By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Linkin Park are on a mission to seamlessly blend rock with rap, and they’re coming closer than most to successfully melding the rhymes and the riffage. There’s no tradeoff on Hybrid Theory; the album retains all the street-level grit and grind of the heaviest of their contemporaries, while introducing genuine musicality and actual songs to the mix; credit producer Don Gilmore (Eve 6, Pearl Jam) for subtly sweetening the melodies while retaining the band’s considerable natural fiber. Unlike so many of the come-latelys in this genre, Linkin Park have both the angst and the artillery. (Paul Rogers)
FÉLIX BALOY Baila Mi Son (Tumi)
Cuba has long been famous for its music and the special flavor of its tropical rhythms. When a revolutionary political system felt it necessary to silence that music — music that is like blood running through the veins of the Cuban people, like the sweet juice extracted from their sugar cane, or the magical aroma of their cigars — the music fell into a deep sleep. Félix Baloy, born in Mayari in the Oriente region of Cuba, began singing at a very early age, bewitched (like many Cubans) by the immortal vocalist Benny Moré. When the revolution came and Baloy had to work as a milkman, as a shoe repairman and on the railways, it was as if the music had died.
In 1996, Juan de Marcos, the inspiration for and director of the now-famous Buena Vista Social Club (he’s called by his musician friends “the Christopher Columbus of Cuban music”), created his Afro-Cuban All-Stars with singers such as Omara Portuondo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Pio Leyva and, of course, Félix Baloy. Baloy’s de Marcos–produced first solo CD, Baila Mi Son, showcases his powerful voice, and with the accompaniment of his Afro-Cuban friends, gives us the pleasure of once again enjoying romantic and sweet boleros like “Después de Esta Noche,” hot rumbas such as “Misericordia, No Aguanto!,” sones montunos in “Mami te Gusto” and cha-cha-chas from the ’50s in “Ven a Bailar el Cha-Cha-Cha.”
Juan de Marcos has established his own “seal,” bringing us this big band of wonderful long-lost Cuban musicians and songs to make our minds travel back to the unforgettable and unreplaceable ’50s with a salad of sones montunos, boleros, cha-cha-chas, guaguancos, changuis . . . Traditional Cuban music has once again awakened to urge people to shake from their feet to their heads and, little by little, beat the system to come out victorious. (Carlos Manuel Costa)
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE Forbidden Love (Barsuk)
Only Death Cab vocalist Ben Gibbard could deliver a phrase like “screaming drunk disorderly” with such malaise. The Washington state–based quartet has been tagged a shoe-gazing emo band, and the foggy listlessness that pervades this EP (on the heels of We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, released last year) is probable cause, but Gibbard brilliantly walks the line between that genre’s self-absorbed wallows and the terminally ironic detachment of many indie-pop poets.
One can hardly imagine Modest Mouse crooning earnestly about courting schoolteachers, boys and “the letter jacket that wasn’t yours to own” (from the tender, ’50s-inspired “Technicolor Girls”). Gibbard manages to swing from this innocence (albeit bittersweet and plagued with childish arguments and dashed hopes) to full-blown disillusion and dysfunction in less than 20 minutes — without losing his understated wit: “Misguided by the 405 ’cause it led me to an alcoholic summer/I missed the exit to your parents’ house hours ago” (from “405”). The band’s music doesn’t follow Gibbard’s downward spiral, but remains a solid incarnation of the moody/minimalist/melodic indie pop that young people sprinkle sugar on and swallow whole. And why not? Despite critics’ ceaseless comparisons to Doug Martsch and Built To Spill (each one of them deserved, mind you — and can you name a better mentor?), Death Cab is irresistible: the three-quarter lilt of “Song for Kelly Huckaby,” its double-tracked vocals and high-hat hiss, or the warped folk of “405,” whose Kristin Hersh–style strumming shimmers more than jangles.
Gibbard’s stinging lines spill over into bar after bar, unforgiving reminders of your own shrinking aspirations and receding youth. “And as they all grow older/the truth will be understood/because we never turn out the way/we thought we would.” (Kristin Fiore)Laurie Anderson photo by Lynn Goldsmith; Linkin Park by James Minchin III