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Diamond Hard, Nuclear-Powered Rock and Roll: Diamente Electrico’s B

Patrick O'Heffernan: The Bogota-based rock and roll band Diamente Electrico has in just over 2 years become the hottest band in Columbia and draws stadium crowds in the rest of the Southern hemisphere.
Diamente Electrico

Diamente Electrico’s Grammy-nominated B album is nuclear powered American rock in Spanish

The Bogota-based rock and roll band Diamente Electrico has in just over 2 years become the hottest band in Columbia and draws stadium crowds in the rest of the Southern hemisphere. Now they are setting their sights on the US market, starting at the top with two Latin Grammy nominations for their latest album, B. That is after a tour with 130 concerts in the US and Mexico, a recording session in Nashville, gigs at festivals like Viva Latina, Rock Park, Stereo Picnic, and LAMC, while collecting a shelf full of awards including the Shock Award for Best Rock Artist last year.

Their first album, Diamente Electrico, was released in 2013, financed by crowdfunding – the first Columbian band to use crowdfunding. Their second single, "Nos Rompemos Igual" charted #1 on Columbian radio. They have just released their second album, B, on the Criteria Entertainment label. Recorded live at Third Man Records in Nashville, Tennessee directly to 6" vinyl. Mastered by Gavin Lurssen, B delivers a broad range of eight good old fashioned garage style rock and roll songs, all in Spanish. The album speaks for itself, and for why it was nominated for a Latin Grammy award for best Rock and Roll album of 2015.

The band is tremendously proud of this – and their other music – but are a little surprised at the fast ramp up of recognition of their talent. “We are from Columbia, a country known for violence - we have been at war for more than 50 years so there was no space for arts”, says bassist and lead singer Juan Galeano “Since the last 10 or 15 years things have been changing and the angst and fears from growing up in Bogota in the 90’s receded, so a lot of music came out of Columbia” Galeano adds.

That music that is coming out of Columbia is now a mix of different things – dance music, rock, cumbia, blues, but Galeano emphasizes that “ we are a straight up rock and roll band.”

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The straight up rock and roll of B is evident from the very first cut, “Kamikaze”, which grabs you immediately with Daniel Alvarez’s heavy electric guitar wall supporting Galeano’s deep, melodic voice and then goes critical with Andee Zeta’s drumming – a kind of carefully controlled percussion assault. The song structure is familiar to American rock and roll fans, but the way they play it tazes your nerve ends. It is remarkable that three people can have such a huge sonic impact, on the album and in their live shows.

The album shifts slightly to a more alt/hard rock flow with “Toda va a Arder” , nominated for the Latin Grammy award for Best Rock Song of 2015. Propelled by Galeano’s clear-cut bass line and Zeta’s controlled, relentless drumming. Zeta is remarkable – reminiscent of Jeff Beck’s legendary percussion-mistress, Veronica Bellino, now with Halo Circus. Like Bellino, he attacks the entire drum kit with a violence that is startling, almost painful, but every stroke is precise and every beat and fill is controlled and timed perfectly. This makes each song on the album tight, a tightness that is imminently palpable on “Toda va a Arder”, with every note in its place in a rush of wild, danceable energy.

It is surprising that Diamente Electrico can deliver classic but modern rock so well so soon. Equally surprising is that they came together to do it. Forming the band was a business decision for the three musicians. ”We have a band because it is a business issue, says Galeano. “When we started playing together rather than separately, a lot of people saw us and the radio carried us, it was then things started happening. We all had different projects that didn’t work out in the past but now, as band, they work out well.”

As you move through B, you get a solid taste of how well things are working out. “Dulce Como Yo” and “Estos Dias” almost bring back the early days of American rock with big guitar sounds and bluesy rockabilly feel, but updated with electric guitar resonance and Alvarez’s exquisite finger picked solos. ”Estos Dios” is especially habit forming, driven ruthlessly with a mesmerizing kick drum and guitar accents that break for electric solos so compelling that you will air guitar no matter where you are. Clearly, Galeano is not bragging when he says they have mastered the art of rock and roll: withB, it is a simple fact.

And that art includes changing up the mood and giving the listener a break for a sample of the band’s broader range, which the band does with “Lagrima”, a R&B ballad but with their signature updated classic rock sound done in Spanish. “Las Horas” brings you back into a dance mode with a classic rock hook right at the beginning and the structure and movement of old fashioned rock and roll dance music. You almost could be in a high school gym in the 60’s in Philadelphia if it weren’t for the Spanish lyrics. The effect is addictive.

But every fast dance needs a slow break, and they deliver it with ‘Olvidar es Divino”, a slow roller with swings and sways – the kind of music you can hold your partner to or just hum along with. You won’t be slow dancing to the final song, “Dejavudu”; you will be listening carefully as it slithers out of your player. Galeano’s voice is almost a monotone over a spooky bassline, making you pay close attention. A subtle background environment of guitar shimmers and distant vocals heightens the atmosphere and then brings you down for a soft landing, ready to hit “replay”.

It is no wonder that as, Galeano says, “People in the USA like our music -- we have been warmly welcomed here and we will be back.” I hope so – back to play many live gigs, back to record more signal albums and back to add a new chapter to the annals of rock and roll -- diamond hard, nuclear powered rock and roll.


Patrick O’Heffernan
Host, Music FridayLive!