CD Reviews

The Chris Perez Band
Resurrection
Hollywood Records

Forget Ricky Martin mania for a minute. Or, better yet, forever. For if this is a just world, guitarist Chris Perez and his band will become the next Latin-music sensations. Perez has tasted fame before: he was married to slain Tejano singer Selena and was a member of her backing band. But Resurrection is not Tejano—this is rock & roll. Perez and his Texas compadres have fashioned an invigorating debut that melds edgy rockers with graceful ballads. There are sweeping, disco-fied string arrangements; bright, shimmering horn parts (courtesy of the Voodoo Glow Skulls); Def Leppard-style chants; and loose, Santana-inspired grooves, all anchored by Perez's zingy guitar work. The catchy "Noches en Vela" (Sleepless Nights), a noisy tale of loneliness that's sweetened by a Hammond organ, boasts a chorus that recalls Matchbox 20, but with way more cojones. A sense of loss also resonates through "Best I Can," in which singer John Garza's stirring delivery is propelled by Perez's obviously Selena-inspired lyrics. Other standouts include "Solo Tú" (Only You), a feisty paean to love, and some intriguing covers, like both an English and a Spanish version of Lone Justice's "Shelter," in which Garza's earnest vocals help recapture the original's rootsy charm. And their take on "Alone Again, Or" by Love (or the Damned, depending on your age) fits perfectly, thanks to rippling flamenco guitars, a dramatic mariachi bridge and a pure adrenalin rush of cascading strings. By the end of Resurrection, you feel that the Chris Perez Band have concocted a big, bilingual melting pot of an album, one that should appeal to everybody, not just rock en español fans. (George A. Paul)

Fred Eaglesmith
50-Odd Dollars
Razor & Tie

Listen to: Fred Eaglesmith
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Download the RealPlayer FREE! Fred Eaglesmith must think he's a badass. He loves to wear black leather; carries a serious, mean-looking smirk on his face; and infuses his gravelly voice with plenty of macho luster—particularly when singing about cars and trains, two of his favorite topics. Only this veteran Canadian singer/songwriter is just as weary, vulnerable and lonely as the rest of us poor slobs. What sucks you into his excellent 50-Odd Dollars,thoughand makes you actually care about the struggling "edge of towners" he describes—is his penetrating lyricism. In "Rodeo Boy," he adroitly captures his characters' isolation with passages like these: "Kicking them old tin cans/Clicking sticks along the fence/Wondering where the good times went/I'm not really sure." It's a dark, unsettling tune that keeps building with tension until Fred erupts, unleashing a torrent of pained notes on his electric six-string that would surely make Neil Young proud. His gritty yet versatile band, the Flying Squirrels, also add flavor throughout the disc with a tasty blend of rock, folk and country styles that includes just the right dashes of mandolins, fiddles, steel guitars and harmonicas. But providing the essential rhythmic thrust to all this is a guy named Washboard Hank, whose plethora of percussive clanks and clacks make you wonder if he's really just an old hubcap that's been put to some good use. (John Roos)

 
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