MACUILXOCHITL: Five Flower”, the Aztec god of music and dance
By Francisco Ciriza
The Cu, as their fans affectionately call them, may just be the best group of Latino hard rockers you may not have heard much from. Formally known as Curanderos, this Los Angeles based quartet made up of brothers Mario and Rick Lomar and joined by Larrhy Ruiz and David Palacios have over the years put together quite a list of accomplishments. Since 2000, the band has stringed together a series of awards for best Latin Alternative band and best independent album according to a variety of web based fanzines. They have also accumulated a significant loyal fan base not only in Los Angeles, but also in all of Southern California even reaching into northern Baja California.
San Diego audiences will have two opportunities to catch this truly up and coming band this month. The band is scheduled to appear on Friday, March 13 at at Hazzard Center’s Madstone Theaters as a part of this years’ Latino Film Festival proceedings. On Sunday, March 28, the band will return to San Diego to take the stage at one of the city’s most well established alternative music venue’s, the near legendary Brick By Brick in Bay Park. Joining the group will be Mexico’s retro rockers, Zoe.
Paying their dues, the band spent much of the early nineties struggling in Los Angeles’ chaotic Chicano punk movement until finally, in February of 1997, putting together the ambitious debut, Curanderos. Being fans of Latin rock heavyweights, Jaguares, and their pop rock counterparts, Maná, Curanderos experimented with traditional Latin-American sounds and incorporated all Spanish lyrics and poetry to create their own brand of Latin hard rock. “Our audiences are made up of people who listen to both the pop and heavier types of Latin rock,” said group leader, Mario Lomar. In less than a year, the band’s first album went on to receive as much local club and radio airplay as that of their big label counterparts. Released in the summer of 1998, the self-titled EP sold over 6,000 copies in Los Angeles alone.
With the fresh taste of success in their mouths and the confidence in their ability to create and package their own music, Curanderos quickly moved forward releasing a follow up disc. “We quickly realized that because we could do everything on our own, we could turn around discs at a pretty fast rate,” said Mario Lomar. With a densely crowded El Rey Theater as the backdrop for the release party, Curanderos launched the powerful, but melancholy Antes Que Duerma in November of 1999. While the second CD did not sell as many copies, the diversity demonstrated by the band allowed the band to be recognized by critics. Curanderos was now on the Latin Alternative map as La Banda Elastica (LBE), arguably Latin-America’s most important Alternative Latin Rock magazine extended and invitation to the group not once, but an impressive total of seven times to play magazine’s high-profile Las Noches Del Dragon showcases.
However, along with the speediness of the group’s preparation of new material and cd’s for it’s fans, the group became aware of a need to add something more to their sound. “We were offering a lot of music to our fans, but in all honesty, the production quality wasn’t where we wanted it to be.” Now comes, the international release of their fourth production, Evolucion Show, which again finds the band combining its signature cosmic guitars, Flamenco-styled strummed power chords, and impressive soaring melodies. Blending influences from 80’s American and British new wave to 90’s metal and Latin rock, Curanderos’ sound is marked by the quirky lead vocals of Lomar and hypnotic guitar stylings offered by Ruiz and complimented by brother Rick’s melodic bass lines and the hard-hitting Palacios drumming skills. This time around, though, an elevated level of production marks the groups’ sound quite favorably. Adds Lomar, “We’re really happy with and proud of what we’ve been able to achieve on this new CD. It does us much more justice.”