Las Rubias del Norte: CD Release
What if America had lost the war for cultural imperialism and Latin music had become the common language for popular sounds the world around? Ziguala, the new record from Las Rubias del Norte could very well be the answer. The group hails from Brooklyn, but its members work in a parallel universe which barely acknowledges the predominance of American musical values. Fronted by vocalists Allyssa Lamb and Emily Hurst, with rich backing from a seven-piece ensemble, Las Rubias traverse a global map whose often blurry sonic borders are hued with what Jelly Roll Morton once called “the Spanish tinge.”
After two albums – Rumba Internationale (2004) and Panamericana (2006) – that evoked a 1950s air, the musicians add new colors to their palette and ramble further in their repertoire for Ziguala. The band bids farewell, for the most part, to its beloved glockenspiel and brings in some zesty Farfisa organ, hints of distortion, some surf guitar and the vaguely mutant presence of effect pedals. But that’s not all. There’s also marimba, vibraphone, Hammond B-3 organ, and a string quartet sitting on a couple of tracks. This vivid instrumentation fires up a kaleidoscopic array of songs plucked from traditions – from Bollywood to Tex-Mex, Neapolitan folklore to Kurt Weill – that aren’t always what they seem.