London gypsy-punk quartet Mano De Dios will not endear themselves to English sports fans with their name, referencing a notorious 1986 football World Cup incident when Argentina’s Diego Maradona, playing against England in a highly charged post-Falklands War fixture, illegally punched the ball into the goal and attributed his team’s subsequent victory to “the hand of God.” Thankfully, anybody not harbouring quarter-century-old sporting grudges will find much to love in this ebullient debut. Mano De Dios boast members of Spanish, Cuban and English provenance and their forte is a vivacious, irresistible strain of flamenco-hued Latin party music that suggests an edgier, more attitudinal take on the Gypsy Kings. Their trump card is Spanish singer/guitarist Jackson Scott, whose prodigious songwriting talents incorporate punk, rumba and samba tropes while never straying far from good old rock ‘n’ roll. He ladles sly spaghetti-western guitar over “Lay Your Head Down,” channels Sandinista-era Clash on “Need Some Light” and tartly berates a no-good woman on “CrÃ¨me Caramel”: “I hope someone stabs you out like a dirty cigarette.” Yet Mano De Dios’ mood is always resolutely upbeat: Even “Why Do We Do It,” lyrically a melancholic musing on human fallibility, sounds as exuberant and abandoned as Rio Carnival, as does all of this kinetic, irreverent and life-affirming debut.
By Wondering Sound Staff on 12.11.14 in Features
Five music critics discuss the best, worst, and most significant moments in Latin music this year.
By Michaelangelo Matos on 12.08.14 in Reviews
For all the quality mining of African oldies over three and a half decades, it's not as if the coffers have been exhausted. Far from it, especially judging from this nonstop display of one of the great bands of the Congo...
By Claire Lobenfeld on 11.29.14 in News
Spice, Jamaica's queen of dancehall, is gearing up to release her debut EP So Mi Like It. With her contribution to Vybz Kartel's "Rampin Shop," another bananas collab between the two called "Conjugal Visit" and her most...
By John Schaefer on 11.24.14 in Reviews
In this 50th-anniversary romp through Terry Riley's In C, a brilliant ensemble of Malian musicians (mostly playing traditional instruments) joins forces with Damon Albarn, the globetrotting frontman of Blur and Gorillaz;...