, he loves 7'' singles and most importantly, he takes the hour of the party invitations literally and is usually the first to arrive, something I happen to do as well. As a direct result of this, we spent long periods of time sharing DJing anecdotes before anybody else arrived at both those parties. K.Sabroso is still very new to the scene, he has done some awesome remix work for other artists and this is his vinyl debut. Two up-tempo funky instrumental tracks obviously heavy on the breaks. Nothing indicative of his Central American background on these particular track, but he has done some awesome work with Garifuna music that deserves to be pressed on vinyl too. More info HERE.

DEL EXILIO-Panamericano (self release, 2013): One of the biggest problems you run into during this kind of conferences is getting to meet all the people you were supposed to, in such a short time. Same with the concerts, you can't possible catch them all, there's always some stuff you'll miss (in my case I mainly regret missing Natalia Clavier). Anyway, it was part of my plan to meet with Del Exilio's David Sandoval but it didn't happen, so he ended up mailing me his CD and I didn't get it until a week later, hence this addendum to my post. Panamericano is an imaginary (or real life?) trip through the Americas through music, covering places like Buenos Aires, Perú and Mexico but also New York, LA and Florida. It's all about looking in those connections for some answers about what it means to be Latino, something that's legitimately troubling for many Latinos born and raised in the US, like David who claims to be 100% American and 100% Latino in the best track of the album, aptly titled "200%." With splendid production in the hands of Los Amigos Invisibles' DJ Afro, the album blends a lot of different influences in the beats, with well crafted pop song formats and outstanding vocal skills. Not necessarily DJing material, but still quite funky at moments. Very radio friendly. Great for road trips. Buy it HERE.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Short Reviews Roundup

Yet another batch of instant, lazy, uninspired reviews collected in one post just to make people that send me free records happy. Keep supporting independent artists and record labels and don't forget to buy vinyl whenever available. 

NICKODEMUS feat. SAMMY AYALA-Baila a Tu Manera [Whiskey Barons Remix] (Wonderwheel, 2013): I wasn't very impressed with last year's Nickodemus release Moon People, but this one here brings him straight back to the Nickodemus we all loved six, seven years ago. I don't know if it's the guest vocalist, Sammy Ayala, who I have no fucking idea who he is, or if it's the Whiskey Barons that have that midas touch to make everything funkier, but I love this 7''. I can tell for sure it's gonna remain on mandatory rotation on my sets for a while. Buy it HERE.

DOCTOR STEREO-Jet 2 Panama/Hágalo (G.A.M.M., 2013): Argentina's Ezequiel Lodeiro, a.k.a. Doctor Stereo, has recently become the most sought-after producer/remixer from his country. At least I'm absolutely sure no other Argentine DJ had his music pressed on vinyl by so many of the  the most prestigious, DJ-oriented record labels in the Northern Hemisphere. After being released by Lovemonk, Resense, Names You Can Trust, Bastard Jazz and Jack To Phono, he now drops this indispensable rework of the Mandrill classic "Hágalo" with an even funkier instrumental flip-side on this 12'' released by Sweden's kings of bootlegs G.A.M.M. Buy it HERE.

NOVALIMA-Karimba Diabolic Remixes (Wonderwheel, 2013): Nothing will ever be as awesome as Novalima's Afro, for obvious reasons; they used all the dope classic Afro-Peruvian songs there. After that, the only thing they had left was to dig deeper into more rare tunes or create their owns, which sure, it's a lot more interesting from the artistic point of view, but none of their original creations have the effect that "Machete" and "Mayoral" have when you play them at a party. Anyway, this new collection of remixes redeems their latest album, Karimba, which was a bit too rootsy for me, bringing it back to the dance floor with reworks by a who-is-who of todays most prestigious remixers. No mentions of vinyl yet, but you can get the digital release HERE.

SAOCO Vol. 2 (VampiSoul, 2013): I'm definitely not an expert on this kind of Puerto Rican music, probably the total oposite. In fact, I don't even know what saoco means, I'm pretty sure it's not a Spanish word, that's all I can say. This is the second volume of a compilation put together by Spain's VampiSoul dedicated to bomba and plena, some pre-salsa, heavy percussion-based Afro-Boriqua music. Unfortunately they sent me a digital promo, and this is where I'd like to have the vinyl instead so I could read the liner notes instead of embarrassing myself with such a lame, waste of time of a review. Order yours HERE.

GEKO JONES & ATROPOLIS PRESENT-Palenque Records Remixed (Dutty Artz, 2013): I don't know who or what Atropolis is, but Geko Jones is mad cool and deserves all my props for his mixes and remixes. Anyway, here he put together for Dutty Artz a compilation of remixes of Afro-Colombian music produced in the Atlantic Coast. It's a lot closer to West African music than cumbia and very upbeat. These are all high-octane dancefloor igniters guaranteed, specially the ones by Captain Planet and So Shifty. No talk about vinyl. Buy it HERE.

BACHACO-Bachaco (Delanuca, 2012): Remember Locos Por Juana before they got rid of the band and became a ñu-cumbia soundsystem? Bachaco pretty much follow that same formula, in the sense that they are a party rock band playing a mix of reggae-ska-cumbia tunes with bilingual lyrics and some rap here and there. Oh, and they happen to be from Miami, FL, so I guess this must be a quite popular style there. There's definitely some strong cumbia-based numbers there that I assume must explode when they're played live, like "Jamaican Cumbia," "Cumbia pa' la nena" and the El Gran Silencio-reminiscing "Culebra." Nothing super edgy or innovative there, but still, fun stuff. The album also comes with some forgettable moments, like the corny romantic number "Mi sol" (which could easily hit with the mainstream Latino crowds) and the retro-rock-en-español cliché-filled "La Ola." Still better than 90% of the crap that plays on commercial Latin radios in the US so it gets a pass. Buy it HERE.