If you’re looking for a powerful, horn-driven ska band with goofy lyrics, Mandorico isn’t the band for you. However, if you find yourself in the market for Latin music (with English lyrics, save for a verse in Spanish towards the end of every song but one) set to a ska beat, then the band’s debut effort, Familiar Places, might just be the ticket. It’s hard to tell which genre they lean towards, as a song’s verse and chorus will randomly borrow from both and the bridge almost always promises to contradict whatever the rest of the song has established. But the final product is rather impressive, despite the fact that I don’t speak Spanish and I have no idea what they’re saying sometimes.
My one beef with the album is that it’s an EP, and not full-length, because I really would have enjoyed hearing what else the band could produce. But what is provided on the five songs offered (and a sixth, which is just a radio edit of a previous track) is melodic vocals, strong but short horn lines with occasional equally short solos, and even a flamenco solo in the middle of a song called “Me Voy.” The one song without a Spanish verse, “The Heist,” throws in a rap-like chorus that would have ruined the feel of the most ska-oriented song on the album, if the rest of the tune weren’t so strong to overcome it.
I’ve listened to this album a good many times already, and even with five tracks, I’ve yet to get bored with it. It’s a pretty good investment whether you’re into ska or Latin music. And if you’re into both, then you’re already ahead of the game. Presidio Productions, P.O. Box 191502, Atlanta, GA 31119