Pan Caliente: Angelica Garcia's album 'Cha Cha Palace' is a 2020 favorite

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Music discovery is the lifeblood of KCRW DJs. Hearing a song that can become the soundtrack to your week or month(s) is a thrill we all live for. That opportunity comes day after day, week after week, with every new email we get.

Last summer, a YouTube link promoting a minimalist, Chicana anthem, called “Jicama” by Angelica Garcia popped up in my inbox. It was catchy, bilingual, and the visuals were, as the kids say, raw AF. If you’ve been reading Pan Caliente over the past years, you know that new, catchy, and bilingual is our wheelhouse. I was instantly drawn into Angelica’s world.

Like much of the new music we come across, it’s an infatuation days and weeks at a time, and then a new thing pops up. However, at the end of 2019 I was reminded to keep Angelica Garcia on my radar, when former President Obama included “Jicama” on his favorite songs of 2019 list. [Head explosion emoji]

This past March, the week before Los Angeles shut down due to the impending pandemic, Angelica Garcia performed at the Paramount in Boyle Heights, as a part of a residency. 

I was at the first night of said residency, where Angelica brought to life her latest release Cha Cha Palace. It was captivating. She stood alone on stage and opened with the vocally fierce track “I Don’t Believe in Death,” looping her voice ad infinitum. Later in the show, she was joined by a backing band — which was surprisingly two thirds of Brainstory (Kevin & Tony), along with virtuosic drummer William Alexander. Adding a robust sound to some of her more sonically complex tracks like “It Don’t Hinder Me” and a “Jicama” rework.

It was a performance that solidified my newfound fandom for Angelica’s music and allowed me to relisten to the album with a deep appreciation. It was also the last live concert I would get to attend before the city was put under stay at home orders. Definitely not a bad sendoff into self-quarantine. I think about that show daily. 

Do yourself a favor and take a listen to Cha Cha Palace. It’s definitely a highlight of my 2020.

Catch her on IG Live this Thursday at 5pm on my @dj_josegalvan handle, where we’ll be discussing her new music video for “Lucifer Waiting.”