Exhibit J in Why Big Record Labels Will Die is Pastilla's latest chiming jewel, Hey! The Pomona quartet is one of the insultingly few local Latin-alternative outfits ever signed to a major record label, but BMG let them go after sales of their 1998 effort, Vox Electra, proved too Southern California-centric to satisfy the multinational's bank account. Too bad for the failing BMG bigwigs because Pastilla proves with its third album once again why they're the future of American-based Latin alternative: bilingual without residual accents in either language; a fascination with all melodies British; and practitioners of smart, soaring rock/pop songs that rankle out enough spontaneity to make your ears sweat. Most of the tracks on Hey! veer toward a twangy Sea Change-type Beck lush with morose chord changes, lead guitarist Adrian Monroy's soft vocals (matched by his brother Víctor's backing moans) and the assertive choruses of Eric Ruvalcaba and Pablo Fridman. Pastilla also show they can swagger when they want in jutting jams such as "Comezón," but they sound best when concentrating on a gentle niceness bursting with shouting drums and sparkling guitars. Such an approach can easily devolve into pap pop but through Pastilla instead becomes bobbing, mournful things of beauty—just jump to the hand-clapping ditty "Brillante," which is music at its most hopping. Hey! could be Pastilla's ticket back into the big leagues, but I doubt they'd want it—they'd rather concentrate on making impressive music free of expectant bottom lines.
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Pastilla perform with Volumen Cero, Pistola and Uztar at JC Fandango, 1086 N. State College Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 758-9998. Thurs., Oct. 9, 8 p.m. $15. 16+.