CD Reviews

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and Larry Horne & Small Change

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs

La Marcha del Golazo Solitario

BMG/U.S. Latin

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Argentina's wacky answer to Fishbone, have come a long way since their last disc. 1997's Fabulosos Calavera earned them a Grammy nomination, but to the untrained ear, it collapsed under too many competing influences:metal, punk, salsa and ska—all thrown together in a hectic puzzle that never quite came together. Not so with La Marcha del Golazo Solitario, which offers a much softer sound than fans of their older work might expect. It's a rich, often haunting collection. "La Vida," the opening cut, is an eerie mixture of Latin jazz and Edith Piaf-like accordion music that sounds like the soundtrack to Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys. As the title suggests, "La Vida" is a tune about life, but like many Cadillacs songs, it drops occasional, subtle references to death. "Vivimos a Tocar el Cielo" means "We live to touch the sky," but it also translates as "We live to touch heaven" or, more bluntly, "We live to die." Another track that invokes a typically Argentinean life/death duality is "Los Condenaditos," which means "the little condemned ones"—perhaps meant to signify the Argentinean people as a whole, but maybe referring to the thousands who disappeared during the country's military dictatorship of the 1970s and early '80s. Or maybe it's simply about the distant, faded memories of the band's youth. Either way, the most touching song on La Marcha is "Roble," or "oak," a metaphor-filled ballad about life: "The tree sleeps and dies/without resisting, without dying/only dreaming with the rain that brings it back to life." The melody—and the message—is so sweet you don't even mind the sappy string orchestration in the background. Its artistry may not grab you right away, but—like the rest of the album—it slowly creeps into your soul, beautiful enough to bring a tear of self-recognition to the joyfully weak at heart. (Nick Schou)

Larry Horne & Small Change

This Night

Bluestreet Records

What immediately grabs your attention about This Night, local axe man Larry Horne's full-length debut with his band, Small Change, is his versatility. His well-crafted notes dip, slide and storm through each of these 10 tracks, moving freely from Chicago-style blues to acoustic-tinged ballads to Allman Brothers-style rockers to jump blues. Hell, Horne and his band even get funky on the delightfully slinky, butt-wiggling "Who Do Girl." Horne knows the subtle differences between smoking ("Baby You Can Go," "Diva") and simmering ("This Night," "Raining in My Heart"). There are plenty of superfine chops, and not just on guitar, either. In fact, Hal Ratcliff's boogie-woogie piano rolls during "I've Got a Woman" recall Miss Honey Piazza at her tantalizing best. Horne needs sharpening in the songwriting department: although his heartache is convincing enough on a killer cut like the foreboding "Suicide Blues," he brings nothing terribly new to the genre's my-baby-done-me-wrong-so-now-I'm-a-pathetic-and-lonely-turd theme. Where's the complexity that makes romantic love so mystifying? If only he could infuse his songs with the imagination that marks his guitar work—that is, develop a lyrical eye for illuminating detail and description—Larry Horne & Small Change just might emerge as something more than a favorite on the OC blues scene. Till then, we'll have to settle for Larry's sonically sumptuous voice, which fortunately ain't too shabby. (John Roos)

 
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