Some people like their irony straight up, while others, myself included, enjoy it sprinkled over everything. If you belong to the latter group, then Los Straightjackets might be your cup of tequila. Their CD, Rock en Espanol, basically consists of Spanish-language covers of classic feel-good rock songs, such as “Wild Thing” (“Loco Te Patina El Coco”), and “Hang on Sloopy” (“Hey Lupe”), that were mined from flea markets in Mexico City.
There’s the occasional English phrase thrown in to demonstrate that these guys didn’t need to take the test in Spanish, and there’s a traditional mariachi song “Dejenme Llorar” to show that, if they wanted to, they could make you cry all over your chile rellenos.
But the group’s principal agenda is to serve up big, spunky Mexican versions of songs that will get the old folks to put down their plastic forks and get out on the dance floor, and occasionally, the Spanish version improves on the original. “Dame una Seña” (“Gimme Little Sign”) rivals “La Bamba” for sheer, irresistible energy and charm.
Yet the existential question remains: Is this contextual reframing a creative fusion of cultural flavors, or just a generous helping of Mexican pizza? And just how much irony did they put in this thing, anyway? We can leave the big intellectual debate to the nervous senators who argue for the primacy of the English language. Clever, self-aware, and unabashedly kitschy, Los Straitjackets would be the ideal band for a Spielberg kid’s bar mitzvah or for your next corporate May Day fiesta.