Echoes of Latin America in José González's music
March 22, 2008 9:19 PM   Subscribe

Guitarist and singer José González's myspace page mentions [lots of youtube ahead] Low and Elliot Smith. And no review of the Swede whose parents left Argentina in the 1970s is complete without a reference to Nick Drake. But what about the influence of styles from the hemisphere his parents left behind?

After listening to González, Cuban Nueva Trova singer Silvio Rodriguez's early work sounds remarkably familiar, and Northeastern Brazilian rhythms picked on nylon-string guitar also resonate. Here are some examples by Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, and Marisa Monte.

Lyrically, however, in contrast to Rodriguez's poetic Marxism, and Gil and Veloso's dadaist Tropicália and subsequent MPB pop styles, González's new record "In our nature" is currently influenced by, yes, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.
posted by umbú (25 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
If I may add, many may already know Gonzalez from his recording of "Heartbeats" as featured in the Sony Bravia advert with all the bouncy balls bouncing around San Francisco. Originally recorded by The Knife, also from Sweden.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:48 PM on March 22, 2008

Thanks for the post. I've been listening to Junip for the last couple of days and thinking I need to get some José González. Junip does a pretty good cover of The Ghost of Tom Joad.
posted by Sailormom at 10:03 PM on March 22, 2008

Man, This guy causes me to tear up... Teardrop lead to the album and led to my tears, DAMN You Jose, Damn you and Thank you!!!
posted by Elim at 10:09 PM on March 22, 2008

Thanks for the links. Jose is one my favorites.
posted by greta simone at 10:19 PM on March 22, 2008

Heartbeats is an absolutely gorgeous song. It took me forever to learn, but mean, playing it calms me down so much. Thanks for the links!
posted by Phire at 10:20 PM on March 22, 2008

Love me some Jose Gonzalez. (And for the hip hop fans)
posted by cashman at 10:35 PM on March 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wow, I just learned about this fellow (from Heartbeats, as I was watching the original on YouTube and followed the link) last night. Thanks for timing this post my my maximum benefit.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:40 PM on March 22, 2008

Here's an interview with him during his Veneer tour.
posted by bigmusic at 11:20 PM on March 22, 2008

I saw him live at the Glee Club in Brum a while back (2 years?). He is a painfully shy live performer but the sound was near perfect.
posted by srboisvert at 6:10 AM on March 23, 2008

This review from Oct. 2006 cites Silvio Rodríguez along with Nick Drake and quotes González on his language choices. It's written by and for U.S. Hispanics. Disclaimer: I work for the publisher.
posted by noway at 6:21 AM on March 23, 2008

I guess it doesn't really matter but it's Elliott Smith not Eliot.
posted by yodelingisfun at 8:05 AM on March 23, 2008

A bit more rockin' version of Needle in the Hay from Elliott. Love that song.
posted by rodo at 10:03 AM on March 23, 2008

I always wondered how he'd be live, since so much of the distinctive gorgeousness of In Our Nature seems to comes from the doubled vocals.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:46 AM on March 23, 2008

NPR has a concert of Jose's recorded and downloadable from the All Songs Considered podcast - sounds like it was an excellent show.
posted by mikw at 12:38 PM on March 23, 2008

I saw him live about a year ago. He is even more stunning when all is stripped down to just him and his guitar. His performance only added to the love I have for his music.
posted by greta simone at 1:09 PM on March 23, 2008

I am always amused to see Low mentioned, they are such a non nonsense, or at least non-rockstar group, it creates a little disconnect to run into Al at the local Co-op then see this group of his in a national scene setting.
posted by edgeways at 1:51 PM on March 23, 2008

they're playing on wed. at the Rafters--five bucks!--edgeways! you gonna go? i always feel like i'm sticking my tongue out at the world when we get our pre-tour bon voyage show for el cheapo.

one time, i was buying pot, and my ass called the Sparhawks in the depths of the couch cushions. so i'm kinda getting buzzed, and my (cellphoned) ass has called the Sparhawks, whose phone number i'd used once or maybe twice in my life (but saved, like a little ion-bit trophy of coolness), and i'm talking about god knows what while my ass is leaving a long muffled conversation as a message on their phone. later i get a call from Alan saying, "you called? left us a message, but we couldn't work out what it said"....

i was so embarrassed. so embarrassed that that i ended up telling him about and then sending him a book that was on second thought probably totally inappropriate for a Mormon.

*/silly drug-induced duluth story*
posted by RedEmma at 3:36 PM on March 23, 2008

heh, Weds? I might have to, going to be a stressful week and I don't know which day the stress is coming on, so if it has arrived by Wed I may well go, otherwise it's more worrying and biting nails.
posted by edgeways at 5:45 PM on March 23, 2008

I hate to be picky but the absolute musical genius was named Elliott Smith, not "Elliot Smith".

Those who enjoy wonderful music such as the aforementioned artists should definitely check out the extraordinarily talented Micah Blue Smaldone.
posted by inoculatedcities at 7:04 PM on March 23, 2008

Let it be officially on the record that my typo hath been corrected (twice, in fact).
posted by umbú at 7:47 PM on March 23, 2008

Someone already took care of mentioning Junip for me.

Gonzalez makes pretty, pretty records, and is a surprisingly enchanting live performer, given the spareness of both the music and his live setup (him, a chair, his guitar, a mic for his voice, a mic for his foot so you can hear him keeping time...).
posted by sparkletone at 7:51 PM on March 23, 2008

Awesome post, umbu. I love both Gonzalez and Drake. "Fold" is my favorite Jose song. Everything about this song is perfect. His style seems like an incredible mix of everything; especially his voice. Man, what I'd give for that.
posted by Corduroy at 9:23 PM on March 23, 2008

...José González's myspace page...

When someone directs me to a Myspace page, I tell them what I say when someone asks me to go for lunch at the dingy diner next to our office."Let's save time and money--you just punch me in the stomach now."
posted by neuron at 10:05 PM on March 23, 2008

Let's save time and money

Yeah, I hate how much myspace charges now.
posted by flaterik at 12:07 AM on March 24, 2008

I know, I know. Myspace pages are horrible. I only mentioned it because I thought it was interesting that there are all sorts of clear Latin American influences in his stuff, but for marketing, or just how he wants to position himself, he chose not to mention any of them.
posted by umbú at 4:35 AM on March 24, 2008

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