Las Palabras Shares “Condesa”

September 29, 2020

Las Palabras Shares “Condesa”

Debut Spanish-language Release From !!! (chk chk chk) Member Rafael Cohen

Self-titled LP Due October 23rd Via Brassland

Last month, Rafael Cohen announced his debut LP under his new alias Las Palabras, to be released on October 23rd on Brassland (The National, Bartees Strange, This Is The Kit).A veteran of an array of notable bands over the past 20 years, perhaps best known as a core member of !!! (chk chk chk), and for his work on releases from artists like The Rapture and Q and Not You, this album is a dramatic change of pace from Cohen’s earlier output: an album of songs in Spanish (Cohen’s first language) inspired by the music he grew up hearing in his childhood home.  

Yet another truly warm and enriching acoustic creation from this vital artist.

On the album’s first single “Juan Pared,” Cohen presented an aspect of the duality of immigrant existence, combining elements of his life in the US with elements of language and culture reflecting his childhood roots in Latin America with a song about John Wall (the point guard for Cohen’s long-suffering favorite basketball team the Washington Wizards), that was inspired by the Brazilian tradition of writing music about sports figures (i.e. Jorge Ben’s “Filho Maravilha”). On the latest single, a track entitled “Condesa,” Cohen reflects on an experience he had in the titular Mexico City neighborhood while he was on tour with !!!. Cohen was born in Mexico City and lived there until his family moved to the US when he was ten, and his meditation on the other life he might have led provides a nuanced example of the way the Las Palabras project grapples with complex contemporary identity. 

Condesa is a neighborhood in Mexico City that’s roughly equivalent to Williamsburg, the Brooklyn neighborhood that I’ve called home for a few decades,” Cohen explains. “Back in the 1930s and ’40s Condesa and Williamsburg were both Jewish enclaves and today both are known as hipster neighborhoods. A few years ago, its sister neighborhood Roma became familiar to most cinephiles in 2018 when the film of the same name won Oscar’s for best foreign picture and best director for Alfonso Cuarón. Condesa is that neighborhood’s more laid-back cousin. A few years ago, I was in Mexico City playing a show with !!! and I saw a guy pushing a stroller with a baby around the same age as my daughter. He looked about my age and I imagined he was me if I had never left Mexico City when I was 10 years old, which is what inspired this song.

1. Pantallas
2. Juan Pared
3. Mi Cafe
4. Tarde
5. Respirar
6. Noche Bueno
7. Condesa
8. Cuartos
9. El Pescador y El Pez

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