Latin American Rock

Rock En Español & Reviews of Elvis Costello and The Coup

This week Jim and Greg take a musical tour of Latin America with Ernesto Lechner, author of Rock en Espanol: The Latin Alternative Rock Explosion. Plus they'll review records by Elvis Costello and The Coup.

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Music News

A story out of the British press tickled Jim and Greg's fancy this week. England's Essex FM decided to launch a boycott of recent pop phenomenon James Blunt. Blunt, apparently peeved by critics bashing him, instructed the haters to just stop playing his music. Essex FM gladly took the challenge and banned both of his hit singles from their airwaves. Sound Opinions would like to encourage all radio programmers to take Blunt up on his challenge. And while we are at it, there are a few other overplayed radio hits we'd like to discuss…

Finland loves its masked death metal bands. Finnish band Lordi, who recently won the Eurovision prize, became the source of a recent uproar when the lead singer was“unmasked”by two tabloid newspapers. Fans of the masked rockers were so upset by this disrespectful move that over 200,000 of them have signed a petition forcing one of the tabloids to apologize. Sound Opinions fans need not fear however: The true identities of Jim and Greg will never be revealed.

In some sad news, Desmond Dekker died this week at the age of 63. Dekker is credited with bringing the ska and reggae sounds of Jamaica to the West, most notably with the hit "Israelites." Dekker influenced fellow countryman Bob Marley, but his impact in the U.S. and England was most notable in the ska scene. You can still hear Dekker's sound in the music of bands like The Clash, the Sex Pistols and more recently, No Doubt and Less than Jake.


Rock En Español

This week Jim and Greg take a musical trip around Latin America to explore the world of Rock en Español. Their tour guide is music writer Ernesto Lechner, author of Rock en Español: The Latin Alternative Rock Explosion. Here are some of the key bands you might want to check out:

  1. Os Mutantes
  2. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs
  3. Maldita Vecindad
  4. Café Tacuba
  5. Soda Stereo
  6. Aterciopelados
  7. Babasonicos
  8. Manu Chao
  9. Los Amigos Invisibles
  10. Juana Molina
  11. Orishas
  12. Nortec Collective
  13. Bajofando Tango Club
  14. Gotan Project
  15. Mexican Institute of Sound
reviewThe River In Reverse (Digital Version)The River in Reverse available on iTunes

Elvis Costello The River in Reverse

Elvis Costello, the singer/songwriter who has taken on New Wave, punk, ska, country and pop, is tackling R&B on his latest release, The River in Reverse. The album is a collaboration between Costello and Allen Toussaint, the multi-talented New Orleans musician. Toussaint is responsible for hits like "Working in a Coal Mine," "I Like It Like That," and "Lady Marmalade," and has worked with The Band, Paul Simon and The Meters. The two collaborated after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, but neither Jim nor Greg think Costello's voice is up to the task of handling Toussaint's songs. Costello is a name that can garner attention for Toussaint, and Greg knows that his heart is in the right place, but it is only a Burn It record for both critics.

reviewPick a Bigger WeaponPick a Bigger Weapon available on iTunes

The Coup Pick a Bigger Weapon

Switching gears, Jim and Greg next discuss Pick a Bigger Weapon, the fifth album from hip-hop group The Coup. They play a bit of "Laugh, Love, F@#*k" which sets the tone of the record according to Jim. The Coup is known for their lefist politics and electro-synth grooves, but this record was mostly recorded live. Rapper Boots Riley and DJ Pam the Funkstress are joined by Tom Morello, Dwayne Wiggins and members of Maze and The Gap Band for a funkier, psychedelic sound. Greg hears great grooves and enjoys how, like Desmond Dekker, The Coup combine politics with party music, but he can't really recommend most of Pick a Bigger Weapon. Jim believes he is being too kind. He explains that lyrically, many of the songs pander to the lowest common denominator, and he wishes that the grooves were tighter and more hypnotic. Therefore, this record gets a Burn It from Mr. Kot and a Trash It from Mr. DeRogatis.




Drawing inspiration from the discussion with Ernesto Lechner, Greg chooses Beck's "Tropicalia" as his Desert Island Jukebox pick. The notion that people were ever jailed or sent into exile for playing Tropicalia music in Brazil got this host all fired up — especially because this music, pioneered by artists like Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, has remained such a formative influence on contemporary artists. Beck displays his love for the tropicalistas in this song from his 1998 album Mutations (a nod to fellow Brazilians Os Mutantes). Beck combines the Bossa Nova chords and gentle singing of Tropicalia music with art rock guitar and synthesizer. The result is a perfect example of Beck's pop collage style and a perfect homage to his Brazilian heroes.

Featured Songs

  1. James Blunt,“You're Beautiful,”Back to Bedlam, 2005
  2. Lordi, "Hard Rock Hallelujah"
  3. Desmond Dekker,“007 (Shantytown)”Bonanza Ska, 1992
  4. Desmond Dekker,“Israelites,”Black and Dekker, 1980
  5. Nortec Collective,“Revu Rockers,”Tijuana Sessions Vol. 3, 2005
  6. Os Mutantes,“Panis et Circenses”Os Mutantes 1968
  7. Stan Getz,“Girl from Ipanema,”Girl from Ipanema: The Antonio Carlos Jobim Songbook, 1962
  8. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs,“El Matador,”Vasos Vacios, 1994
  9. Caf'e Tacuba,“La Locomotora,”Reves/Yosoy, 1999
  10. Aterciopelados,“El Estuche,”Caribe Atomico, 1998
  11. Manu Chao,“Bongo Bong,”Clandestino, 1998
  12. Mexican Institute of Sound,“Mirando a las Muchachas,”Mejico Maxico, 2006
  13. Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint,“Freedom for the Stallion,”River in Reverse, 2006
  14. Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint,“Who's Gonna Help”River in Reverse, 2006
  15. Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint,“Nearer to You”River in Reverse, 2006
  16. The Coup,“Laugh/Love/Fuck,”Pick a Bigger Weapon, 2006
  17. The Coup,“My Favorite Mutiny,”Pick a Bigger Weapon, 2006

Footnotes James Blunt banned from Essex FM James Blunt's homepage Lordi unmasked Lordi's homepage Unmasking causes uproar Desmond Dekker's homepage Dekker obituary“Israelites”live Bob Marley's homepage The Clash's homepage Sex Pistols' homepage No Doubt's homepage Less than Jake's homepage Lechner's book on“Rock en Español” Os Mutantes Los Fabulosos Cadillacs Maldita Vecindad Café Tacuba Aterciopelados Babasonicos' homepage Manu Chao's homepage Los Amigos Invisibles' homepage Juana Molina's homepage Orishas' homepage Nortec Collective Bajofando Tango Club's homepage Gotan Project's homepage Mexican Institute of Sound Elvis Costello New Wave Allen Toussaint“Lady Marmalade” The Band Paul Simon's homepage The Meters About Hurricane Katrina New Orleans About ‘Pick a Bigger Weapon’ The Coup "Laugh, Love, F**k" About Boots Riley DJ Pam the Funkstress Maze The Gap Band Beck's homepage“Tropicalia” What's Tropicália? Caetano Veloso Gilberto Gil Beck's ‘Mutations’ Bossa Nova