Manu Chao

La Radiolina (Nacional)

Phases & Stages

Manu Chao

La Radiolina (Nacional)

On the occasion of his previous studio release, 2001's translucent Proxima Estación Esperanza, in an interview with trendsetting indie wire KCRW, Manu Chao's globe-trotting existence had brought him to the conclusion that, "There's not a place where things are going better." At least hope – Esperanza – floats on said sophomore solo disc. Six tortuous years later, not a thing has gotten better, and a darker world clouds La Radiolina, which most resembles Chao's 2002 live Radio Bemba Sound System in its patchwork approach to song, tempo, and politicizing. That's Euro-folk, skank, and Mano Negra, respectively. Opener "13 Días" might rumble expertly next to Bob Dylan's "Seven Days" on a road-trip mix. Otherwise, where Esperanza left off with the infinite sadness of "Infinita Tristeza," Radiolina confesses its "Tristeza Maleza" up front, lashing out immediately afterward with the anti-imperialist "Politik Kills." Initial single "Rainin in Paradize" then opens its pummeling floodgates and east of Eden never felt like such a permanent address. Desgraciadamente, that's when Radiolina smashes against the wall. Fragments – stadium chants – rather than songs compound a larger issue of "Rainin in Paradize" drenching the rest of the album. On mosher "El Hoyo," the "Rainin" riff yields a rainbow, doubly so in the Belgium soundcheck found among Radiolina's visual enhancements. The same can't be said for "The Bleedin Clown" or "Panik Panik," and by the song's alternate version as bonus track "Mama Cuchara" and its rejoining knock-off "Siberia," the "Rainin" has gone on long enough. Other sincere songwriting attempts ("Me Llaman Calle," "A Cosa") simply aren't up to snuff, "La Vida Tómbola" excepted as the bookend accounting of soccer celebrity Diego Maradona begun in Chao's seminal punk band Mano Negra with "Santa Maradona." Backer "Mala Fama" hints at the rock en Español opera begging to be staged on the Argentine fútbalista, also echoing Chao's Latin American calling card "Clandestino." The French/Spanish shaman's initial chant, Clandestino remains world concern made personal, and nearly a decade later, little relief comes from tuning in to frequencies on La Radiolina.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Manu Chao
ACL Live Shots
Manu Chao

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 23, 2011

ACL Music Fest Sunday Interviews
Manu Chao
Greetings from Austin, circa 2008

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 16, 2011

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Raoul Hernandez
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
ATX Queer Music Fest, Ovey Fest, New Candys, Bryan Carter, and more local shows worth seeing

Aug. 5, 2022

What We’re Listening to Right Now
What We’re Listening to Right Now
Detox, Mobley, Dropped Out, Holy Wave, Party Van, and Shane Cooley

July 29, 2022


Manu Chao

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle