Puerto Presente

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The fifth album by this multicultural outfit from Barcelona offers few surprises but confirms everything that is good about Macaco. Singer and songwriter Dani Carbonell delivers another set of life-affirming tunes set to a catchy mixture of reggae and rhumba enhanced by electronic touches. Comparisons to Manu Chao are unavoidable, although by virtue of being a band Macaco have a more organic sound than Chao's patented "one man and his laptop" collages. Furthermore, while Carbonell's lyrics also deal mostly with the itinerant lifestyle, they tend to be more optimistic as they repeatedly stress the importance of living the present. A sailor's life is Puerto Presente's main metaphor, with plenty of references to the sea, traveling, brief encounters, moving on, and always looking forward to the next harbor. Predictably, the entire album oozes the international peace-loving/rebel vibe of Bob Marley and John Lennon. Both icons are dutifully quoted in this album, as equally are fusion flamenco guitarist Raimundo Amador and legendary Catalan songwriter Joan Manuel Serrat. These four artists together can neatly be taken as Macaco's cardinal points. Puerto Presente is above all a cohesive album with a great listening flow. Songs are virtually interchangeable, but all are strong to the point that any could have been a single: "Amor Marinero," "Seguiremos," "Tengo," and it goes on. The chosen one, "Moving," however, did not do badly at all as it featured in the popular soccer video game FIFA 09, as well as in a video for National Geographic's Earth Day that included cameos by Juanes, Juan Luis Guerra, Rosario Flores, Carlinhos Brown, and Javier Bardem, among others.

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