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Rare Fusion: Los Coscorrones, November 28 at Bent River Brewing Company PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Tuesday, 24 November 2009 07:39

Los Coscorrones

The Quad Cities band Los Coscorrones sounds like it finds its groove so effortlessly that it's easy to fall into the Santana vibe and explore no further.

But the quintet -- which will be celebrating the release of its self-titled debut on Saturday at Bent River -- is deceptive, couching some thrilling instrumental interplay in party songs that repel analysis with rote lyrics, gang-vocal refrains, and most critically irresistible hooks. In that way, the band crafts smart music disguised as something lesser, and it's never so smart that it's no longer fun.

Santana is the obvious source of the rhythms and many of the guitar leads by John Nache -- "We're all huge fans [of Santana]. That's a really big inspiration," said drummer Max Tapia -- but there's a clear heavy-metal influence, too, with a progressive bent. That's not much of a surprise, given that bassist Carlos Terronez and guitarist/lead singer Tom Vretis came from metal bands.

On the instrumental break of opening track "Banana Mango," a solid, straightforward guitar solo is followed by two guitars dueling over a throbbing bass, prog-rock-like, for nearly 30 seconds, and that leads to a lovely keys- and bass-led interlude that segues into more twin-guitar fireworks, but slightly softer this time.

On "Case Fiesta," the final intertwined guitar solos come straight from metal school, both in terms of speed and the use of a two-guitar attack. "Just Jose" draws heavily from the guitar harmonies of metal bands such as Metallica. It might be missing the dynamic range and an epic scope, but it plays like "Orion" with Latin rhythms and percussion. And "Orale Ese" even throws some hard-edged rockabilly into the mix.

"We touch base on a lot of different things," Tapia said, and it's a cliché that in this case is true. Although it's not on the record, Tapia said there's a hip-hop element that's recently been added to the band.

Recorded and co-produced by Ray Malone at Sound & Vision Records, Los Coscorrones is clear and well-defined, the compositions are tight, and there's a welcome attention to detail. On a lengthy workout between Tapia and percussionist Segio Mendoza on album closer "Maria Juanita," a bass rumble is barely perceptible, more felt than heard.

Yet that type of subtlety can often be lost if you're not paying attention. Throughout the album, catchiness obscures complexity -- an admirable thing. The loose group vocals on many choruses and occasionally sloppy playing are charming and make the recording feel more casual than it actually is.

But the words undermine those accomplishments; they sound like placeholders and are the least interesting thing about the record.

The lyrics have a companion problem in the songwriting: As structures for jamming, they're fantastic and efficient, but there's not much to many of them beyond that. Three of the eight songs here have by-the-numbers openings, a deficiency that's highlighted by the introductions to the other tracks -- such as the piercing guitars of "Just Jose" and the four-note keyboard cheese of "La Muerta Es Mi Amor." When something is as consistently invigorating as this record, the weak spots stand out a little bit more.

But what's plainly evident from its debut is that Los Coscorrones have abundant musical talent and, when the band is on, it hits a rare twofer: simultaneously accessible and challenging. If it works some on its songcraft, this band could become lethal.

Los Coscorrones will play a CD-release show on Saturday, November 28, at Bent River Brewing Company (1413 Fifth Avenue in Moline). The bill includes E-Sho, music starts at 10 p.m., and cover is $4.

For more information on the band, visit MySpace.com/loscoscorrones. The group's CD will be available at shows and at Mixtapes (830 15th Avenue in East Moline).

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