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NYC band deftly balances Latin styles and modern rock.

CD Review: Cordero – En este momento

When I am scanning through the radio stations in rural Eastern Washington, it seems like half of them are Spanish-language stations, and 99% of the time the music irritates me. It is ironic that I enjoy Latin music in general, but I cannot stand to listen to most of the music picked up by my car radio. If only these radio stations would play Cordero, then I would be listening to them every chance I could.

Cordero is a Latin rock band out of Brooklyn that should be in the music collection of anyone who enjoys getting down on the dance floor at a rock concert. They have seemingly effortlessly merged Latin rhythms into slightly angular rock with an end result that is infectious. I am not a fan of the public dance floor, but their fourth album, En este momento (Bloodshot), had me shaking my stuff around the living room (with the blinds down and the cats looking on).

As with their previous recordings, En este momento contains a balance of Spanish and English language songs. Unfortunately, the liner notes do not contain the lyrics, and since my Spanish is very rusty, I could pick up only a word or two of those tunes. However, this did not diminish my enjoyment of them, and, for example, I quickly found myself singing along with the response toro in the song “Matadora.”

Ani Cordero is the lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter for the band. The rest of the quartet is comprised of her husband and drummer Chris Verene (Rock*A*Teens), bassist Eric Eble (Kings Country Queens), and trumpeter Omar Little. The liner notes do not indicate the identity of the cowbell player on “Maria Elisa.”

I particularly enjoy how Cordero makes use of such a small assembly of instruments to create very atmospheric settings for many of the songs. The best example of this is “Close Your House Down.” The song is a warning of an impending storm with both a physical and emotional implication. The warning itself starts off with vocals, guitar, and minimal percussion. As the storm approaches, the intensity and tempo picks up, and then ebbs away like the wind.

The English language lyrics are thoughtful and well crafted, so I must assume that the Spanish language lyrics are much the same. Ani Cordero often uses repeating lines to emphasize the message in the song, in addition to the usual musical queues. Many of the songs are about relationships, and really, if you think about it, most songs in general are about relationships of some sort. In this case, they tend towards the personal and less of a third-person perspective. “Heart In Me” is one of my favorites for the shear descriptiveness of it:

I’ve got your heart in me
Don’t know when I’ll ever be free
I’ve got your heart in me
I’ve got your heart in me
You better come on home and reclaim what’s yours

Another song that speaks directly to the subject is “Don’t Let Them Destroy You.” The chorus repeats, “You can’t let their small minds destroy you,” and seems to be speaking to someone who has been wounded by an intolerant community. The protagonist is attempting to give comfort and sympathy to the subject of the song. She tells the subject that they could move to another place, “but wherever we go, there will be those who don’t know that one day they will reap what they sow.” This one hit home for me. I have lived in places of intolerance. As our government leaders use our differences to divide us, I feel threatened by those who seek homogeneous communities where diverse thoughts and opinions are not welcome. I’ve come to realize, as the song states, that no matter where I go, I will still find some form of intolerance. The song gives a bit of hope to folks like me, and that is one of the greatest gifts a songwriter can give.

You can give the cats a night off and go shake your stuff at a Cordero concert near you. They’re on tour for most of the summer. Here are a few upcoming dates/locations:

Date Venue CityState
4/23/2003SanctuarySan AntonioTX
4/25/2006Rhythm RoomPhoenixAZ
4/26/2006Chain ReactionAnaheimCA
4/27/2006EchoLos AngelesCA
4/28/2006Trilogy TheaterVictorvilleCA
4/29/2006Bottom of the HillSan FranciscoCA
4/30/2006The AtticSanta CruzCA
5/2/2006Dante’sPortlandOR
5/3/2006Tractor TavernSeattleWA
5/5/2006Avalon TheaterSalt Lake CityUT
5/6/2006Larimer LoungeDenverCO
5/8/2006BottleneckLawrenceKS
5/9/2006Sokol UndergroundOhmahaNE
5/10/2006Triple Rock Social ClubMinneapolisMN
5/11/2006Vaudeville MewsDes MoinesIA
5/13/2006Beat KitchenChicagoIL
5/14/2006Red Stone RoomDavenportIA
5/16/2006Grog ShopClevelandOH
5/18/2006Great ScottAllstonMA
5/19/2006West Hartford ChurchWest HartfordCT

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