July 19, 2016

San Lazaro | La Despedida

ARTIST: San Lazaro
TITLE: La Despedida
LABEL: HopeStreet
San Lazaro is a band from Melbourne, Australia that’s making some of the most multifaceted, sophisticated Latin music I’m hearing right now. The eight-piece combo includes two Chileans, two Cubans and an Australian of Chilean descent; their music touches on salsa, Cuban rumba and son, cumbia, Chile’s nueva cancion movement, Catalonian rumba (a whole different animal than Cuban) plus elements of rock and funk. This is the kind of pan-Latin mixture that American bands like Grupo Fantasma and Richmond’s Bio Ritmo are employing; I had no idea I’d hear something similar from the southern end of the world. Every song has a surprising twist: 2 could be a salsa dancefloor filler until it breaks down into deep roots rumba in the middle, 3 has Grupo Fantasma’s mix of salsa and screaming psych-rock guitar, 4 is San Lazaro’s unique take on cumbia and chicha, 6 is a dubby downtempo jam that morphs into the kind of sax-and-percussion breakdown you’d find on a 70s free jazz record, and 8 sound like the Gipsy Kings with a lot more clave. Surprising and impressive.
TOP TRACKS:    2    3    4    6    8
ALSO RECOMMENDED:    1    5    7    9    10

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