Massive thanks to Matt from Echoesanddust-Blog for his superb LA CHINGA review:
Great songs are deceptively simple. ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ has four chords and only a few more words. Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock and Roll’ has one riff repeated over and over again, with Robert Plant squealing something about loneliness. Anyone could do it, right? Actually, no. To make a song which makes you want to buy a late ’60s Mustang and head into some utopian desert requires something else. Something magic.
La Chinga clearly swallowed – or inhaled – a dose of whatever it is that produces a song like that. One that is so laden with hooks that it is worthy of the end credits of a road movie. It appears towards the end of side two of the trio’s self-titled debut album, released in 2013 in their native Canada but now available – fittingly on marbled vinyl – for the first time in Europe.
It’s called ‘When I get Free’ and it makes any listener with a pulse nod their head and pump their fist as soon as the flangey guitar gives way to bassist and vocalist Carl Spackler singing in his Plant-via Roger-Daltrey voice: “When I get free, it’s going to feel like rain’s falling down, I’m going to trade in that chain for a crown, when you open that door.”
It is by far the highlight of the album, which is a lesson in why sometimes you should judge a book, or record, by its cover. Band’s name in psychedelic lettering? Check. Pictures of bell-bottomed, long-haired, big belt-buckled band members? Check. Mystical-looking Native American in background? You guessed it.
Not that all this is a bad thing. La Chinga clearly like a party, as is evident from “Wooh! Heyy, yeaaah,” in the opening seconds of the first track, ‘Early Grave’. And they also have an affinity for that bit of the early 70s, which may or may not have actually existed, full of mild hallucinogens, riffy blues-rock and songs about motorcycles and drinking.
There is more of all that in track two, ‘Snake Eyes’, which starts with a crunchy riff and Spackler singing of his “whiskey breakfast”. It could have been included on a ZZ Top album – back when they played blues, rather than that flabby synth-pop outfit that they morphed into. In fact a ZZ Top song pops up at the end of side one of La Chinga, ‘Precious and Grace’, from the Tes Hombres album more well-known for the classic ‘La Grange’. Back when they were good, in other words.
If side one is the warm-up – the one you listen to while ironing your western shirt and brushing down the suede jacket with tassles – side two is where you park your muscle-car at the roadhouse ready to down a few boilermakers. And it’s when the cowbells go into overdrive. ‘Freedom Machine’ is a close second in the exuberant-song-about-freedom stakes, while ‘La Chinga’ veers into Judas Priest-style heavy metal in speed and lyrical content. The overdriven guitar and slightly fuzzy bass are held together by some solid drumming from Jason Solyom, who was clearly listening in school when the Keith Moon module came up.
La Chinga is not all cowbells and caterwauling, however. ‘To Let Silver’ begins with a spooky, echo-drenched guitar and proceeds into a loud-quiet bluesy ballad which begins with a story about a kid whose father was a killer and ends with the protagonist “heading for the badlands … drinking with Rosie, tequila going down.” It wouldn’t be giving things away to say that it doesn’t end happily. ‘The Universe is Mine’, meanwhile, chucks a bit of MC5 psychedelia into the mix and provides a spaced-out climax to the album.
You’re unlikely to come across anything new or clever in this album – in fact a repeated refrain in ‘When I Get Free’ is “do you ever feel like you’ve been here before?” Yes, we have. But it is nice to go back. (http://echoesanddust.com/2015/01/la-chinga-la-chinga/)
Order your copy here.