…y los angeles tocan tubas
Frank Kogan: The brass is sloshed, the singer perhaps not quite sloshed enough, but he’s suitably imprecise in his emotions, which are sizable.
Ian Mathers: My wife is fluent in Spanish, and if I don’t get at least conversant with it before we have kids in a few years she’s threatened to use it as a secret language with them. Which is only relevant here because I want to ask: Are there any Spanish courses with horns like this? I feel like that would really help my progress.
Josh Langhoff: The big swinging tuba is selling point #1 — this year I’ve hung onto some mediocre music for way too long, simply for the stunning tuba parts. #2 is Tapia’s tuba player interlocking with the rest of the banda, which splits into brass and woodwinds to comment like Pips on the action, deliciously messing around with the beat a couple times. Tapia’s singing is #3. He’s straightforward but heartfelt, warbling on the high notes but never cloying, leading out of the choruses on a hard-hitting string of syncopated rhymes right into the triumphant focal point of trumpet solo and horn tutti. #4, that feels like road and sky opening up and allowing us to take flight. Which is weird, since for Tapia the sky offers no escape, only a reminder that his lover exists only on his cell phone.
Brad Shoup: There are times, when I’m not listening to the comedy station, that La Qué Buena 104.3 is on and banda seems like a perfected art form. By that I mean everyone seems to do well by it, despite how hard I can only imagine it is to mass and deploy those clenched horns. “Mirando al Cielo,” perhaps by being the work of a backing band, avoids the triple-time percussive stretches that drill the horn charts down into the ecstatic. It lays out instead, with a high-stepping drum kit and echoes of doo-wop in the tuba. Tapia’s strangled line endings are the kind of acting you don’t hear on Anglo radio.
Anthony Easton: I worry that writing about this will show my ignorance, but i just want to say that the horns on this were some of the most energetic, technically accomplished, gorgeous, and well fun, that I have encountered this year. Listening to someone work within a formalist capacity with unadulterated balls out skill is just pure pleasure.
Kat Stevens: Sousaphone noises always make me think of Reginald Perrin’s mother-in-law, imagined as a hippo.
Patrick St. Michel: I’m a total sucker for horns, and the ones present here are lovely laid-back things. There isn’t much else grabbing my attention, but I’m OK with that.
Jonathan Bogart: Roberto Tapia is from Sinaloa, and banda sinaloense has been having A Moment over the past half-dozen years. The characteristic large-scale brass-and-winds orchestras, with their distinctive coloration, sometimes remind me as much of Ellington or Mingus as of traditional Mexican harmonics, but of course the real selling point is the lad (or, less frequently, lass) up front. Tapia’s a stiff-upper-lip kind of singer — even when he’s supposed to get emotional, as in “No Fue Fácil”, he only gets shouty. Still, his banda arrangement is gorgeous.
Alfred Soto: Jerrod Niemann is expert at using lovesloshed horns to underline a desire inseparable from self-parody, but often his big broad voice falls short. Not Tapia, who looks like a tuba and sings like a French horn.
Sabina Tang: Latin music doesn’t get much FM play in Montreal; I won’t be having a serendipitous Car Radio Moment to a song like this. Even Youtube leaves me uncertain as to whether the nimble, drunken-kung-fu-master brass is the track’s particular innovation or a feature of the genre like the dubstep wub. But the investigation seizes me with a Proustian sense-memory of Gordon “The Happiest Man On Earth” Courtenay’s Saturday Night at the Jupiter Club show on Q92, to which my father listened religiously during the mid-90s. Swing, supper club Latin dance, Laura Pausini’s “La Solitudine,” mattress commercials, and the aforenamed host wandering around the room to josh senior citizens for being out after curfew. It’s not the mental association a Roberto Tapia fan would have, I imagine, but it makes me smile.