Leah Callahan – Smell
David Lee Roth, quite memorably, decried the music critics’ embrace of Elvis Costello over his band’s own work, saying that most likely the critics felt a kinship due to likely resembling Elvis rather than the flamboyant Roth.
Maybe there’s some truth to that mean, clever excerpt. It is true that critics, especially, like to wax poetically about punk rock. However, few seem to remember how quickly many punks converted to the New Wave, New Romantics, and Plastic Pop routines as quickly as they could. Duran Duran began as a punk band meets Bowie and ended up being MTV darlings. Paul Weller left the Jam to start the Style Council. Even Elvis Costello flirted with jazz and classical music.
Leah Callahan seems to have a similar dilemma on her hands about where her allegiance lies. The well-written single Smell takes inspiration from the stylish new-wave era, features some slick arrangements, but unmistakably contains some of the anger and harshness of punk-rock—a good formula made unique by a fresh songwriting voice.
Loco Tranquilo – Golden Flower
Chances are that if you’ve grown in Europe or the USA on a mixture of records and videos, you couldn’t have heard modern South American music, apart from the Latin-Pop explosion or a few Carlos Santana guitar solos. If, like me, you were from anywhere else bar South America, it is likely that you would have found it even harder to get to know these recordings.
For the majority of people that hear Tropicalia artists and those of a similar ilk, the experience is akin to seeing colour for the first time. Music never felt as flavoursome, rich and well-intended.
If you have not yet heard that kind of music, Argentina’s Loco Tranquilo could well represent your portal into a holy world of sound. Golden Flower is a mixture of South American 60s pop and its Western counterpart, provided in an innocent, imaginative manner. It’s the Latin Syd Barrett with all the hopefulness still showing in the madcap’s eyes.