Monday, June 28, 2010

The Iguanas: Super Ball (1996)

(As published in B-Side ... )

Super Ball (Island)

Those who love the idea of New Orleans music more than the voodoo-dabbling, washboard-strumming, accordion-playing, Neville-worshiping reality of it all may find in the Iguanas the blend of Crescent City swagger and real-world connectedness they think they crave. For one thing, the rhythm section of Rene Coman and Doug Garrison, who spent much of the '80s with Alex Chilton honing their interplay, bypass the second-line altogether and now turn out Tex-Mex shuffles instantly recognizable to anyone who's ever taken a siesta ("So Tired") or danced a cha-cha ("Benny's Cadillac"). For another thing, outsiders such as Chilton and Dave Alvin make cameos that extend the album's frame of reference beyond the bayous and swamps. For a third thing, the dual frontmen Joe Cabral and Rod Hodges write songs like "Rock Star" and "Benny's Cadillac," songs with clever, detailed lyrics and instantly hummable hooks. True, they also write Freddy Fender-style filler ("Mil Demonios," "Cuarto Rojo," "Lupita," "Que Tristeza"), but they never succumb, in their singing or in their playing, to that lassitude responsible for the transformation of so much more "authentic" roots music into an unfunny joke.

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