Monterrey Pop

After building a funky, knee-slapping romp flush with vinyl scratches, cowbells, disco sirens, a polkafied accordion, and some any-language gibberish, Monterrey's Kinky hit the Translate button for a catchy chorus: "Welcome to my world."

Jayne Cortez seeks her excellent pocket trumpet.
photo: Ziga Koritnik
Jayne Cortez seeks her excellent pocket trumpet.

Off the quintet's self-titled debut album, "Cornman" is emblematic of Kinky's kitschy musical universe, populated by borderland kids who wash down their cabrito and carne asada with a blue Slurpee from the local 7-Eleven. Close to the gringolandia, the mountain-region city of Monterrey has yielded so many varied bands in the last few years (vallenato ragamuffins El Gran Silencio, space-rockers Zurdok, lounge-popsters Plastilina Mosh) that it's usurped Mexico City as the nation's alternative-music capital. The sample-sopped Kinky blurred any geographical boundaries at the Knitting Factory on May 24, whipping up dancefloor rhythms that pointed the compass to Manhattan Buddha bars, Parisian house parties, and a Monterrey bedroom laptop. On several songs, singer Gilberto Cerezo filtered his already soothing vocals for a sexy Mr. Roboto whir. P-Funk basslines rumbled from the hands of Stetson-topped Cesar Pliego, who stomped a leg high throughout the show as if leading a norteño square dance.

Dancers who learned their groove toting glow sticks or following the clave at the salsateca had no trouble keeping up. And on the brassy, move-by-numbers "Ejercicio #16," the group sampled instructions from a TV fitness program for a bouncy workout that complemented the electro-toxic, Donna Summer-like "Noche de Toxinas (Internacional)." Earlier, Kinky launched into Rowlands-Simmons block-rockin' beats over a sensual samba, while all Cerezo would say was, "All we want is more and more." Even after two encores, the insatiable audience kept saying the same with sweaty cheers. —Enrique Lavin

Dee Dee Ramone, 1952-2002

The last time I spoke to Dee Dee Ramone—in March, just before the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—he reminded me of one of the first conversations we ever had. "We were talking about metaphors," he said with a laugh, recalling an interview from over 25 years ago in which he was trying hard to explain the meaning of some of the songs he wrote. "Take 'Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue,' " he told me back then. "It isn't really a song about getting high. The next line is 'Now I wanna have somethin' to do.' See, it's about being a kid and being bored." The glue sniffing, then, was really a metaphor? "I guess so," he said, and then broke into one of his goofy bug-eyed stares—as if his head had started to hurt from too much brain drain.

Coming as it did, barely a year after Joey's death, and just months after (sure, who cares, but at least it happened) the Rock Hall nod, Dee Dee Ramone's demise at his Hollywood home on June 5 from a drug overdose was shocking more in its timing than in its reality. Given a history of drug, alcohol, and glue/Carbona/you-name-it abuse dating back to his years growing up as an army brat in Germany—not to mention the street crime and 53rd-and-Third male hustling he got into once he moved to New York in the late '60s—the fact that Douglas Glenn Colvin somehow managed to get to age 50 was nearly as remarkable an achievement as his Pantheon-worthy position as the punk of all time in the punk rock band of all time. Like Dennis Wilson, the only Beach Boy who actually surfed, Dee Dee was the Ramones' resident gut check, and remained that symbol even after his departure from the group in 1989: You could take Dee Dee out of the Ramones, but you could never take the Ramones out of Dee Dee. As he wrote in the title track from 1984's Too Tough to Die: "I tell no tales/I do not lie . . . halo round my head/Too tough to die." Those last four words were tattooed on Dee Dee Ramone's arm, atop a picture of a horned, pitchfork-wielding devil. A fitting metaphor for a blessed demon. Rest easy, animal boy. —Billy Altman

Tantric Disco

Vladislav Delay likes to indulge. Although just 26, in the last five years the Finnish producer has adopted no less than five cryptic aliases—his own name (a pseudonym itself), Uusitalo, Sistol, Conoco, and Luomo—for his subtly varied interpretations of house music, so deep and aquatic it often sounds submerged. It was Vocalcity, Delay's 2000 album as Luomo, that produced the biggest waves, with its six oceanic tracks of fuck-house dub disco, and it was Luomo that the stylish crowd at Fun came to witness on May 30.

Fans, in turn, indulged Delay, who looked model-esque in a tank top over his frail frame and a Nordic-blond bob as he swigged from a bottle of red wine throughout his three-hour set. Its first hour overlapped with a performance by Delay's wife, Berliner Antye Greie-Fuchs (a/k/a AGF), who alternately incanted in German over scary ambient beats and made googly eyes at her fop. The newlyweds' flirtations contrasted with the video projections, which immersed them in granular, ominous textures, and this spectacle only exacerbated the expectation for Luomo tracks. When the dirty, slinky bass line of Vocalcity's Tantric ``Synkro'' finally sneaked into the mix, the release was almost sexual. It was also premature.

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