If Only I Had
"On their superb and zippy debut album, Thank You Uncle Tom, Caramelize covers a lot of ground," says Maccabee Montandon. "From the Pixies-powered staccato of 'A Little' to the bouncy, bilingual salsa of 'Carolinas,' these swashbucklers get around the rock block. But this is no mere pop pastiche. Caramelize are clever music-world travelers, and they have created a soundtrack for a new nation of listeners whose mercurial tastes were born in the sampler age."
"...Like any great soundtrack, the ten tracks here boldly explore a lifetime of moods and memories. The spaced-out throb of the opening track, 'preparación,' sends Morse code messages concerning identity and gastronomy, as a voiceover instructs on caramelizing sugar for the perfect flan. 'Allergy' is a taut rocker with salsa and ska undertones, channeling the ghost of early Joan Jett. The third song, 'If Only,' breaks from a pulsing, claustrophobic trance into its raging, guitar-laced dénouement, and introduces the twisted DNA vocal style of the band, both in sound and words. On several songs Caramelize's lyrical intentions make emotional U-turns as the layers of voices--ranging from sweet to sticky--intone disparate desires. And everyone from delinquent ex-boyfriends to dilettante heads of state are caught in the crosshairs of their laser-beam lyrics. As with the punk M.O. of bands like the Clash, if you cross Caramelize, you better watch your back.
"Uncle Tom continues to entertain and surprise on the fourth track, 'Enfermedad,' a Spanish-language blast built on a vibrant parade float of jauntily stepping piano parts and bright horns. Then comes 'Denial,' an electronic beats-driven tip of the Kangol cap to '80s new wave and hip hop. Following the aforementioned rocker 'A Little,' comes 'The Caramel Eyes Song,' the group's anthem, a hard snap of hip hop, cool enough to rhyme the word 'infantilize.' With its sampled sound of frying onions, this track has the makings of a left of the dial classic. Batting eighth, 'Ciana' brings the breathy sound of a melodica into the mix--it's almost closing time at the cantina. Then 'Carolinas' yields to the finale, 'Los Lobulos,' which takes a languorous piano ballad and transforms it into a Prince-ly romp.
"By the disc's conclusion, Caramelize fans will feel like explorers of a brave new pop world. Setting out with a redrawn map of rock en Español y Inglés, they will have discovered a record brimming with the sounds of the streets. And those streets can be found in Brooklyn, but also in East Los Angeles. They can be found in the dream of a place called America, where Caramelize plays the soundtrack for a nation that increasingly speaks in bilingual tongues."
Hillary Maroon: vocals voz, bass bajo, guitars guitarras, melodica, Rhodes piano/organ/synth teclados, rattle sonajero
Sandra Velásquez: vocals voz, guitars guitarras, piano, slide whistle pito corrediza
J Why: drums batería, programming programación, synth teclados, rhymes/backing vocals voz, percussion percusión, guitar feedback regeneración de guitarra, processing proceso
James King: alto, tenor & bari saxes saxofones, shoutin' gritos
Tom Lackner: caxixi, chekere
Robin Lynn: guitar guitarra, piano
Gabrial McNair: bass bajo, trombones trombón, screamin' griterío
Naifian: synth teclados