Sentidos Opuestos

On Tour

For all the Sentidos Opuestos fans out there....
I grew listening to them in the 90's. Absolutely love their music! I just found out the over day that they have released a new single not too long ago called "Dime".

"Dime" right away can be added to the list as one of Sentidos Opuestos bests, It fits in perfectly from the past songs they have done in the past. Anyway, I went to go see them at the House Of Blues in Los Angeles yesterday night and Alessandra Rosaldo totally rocked the house. I felt like I was a 90's kid again! If anyone is a true fan of Sentidos Opuestos, I suggest to you to see them in concert!
They have other performances coming in California, One in San Diego, Sacramento, and San Fran!

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Novos Baianos

A great Brazilian album – the best, according to Rolling Stone

Say what you will about Rolling Stone Magazine lists, when a group is on the top spot they are probably there for a reason. The usual suspects compete for the top places on lists like best song, best rock band and best album: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan. But what about the 100 Greatest Albums of Brazilian Music?

The album Acabou Chorare by Novos Baianos claimed this position in 2007. This 10-track album was released back in 1972. It’s mostly acoustic, a mix of samba, bossa nova and rock. It’s one of the best introductions to the large body of popular Brazilian music from the late '60s and '70s when samba musicians got into rock groups like the Beatles and created the tropicalia movement, also known as MBP (Brazilian popular music). Another forerunner was Os Mutates, who are still active today.

Acabou Chorare is Novos Baianos’ most famous album and it features two of the group’s most loved songs, "Brasil Pandeiro" and Preta, Pretinha,” great sing-alongs if you only understood the words. Like the rest of the songs on the album, these two hits have a tight groove and a nice loud/soft dynamic, changing gears from gentle singing and acoustic guitar to the full-on band, including electric bass and waves of percussion.

It reminds me a lot of the Violent Femmes’ first album: acoustic, super tight and full of fast-tempos, melodies and hooks. The similarity isn’t only musical; both albums capture the feeling of adolescence at a specific time – for the Femmes it was angst, and for Novos Baianos it was saudade, a Portuguese word meaning longing, or sadness.

The specific time was back in the eighties or seventies, respectively, but the music remains timeless. Both albums will be listened to by many generations to come.

Jarabe de Palo

Recycling Orchestra: Eclectic Latin rock finally released in the U.S.

Jarabe de Palo is one of those Latin rock groups whose songs are everywhere south of the border – on the radio, on the DJ's party playlist, even reworked for supermarket muzak. Hailing from Spain, the group's leader Pau Donés has a knack for writing catchy hooks, such as in their huge 90s hit “La Flaca.”

But the music never really grabbed me until I heard their 2010 album Orquesta Reciclando, which means Recycling Orchestra. The album is a collection of their biggest hits, rearranged with better instrumentation and played by a super hot band.

The standard pop-rock of the originals is rearranged with diverse musical styles and much more energy. “Depende” is given a reggae treatment, “Bonito” is infused with a funk groove, while “La Flaca” begins with a spare, percussion led verse and ends with a rocking salsa-style jam section.

There's no filler on Orquesta Reciclando – sure the songs had already been released, and to success, but it 's not every day that a popular band gives their repertoire a complete makeover. It could easily have been a miss, but it came out as a hit.

This was one of those albums that I wore out when I first got it. I learned a lot of Spanish from this album – he sings clearly and the lyrics are pretty basic.

It can be hard for Latin groups like Jarabe de Palo, who are from Spain, to break into the U.S. market, especially if they only sing in Spanish. But you don’t need to understand all the words to get into this music. Orquesta Reciclando finally got a U.S. release last October. It you like eclectic music with a Latin touch, seek out this fine album. You won't be disappointed.

 

Quimera Music Festival

Ana Moura and Portuguese Fado

After years of so many music festivals, in so many countries, it’s easy to get jaded and think you’ve seen it all. But really, music is like knowledge: the more you discover, the more you realize that you don’t really know.

The Quimera Music Festival in Metepec, Mexico lasts about a week. It is heavy on culture, with dance performances, art workshops, jazz and classical music, but also features some popular Mexican acts. This year the two big names were Celso Pina and Pate de Fua. I’m a big fan of Celso Pina and his rebel cumbia, but missed his show because of work. But I caught Pate de Fua and their old-timey, jazzy music – the only time I’ve seen a banjo played in Mexico.

