Hispanic Talent Not to Sleep On

With the recent outburst of Hispanic/Latin reggaeton in the mainstream music realm, the concept of Hispanic music has more often than not been reduced to music simply meant for grinding and pregaming. Although a little booty shaking is always good for the soul, Hispanic music actually encompasses a wide variety of genres, countries of origin and sounds. It’s always good to explore beyond the “Despacito”s and discover the smaller, yet infinitely talented Hispanic artists that deserve equal acclaim. Having grown up in Mexico, I’ve accumulated quite a list of Hispanic artists I love, but for the sake of time I’ll keep it to the few I’ve recently discovered within the alternative scene that I find intoxicatingly great.

Little Jesus

  • Little Jesus is an alternative/indie rock band from Mexico City, Mexico that has been playing music since 2012. Their two albums, “Norte” and “Rio Salvaje,” include an incredible repertoire of songs that are as sweet as they are sexy. With the exception that all their music is in Spanish, their music reminds me of Hippo Campus with a dash of The Kooks’ edge. Good songs to listen to to get a feel for the band are “La Magia,” “Tqm,” “Norte (Bonus)” and “Mala Onda.” 

CLUBZ

  • The new wave style guitar duo originating from Monterrey, Mexico has been making music together since 2014. They also have a total of two albums, “Texturas” and “Épocas, ” and each one is more unique than the next. Their sound is psychedelic, sensual and unexpected. Their music reminds me of Sylvan Esso’s skillful use of synth, combined with with Tom Misch-esque guitar vibes. Songs to listen to to get a feel for the artist are “Popscuro” and their new single “Afrika.” Pro tip: watch the music videos too!

Monsieur Periné

  • Originating from Bogotá Colombia, this ensemble of musicians is out of this world talented. Their music draws inspiration from the Afro-Colombian sound with implementations of both Latin and European influences. Active since 2008 and with two albums to their name, “Hecho a Mano” and “Caja de Música,” Monsieur Periné writes music that radiates color. Their songs are sweet, passionate and perfect for that Sunday morning “cafecito” or “chocolate Abuelita.” If you enjoy artists like Natalia LaFourcade and Julieta Venegas, you will fall in love with Monsieur Periné. Songs to listen to for a feel of the artist are “Nuestra Canción,” “La Playa” and “Tu M’as Promis.” 

The Chamanas 

  • Probably the most recognizable name from this list of artists, The Chamanas have made an incredible impact on the Mexican Froterizo culture by making it a focal point of their music. Originating from the border culture in between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, The Chamanas create music that is as multidimensional as their culture. The band’s sound draws inspiration from traditional Mexican folklore, pop, danzon, indie and synth. All this to create music that is dark, unique and downright hypnotizing. Their most recent collaboration with artist ODESZA, along with their two albums, “NEA” and “Once Once,” show the intense versatility of the band and their ability to reform what Latin music is. Songs I recommend listening to to get a feel for the group are “Purple Yellow Red and Blue,” “Dulce Mal” and “Alas de Hierro.”

Bigott

  • This Zaragoza, Spain native is the only artist from the list who writes and sings his music primarily in English and French. Similar in sound to Elliot Smith but less folky and more upbeat, this artist stands out as a beautifully poetic lyricist with a voice so deep it forces itself into your soul. With eight albums to his name, Bigott might be my favorite artist from this list. His music is soulful, sensual and goosebump inducing. It is the kind of music that I would have on my emo or rainy days playlist for those times that I just want to stay in, eat Häagen-Dazs by the pint and mourn the perfect boyfriend I’ve never had. Songs I strongly recommend by this artist are ” The Reno Poem,” “I’m little retarded,” “The Jingle” and “First Local Recording.”

Photo Credits: CLUBZ image by Daniel Patlán, Monsieur Periné image by Ralf Schulze, The Chamanas image by Rodrigo Díaz, Bigott image by DONOSTIA KULTURA

 

A Villainous Return to Music

Queens of the Stone Age’s latest album entitled, “Villains” is the dream soundtrack to your hellish disco fantasy.

The phrase “dancing with the devil” takes on a very literal sense with their seventh album, released on Aug. 25, 2017. The hype preceding this release was not only a result from the band’s four year hiatus since releasing their now landmark album “Like Clockwork.” The hype was mostly surrounding the fact that the entire album was produced by “Uptown Funk” musician/producer extraordinaire, Mark Ronson, whose pop musical connotations seem antithetical to those of Queens. Although hardcore Queens fans may see this collaboration as nothing short of sacrilege, I found the fusion of Ronson’s funk vibes with Queens’ twisted hard rock a unique concoction that freshens Queens sound without discarding its intoxicating eeriness.

Ronson’s influence is mostly present in the album’s uptempo and intermittent synth-esque riffs that are impossible not to dance to. Songs such as “The Way You Used To Do” and “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” are the most obvious examples of this given their unforgiving, upbeat and villainously cool nature. Along with “Domesticated Animals” and “Fortress,” Queens created a musical quadfecta that still holds their signature darkness and hypnotism, but now with a builtin dance party.

