By Liz Tracy
By David Rolland
By Alex Rendon
By Terrence McCoy
By Natalya Jones
By County Grind
By Liz Tracy
By Chris Joseph
You don't really notice it until it's pointed out, but Hialeah's treeless streets do make for a rather bleak environment. The famed "City of Progress" has recently become a cradle of rock 'n' roll for South Florida amid the bump 'n' grind of hip-hop and reggaeton. Bands like Humbert and the Brand have definitely heightened local awareness to the concrete jungle of impossible-to-decipher alphanumerical street assignations. Güajiro's blend of alternative Spanish rock and '77-style British pogo punk is the next noteworthy entry in the "Hialeah Sound."
The personnel consists of ex-Brand and sometimes solo musician Jorge "Jorges" Gonzalez on bass, the double-barreled guitar assault of Will Lopez and Jorge "Tereso" Correa, and the rock-solid drumming of Doug MacKinnon (who's probably better-known as a former drummer of California's long-running punk outfit the Vandals and also for drumming for Boston hardcore legends Slapshot's 1995 tour).
This five-song effort is unrelenting from the get-go. Rolling guitars and bilingual vocals energize heartfelt tracks of the immigrant experience and torn loyalties between the American dream and memories of Cuba. Anchored by the rhythm section's expertise, the language switches are almost imperceptible. Opening with "Lo Siento" ("I Feel It"), Güajiro establishes that good-time cross of Brit-punk with American pop and heightens it in the anthem "Matanzero," an all-Spanish mosh-pit romp. And of course, you can't have some cubiches rocking around without a song titled "Domino" another heavy-hitting, straightforward rocker.
The closer, "Middle," is especially heartfelt in its sense of abandonment and love's loss (personal note: Kelly baby, I love you). Güajiro's strength is clearly in building solid songs, but more importantly, it's in how the band maintains the energy throughout them.