“I listen to mediocre music so you don’t have to.”
That was my snappy comeback when someone asked what I do for a living recently. A bit snarky, I admit, but pretty spot-on. Between my work as a DJ and my so-called career as a writer, I spend the bulk of my time trying to find the rare gems buried in an ever-growing gravel pile — or at least give readers and listeners the straight dope about hotly-hyped titles.
But there are other individuals, my dear colleagues in publicity and promotion, who earn their living trying to convince me each and every damn piece of gravel deserves to be set in a band of 24-carat gold. Sometimes they’re right: The albums and bands they’re shilling truly merit consideration. But the reality is, there is far more new music — good, bad, ugly and otherwise — than I have hours in the day to listen. And they know that, which is why they resort to all kinds of crazy assertions to get my attention. Today alone, my mail contained one press release that promised ” …this album will actually make your life better,” and another claiming a CD enclosed sounded like “a strange intersection where Void meet Incredible String Band.” Where have I heard all this before? Oh, right… the Shins will change my life.
All of which is a roundabout way of directing your attention to Mexican combo Matorralman. Their U.S. debut album, Guataque Estelar, is being promoted as “where Duane Eddy meets Esquivel.” And you know what? That’s exactly right. It melds surf rock, French ye-ye music, psychedelia, kooky stereophonic effects, and lots of twang-laden guitar into groovy tunes perfect for your late-summer shindig. Heck, the title even translates as “stellar party.” The project is the brainchild of a composer and producer from Mexico City, Miguel Rizo, and his work recalls charming electro-lounge long-players like Towa Tei’s Future Listening!, Mocean Worker’s Enter The Mowo!, and Ursula 1000’s Kinda Kinky. But don’t take my word for it. You can stream the entire album here.
Will this record change your life? Probably not. But Matorralman is a lot of fun — which is life-affirming, in and of itself — and these tunes will undoubtedly start popping up in car commercials before you know it. More importantly, Guateque Estelar delivers exactly what it promises: A stellar party. In the doldrums of late August, that’s more than enough for me.
DJ El Toro hosts the variety mix show on Wednesday nights from 9 PM to 1 AM on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle and kexp.org. His column, “Weird At My School,” appears every Monday on the KEXP Blog. Please follow DJ El Toro (aka Kurt B. Reighley) on Twitter!