Photo credit: Dan Monick
Eclectic NYC musician Rene Lopez has just announced his new EP, Love Has No Mercy – set for release October 21st via Liberation Label. Whilst Rene’s earlier records have flirted with every genre from salsa to soul, the seven tracks on Love Has No Mercy are a decidedly more dance-friendly affair. The record, which incorporates the sanguine Latin influences of his previous albums & interjects them with healthy doses of disco & funk, seems tailor-made for both impromptu house parties & late nights at the club.
Love Has No Mercy’s title track, which features vocals from NYC powerhouse Carol C, is equal parts Chic & Giorgio Moroder: a siren song of synthed-out futuristic disco that swings with a certain effortlessness that brings to mind nu-disco hits as much as old-school Donna Summer.
Clocking in at just under 30 minutes, Love Has No Mercy is a remarkably slick statement of intent. Tracks like “Lovegod” & “City Streets are Dead Tonight” pulse with the same kind of subdued electro-funk that made early Prince & Rick James tracks so eternally irresistible. For Rene, the tracks represent a natural musical evolution- a move from the sweaty rock & Latin grooves of his previous albums to a place located firmly on the dancefloor.
A native New Yorker (and the son of renowned salsa musician Rene Lopez, Sr.), Rene grew up absorbing the non-stop musical melting pot that the city had to offer, eventually channeling those influences into his own music. A jazz-trained drummer & multi-instrumentalist, he recorded with a variety of band projects (The Authority, Extra Virgin) before taking wing as a solo artist, eventually perfecting a style that he came to refer to as E.L.S. (Electric Latin Soul).
The band Ozomatli has been around since 1995. You might have heard of them, you might not have, OR you might not know that you actually have. I heard them on my satellite radio awhile ago and liked what I heard. Then, in my various music browsings, I discovered a little more.
Here’s how you might not know that you do know of Ozomatli: Remember the movie Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore in 1999? They are the band playing in the reggae club when her character Josie ingests “weed cake,” a cake with marijuana. In the scene, the song playing is “Cut Chemist Suite.”
Pretty cool fun fact, I think.
The band currently has 7 members, but they’ve in the past had as many as 10. Some of those members included DJ turntablist Cut Chemist and Chali 2na, who both moved on to a different project, Jurassic 5.
That’s another fun fact!
Anyways, Ozomatli’s latest album came out in April this year. Fire Away is definitely worth listening to. You may just find yourself a new favorite. You’re welcome.
Band members Jiro Yamaguchi and Ulises Bella describe Ozomatli:
“You drive down Sunset Boulevard and turn off your stereo and roll down your windows and all the music that comes out of each and every different car, whether it’s salsa, cumbia, merengue, or hip hop, funk, whatever, it’s that crazy blend that’s going on between that cacophony of sound is Ozomatli, y’know?”
Though only recently launching his solo career, Rene Lopez is one of the more enduring figures on the New York music scene. He has been writing and performing music in New York since the early 90s when he was part of The Authority, a cult favorite and staple of venues like Nightingales and The Wetlands. More recently, Rene’s high-energy solo shows at Nublu have earned Rene a reputation as one of the best performers in The Lower East Side and The East Village, playing a version of latin soul that pays tribute to the that area’s past. In many ways, it’s musical style that’s at the heart of his upbringing. The son of a trumpet player in the Latin band Tipica ‘73, Bronx native Rene grew up in the salsa clubs of New York City and from the first moment he stepped inside a club, Rene was hooked on live music, and choosing to spend his life creating it “felt so natural that there was never a thought that I would do anything else.” His father’s influence, along with the influences of Rene’s own favorite artists, contributes to a unique and distinct sound all Rene’s own. (From: MusicRemedy)
Rene’s new album People Are Just People, will be out May 4th through Liberation Label. Click here to check out the video for his new single from the album “Wednesday.” Honestly, I hadn’t really listened to Rene’s stuff previously, but after listening to “Wednesday” and checking out some of his other stuff, I’m a big, big fan. It’s catchy, it’s happy, it’s fun. Think Lou Bega but even cooler.
Aaaaand, if you’re in New York, be sure to check out his release party at Nublu on the day of the release, May 4th.