When a big-name band releases a little EP, the first thing you do is attack their obvious laziness. But when the group is chilangos chingones Café Tacuba and the EP is Vale Callampa ("It's Worthless," in Chilean slang), it's an opportunity to celebrate another bizarre turn in the career of one of the most peculiarly brilliant bands in the dimension. This four-song disc is a tribute to Chilean outfit Los Tres, who recently disbanded after years of obscure glory. But rather than have los tacubas offer straightforward covers of the equally eccentric Tres' weirdest hits, Vale Callampa uses the hurtling-toward-everywhere aesthetic of Tacuba to both faithfully recall the originals and transform each track into its own Latin alternative gem. "Dejate Caer" has lounge-y/dance-y chords with throbbing bass lines and chiming keyboard swirls, while the dramatic doo-wop of "Olor a Gas" sounds like an artifact from the '50s as imagined by Cold War techies. "Amor Violento" laughs with a stuttering synth-cheese feel, augmented by the always-arresting banshee squeak of lead singer Rita Cantalagua (which is what changes-his-name-with-every-album Rubén Albarrán calls himself nowadays). And "Tírate" is a haunting bolero that wouldn't be out of place underneath the Veracruzan stars. The album's only disappointment is its brevity, but that's okay—the official note accompanying Vale Callampa is that Tacuba's next full-length will be out in mid-2003, that this EP has no other purpose than to whet aural appetites. Does it ever.
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