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Album Review: Chikita Violenta – TRE3S

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Mexico City four-piece Chikita Violenta is known in the indie world for two main reasons: First, the fact that they’re from Mexico, and second, they sound super indebted to Broken Social Scene. Granted, those are both true facts, but individual moments on TRE3S, the group’s third album (first for (surprise, surprise) Arts & Crafts, co-founded by BSS’ Kevin Drew), are individual enough to stand apart from the overwhelming shadow of their new labelmates.

The label connection isn’t the only reference to BSS here; producer David Newfeld (You Forgot it In People) is on board, as well as guest musicians Loel Campbell (of Wintersleep), The Most Serene Republic’s Tony Nesbitt-Larking, and BSS’s Lisa Lobsinger. But this, plainly put, isn’t a cover band or a cobbling together of the sounds of the Arts & Crafts stable. There’s a twinge of noise-pop here, a burst of 90’s college rock there, and a little psychedelia mixed in between. Opener “Roni” fits all those shards together, putting together a lo-fi jam that can’t be stopped, the massive, thick, fuzzed-out bass and electric guitars paired with acoustic guitar, cheery shout-it-out vocals, and slap-happy drums. For whatever it’s worth, the lyrics are in English. Repeated lines about how “something slips into nothing” fade things out into a rattling whir.

The mechanized, polyrhythmic “All I Need’s A Little More” is particularly Most Serene Republic, anthemic and growing, handclaps beating out like a pulse as the vocals drive just out of harmony. The rapid finger-picking and big alt riffs of “Tired” sound like an Arts & Crafts take on Dinosaur Jr., breathy verse vocals and ramping, grooved hooks. But the sweet, wordless, bubbling water of “Holiday” that follows doesn’t fit into any of the above categories. The only thing that seems to keep TRE3S together is its insistence that it’s going to stay together.

Sometimes, the themes overcome any sort of effect. The rapid, droning, over-loud snare roll that dominates the entirety of “The Pause” is lo-fi for the sake of it, overpowering everything else in the mix by a few hundred percent. “ATPG” stands for “All The Pretty Girls”, which gets repeated endlessly between rounds of ba ba bas. The tape delay, chop-shopped psychedelia of “The Monster (Was Last Seen Approaching the Power Plant)” is an interesting interlude but not much more.

The closing one-two punch of “Supercycle” and “My Connection” push through after that mid-record slump. The former’s thudding bass and squealing lo-fi guitars keep things rocking, while the latter’s “Thanks for coming, now just walk away,” chugging acoustic guitar, and thunderclap drums come together for a great conclusion to the album.

TRE3S comes on strong, fades, and then goes out with a bang. While a more cohesive record (thematically, musically) would’ve been nice, you can’t blame these guys for putting their hearts into exactly what they wanted to do, coming out with a solid record all around.

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