Tropicaza's Bamerette, Chicano Rock 1960-2013 on Discos Inmigrantes

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, October 13, 2013 11:41pm | Post a Comment

Tropicaza-Bamerette (cassette release only)

Bamerette is another excellent mix tape by one of Mexico’s best audio archivists, Carlos Icaza aka Tropicaza. This is a loving tribute to the Bamer Hotel, in particular The Bamerette, a nightclub located on the top of the hotel. Located in a part of Mexico City once called the Latin Quarter, where the nightlife congregated to enjoy the sounds of the best Cuban and Cuban influence musicians of the day. The heyday for The Bamer Hotel was between 1940 through 1970 before the hotel was shutdown for good after the 1985 Mexico City Earthquake. Many underground events were thrown in the ruins of the hotel, with many saying they could feel the spirits wandering around the complex while they were there.

Tropicaza’s mix feels like you are walking through the halls of the abandoned hotel, listening to those spirits conversing in Chilango slang as they share their memories via vintage Afro-Cuban rhythms and early Mexican rock & roll. The songs of Perez Prado, Carlos Roman, Nacho Mendez, J. C. Esquivel, saturated with delay for the ghost that still roam the former Latin Quarter.

With swinging Mambos, dirty joke songs and big band psychedelia, Bamerette is more than a mix tape, it is a story of a Mexico City long since past. Much like Sun City Girls audio journals (released by Sublime Frequencies) Bamerette should be listened to as a whole, rather for it’s individual tracks.  

Tune into a new episode of Discos Inmigrantes, as we explore the sounds of Chicano Rock From 1960-2013. The first hour, wee will cover the days from the British and Detroit influenced sounds of Cannibal & The Headhunters and Thee Midniters on through the 70’s conscious rock from El Chicano, Tierra and Sapo. The second hour will focus on the punk influenced 80’s sound of The Brat, The Plugz and Los Illegals, to the 1990’s re-conscious sounds of Quetzal, Ozomatli on to today’s sounds of Thee Commons, Chicano Batman and Chicano Son. Discos Inmigrantes will air live from 8-10 pm PST on October 14th on the world famous Radio Sombra, Boyle Heights Community Radio station. 

If you're good, I may even throw a little Johnny Chingas in the mix as well!


Manu Chao Vinyl Out Now!

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, September 29, 2013 11:09pm | Post a Comment

  I can't tell you how many times people ask for Manu Chao music on vinyl. So it's my duty to inform you that  Because Music out of France is re-releasing most of Manu Chao catalog on LP. All the early Manu Chao's catalog on CD as well as the original LPs have been long out of print and sell for collector's prices. Six of his titles, Clandestino, Promxima Estacion: Esperanza, La Radiolina, Radio Bemba Sound SystemBaionarena, and Siberie M'Etait Conteee, his all French language album that was never released on LP, will be released November 12th. All releases are double LPs (Baionarena will be a triple LP) that will come with a CD version of the album.

Clandestino was Amoeba Hollywood's best selling World Music title up until Virgin Records discontinued the CD. Proxima Estacion is also out of print and has his contains his biggest hit, "Me Gustas Tu" La Radiolina and 
Baionarena were released a few years back on Nacional Records. Both LP versions of those albums are now out of print.

Although the release date is scheduled for November 12th, we just might get these a little earlier. Stay tuned! OUT NOW!

Notes From a Grumpy Old Man: The Real Zombie Apocalypse is Dull and Ordinary

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, September 23, 2013 08:38am | Post a Comment

Los Angeles has sure changed.

Some have been welcomed changes and others are hard to get used to. I’m constantly reminded this when I deejay in spots in Echo Park, Hollywood or Highland Park. Those parts of town were once considered the scourges of the city. It was riddled with gangs, drugs, homelessness, crime, earthquake damage and rows of buildings for lease. Ten years later, it’s now it’s a playground for the dull and ordinary. The argument of hipsters no longer applies here, because there is nothing hip about the people that play here. At best, they are in college; at worst they are former frat boys who have come to roost now that the area is safe.

When I used to tour for a living, the best thing about coming home to Los Angeles was getting away from the countless generic college towns that most of the venues  were located. Much like the Wilson Pickett song “Funky Broadway” , where every town has a "Broadway and a Broadway women", the college town had the same restaurants, coffee houses, record stores, frat bar, alternative bar and everyone looks the same. Ethnicity as a whole was slim to none, as people of color were always relegated to the “other” parts of town. Being Chicano, I always felt I was in the wrong part of town when as well.. Places with diversity, such as Chicago and New York, were always welcomed stops on the road because I felt I could take a breather from the generic college town. I was never one to wonder why Los Angeles couldn’t be like Austin, Olympia or Chapel Hill. I liked Los Angeles the way it was. It was spread out, not connected by trains so you can play tourist in someone’s barrio. It was damaged and a place for the strong to thrive and the weak to avoid. It short, it was great.

