Colombian Indie Bomb

By: Marcelo Báez

This year El Dorado, Aterciopelados’ second LP, is turning 20.

I still remember the first time I saw Andrea Echeverri, the band’s lead singer, on their “Bolero Falaz” video. I was barely a teenager and Echeverri’s quasi-shaved head and punkish style greatly aroused my curiosity. Probably because most of the Latin female singers I’d seen on TV at that point were very feminine, had squeaky-clean voices and sang generic ballads or pop songs. But Echeverri’s demeanor was different; her appearance was very ambiguous and her voice was coarse, yet, pleasant. I instantly became a fan.

With subsequent releases Aterciopelados refined their sound. But while their more digestible pop offerings were good—sometimes incredible—in El Dorado Andrea was still angry and, even if her inner hippie hates it, angry Andrea was the best kind of Andrea. In fact, in this writer’s humble opinion, Aterciopelados slowly went downhill after they turned into full-blown flower children. So revisiting certain songs, such as “Pilas” and “Mujer Gala,” two high-octane tracks off El Dorado, serve as a great reminder of just how good Aterciopelados once was.

It’s no coincidence that even Gustavo Cerati, Latin America’s rock god by choice, was impressed with the band’s talent. Andrea was asked by Cerati to sing on Soda Stereo’s MTV Unplugged shortly after the release of El Dorado, and her performance was half the reason to listen to that record. Also, Héctor Buitrago’s work and role in the band shouldn’t be overlooked. His ability to weave together different genres into Aterciopelados’ music is still dazzling (a type of ranchera on “La Estaca,” psychedelic guitars on “Candela”).

With El Dorado Aterciopelados managed to transition from an average punk outfit into a solid band. “Florecita Rockera,” the first song off El Dorado, is still one of their most popular songs, while other tracks, such as “No Futuro” (which makes great use of Spanish guitars and melodies) proved the band could successfully blend raw punk power with Ibero-American swagger.

Speaking of swagger, Andrea’s cool, don’t-give-a-damn disposition made her an original among the mundane, and it happened during a time when rock en español was nothing but a boys’ club.

So now, judging from a distance—a 20-year distance—El Dorado is still what it always claimed to be: golden.

LOGISTICS: Listen to El Dorado by Aterciopelados here

Marcelo Baéz is a writer, DJ, and musician based in NYC. When he's not producing "Rico Suave" parties, he releases music under P3CULIAR.