The raperos-rockeros of Molotov are chilango to the core, but forgive them if they didn't shed nostalgic tears for Mexico City while recording Dance and Dense Denso in our own Mexican metropolis.
“Statistically speaking, Los Angeles is the second largest Mexican city, so we felt right at home,” says drummer Randy Ebright via telephone. “We'd record a couple of tracks in Echo Park, then go down the street for tacos. I don't even think we spoke English much. It was as if we never left el D.F.”
English, Spanish, Mexico, L.A., it doesn't matter: Molotov make any terrain their plane of resistance. But the group have been more of a raucous rumor than a functioning band these past two years. The quartet — Ebright, guitarist Tito Fuentes and bass bastards Micky Huidobro and Paco Ayala — took a sabbatical after 2000, reuniting only to contribute selections for the Y Tu Mamá También soundtrack and the Los Tigres del Norte rock en español tribute album.
It's testament to the radical essence of 1997's ¿Dónde Jugarán las Niñas? and the following year's Apocalypshit that Molotov maintained their reputation during the furlough for scorching as viciously as the band's eponymous cocktail. The drag, however, was that accusations of vapidity remained, something Ebright doesn't immediately dismiss as insulting. “To be honest, we're a little bit more mature, but not too much,” he laughs. “We're definitely more conscious of what we're saying, but we still don't give a shit.”
Dense Denso finds Molotov wisely tempering their negative excesses. The misogyny plaguing much of ¿Dónde Jugarán? is now limited to “Changüich a la Chichona,” an irresistible platter of food wordplays (“I got some hot beef for that rump roast/But you gotta say please/I'll dig into that thigh every time/But hold back the cottage cheese”) that combines Tom Jones' dinner romp with the booty beats of Sir Mix-a-Lot. They've reduced the bro-rawk bravura to the half-joking Spanglish declaration “Here we come and we don't care mucho” on the strutting funk hunk “Here We Kum.” And the rapped howls, legs-akimbo guitar wrenches and drum pummeling that accentuated Molotov's sledgehammer approach now echo over a nuanced landscape of anarchy, with reverb replacing distortion and surprisingly strong voices edging each track with gravitas.
Molotov continue their furious ways on Dense Denso, to be sure: Ebright's batterings and Fuentes' cutthroat chords on the title track — an ode to the Eden that is the slam pit — will leave eardrums blackened and bloodied. But this invitation to destruction also instigates listeners to consider the many problems Mexico endures, which the following 36 minutes detail.
The only salvation Molotov offer is through their infamously heretical humor, and Dense Denso doles it out like a dose of the dozens. The aforementioned “Chichona” and “E. Charles White” (the latter incorporating critiques of Ariel Sharon, Vicente Fox and Carlos Salinas within its roll-call rhyme scheme) spring from the same chalice of rich puns and double entendres from which Mexico's legendary subversive entertainers like Cantinflas and El Piporro once imbibed. The bizarre “I'm the One” — imagine a Huggy Boy dedication transported to D.F.'s colonias — counters its message of Sartrean individualism with a too-lush female background singer; urban unrest has never sounded so saccharine. On “No Me Da Mi Navidad (Punketón),” the wry electronic plea that the government fund punk bands morphs into a condemnation of a country that abandons dissident children to their own wits. “Tell me, what are you going to do with street kids?” Fuentes asks the Mexican nation. “Let them die,” replies his country's discombobulated voice.
Dense Denso burns brightest in slow, seething numbers like “Hit Me,” whose ringing guitars and nervous drumming heighten the dueling laconic drawls of Ayala and Huidobro as they urge solidarity in the face of the Fox regime. And then there's the already-anthemic “Frijolero” (“Beaner”), a song prompted by Ebright's own experience with racism.
“My wife's Mexican, and our baby is part Mexican,” Ebright says. “And every time we cross the border, I see the stereotypes they face. This American arrogance toward Mexico is pretty in-your-face, but it also seems to be what's governing the country nowadays.”
A halting polka driven by bitter accordion wails, “Frijolero” takes Sly Stone's quandary of niggers and whiteys and transplants it to a Southwest setting of “fucking beaners” and “pinche gringos.” Taking note of imperialistic presidents and militant Arizonan ranchers who fire at the undocumented, the tune mournfully concludes that there's simply no solution to the racism radiating from the northern bank of the Rio Grande.
Ebright shrugs when asked about Molotov's sharp turn away from boorishness. “We write about things that are around us,” he says. “It just so happened we're writing in a time of huge American arrogance and continued Mexican government corruption. The problems are everywhere.”
Molotov perform at the Palace on Wednesday, April 2.
MOLOTOV | Dance and Dense Denso | (SURCO)
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