Fayuca’s Funky Fusion of Reggae, Punk, Ska and Latin Roots

Fayuca has become a legendary local band during the last decade—between the amazing music they make, which intricately weaves  the sounds of their Latin heritage into an obvious love of punk rock, reggae and ska and the way they present that music live, which is completely unhinged. I had seen them several times set the rabid crowds afire at many a venue with full on electric performances that made my mind reel—but when I saw them performing a few songs at an intimate Fervor Records party with the same intense ferocity, I was absolutely blown away. Here is a band that seems to feel their music through ever curved nerve of their being, who after all this time have found their identity and sound or allowed those things to find them. This may well be a tale of mutual discovery on both parts. I remember how disappointed I was in 2010 when I realized I had missed the boat on their release the previous year—here, after all, was a band whose musical interests (much aligned with my own),  had been crossed with such deep seated local flavor, but had somehow escaped me. When the fine folks at Fervor Records let me know that their fourth release would be coming out in late Spring, and even let me hear the lead track to the album, I knew exactly what I wanted to feature in this issue.

I think what I love best about Fayuca is their passion—you can literally hear it in their recordings and it goes without saying you can see it in their performances. This is a band designed for warm weather festivals, I have no other way to describe it. This may be tied to the first few times I saw them live, but these guys simply look and sound their best on an outdoor stage blasting their sound into the blue sky and sunshine, with hundreds or thousands dancing themselves into oblivion.  The combination of Gabriel Solorzano’s vocals and guitar, with the amazing organic drumming of Rafael Ruiz and Jared Dieckhoff’s bass holding it all together is both an unwieldy sound and an amazing sight to behold. It always stuns me when a power trio can literally blow the world away—now, granted they are often joined by horns and guest cameos, but this tight knit threesome is where all this sound is found. It would not be surprising if this  album is their ticket to further tours with big names and placement deals across the globe. They recently finished a month long tour with Authority Zero and have supported or toured with Fishbone, Groupo Fantasma, Tomorrow’s Bad Seed’s, HR of Bad Brains, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, 311, Nas and The Dirty Heads. And with sponsors like Jagermeister, Fender, Monster Energy Drink and Red Stripe Lager, this band is pretty much set to roll right into the heart of a nation.

Barrio Sideshow is Fayuca at their absolute best—literally a showcase in which the band display every dimension of their presence, passion and pure vision. It also happens to be one of the best constructed albums I’ve heard in a long time—which is not terribly surprising  since the band teamed up this time around with platinum producer Ralph Patlan (Jamie Foxx, Megadeth).  It’s not simply the sound and production that lend itself to the brilliance, but the actual sequencing of the album plays a huge role here and it propels the listener through the many varied moods of Fayuca without losing any momentum, the spare slow songs serve as relief to the furious pace of others, while the languages of this bilingual band are fairly traded. Wise practice from a band who has had time to divine such wisdom through experience and here, they leave innocence behind to enter a state of grace.

“Por Que Seguir” is a stunning opener and the very song I heard so many months ago—driving guitar, brilliant brass bursting throughout and entirely Spanish lyrics. I don’t speak more than a few phrases of Spanish, but I don’t have to in order to enjoy the absolute brilliance of this song. The reason it should be the mindblowing opener for this fantastic album is that in perfect time for a rock or pop single (a proven three and a half minutes) it shows off the entire landscape that you will  experience over the next half hour of your life in ten percent of the time. This does not mean you have any excuse to skip the next nine tracks, but rather it serves as an invitation and the translation, roughly “Why Continue” or “Why Go On” is self evident—like a great book you have to check out the following chapter, to see what the hell will happen next.

