Online since August 2002

Losing touch with their roots

Reviewed August 2009

By Los Amigos Invisibles

Nacional Records: 2009

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

Eleven years after exciting U.S. audiences with their unique hybrid of South American dance and Top 40 pop styles, Venezuelan ex-pats Los Amigos Invisibles have become rather indistinguishable from the rest of the Latin pop bands on the scene today. Where "The New Sound of the Venezuelan Gozadera" was a breath of fresh air when released in 1998, "Commercial" is all too aptly named.

Certainly no one can blame the members of the band for leaving the political chaos of Caracas for the (comparatively) stable environment of New York City, but the resulting effect on their music has been to homogenize their sound. "Commercial" sounds like someting from an East Coast Latin pop band – maybe from Miami, or perhaps a band of Nuyoricans.

But whereas earlier albums from the band melded jazz and funk with South American pop and Latin dance rhythms, "Commercial" is much heavier on American influences – lots of alt rock, sampling, hip-hop and salsa (which was born in New York from the mixing of Cuban and Puerto Rican with local influences).

To be fair, most of the songs here are easy on the ears, and all are dance-ready. It's just that Los Amigos Invisibles no longer sound like a Venezuelan band, and that's too bad.

Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).

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