One of the most celebrated aspects of rock n’ roll has been its recklessness, the music’s ability to channel the anarchic abandon of teenage fantasies, fueled by the basic desires of getting fucked up in every which way. It’s music that speaks to our most primeval instincts. Then, the genre grew up and became sophisticated, only to be “saved” by a generation of musicians bent on returning it to its raw roots, calling it “punk” in the process. Since then, rock has been killed off and resurrected more times than your average comic book character, and celebrated every time it’s practiced with a modicum of skill but maximum attitude.
Los Blenders exploded out of the Mexico City scene with that kind of attitude. It wasn’t long before they got themselves noticed in the underground scene, playing small venues, house parties and indie fests. Their album Chavos Bien, released in 2015 launched them to a bigger audience thanks to their devil-may-care attitude, sloppy but catchy garage-surf sound and a surprising ear for melodies. Their shows became destinations for everyone into slam dancing, drinking and not calling it quits until they passed out or got knocked out.
Then something funny happened. They started playing more dates, touring the US – and having tighter shows. Thanks to their popularity and their new found professionalism, they landed in pretty big places, like starring in a commercial with the Black Eyed Pea’s will.i.am. They also played Coachella early in 2017 (no big deal). Suddenly, Los Blenders graduated from singing anthems for the fuck ups to becoming one of the most promising bands in the country.
This is the opening scroll of Ha Sido, their second full length album. The band’s newfound gravity raises questions as to how their sound will change; they’re at a point where evolution is needed, but taking themselves too seriously could result in a wrong fit. Luckily, Ha Sido brings us the right balance between slackerdom and professionalism.
From the first seconds of the album, Los Blenders demonstrate that they’re still rickety, on the verge of collapse – yet, there’s a new level of sophistication that tingles the ear. For proof, you have the opening number, “Ha Sido,” where the straight up chord bashing arrives late in the song after a lengthy prelude of sophisticated guitar jangle. “Ya No Te Quiero” follows up, showcasing a next level melodic skill – don’t worry, singer Alejandro Archundia still mumbles most of the words on the songs, so the punk spirit is still present.
“Amor Prohibido II” is not really a follow up to the Selena classic, but a dip back to their surfy punk past, with their added experience on full display, while “Culero” features some great guitar work and no drums; leave it to Los Blenders to give one of their most beautiful tracks a title like that. At more than four and a half minutes, “Niña Surf” is one of the most epic tracks on the record, a retro-minded tune that ends with some layered guitar runs. Other tracks, like “Bien Verga” and “Ana Sofi,” channel the Ramones in an even sloppier way.
Their lyrics are still unpolished ruminations about being young, loud, heartbroken, and snotty; they channel a fun and playful nihilism. For example, “Himno De Protesta” could be interpreted as a musical contradiction, channeling The Clash – one of punk’s most famous and politicized bands – in its chords while the lyrics talk about empty rebellion. However, there’s no pretension or posturing to any of this, it’s just loud music to lose your mind to.
Above everything, Ha Sido demonstrate that the band can still have fun, and doesn’t indulge in heavy emotions even when the songs call for deeper interpretations. That’s one of their strengths and part of makes them such a beloved band. Ha Sido gives us the next stage in the Blenders story, but the core of their tale remains untouched, leaving their legacy ready for their next stage in their ascent as a big band of our times.