Remember when you were little and one week you'd decide you wanted to be a skateboarder, so you'd start saying things like "rad" or "thrash" and pretend like you knew what bearings were? Then, just as quickly, the next week you'd rock some Adidas and say you were a break-dancer? Houston quartet Cuervo's self-titled debut LP is like that, and at times it's a damn good skateboarding break-dancer. Each song sees Cuervo morph into a completely different band, ranging from "El Sueño," a pained, complicated ballad that successfully combines the self-pity of mid-'90s rock with modern-day hubris, to "Talisman," a feel-good country-pop song that conjures images of backyard get-togethers and poorly played games of horseshoes. Elton Salazar, Cuervo's raspy-voiced vocal pugilist, is just gifted enough to pull most of the band's variety together. So while Cuervo's versatility may intermittently sound forced or overextended, as on "Dead Red Roses," it also provides them with the innovative, transcendent "Jardín," a unique mainstream staple that magnificently preserves its cultural roots. That song alone should place Cuervo not only at the forefront of the rock en español movement, but on the cusp of national rock recognition as well.
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