Ok, technically this album was released late 2010 by the world-travelling, genre-bending, Basque Spaniards, but the deluxe edition that I obtained was dated 2011, and frankly, the deluxe part was the deciding factor in determining album of the year status. Plus, I’ve been listening to it throughout the year, so it’s permanently become a part of my 2011. What made it deluxe, you ask? That version of the album included five of the best tunes performed in enlightening acoustic renditions. How were they enlightening, you say? I’ll get to that in a bit.
Solar System is the opening track and the group’s statement of intent in a bunch of aspects. First off, it hits us with a powerful thudding bass drum that evolves into a more full-fledged digitized percussion beat much like many of their dub-step-inspired drum and bass foundations. It then comes down to offer us a peace offering, an acoustic guitar and vocals delivered with a worldly swagger, “Pais Vasco to San Francisco/all the girls my Casio-tone/Daddy-o, Mammy-o/I went to England and tried to find my soul.” Proud of their Basque country heritage they are, and with a smooth confidence they embrace it. Follow has a sweet Spanish guitar riff that gets you moving, while Xstatic Truth offers a harsh truth of life backed by another Spanish-twinged guitar riff – the acoustic version of which is spoken in their native Spanish tongue. Champion Sound isn’t just a rehash of a traditional Basque dance number, it’s an all or nothing declaration. Two options: end up in rehab, or go back to Argentina, to, “play my concertina/to an arena full of people/or dream my life away/dreaming of the day I would.” The ironically titled At Home makes me feel like hopping in a car and booking it for the coast, whichever coast is farther away from home. Certainly road trip material. Also, the most indie sounding track on the album, if that’s something you might be interested in (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBh0SpDoVZw&feature=related).
The deluxe edition acoustic tracks show select tunes sans dubstep-inspired womp womps and other electronic adaptations. Now, I wouldn’t say that those electronically advanced sound profiles detract from the music, in fact, they are one of the first things that pique a new listeners interest. However, after multiple listens, you can see how those additions may be a tad trendy – as if they are pandering towards that fad-chasing audience (no offence dubsteppers). But after hearing the acoustic tracks, rife with organic hand-drumming percussion, woody pipes, and traditional txalaparta of Basque country in Spain, you can rest assured that these guys (and gals) have roots in an authentic and unique musicianship – something that I highly respect. And you should, too.