Much like most of America, the economic downturn of seventies and eighties turned many big cities into slightly controlled wastelands. But because of it, the music thrived. Los Angeles gave us great punk bands such as X, The Bags, The Weirdos, Black Flag, The Minutemen, The Gun Club, The Germs, just to name a brief few. Amazing roots rock in The Blasters and Los Lobos. Even Psyche got a re-hash, with The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade and Opal, who soon became Mazzy Star. Weirdo outsider metal from Jane’s Addition and as much as I abhor hair metal, Guns N’Roses and Motley Crüe  has to be given their due, They owe everything to L.A. Rap music? N.W.A. and Freestyle Fellowship, just those two groups spawned a million imitators, all with attitude. If  you are new to Los Angeles and you think L.A. is rough now. Listen to all these groups and hear what it was really once like.

There was once a push to preserves culture and not co-op. The World Stage in Leimert Park and people like Billy Higgins, Dwight Trible and Horace Tapscott went in the tradition of John Coltrane in preserving black culture and not turning it into smooth jazz or pseudo-classical dribble that most modern jazz sounds like today. Chalino Sanchez made his career in the clubs of South Gate. He was already widely popular with the Mexican immigrant community before he started to make the news with violence at his shows. Then there were all the bands from East Los, such as Ozomatli and Quetzal, who took risks in their incarnations by mixing traditional music with modern music. They brought culture and pride to kids that had no idea what that meant and they brought fresh sounds to traditionalists who were stuck in the past. They received a lot of crap from purists and hipsters alike but because of them, now anyone can mix Son Jarocho with Hip-Hop regardless if they are any good at either style and everyone thinks they’re geniuses. Let us not forget the many underground bands, party crews, back yard punk gigs, warehouse parties that have all their own history in Los Angeles as well. It's not to say that all music from L.A. from the back in the good ol'days is better than the music that comes out now, it's just different. I feel it said more.

Now there are parts of L.A. that feel like a college town, and its sad. I see things that make my stomach cringe. I saw a barefoot girl walk into a once seedy dive without anyone telling her to put her damn shoes on. Knowing my Los Angeles history, I can still feel the filth of these places underneath my feet and I’m wearing shoes. The entitled, they just don’t seem to care. They walk back to their cars from the clubs drunk and screaming, waking up people who have to work early the next day. It's nothing new, especially if you live by a club, but now there are neither policeman or gangsters in sight to regulate the neighborhood. As I get older and the audience that I deejay in front of gets younger and seemingly more naive, I feel the guilt that I’m facilitating someone’s future nightmare by contributing the soundtrack to it. I watch as frat boys shove drinks down young ladies throats so they can take them home because “They paid for the drinks” It’s not to assume it wasn’t always like this, but the entitled make it so overt, so obvious, that it’s hard to ignore.

The record stores and bookstores all have the same things. Used Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours LPs are suddenly at collector’s prices and the dull and ordinary don’t argue, they just pay the price. The coffee is served in a beaker and it costs a small paycheck, almost everywhere. The menus have changed. The Mexican restaurants have vegetarian options, without the scorn from the waitress when you try to explain that you are vegan. Salsa is served on the side instead of being put inside a burrito as to cut cost from all the returned food because ii's too spicy for bland palates. Everything is easy for them because let’s face it, they have money. It’s beyond gentrification; it’s the zombie apocalypse and it’s boring.

So after a rough night in the college town once known as Los Angeles, I started to think about all these thoughts in my head. I was too tired to write them out and quite frankly, it was late and I just needed some brain eraser. For some reason I started to think, “What would Black Flag and N.W.A. do if they took a time machine and were transported into future Los Angeles in the boring zombie apocalypse of 2013?”

Yes, I had no clue what they would do either.

So instead, I transplanted myself into a Black Flag show from 1982 via YouTube and rediscovered the virtues of Black Flag. The noise they made during that show could kill a thousand zombies today. The line-up from the gig I watched was astonishing. It consisted of Greg Ginn and Dez Cadena on guitar, Chuck on bass, Henry on vocals and the short-lived line-up concluded with former D.O.A. and future Danzig drummer Chuck Biscuits on drums. The video was horrible quality. The audio was absolutely unlistenable, but it relaxed me like a lullaby. Soon I curled up in a ball and fell fast asleep with Rollins screaming on the top of his lungs while Biscuits pounded the drums with complete recklessness. I was soon far, oh so far, from the dull and ordinary zombie apocalypse.


