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"Feature on cholo (translated from spanish)"

Cholo is a quartet that is beginning to make way in the New York scene.
Its astonishing first album has just been released in the U.S. market.

First it was L.A.S.E., from Dasher, to establish contact. Then, a few e-mails came and, a little while later, a packet containing the diffusive material of the New York based band, cholo (as is, all lower cased). The good news: it doesn’t deal with, as it may be hastily inferred because of its name, about an act looking to exploit the exotic roots of its band members; nor is it another bluff of calculated commercial aspirations such as Volumen Cero, the band that integrated the Peruvian Martin Chan and was nominated for a Latin Grammy. Cholo’s first record, with the grouping led by Felipe Flores (born in the United States to Peruvian parents) is a solid exercise in indie rock that is nourished by the counterpoints of melody and, at the same time, the uproar that made the Pixies and anphetaminic rock and roll great and always intelligent by X and Sonic Youth.

“The band began in 2000 in New York with the name Lost ID. It was basically me, a friend that played the base and another friend that helped with the drums. A year later, I met Dave Kibbel, our present drummer. In 2003, the base player left and Gary Gartlan joined the band, which by then had already changed its name to cholo. I placed an ad in the internet looking for another guitarist and female vocal. That was how I found Rosa Bordella (from Guam). In 2004 we moved to a practice-space in Brooklyn and continue to be there,” relates Flores.

“It’s difficult to be successful in the New York scene because each day that one band breaks up, another one is formed. Seriously speaking, it’s complicated because there are so many bad bands that it makes it difficult to find the ones that really are worth it. It’s not just about playing good music, but it’s also about having good contacts and, of course, a lot of luck.”

Regarding the principle referents to cholo’s sound, Flores does not beat around the bush. There are many: “I am a great admirer of the Pixies but also of bands like Sonic Youth, X, Pavement, Morphine, Jane’s Addiction, Velvet Underground, The Clash, Built to Spill, Tom Waits and including Los Dolton’s, among many others. In college, I played jazz and classical music with the saxophone. The referents of this stage [of life] are John Zorn, Charles Mingus, Thelonius Monk, John Coltrane, Dave Douglas, Miles Davis, Juan Esquivel y Henry Gorecki. Now I try to incorporate these influences into cholo’s sound.

In the upcoming days, cholo will continue to promote its first record in the United States and Great Britain. Flores assures that for him it would be an honor to do a show with the band in Lima. I hope that they succeed. If they sound as good live as in their excellent debut album, it would be a great gift to our mistreated ears. So be it.
- El Comercio (Peru)


Overview – Cholo is a 4-piece indie/garage/punk band. As a band they hail from Brooklyn, but like their music, their backgrounds are far more diverse – Vocalist/Guitarist/Saxaphonist Felipe Flores comes from Peru, Vocalist/Guitarist Rosa Bordello from Guam, Bassist Gary Gartian from Ireland, and Drummer Dave Kibbel from the most exotic place of all, New Jersey. Cholo formed in 2003 and spent awhile developing their style, releasing their first self-titled CD “Cholo” in September, 2005. Over a couple of years they have been making their way around the NYC club circuit, building a following and recognition for their unique sound and presentation.

