Monday, April 26, 2010

The Velvety Ones

Los Aterciopelados are not to be considered plush and snugly, as their velvety-name suggests. This electro-punk-indigenous rock duo is focused on making changes to more than just the music scene.

Andrea Echeverri and Hector Buitrago first joined (strictly artistic) forces in 1992. Nearly two decades later, Aterciopelados has produced eight albums, earned several awards and gained international attention.

In fact, the band's first single "Bolero Falaz" was an instant hit. I'm sure the music video's animation sequences (foreshadowing future videos) added to the song's attractiveness. Always astute about music videos, MTV noticed the band and recorded their "Unplugged" set in 1997.

Fast-forward a couple of years, and Aterciopelados is now the Latin Grammy Award-winning Best Rock Group, an honor they received for their fifth studio album, Gozo Poderoso. The Latin Grammys continued when the duo won Best Alternative Album for Oye in 2007.

Oye solidified Aterciopelados' presence in Colombian politics. Tracks like "Don Dinero" have listeners questioning whether money truly is the answer to all of our problems, and the music video fits in the same aisle as Manu Chao's "Me Gustas Tu." Their protest song titled "Cancion Protesta" attracted international attention when Amnesty International gave the band an escopeterra for its awareness efforts. Other artists to receive the symbol of non-violence include Juanes and Manu Chao. Best of all, you can see it in the music video!

Aterciopelados' newest album, Rio, maintains the conscious message backed by ethereal, electro-funk sounds. The title track speaks of the struggle for native Colombians to have the fundamental right to clean-water access. Both members are more than just spokespeople for a problem. While floating down the Bogota River, they actually collected 2 million signatures in order to propel a clean water referendum to the next stage in the lengthy, bureaucratic process. Take that, Bono!

If you're still interested in what these progressive powerhouses sound like, check out these two tracks. One is quintessential fierce Aterciopelados, while the other shows the band's softer (yet equally enjoyable) side.

Nos vemos en Colombia,
DJ Gringuito