Music is way too serious, which is why a band like Manic Hispanic is absolutely essential. I mean what a concept. Classic punk covers filtered through the culturally unique perspective of the California Latino community. The new album by Orange County's resident Weird Alejandros, Grupo Sexo, delivers via lowrider (or Burro) another set of hilarious, but spot on, covers of your favorite punk hits of the seventies, eighties, nineties, and today. For the uninitiated, Manic Hispanic is a side project by members of more established acts like the Cadillac Tramps and the Grabbers. Not content with mere punk rock hilarity, MH play exclusively covers of canonized punk songs, but dress them up in plaid shirts buttoned at the collar and blue and red bandanas. For the cynical bastard in all of us, Manic Hispanic is a rollicking diversion from the, so-called, serious punk diluting the scene on a daily basis.
With song titles like, "I'm Just a Cholo" and "Homo Depot", Manic Hispanic makes their intentions clear. Sampling from the who's who of California punk and hardcore, MH tear through cover after cover, sometimes with such a straight face, it's hard to know that this is all pretty much a big joke. Of course, the musicianship on the records is exceptional, so don't be surprised if your ears deceive you and you find yourself in the midst of a double take when the opening chords of "Havana Affair" (redone as Tijuana Affair) or "Police and Thieves" (63) waft into your ears. These are musicians with chops and it shows as they tear through every song with precision and freshness barely attained on the original recordings. And of course, the lyrics are hilarious for the most part. I just wish I understood Spanish, the record would have been even funnier. The humor brings to mind early NOFX more than any kind of hokey Weird Al-esque parody album. It's goofy, but unapologetically.
One needs only spin the track, "Big Chorizo", a send up of "Beef Baloney" by Fear, itself sort of a silly song, to be hooked on this album. Granted, the jokes are a little low brow and are completely offensive, if one is Hispanic and takes offense to such things, but the tongue is planted to firmly in cheek here, it's hard to imagine anyone not chuckling at least a little at the effort. The hilarity is sophomoric, but in a freshman-clogged music world. Some of the songs work better than others, and some filler populates the middle section of Grupo Sexo, but overall MH has whipped up another solid effort and in shorter order than it takes the minimum wage worker at Taco Bell to serve up a burrito.
One would think that after putting out as many albums as Manic Hispanic has, the gag would be staler than a day old tortilla by now, but MH certainly isn't concerned with breaking any new ground. They do what they do pretty freaking well, so why complain?
Comedian, Carlos Mencia, makes a point in his set to make sure everyone understands that they will be made fun of during his act and that it's ok. I don't know if the band has seen him, but their message seems more or less the same, if you can't laugh at yourself, and everyone else, get the hell out homes. Ha Ha.