Songs – As far as their sound, it’s a mishmosh of influences ranging from general surf punk to DK to The Replacements to the B52’s to the Doors, but all the while never directly stealing from any of them, instead inventing the stew that is Cholo’s own sound, the kind that ‘you’ve heard it all before’, but not quite this way. Of the 9 songs on this CD, Felipe has written 8 of them, and one is a cover song from famed author and composer Shel Silverstein. The opening track “American Candy” is a kinda surf, kinda ska, kinda punk song about an interracial crush, one of the better tracks on the CD. The second song “EyE” is very B52’s without the candy coating, some good punk scream moments and fun little Ooh Ooh vocal parts, and it got better after a couple of listens. The third song “R + R Band” is the Shel Silverstein cover, and it’s a short silly punk anthem song about the rock and roll dream, a funny diversion from the rest of the record. The fourth song "Dope” is perhaps the darkest song of the record. It seems to be about addiction and obsession, repeating musically dynamic variations of the same vocal phrase with a hypnotic droning intensity, but by the time it’s over you’re glad it is. The next song ‘LOGs” is the quirkiest song on the record, and tied for my favorite, with it’s unconventional changes and lounge fun feeling, great use of Baritone Sax in this song. “101” changes it up again keeping the album interesting, with a very Quentin Tarantino movie soundtrack feel, and Rosa on lead vocals for the only time on the record. Perhaps the most pop hook chorus on the CD, some atypical major chord changes, and an interesting Trumpet/whistling double solo. The latino vocals by Felipe in the second verse add to the exotic flavor, and make this song my other favorite song on this CD. The seventh song ‘The Spray” reminded me so much of somewhere between Dead Kennedys and Dead Milkmen that it hurt, but it’s the rocking high point of the record and an undeniable head banger. “Skipping Rocks” covers the slow, droning Jello moments of DK, but with Jim Morrison singing. It was OK, but it quickly made me sleepy. The guitar solo reminded me of a few mid-70’s Frank Zappa jams and this was a high point, but I might skip this one upon future listens. The final song “Brooklyn Knight” was kind of an anti-climactic ending, perhaps the most boring on the record. What saved this song from being the worst song on the CD was the wacky out of tune bass/horn jam at the end climaxed by a distorted drum freak-out. Good ending. 7/10.

Words and Music – I can’t say I totally loved the vocals. It’s not that they were bad because they weren’t, but they were a little uninteresting at times. Felipe has a low, droning kind of voice and he doesn’t use much range. Rosa helps to bring a higher vocal range to the table, but she tends to sing octave doubles of Felipe’s vocal lines and I think a little more harmony would be a lot more interesting. Felipe punk-screams a little bit, but not really enough to keep it interesting through 9 songs. There’s some out of tune singing from Rosa here and there. It’s not that it needs to be perfect, but dissonance is difficult to listen to without squirming, and that happened once or twice. The musicians are fine, they glory in their naked rawness and it works for them. No truly spectacular musical performance on this CD, but there is good solid drumming and bass playing with some great sloppy punk guitar solos. They throw in surprising and cool use of the saxophone in a few tracks, and use studio Trumpet player Jason Buzzeo in three songs as well, adding a unique brass section to their raw punk indieness. I appreciate Cholo’s indie stylings, and I can’t hold a lot against them because I think the imperfections are a big part of their sound, and I like their sound. I get the impression that this band is a fun and intriguing band to watch live, and I think the live medium is probably a better reflection of what they want you to hear. 7/10.

Production – This self-produced effort is pretty good. Everything is recorded and mixed well, and the record sounds clean and crisp. Good use of guitar effects, feedback, and sounds, but not overproduced. The mix is thick and full, but not muddy, and you can hear every individual instrument. Good varying snare sounds. This CD maintains a raw indie/garage edge because they didn’t make any effort to be perfect or to correct themselves, but it is abundant with natural believable performances and that makes the not so great moments feel OK. 7/10.

Overall Grade - Cholo’s bio really gave me a good and honest impression. It spoke to their strengths, potential areas of future growth, their diversity, what they believe in, what to expect from their music, and they never misrepresented themselves. It was refreshing to hear exactly what I was told I was going to hear, and that gave me a positive feeling as I listened. There are some weak moments on this record, but there are some very good, strong, and enjoyable moments as well, and I must say this record grew on me a lot as I got to know it. Bravo Cholo. 7/10.

Vince Ripper
- HV Scene

"cholo CD review"

Self Release
Street: 09.01.05
Cholo=Sonic Youth + The B52’s + Black Heart Procession + The Pixies

Just when I was beginning to give up on indie-rock as a “genre,” Cholo shot me full of Narcan, *****-slapped me back into consciousness, and punched me in the throat for being a fastidious snob. Thank you, Cholo. This New York four-piece, comprised of musicians from Guam, Peru, Ireland, and exotic New Jersey have made one hell of a record, albeit brief (nine songs, 26 minutes). Highlights include a killer rendition of Shel Silverstein’s poem “Rock and Roll Band,” and “101,” a hip song with female to male call-and-response vocals, trumpets, and tons of tremelo. If you like the raw indie-rock of the 90s, you will, most likely, love Cholo. One can’t help but wonder why Cholo is unsigned; are they that independent? Regardless of their label status, Cholo is brilliant. ( — Ryan Shelton
- SLUG Magazine

"SPIN Magazine"

Who? Like a blood red sunrise, there's something vaguely unnerving about Brooklyn, NY's cholo. Maybe it's the eerie tonal resemblance vocalist Felipe Flores bears to fellow spine-tingler (Smog); maybe it's the way that Flores and co-vocalist Rosa Bordallo harmonize in the offbeat fashion of John Doe and Exene Cervenka. It could be the out-there saxophone melodies and sharp chords that bring to mind flashes of Big Black and Naked City -- in the end, however, what's most disturbing is how cholo's deceptively catchy hooks and thorny runs get caught in your eardrums like branches in your hair.

