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Imaginaries

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Album Review

A band based in East Los Angeles, Quetzal seek to "create good music that tells the social, cultural, political, and musical stories of Chicanas and Chicanos of East Los Angeles and their kindred spirits, locally and around the globe." They generally succeed in both of those goals, though not evenly across all songs. The album opens with a beautiful 5/4 composition that blends the two purposes handily: with a deceptively light touch and tight harmonies, "2+0+1+2=Cinco" proposes a future environmental dystopia; "Time Will Tell" and the spectacular "Luz y Miel" are similarly well-crafted songs that pair a message of social uplift with a compelling musical concept. But when things fall flat, the thud can be pretty loud. On the lyrical side, there's the inexcusably mean-spirited "Duérmete," in which a "cynical man" gets his apparently just reward by being hit by a bus; despite its infectious son montuno beat, the song is just nasty. And one doesn't have to be a political reactionary to be a little bit discomfited by the uncritically supportive "Intifada," nor does one have to be a starry-eyed romantic to be dismayed that the message of "Todo Lo Que Tengo" — a simple and tenderly gorgeous song of romantic devotion and commitment — is tempered in the album's liner notes by carefully correct politics: "The individual is important to the marriage and/or community, but not at its expense." The band's forays into 1970s-style soul-funk ("Witness," particularly) are also pretty underwhelming, tending to privilege dense harmonies and starry-eyed Aquarian lyrics over discernible melodies.

Biography

Formed: 1994

Genre: Alternative and Latin Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Based in Los Angeles, Quetzal is an eclectic, unpredictable Mexican-American outfit that combines a variety of Latin influences (Mexican as well as Cuban, Spanish, and South American) with rock, soul, jazz, and folk. The band doesn't specialize in mariachi, ranchero, or Tejano — three styles of music that are quite popular among Mexican-Americans — but they have been influenced by traditional Mexican folk. Quetzal favors a bilingual approach; some of their lyrics are in English and some...
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Imaginaries, Quetzal
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Contemporaries