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Mexicolas - X Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 May 2008
ImageX by the Mexicolas is a pure example of why I miss radio so much. I’m talking real radio here, not the homogenized pabulum the broadcast monopolies push down our throats. I’m talking about that time not long ago when you could flip on any number of stations and be given the opportunity to hear something new, different, exciting. The chances of having that happen today are slightly less than those of winning the lottery. Call me lucky because I found out about Mexicolas when I happened to turn on an Indie 103 weekend show that plays imports.

X is a rock record. At times it sounds like Charlie Sexton singing lead for Soundgarden and at others, as on “Big in Japan,” it could have been scooped right out of the early ‘80s and plopped down onto your ancient turntable. X is filled with power ballads (no shit), wall shaking god-of-thunder rockers … and sensitive piano tunes. There are quirky riffs, sledgehammer power chords, and spine-twisting arrangements galore. It’s a ton of good music from a Birmingham, England trio that I would have never been exposed to except for a chance listen to an import show on a Saturday morning. Are you starting to get my very unsubtle message about the sick state of radio?
Mexicolas have released two of the songs as singles in Britain, “Shame” and “Come Clean,” and both are better than anything I’ve heard on the U.S. airwaves over the last couple of years. “Come Clean” is pure genius and will probably show up on CSI in the next month or so (if it hasn’t already). It’s powered by tribal drums, grungy guitars and a tweaked Gavin Rossdale-sounding vocal, the kind of song you choose when you need a Sunday morning wake up call for those neighbors who have been giving you grief. “Shame,” on the other hand, is high-octane dynamite that will have you singing “Give me back my soul” before you even consider what the song is about. They’re both mega radio hits waiting to happen. That is, if you could hear them on the radio.

And with those two incredible songs the grand secret behind X is also revealed. It is one of the best-produced records I’ve heard in years. And by “best-produced” I mean playing, singing, writing, arranging, recording… the whole shebang (not to be confused with Ricky Martin crapola). From the octave bagpipe guitars on “Times Infinity” to the tremolo-drenched arpeggios of “Lovers are Not Enemies,” the Mexicolas team seems to have made the right choice on every cut. As evidenced when “Lovers” erupts into its pile-driving Foo Fighters-style chorus. It sounds completely natural and will rock your home theater system in a way it has needed to be rocked for a long, long time. It’s been very lonely waiting for that Fall Out Boy CD to finally end.  

I’m totally digging this release that I accidently stumbled across on the radio one Saturday morning. Um, did I happen to mention that, or the sorry state of music on “free” broadcast radio? Well, I guess it’s not a sorry state if you like Linkin Park ‘cause you can turn on KROQ any time of the day and they’ll show up within 10 minutes or so.

That’s not to say that X is without faults. Most of the tempos fall into the same general range, and I’m not imagining it because my other half turned to me and said, “Is this the same very long song?” I like to call it the musical heartbeat syndrome. It’s really easy to fall into that comfortable place where you tap your foot to the beat of your heart and it feels like you’re back in the womb. It’s my opinion that the producers and musicians of X fell victim to the dreaded MHS, the only known cure being the experience gained from a few more years of recording, more songs with passages in 6/8 time (“Spies”), and a total lack of Rod Stewart in your diet.

If you like rock music then you must, you must pick up Mexicolas’ X. To my ears they have taken the best of the genre over the past 25 years and synthesized it into a winning package of writing, singing and playing. It’s commercial enough to win over people who like the familiar, and edgy enough for the adventurers among us. And if you want to hear what I’m raving about you’ll need to download it or head out to your independent music retailer, because it’s probably still a few months away from being on the air… depending upon when CSI gets smart and the episode airs.
I downloaded X from iTunes as an AAC @ 128kbps, 44.1 kHz. Like I said, it’s a great-sounding release and I bow before whom ever did the arrangements on these cuts.  To paraphrase one of my musical heroes, Mr. Frank Zappa, these songs have lots of eyebrows, meaning they’ve put a lot of detail work in to the songs. Now I imagine FZ wouldn’t be crazy about Mexicolas music, but would appreciate the care they’ve taken in building this recording.

I like this release enough that I’m considering buying the CD version, with the idea of getting a little added fidelity. I’m hoping the highs will sparkle a bit more and the lows will be fuller.  This is one of those instances where I believe the low bit rate of the download has negatively impacted the dynamics of the music. The songs are great, though, so don’t let that hold you back. Please. I think my neighbors liked it Sunday morning but I couldn’t hear their words of joy, acceptance and support because I had it playing a wee tad too loud for that. It sounded real good in my car too.

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