Thursday, December 21, 2006

Quetzal at the Echo, December 23

This fiercely Chicano outfit from East Los Angeles have been honing their decidedly nontraditional mix of urgent cultural pride and political activism for more than a decade, but, four albums later, it still sounds brand new. The band’s latest, Die Cowboy Die (Quetzal Music), finds them in a transitional mode, from lineup changes (new vocalist-keyboardist Quincy McCrary brings a soulful edge) to vibrant vocalist Martha Gonzalez’s meditation on impending motherhood, “Breast Pump Waltz.” What hasn’t changed is their fiery political voice, be it the perpetual debate over the U.S./Mexican border on “Migra” or an unflinching shot at America’s colonization power trip on the simple but effective title track, which wears a strong Morrissey influence in both Gonzalez’s vocal inflection and the sardonic lyricism: “The killing of millions of people/Now you must die/Genocide missions no longer justified.” Ain’t that the truth.

(Originally published in the LA Weekly, 12/06)