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El Poder de Machín

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Album Review

Amparanoia's debut album falls firmly in the new European mix mold popularized by Manu Chao, but a strong set of songs and Amparo Sánchez's authoritative vocals establish a distinct identity. The jumping-off point for the group's well-structured songs and spare arrangements on El Poder De Machín isn't ska or reggae, but Latin music — for instance, the percussion section uses congas, bongos, and the flamenco cajon instead of a regular drum kit. Bright horns, propulsive rhythms, and catchy chorus hooks drive festive numbers like "La Semana" and "En la Noche," the latter the first sign of the multi-lingualism (the verses are delivered in Spanish, French, and English) that is a natural part of Amparanoia's style. But the Latin influence extends beyond salsa adaptations — "Que te Den" and "Mi Amor Se Fue" have Mexican roots, the latter starting off as a boozy cantina lament with accordion before a mid-song shift to an up-tempo celebratory romp. Sánchez's blues-singing background comes into play on "Moreno," and Robert Johnson's electric guitar solos here and on "Me Lo Hago Solo" have a bluesy tinge. Even though the Manu Chao influence is evident — his "Sidi Beach" anticipates the sound of Clandestino and the Sánchez/Chao collaboration "Buen Rollito" (aka "Welcome to Tijuana") makes its first appearance here — El Poder de Machín clearly bears Amparanoia's creative stamp. And the main source of that identity is the personality projected through the powerful voice of Amparo — a voice that sounds good-hearted and generous, open and inviting.


Formed: 1970 in Granada, Spain

Genre: Latin Alternative & Rock

Years Active: '00s

Amparo Sánchez ranks as the queenpin of the internationalist Euro-mix force gathering steam behind Manu Chao, a close friend and sometime collaborator. But the individual, festive blend of elements Sánchez has put together combined with catchy songs and her powerful singing gives Amparanoia a distinct identity. The constantly changing sound works off a Latin, reggae, and rock foundation and lyrics offering social critiques drawn from daily life struggles more than political slogans. Born in Granada,...
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El Poder de Machín, Amparanoia
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