El Cantador's "Translation Wave" combines blues and indie rock

Mobile-based indie rockers El Cantador released their final record, the 6 track “Translation Wave”, in 2013. Though the band plays no longer, their diverse and refreshing music that blends southern blues, indie rock, and lazy beach tones does. Recorded in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, the influence of the sea is powerful and ever-present on this album.

The EP opens with “Black Sound”, a short introduction to El Cantador’s dynamic music. The song begins with a few folksy, slow verses, but goes “blacksound” midway through, and picks up with an electric guitar. They sing “Don’t buy into most of my dreams/I’ll make your head spin with my own disconnectivity,” with a pensive pace.

“My Way” brings out the ocean-side upbringing of El Cantador with upbeat guitar riffs and vibrant singing. Mirroring “Black Sound”, the song slows to an intimate crawl halfway in, as they sing “But when I’m with you I can crumble/ Like a castle in the wind but unkempt.” “My Way” ends with a vigorous return to the original pace.

El Cantador innovates with another new sound on “Ennui”, a viscous, mystical track. The background awash with deep, ambient synth tones, El Cantador sings solemnly “I thought of life and letting go/ I thought of drowning in that ocean undertow / It’s a different world beneath the crest /To render this up above as meaningless.” With poignancy, “Ennui” ends with a couple choir-like verses.

The blues come out on the lengthy fourth track, “Particle and Wave.” A growling guitar complements the soaring vocals as El Cantador sings “Fall into the Gulf/ Fall like a rain /Far from your seat /Back into the bone.” The beat slows 3 minutes in as a roaring guitar fills the sound space in yet another dynamic and strong track on “Translation Wave”.

The tunes stay heavy on “Reynosa”, the sludgy fifth track about the perils of the Mexican border town of the same name. They sing “Let’s pile into the car with our friends/ We’ll drive over the border-line for the weekend /We can lose our heads /Wait, some really lost their heads.”

“Translation Wave” cools back down with the final track, “Pilgrims”. With a sleepy sound best accompanied by a beach sunset, the light, distant guitar and vocal harmonizing are reminiscent of Band of Horses. The lyrics melt together as El Cantador soulfully sings “Kicked up a wasp I guess we gambled hard, stayed too long /And I could want that /For us to see tomorrow /Spread out our differences /Pretend we were two pilgrims in love.”

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