Los Rabanes


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"Ecolecua" is a bit of Panamanian slang for something that's particularly right on or well said, and the title of the fifth album to be released by Los Rabanes in just ten years. Although the group has been making the pilgrimage north to Miami for over half of that time to lay down its inimitable blend of calypso, hip-hop, reggae, funk, and rock en español at Crescent Moon Studios under the guidance of Emilio Estefan, Jr., Ecolecua marks the first time that lead vocalist Emilio Regueira Pérez also takes production credits. The result is a collection of 12 songs that pay raucous tribute to Los Rabanes' bar band past even as they explore new musical territory. Nowhere is the interplay between old and new more evident than on the title track, a protest song with a metallic overture but a rhythm that's closer to Puerto Rico's latest spin on hip-hop, reggaeton. Fans of the genre will also appreciate the collaboration of rapper Don Omar on "Rockton"; those who prefer classic Marley can groove to "Raíces," while sassy brass and guest musician Osvaldo Ayala's accordion on "El Sinvergüenza" and "Panama" serve to the connect the younger crowd members to their Latin dance roots. Another highlight is "Otra Noche Más," potentially the best thing that's happened to surfers since Manu Chao came out with "Me Gustas Tu." Given the quantity and quality of experimentation here, it's not surprising that Ecolecua scored a fourth Latin Grammy nomination for Los Rabanes, this time for Best Alternative Album. They lost to Ozomatli, a band from L.A. well known to American audiences -- but with continued creative momentum and increased international penetration, it seems likely that the trio from Chitré, Panama, will have its turn at the podium soon.

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