Miss Mindy’s Record Reviews

We are so lucky to have a new contributor to the Boulevard Sentinel. If you’ve made a CD you want to submit, send to “Miss Mindy” in care of this paper. – editor

   The Los Angeles music scene is brimming with talented instrumentalists, eclectic musicians and has evolved into a virtual melting pot of musical cultures and styles. Considering L.A.’s focus on entertainment and the wide spectrum of diversity in people and music, I can say that I have merely scratched the surface of what has to be one of the most musically rich demographics on the West Coast. Having said this, I was excited at the opportunity to discover something new.

   When “the Spellbound Sampler: Assorted Spanglish Favorites!” ended up in my hands, I must admit that I had mixed feelings. The title enticed me but upon viewing the package, my expectations were not too hopeful (you have to see it for yourself). I diligently pressed on, only to find the CD offered some surprisingly delectable music. Proving once again that you should never judge a book (or a CD) by its cover.

   Located in L.A., Spellbound has captured the flavors of our community and joyfully serve us up heaping portions of steaming salsa-infused melodies. A self described “tropical funk” band, who also consider themselves to be somewhat groundbreaking in the spanglish music scene, formed in the 90’s. They’ve released four previous albums, though before listening to this compilation I had yet to hear of them. The band consists of multi-instrumentalist Paul Thomas, vocalist Bobby Moon and a rotating cast of guest musicians and vocalists who add a certain spiciness to a duo that already packs a good amount of heat.

   With hot Latin tracks immersed in everything from rock to disco to electro, Spellbound definitely has something for everyone. Songs like “El Tropico”, “Quien Llamo Pa’ Rumba?” and “Fiesta Privada” (some of the most impressive tracks on the album) revel in the simple, sweet complexity of traditional salsa and Latin music. “Fiesta Privada” (which translates into “Private Party”) was, in fact, a private party considering that until now it’s only been available on mp3. They add variety and expand their range with “The Crown”, “Let’s Getaway” and “Don’t Care Anymore” dousing 80’s style R&B, disco and funk into the groove. Like a musical time machine, “Let’s Getaway" transports you to a sweaty 70’s disco club (very Studio 54). If that weren’t enough, psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll and Santana-style guitar solos infiltrate “Love Is A Wonderful Thing” and “Love Sweet Love.” You can just about envision the guitar strings happily dancing around, sprinkling you with their audible fairy dust. It’s all followed up with a live cover of Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va”, making this CD an absolute party in a box. The beats and rhythms on this compilation inspire your body to move almost instantly. Not to mention that its listening appeal easily crosses over from work to the car to your home. It’s addictive.

   “The Spellbound Sampler: Assorted Spanglish Favorites!” was a pleasure to listen to (over and over again). The musical skill of all the instrumentalists on this CD are simply amazing. And refreshing to experience. Some songs being so incredibly catchy that you find yourself singing along. The song writing, though I can only understand the English lyrics, is great even if a few of the vocals could use some additional production (to counter what I call “the Karaoke Effect”).

   On the whole, Spellbound has impressed upon me the seriousness in which they orchestrate their music, the heart and soul they put into their songs and the advantages of turning off commercialized, mainstream music and experiencing the less trodden path of local musical acts who have yet to “hit it big.”

Spellbound has definitely gained a new fan.

Try one for yourself:

“The Spellbound Sampler” (04)

“Tropicalifornia” (02)

“Respete El Pasado/Respect The Past” (01)

“Funqueros” (99)

“Spellbound” (96)