photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
recently ive been totally entranced by the INTOXICATING sound of the GUADALAJARA-based three-piece INDIE ROCK / SHOEGAZE band NORWAYY, who have a intimately DELICATE yet emotionally POWERFUL sound that lingers long after the song ends in the best tradition of SLOWDIVE, JAPANESE BREAKFAST, BROADCAST, LUSH and MY BLOODY VALENTINE. i just cant get over how dynamic their sound is, from HAZY fragile verses to these commanding, VIBRANT widescreen choruses.
can't rant about them any more profusely. NORWAYY is definitely worth checking out.
photo & text by nacrowe
god i absolutely detested this album when it came out.
being born in SPAIN, having worked in VENEZUELA and having spent a decent part of my childhood surrounded by HISPANIC culture in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, i have no qualms with the LATIN EXPLOSION of the late 1990s. most of the singers that got their chance at mainstream success were already prominent in LATIN AMERICA, namely MARC ANTHONY, SHAKIRA, ENRIQUE IGLESIAS (son of JULIO IGLESIAS) and yes, even RICKY MARTIN (a former member of the 80s incarnation of the MENUDO boy band). although in retrospect much of the music kinda CORNY and WHITEWASHED (and even sung in ENGLISH), the fact that such artists were commercially viable stateside no doubt has paid dividends for modern SPANISH-speaking artists from BAD BUNNY, KAROL G, ROSALIA, and J BALVIN to BECKY G, CAMILLA CABELLO and ROSALIA. given AMERICAN demographic shifts over the past half century and where they are trending into the next few decades, this growing cultural hegemonic influence makes sense.
enter JENNIFER LOPEZ and her debut ON THE 6 (WORK, 1999) album. at the time she was an established actress with a filmography of so-so quality and was arguably more CELEBRATED for her celebrity relationships than her career. previously she worked as a dancer, most prominently on the WAYANS BROTHERS comedy series IN LIVING COLOUR program on FOX as part of the FLY GIRLS troupe. before the release of her debut album, LOPEZ as a cultural figure was somewhat of a SEX SYMBOL. its odd saying this during the current era, but her her very un-WAIFISH body-type marked a cultural transition and expansion in what was deemed ATTRACTIVE for women. its not just about what men thought necessarily (this isnt entirely a MALE GAZE thing), but also with how women saw their relationship with their own body and feeling HEALTHY and empowered by their own curves.
long way of saying that what LOPEZ was known for was not her SINGING. turns out she had a minimal PEDESTRIAN singing VOICE with a LIMITED range. its obvious when listening to UNREMARKABLE singles like "WAITING FOR TONIGHT," "IF YOU HAD MY LOVE," "LET'S GET LOUD" and "FEELING SO GOOD" that the focus is less on her voice and more on the groove of the track. same could be said for her live performances which put the focus on the CHOREOGRAPHY and SPECTACLE of the COSTUME CHANGES and SET DESIGN than her VOICE. why makes sense, one should play to your strengths, but one couldnt help but feel it was all a wasted opportunity. perhaps there was someone else out there with less brand recognition that was more deserving of said opportunity than LOPEZ who was already a prominent culture figure expanding her public profile. it wasnt that she was TERRIBLE, just BLAND and MEDIOCRE. which was sad because LATIN MUSIC is VIBRANT, PASSIONATE, SEXY and full of UNCAGED ENERGY whether its MERENGUE, REGGAETON, SALSA, CUMBIA, SON, RUMBA or BOSSA NOVA. the fact that this unique opportunity was bestowed on someone so UNDISTINGUISHED felt TRAGIC and uniquely AMERICAN. not that LOPEZ was at fault, since much of the music resulting from the LATIN EXPLOSION was UNEXCEPTIONAL.
what changed my mind about LOPEZ was my brief time teaching in THE BRONX. my DOMINICAN and PUERTO RICAN female students were obsessed with her. she represented mainstream SUCCESS and ACCEPTANCE. the idea and dream that someone from their neighborhood got out and made it re-contextualized her lackluster discography and filmography in my opinion. forget about the fact that she was a SUBPAR SINGER and actress who traded on her UNIQUE looks to most AMERICANS, to struggling kids from THE BRONX, especially the notoriously troubled EAST TREMONT section i was stationed in, LOPEZ and her career was everything the aspired and hoped for in their lives. she was the living, breathing avatar of HOPE. who was i to trample on that?
i was never her audience, these kids were. and all the power to her for giving her community INSPIRATION and an ASPIRATION for a viable better tomorrow. altered my view entirely.
parodies by nacrowe
its been almost a decade now since i moved to work and lived in VENEZUELA immediately after my service as a PEACE CORPS volunteer in ALBANIA ended in the spring of 2013. feels like a lifetime ago with where i was at as an individual, not to mention it was the pre-TRUMP era. being in SOUTH AMERICA felt TRANSFORMATIVE in that daily life felt so tangible and raw: the CORRUPTION, the SEXUALITY, the FOOD, the MUSIC, the HOPES, the DREAMS, the DISAPPOINTMENTS, the DIVISION, the SACRIFICE, the DEATH and the SOCIAL CONNECTION. it all just felt like everything was at eleven at all times in a way i never really experienced before.
