I was sitting on a stump at Cheer Up Charlie's in Austin at the M'Lady's Records showcase on Saturday, convinced I wasn't going to move. My feet were pulsating; four days of SXSW walking and standing and drinking had made them swell so much that they had stretched the leather of my shoes. I had taken up residence on the stump, with no intentions of moving until the last night of the Austin Imposition began.
Then, Reynosa climbed up on the temporary stage that had been built atop the gravel in the back lot of Cheer Up's. The first thing you notice about them is frontwoman Fabi Reyna's guitar. Fabi s really small, possibly no more than 5'1″ or 5'2″, and she has smooth brown hair that is cut short but still falls in front of her eyes, but she plays a massive sea-foam green country-banger, maybe a Danelectro or something similarly fancy, with almost a moulding cut out from the border of the front. Madison Farmer, of Coasting and Toxie, was sitting on the stump next to me, and her mouth dropped open. “Was she playing that guitar when we saw them in San Antonio?”, Farmer asked her bandmate, Fiona Campbell.
Reynosa started with “Luna Negra” on Saturday, a cover of a song by a Mexican group called Los Cojolites. The group combines a few things that I really like: cumbia-influnced psychedelia, Spanish-language female harmonies, using interesting instruments to ground a sound in a time and place, as Reynosa does with the breathy tones of a wide wooden flute. But you can tell; they may have grown up listening to Latin music, but they also spent a lot of times in Portland DIY spaces listening to bands like Kickball and other minimalist but bubbly Northwesterners. These ladies (two of whom were formally in the Portland screamers Wet Hair) are definitely working off of a palette of integrating the music their parents listen to into the garage and punk they love, which is what everyone's been doing for ages, just in English. But to find a group who has listened to the seminal comp The Roots of Chicha: Psyechedlic Cumbias from Peru until the grooves wore out, and then decided to combine it with the bursting yelps of Portland favorites like Explode into Colors, is to find a group that is awesome.
Reynosa will release a 7-inch soon on M'Lady's Records (“We didn't have any money,” said Fiona, one of the label's owners with her boyfriend Brett, “but we basically got really mad at each other and had a fight because we knew we just had to do it.”) and they are hoping to tour the country soon. Here are two really nice videos of them playing, and you can download three songs from their Bandcamp, which I've also embedded. Fabi plays the crazy guitar I'm talking about on “Caballeras”, a six-foot deep day-of-the-dead jam session, and I've also included this acoustic version of “Luna Negra”.