I've enjoyed what I've heard from Bogota's mysterious Las Malas Amistades
("the Bad Friends"), but this Colombian group's recordings have also tested my patience—they might follow a moment of delicate beauty and soul with something clunky and inept. The group consists of four visual artists, and for them music seems to be a diversion; their songs feel casual and intimate, and the 28 on their latest album, Maleza
(Honest Jon's), were recorded in the home of member Humberto Junca over a two-year period. The record is just as uneven as their older stuff, but I've accepted that mix of sublime and subpar as part of the band's charm. Las Malas Amistades use acoustic guitars, cheap electronic keyboards, melodicas, and sparse hand percussion on brief instrumentals and songs with poetic Spanish-language lyrics. (Ximena Laverde is far and away the group's best singer—some of the male members are severely pitch challenged.) They're not playing folk music, but they bring its spirit to their humble pop songs, which range from rustic romantic balladry to almost frenzied bursts of ramshackle chaos. Today's 12 O'Clock Track
is "El Otro Día," a tune featuring Laverde that clearly borrows from South American folk.
Las Malas Amistades, "El Otro Día"
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