Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Los Difuntos - s/t

While a bit long at 40 minutes, Los Difuntos’ self-titled album generally comes off as a stirring love letter to Hellcat Records, combining Rancid’s attitude (and vocals) with Tiger Army’s psychobilly stomp. Spanish for “The Deceased,” Los Difuntos don’t reinvent the wheel so much as take it for a joyride, skirting the edges of goth, rockabilly, and punk without overindulging in any one direction.

I wasn’t kidding about the Hellcat love letter, by the way. Check out track eight, “Memories.” Frontman Christian Torres sings, “You’re my inspiration like yours is Strummer.” Later he says, “Well now that I know you and you know me / My music and my main goals are complete.” Given that Rancid Records released the band’s EP Born, Raised and Passed Away… there is no doubt that Torres is singing straight to Rancid mastermind Tim Armstrong. Which is totally cool. That guy wrote “Ruby Soho.”

For further Rancid romance, hit up track two, “Lucy.” Arguably the strongest track on Los Difuntos, “Lucy” features a duet between Torres and Rancid/Operation Ivy/Devils Brigade bassist/vocalist Matt freakin’ Freeman. The song is about a gal who makes a few dozen poor life decisions, so it’s a little weird when Freeman starts singing in the first person about making mistakes. I guess Lucy smokes 10 packs a day. Still, it’s always awesome to hear Freeman on the mic.

Musically, the record bears a bit in common with Tiger Army as well. The only thing missing from intro track “Rise of the Deceased” are the words “Tiger Army never die.” Surf rock jam “Dirge” is a pretty cool showcase of the band’s musical chops, and the use of theremin sounds deliciously spooky.

Lyrically, though, Los Difuntos come off as a little juvenile at times. “Poseur Josh” really takes this Josh guy to task for, oddly enough, liking psychobilly more than punk rock. “You Don’t Know Me” gets weirdly specific about another douche nozzle (Sample lyric: “Kramer look-alike, you got nothing on me”). And I could do without the gang violence of “Born, Raised, Passed Away (In East L.A.),” although I do get a kick out of the accidentally meta line “Trying to survive in this rancid place.”

Still, fans of psychobilly (also Rancid, Rancid, and Transplants. I mean Rancid) should dig Los Difuntos. The tunes are fun overall, although I’d love to see what the band is capable of once they get passed their Rancid worship. Sure, Armstrong still talks up his love of the Clash, but he also had the cojones and skill to out-Sandinista! that band with Life Won’t Wait.

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