Tag Archives: San Cha

The Best Albums of 2018: #100 – 81

Best of 2018 100-81Let’s be honest for a second: No one clicks on these lists for the introduction. I don’t blame them! This is usually just the place where some routine throat-clearing goes, before we get to the main event. It’s also the place where I confess to the amount of anxiety involved with putting together a list like this—last year, I said, “Right now, there’s probably someone in their bedroom in Buenos Aires, making a record on their computer that is going to end up on next year’s list. So as comprehensive as we’ve tried to make this list, we realize that, even at 100 albums, we’re only scratching the surface of what’s available.” Guess what? That’s still true in 2018. That said, the albums that made the cut, to us, represent the breadth and scope of the many worlds available to discover on Bandcamp, and feel like the best musical summation of the last 12 months. When we make this list, we’re not only trying to assess the year’s best music, we’re also trying to tell the story of 2018, album by album, song by song. As always, being a part of Bandcamp Daily in 2018 was a true joy; we took a look at Extratone, the world’s fastest musical genre, got familiar with the New Face of Death Metal, and spent time with artists like Yugen Blakrok, Suzanne Ciani, and Kamaal Williams. Once again, the world of music is bigger than any one list can possibly contain, so consider this a starting point on the neverending journey to discovering new sounds, new scenes, and new voices. Alright, that’s enough throat-clearing. Let’s get to the list.

—J. Edward Keyes, Editorial Director

Best of 2018 Schedule:
December 10: #100 – 81
December 11: #80 – 61
December 12: #60 – 41
December 13: #40 – 21
December 14: #20 – 1

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Album of the Day: San Cha, “Capricho del Diablo”

Los Angeles singer-songwriter San Cha’s name is a play on words that evokes both the Catholic “san (“saint”), and the Spanish word for “mistress,” sancha. As befits a musical devil’s priestess, there’s an unholy longing in each of the tunes on her latest album, Capricho del Diablo (“The Devil’s Whim”).

San Cha created the songs for Capricho del Diablo on the ranch where her mom grew up in the Mexican state of Jalisco, where she had taken respite from a untenable situation in her personal life. The album is rife with the emotional and musical tones of the regional music that inspired her, including the pleasure and pain of love—which, as the songs on Capricho del Diablo point out, are sometimes one and the same.

San Cha takes classic cumbia rhythms, mixes them with Mexican folk, and filters them through her own brand of neo-goth excess, which suits the songs well. These are the kind of tunes that a punk Selena might have sung. San Cha’s howls soar over the chants of her backup group, Las Sirenas, who mirror and comment on the songs’ obsessions like a Greek chorus. They direct the demands of the diabolic dance in the title track, and punctuate the slower, sensual “Cosmic Ways” with soft “oohs” as San Cha sings “Pass me the drugs, clean my brain.”

“Me Demandó” is a ranchera cumbia, with the classic percussive guitar chords characteristic of that style. It sings of saviors, and the redemption found in unreasonable demands. “Desesperada” is a wounded lament accented with Caribbean percussion, that crests in the chant, “Desperate without your love, seeking you.”

The album is rounded out by San Cha’s interpretation of “Historia de un Amor,” a magnificent bolero (uniquely Latin American torch tunes from the ’40s and ’50s). Her version beautifully underlines Capricho del Diablo’s key themethe power of love, in all its aspects.

San Cha takes the cumbia to new spaces, turning its generally upbeat grooves into a dark journey of the soul, visceral and fierce. Her vision is unique and irresistible, with a magnetic pull that leads listeners to the dancefloor, which she defines for herself as a space for catharsis and healing.

-Catalina Maria Johnson

Tyler Holmes, San Cha, and Vainhein Imagine Experimental Queer Utopias

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L to R: Tyler Holmes, Vainhein, San Cha. All photos Foto By Mateo.

Tyler Holmes is in full space-queen face when they come to greet me at the gate outside the home of their creative collaborator Vainhein; the makeup is so effective that, from a distance, I thought Holmes was wearing a mask.

It would’ve startled me, were it not so quintessentially Holmes and Vainhein (who also goes by the name Luke); they’re constantly conjuring up and dwelling in worlds of their own design. And design worlds they do—audible & visual worlds so thoroughly conceived and executed you would think they had big budgets and teams of assistants at their disposal. But these two artists, along with their best friend and collaborator San Cha (who may as well have been present in the room via hologram) work tirelessly on their own at their homes in Oakland, Los Angeles and in Mexico to manifest their elaborate fantasies into tangible realities.  When the external reality doesn’t seem to represent you, creating your own space is often the only option; and when you discover a small group of like-minded artists to create that space with, the results can expand beyond your wildest imagination.

Finding kindred spirits to work with was an uplifting and invigorating experience for all three artists. Speaking with San Cha, the love for and devotion they have for one another is palpable (“It was love at first sight!” she exclaims); the individual stories they tell about the paths that led them to one another shed light on the basis of their strong bond.

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