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.

Latin American Rock
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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

The River in Reverse Elvis Costello

The River In Reverse (Digital Version)

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.

Pick a Bigger Weapon 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.

Greg

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.

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!