Reviewed by Belinda Acosta, Fri., June 11, 2004
Maneja BetoPara que las Paredes no se Aburran (Lengua Marron)
Don't spend too much time trying to classify Maneja Beto. Forget the labels, shut up, and dance. Remarkably, the band's debut, Para que las Paredes no se Aburran, which is loosely translated as "so the walls don't get bored," is the result of a yearlong partnership between musicians originating from East L.A., Central and South Texas, and South America. The album's 10 cuts, all recorded live, are the legacy of each player's well-fed diet of music from their parents' and grandparents' generations, from Victor Jara and Trio Los Panchos, to the tunes wafting from the corner cantina. Instead of discarding those traditions when they discovered Morrissey, Dylan, and the Cure, they fused those forms and embedded it all into their musical DNA. When Maneja Beto Bobby Garza (keyboards), Nelson Valente (guitar), Patrick Estrada (drums), Alex Chavez (lead vocal), Alexandro Hernandez (guitar), Lauro Torres (congas), and Mr. Grady (upright) get down to it, the result is a thrilling, wily mix of catchy tunes as original as they are danceable. "Ciudadano" is particularly marvelous. Starting with ambient street sounds, the tune careens into cumbia, merges into tumbao, cruising along till it pulls into a pit stop featuring an electric guitar riff with a piano percussion backing. Sweet. According to their Web site, Manejo Beto's upcoming performances will be few and far between, but this disc will more than tide you over.