Regardless of language or location, Burger Records has never hesitated to get behind a good rock ‘n’ roll, punk, or garage record. That’s really the main goal of the Fullerton, California, label: to bring as many awesome bands to the people as possible. They do exactly that – and with unprecedented frequency.
Honestly, Burger puts out so many cassette reissues and original albums on vinyl that it’s incredibly hard to keep up with it all, much less catch all the Spanish-language releases in the overwhelming mix. A few have gotten plenty of due hullabaloo, like AJ Davila y Terror Amor’s Beibi late in 2014 and Hinds‘ singles last April. But there’s a handful of stellar releases that you may have missed. Here are five Burger bands we think deserve a bigger spotlight.
Swinging 50s rock ‘n’ roll, dirtied up slightly by punk and doused with psychedelic cumbia – what more could you possibly want in a band? For the past few years, LA band Thee Commons have been regularly churning out releases in that signature vein, and playing countless shows at the same time. After a series of quick-hitting EPs, they partnered with Burger last spring for a 20-song full-length debut, Rock is Dead: Long Live Rock Paper and Scissors. It’s a compilation of previously released tracks, and includes the obvious fan favorite “Selena Punk,” a gravelly, roughed-up take on “Baila Esta Cumbia.”
Another AJ Dávila connection for Burger, but this one more direct: He had a hand in recording and producing Sunnyside Rabbits, Plastic Pinks’ cassette debut. Certain tracks from the Miami band are very obviously touched by AJ; the rattling pop outbursts on “Ella Me Mira (ft. Mimi Starr)” ring especially Dávila-esque. At times, however, Plastic Pinks like their garage pop a little glossier, a little more glam: “Toe Trippin” and “Save Me” are unabashedly adorned with extra flair. You’d think all that alternating between the two would be distracting, but it’s not. In fact, it’s pretty great to get both extremes in one release.
The brainchild (or food baby?) of David Castillo, formerly of Dënver and recently relocated to SoCal, Pizza Time serves up pared-down, lo-fi rock ‘n’ roll backed by scratchy Casio beats courtesy of collaborator Ben Donehower. Available next March on vinyl via Burger is Todo, which includes a cameo from AJ Dávila and Johnny Otis Dávila on the lead track “Pizza Time,” a collaboration which turned out to be one of the band’s most fun tracks yet. The LP is their third and final, though, as Castillo is apparently going to focus on other projects from here on out.
At the top of that to-do list is Panaderia, which is basically the same sound on steroids, yet seems to have evolved from (or at the same time as?) an awesomely absurd video series featuring footage of live bands, guest appearances from musician buds and lots of oddball animation. The whole thing is fit for a late-night slot on Adult Swim, really, but Castillo’s already got his own plans to make the entire first season available on VHS. Burger’s backing this effort too, of course — they promote the show often, and the actual album, Buena Onda, is due soon on cassette.
Longstanding Puerto Rican garage pop group Reanimadores finally saw its tunes go physical thanks to both Burger and Wiener Records when the labels jointly issued Me Das Asco as one of this year’s Cassette Store Day releases. Power pop with a punk sneer is their recipe for rock ‘n’ roll, and it comes from a melting pot of the island’s best players in that realm, including former Dávila 666 member and Ardillas frontman Giancarlo Cervoni on rhythm guitar and Nelvin Lara, who’s a regular in AJ Dávila’s perpetual Terror Amor band rotation.
Not to be confused with the Houston ñu-cumbia troupe, this San Pedro trio plays throwback 60s surf rock that’s less like an Annette Funicello flick than a B-movie called The Horror of Party Beach, a film that actually exists and includes the skeletons of shipwrecked sailors mutated into half-fish monsters by waste. The Pleasure Seekers, Suzi Quatro’s short-lived psych band ahead of going solo, channel early B-52’s and a number of solid Nuggets cuts, but they nod occasionally to Spaghetti Westerns of the same era. Their latest kooky-spooky blend comes by way of a cassette EP, A Date with Bombón, released in late September. Be sure to also check out their 2013 full-length debut, Las Chicas De Bombón, though – it’s got a few fun cuts sung in Spanish instead of English.