The Smithsonian Folkways label is an American institution. It is one that is known primarily for archival recordings of traditional folk, bluegrass, and children’s music. They have released amazing albums like folk legend Roscoe Holcomb’s hard hitting “The High Lonesome Sound”, former Ida vocalist Elizabeth Mitchell’s two stunning children’s albums “Sunny Day” and “You Are My Little Bird”, and one of the best box sets ever released in Harry Smith’s “Anthology of American Folk Music”. Some may not know that Smithsonian Folkways also has an amazing series that they call Tradiciones/Traditions, and since 2002 they have been showcasing the musical heritage of the 50 million Latinos living in the USA.
The 35th release in the Tradiciones/Traditions series is Imaginaries, the bilingual new album by East L.A. Chicano band Quetzal. Quetzal rose from the ashes of the 1992 L.A. uprisings as a vehicle for social commentary and activism, and to push the limits of Chicano music. Their sound is a unique blend of traditional son jarocho music from Veracruz, Mexico spiked with urban rhythms and R&B. Led by the guitarist Quetzal Flores (whose primary influences are Los Lobos, and The Smiths!), the band sets out to create music that is original, organic, and unclassifiable, and Imaginaries definitely accomplishes this goal. In a recent interview, Flores says that “Imaginaries are the spaces being created all over the world that activate the imagination in a collective effort to re-member (the opposite of dismember) humanity.” In this day and age, who can’t use a little of that…
Have a listen to the title track below, whose funky beats and thick chorus will have you instantly hooked. Quetzal‘s Imaginaries is out on February, 28th 2012.
“Imaginaries” by Quetzal from “Imaginaries” by Smithsonian Folkways
And for your viewing pleasure, here’s the first video too: