“Familia,” the debut studio album from local Latin/dance/fusion quartet ¡Chiringa!, finally arrives this week after a year-and-a-half gestation period. Along with family and work obligations, and a campaign of shows to fund the album, the album was further delayed when vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Shireen Amini developed vocal nodules. She recorded her vocals for the album at the tail end of her month-long recovery.
You’d be hard pressed to tell from the nine songs on the record, however. “Familia” was more than worth the wait for fans, capturing the raw energy and muscle the group has honed over five years of live performance while simultaneously pointing in several new directions.
¡Chiringa! built its live reputation on traditional salsa, cumbia and other Latin music, and clever reinterpretations of Western pop. The songs on “Familia,” the band’s first originals, take the lessons learned from playing these styles to heart.
Roughly half the album is sung in Spanish, the other half in English. Tracks such as “Ya Me Voy a Volar” (which translates roughly to “I’m finally going to be free” or “I’m finally going to fly,” Amini said) and “El Cuarto de Tula” (“The Room of Tula”) proudly show off these sounds (the latter song, written by Sergio González Siaba, also keeps with the tradition of Cuban storytelling songs).
But the band blurs the lines more often than not. Opening track “Vitamin P (The Party Starts)” melds Amini’s funkified electric guitar chords and rapid-fire vocal delivery to soaring salsa trumpets from part-time member Samuel Thompson. The title track takes an almost Beatles-esque, piano-driven pop melody and adds cha-cha rhythms. “When You Wake,” which features a guest rap from Mosley Wotta, draws from rock, hip-hop and funk.
On each song, drummer Matthew Williams, percussionist Johnny Riordan Oak and bassist Tom Freedman create tightly constructed grooves perfect for Amini and Thompson to wind in and out of. “Familia” also is one of the best guitar records to be released in Central Oregon this year. Amini has a great ear for unexpected chord progressions and melodies, perhaps best heard on the tribute to Latin percussionist Sheila E. that closes out the album.
¡Chiringa! album release party, with performers from Latin Dance Bend and dance lessons with Andres ‘Andy’ Garcia: 8 p.m. Friday, doors at 7 p.m.; $5-$15 sliding scale admission, free for ages 13 and younger, 10 percent of CD sales will be donated to Rise Up International; The Old Stone, 157 NW Franklin Ave., Bend; oldstonebend.com or 541-322-7273.