after two years i moved to JAPAN and then later MYANMAR where i gained some knowledge about basic BUDDHIST principles from varying traditions and perspectives, which was likewise TRANSFORMATIVE but in more of an internal manner. VENEZUELA in comparison just felt like the whole barrage of life coming down at you all at once. it was intense and in retrospect felt like a precursor to life in the UNITED STATES under TRUMP, where extreme social and political strife bifurcated the AMERICAN experience much as CHAVEZ and especially MADURO had done so regarding social and political cohesion in VENEZUELA.
the soundtrack to that experience included many acts (ANA TIJOUX, LA VIDA BOHEME, BOMBA ESTEREO, MANU CHAO, ATERCIOPELADOS) associated with NACIONAL RECORDS in LOS ANGELES, which is a clearing house of sorts for LATIN artists in the UNITED STATES. in recent years they have expanded to placing said artists and their respective catalogues in television and film properties, which is great given the expanded market for such in the UNITED STATES. this is a label that i am constantly revisiting as i look for new artists.
definitely check out the streaming DEER GOD RADIO show embedded below from back in april dedicated to highlights from the NACIONAL RECORDS roster of artists. i had a great time with it and am happy to share that postive energy and love. enjoy.
parody by nacrowe
check out HERE this recent streaming video episode of DEER GOD RADIO celebrating the LOS ANGELES-based LATIN MUSIC RECORD LABEL NACIONAL RECORDS!
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO are available here at the DEER GOD website as well as in the MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC archives.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
sometimes you watch and listen to music from other cultures and quickly realize you dont know the half of it. such is the case with CHILE's MON LAFERTE whose music has deft pop sensibilities infused with subtle textures and rhythms from traditional LATIN fare like CUMBIA, SALSA and BOLERO.
but such seems to be a smokescreen for her fierce REVOLUTIONARY POLITICS and bold personal stances, famously culminating in her going topless at the 2019 LATIN GRAMMYS with the message "en Chile torturan violan y matan" written across her chest. this translates to "in Chile, they torture, rape and kill." holy shit indeed. this was an anti-government message in support of protests against SOCIAL INEQUALITY and in support of minimum/LIVING WAGE guarantees. these protests were controversial at the time since they resulted in the burning of subway stations.
again, you listen to music by an artist, especially one from another culture, and you learn that you in fact no very little about the original context. at the very least MON LAFERTE is an artist worthy of further investigation and you should definitely check out her music.
CHICANO BATMAN is an eclectic INDIE ROCK outfit out of LOS ANGELES that has a real killer feel-good, laid-back vibe, almost like an after hours lounge band with killer FUNK / R&B chops and deft LATIN JAZZ percussion. the more i listen to them, the more i can suss out their affinity for 60s PSYCHEDELIA, POWER POP, PROG ROCK and all things CLASSIC ROCK with a distinctively diverse ANGELEÑO edge.
to my ears they sound totally original with a relaxing ambience that makes them the perfect antidote for the comedown from an energetic night out.
definitely worth checking out.
photo manipulations by nacrowe
the COLOMBIAN duo BOMBA ESTEREO is another one of the LATIN/SPANISH bands that i came across when i learned i would be moving to VENEZUELA. for me they are emblematic of modern act that takes ingeniously incorporates LATIN percussion and woodwind elements into recognizable pop structures that would not be out of place in TOP 40 ESTADOUNIDENSE radio.
i also love their videos, which are a celebration of life, family and being COLOMBIAN. every time i hear their music i am right back in CARTAGENA all over again (sigh).
most definitely worth check out.
SOL PEREYRA is an ARGENTINE singer-songwriter now based in MEXICO whose music is decidedly INDIE POP, being that they are usually upbeat with electronic flourishes. having been a part of JULIETA VENAGAS' touring band for a number of years, she moved to MEXICO in pursuit of her solo career.
like ANA TIJOUX, she is fiercely political and incorporates left-leaning themes into her music. definitely worth seeking and checking out.
there was an interesting period during the end of my time as a PEACE CORPS volunteer in ALBANIA when i knew it was only a matter of months before my move to VENEZUELA as a secondary english teacher. what an interesting era that was.
for 2-3 months i basically read everything i could about SOUTH AMERICAN history as well as LATIN culture writ large. this led me to things like reading OPEN VEINS OF LATIN AMERICA (MONTHLY REVIEW PRESS, 1997) by Uruguayan historian EDUARDO GALEANO as well as several HUGO CHAVEZ biographies and musical artists such as ANA TIJOUX (CHILE/FRANCE), LA VIDA BOHEME (VENEZUELA) and probably my favorite discovery, EL GUINCHO (SPAIN).
what makes music the music of this CANARY ISLANDS multi-instramentalist/producer stand out is his ability to contextualize disparate genres and textures into a cohesive sonic expression. the nearest analogues i can think of were artists like BECK and BJORK who both seem to revel in using multiple production techniques in the same track. i think the difference here is that for EL GUINCHO is playing with a different set of reference points (tropicália, afrobeat, old school hip hop) as BECK is known for genre-exercises as he was a child of the post-modern FLUXUS movement and BJORK is firmly a bridge between the pop and avant-garde world music scene.
for me the music of EL GUINCHO is very exciting on a sonic level and his album POP NEGRO (YOUNG TURKS, 2010) is something i have been listening to on constant rotation since it came out almost 10 years ago.
well worth checking this guy out. could not recommend his music any stronger.