Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

Record Review: “Traditional Songs and Dances from Colombia” by Son de Pueblo

Chicha, Cumbia, Latin, Record Reviews, Salsa, World Music No Comments »


Colombian pop music is well known in alternative circles thanks to the efforts of bands like Aterciopelados or individual performers like Juanes or Shakira, but the country’s traditional sounds are not as widespread, and are often confused with the ubiquitous Andean music that is played on the streets of many major American cities.

This new release from Son de Pueblo is a great document of the various musical styles played around the country, and they run the gamut from cumbias, salsas and charangas (to name a few). Their arrangements are not at all dated; for instance, “La Cumbia Cienaguera”  blends traditional percussive instruments with a very funky electric bass and electric piano, and “Moliendo Café”  showcases the classical and jazz influences among the band members—the track begins with a Villa-Lobos-inflected flute intro that is followed by an intricate piano solo. Read the rest of this entry »

Record Review: “Cuatro Tigres” by Chicha Libre

Alt-Rock, Chicha, Cumbia, Latin, Pop, Record Reviews, Tropicalismo/Tropicália, World Music No Comments »


Brooklyn-based Chicha Libre started out playing covers of obscure psychedelic songs from Peru, and on this four-song EP they come full circle with a collection of inventive takes on pop tunes reimagined into the chichi format, starting with a very personal take on the “Simpsons” that expands on the TV version by adding some improvisation and a more danceable beat. They recreate Love’s classically inspired “Alone Again Or,” as a song innovated by featuring a mariachi band in the middle section, something quite uncommon in the late sixties. They also pay tribute with “Guns of Brixton” and also include “Chicha Rica,” a song that I could not trace but I am sure comes from bandleader Olivier Conan’s treasure trove. Read the rest of this entry »

Tropicalismo: Chicha Libre takes Peruvian Psychedelics To New Heights

Chicha, Experimental, Folk, Folk-rock, Folktronica, Latin, Tropicalismo/Tropicália, World Music No Comments »

By Ernest Barteldes

The latest release from Brooklyn-based Chicha Libre is a feast to the eyes even before it reaches your ears. The words “Canibalismo” shout out in bright yellow, white and red letters with a background of rainforest vegetation–a clear reference to the late 1960s tropicalismo movement that started in Brazil as a response to the psychedelics of America and Europe during that time.

Asked about the cover, French-born Olivier Conan (who also co-owns Barbès, an alternative performance space in Brooklyn, NY) says that the reference was intentional. “We meant to reference Tropicalia,” he says over an e-mail interview. “The album is named ‘Canibalismo’ after Oswald de Andrade’s autophagous manifesto, which was Tropicalias’ manifesto—and while the graphic style wasn’t derivative, it does evoke that era.” Read the rest of this entry »