Published May 25, 2010For the past 12 years, Californian quintet Very Be Careful have been stirring up the Los Angeles Latin music scene with their take on Colombia's rhythmic-driven genre Vallenato (which some call the cousin of Cumbia). On their newest release, Escape Room, they deliver 11 tracks full of robust accordion tunes with a hypnotizing percussion background. Led by brothers Arturo Guzman (bass) and Ricardo (vocals/accordion), the album in many ways is a family affair, with their mother writing the tracks "La Alergia" and "El Hospital." With a bit of wit, "La Alergia" is a song using allergies as a metaphor to explore how life situations affect people differently. On opening track "La Furgoneta," a wheezing accordion kicks off the song, as vocalist Ricardo Guzman comes in with his raspy, sultry voice. Most of the songs follow the same pattern and although there isn't anything overly intricate about the music, it's Very Be Careful's laidback, simplistic feel that's appealing. But the album still has room for fast tracks, such as "El Viajero del Tiempo," in which the band's raucous attitude comes through; they're known in Los Angeles for their wild shows.
I read that you don't like being categorized as "world music." Why is that?
Arturo: Personally, I think it's just a broad term that doesn't really mean anything, because rock'n'roll is world music too. It's just a category that's been made to categorize everything that's non-Western.
You cover old school Vallento songs by artists such as Abel Antonio Villa, who was known as the "Father of the Accordion." Why the homage to past generations?
Ricardo: That's the kind of stuff I like to listen to now. I think that we listen to as much music from different eras as possible. We grew up with dance parties at our house. My father has a lot of records and he'd put those on and everybody would dance.
Musically, the album doesn't have any blatant punk references, but it's known that the genre influences you ― how?
Arturo: There are a lot of different countercultures that have influenced us, including punk music and hip-hop. Our attitude is we're coming to put on a good show at a no holds bar and I guess that fits in with those countercultural types of music. We're not a band that just put on a smile and pretend. The party can go crazy like at a punk show. (Barbes)