Ceci’s Hit

By: Marcelo Báez

Let’s start from the beginning: Ceci Bastida used to sing in Tijuana No!, a ska band from the ’90s, of which Julieta Venegas was briefly a member. Before putting out her first EP in 2007, Ceci became Julieta’s keyboard player. Then, in 2010, she released her first full-length record titled Veo la Marea. Bastida’s debut LP did quite well, and now her follow-up La Edad de la Violencia (the Age of Violence) is ready to take the stand.

Produced by XXXChange (Spank Rock, the Kills) and Luke Top (Fool’s Gold), La Edad de la Violencia is an eclectic piece of work. “Una Vez Más,” the first track, sounds like a marching-band number replete with horns, drum rolls, synth blips and even a theremin. “I’ll no longer walk on the street,” sings Ceci on “Por la Calle,” a political song that, one assumes, is about the unsafe environment Mexico is now famously plagued with.

This is a serious record. On “El Que Decide,” Ceci pulls an Ana Torroja by playing an assertive man’s character: “Aquí el que decide soy yo,” she sings over an organ and an upbeat drum pattern. But the vibe loosens up on “Vas A Verme,” one of the dancier tunes on the record with good drum programing and quirky sounds.

Bastida’s voice can sound childlike at times, which seems to work for some songs, such as the delightfully odd “Cuervo,” but it’s not as effective on “Cuando Te Tenga,” a dramatic number with strings and pianos. But speaking of vocals, the character of one’s voice can change drastically when shifting to another language, and Ceci’s English-sung voice (which can be heard on “Look Good in Leather”) is remarkably engaging.

Production is nice and spiffy on La Edad de la Violencia, a short record at less than 35 minutes. Unlike some of her hometown colleagues—Nortec, Los Macuanos, Julieta—Ceci doesn’t make use of any “Latin” devices (bajo sexto, accordion, odd time signature or beat). But she does ask her old playground chum, Venegas, to sing on “Ven (Beautiful),” a happy calypso-drenched song.

Though violence usually brings out the worst in people, it does the complete opposite for Bastida. La Edad de la Violencia is a socially conscious pop record, which, nowadays, seems like an anomaly. Probably because new pop is usually written with the intent of making audiences party or mope—not ponder serious social issues. Coupled with edgy studio work, Bastida’s second full-length offering comes off as a sincere, thoughtful and mature album.

So hit us! But don’t leave us, Ceci.

LOGISTICS: La Edad de la Violencia by Ceci Bastida, available June 24

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