Their Latest: cholo's sophomore effort, Unlimited Nights and Weekends, is out now. -

"Feature on cholo (spanish)"

"Ruido En Nueva York"

Cholo es un cuarteto que empieza a abrirse paso en la escena neoyorquina. Su sorprendente primer álbum acaba de salir al mercado estadounidense

Primero fue L.A.S.E., de Dasher, quien estableció el contacto. Luego llegaron algunos correos y, poco después, el paquete con el material de difusión de la banda neoyorquina cholo (así, con minúsculas) y las buenas noticias: no se trata, como se podría inferir precipitadamente de su nombre, de un acto que busca explotar el exotismo del origen de sus integrantes ni otro bluff de calculadas aspiraciones comerciales como el de Volumen Cero, la banda que integra el peruano Martín Chan que fue nominada para un Grammy Latino. El primer disco de cholo, la agrupación liderada por Felipe Flores (nacido en Estados Unidos pero de padres peruanos), es un sólido ejercicio de indie rock que a un tiempo se nutre de los contrapuntos entre melodía y estruendo que hicieron grandes a los Pixies y el rock and roll anfetamínico y siempre inteligente de X y Sonic Youth.

"La banda comenzó en el 2000 en Nueva York con el nombre Lost ID. Éramos básicamente yo, una amiga que tocaba el bajo y un amigo que nos ayudó con la batería. Un año después encontré a Dave Kibbel, el actual baterista. En el 2003 la bajista se fue y Gary Gartlan entró a la banda, que ya había cambiado de nombre por cholo. Puse un anuncio en el Internet buscando otra guitarrista y cantante femenina. Así fue como encontré a Rosa Bordello (natural de la isla de Guam). En el 2004 nos mudamos juntos a un espacio de ensayo en Brooklyn y seguimos allí", relata Flores.

"Es difícil tener éxito en la escena neoyorquina porque cada día que una banda se disuelve, hay dos que se forman. Hablando en serio, es complicado porque aquí hay tantas bandas malas que se hace difícil encontrar a las que sí valen la pena. No se trata solamente de tocar buena música, sino también de tener buenos contactos y, claro, mucha suerte".

Sobre los principales referentes en el sonido de cholo, Flores no anda con rodeos. Son muchos: "Soy un gran admirador de los Pixies pero también de bandas como Sonic Youth, X, Pavement, Morphine, Jane's Addiction, Velvet Underground, The Clash, Built To Spill, Tom Waits e incluso Los Dolton's, entre muchas otras. En la universidad toqué jazz y música clásica con el saxofón. Las referentes de esa etapa son John Zorn, Charles Mingus, Thelonius Monk, John Coltrane, Dave Douglas, Miles Davis, Juan Esquivel y Henryk Gorecki. Ahora trato de incorporar esas influencias en el sonido de cholo."

En los próximos días, cholo seguirá promocionando su primer disco en Estados Unidos y el Reino Unido. Flores asegura que para él sería un honor concretar alguna presentación de la banda en Lima. Ojalá lo logre. Si en vivo suenan bien tal como en su excelente álbum inicial, será un gran obsequio para nuestros tan maltratados oídos. Así sea.

- El Comercio, Peru

"CD review"

Cholo’s self-titled release is the perfect record if you like what the kids used to call indie rock – you know, the Pixies, Pavement, Sonic Youth, etc. The songs might sound familiar, but only because cholo learned all the right tricks. You’ve got the dramatic vocals, guitar strumming that rides the line between 50’s guitar pop and some sort of light flamenco, occasional ooh-ooh-oohs, snaps and claps, surfy drums, and even face-melting guitars – all in just the right proportions (read: more Wire than Beatles or Sabbath). Unexpected spooky sounds emerge from nowhere and while feedback washes you upside-down across a wave of mutilation straight into your daydream nation. - Deli Magazine (NYC)

"CD review"

Imagine if Beat Happening actually had a lot of melody and you'd have Cholo, a fantastic indie-rock act who has been tearing up NYC for a little over two years.

