Amoeba Hollywood Latin Rock & Pop Top 10 For August 2009 (So Far)
2. Chico Sonido- S/T
3. Zoe- Reptilectric
4. Eydie Gorme Y Los Panchos- Cantan En Español
5. Manu Chao- Clandestino
6. Los Amigos Invisibles- Commercial
7. Juan Son- Mermaid Sashimi
8. Fangoria- Absolutamente
9. Hombres G - Los Singles 1985-2005
10. Several artists tied at number 10.
Every week, I look into new release books supplied by the four Latin majors for new releases. Some, like Juan Son and the new Natalia LaFourcade, are currently out in Latin America only. Instead of seeing those aforementioned artists in the new release books, I usually see the same type of releases. It’s either a set of repackaged titles by the same artists, or worse, a cheap two artists on one CD with only ten songs on it. Turn the pages and you see a slew of unknown pop singers who are either the son or daughter of a famous singer, the child of a record industry head or the mistress of a record industry head. I’m telling you, I have smacked my hand against my head in disgust so many times I think I have a permanent palm mark on my forehead.
So, how do I get the new Juan Son to Amoeba Music Hollywood? I had to get someone to smuggle some across the border! Mermaid Sashimi debuts at number seven and in getting the small amount of imports that I got, word is spreading fast. Much like Zoe’s Reptilectric before it was released in the states, Mermaid Sashimi is selling by Internet buzz and plain old word of mouth.
For those who don’t know, this is Juan Son’s first solo outing since his departure with the band, Porter, who were looking like they would become the next big thing out of Mexico before the band ended abruptly. Separated from the restraints of being in a band, Juan Son's debut is a symphonic collage of songs in both English and Spanish. The first thing you’ll notice about Juan Son is his voice. It’s high and shrill like a dolphin or male Bjork, but it also has much character and is quite unique. Musically, the arrangements are sophisticated; capturing the same imagination the likes of Brian Wilson, XTC and Café Tacvba had in the past. To be honest, Mermaid Sashimi leaves me with a bit of a headache, but I also can’t stop listening to it. Mermaid Sashimi is not an album to put in the background. It is, simply put, "art." It commands you to listen in an era where music is either disposable or merely background music.
Also, we have the new release from ZocaloZüe, entitled Mundo Jarocho. Main songwriter Cesar Castro once played with Son Jarocho legends Mono Blanco, before moving to L.A. and joining the band Quetzal. Cesar soon left Quetzal after the release of their classic Die Cowboy Die album to start ZocaloZüe with bassist Juan Perez, (Quetzal, Son De Madera), Requitero Alex Hernandez and percussionist Ramon Vslas. I thought Betto Arcos from 90.7 FM KPFK Global Village put it the best when describing the band a few weeks back on his radio show:
The music of ZocaloZüe could only be created in a city such as Los Angeles. This is music with a foundation in Afro-Caribbean sounds, with strong references to Vera Cruz and Cuba, a confluence of tradition and innovation.
Other releases of interest:
Malacates Trebol Shop- ¿De Qué Sirve Querer?
Guatemala’s biggest Skacore group first album in several years.
New music project by Jairo Zavala of Spain, produced by Joey Burns of Calexico. Review to follow.
Helado Negro-Awe Owe
This is the debut solo release by producer Roberto Carlos Lange from Ecuador via Miami. Musically, it’s somewhere between Prefuse 73 and El Guincho. It’s a very interesting release to say the least. A full review will come shortly.