MUSIC REVIEWS: Los Amigo Invisibles, Terminator Salvation Sdtrk, The Faraway Places, Orange Sky, The Fresh and Onlys
Commercial, Los Amigos Invisibles new album on Nacional Records, is as the name suggests, commercial yet still downright danceable funky. I challenge you to listen to the first three tracks of this album without dancing at some point. Already a radio hit across Latin America, the opening track, “Mentiras,” kicks you in the ass immediately. Los Amigos have a reputation for simply keeping it reliably funky, and they waste no time in pursuing that agenda on Commercial.
Make no mistake, the theme of the record is to be accessible. Commercial was a concept to which the band adhered when making the album. “The title of the album came out of a desire to make a more accessible record for even bigger crowds,” commented Jose Luis Pardo, lead guitarist and primary songwriter. Los Amigos undertake a heavy touring schedule and have evolved as a band performing live. Their objective to make their music commercial is part of a larger mission to make people dance.
As if they needed any extra help in that end, they enlisted the help of several stars of the Latin-American music scene: Jorge Gonzalez (of Los Prisoneros), Natalia Lafourcade, Argenis Brito (Señor Coconut), and Los Tetas’ C-Funk. If you’ve never heard of any of those people, or you love them all, you’ll love this record. It’s funky, it’s simple, it will make you dance. If that’s what you look for in your musical selection, Commercial is available on iTunes and in record stores worldwide.
“I’ll be back.”
Whether one considers these words of California’s ‘governator’ as prophetic or silly there’s no denying that there is another Terminator movie upon us…as well as another soundtrack.
Tim Burton’s old buddy, Oingo “Dead Man’s Party” Boingo’s, Danny Elfman is behind the tunes on The Original Soundtrack Terminator Salvation (save one). The opening tune, “Opening,” opens with timpani, horns, strings while behind them some pretty nifty mechanical sounds huff and puff. “Broadcast” has a simple but effective acoustic guitar and Elfman employs this acoustic often, on tunes like “Farewell” and even nearly solo on “Fireside.” “Reveal/The Escape” is the most complete early use of the orchestra, with what I like to call ’emergency strings’, low drums, those mechanical sounds again and even a drum machine.
“Hydrobot Attack” is as scary as its name implies, with slicing strings and low drumming. “A Solution” has the first real ‘theme’ and this later entry is much like “Reveal/The Escape”; fully realized with all the instruments used to their potential.
“Ah piano,” I said aloud on Elfman’s last tune “Salvation,” but the solo keys soon give way to horns and strings; it might have been nice just to end with some tinkling ivories. Alice In Chains ends the CD with “Rooster,” and while I like the tune, did we really need Chris C. and the boys “do dooo doing” here?
The Original Soundtrack Terminator Salvation is 14 tracks of strong stuff of Elfman’s orchestra and the bellowing mechanics.
Out of the Rain, the Thunder and the Lightning is the kind of rock-cheer album one would need who has had the worst day ever. Bouncy, upbeat and quirky, harmonious and jointly decorated choruses grow on the album like innumerable daisies in an open field. The energetic flair of electro-infused head-shaking rhythms of The Faraway Places is accented with jangly guitars, shuffling drums and swaying romantic light-hearted odes made with the sweetness of sunrays and sauntering breezes. Fuzzy guitars and firework spirited keyboards constantly explode. While other songs offer a moodier outlook and a more rigid still melodious sound. The early incarnations of The Faraway Places started in Boston as The Solar Sunday with members Donna Coppola and Chris Colthart. Both soon became members of the effervescent indie band Papas Fritas. However, Coppola and Colthart and the rest of the band currently reside in Los Angeles and at times swelters to a fourteen member group borrowing from the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Brian Jonestown. The layered vocals and high arcing, raw energy of song builds a nicely structured musical pop ambience of fun.
I know when I think of Trinidad, next to sunny Caribbean beaches, the first thing that pops into my head is hardcore, intense metal. Right? Well thanks to Orange Sky you might get just that impression. Brothers Nigel Rojas (vocals/bass), and Nicholas Rojas (vocals/guitar) along with Obasi Springer (drums), and Richard Hall (keyboards) grew up listening to metal in Trinidad on a local radio station. Together they put out some powerhouse metal on their newest album Dat Iz Voodoo (stupid name, great album). Plus they brilliantly meld it with touches of reggae. This is especially evident on two brilliantly melodic and lilting tracks: “Is There Anybody There?” and “Alone.”
The straight out rockers on the album are great as well. The opening track, “Yesterdays & Tommorows” is rousing and sets the tone for the rest of the album, touching on political injustice without being too over the top. It’s refreshing to hear the Rojas brothers sing “Never Trust a Politician” compared to some of the other lyrical metal excesses out there. Also amazing and must listens: ‘Dark Room,” a good thrasher, “Roses” which is perhaps the most intense and brooding song on the album, and “Psycho World,” which is just plain crazy, “waaaaaaaaaa.”
If I could fault the album with anything, it would be when they try to go for a softer sound. While the effort for sonic diversity is appreciated, they can’t quite pull off a softer ballad. “Rainbows” just comes off as cheesy rather than sensitive and emotional. They have a little bit more luck with “Never,” a Guns ‘N’ Roses-esque power ballad, but it’s nothing spectacular. Those slight misteps aside, this is an otherwise amazing album, and a must-listen.
The Fresh and Onlys operate within the funneling tones of a 60s rock band gone futuristic. Sounding at times dank and bleary like a song Quentin Tarantino might call upon to use for a soundtrack to a sequel for his film Pulp Fiction, the album takes on a fidelity to 60s flair, folk pop and rock. Tim Cohen, singer and guitarist of this six piece band out of San Francisco, has a voice that fuzzes. Cohen’s commanding baritone cascades over zippy guitars and quick chord strumming of jangling guitars. “The Mind Is Happy” moves like a frumpy, uplifting carefree stroll. Cohen’s voice is slightly haunting against an assault of temperamental guitars and a more lighter buoyant drum run to balance the tune. In the manner of flower-child homage, “Arm’s Advice” is driven by acoustic chords reminiscent of the Vietnam-era and protests against the disruption of peace. The song warms into a stripped down daydream. The album gleefully moves between a dedication to an older more lucid sound of 60s and 70s music, yet does a lot to vamp up a new sort of wistful garage punk outfit. However there is just enough of a distraction from either of these styles that makes this self-titled album delightful.