Radicalism isn't supposed to be this much fun. On Aterciopelados' new CD, Gozo Poderoso(Powerful Pleasure), siren Andrea Echeverri and bassist Hctor Buitrago blend progressive politics and groove-oriented tunes,making full use of the embarrassment of musical riches Latin America offers while still singing some of the smartest lyrics in any language. In songs like "La Misma Tijera" (The Same Scissors) and the title track, Aterciopelados delineate their basic philosophy—we're all one, yet unique, and music is essential to life—while playing tunes that feel better suited to a party than a teach-in; still, they've come to school you. The album preserves the duo's trademarks (Andrea's so-beautiful-it-hurts voice and Hctor's serpentine bass lines) and displays lyrical growth and determination. Earlier songs used to hint at the enemy; in cuts like "Fantasa" ("Fantasy"), Aterciopelados bluntly call out their target: "The planet is witness to who is the enemy/It's the American Dream dressed up as Big Brother" and "Just like Rome/It [the U.S.] is collapsing/Pro-nuclear, pro-war/Anti-cosmic, anti-natural/It's going, it's going." Music to dance—and get politicized—to. (Gustavo Arellano)
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Fake soul is in, but testify to this, poseurs: bad suits, bad hair and an arsenal of shrill "Amen, brothers!" does not a soul band make. We'll pray this doesn't become the next hip, corpse-plundering trend (hello, swing!), and until the smoke clears, we'll curl up with the Now Time Delegation, a beautifully, mercifully, heart-breakingly devoted heir to the real deal. Fronted by the BellRays' Lisa Kekaula (who has amply proved she can sing no wrong) and bona fide legend Tim Kerr (who started playing guitar with seminal Texas punks the Big Boys and just kept getting more legendary), the Delegation are a revved-up, hot-rod smashup through the best of yesterday. From the very first ring-a-ding guitar lick on their cover of Eddie Floyd's "Raise Your Hand," you know you're going to be well taken care of. Credit Kerr for penning and arranging originals that stand unhumbled next to spine-tingling renditions of songs by Curtis Mayfield and King Floyd, and credit Kekaula for bringing every song to vivid, visceral life. "Can't break what's broken, baby—that's for real!" she purrs as you swoon. By the time the last meticulously picked note flutters away on the whisper-subtle closer "Look to Tomorrow," you'll remember why they called it soul. And you won't be able to listen to the fake stuff anymore. (Chris Ziegler)
A fun-loving, Brit-based, 1960s throwback, drenched with smooth organs, shimmering backup harmonies, ringing guitars, hip-wiggling beats and squeaky-clean production. U.K.-born front man Martyn Leaper's scones-and-high-tea vocals only add to the effect. Sure, it might be a bit on the fluffy side—the album has all the depth of the Santa Ana River in mid-July—but New York indie label Spin Art is known for its classy, lightweight pop records (Jason Falkner, the Orange Peels, Apples in Stereo). Even so, the Minders incorporate several instruments and styles: wistful acoustic guitars, high-hat bootie-shakers, even hi-fi fuzz. It's not a soul-probing masterpiece or a sternum-thumping call to arms, but fans of psychedelic pop should find it positively . . .
shagadelic. (Kristin Fiore)