Chemistry between band members is not always organic. Egos can clash. Guitars smash. Words are hurled and sometimes a punch or too flies. Yet with the five members of Locobeach, the brotherly love is evident in their unaffected mannerisms and loose playing styles. Locobeach, the Latin band of veteran musical outliers, is out to have some fun. And they want to bring you along for the ride. This legit supergroup (a term I don’t use lightly) of a band is comprised of Jose Luis Pardo on guitars/vocals (Los Crema Paraiso, Los Amigos Invisibles), Neil Ochoa on congas/percussion/electronics (Chicha Libre, Los Crema Paraiso), Joshua Camp on accordion/keyboards/vocals (Chicha Libre, C.A.M.P.O.S.) and Edward Marsh Hall (La Muy Bestia Pop) on bass. They claim to be the bastard children of Chica Libre and Los Crema Paraiso. We won’t brand this a love child but a child built of love for Latin culture with heavy emphasis on dance grooves. Don’t we all deserve to dance it off every now and then after the past few years? Locobeach deftly blends cumbia, psychedelia, and disco. Yes disco. Not the “Ring My Bell” American tight white pants disco but real Latin disco with it’s flair and favor. This Latin band boogies out of Brooklyn while keeping a small studio on the Lower East Side.
The miss-matched Queens-born duo Simon & Garfunkel lamented “Hey where did you go Joe DiMaggio?” as Mrs. Robinson went looking for her cupcakes. My question is “Hey Where did you go NYC music scene? Have you left so I feel like it was all a dream. Hey hey hey hey. ” We had The Strokes in the early 2000’s, the Brazilian Girls and Si Se too. Since then things have felt as lame and uncooked as a Lana Del Ray couplet. Yet now I do feel like I’ve been gifted hope as we drift into a new decade.
If any new band is going to revive the strength of New York’s music scene, it is going to be the fabulous five of Locobeach. The quintet dropped their latest in October of last year. Some of the standouts on the album told a subtle story about dating in the 21st century (at least to me, the music archaeologist, always digging for hidden treasures and subtle meaning in the lyrics and rhythm).
Here we go:
“We Haven’t Been Introduced”
This song leans heavily on an un dos tre cuatro alternative percussive beat, “We Haven’t Even Been Introduced” starts the story of an odd introduction, a possible misunderstanding. The chorus cries:
Call the alarm/ Call a truce/ We haven’t even been introduced.
The song sizzles with urgent vocals rubbed up against rat-tat-tat high hats. He sings of:
Indian summers spinning like a record/Cast off your melancholy clothes/Taste the sunshine while you can
The chorus is the galvanizing piece yet you never really know why they must call a truce. The washboard percussion collides into extreme reverb. My favorite lyric of the album reads:
I’m a copper wire/Twisted round a seashell Useless and uncommon /Kept beside the inkwell
Then there is a sublime, slippery fade out.
“Success on the Dance Floor” raises the bar. Did they get over their odd intro after a few drinks. Or were they both bored and or lonely. Who knows? The video depicts Xavier Cougat holding court. The gals in strapless dresses handle the xylophone and maracas with serious flair. What goes on on the dance floor stays on the dance floor. The combustion of sound still revolves around a simple repeated rhythm pattern. Most notably, the percussion pushes this track along with the camaraderie inherent in cumbia instrumentation.
“The Devil is a Charmer” rounds out my tripped-out trio. The intro is established with the twangy surf guitar combined with galloping sound effects. This track feels like a musical standoff between Ennio Morricone and Dick Dale.
You better run run run baby run.
The maniacal laughter injected at the two minute point is just good old fun. They meet, they dance, now someone goes on psycho alert. Welcome to dating in the 21st century.
Locobeach is as refreshing as a well blended mojito sipped slowly at a tiki bar in Caracas. Then after another, it’s time to dance the night away. I’m hopeful for the resurgence of the City’s music scene with this Latin supergroup (Yes I said it) leading the way. Viva NYC!
Let’s meet the band, shall we?
I have to start out with how much I luv how you were doing a live show then slid into the Cure. Ah that is close to me. You all come from different groups. I am most familiar with Los Amigos Invisibles.
Thanks for the interest in our band! This is Joshua. I’ll answer as best I can for all of us in the group.
Tell me how you beautiful people came together?
So myself (Joshua Camp) and Neil Ochoa, the conga player, are still currently in a band called Chicha Libre, and that band about five years ago went on hiatus. And Neil and I definitely wanted to continue with the psychedelic cumbia sound we were doing in Chicha Libre.
We hooked up with Jose Luis Pardo of Los Amigos Invisibles fame, also known as Cheo, who would sometimes come in and sub on guitar for Chicha Libre. We brought in Edward Marshall, a friend of Cheo’s and Neil’s from back when they were all living in Caracas, Venezuela.
So that was the beginning of us, and the wheels started turning. Around that time I released a solo record called C.A.M.P.O.S., which is just an acronym for ‘Cumbias and More Psychedelic Original Sounds’ and also a play on my last name, and because I had put that record out, I got a couple festival dates. And I put together this band very quickly with Cheo and Neil, and immediately realized this is a totally new thing. We need a new name. That was really how it all clicked.
We continued playing under the name C.A.M.P.O.S. for a couple more shows, and then we started promoting themselves under the moniker Locobeach. We added Fernando Valladares on timbales and then the Locobeach lineup was complete!
I like you are hanging in NYC . I hear an LA vibe though. How do you find the Psychedelic music in the city ? I am in NJ so hope to catch you live.
None of us have much connection to LA but that’s alright we’ll take it as a compliment! I suppose it depends on your definition of ‘psychedelic’ but I’d say psychedelic/experimental music at least in the Latin music scene here is thriving.
You are one of the most innovative bands I have come across this year. Tell me more about your musical process.
Thank you! That’s lovely to hear. We have a tiny studio in the East Village, Cutupra Studio, that we rehearse in and hash out arrangements. Myself and Cheo are the main songwriters. We made a point in the beginning of the project to have songs in both Spanish and English, to represent our various backgrounds and also the multi-lingual world we live in here in NYC.
Last what are your thoughts on the way music is going? Do you embrace the DIY way?
Music and musicians always find a way! It’s tough out there to get paid for writing and performing original music, but then again it’s never been easy. We only do it because we’re passionate, obsessed, and we have no choice. As far as DIY I’d say it’s less of a philosophy or ideology and more that we’ve learned all aspects of producing and performing music because we don’t have the patience to wait around for money to pay someone to do it. Really as simple as that.
Passionate, obsessed, and no other options. Love it! Best of luck to you and thanks for the music.