Made in Mexico, Guerillaton

Made in Mexico, Guerillaton

On their second album, Guerillaton, Made in Mexico combines two styles you wouldn’t think could possibly combine coherently, but they do — namely, no-wave and reggaeton. And they make it work really well, in a highly original take on either genre. They manage to take a lot of the groove out of the reggaeton feel and turn it into something much more anxious. A lot of the credit goes to drummer Dave Matheson, who combines a spare and menacing feel with that unmistakable reggaeton feel.

They come up with some remarkably strong songs. “Viva La Luz” is probably the catchiest song here, with a relatively restrained and catchy vocal atop crazed marching-band drum fills that still manage to fit in behind a clave. The band also comes up with effective harmony parts that complement singer Rebecca Mitchell’s vocals in interesting ways. “Yes We Can” has a vocal remiscent of Sleater Kinney’s Corin Tucker, with a martial drum beat and cool Fugazi-style interlocking guitar and bass parts.

Surprisingly, the most menacing song here is their acoustic number. It starts out with just acoustic guitar and vocal, with an odd dissonant melody that’s slightly offputting to begin with, and then they add some killer feedbacking noise guitar (the only time they actually use noise). It comes off sort of like the Sonic Youth-backed tracks Daniel Johnston put on 1989, but even more frightening.

Not all the songs here completely work, but even when they don’t, they’re not boring — their cross of no-wave and reggaeton is remarkably easy to listen to. And they found the right musicians to pull it off — Matheson, in particular, is their secret weapon. Made in Mexico has a completely unique style, and some cool songs. If they tightened up their songwriting a little, they’d be killer. As it is, Guerillaton is still a fascinating record.

(SKiN GRAFT Records -- P.O. Box 1545, O'Fallon, MO. 63366; http://www.skingraftrecords.com/; Made in Mexico -- http://www.myspace.com/zodiaczoo)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Wednesday, March 18th, 2009. Filed under Reviews.

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