The Dirty South of The Border
Mexico-based, down-home rockers ELAN dish another greasy helping with their eighth studio release, See Us Spin, a stick-to-your-ribs cut of tequila-soaked guitars, husky-voiced lady singing and—of course!—a hearty slab of grit ‘n’ gristle blues. The band often plays like the Latino sons (and daughter) of the Allman Brothers, with a few riffs running the billiard room with slick, pool-cue accuracy. But in the end, for lack of discretion or perhaps out of rote-memory laziness, See Us Spin scratches one too many shots to make an above-average game.
A strong stand-out track, though, is “Stranger,” which places neatly in the “slow-burn powder keg” quadrant of the bluesosphere. Its southwestern flavor and reverb-laden rhythm seem custom-built for From Dusk Til Dawn‘s ill-fated strip club, the “Titty Twister”—wet with cheap booze and dirty-tavern sex appeal. The group’s lively and vixenous lead singer, Elán—not to be confused with their all-caps namesake, ELAN—sounds especially game. “The more you move, the more it makes me wanna have you,” she purs, in a bid no less for anonymous stranger sex. Good on her, I say! I think. The song eventually tears into an equally horny guitar solo courtesy ELAN’s “El Pato” López Reyes, who all but emits sparks with every frenzied bend and pull-off. Sizzle, sizzle, ‘splode!
A softer side is shown with “Bleed Me,” the album’s strongest cut. Its soft brush-pattern drumming and lonesome highway atmosphere, as well as the singer’s drowsy and longing performance, add up to a lush and emotive country ballad. “I want you to want me/I want you to need me,” sings Elán, somehow forgetting those are pretty much the lyrics to Cheap Trick’s biggest hit. But she re-routs the words for a new end and to nice effect, so all is forgiven.
“Who Made You” and “The Action” knock everything down a peg, however. The former is a routine bawdy seduction song, sounding like the Guess Who’s “American Woman” if it dropped all its anti-war pretensions and made a beeline for getting its swerve on. Our biker babe songstress tries her best, but the song has no pants—much less legs. The latter of the two is a fluff piece as well, rehashing the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash” with little ingenuity. Where can a guy get some more inventive horndog songs around here?
And that’s mostly the trouble with See Us Spin. It never quite transcends or reinterprets its dusty Southwestern cues like it should, settling instead on another fairly decent but all-too-familiar night at the roadhouse. Sure, there’s a couple of ladies doing body shots and a denim-clad brawl or two, but in the end it’s nothing to have a séance with Patrick Swayze about. So let’s all leave that man alone!