Saturday, June 2, 2012

Fernando Madera -- Self Titled album Review

Another indie CD, another review... and it's not really a surprise that I like this latest buy. I first heard of Fernando Madera last year when a good friend of mine suggested I go to reverbnation and listen to the demo posted. I did. The song was the second track of the CD, Aquellos Tiempos, and I loved the sound. It surprised me because the page lists them as "Alternative" and to me, that track didn't really fell on that category. Anyway, it was definitely a funky track and I wanted more... well, I had to wait a year but here it is!

Listening Setup:
PC connected via USB to NuForce Icon HDP Dac/Amp, Denon D5000s and Beyerdinamic DT70 Pro 80
Archos 7 with FLAC copies running through JDSLabs c421 amp using same headphones.

* I did not test with the Sennheiser HD600s...
** I like to post gear used because different setups == different levels of enjoyment/details (i.e. most people like listening to music in their cars stereos, others in their home theater setups and me, over good headphones...)

On to the tracks... we start with:

1) Agua Pasada: This track is a bit of a trip... Mixing great drumming, dreamy guitar and percussion bits which really gives life to the track. Fernando's voice comes into play very laid back and pleasant. Minelis "Mina" Mendez takes care of the second half of the song and masters the song as well as Fernando. They sound good together. Guitar solo is kind of lacking but the song is good  to start up the CD. 

Note: "I heard a great deal of sibillance with their voices... Headphone users with cans that accentuate the high-end region, be aware..."

2) Aquellos Tiempos: As mentioned, had already heard this track a while ago. Seems it was already finished as I didn't really catch any differences other than a better quality output. This one has a Chorus SO catchy that I find myself singing it from time to time! Trombones/trumpets play a very BIG role on this one and it is what I like the most here, they give such great life and atmosphere, they really stay with you. The bridge of the song, Fernando singing, I noticed so much coloration on his voice... kind of like "acting". It seems it's his style though, a lot of singers do it...

3) Magnifica Ecuacion: Again we go back to a soul-ish/funky track but this time with hints of Bosa Nova! Using subtle "wah" on the guitar, Fernando voice soothes on this one. What I like the most though, the bass playing! Love the progression of it from a "normal" pace, to bosa, to "normal" again. Very laid back song great for a rainy afternoon sitting on the sofa and just doing absolutely nothing.

4) A la Vuelta: This is DEFINITELY my favorite song of the whole album and the most "pop" sounding one. Surprisingly is also the one with less instrumentation. Call me a sucker for just an acoustic (probably because that's the only thing I can play! ;-)) but the guitar, his voice and that freaking sweet violin on the  background, GIVES ME CHILLS!!! I really hate that Alberto Graulau (violinist) hehehe. I first heard of his work on his CD with Camuy's Ricky Santiago (I have two of them: "Boricua en Turquia" and  "Influencias") but on this track, he really nails it! Love the final verses too (used them as a Facebook status! lol):
"Alucinando letras, haciendo del papel algo de mi.
Cual extenuado poeta, que se entrega a la palabra para vivir..."

Those dug deep because for the longest time I've had writer's block and those words made me figure out why...

5) Tuvos: Great song, nice tempo, reminds me of soul, kind of, with decent use of acoustic and a "wah" effect. Great use of the wind instruments here. Regarding lyrics, I'm not sure if it was a "play on words" but the title of the song is "Tuvos" and I'm not sure if they meant "Tu Voz" (Your Voice...) The only "bad" thing is that I associate this song to porn!! LOL I know, don't laugh! The mix of 70s "wah" and Mina singing: "El tunel de tu boca alejandose..." I don't know... Still great laid back song, really "loungy" and for some reason, the song I like Mina's singing the most. Can't grasp the "why" yet...

6) Pretexto: Very nice song, keeps the pace similarly to the other songs on the CD. This, to me, dwells on that Alternative/Pop genre. In fact, it kind of reminds me of another great band that I haven't heard in a long time, "Jarabe de Palo". A couple of "cliche" lines, and some vocal "misses" (especially when going low) but good work nonetheless.

7) Beso de abril: Piano-driven ballad track with Alberto again adding his violin. Such good story-telling on the lyrics a couple of great lines too! I think this is the track which showcases the lyrical ability of Fernando. Lovely track, great delivery.
8) En otro Lugar: Pace stays slow but instrumentation picks up. It's an "Ok" track, but I guess that after listening to "Beso de abril", this one feels "dull" maybe even too similar in style to the previous ones.

9) Debajo de tu Piel + Bonus: This is in my opinion the most "trippy" track on the CD. Again, tempo is similar to the previous tracks, "wah" is called upon again to perform its magic but what surprised me the most was the chord progression when singing: "Hoy te vuelvo a ver, hoy te vuelvo a ver...". It feels weird, different but in a good way! After the song is done, an acoustic bonus track is played... can be skipped... :-p

Conclusion: This CD shows the talent we have here in Puerto Rico, talent that sadly no one pays attention to. If it was an "insert random at the moment hot producer" CD, we would have the tracks on the radio but THANK GOD for the internet and indie shops such as this one. Unlike the last PR indie CD I bought (the latest from Mima) this one is completely enjoyable with excellent instrumentation and delivery. I can envision giving it a lot of play time in my Car stereo, in fact, some of the tracks just call for that, you know, driving along 'x' road, clearing your mind for a bit and just listen...

Anyway, I give it 4 out of 5 "chocolates"... ;-)

Only a couple of misses, production is not the best out there, but a great job by all.

No comments: