It seems like every few years Tucson births a new litter of diehard infant local rock fans. You know the type. The ones who post their latest vinyl scores from PDQ or Wooden Tooth on their Saturday Facebook feeds instead of the drunken selfies and new meaningful quote tattoos all of their peers are sharing at the same time. Inevitably these dedicated fan boys (and girls) fall in love with a tiny handful of local acts just a little bit more than the others.orini
It seems like every few years Tucson births a new litter of diehard infant local rock fans. You know the type. The ones who post their latest vinyl scores from PDQ or Wooden Tooth on their Saturday Facebook feeds instead of the drunken selfies and new meaningful quote tattoos all of their peers are sharing at the same time. Inevitably these dedicated fan boys (and girls) fall in love with a tiny handful of local acts just a little bit more than the others.
American Android was one of those bands. Loud, dynamic, sometimes heavy, sometimes proggish, always very thoughtful, outspoken and political. The one defining feature of their sound that held true across the board was the powerful, emotive, soulful vocal delivery of lead singer and guitarist Carlos Arzate.
Cut to the present, and Arzate is making waves again, this time not as an anguished alt-rocker but as a singer-songwriter.
Got Me Wrong, the debut release from Carlos Arzate and The Kind Souls is just as lyrically direct, unapologetic and at times political as any of American Android’s material, but this is a much more mature body of work, elegant in its musicianship, and bold and confident in its execution.
The title track is a classic blues number, with impressive guitar riffs and a chorus of backing vocals that wouldn’t be out of place on your average vintage Stax soul recording. This is just one of many highlights of the album.
“The Ballad of Louis Taylor” is a dark, Springsteen-esque story song about a shameful chapter in Tucson history, the unjust imprisonment of Taylor, who served 42 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of the deadly 1970 Pioneer Hotel fire. “My Darlin Dear” is a lovely and sweetly ragged ballad about unconditional love and comfort.
Maybe most striking is a trio of songs about the grim realities of life, death and human smuggling along the Arizona/Mexico border. “Coyotes of Sasabe,” penned by the late Cyril Barrett, sounds like a Leonard Cohen song reimagined as desert lullaby. “Devil’s Highway Waltz” is a brief but many layered instrumental named in honor of Luis Alberto Urrea’s book about an ill fated 2001 border crossing in which fourteen migrants died. Then there is the haunting “On and On,” a mournful coda, with contributions by local legend Salvador Duran, it wonders at the fates and traces of those who have made the treacherous desert journey in search of survival and economic hope on “our” side of the border.
Got Me Wrong is richly written, with lyrics that range from the sweetly personal, to ballsy,bluesy rock to unapologetic odes to social justice. The album is graced by all star cast of local contributors, including Giant Sand veterans Brian Lopez and Gabriel Sullivan and Calexico collaborators Duran and (Kind Souls bassist/producer) Ryan Alfred.
Having come so far since his “Android” days, Arzate has matured into a fine songwriter and a solid musician, more than worthy of the company he keeps.
Copyright 205, Julie Jennings PattersonReprinted (with permission) from
Reprinted (with permission) from www.thetucsonedge.com