Armed with the Nuggets collection and an off-color, multilingual pun that would make James Joyce jealous, I Ching Gatos have genuinely crafted a Mysterious Mess. First track “Sing the Mama” provides the album title but starts things off on a relatively subdued note. Guitarist and lead vocalist Joe Sanchez assures “I’m OK, I’m just in a whole lot of pain,” before enumerating a laundry list of modern-day bellyaches, from American Idol to the War on Terror. While most of the album’s songs conclude with exuberantly loud and sloppy guitar solos (think “Cortez the Killer” working against a shot clock) this one fades into an ambient haze. “White Flour Tortillas” follows with what at first seems to be a goofy, one-note joke (“Not like an uzi but just as dangerous”) but ends up as a commentary on culture loss (“Tortillas that my mama grande made/ We’d eat them around her table, it seems like yesterday/ Not even her house is there anymore/ We buy our white flour tortillas at the store”). “Nothing but Money” and “It’s Not in the Medicine” seem too excessively, unselfconsciously awesome to’ve been released anytime after 1979 (check out Joe Belk’s incontinent drum fills midway through “Medicine”), but “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and “Suicide Bomber” offer a one-two punch of current-ish political rhetoric that’d be easier to take seriously if it didn’t sound like the band were having so much fun.
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