I have to confess that when I listen to music, I don’t always take the time to appreciate true instrumental mastery/artistry. I’m mostly sold on hooks, melody, and sometimes whether or not I can run to it on the tread mill. I’m not saying that I have poor taste in music. It just so happens that a myriad of really talented groups/solo acts pass my requirements with ease. I listen to the likes of everything from Rufus Wainwright to Basement Jaxx to Vince Guaraldi and all kinds of cool crap in between. No, really! I’ll show my iPod, I swear! I have the latest White Rabbits album! But, I listen to these people because I like their songs. I wouldn’t really know what makes one drummer better than another drummer or who the best bassist in rock today is or anything. It’s like, when it comes to someone’s musical ability, it’s not just that I don’t take the time to ‘smell the roses’, it’s also that I wouldn’t really know, technically speaking, great musicianship if it slapped me on the bass. But sometimes, you hear a musical act that is just so in your face kind of gifted that you can’t help but see what they’ve got. You can’t avoid their skill. It’s like my friend Stu said about Django Reinhard’s “Minor Swing”. It’s a great little ditty but I had absolutely no idea that it’s one of the hardest songs to play. (Apparently it is…we had a bit debate about whether or not Johnny Depp REALLY played it in Chocolat. Well, today’s great thing is so obvious in their awesomeness, that they punch me right in the nose.
102. Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintera used to be in an almost famous thrash-metal band out of Mexico City. They were called Tierra Acida. But that’s not where i know them from.
I first saw their guitar-plucking, strumming, and thumping on the teevee. BBC 3 was showing their performance at Glastonbury a couple of years back.
These two play with an almost circus-skill quality. Their dexterity and rhythm with their classical/folk guitars (see, I don’t really even know the difference so I’m just saying that they are both classical and folk so that I’m only wrong once…wait…is there even a difference? Anyway…) their dexterity and rhythm with their guitars amazes me in ways that are typically reserved for trick bartending and double dutch jump rope.
Before I blather on more about their guitar heroics, let’s watch a performance. This is them playing their original composition, “Tamacun”, live.
The awesome twosome currently live in Dublin. They totally cashed in their chips in Mexico when their thrash band’s deal fell through. Though they still count classic metal outfits as a main source of inspiration, what they produce now is more traditional Mexican and Latin in origin–with the odd cover song thrown in–“Stairway to Heaven” for one.
Speaking of covers, they also do a super-cool version of “The Oogie Boogie Song” from The Nightmare Before Christmas…such a good soundtrack…and their version just makes them that more endearing as a musical outfit. There’s a whole Nightmare cover album available on iTunes. Most of it is emo-tacular and not worth the dollar download . (Unless you still buy the majority of your clothing from Hot Topic.) Word to the wise though, Devotchka ALSO do a great Nightmare overture…and Datarock have a decent track there too…Here’s the R y G cover:
Anyway, as I was saying, they currently live in Dublin. They must be suffering a bit with the weather, especially because of their point of comparison…you know they’ve got to miss the Mexican sun. But, the location was recommended to them by a fellow musician because it’s so busker-friendly. The twosome also found that they were making more money for their original compositions than they were when they played covers. I guess Ireland appreciates the culture exchange more than most.
It’s Rodrigo who provides the knuckle-blistering lead guitar and Gabriel on the percussion-esque bass. Rodrigo’s skill, even noticeable to me–the uneducated music lover–is amazing and Gabriela’s style is so unique that you can’t help but be wowed. They’ve got a new album out 11:11, on which each track is dedicated to a musician who inspires them (Santana and Hendrix for example) and it looks good. Christmas list here it comes.
One final treat…here’s the video for diablo rioja…by the way it IS a good song to run on the treadmill to.