The intense guitar riffs combined with the sultry cadence of frontman Joshua Homme make listening to the album a fun act of mischievousness and dark indulgence. Although some of the songs fall short in sharpness when compared to the aforementioned quadfecta, ie “Hideaway” and “Head Like a Haunted House,” the whole album is a successful attempt at rebooting the band’s sound without entirely dismissing their brand.

Personally, I think “Villains” is a great album that missed the “perfect” mark by a very small margin. But, who really cares if it’s perfect or not when the music makes you feel so darn cool? 

Lettuce See: A Vegan’s Look into San Diego Fast Food

As of two days ago, I am officially a vegan sophomore, woo! This year has been filled with kombuchas, improved bowel movement and the ingesting of Costco B12 vitamins. Having reached this milestone, I felt it necessary to discuss my devotion to all things cheesy, creamy and greasy, before and during my vegan transition. 

Vegans refrain from consuming any kind of animal products, such as dairy, animal proteins and honey. That means no cheese, no ice cream, no burgers, no rib-eye steak and, sadly, no chicken nuggets. At first glance, this list seems like too many “No’s” for the average college student, and it definitely was.  To say the least, my most intimate relationship at the time was one with Frankie from See’s Candies, whose first words upon my arrival were always “the usual?”. However, this past year taught me that being vegan is not about restrictions. It’s about exploring the worlds of food and health driven by whatever reason. Whether it be for health, ethics or the environment, it’s a personal choice. 

As an example, I will use fast food. I’ve loved cheesy fries, burgers, Oreo milkshakes and onion rings since the time my parents and I first drove by a Carl’s Jr. One of my favorite pastimes is discussing the perfection that is Hodad’s onion rings and their velvety chocolate milkshake. From a young age, I fell in love with the all-American burger, fresh fries and milkshake. Once I committed to a vegan diet, however, I painfully said goodbye to this first love. I thought I would never again bury my face in the warm cushions of burger buns, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Fortunately, the vegan gods blessed me. San Diego is home to a 100% plant-based and 100% “oh holy mother this is good” delicious fast-food joint. 

Plant Power, located in Sunset Cliffs and Encinitas, is a restaurant that mimics the traditional American concept of fast-food but without the meat. Everything on its menu is completely vegan and most of their waste is compostable. Their plant-based creations include burgers, sandwiches, wraps, salads, milkshakes, floats, fries, nuggets and everything else you would expect from the regular burger joint. To me, this place is magical. The service is quick and simple, the food is sublime and the concept is beautifully nostalgic. You can go as a vegan and non-vegan and still have the pig out of a lifetime, or have a sensible meal if you can actually control yourself. Personally, I say treat yo self.  

As a recurring client I very strongly recommend the Horchata milkshake, the Holy Guacamole or the Classic burger, the cheesy fries, the kombucha float and the queen of all queens the SOFT SERVE! Do not sleep on the creamiest  soft serve that has ever existed (at least in San Diego).

Pineapple Paraphernalia and Peanut Butter Vibes at Humphreys

Tuesday, Sept. 19 marked the 2nd time that indie rock band Glass Animals has graced the city of San Diego with their out-of-this-world, psychedelic tunes and deep-rooted pineapple obsession. Their show at Humphreys was part of the band’s 2nd tour for their most recent album, “How to Be a Human Being,” released in August of 2016.

The band’s sophomore album is an attempt at creating a human storybook. Each one of its songs is directly inspired by the lives of people that Dave Bayley (lead singer) met while on tour for “ZABA,” the band’s first album. “How to Be a Human Being” is beautiful, with its colorful celebration of human weirdness, darkness and simplicity. The live version of the album is basically that same celebration, but with an audience of people dressed like pineapples and, in my case, extreme hair flipping and spending all my money on dope merch.

With lyrics such as “pineapples are in my head,” “those peanut butter vibes” and “twitch toes to black mambo,” being sung alongside generous puffs of stage smoke, Lorde-esque dancing and color strobe lights out the wazoo, Glass Animals delivered a unique performance that left me feeling like a trippy alien hooked on pop rocks. All together, Dave Bayley’s I-Can’t-Believe-it’s-not-Butter voice, Drew MacFarlane’s jazzy guitar notes, Edmund Irwin’s funky bass line and Joe Seaward’s superb drum skills created a show that no one could call easy to forget. 

Glass Animal’s show radiates a positive, carefree and joyously weird energy that makes you forget about the stresses of life, school and everything in between. Although their setlist drew mainly from their new album, they played a satisfying amount of songs off their first album as well. The audience danced hard to classics such as “Gooey” and “Black Mambo,” but went REALLY crazy over new tunes such as “Other Side of Paradise” and “Youth.” Everybody was either dancing their butts off, trying to catch the flying pineapples or yelling “You’re so hot Dave!” (Dave is the cute frontman).

All in all, Glass Animals at Humphreys was a mind-bending dance party that I would love to attend again and again. I highly recommend their music, their live shows and their dope merch. If you’re at their show next time they come to San Diego, I’ll be that one Mexican cutie dressed as a pineapple.

 

Featured Image, “Glass Animals,” by Gabrri Guerrero