Kinky

Atlas (Sonic 360/Nettwerk America)

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The release of Kinky's sophomore album, Atlas, perpetuates Mexico's domination of the rest of the Latin American rock scene. It reflects the band's determined search for an organic dance-rock sound that feels way more vivid than the original set of loops, samples, and prerecorded songs it presented on its self-titled 2001 debut.

Yet bilingual lyrics play a crucial role in its crossover to a Western audience. The optimistic first single, "Presidente," is a perfect example: "De qué color es nuestro presidente?/Verde, rojo, blanco es el presente/ You paint everything in color/Instead of black and white," sings Gil Cerezo, as he asks what color defines President Vicente Fox. Of the three colors in the Mexican flag, which, he wonders, would best suit the leader ("Is he Green/Greedy?/Red/Pro-war?/Or White/Pacifist?").

Conceived on an isolated ranch in Mexico and completed in Los Angeles, Atlas unveils several gems. John McCrea, who leads the Sacramento alt-rock band Cake, is one of its believers. McCrea's duet with Cerezo on a Colombian cumbia called "The Headphonist" is one of the album's highlights. Equally remarkable is "Snapshot," rooted in an old Mexican style known as quebradita that's very popular on both sides of the border. The rest goes easily with the flow.

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