I Celebrate Their Entire Collection: Rod y Gab
[Welcome to the fourth installment of "I Celebrate Their Entire Collection," Stew Over’s feature on the bands we love. Today we look at Rodrigo y Gabriela (aka Rod y Gab).]
The first time I heard Rodrigo y Gabriela was on XRT, one of the few decent radio stations left in Chicago. After I heard “Buster Voodoo,” I immediately downloaded it from iTunes, as well as the entire album 11:11. To this day it remains one of my favorite albums to run or drive to. Anytime I need some music to help pump me up or put me in a good mood, I know I can turn to Rodrigo and Gabriela.
Wikipedia describes Rod y Gab as “a Mexican musical duo who specialize in playing fast, rhythmic acoustic guitars.” I feel like “fast” doesn’t exactly do justice to the speed at which they play. Rod y Gab often play at breakneck, Kill ‘Em All-style speed. In describing their style, Wikipedia states, “they regularly dismiss being classified in a particular genre of music, preferring to say they play a fusion of many influences.” As an introduction to their music, I suggest you check out the video to “Hanuman,” a video I’ve linked to on this blog before. If you like that, you’ll like the rest of their stuff. Their first two albums are Foc and Re-Foc. I realize that this is slightly cheating on the idea behind “Celebrating Their Entire Collection,” but because these albums are not available on Spotify, I haven’t listened to them. If you have listened to these albums, please let me know in the comments and tell me if I should seek them out.
Rodrigo y Gabriela- 2006
After listening to 11:11, I quickly found my way to Rodrigo y Gabriela, the group’s first studio album. Upon hearing covers of “Orion” by Metallica and “Stairway to Heaven,” I knew I’d like the album. After multiple listens, however, these covers were not the songs I found myself returning to. The first two tracks on the album, “Tamacun” and “Diablo Rojo,” are typical Rod y Gab: Southwest-infused and fast. “Juan Loco,” near the tail end of the album, is another one of my favorites.
Favorite Track: “Tamacun”
Live in Japan- 2008
I have not been lucky enough to see Rodrigo y Gabriela in concert. If their live albums are any indication, they put on an amazing show. This live from Japan show includes their Metallica cover of “Orion,” a great Rodrigo solo that includes bits from “Cowboys from Hell” and “Master of Puppets,” and my favorite version of “Diablo Rojo.” Before he closes with “Diablo Rojo,” Rodrigo asks the crowd, “Are you fucking ready?” Yes, yes I am.
Favorite Track: “Diablo Rojo”
A couple of past Stew Over mentions of Rod y Gab referred to the opening track on 11:11, “Hanuman.” I made reference to it here, and Chas used it in his Breaking Bad video. But that’s not the only song this album has to offer. The entire 11-track album is amazing and has quickly became one of my favorite albums to run to, as the music is upbeat and driving. I suggest that if you’re new to Rod y Gab’s music, start here.
Favorite Track: “Hanuman”
Live in France – 2011
This is another of Rod y Gab’s live albums, and again it’s clear that their shows are a ton of fun to go to. The audience is clapping along and really into it the whole time. Their musicianship doesn’t falter at all in live performance. They play as fast in concert as on their studio albums. My favorite track is probably “Hora Zero” from 11:11, but the whole album is great.
Favorite Track: “Hora Zero”
Area 52- 2012
Rod y Gab’s latest album features the duo playing alongside a host of Cuban musicians. The idea is cool, but overall I was disappointed by this album. I think I like the sparseness of their duet style. When Rod y Gab were last in Chicago, they were touring with C.U.B.A. and the ticket prices were quite expensive. Combined with the fact that this was my least favorite album, I skipped the show. If you were there, let me know in the comments how you liked it.
Favorite Track: “Santo Domingo (feat. C.U.B.A.)”
If you want to learn more about Rodrigo y Gabriela or their lyrics, check out these links. Most of Rod y Gab’s songs are available on iTunes and Spotify.