Voz de Mano
Voz de Mano sound like a Stratocaster smashing onto a turntable. On Polen, they squash hardcore guitar crunches together with electronic riffs, crafting a CD that could spin easily during the band changeovers at Koo's Art Cafe or at the peak hour of booty bumping/hottie spotting at the Boogie. The LA-based band (their name translates to Voice From Hand) perfectly captures the grit, romance and mixture of American sounds—both gringo and Latino varieties—that define SoCal Latino culture, but without any political posturing. Instead of paying heed to the myriad social problems endemic in the region's Latino communities, Voz choose to focus on the torture of the human heart and soul. In songs like the awesomely titled "Si Vas al Monte, No Se Te Olvide Tu Violn" ("If You Go to the Mountain, Don't Forget Your Violin"), the quartet deal with issues of self-discovery and love, while on "Despertador" ("Wake-up Call"), they grapple with the terror of realizing that your life is a lie. That dour content is livened up by catchy guitar licks and cheesy electronic beats that might leave you a bit confused—do you freak with your friends or mosh into the pelvis of your significant other?—but toss in the strong baritone of lead singer Tony Estrada, and you're left with the perfect soundtrack for the upcoming Romntico Revolucin. (Gustavo Arellano)
Big Bean Music
Kris Delmhorst is one of the freshest voices to come out of Boston's generally fresh acoustic scene. One minute, she's doing a bluegrass tune as it might have been imagined by Tori Amos; next, she's sultry, delivering heartbreak and melancholy in "Damn Love Song" ("How can I carve my name in the trunk of a tree/That'll be here long after we're gone?/I can't even write it in steam on the mirror"). Every note and every lyric of this album is pregnant with passion and the sort of resignation that you desperately want to drink out of your system. Delmhorst manages to trace these edges of heartache and longing without becoming, well, maudlin or depressing. The effect is cathartic, as it is with Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and other country musicians. And like all great purveyors of the music of pain, Delmhorst examines heartache and finds herself there. "Can I lay down the weight of the world," she asks, "and call myself home?" The impending self-discovery latent in that question, and in this album, is truly beautiful to behold. (Victor D. Infante)
CD available at www.krisdelmhorst.com and finer retail stores.
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