Surprisingly, Extraordinary Rendition, this year’s bright multicultural debut release from Rupa & the April Fishes takes its name from America’s black-ops practice of transporting prisoners to countries with looser human-rights laws in order to torture them. Fortunately, finding a connection between this sexy globalist dance-off incorporating French jazz, mariachi, Roma-tinged folk pop, et al., and terror suspects being waterboarded in Saudi Arabia is pointless and impossible. In fact, though the Fishes’ sound seems inspired by music from every unfrozen continent, finding any sort of relevant comparison seems futile.
Singer-guitarist Rupa — born in San Francisco, but raised in India and France before moving back to the Bay — writes songs in French, English, and Spanish, but her smooth and subtle voice adapts naturally through frequent language shifts and even more frequent genre-jumping. Her breathy emphasis gives “Maintenant” the smoky noir of an existential film set, perfectly suited to Safa Shokrai’s snap-along upright bass and Isabel Douglass’s wheezy accordian. But when she switches to Spanish for “Poder,” her annunciation is quick and crisp, matching Aaron Kierbel’s clipped percussion while providing a contrast to Ed Baskerville’s squeaking cello and instilling the song with a genuine viva-la-raza vibe.
While it’s all too easy to get hung up on Rupa — she’s pretty, has a great voice, and works a second job as a practicing physician (seriously) — the quick-change artistry of the April Fishes’ instrumentation carries Rupa’s pan-global schizophrenia to wonderfully executed extremes without a misstep, and live, the band’s easy chemistry and manic energy reportedly transform concert venue to circus tent.
Free, all ages, 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct 11, and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct 12, International
Accordian Festival, La Villita Historic Arts Village, 418 Villita St. #900-A, (210)865.8578.
Internationalaccordionfestival.org or lavillita.com.
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