Musical compilations tend to capture the highlights of the represented genre, while also showcasing the individual sounds of the artists.
“Viva Cackalacky! Latin Music in the New South” is no exception, capturing the classic sounds of Latin music in a refreshing, atypical way.
UNC students and David Garcia, associate professor of music at UNC, produced the Latin music compilation, which includes songs that were recorded and performed in N.C. during the past 20 years.
Rey Norteno’s waltz-ode to Raleigh opens the album with male a cappella voices singing, “Raleigh, North Carolina, I carry you in my heart,” in Spanish
The style shifts completely going into Jimmie Griffith’s “Joyce,” a jazzy, mellow song with a pervasive bass and scat-style vocals.
“C’est Hot” invokes Latin dance music with blazing horn lines while “Pescador de Hombres,” a slow religious ballad performed by the Newman Center Choir, softens the album and rounds out its generally hot, wild atmosphere.
The screeching violins and sloppily-sung lyrics in El Mariachi los Gavilanes’ “Cielito Lindo,” conjures merry images of a loud, lively mariachi band.
“Announcements and Prayer” seems out of place, mainly for listeners who do not speak Spanish. It is a recording of a pastor saying a prayer at a church in Durham.
“Translation” is the standout of the album. The only song with English lyrics, it highlights the Durham-based hip-hop outfit The Beast working with fellow Durhamites Orquesta GarDel, making for an entertaining and soulful blend of Latin music, jazz and hip-hop. It breaks up the compilation, and the track doesn’t even stick to one sound itself, skipping from one rhythm to another.
Overall, the album traces a small history of Latin music in North Carolina and its influences in genres, ranging from folk to hip-hop.
Regardless of one’s usual musical preferences, is worth a listen for anyone and everyone looking to expand their musical horizons.
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