Tijuana No!

Contra-Revolución Avenue

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OK, something isn't right when a group reaches their third album and its most noteworthy points are the continuing questions about their identity and the big-name guests they pull in. This time the roster includes Kim Deal, H.R. from Bad Brains, Fishbone's Angelo Moore on saxes, East L.A. rapper Frost, and Fermin Muguruza, but ultimately all the sound and fury add up to nothing much musically. At first, it seems like Tijuana No! has learned their lesson, as "Gente" organically incorporates flute and changes up the lead vocalists. The Frost-produced hardcore rap and psycho keyboard sounds on "Stolen at Gunpoint" connect with Tijuana No!'s radical political sensibility -- so does the internationalist "Sin Tierra," but its rocking ska flavor by whooping trombone before a modified reggae breakdown fits the group better musically. But after the midway point, as the raging guitar quotient rises through "Travel-Trouble" and "Killing Brothers" in a final blitz that never comes together convincingly, the suspicion that Tijuana No! still lacks a strong sonic identity only gets stronger. Funny thing is, the answer seems to be right in front of them -- the only times Tijuana No! ever show any real musical personality comes when keyboardist Cecilia Bastida steps up to take the lead vocals. "Nadie Dijo Nada" is a solid, punchy rocker about street crime with Kim Deal's spoken English vocals playing off of Bastida's singing in Spanish. Even if a second pass at "Spanish Bombs" -- a bit more rocking, but with trombones adding more clutter than melodic weight -- isn't really necessary, it's still the best thing Tijuana No! has ever done.

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