Aula Máxima es la biblioteca y también lugar de recreo del espíritu.   - José Vasconcelos




Artist:    El TRI
Title:    Fin de siglo    1998
Catalog & order information:  WEA Latina 24353-2
                                   Warner Music Group

                                                5201 Blue Lagoon Drive   Suite 200
                                                Miami, FL 33126
                                               Tel: 305-702-2200, Fax: 305-266-8771                                                


When teen-aged Alex Lora started gigging around Mexico City in the angry time of the '68 Olympics and the Tlatelolco massacre that preceded them, nobody would have bet that the smartmouthed longhair--a social critic in a climate of fierce repression--would survive to slash out the century with undiminished intensity. Clichéd comparisons ("Mexico's Rolling Stones") do little more than trivialize the impact Lora and his bands have had on several generations of rocanroleros; there simply has been no rock outfit in the English-speaking world to last as long, stay as popular, and retain counterculture credibility the way El TRI has done.

Even more unfair than facile comparisons is the misperception that third-world rockers are mere imitators. Though the comic, I-can't-please-anyone despair of Fin de siglo's opening track, "Todo me sale mal", is familiar enough terrain for Anglo punks, the fourteenth and final song is an anthropological study of Aztec and Inca cultural commonalities. In between are themes ranging from the December 1997 Acteal Massacre in Chiapas ("Amarga navidad"), to the travails of middle-aged married life ("Cásate o muérate"); from the hilarious wordplay of "Viagra" to a compassionate, nonjudgmental look at the lives of homeless street kids--a longstanding preoccupation of Lora's--in "El futuro del mundo". This is no imitation songwriting: El TRI (or as Lora is fond of calling his band, "El TRI de Méxicoooooo") carves out its own identity and doesn't flinch from the ugliness, nor the beauty, of modern Mexican society.
      The CD includes an interactive video track, truly a   fin de siècle innovation that street vendors of copias piratas, cheap dubbed cassettes, can't yet reproduce, along with a lavishly colorful booklet of band photos and psychedelic collage. No lyric sheet, but rather selected phrases from the tunes to accompany the art. The jewel case comes branded with the ever-popular PARENTAL ADVISORY-EXLICIT LYRICS sticker;   you've been warned.
     A good album by a great band.


Reviewed by Bruce Jensen


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