Rio - Aterciopelados
Fans of contemporary global music pick and choose their favorite artists from a grab bag of the obscure and the curious. No doubt there's a certain pride of exclusivity to be enjoyed by hoarding these treasures, which rarely make their way into the mainstream consciousness." Pearls before swine", we say! But, it's often accompanied by a sense of frustration, for the artists' sake, that they haven't been afforded a larger audience. We have to admit that practically, it's often a tough sell. Despite music's universality, language still creates barriers. Walk into a music store and ask for the latest by Colombia's beloved alt-rock pioneers, Aterciopelados. First, try wrapping your tongue around it then, try to spell it for the stunned clerk behind the counter. Plus, the band's principals, Hector Buitrago and Andrea Echeverri are a couple, and who can sell the image of two sweethearts with guitars, singing and gazing longingly into each other's eyes? Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. 'The Velvety Ones' have rocked through 8 studio albums plus Hector and Andrea have recently released two successful solo albums independent of each other. The Latin Grammy winners seem to possess an inexhaustible flow of creative energy, seamlessly blending global elements into accessible, Northern-style hooks and melodies. And, it's all extremely relevant. Rio, their latest and quite possibly finest album, takes it's name in tribute to the Bogota River, a watershed for a large percent of Colombia's population, severely contaminated by industry. Their songs can also boldly decry political injustice or inequality toward women. One of the the disc's highlights, Hijos de Tigre (Children of the Tiger) takes aim at the senseless violence plaguing Colombia Their work is rich and poetic, sweeping in scope and humanity like the murals of Diego Rivera, yet tidy, tight and funky like the underground clubs where they cut their musical teeth. Rio is to buy, cherish and share, not hoard if possible.