I made a mixtape for an online friend last night, who’s from South America. I included a Julieta Venegas song, yeah, ’cause it’s in Spanish, to show how fucking worldly I am, and she (the friend, not Julieta Venegas) asked me if I really liked Venegas or I just included her for the friend’s benefit. I didn’t answer and just rolled my eyes (how the fuck I’m gonna put shit I don’t like on my own mix??) but when she inquired further I told her I really enjoyed the first couple records but the later stuff seemed pretty by-numbers and didn’t do much for me (ain’t that always the way?). I mentioned the absolute front-to-back consistency of side 2 of “Aquí” and she said she wasn’t really familiar with the record (I think she’s one of those download-tracks-randomly iPod listeners *shudder*). So I included a link along with the following note.

I don't really listen to much rock en español. Most of it is Maná/Jaguares-like schlock. But an old girlfriend's boss was apparently REALLY into it – despite not speaking Spanish (I'll get into the exoticization and romanticization of Latin America by U.S. liberals some other time). And around the time Venegas' first record came out, her boss had tickets to see her play the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, but couldn't go. So she gave the tickets to my then-girlfriend, who asked me if I wanted to see this rock en español act. Sure, why not? I figured, but didn't really have high hopes. Some of it was so-so, but some of it, I thought, was actually really good! I remember in the late '90s, some guy had a fanpage up with three MP3s that I downloaded – "Antes", "Verdad", and "Esta vez". I kind of listened to the shit out of those before actually getting the album.

There are a few weaker tracks on side 1, but side 2 is pretty much solid the whole way through. (OK, one or two of those interludes is maybe unneeded, but they don't really hurt the momentum that bad.) Some parts remind me of Tori, who of course I also love – she's playing and singing her fuckin' ass off, which is what's missing from most smarmy pop music. (Even when Adele sings about cursi shit she REALLY MEANS IT.) But of course, that isn't really the whole of it – the songwriting is really good, too. You can find a live clip of her at some rich girls' college on YouTube, where she calls the chord progression of "Casa abandonada" a "trabalenguas." You can't really find many musical trabalenguas in commercial pop – it's all pretty familiar and predictable if you're familiar with the Western canon.


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