Metepec is a small town outside industrial Toluca, about an hour from Mexico City. The concerts are mostly held in three locations: inside an old cathedral, on a big stage in the Zocalo (center square) of town, or on the steps of the hill on which another, larger cathedral is located. They are all just minutes from each other, and between them are lots of vendors. You can eat tacos and other Mexican specialties like pambazos, or buy crafts like pottery or hand woven clothing.

This year, after seeing some lukewarm tango on the Zocalo stage, I finally made the discovery I was waiting for. Fado is traditional Portuguese music, and Ana Moura is one of the leaders of the modern Fado pack. But I had no idea of this at the time. Accompanied by an acoustic bass, guitar, and Portuguese guitar, she sang a mix of traditional numbers and her own hits, like the song “Leva-me aos Fados,” during which she got the Spanish speaking crowd to sing along with the chorus. She also did a long, slow rendition of “No Expectations” by the Rolling Stones.

It’s enchanting music and was a total surprise, which are the best reasons to attend festivals like Quimera.

Molotov

Desde Rusia con Amor: Vulgar, political Mexican rap/rock

Molotov is the band that Mexican mothers tell their young teenagers not to listen to. The four-piece punk/rap/rock group scored some huge hits in the '90s and 2000s with big, vulgar, and often political sing-alongs in Spanish that get fists pumping at rowdy parties all over Mexico. Molotov recently released Desde Rusia con Amor (From Russia with Love), an album and DVD recorded live during a tour in Russia.A live album is a good choice when getting into a band. Often it’s both a greatest hits album and a showcase of a band’s true abilities. In this case, it’s amazing to hear the cheering and chanted choruses from a Russian crowd watching a Mexican band singing mostly in Spanish. Who knew Molotov was so popular over there, especially when they are practically unknown in the U.S., Mexico’s neighbor?

The album opens with the heavy, bad language “Chinga tu Madre.” This title roughly translates as “F*** You.” But their songs aren’t strictly vulgar – the plight of the poor and the corruption of Mexico’s government are pushed to the forefront in the “Gimme the Power,” one of their best known songs.

A good listen for anyone who doesn’t speak Spanish is “Frijolero,” which translates as “Beaner.” It’s an argument between and Mexican and a gringo, half in Spanish and half in English. Despite its unapologetic aggression, it’s a better history lesson than you will find in U.S. textbooks, and a better social commentary on Mexico-U.S. relations than you will find in the New York Times.

Politics aside, musically Molotov is rocking and innovative, and Desde Rusia con Amor showcases all this as well as their ability to work a huge crowd, whatever the language barrier may be.

Latin Reggae

This IS a funky reggae party.

A few weeks ago I wrote about music and ska in Argentina. In the world of Latin music, ska's first cousin, reggae, is also well represented.

Often groups will play both types of music, ska and reggae, switching between them to great effect. The same song will use both styles, which is easy because the only real difference between the two genres is tempo. Kick reggae into doubletime and you have ska; slow your ska right down and you have some funky reggae. Popular artists like Manu Chao, Panteon Rococo, Los Autenticos Decadentes, and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs do this really well.But for a straight-up reggae group, listen to Los Pericos, who claim to be the first reggae band in Argentina. They recently released Pericos + Friends, collaborations of their biggest hits with artists like Toots Hibbert, the Wailers and Gregory Issacs. Two of my favorite songs are "Runaway" and "Pupilas Lejanas."

Then head over to neighboring Brazil and listen to Cidade Negra, who also happen to be featured on Pericos and Friends. Something about the Brazilians really lends a good Jamaica-like vibe to Reggae, maybe because of their shared racial origins. Or maybe it's the melodic nature of Portuguese. In fact Cidade Negra, along with Los Pericos, might be the two of the most popular reggae acts in the world outside Jamaica.

There are countless other good reggae groups in Latin America. But the best thing to do is to just travel down here and go to reggae clubs – especially on the coast you can find lots of local bands who do funky versions of Bob Marley songs and their own tunes. There's nothing like dancing barefoot on a dance floor of sand in the heat of Belize or Brazil to a local reggae band until the early morning.

Celso Pina

Cumbia!

You don't have to understand Spanish to appreciate the funkiness of Celso Pina. This is cumbia for badasses – while most cumbia is big band, matching suit, synthesizer and horn section dance music, Celso Pina's particular brand of cumbia is accordion led with a deep groove, often with hip hop influenced lyrical melodies. He has the rough, slightly nasal voice of someone who lives hard and tells wise stories.

