Wednesday, 26 October 2016

World Tour

Week 8: Central America

Moving north up the Americas, we could possibly get to our next destination by road, but it's a long way round, and a lot lot easier to fly. So taking off from Quito airport in Ecuador, we touch down in Costa Rica. Now I don't know much about Costa Rica other than you get good coffee beans from there, and their football team is one of a few who have embarrassed the English side in recent years. What I've recently found out though is that there's a rather excellent band from Costa Rica called The Great Wilderness.

Formed in 2009 by vocalist/guitarist Paola Rogue and drummer Andrea San Gil, The Great Wilderness released a couple of EPs and a standalone single before their debut album 'In The Hour Of The Wolf' surfaced in 2013. The early stuff was very much of a shoegaze nature, while the album saw a slight shift in dynamic with heavier drums and guitars. It's exceptionally good. But... that single, Dark Horse, from 2011 is ingeniously-titled as it might turn out to be one of the best things you'll hear on our World Tour. It's an epic beast of a track, nearly nine-minutes in length.

I've decided to post the radio edit as I don't want to give too much away - the full version can be obtained through the band's Bandcamp page on a pay-what-you-want basis (like the rest of their catalogue) so I suggest you get round there now.

We're heading for the smallest, but most densely-populated country in Central America next. We could easily fly to El Salvador in a couple of hours, but let's make it interesting, eh?  Let's drive it - 14 hours from San Jose to San Salvador all being well. Puts me in the mood for a bit of instrumental post-rock in the form of El Sueño de Camila (or ESC as they sometimes call themselves). Not exactly prolific this lot - just the three singles and an EP - but it's more about quality than quantity. Simul was their first track and wouldn't sound out of place on the new Wedding Present album!

A much shorter drive now. It's just a few hours to Guatamala City in southern Guatamala. Now this is a country that was not only ruled by dictatorships for the first four decades of the 20th Century, but dictatorships backed, for commercial reasons, by the United States government! In 1944, a successful pro-democracy military coup initiated a decade-long revolution before it was ended by another military coup backed by - guess who? Yep - the US of A - the land of the free. Ha! A long civil war followed which included the massacre of indigenous Mayans. Good old Uncle Sam, he can always be relied upon to kill and maim in the name of the American people and its own corporate interests. So glad the UK is his best friend - boy, do I feel safe!

Anyway, let's not linger too long on the down-side of Guatemalan history. We're here for music and it's where we'll find ska-punk band The Killer Tomato. They've been making a joyous racket since 2008 but have been rather sparing with the releases - just the one album and a couple EPs. The closest comparison I could make to a band you'd know would be Snuff. Great fun to listen to, even better live I would guess.

Amigos de Medio Tiempo (something like Part-Time Friends? My Spanish is worse than my Welsh...) comes from the 2014 EP 'La Gran Mudanza' which, along with the album, you can grab from The Killer Tomato's Bandcamp page for a few bob (or nowt at all, if you prefer). They have a new single there too.

Wow! I feel invigorated now, which considering the amount of miles we've covered so far is pretty good going. Continuing north next week...


  1. Manhattan at JC's place and Central America at yours
    Geography was never this fun when I was at school
    The nearest I have to a Central American record is Sandanista!

  2. Guatemala! Now that's impressive, Robster. I don't believe I own a single song from Central America. I don't know if you'll be going to Mexico, but have you ever heard of the genre called narcocorrido? These are songs, usually ballads, about the drug cartels and what the drug war has done to the Mexican people. Some of these musicians have literally died for their music as savage drug lords have shot up bands who dare to sing about them. Not the kind of music for your world tour, but it's a fascinating story not many know about.

    I just caught up with your last couple of entries too. What is it about Australia and New Zealand? Is it the water. So many great bands have come from there.