Even though local Latin indie-rock heroes Velorio recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary, their recent output has been minimal, with no new recordings since 2009. That dry spell officially ends Saturday when they host a release party at Elements Venue for their new single, “Tus Labios."
As it turns out, the delay wasn’t so much writer’s block as it was an embarrassment of creative riches. After months of stops and starts, the band refocused their energy and made the decision to channel their ideas into one song.
Velorio’s co-founder Alvaro Caceres said the choice to focus on a single rather an entire album was to ensure that they were able to they put out the best product.
“It was more of, ‘We have something special here,’ and were really invested into it," the 34-year-old frontman said. "We didn’t want to spread ourselves too thin by trying to create fluff around this one thing, so why not highlight it, give it everything and put it out there?”
What makes this song’s creation different from their previous release was the choice to hire a producer: Wil-Dog Abers, the bassist for the acclaimed genre-bending Los Angeles band Ozomatli.
By the time Abers was locked in to produce, “Tus Labios” had already been recorded and worked on.
The producer corresponded with the band, sending mixes back and forth, then came up to Aum Studios in Bakersfield to hash out the finalities in a grueling 10-hour session. He returned to L.A. for the final edits and mixes.
“This was a very different process than what we’ve done in the past, and the outcome is something that we’ve never heard from ourselves before," Caceres said. "It’s very exciting to get behind something like that.”
At first listen, the song seems like a far cry from their previous rock en español meets prog-rock high jinks. “Tus Labios” (“Your Lips”) is smooth and firmly entrenched in Latin pop — more Juanes or Enrique Iglesias than Mars Volta or Caifanes. There’s still a spooky undercurrent to the song, giving it an eerie feel, perfectly in line with the band’s elegiac yet life-affirming name (a velorio is a wake). The song begs for sing-alongs, even by people who’ve never heard the song before, and its foundation is firmly rooted on the dance floor. The next step in the band’s growing evolution.
Velorio will be joined by DJs JoseX and LaVoz on Saturday, keeping the momentum moving in between sets. There will be a red carpet photo set-up at the entrance and the first 100 advance tickets sold will be accompanied by a free digital copy of “Tus Labios.” As of press time, only digital copies will be available for sale.
Hopefully the band can parlay the momentum from this show and next weekend's Halloween Fiesta, opening for Ozomatli, at the Spectrum Amphitheater into bigger and broader opportunities.
Velorio’s “Tus Labios” single release party with DJ JoseX and DJ LaVoz, for ages 21 and over, doors open at 7 p.m., VIP dinner 7:30 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Saturday, Elements Venue, 3401 Chester Ave, Suite H. Pre-sale: $16.82, $32.64 VIP (includes tri-tip and chicken dinner, priority seating and front line access); at the door: $20-$35. eventbrite.com.
Chelsea Williams, 7 p.m. Friday, Temblor Brewing Co., 3200 Buck Owens Blvd. #B. Free admission.
One of the perks about writing about upcoming local shows is discovering those diamonds in the rough; the ones that would have slipped through the cracks with most of us none the wiser — including myself. A shining example is Chelsea Williams, who will perform Friday at Temblor.
The Southern California singer/songwriter’s latest release, “Boomerang,” is a knockout. It begins and ends with the stunning “Angeles Crest,” a deceptively quirky song whose stringed instruments go from winsome and whimsical to soaring and majestic and lovely as quickly and as dramatic as a curtain drop.
Most of the album contains a strong, specifically cinematic feel, incorporating strings, xylophones, horns, organ and a variety of instrumentation including strings, xylophone, and horns, precisely orchestrated around Williams’ vocals. It’s an outstanding job by producer Ross Garren.
While researching Williams and her album, I was pleasantly surprised to find that local violinist Paul Cartwright performed and contributed string arrangements for a few of the songs. Unfortunately, he will not be performing with Williams at Temblor, but she will be accompanied by John Schroeder on guitar and foot percussion (usually a kick drum and another drum played with pedals) and her producer Garren on harmonica.
I’m curious to see how her heavily orchestrated songs will translate live with such sparse instrumentation. But make sure to pick up a copy of “Boomerang” at the show or online (it’s also on Spotify) for those dream-like sounds that are too good to ignore.
"The Phantom of the Opera" (1925), 2 p.m. Sunday, Fox Theater, 2001 H St. $10; all ages, but some minor scares; ticketfly.com
Just in time for Halloween, one of the silver-screen’s most enduring, and oldest, creations will be shown at the Fox Theater Sunday afternoon. Based on the 1910 novel by Gaston Leroux, the story of the macabre — or misunderstood? — “phantom” of the Paris Opera House played by Lon Chaney Sr. is universally well-known; especially since the release of the blockbuster musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. But for a movie that was released almost a century ago (1925), it still packs a punch. Even now, the phantom’s ghastly true face reveal is still a genuinely suspenseful and frightening piece of filmmaking. Plus, Cheney's dedication to the torturous and almost disfiguring makeup he developed for his character gives new meaning to the phrase “suffering for one’s art.” It simply looks painful.
The film will be accompanied live by organist Dean Mora, and shown on a fully restored 1909 hand-cranked film projector, courtesy of projectionist and vintage camera collector Joe Rinaudo, giving the whole event an understated time travel feel that almost borders on seance-level spooky. Let’s hope the era-specific gear doesn’t find itself having any vintage technical difficulties, or any unnecessary spirits summoned.