LOS VIGILANTES - Los Vigilantes (Slovenly Recordings)
In the last year I've seen or listened to more ragged garage bands than most of you have whinged about the weather. I've endured more crap than than a proctologist whose patients are addicted to laxatives. I've listened to the same three chords played ad infinitum, sometimes very badly and often in the same order. We all suffer for our art, sometimes moreso for the art of others.
It hasn't all been bad - far from it - but you do get a bit jaundiced at times. You get to the point where you need a break from Vox amps, de-tuned Rickenbackers and album covers showing pudgy middle-aged men with pudding bowl haircuts. I can honestly say two things: This is the first Puerto Rican garage band album I've listened to end-to-end. And it's very good - to the point of being addictive.
Fourteen tracks of scrappy but charming rock and roll adorn "Los Vigilantes" and each has an original idea or three. Elements at play include call-and-response singalongs, cheesy organ and dry guitars. Male and female vocals mix it with catchy melodies, whistling and throbbing bass and drums.
There are knee jerking barn-burners and doo-wop. There's even a cocktail-shaker acid psych song ("Eres Tu") that would stand up against any "Nuggets" classic and a vocal ("Nunca Sabras") that's so dumb sounding it could have been put to tape by Dee Dee Ramone.
Los Vigilantes aren't unknowns, relatively speaking. They've had a cut on a Norton seven-inch compilation called "Their Hispanic Majesties Request" and a previous single on Slovenly. They don't sound remotely polished. Nor should it be. There's apparently a thriving garage and punk scene in Puerto Rico but I can't imagine that means recording budgets are big.
Every song is in Espanol so I don't have the faintest idea what they're singing about but rock and roll being a universal language this is no barrier to loving this record. At least the title of a song like "No" doesn't need explanation to a monolingual dummy like me - and it rocks, too. As a rubber-lipped man once said: "Es sólo rock and roll, pero me gusta."
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