By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
El Gran Silencio
¡Super Riddim Internacional! Vol. 1
"Cumbiamuffin," these five Monterrey fiesta-throwers call one dub-selector track, and "muffin" doesn't just mean "raga." But their chili-peppered fratboy mojo is balanced by high nasal toasting, Algerian rai mourning, spy movie and Art Ensemble trumpets, "Wrong 'Em Boyo" swipes, acoustic strums climbing stairways to heaven, and fiddle breakdowns played on accordion. Radio call-in shout-outs over 1980-vintage Sugarhill timbales kick open a tropical-ska sound system that refuses to shut down or stay put.
Zemog, El Gallo Bueno
Rooster-and-metal-obsessed Puerto Rican transplant to Massachusetts Abraham Gomez-Delgado wants to see how disruptive a mess his 10-piece can make on top while still maintaining rhythm. So he presents his art-salsa a proghorn-leghorn cockfight-rock, tunes his ax low enough to double as a bass, and lets his Coltrane-solo-transcribing baritone saxist bleat ghostly free-jazz. The singing, which alternates between simulating emotion and mocking it, can tend toward cardboard. But the extended chicken-coop solos never do.
Homenaje a Las Grandes
A curvy redhead single mom and corrido star from Long Beach with a business administration degree, this reigning border diva never misses a chance to be melodramatic. Giggles and hiccups, trills and filigrees, Greek choruses and MC intros, coocoo-roocoo-loo!'s and ooh-yaa-ungh!'s, over a horn section turning New Orleans brothel boogie-woogie and Munich Oktoberfest oompah into bandas and norteños, and low-rider soul into mariachi Streisand/ Celine/Supremes. As eclectic as any rock en españoland eclecticism's never the point. The two bawdiest-sounding songs mention tequila; one has a title owing Las Ketchup.