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Rhythm & Views

Chingon

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Director Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Grindhouse) has finally released a studio album's worth of Chingon, the mariachi-rock band he first formed in order to score his own 2003 action flick Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Following that project, Quentin Tarantino asked Rodriguez to contribute "Malaguena Salerosa" to the end credits and soundtrack CD to Kill Bill: Vol. 2. Since then, Chingon, which is made up of a rotating cast of musicians from Austin, Texas, recorded the rest of the fiery songs now appearing on Mexican Spaghetti Western.

Like a Rodriguez movie, Mexican Spaghetti Western doesn't take itself too seriously and is a whole lot of fun. "Se Me Paro" pounds the eardrums courtesy of drummer Rafael Gayol, with Rodriguez himself and two other guitarists layering different textures throughout what's essentially a party tune. The spooky whistling of "Fideo del Oeste," meanwhile, recalls director Sergio Leone and composer Ennio Morricone's legendary collaborations, making this six-minute instrumental sound like an updated theme from a, well, neo-Spaghetti Western. However, we could have done without yet another version of the goofy cockroach song--here called "Cuka Rocka" instead of the traditional "La Cucaracha."

Listening to Salma Hayek torch-sing her way through the lovely "Siente Mi Amor," we wonder: What if, for a change, Rodriguez took an idea--any idea--seriously? Content with genre filmmaking and now pop music, he's in danger of being left in the dust of Mexican talent like Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel). Ultimately, Mexican Spaghetti Western is a fast-food burrito: tasty but not too filling.

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