Monday, August 31, 2009

Alla -- (digs)

Alla -- (digs)(Crammed): Although this is a Latino trio, this Chicago band doesn’t fit the classic rock en espanol mold. This is made quite evident on this cool EP, wherein the band kicks off with an original and then goes the esoteric cover route, before finishing with a Kanye West tune. In between, they interpret The Residents, Terry Riley & John Cale, Los Dug Dugs and Faust. With the slightly raspy vocals of Lupe Martinez (who reminds me a bit of Marianne Faithful, at times) leading the way, the core band members, Jorge and Angel Ledezma do some real musical exploring. The Riley & Cale composition “Church of Anthrax” is a chance for the musicians to stretch out, with the song sounding like a cross between kraut rock and free jazz. Logically, the Faust tune, “It’s a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl”, is just plain ol’ kraut rock and the band gives it a good work out. Martinez gets in on the action on “Smog” (a Los Dug Dugs tune), which is a concise proggy rock tune in the vein of Phil Manzanera’s 801. Her rasp is insinuating on the Velvet Underground meets Wire strum-a-thon “Si Se Puede”, the original that kicks off the album. While she intones the title phrase over and over, she sings more angelically on top. Meanwhile, she gives West’s “Love Lockdown” the soulfulness and sexiness that he could never give it with his Autotuned mechanized vocals. This EP is alternately challenging and entertaining and never boring. [NOTE: I apologize that I don't have an accent on the last 'a' of Alla and no tilde on the 'n' in 'espanol.' I tried everything on Microsoft Word and couldn't get anything to work.]

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