The Record Machine
If a friendly bartender offers you a shot of aguardiente, brace yourself. The clear liquid might look like plain old vodka, but it has a kick that can knock the boots off the uninitiated.
That’s obviously the idea behind Kansas City’s Making Movies on its new EP, which takes its title from the “fire water” that shows up in many variants throughout Latin America. The band’s combination of traditional Latin rhythms and chord structures might sound familiar at first — until it hits your ear with a left jab from another musical world.
The genre of rock en español is as varied as rock itself, pulling elements from any number of musical traditions. Making Movies founders Enrique and Diego Chi are from Panama, but the band’s sound draws from other corners of the globe.
Opening track “Cuna De Vida” (“Cradle of Life”) starts with a pretty, recorder-like whistle recalling the Beatles’ “Fool on the Hill,” before jangly guitars and airy drums join falsetto vocals for a light, cheery slice of indie pop propelled by athletic percussion from Juan-Carlos Chaurand. You’ll be whistling it for the rest of the day.
“Hangover Blues” recalls a Cuban dance hall merged with blasts of scabby guitar straight out of Sonic Youth’s “Daydream Nation” as if reinterpreted by Carlos Santana. “Sirena” shows off Enrique’s subtle vocal stylings as he narrates a fever dream to his siren after a sleepless night.
“Twenty Years” is a stripped-down affair of vocals, guitar and conga that builds into a cheery, sleepy sing-along.
“Aguardiente’s” bilingual lyrics cleverly mimic the music’s bridging between cultures, and its solid, unshowy musicianship makes for an impressive listen. It’s safe to say there’s no other band in town that sounds exactly like Making Movies.