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Tuesday Reviewsday: Helado Negro, Max Capote, Rocco DeLuca and Benjamin Booker




Rocco DeLuca
Rocco DeLuca
Tony Critchlow

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Justino Aguila, associate editor of Latin at Billboard Magazine, and music critic Steve Hochman join the show for another edition of our music segment, Tuesday Reviewsday.

Here are the artists we're talking about this week:

Justino Aguila

Artist: Max Capote
Album: Aperitivo de Moda
Songs: “Sin Mentirte," "Ana"


"Sin Mentirte"

Summary: Max Capote wears black shades. He also has a cool swagger that adds to his ‘60s Motown sound.

Back with a new album, Aperitivo de Moda, Copote continues to thrill with his retro style of music with his upcoming project of original Latin pop compositions.

The work features 10 tracks including “Sin Mentirte,” which was written by Capote. The song is upbeat and works well with the vocals of Sie7e, the Puerto Rican Grammy winning singer/songwriter who in 2011 took home the trophy for best new artist. Capote was also nominated in the same category that same year and since then the two have become friends.

The new project also features covers such as Ana, which was written by the Peruvian band Los Saicos. Capote’s version also lends itself to a familiar sound in a new, fresh and innovative way.

Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Copote grew up in an area riddled with gangs and drugs and as an escape began listening to a local radio show called “Golden Hits.” James Brown is one of his musical heroes.

"Ana"

Artist: Helado Negro (Roberto Carlos Lange)
Album: Double Youth
Songs: "I Krill You," "Ojos Que No Ven"


"I Krill You"

Summary: The new Helado Negro (Black Ice Cream) album features 10 tracks from the artist known as Roberto Carlos Lange.

A producer of electronic and experimental music, Lange creates music that’s universal both in sound and composition. The bilingual singer's fourth full-length album Double Youth was recorded at his home studio with his own equipment. The base drum machines play a major role in these recordings.

The album’s first single, “I Krill You,” comes alive with its mid-tempo pacing and synth-looped beats and Lange’s voice giving the track a soulful feel.

The son of Ecuadorian immigrants, Lange honors his roots with his ability to sing in English and Spanish, often within the same song in an album that provides poetic lyrics and an intimate experience for the listener.

Double Youth was written, mixed and produced by Lange. The Helado Negro name was inspired by Lange’s favorite foods and day dreams.

“The pseudonym creates something for me and people who listen to the music,” Lang says. “It's a bond that seems to rely on it not being anything other than what it is.”

"Ojos Que No Ven"

 

Steve Hochman

Artist: Benjamin Booker
Album Benjamin Booker
Songs: “Violent Shiver,” “Have You Seen My Son”

"Have You Seen My Son"

Summary: Opening with a quasi-Chuck Berry lick, “Violent Shiver” announces one of the most-buzzed-about debuts of the summer with an almost casual sense of confidence. This, it seems to say, is the real deal.

And nothing that happens in the next 45 minutes that make up this album changes that impression, the buzz growing louder as the 24-year-old’s been on tour opening for Jack White and blowing away crowds at the Newport Folk Festival and just now the FYFest here in L.A.

The perilous thing is that people almost want to make too much of this kid, who was raised in Tampa, Fla, but has recently relocated to New Orleans. The term punk-blues has been applied, but that’s not really right. Comparisons have been made to Howlin’ Wolf and Ben Harper, but those don’t really get it. Ditto Dinosaur Jr., Conor Oberst and even Bruce Springsteen. He has cited blue great Blind Willie Johnson, glam icon T.Rex and, yes, L.A.’s ‘80s punk-blues band the Gun Club as influences.

So maybe punk-blues is what we’ve got here. Heck, looking back, that’s a pretty good term for Chuck Berry’s best as well. What he shares with Berry is that the music isn’t really that fancy. It’s boiled town to a rock essence, straight-forward chords, contagious energy — even the slower, moodier, bluesier songs (“Slow Coming,” “I Thought I Heard You Screaming”) have a burning intensity in the relatively gentler touch. And if you often can’t really make out the words he’s singing, the feeling and commitment come through clearly.

“Have You Seen My Son,” an NPR favorite when released ahead of the album, has Booker with a tale of a desperate father, churning away like the Ramones and growling like Kurt Cobain. If he can build on that impeccable, enticing foundation, well, as we said: real deal.

"Violent Shiver"

Artist: Rocco DeLuca
Album: Rocco DeLuca
Songs: “Colors of the Cold,” “Through the Fire

Rocco DeLuca performs

Summary: For his record release concert at a Fairfax hotspot the other day, in front of a roomful of some rather beautiful young people (and No. 1 fan Kiefer Sutherland, who signed him to his label some years back), Rocco DeLuca took a seat facing his drummer Jonathan Wright at the side of the small stage, plugged in his lap-steel guitar and launched into the gospel chestnut “Jesus Can Do Anything But Fail.” That evolved into half an hour of distorted atmospheres, ebbing and flowing between dark beauty and harrowing fury — just two songs, no pause between them — with a voice and sensibility each suggesting at times a combination of Tim Buckley and Jack White.

And it had almost nothing to do with the music on the new album. Or so it may have seemed to some. Really, it wasn’t that different, just different atmospheres. That the term atmospheres comes to mind is no surprise, given that the album was largely co-produced by Daniel Lanois (his other No. 1 fan). It’s a word often associated with him. You’ve heard what he can do with U2, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, those kind of people. But for the last half-dozen years or so, he’s formed a strong mentor-collaborator bond with young Silver Lake musician DeLuca,

This is the second album (of DeLuca’s four overall) they’ve done together, following up their teaming on 2009’s Mercy. It’s a fruitful pairing for both, achieved in this case by DeLuca recording basic tracks at home and Lanois then processing and reworking them in his own fashion. Lanois enhances DeLuca’s raw talents with a variety of settings and sonic tricks and helps shape it all into compelling songs, while letting the rawness come through in the full range of dynamics shown in that record release performance. It’s not so much contained as compressed, as in pressurized.

The opening “Colors of the Cold” go heavy on the atmospheres and sonic manipulations, Lanois applying what he’s called his Black Dub techniques to form rippling waves of sound from DeLuca’s slide guitar and voice. On “The World,” rumbling drums, handclaps and acoustic slide back DeLuca chanting “There’s a world of hurt coming down on me.” On other songs the music is less adorned, notably the acoustic, almost country “Thief in the Moon” and “Will Strike,” the latter a duet with a woman calling herself Soko.

It’s on “Through the Fire” — one of the several not produced by Lanois — that he gets close to the recent live sound, producer Simon Katz boosting the low end of the block-chording on the lap-steel, an earthy echo to DeLuca’s sky-high wails for a one-man Jimmy Page-Robert Plant effect. Or, more accurately, a new ghost of the Delta sounds that inspired Page and Plant in the first place.


What new music are you listening to this week? Let us know in comments.