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May 16, 2007


Kiko Jones

I think that through her comments Mariluz comes across as one of those clueless-airhead-pseudo socialite-Paris Hilton-wannabe girls who think hitting a dive bar in Williamsburg on a Friday night is exotic. It reminds me of what someone said about the ideology surrounding the so-called grunge movement—pro-choice, less is more, reject materialism, animal rights, etc.—and how it failed to capture the hearts and minds of the American masses in that regard: the flannel shirt just didn’t fit too well. It seems to me that those that didn’t care or understand about the social content of what these Mexican bands were on about—or perhaps were made to feel guilty for their comfortable position in life—found it to be too lowbrow and not enough fun. Her choice of words is very telling: “…el mestizaje, el uso de instrumentos/elementos autoctonos en la musica…” We all know the ostracizing the indigenous are subjected to and how they represent, in the eyes of these people, embarrassment and a backwards mindset. So let’s just have fun. Whoopee! Come on; give me a break, Betty.

I believe that rock and roll—and all popular music, for that matter—should cover all aspects of life: love, lust, anger, hopelessness, despair, fun, and yes, make room for social protest, as well. It will always inspire me to know that “Tropico de Cancer”, Café Tacuba’s jab at big business and racial ostracizing can co-exist on the same album as one of the most beautiful love songs of our generation: “Las Flores”. Always.

Now, here’s a point I care to make as someone who’s both lived it and witnessed it. One of the reasons people may have tired of the whole "autóctono" thing was the lack of conviction and skill of many badnwagon-jumping bands of the time. “Quiero mis raices, ya!” (“I want my roots, now!”) as Desorden Publico frontman Horacio Blanco once derisively referred to it. Being a Dominican musician doesn’t make you automatically a master at bachata; the same applies to the Venezuelan musician’s relationship with joropo, etc. yet many bands ignorantly plowed ahead like the one El Pueblo overheard enumerating their influences, which included—according to the band—that well-know Latin rhythm, ska.

Also, rock and roll is an American art form, so unless you are bringing something of your heritage to the table, by definition you’re going to come across as if you’re “trying to sound like Air, or !!! or Franz Ferdinand”. And no, Los Tres never sounded South American to me unless they were throwing in instruments identified with their native culture or the music bore the stamp of South American song structures. (“Dejate Caer” and “Un Amor Violento” are two examples of the latter.) Simplistic as it may be, sometimes bands just wanna rock. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Actually, come to think of it, that’s the point.

Mark Kemp

My god, where has this site been all my life? So glad I found it. Great discussion. Great points, both you and Kiko. Thanks for being here!

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¡A la lucha!

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