Cordero

En Este Momento

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Slimmed to a quartet and label-hopping to Bloodshot for its fourth release, Cordero also strips down its sound. Only frontwoman Ani Cordero and husband/drummer Chris Verene remain from the last album, and the duo refine their Latin/indie rock attack to make it more aggressive and tightly wound. Trumpeter Omar Little adds many of the flourishes that connect the band with its Spanish roots, but even when he sits out the occasional song, as in the opening title track, the group doesn't miss a step. Verene's percussive flair brings a tensile touch to much of this album, starting with the throbbing "Heart in Me," a track that wouldn't be out of place on an old Pretenders album. The same applies to the following "Come on Dear," that even features a short drum solo, but one that fits so comfortably into the song that you don't realize it's there until it ends. There is certainly some of Chrissie Hynde's tough and tender dichotomy in Ani Cordero's direct yet sensitive vocals, whether she sings in Spanish or English, or sometimes both in the same song. Producer Tony Maimone, one-time bassist in the original Pere Ubu, understands the power of simplicity, keeping the instrumentation sparse yet the sound full. Although there are vocal overdubs, the overall effect is of a sturdy, rugged, and uncompromising rock band led by an emotional singer not prone to excess. Cordero finds its Latin heart on edgy melodic tunes that unflinchingly pulsate regardless of which language you are comfortable with. Ballads such as the lovely "Gone with a Gamble" feel just as natural as the thumping, more ominous rocker "Mama Ven a Buscarme." Similar to an indie version of Los Lobos, understanding Spanish is secondary to enjoying the intensity of Cordero's vision and the sheer enthusiasm of its music. Slower, moody tracks such as the portentous "Close Your House Down" dominate, but there is plenty of muscle here, it's just used sparingly. The band and the album are a unique and powerful combination of light and dark, Latin and American, as well as indie and commercial. That results in the most focused release yet from this intriguing bilingual band.

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