Jorge Leal On Discos Inmigrantes 9/16/13

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, September 15, 2013 11:25pm | Post a Comment
On the next Discos Inmigrantes, I will be interviewing Jorge Leal, long time advocate of the music and culture of Latin America. I first got to know Jorge as Implacable, a writer and promoter of the Roc En Español scene in the early nineties. Jorge was the one first to acknowledge how the Roc En Español movement influenced the youth on both sides of the border. A few years back, Jorge was the architect behind the "Embrace Your Inner Paisa", which was an project based on Jorge’s acceptance of not just being an immigrant (Jorge was born and raised in Guadalajara, MX) but embracing all the stigmas that are attached to most working class immigrants that latter generations, well...frankly, abhor.

Currently, Jorge is a second year doctoral student in the History Department at the University of California, San Diego and hold a Masters Degree in History from Cal State Northridge.

In a conference Jorge spoke at back in 2008, Jorge lecture was entitled, "Yo Vivo Así, It's My Reality: How Rock En Español Started a Conversation Between U.S. Latino Youth and Their Latin American Counterparts” Jorge had this to say;

In the 1990s American rock music thrived in the suburbs under the alternative label, offering songs that dealt with teenage angst. At the same time, rock en español arrived in the Barrios of California and was appropriated by the Latino youth to create a sheltering space that shielded them from a hostile social climate created by anti-immigrant political initiatives such as Propositions 187, 209 and 227. With lyrics that directly denounced social injustices, Rock en español gained popularity and for the first time, generated close contacts among the "close others"; second and third generation young Latinos began a continuing conversation with immigrant Latino youths that came of age listening to this music in their home countries. This conversation created a new Latino youth subculture that considered Spanglish cool and fostered fads and trends derived from music, films, fashion, art and language that emanated from both American cities as well as Latin American metropolises.

The end result was a generation of film makers, artists, musicians and actors that broke stereotypes that existed with Non-latinos and Latinos alike, dealing with subject matters that were relevant to the day to day lives of the average Latin American immigrant as well with the generations that followed. People such as Alejandro González Iñárritu, Diego LunaGael García Bernal, Manu Chao, Toy Selectah and many others became household names for creating art that appealed to both immigrants and non-immigrants alike.

I have wanted to have Jorge as my guest since the incarnation of my radio show, but due to his busy academic schedule, its only now that it’s come to fruition. Jorge has not only becoming a powerful voice of our culture, but I consider him a vital influence on my work.

Disco Inmigrantes with Jorge Leal will air live on on Monday, September 16th from 8-10 PST. The achieve edition of the show will be on the Discos Inmigrantes page on at a later date,

Now This Is A Young Man's Summer Vacation

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, September 9, 2013 11:00pm | Post a Comment

Now this is a young man's summer vacation..

To someone who works as much as I do, summer is just a mere acknowledgement than a season. For instance, It is summer because it’s hot. It’s summer because the sun is out later and it’s because people are wearing less clothing. There is no summer vacations or lightening of loads for this working guy, just a little more sweat than usual.

However, this year I did take a summer vacation from this blog. The plan was to reenergize and come up with a fresh perspective of what to write about and whether I should continue to do so. It really hasn’t worked. Almost four months later, I still struggle in front of the computer thinking what I should write about. Clearly, there are better writers than myself, not only from all the great music blogs, newspapers and magazines from around the world, but within our pool of talented writers that work for Amoeba as well. They can write about the same artists and genres that I can, and with more eloquence and detail. Still, I don’t think that most of these writers have their hands in as many musical pies as I do. I came to realize that is my strength. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m the equivalent of one of those annoying foodies that can pontificate about the wonders of food cooked with liquid nitrogen then geek out on KFC Mac & Cheese. In the end, that what keeps me writing about music, the simple love of it.

So, I made it a point to listen to more music than usual, not pigeonhole myself and just enjoy what I enjoy. The following are some releases I really dug over the summer.

James Holden’s Inheritors and Destruction Unit’s Deep Trip

I listened to lots of Hawkwind, Can, Cluster and artists of that ilk over the summer. Likewise, I listened to all the bands that followed them, such as The Damned, The Stranglers, and Magazine. When I first heard my favorite late seventies/early 80’s punk bands, I had no idea how much they were influenced by Space and Kraut rock groups until I discovered them myself. Then it all made sense to me.

I’m not into retro bands that try to imitate the bands from that era. I don’t see the point. However, I love it when artists borrow from that era to take their music to another level. James Holden Inheritors is that thought process, taking electronic music not only to the days of Cluster and Popol Vuh, but to the days where musicians were trying to link into a pre-colonial past that they never knew. Inheritors can come off as imperfect at times but that is its charm. I love Holden’s use of analog instruments that have their own agenda mixed with the technology of today to keep it from going completely off the rails. It’s hard to describe their sound without making reference to some obscure 70’s electronic group. However, Holden shares the same sense of spatial concept with groups like Boards Of Canada. That is if Boards Of Canada took acid in the forest for weeks on end.

