Kinky Kronikles

Monterrey’s vanguard boyband from another dimension

Even die-hard fans will have to admit that it's a mixed blessing to have the long vacant vanguard of Latin rock occupied by a band with a name as stupid as Kinky. ¬ After all, there are plenty of seemingly more dignified standard-bearers. There's Mexico City's art-rock ensemble Café Tacuba, who carried the flag throughout the '90s but let it drop during the four-year chasm between 1999's astounding Reves/Yosoy and the comparatively conservative Cuatro Caminos. There's Colombia's alluring Aterciopelados, who have the best female singer in the genre but who have similarly gone missing since 2001's Gozo Podoroso. There are inventive bands like Argentina's Bersuit Vergarabat and Mexico's El Gran Silencio who haven't yet unleashed a big one; there's Tijuana's pioneering Nortec Collective DJ ensemble, but they seem to keep releasing the same songs ad infinitum. There's even Mexico City's Molotov, who usually purvey a south-of-the-border take on mook rap-rock but show potent political savvy on songs like last year's awesome anti-INS anthem "Frijolero."

Judging from Kinky's self-titled 2002 debut, the Mexican quintet seemed like an eccentric, electronic version of Los Amigos Invisibles, Venezuela's discofied ambassadors of vapid suavity who can groove like nobody's business but have an intellect that seems confined to the perfect martini concoction. Kinky substituted the suave with the surreal and created an electronic album that grooves aplenty but lacks the swing and the substance of their explosive live shows. The group toyed with their image in a similar way, with each member representing a type (a type of something, anyway): the cowboy-hatted bassist, the dreadlocked drummer, the dreamboat singer. They look like a boyband from a parallel dimension.

There was little on that disc to suggest that the new Atlas would be the mightiest alterlatino album in many years. The sound is more rock-oriented and vibrant, and the band has actually learned to write songs—and not just because they collaborated with Itaal Shur, co-author of Santana's "Smooth." (Actually, his contribution, "Not Afraid," is the silliest, weirdest one on Atlas: "They say dreams enter from the feet. . . . They say the trees wear their clothes backwards in the summer.")

Details

Kinky
Atlas
Sonic360/Nettwerk America

Related Stories

More About

It's possible the quantum leap occurred because, over the course of nearly 200 gigs in the past year, the band's formula has gelled. In recent years, their hometown Monterrey has usurped Mexico City as the focal point of Mexican rock. The country's industrial capital (insert perfunctory Manchester/Detroit references here), it's produced arguably the most diverse scene in Latin America: Kinky, El Gran Silencio, electronic hip-hop duo Plastilina Mosh, metal jokesters Genitallica, spacey Zurdok, and pop-rockers Jumbo.

And Kinky takes it all—rock, funk, hip-hop, jazz, electronica, cumbia, and norteño—in equal measure. After all, Monterrey is just a hundred miles from Texas; two of the band members met while attending a music program in Los Angeles; the group is signed to a British label. You might not detect any traditional Latin influence in "Snapshot" 's English lyrics, but its rhythm owes heavily to the Northern Mexican style quebradita; a Colombian groove accompanies a guest vocal from Cake's John McCrea on "The Headphonist"; Brazil seeps heavily into the album's last two tracks.

Tellingly, some of Atlas was written on an isolated ranch in the Mexican jungle (where insects crawled all over the equipment: one even flew into singer Gil Cerezo's mouth as he was recording a vocal track); some was created in Los Angeles with System of a Down's engineer; some at home in Monterrey. Some of the band's lyrics are in Spanish; some are in English; some are in obscure, absurd slang. And if such a diverse, polynational palette doesn't seem purist (read: ethnocentric) enough for the next heroes of alterlatino, well, isn't that what globalism is all about? Musically, the band is as promiscuous as its name would suggest, creating a sound and a vibe that's truly sin fronteras.

 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
New York Concert Tickets

Concert Calendar

  • August
  • Wed
    20
  • Thu
    21
  • Fri
    22
  • Sat
    23
  • Sun
    24
  • Mon
    25
  • Tue
    26
Loading...