deSol [2004]

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When Ritchie Valens and Carlos Santana first combined rock with Spanish lyrics, they paved the way for the rock en Español revolution of the '80s, '90s, and 2000s. Valens and Santana (arguably the Jimi Hendrix of the barrio) were primarily English-language rockers, but even so, their occasional use of Spanish left a lasting impression -- and everyone from Maná to Shakira to Los Fabulosos Cadillacs owes them a debt of gratitude. These days, rock en Español is such a huge industry that for Latino rockers, English is an option rather than a requirement -- an option that New Jersey's deSol successfully takes advantage of on this promising debut album. Most of deSol's lyrics are in English rather than Spanish; even so, the Latin flavor is impossible to miss on gems like "Chica de Miami" and "Blanco y Negro." A few of the tracks are in Spanish (including the infectious, cumbia-influenced "Cumbia Raza"), but most of the time, deSol reminds listeners that Latin rock isn't necessarily rock en Español (which is something one may tend to forget if he/she is has grown accustomed to hearing Maná, Caifanes, Shakira, Gloria Trevi, or Cuca performing mostly or exclusively in Spanish). In terms of rock, soul, and Latin influences, this band gets a lot of from the '70s; deSol is obviously well aware of artists like Santana, El Chicano, Azteca, and Malo, and other influences from that era range from the Rolling Stones to Stevie Wonder to Fania Records (the Motown of salsa). But deSol isn't a carbon copy of '70s music; at times, the group incorporates hip-hop, which started in New York City in the late '70s but didn't have a huge international impact until the '80s. This memorable effort indicates that deSol is a band to pay very close attention to.

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