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CMJ '08: Spanish Castle Magic

Sounds From Spain, a promotional organization for the Spanish music industry, cozied up at Ace of Clubs Wednesday for CMJ to showcase some of the best music I've seen in a while. I caught Depedro, Aaron Thomas and the Right Ons, each representing a different sound on the spectrum. Because of a lot of music is so niche-specific these days, Sounds From Spain was an excellent addition to CMJ. Aside from the music having a different cultural appeal, much of it fused genres perfectly.

The Ace of Clubs is a small place with little tables crammed against the walls and adorned with flickering candles and beer bottles. People crowded in to dance to the mellow Latin groove Depedro delivered; the sound was a savory fusion of haunting folk and blues steeped with that special Latin brand of sensuality. I definitely heard strains of Calexico as the band played, ornamented with the use of a cello, but leader Jairo Zavala's energy is what really stood out. His eyes lit up with every chorus, prompting the sitting to stand and the standing to dance.

While Depedro was mellow, the Rights Ons turned up the dial. I heard traces of Led Zeppelin and the Stooges in their sound, though they were totally modern. Sort of like Jet if they were out of Madrid, their youthful energy set the tone. Between the drummer/singer and the guitarist/singer, they screamed the classic one, two, three, four! and mastered the call and repeat. These guys were funky.

I caught Aaron Thomas and his band at the second day of Sounds From Spain at the Annex, and this show really solidified the experience. Unlike The Right Ons, whose youth and energy seemed a little forced and unlike Depedro, who were especially accessible to people who have a penchant for calmer music, Thomas had a handle on the wild and passionate as much as he did the mellow.

Besides Thomas on acoustic guitar, the band consisted of a cello, keys, drums and back-up female vocals. They had that special capability of building such a thick, lush wall of sound that is seemed impossible it was fueled by only five individuals -- and only one acoustic guitar. Cracking a few jokes in his Australian accent and playing "the only positive song I have," which he dedicated to his wife, Thomas seemed unaffected by the glamorous appeal of CMJ and sincerely enjoyed performing for the 3 p.m. crowd. -- Lisa Marie Basile

October 26, 2008 in CMJ | Permalink


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