Divino Niño

Divino Niño have existed as a Chicago underground ‘scene’ band for years now, but what does that mean?...
Divino Niño
Divino Niño

Divino Niño have existed as a Chicago underground ‘scene’ band for years now, but what does that mean? Sure, they have recently delighted in a variety of successful tours, critically praised records, certainly the final two releases, Last Spa on Earth and Foam, were acclaimed; then some rewarding singles such as “Woman” or the “XO clubeteado (Remix by Heartgaze)” and successful tours, but really what this ‘scene’ band notion signifies is they were a jam band through the primary stretch, and still are when touring. A question of pop culture form or jam-like celebratory liveliness.

Take the apt comparison of pop culture sway in The Beatles versus Divino Niño, both play some poppy media hits, but can also be rock’n’roll as silly a name as that would be for them.

Songs like “Hold”, “XO clubeteado (Remix by Heartgaze)”, “Papelito”, “Especial”, “Initials LV”, “Quiero”, and “Moana” typify jam songs, and just as much “Plastic Love”, “Foam”, “Lara Jones”, or “Coca Cola”, and even the swaying joyful pain and irony of “It’s Been Like It Never Used to Be” covering basically all releases aside from singles and holiday covers they have often done. Those are also worth looking into such as “Woman”. This comprises a companion catalog to a band who unless seen live are really unknown as a jam band and categorized by Pitchfork and alike as beautiful Latin pop. The thing is they are so much more than that, like Paul Simon once wrote, “So Beautiful or So What?”.

Still, they matter in both pop and a jam sense, but like urban living in busy areas, public transportation, or smaller towns where your friends never let go, they are best as a comparison to jam Beatles versus pop Beatles, as both matter but one has a profound impact, the jam-side. All Beatles songs, from “Come Together”, “She Loves You”, “ Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”, and finishing with perhaps, “I Am The Walrus” or “Yellow Submarine”, matter, but only some have the purposefulness of jamming bands, akin to Divino Niño, but this is like “Especial” which although very impressive in the driven bass lines and catchy keys synced with the rhythm, Latin guitar and extra hook-type vocals, about being cool with anything is also less in sync with the lyrics, which claim, “Sit back / Everyone is special don’t you know / No I forgot”. This both good in the Latin strings, and also parallel less good in the lyrical completion of this energy.

This is comparable to “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” where the good and rougher skepticism mix into something more pop culture politicized than profound. This is a theme through and through with Divino Niño about political or profound, but it comes through with the Beatles and Divino Niño as well, as a battle of jam band vs. pop culture.

In the end “Come Together” parallels what ought to have been the singles of Last Spa on Earth, in “XO clubeteado(Remix by Heartgaze), or “Papelito (Featuring Enjoy)” in that it jams, where “She Loves You” pairs with “It’s Been Like it Never Used to Be” and “Toy Premiado”, “Initials LV”, or “Hold” in that it is a middle ground of blend pop and Latin energy. The issue is one wants the energy of those, whereas “Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds” is more akin to the catchy but lacking and overly down, sappy, skepticism of “Especial”, “Pink Diamond”, “Moana”, or “I Am Nobody”. Finally, we have the full blasting energy of “I Am the Walrus” or “Yellow Submarine” totally as weirdly driving, kicking, dance happy, and uplifting as “Coca Cola”, “Drive”, “Woman”, “Plastic Love”, “Maria” “Cosmic Flower” “Bottle Demon”, “Moonlight Girl”, “Tu Tonto”, “Time”, “Shady Sexyfornia”, or the “Falling Apart (Slow Pulp Cover) Mixes”. Even “Miami” and “Ecstasy”, covering all releases and bringing us from “Coca Cola” on Foam, “Shady Sexyfornia” on the as titled The Shady Sexyfornia Tapes record, then the “Falling Apart Mixes” (Cover), a single, all the way to, “Bottle Demon”, “Pink Diamond”, “Initials LV”, and Moonlight Girl” from Pool Jealousy, finally circling to the most recent LP with “Drive” or “Miami” and “Ecstasy”, from Last Spa on Earth.  

Where Divino Niño tend to be overtly complex pop or Latin hooks that flail intentionally to fantasy realms of your favorite rock’n’rollers, the other artist on the single, “Reach”, California wave-rock, if such a thing can be a steady genre these days, Inner Wave is simple hooks, simple but catchy rock guitars, and even simpler vocals. They do share the pop thing and this works pretty well in “Reach”, as Inner Waves primarily chants over the nice, epic sounding, relatively synth-based, sound of eerie depth. Then comes the hooks of said number where Divino Niño played only in the way they can, pop-rock that allows their vocals to do the working parts ever similarly to their most recent release. This is really solid, neither better nor worse than the artists tend to be individually but interesting sounding, and a very positive sign, good depth, hooks, and the mix of recent Divino Niño singles. Those being where “Reach gets depth, the depth in “Clubeteado XO Remix”, and particularly the spacey, paced, “Nos Salomatos Chilliado Remix”, “LSE Perriado Remixed” even further, and best there, “Tu Tanto Remixed Remescliado”.

What all these share is a jamming energy as opposed to pop culture emphasis. Essentially this is always the way with bands like Divino Niño’, an endless battle of pop-cultural politics and ballads versus profound psychedelic Latin rock’n’roll-like jamming.

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