When did Spain start rocking so much? When I took Spanish class way back when, the pictures in the textbooks led me to believe the European nation was full of teenagers who wore ill-fitting stonewashed jeans and went to discotheques. Travel videos featured cultural “folk” music and people enjoying paella. In the past two months my worldview has been shattered by Big Bang and now Eldorado. Both know what a crunching power chord and a wailing guitar solo are. While the former sings in their native tongue, the latter brings us their catalog in English. Eldorado is showing they can cross culture and language with their 2010 release, Golden.
To focus on the vocals for a moment, Jesús Trujillo belts out his lyrics with a pretty amazing throwback sound. He vacillates between the melodious and the larynx shredding in his singing and shows the range one would expect from a band that has aspirations to revive the classic rock sound. His singing cloaks any accent that could betray his country of origin. The lyrical feat of where accents go is something someone has to explain to me at some point. As Trujillo “uh” and “yeahs” his way through “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” you couldn’t tell if the band got their chops playing in Madrid or if they were from the United States and regulars at the Viper Room in Los Angeles. You know a singer has a grip on rock idioms when they start employing double negatives in their lyrics. Of course, it could be that he learned English by listening to songs by Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin and formed his language around them, sort of like the Japanese exchange students in “Better Off Dead” who learn English by impersonating Howard Cosell from “Wild World of Sports.”
Guitarist Andrés Duende, bassist Cesar Sánches and drummer Javi Planelles flesh out the intricacies of Eldorado’s new vintage rock sound. They pull out all the stops to make this happen, from the bang-bang opening in “Free – A Chain Reaction” to the ostinato in the opening to “Falling, Falling.” This is rock at its core, raw, riff-driven and utterly effortless. They’re not breaking new ground; this easily could have recorded in 1988 and many of us would never know the difference. But it is rock and you expect crunchy guitars, rumbling bass, driven drums and a wailing vocalist. If the only reason their songs are not played on hard rock radio stations in the United States is because they are “across the pond,” then that should be rectified.
Eldorado proves you can record a vintage sound and make it sound good. They also show a commitment and drive to be recognized as a legitimate rock outfit by recording their album in two languages: the English Golden and the Spanish version, Dorado (The second being released the year earlier). Step outside the realm of “just another retro act from Los Angeles” and listen to a band who is putting out authentic classic rock from Spain.
And somebody please put them in a Spanish textbook.