Chikita Violenta

Tre3s

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AllMusic Review by

Those who've attended the SxSW or Coachella music festivals have been lucky enough to encounter Chikita Violenta. Over the course of two previous albums (including the lauded Star & Suns Sessions, produced by Dave Newfeld in his Canadian studio), the killer 2008 single/video "Laydown," festival appearances, and a relentless West Coast touring schedule, the quintet have begun to establish themselves on the North American scene. Tre3s, their third full-length (also produced by Newfeld in Canada) makes it easy to see why. This set finds Luis Arce (vocals), Andres Velasco (guitar), Esteban Suarez (guitar), and Armando Ortigosa (keyboards) using Newfeld as a musical collaborator and producer. While Chikita Violenta have established themselves with a lo-fi guitar-oriented approach to Superchunk-style pop, they've allowed Newfeld to bring his bag of tricks fromhiss past work with Broken Social Scene (Lisa Lobsinger guests here), Wintersleep (Loel Campbell, too), and even the Most Serene Republic (Tony Nesbitt-Larking appears as well): from a million part-layered ghost harmonies, thunderous drums, multi-layered, distortedguitarss, and the wedding ofmanipulatedd tape and underwater-sounding ambiences. None of this is a bad thing. Chikita Violenta's guitar-centric sound and tautly written songs are still at the center of this album's beautifully ragged architecture. Check "ATPG," with its infectious hook, womb-like surf guitars, and thrumming kick drums, which rise to meet an anthemic vocal chorus, for evidence. "All I Need's a Little More" lets fuzzed-out guitars and broken clock-ticking percussion which meld jaggedly with distant refrains that sound like an entire elementary school is singing the chorus. The entire scope of the production stretches the articulate songwriting into a washed-out beyond. "España," with its backmasked guitars, feedback, distorted kick drums, and sonic keyboard washes force the taut melody to the breaking point, making excess a wonderful thing. Newfeld has sharpened the band's focus while exponentially expanding their sonic palette. It's true that Tre3s still finds Chikita Violenta seeking a sound completely their own, but they're closer than ever, due in large part to the improved quality of the songwriting and arrangements. The set is a truly joyous, celebratory, and tripped-out listening experience throughout. ["Laydown" is included as a bonus track.]

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