We are now four singles into the promo cycle for Marineros' debut so I won't even speculate into tentative things (like, release dates). Instead, we can at least be certain that their newest single, "Secretos," is among the duo's strongest to date.
While the title suggests a kind of quiet intimacy, "Secretos" is actually overwhelmed by the emotions it's experiencing. It's a song about catching feelings and the collateral damage that comes with it: "Inevitable sentir / la fuerza que nos trajo aquí." Finally, we have a scuzzy summer entry that's made for the mall rats who attended Lana Del Rey's Endless Summer tour (with Courtney Love) and the angsty teens who stayed at home and just listened to them on YouTube.
Chicos de la Luz, Astro
Nacional Records, Chile
by Sam Rodgers
Sometimes the evolution of artists is noticeably fed by their influences: genre hopping from album to album or song to song. Other times, an artist 'matures' into their own recognizable sound: auteurs which are invariably marked by a sound that listeners had either rejected or accepted wholeheartedly from the outset. So while Astro's debut EP contained heavy distorted guitars, as on the hit "Maestro Distorsión," and used electronic sound effects sparingly amongst the otherwise four piece standard, it was Andrés Nusser's distinct vocals and knack for unpredictable, but catchy, melodies that elevated the band from their peers. And so this separation continued with Astro - their first LP - which was loaded with ideas, and songs keeping within the traditional 3-4 minute pop limit. 2011's Astro shimmered with more keys, and honored 8-bit aesthetics, folding it into a straight-faced rock set, delivering lines about plastic bunny ears, gods of the forest, and animals heading down to the mangroves. The track, "Pepa" is the best example of Nusser's mythology, one that could be an allegory for drugs, but could also just be the trip, such is the rush of color and imagery he shares in his hallucinogenic state (further explored in the soundscapes he wove on his individual EP, Karakoram-Mekong. Astro are never morose, only ponderous. There's always an element of sheer joy lifting each track - these narcotics are all natural - pure escapism.
Finally, after four years and an interim single, "Hawaii," Astro return with their second LP, Chicos de la Luz, shifting their sound further away from their beginnings, while remaining undeniably Astro: Nusser's mystic lore permeating the ten tracks. It's their most electronic album. It's sparser and more confident: their debut crashed down on the listener, who then had to spin out the components on repeated listens. On Chicos de la Luz there is a disarming simplicity. Nusser and band show restraint, which suggests that the band have created an album that can be reinterpreted on the road, perhaps a reaction to four years of seemingly constant touring of an album and a half of songs.
Chicos de la Luz begins with "Uno" with an extended opening groove reminiscent of Jamiroquai's pop-disco and Neon Indian's indie-electro, before heading into the tropicana vibe that singles "Hawaii" and "Caribbean" relished. When Nusser's vocals finally come, they're as mellow as a bass line. The track builds around his ruminations on loneliness and anxiety, before changing gears halfway, turning up the ecstatic Astro demand to find oneness: we all contain multitudes, our way forward, of letting go, is big bang-esque.
The majority of tracks on Chicos de la Luz trade on this gear change approach, though it doesn't feel as contrived as it would in lesser hands. There is real skill in Nusser and Co's soundtracking of each multiplayer game. The mood change complements the mood before it, and no track seems out of place - there's a through-line to the album, cloaked as mischievously in psychedelic ramblings as their first LP, with melodies that only get more fun the more one revisits them. This is most pronounced on latest single, "Druida", which is as heady as Astro's "Colombo" - with a guaranteed spring in step in every spin.
There isn't much, if any, filler on the album. "Warrior" and "Rico" are perhaps the casualties of the rest being a little more imaginative, though the former has a memorable lumbering nature, and the latter, while barely there, is brief. In fact, the average length of track sits around the five minute mark, which makes the album flow better than if the band were trying to make every song a potential single.
Final track, "Kafka" could be Astro's answer to those comparisons with Animal Collective (which are lazy), inasmuch Nusser simply asks for a house and family a la "My Girls", but sonically, Astro place more importance on the narrative of the song, rather than the elliptical nature of the Baltimore band's work. But herein lies Astro's ability to create songs that are lyrically both earnest and throwaway, meaning everything to the protagonist and yet mean nothing in particular for the casual listener: like an episode of Adventure Time for a child - happy to be captivated by the color and drama without understanding any subtext. And like that cartoon, Astro aren't cynical - they manage to sound euphoric without being disposable pop-of-the-moment, nor trite. Theirs is a signature that will be interesting to follow as they explore new lands of bliss.
|"¿Que me dura la tecnologia?" - Silverio|
A photo posted by Santo Peregrino (@elsantoperegrino) on
|Maria Daniela y su Sonido Lasser|
A photo posted by Santo Peregrino (@jong_goat) on
|AJ Davila y Terror Amor|
|Triángulo de Amor Bizarro|
|Los Rakas & Souad Martin-Saoudi|
|Daniela Galindo & Giovanni Guillen|
We never see the driver, maybe just because we are the driver. The car is our present, the road is our life and we're taking our calm lonely future as the silver old lady with us in the back seat. In just one sequence we may realize how life's essence is in its details and how important ability is to appreciate them. The song turns into an entire metaphor on how we can look back with some kind of inherent remorse. Desperation comes from our biggest secrets and fears and how we deal with those monsters on this journey called life. Mercedes' voice owns a proper softness with the first line when she sings "the things I do, for guys like you" to later delivery a warning: "the sky is arising, our lives are darkening."
All of this, of course, diluted in some excessive reverb and slow drums (nice work by Franco here as always). Grunge is its soul and shoegaze its heart. This is what Las Robertas are. And with "Despair" they focus our attention on how great and powerful an album like Days Unmade was. Its title not only suggests the days to come, but also amplifies how we can leave in our own lives all the many days missed and wasted. Like an old lady in the back seat enjoys the wind in her hair, we can find significance in the meaningful appreciation of little things. A damn nice video directed by Adriana Ramírez and photographed by Elena Gutiérrez.
Speaking of future, as y'all may already know, Monserrat is no longer with Las Robertas. She has been replaced with Sonya (a talented girl from CoLoRnOiSe) on the last tour as bass player. So we wanna thank Monse for all the rad bass lines and skills shared with the band in so many songs and during gigs. You will be missed. Stay cool girl.
Despite the assurances of many political talking heads on American television, “Latino” is not a one-stop signifier. Similarly, not every “political” song has to sound like bombs exploding in the streets (Julieta Venegas’s latest single should make that clear). Tying these concepts together, it makes sense that Helado Negro should release a song called “Young, Latin & Proud” and not have to answer why it’s not an outright banger.
“Young, Latin & Proud” is a motivational song that doesn’t see the need to kick you in the ass. But do not mistake its slow, seductive beat for indifference. This song is about waking up every day with complete self-recognition and realization, while knowing that there is a community of millions ready to stand with you at any given moment. That’s not to say that it’s about revolution—pride does not equate with unrest. It’s not even about age—youth is a relative concept. And it’s not necessarily about being Latin, because there is no exact cultural definition. Indeed, it’s about simultaneously being young, Latino, and proud, and never being afraid of exhibiting all three at once. The message may be a spark, but it’s incendiary nonetheless, and Robert Lange is letting you hold the matches.