Just in case we might like the same kinds of music, here are a few new selections that have earned time on the ole' turntable.
PISTOLERA - EN ESTE CAMINO
The second CD from this New York-based group does not have a weak spot in any of the twelve tracks. From Nuevos Ojos to Arena the songs are tight, full-bore Latino progressive, including the rendition of Bob Marley's War (Guerra). The group consists of Sandra Lilia Velásquez on vocals and guitar, Maria Elena on accordion and piano, Inca B. Saiz on bajo, and Ani Cordero on drums and vocals. These four musicians manage to produce a powerful and very danceable sound. There is a lot going on here, from the selection of song formats and instruments to the politically-charged lyrics - check out Extranjero and Policía for examples. As I did my best to keep up to the music, I heard a little banda, a little tejano, a bit more of ranchera, a dose of indie-pop, and a great deal of something else that this band brings all on its own. Go here for a video interview with the entire band as part of its selection as the Clandestino Artist of the Month for Go TV Networks. The band's website is here.
CALEXICO - CARRIED TO DUST
Tuscon residents Joey Burns and John Convertino (and several guest musicians, some of whom are now members of the band) have been recording as Calexico since 1996. Their latest effort, Carried to Dust, is a pleasing combination of musicianship, lyrical free expression, and a soaring, almost romantic ambiance. There's a country style to the music, but somehow jazz plays a part. According to the record label website, this collection is a concept piece about a Los Angeles writer, the 2007 writer's strike, and a mind-bending tour of stops along the inspirational highway. I confess I haven't got that deep into the CD yet, but the song Writer's Minor Holiday sure is in that territory. You can watch Burns and Convertino perform Two Silver Trees. Amparo Sanchez and Jacob Valenzuela carry the vocals on the beautiful and intriguing Inspiración. The video does not do justice to the CD version, but you can watch the full Calexico band perform Inspiración here at this link.
LOS FABULOCOS FEATURING KID RAMOS - LOS FABULOCOS
I confess. I'm an old timer. I dig oldies, roots music, blues, conjunto, a little country. Give me some rockabilly or a speeding accordion, and it's all good. Through in some Tex-Mex and a soul cover, a few catchy lyrics, and it's even better. And there you have Los Fabulocos. Veteran Southern California musicians Jesus Cuevas (vocals and accordion), Mike Molina (drums), and James Barrios (bass and background vocals) have teamed up with blues star Kid Ramos (vocals, guitar, bajo sexto, Spanish guitar) to form a high-energy, kick-ass party band that challenges you to stay in your seat once they get started. Hey, this CD has Un Mojado Sin Licencia (the guy just wanted to see his Chencha) from Flaco Jimenez's playlist, the zydeco classic You Ain't Nothin' But Fine, and Cornelia Reyna's Como Un Perro. Included are bangin' versions of Lloyd Price's Just Because (one of the all-time pachuco broken-hearted tunes) and Dr. Loco's Mexico Americano. See what I mean? How can this be anything but great. And the original material is just as solid: If You Know, Day After Day, and You Keep Drinkin' . This CD gets my highest recommendation. There's plenty of video of these guys already on the Internet. Here's one.
CD release party on September, 12 2008, 9:00 PM, at The Doll Hut with guests The 44’s - 107 Adams Avenue, Anaheim, California. (714)533-1286.
I've heard only samples of the new Indigenous effort, Broken Lands, but it's getting good press. Need to get my hands on a full copy. Los Lonely Boys have struck again with another winner, Forgiven. Accordion giant Steve Jordan produced this gig. And for something different - Wynton Marsalis and Willie Nelson? It works. Contrary to the CD's title, Two Men with the Blues, this is not downbeat. Stardust is splendid.
A BIT AND A PIECE
Rigoberto González reviews Manuel Peña's Where The Ox Does Not Plow (University of New Mexico Press) in the El Paso Times, which you can read here. González says that "Peña's memoir is an insightful study of one man's journey toward political and social consciousness, and of his discovery that value is not in wages and class comforts, but in self-respect and the appreciation for his imperfect family and community. Education, he tells us, is not limited to the confines of the classroom."
Finally, I had some fun with Elmore Leonard and his Ten Rules For Writing in a piece I did for the Colorado Authors' League. You can read it here. As my grandson says, "Just kidding."