Somos Cordero

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Somos Cordero means "We Are Cordero." Such a Walt Whitman-esque statement can either enrage or endear a listener unfamiliar with the material, and on the New York by way of Georgia indie-Latin-rock hybrid Cordero's sophomore release, it's the latter that prevails. The cosmopolitan five-piece (Puerto Rican, French/Spanish, and American) is led by vocalist Ani Cordero. Playing off of her vision, the group processes pop music through a filter of many colors. Equally confident in Spanish or English, Ani's breathy croon can be both wistful ("These Quiet Nights") and dead sexy ("Abuelita"), resulting in a collection of songs that alternately engage and tease the listener into submission. Musically, the band is fascinating. While there is a definite indie rock sensibility to the rough-around-the-edges production, the arrangements are wildly creative and executed with little or no pretension. They seamlessly blend the sultry world of Latin music with new wave, psychedelia, and FM rock -- the wordless refrain at the tail end of "Traveler" is a dead ringer for Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes" outro -- without falling prey to the know-it-all music critic/record-store clerk lack of brevity that befalls many of New York City's musical practitioners. "Emiliano y Jovita" and the aforementioned "Abuelita" benefit from the addition of the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra's rhythm section, and "You Could Have Been Mine" features some searing staccato guitar work from Lynn Wright, eliminating any doubt of the band's commitment to its favored genre. Calexico, Los Lobos, or Café Tacuba fans -- as well as anyone looking for a little heat with their rock & roll -- should keep an eye out for this record.

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