The Upshot: Metal, jazz and New Wave all collide in a mostly-satisfying collection from the NYC-based Rock En Espanol outfit.
BY JONATHAN LEVITT
Smoking opener “Un Disip En Nueva York” sets the stage for this almost killer new record from Los Crema Paraiso. The frenetic guitara pacings that roll from metallic laced fret workouts to a jazzy Pat Metheny-esque cooler than thou jazz vibe establishes a high bar for the rest of the album to love up to. “El Currucha” just shows how tight this band is and that one need not be singing rap to show off some major tongue twisting skills. Singer Andrea Echeverri punctuates every verse with a coolness that’s really alluring. “Varon Domado” featuring Rocco Tarpeyo wouldn’t be out of place in a lost episode of Breaking Bad. It has a frenetic meth head pacing to it that makes me ask the question is there anything that this band can’t play?
The band tackles two massively influential songs on this album. The first is a reworking of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” it’s a far more upbeat affair that isn’t too dissimilar from Nouvelle Vague and their cocktail versions of new wave classics. The unique arrangement of this song and its syncopated rhythm makes this more than a cover. Here the band have made this song very much their own. A unique take on the British band’s hit that shows how much talent the band are working with here.
Next up is Tears for Fears “Everyone Wants to Rule the World” this is more of a straight ahead reading of the ‘80s classic. I’m not a huge fan of this version except for some timing changes the song feels to be a bit of a wrong choice for the band given the high-octane first half of the album.
The album seems to peter out after a stellar opening 6 songs. The rest feels like a mix of space age bachelor pad music mixed with a hint of jazzmenco-flavored stylings.
The only redeeming song on the latter half of the album is “Cucaracha en baile de gallinas” (literally, “Cockroaches dancing in the chicken coop”). It has an African guitar vibe that sounds a lot like something the great Thomas Mapfumo would’ve played.
It’s clear that the band has some major chops, but the fact remains that this album could’ve been better served had the final 5 songs been replaced by something more interesting and challenging. That said I admire the first half of the album and the sheer balls it took to cover something as left field for a band like this as Depeche Mode. I only wish they’d have kept the energy cooking throughout.