Wednesday, 2 November 2016

World Tour

l-r: Yokozuna, Mexrrissey, Arbor Labor Union
Week 9 - North America (pt. 1)

So what exactly is "North America"? Depending on who you talk to, it could comprise of different nations and/or regions. What isn't in doubt is that the USA and Canada are definitely part of North America, but the rest of it? Commonly, Mexico is included in the definition, as is Greenland, Bermuda and French island province of St. Pierre & Miquelon. Sometimes the Caribbean is included, including Cuba and Puerto Rico, plus the countries of Central America.

Whatever. The geo-political aspect of it isn't my concern - I'm here for the music. This is probably one of the richest regions for pop music in the entire universe, so it's not going to be terribly difficult to find good stuff, particularly in the States and Canada. However, we're starting off in Mexico. Leaving Guatamala City, we can drive it, bus it or fly it. Hmm, bus could be fun. It'll take a while and we'll have to change en route, but hopefully it's worth the hassle.

Now Mexican music is not all about acoustic guitars and trumpets played by moustachioed hombres in big hats you know. You'll know that, of course, from Monday's post about an unforgettable Le Butcherettes gig I recently attended in Cardiff. There are plenty of other really good noise merchants in the country. Yokozuna, for instance, play crunching post-hardcore riffs with extra HEAVY on the side. Hailing from the capital Mexico City, the duo has released three albums and two EPs so far, and are named after the former American wrestler Rodney Agatupu Anoaʻi who adopted the ring name Yokozuna.

Interestingly, there's another band called Yokozuna based in London who also play loud, noisy sounds not unlike this lot. Don't confuse the two. My guess is the London band don't speak Spanish quite as well.

Prometéa is taken from (the Mexican) Yokozuna's third album 'Quiero Venganza' released in 2013. It's a blinder, a bit like Royal Blood with bigger balls and shoutier voices. Both very good things. The video's a lot of fun, too.

Before we leave Mexico, I have another little treat from the capital for you. Now, we all know our favourite old misery guts, Mr Stephen Patrick Morrissey, has a fondness for Mexico, and Mexico, in return, adores him. So it comes as little surprise that we should find a Morrissey tribute band here. Mexrrissey sound unlike other Morrissey tributes though. They embrace the more traditional Mexican sounds as they recreate Salford's favourite son's hits. They recently released their debut album, a mix of studio and live interpretations of the great man's work. Here's a couple of examples of what they do. The video for the first one was filmed at Salford Lads Club. How's that for authenticity!?

This one is live at a London bus stop. Yes, really...

Onwards, and into the USA. After that mammoth bus journey, I'm wimping out and hopping on a plane. Where are we headed? New York, the home of Punk? California, home of the Beach Boys? Maybe Detroit, home of Motown? Or even Seatlle, home of grunge. Nope, nope, nope and nope. Not this time. A plane from Mexico City takes us over the Gulf of Mexico to the Georgia capital Atlanta. From there it's a short bus ride to Athens, home of one of the most important bands of my life - R.E.M. Also, of course, The B-52s, Pylon and Arbor Labor Union. Arbor who?

Earlier in the year, SWC and Badger contributed a series of articles to JC's place called 'The £20 Challenge'. Quite, quite brilliant it was too, as is everything that pair puts together. Anyway, in one particular episode, Badger recounts how SWC gave him a memory stick with lots of music on it. One of the albums included was the debut from Arbor Labor Union, and he posted its opening track Mr. Birdsong. Well, to say I was blown away would be an understatement.

This album, entitled 'I Hear You', has become one of my Top 5 records of the year so far, and one I turn to when I need a bit of a lift. Think 'New Adventures In Hi-Fi'-era R.E.M. crossed with Talking Heads and The Hold Steady with a touch of The Fall and the Blue Aeroplanes thrown in. You likey the soundy? If you didn't get the hint from Badger's piece back in June, then please, for the sake of humanity, do so now. Here's a couple of songs from it.

Next week we go further North. Like, MUCH further North. Bring yer woolies...


  1. How did I miss Arbor Labor Union first time round?
    Terrific stuff

  2. I'm listening to a lot of Canadian band at the moment. The Band Who's Name is a Symbol, Shooting Guns, radiation flowers, Moths and Locusts and Hawkeyes to name but a few!

  3. A couple of American bands I'm listening to, Asteroid #4, Ghost Box Orchestra, Heaters, the Myrrors, Carlton Melton, Jason Simon and White hills