Las Rubias Del Norte – Ziguala Album Review

Las Rubias Del Norte’s third album, Ziguala, seems to combine familiar Latin American elements, such as Spanish guitar, creaking underlying percussion, and clicking castanets, with a contemporary indie rock feel. The band’s Spanish name makes it seem a little predictable in that regard, but in fact, there’s much more than meets the eye.

Ziguala is not simply steeped in Spanish and Latin American influences, but in a wide array of European styles. The title of the album, Ziguala, is actually a term of endearment in Greek. The tracks “Mana Janab Ne Pukaara Nahin” and “Seguedille” are actually Hindi and French tracks, respectively. In fact, many of the songs on the album are actually cover songs, culled from various European sources and manipulated in Las Rubias’ own way. However, the band seems to experiment more with the context and worldy importance of their music rather than with their actual music. Most of Ziguala seems to invoke the same moods, and the Latin American filter pulled over the tracks is comfortable — perhaps even a little too comfortable at times.

It is in the vocals that some really interesting variations appear — if you’re paying attention. They’re pretty slight. Dual vocalists Allyssa Lamb and Emily Hurst have complementing voices which tend to rise over the relaxed nature of the music. One has a vocal airiness which is harmonized upon by the other, and both manipulate their vocal tendencies to suit the roots of each track. Opener “Porque Te Vas” is sung in a fairly straight-forward manner, “Mana Janab Ne Pukaara Nahin” contains vocal variations often found in Bollywood music, and “Scalinatella” has nearly operatic, minorly ear-piercing vocals.

In the end, Ziguala is simply just comfortable to listen to. Make it the soundtrack to a dimly lit bar, the background to a Southwest pool party, or the guiding force behind your household chores, and it all feels appropriate. This isn’t music that will change your life, but it is enjoyable.

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Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/she) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

In 2017, Vee released the narrative short film, Searching Skies — which touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States — and co-organized The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. 2022 sees the release of their next short film, Reckless Spirits, which is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature film.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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