El Vez

Boxing with God

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El Vez has a gospel swagger that is undeniably charming on Boxing With God, his bizarre 2001 release. Where, in the past, the El Vez gimmick was entertaining without being consistently good, now it has a cheery Beck meets 1991-era Primal Scream vibe going for it that really makes the character work. The strongest part of the revitalized act is how much the instrumentation and background vocals are utilized, the music shifts its shape to fit the song without losing the individuality that defines El Vez. "Can You Kali" is a swing number that benefits from backup singers that are straight out of Robbie Williams' "Rock DJ," while his cover of "(Living) La Vida Loca" has the creepy Nick Cave thing going for it, except for El Vez obviously has a much more bizarre sense of humor. Other notable tracks include his reworked Iggy Pop cover "Lust for Christ" (which is not as sacrilegious as the title suggests), the driving punk-pop of "Mater Dolores," and his tribute to both Aztec gods and "Heartbreak Hotel," "Quetzalcoatal." The joke can wear thin after a while; his lyrics can be sharp sometimes, but at other times he sounds like a Latin "Weird" Al (albeit without the hair). But, anyway you choose, this may be one of El Vez's high points, so fans of the oddball impersonator should give this a listen, and curious listeners may want to give this a chance, also.

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