Xenia Rubinos: Pan Caliente

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Pan Caliente

Xenia Rubinos first came to my attention via a text message KCRW DJ Chuck P sent me asking what I thought about her recent release. I was at a loss and a tiny bit embarrassed that I hadn’t yet heard of her. (I don’t know how Chuck P always hears about bands light years ahead of everyone else!)

Well, it didn’t take me long to get up to speed and fall in love with this percussive, loop laden project out of Nueva York.

That’s right – New York

With that in mind, I want to make a quick clarification about Pan Caliente. While most of the music I focus on will be from beyond our borders, I would be remiss if I overlooked our homegrown talent in the U.S.

So, from time to time, we will be shining a spotlight on artists from Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami or, as in Xenia’s case, Hartford, CT, where she was born to Cuban and Puerto Rican parents before moving to New York.

Xenia by Maria Madrigal

At first listen one would be quick to compare Xenia to an Imogen Heap or a Juana Molina. And you’d be correct, because of the loop structure of her songs. But, vocally, her style resembles more of a Karen O or Jemina Pearl of Be Your Own Pet. It’s spunky and explosive while still maintaining a sweetness that’s alluring.

On “Magic Trixx“, released on BaDaBing Records, Xenia Rubinos offers up quite a buffet of sounds.

There is a range of intensity going from emotional songs like “Cherry Tree” to playful jams like “Los Mangopaunos“. There are also songs that incorporate refrains from classic Latin American poets like “Pan y Café. And then there are songs like “Whirlwind that build on loops of vocal exclamations and onomatopoeias producing a cacophony of sounds.

A perfect introduction, to the unique art rock of Xenia, is the track, “Ultima”.

DOWNLOAD it here and stream it below.

It opens with a rapid paced ostinato of vocal loops that segue into a melodic groove where the verses are in English and the chorus is sung in Spanish. Like many songs on the record, it flows in and out of time signatures that would peak the interest of any band member in Tool.

This album is a true landmark to the musical growth of the indie rock scene in Spanish within the States.

Through a combination of songs in all English, all Spanish, and half and half, the album personifies the exploration of self that encapsulates the Latino perspective in the U.S.

It’s a mish mosh of culture that is neither here nor there.