The latest record from Mexican rock outfit El Shirota is a must listen for anyone looking for a new perspective on tastefully crafted noise. Tiempos Raros (Weird Times) has a distinct sound, taking hints from post-hardcore, grunge and noise rock, but there’s a uniqueness to it that’s been brewing over the years since the band’s founding in 2013 that makes the album feel especially fresh. Having their debut seven years after forming has informed their senses for crafting waves of noise and distortion. Their songwriting is laced with numerous experimental flourishes while still remaining familiar to a rock sound we know (from power-pop laced grunge to full on experimental). This also is a distillation of sound that could have only been made possible by the brewing ideas in Mexico’s rock scene, and it’s the main reason why it’s high on our recommendation list.
From the opening “No Se Todo” with it’s more aggressive take on Weezer-esque power pop to the raging garage punk cacophony of closing song “El Bob Rosendo”. The richness offered in Tiempos Raros is one of its main highlights. Another thing that’s extremely noteworthy is how restrained the band can be with their sound. While they can go absolutely ham on the volume, like with the roaring riffs in “La Ciudad”, the band finds plenty of space for the riffs to percolate in “Más de una vez”. Alternating between controlled chaos to patiently simmering with potential energy as each section dictates. It’s been my experience that when a noise-loving band becomes creative and diverse with their song structures, tempo and sonics it takes a lot of effort and refining of skill to pull it off.
And pull it off they did. The centerpiece “RTL” is proof of this, one that deserves its own dissection. The jam starts off with mostly rhythms, repeating in multiple cycles with a disciplined cadence. It gets darker at the 5 minute mark as textures fill in like a wildfire of shoegaze, before the whole thing lifts off into a void of space by its climactic end. Filled with magnificent wonders that are consistently found with the rest of the album.
Tiempos Raros is one of those records that can open up gateways for rock listeners. Not only does it open up the possibilities of finding gems in other regions, but it also shows us the richness and possibilities that that rock has yet to offer.