The follow up of “Tricky Sneaky Sleeves” will land hard and  fast with any fans of Sublime or 311—this has an amazing island rhythm , that while the lyrics are somewhat  indicting of the character in question throughout the song, the submission that the protagonist continually goes through is a fascinating psychological exploration. I’m not sure how often ones inner conflict with detrimental attraction is presented with  such a fun and exuberant  backdrop, but this is part of Fayuca’s modus operandi. “Marialena” aside from being one of the most beautiful names I’ve never heard  spoken before, tricks the listener as one thinks it may be the first ballad of the album, before it explodes into a pure and true punk rock heavy as hell guitar assault—“This could be paradise if you would only let me in, this could be paradise if you would only let me win, if I could take you home tonight, mend your broken heart tonight.” Lyrically it feels that this is either a romantic’s true attempt to draw a woman into his arms or a distant fantasy from across the barroom floor that forever remains unspoken—either way it’s a beautiful sentiment set to one of the most aggressive rock tracks on the entire album.

The flipside of that pure, beautiful sentiment is “Stickier Than The Last”, which describes, perhaps the event that led to the beautiful damsel’s distress in the previous song or what occurs after the wishes of the protagonist come true. These songs are two different sides of life/love situations and whether there is a relation between the two or not they strike a fascinating contrast side by side. Once more the reggae groove meets urban Latin vibe is in the forefront and plays out brilliantly. The first half of the album finishes with the absolute classic, sure to be a prominent single, cautionary tale of drug abuse. “Shoot It Up” is an amazing, nightmarish anthem of both the despondency that leads to such dependency and the situational disposition that makes it more of a sympathetic elegy toward the suffering rather than a condemnation of the individual. It is a stark portrayal of honesty that in no way condones this behavior in any capacity, but it doesn’t lack empathy or compassion either. It also happens to feature Authority Zero’s Jason DeVore in a brilliant cameo that cannot be understated.

“Sigo Amandote” (I Still Love You) returns once more to all Spanish lyrics and once more, even if you can’t understand the words, it really doesn’t matter in the least, because it is a beautiful, lovelorn song, filled with passion. Here I must pause again and emphasize how much their music and mood speaks for them—I must have listened to this song ten times before I ever knew what the title meant and what I derived from the music, from Gabriel’s beautiful vocal delivery was exactly what the title and the lyrics actually express. Again it is in stark, but perhaps meaningful contrast to the preceding song, and absolutely flawless. Not to be undone, the guitar assault launches once more in the crossroads where metal and punk meet, before solidifying into a straight ska groove when “Beginner’s Luck” explodes from the album. It’s another cautionary tale of getting in too deep to any situation in which, had you not toed the line, would you have survived? It is one of the most brilliant, upbeat, poetic occasions concerning getting your ass out of a hot bed of danger before it’s too late that I’ve ever heard. A lot of us have been to the edge and those who have crossed that line, we don’t hear from too often anymore.

More horns and a very surreal sense of Latin infused psychedelia defines “Pick Up The Pieces”, which happens to be the shortest number  in the set and serves on the album as almost a coda to “Beginner’s Luck.” At this point, because of Barrio Sideshow’s wise construction that you don’t feel that it’s panning out as something of a concept album, you may want to check out your pattern recognition skills. “The Cycle” is yet another picture perfect Fayuca single and I first heard it on KWSS 93.9 before I ever had a copy of the album.  It is a very upbeat, hard rock way of saying that those who do not pay attention to history are doomed to repeat it. This could have been written by Black Flag or The Circle Jerks in their heyday and that’s a high compliment. The finale of the bi-lingual “Salvame” completes the album cycle steeped deep in Cumbia rhythms, representing Caribbean flavors and the  lyrics, “I know that this is love, love sweet love” not only sums up the romance found in the song cycle, but also the authenticity of what Fayuca truly feels for the music they are making. In my estimation Barrio Sideshow is a flawless record of perfection that serves as a reflection of life, learning, loss and love told in poetry through a melting plot of musical cultures.  Stunning.

Barrio Sideshow will be released to the world on May 7, 2013. Those of you lucky enough to live in Arizona will have the advantage of witnessing this release on May 3rd for the official CD Release at Martini Ranch in Scottsdale. This is an absolute must see event. See you there. This show is all ages, $12 in advance, $15 at the door.

Doors: 5:30pm
Show: 6:15pm

Special Guest:
Cartoon Lion
Pride Through Srtife
Black Bottom Lighters
La Sucursal De La Cumbia

Acoustic Stage:
The Wiley One