Destruction Unit has than Hawkwind lineage without trying to sound like them. In fact, their lineage comes from all the bands that were influenced by Hawkwind throughout the years. The former members of The Reatards that make this group lay it on heavy. It’s bad trip music but oh so good at the same time. The songs drone without boredom, like an amphetamined Spaceman 3 with layers of wah-petal and distortion. The best thing about Destruction Unit is that at the core, the music t is punk. While the psychedelia lies thick, the punk is there to slap you awake from a psychedelic slumber.

Matias Aguayo The Visitor  CD/ LP

I loved Aguayo’s last album, Ay Ay Ay and his style of sampling his own vocals to create his own sound. This time around, it’s less of the vocal sampling experimentations and more sounds of his environment. I’m not taking about nature sounds, but sounds that one hears on the urban streets everyday. I can help to think that moving back to South America has shaped his last two albums become less Eurocentric and more about the Americas. Still, much like The Meridian Brothers, who studied experimental music in Europe and now mixes it with the sounds of their native Colombia, it’s best not to shed all the layers of experimentation in order to be pure. The Visitor shows Aguayo complexities as a person. One who listens to traditional music. One who likes the band, Suicide. A person that likes mainstream pop music as well as hits from the hood. Someone who can take all those influences, mix them up and make for a great party record, albeit a party for weirdoes, freaks and nerds. I seriously not liked an album like this as since Manu Chao’s Clandestino, and that’s saying a lot.

Quantic & Ana Tijoux - Doo Woop (That Thing) / Entre Rejas (Sold Out)

Allow me to talk crap about the company that writes my check. Every year, Quantic comes out with something cool and limited. Every year, Amoeba only gets a few copies and then we get a billion phone calls asking for it. Before I get a ton of grief from the buyers, I do know in some cases, there are limited numbers each store can carry worldwide and there is nothing we can do about it. But when you get only three copies and one of them is the copy I will buy, then the chance of someone else getting it is now down 33.3%. By noon of release date, it’s “tough luck kid, sold out.” I figure we could throw out our, “Hey, we are Amoeba, we are the biggest record store in the world, send us more than three copies!” card and perhaps get more. But I digress.

I know the Lauryn Hill cover is all over the Internet and it’s quite good, but it’s the b-side, “Entre Rejas” which just slays me. It’s probably my favorite of all Lisandro Mesa’s songs, now with classic Hip-Hop beat and Ana Tijoux singing and not rapping, the lyrics. Already a great MC, Tijoux’s vocals has gotten stronger over he last few years. Natural phrasing is something that all MC should have. It’s that lineage to jazz vocalists and in the case of Latin American rappers, a link to the great Cumbia, Trova and Jarocho singers that improve just like Jazz singers. Had Mercedes Sosa been born in the time of Hip-Hop, maybe she would have been a MC? Anyways, if you can find the single, get it.

Steely Dan Aja

So this is my KFC Mac & Cheese segment. All summer while doing the mundane task of pricing used CDs, I listened to Steely Dan’s Aja on repeat. Part of it was to listen to something familiar to complete the task in hand. When I listen to something new, I want to dissect it and the next thing I know I’m listening and not working. Aja is exactly forty minutes long. By the time I get to the song, “Home At Last”, I better be rapping up a bin of priced world music CDs.

It wasn’t like I didn’t have thoughts in my head, but the thoughts in my head ended just as soon as the song did. Thoughts like, “I wonder what the women Donald Fagan sang about in the song, “Black Cow” looks like? I pictured her as a brunette with deep sunken eyes. Other thoughts, “I wonder what kind of car Deacon Blue drives?” “What does Peg’s 8”X !0” glossy promo picture look like? How is she posed?” “What the real name of the angular banjo instrument they talk about in the song, “Aja”?” I bet it’s not a Chinese instrument, it a Japanese instrument! Somehow I pictured Josie living in Jersey.
Whatever the case was, I soon was done with pricing the CDs and I was off to my next task.

A few weeks ago on a whim, my friend Jeremy and I decide to get tickets to see Steely Dan at The Nokia Theater the day of the show. I didn’t know it at the time I got the tickets, but they were going to play the whole Aja album in its entirety. When I found out, I was pretty jazzed. It was like it was meant to be. From the first notes of “Black Cow,” the first track off the Aja album, I was stoked. The musicians were amazing, as you would expect and Fagan’s voice hung strong. But after awhile, I didn’t know what to do without my pricing gun. All I knew is that after forty minutes or so, this experience will be over and I couldn’t hit repeat. I struggled with the “hits” portion of the program, as I’m not much of a fan of their earlier material. However, I felt a cleansing, like I quit cigarettes, coffee, booze and drugs at the same time. I felt I didn’t need that crutch of Aja to get through the day. When I return to work, I took the Aja CD out of the CD Walkman and I was ready for the next adventure. Maybe Chicago’s Greatest Hits??

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