A good example of this is his collaboration with Calle 13. Called Cumbia Sobre El Rio, it might be his most famous song. At least it is the one I hear most often in a bar or club late at night when more eclectic music gets played, before the reggaeton comes out.

Calle 13 is a hip-hop group from Puerto Rico. It's cool that these styles, hip-hop and cumbia, can fit so nicely together. Another big song from Calle 13 is also a collaboration, No Hay Nadie Como Tu, this time with Cafe Tacuba.

Now, old-school Celso Pina was much more traditional and Mexican sounding. But somewhere along the way he got a sick group and modernized his sound. Other favorites of mine are El Porro Magangulano, a funky tune with lots of horns that sounds almost like afrobeat, and Hasta Siempre Comandante, a cover of a Cuban song about Che Guevara.

If you would like to know what more traditional cumbia sounds like, look for a band called Sonora Santanera. They wrote some of the biggest hits that you always hear in the dance clubs of Latin America. But for coolness and originality, go for Celso Pina.

 

Argentina: Roots Rock Reggae!

Argentina’s got it all

Argentina puts out a lot of huge bands. As a country it is well represented on the Latin ska/rock/reggae front. Like I wrote in my article about ska in Mexico, Latin ska evolved quite differently than most ska north of the border. While many American ska bands gave punk music a central role, in the Spanish-speaking world ska was mixed with funk, reggae, rock, and Latin rhythms like salsa and cumbia.

For Latin ska/rock in Argentina, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and Los Autenticos Decadentes lead the pack. On paper the bands sound very similar – big groups with classic songs, party-time live reps, lots of horns, and lots of percussion. They’ve both been active since the ’80s and command substantial, fiercely devoted followings. But give them a listen and you’ll hear the differences – Los Fabulosos Cadillacs are more experimental and deliver a heavy dance groove, while Los Autenticos Decadentes serve up the super catchy sing-alongs and play more rock.

If you like Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, then check out lead singer Vicentico’s solo work. One of my favorite songs in Spanish for its lyrics is “Los Caminos de la Vida,” a Mexican cumbia song. Vicentico does a great rendition of it, complete with a soccer brawl music video.

Latin reggae is a whole other story – to get started look for Los Pericos, also from Argentina. They have been around since the early ‘80s and have been called the first reggae group in there. Their most recent album, Pericos and Friends, features big guests from the world of reggae like Pato Banton, Toots Hibbert, and the Wailers.

RUNAWAY

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for Argentina, a country whose musical luminaries also include Soda Stereo, claimed by many to be the first internationally successful rock en espanol group, and Enanitos Verdes, writers of classics like “Lamento Boliviano.” Check all these groups out and let me know what you think!

 

Ska in Mexico

Panteon Rococo

The massive influence of ska and reggae coming out of Jamaica in the 60s and 70s didn’t just go north or across the pond to England. It went south into Mexico and into all parts of South America.

Also, while ska had its “waves” in the English speaking world, in Latin America it never lost popularity, evolving and mixing with many genres of music, not only punk. Many Latin ska bands have had steady followings since the 80s or 90s and still fill stadiums today.

These groups could be called ska-fusion, as they rightly are sometimes in Latin America, where calling them “Latin ska” is like calling football “American football.” These groups mix ska with reggae, funk, rock, punk and Latin rhythms like cumbia.

While there are good ska bands all over Latin America, especially Argentina, because I live in Mexico I have to give a shout-out to the many fine Mexican groups first.

Panteon Rococo is a great example of what has gone right with Latin ska. The nine-piece (as of now) band puts on a long, rocking live show, and their big anthems are upbeat crowd-pleasing sing-alongs.

Panteon Rococo released a fine new album in 2010, Ejercito de Paz (Army of Peace). Funkier and more refined than straight-up ska, the songs have hooky horn melodies, political themes, and a deep pocket, like in the songs “Democracia Fecal” and “Payaso de Mentiras.”

Though Panteon Rococo leads the pack, there are many more innovative ska/rock/funk bands in Mexico, like Maldita Vecindad, Salon Victoria, Mama Pulpa, and Maskateska,. Do some YouTube searches, download a few albums, or better yet, come down to Mexico to see this excellent live music for yourself.

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