Piñata Protest


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When you hear the bracing mix of norteño accordion and punk rock of Piñata Protest, it sounds so natural that you'll wonder why it took so long for a band to come up with the mix. Norteño aka conjunto music is already a fusion music, born when the Germans and Czechs brought their polkas and accordions to Texas. Their rhythms fit neatly into Mexico's ranchera style, and with the addition of rock and swing to the mix in the '50s, the result was the Tex-Mex sound many gringos are familiar with thanks to the work of Freddy Fender and Doug Sahm. The San Antonio musicians in Piñata Protest -- Alvaro Del Norte on accordion, J.J. Martinez on drums, bassist Marcus Cazares, and guitar player Matt Cazares -- grew up listening to the Clash and Dead Kennedys, rejecting the traditional Mexican music their parents listened to. When they realized that norteño could be just as political as punk, they merged the two for a sound that the generations can enjoy together. Del Norte tends to dominate the arrangements with his faster-than-light finger work and in-your-face vocals, but he's given ample support by the driving rhythm section and the grinding, distorted guitar of Matt Cazares. Strong tracks include the ska-punk of "Jackeee," the story of a runaway fleeing from the life she hates; "Denied Rights," a blistering protest song with snarling guitar that quotes both "The Mexican Hat Dance" and Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff"; and "Love Taco," a surprisingly poignant song about a dysfunctional relationship. With almost every tune bursting with energy, humor, fine musicianship, and searing topical lyrics, this is the kind of punk album that will inspire anyone who hears it.

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