For the most part, the songs are short and sweet, but the band makes just about every second count on this nine-song mini-record. Everything is done super lo-fi and the sound is stripped down, super cool rock 'n' roll.

The best song on here is "101," which can be nothing but a tribute to The Pixies. Cholo borrows the male/female vocal interaction liberally from Frank and Kim, even if the male vocals sound a bit like Fred Schneider. He even busts out the Spanish lyrics, ala Black Francis.

That said, this band is in no way a rip-off of any of the bands I've compared them to. This is rock the way it's mean to be--hip, cool and totally unexpected.

- Life in a Bungalo

"crashin in Review"

This Brooklyn four-piece loves to make goofy indie tunes that have a strong kick of guitar. With a strong fixation to The Pixies and The Deadmilken you'll be laughing as you listen to each one of their 9 songs from this debut album. - Crashin

"Italian review"

Cholo è un termine che può essere utilizzato anche in senso dispregiativo per indicare un indio/europeo in modo da definirne razza, colore, attitudini in senso discriminatorio. All'interno del sito ufficiale, il tag title della pagina principale recita una banda de rock en nueva york; i Cholo sono il Peruviano Felipe Flores (chitarra/voce/un incredibile sax) Rosa Bordallo dal Guam (voce/chitarra), Gary Gartlan dall'Irlanda (basso), Dave Kibbel dal New Jersey (batteria). Il loro rock è un vero e proprio meticciato pesantemente influenzato dalla storia della città, dal rumore di Sonic Youth, e contiene un germe che si permette libertà in stile flamenco. E non sto affatto scherzando; il cd omonimo è stato pubblicato a settembre; se n'è parlato a NYC e zone limitrofe. Indie-eye propone l'ascolto di una traccia davvero caotica, potente, perchè no; esilarante. - Indie-Eye

"Stranded in Stereo"

You can’t call cholo’s music funk, or calypso, or ska. Even vague, encompassing terms like fusion fall flat when describing their second release, Unlimited Nights and Weekends. This record, which easily toes half a dozen categorical lines, can only be called an experiment in musical hedonism.

In addition to the standard guitar stunts, horns, strings and co-ed vocals take turns as the driving force behind Unlimited’s 12 rambunctious tracks. At times this invokes the kind of dreamy swells that make up an Oscar-worthy musical score; more often it produces a manic frenzy, playful and intentionally clumsy like a three-legged race of artistic concepts. No doubt whichever mood they’re toying with, cholo’s diverse quintet is intent on keeping things interesting while having plenty fun themselves.

What could have been a schizophrenic headache shows just enough restraint and sense of proportion to keep you from punching your speakers out – but at times cuts it extremely close. Assisting this evasion are cheeky lyrics and the candid but skilled musicianship that suggests a killer live show. Rosa B’s lead vocals on “Coconut” and “Blue” conjure American Thighs-era Veruca Salt and breakout Yeah Yeah Yeahs respectively, and “Jose on Vaycay,” a could-have-been love child of Pavement and Cake, proves that any niche there was for energetic, multi-national power performers has indeed been filled.

It may not be what you want to hear when you’re stuck in traffic, or studying, or comforting a jilted friend, but if this summer puts you in the mood to bang back a few Red Bull's and split your pants cartwheeling, Unlimited just might be the record for you. - Eliza C. Kane


"Unlimited Nights and Weekends" LP (2008)
self titled debut LP - (2005)



Formed in the summer of 2003 in Manhattan, and currently residing in Brooklyn, NY, cholo has an earnest indie sound that weaves together saxophones, frenetic drumbeats, and wayward vocals. Aggressive guitar hooks and lamenting melodies add a raw, post-punk edge.

Felipe Flores named the band in homage to his South American roots and first-generation immigrant experiences. Raised in a Long Island suburb, he was the only Peruvian he knew who liked Jane�s Addiction, the Pixies, Fugazi, and Morphine, as well as John Coltrane and John Zorn (he played saxophone for his school jazz band). After he formed cholo, he discovered his bandmates had similar memories of being outsiders--fans of music that was written off or under-appreciated. Whether it was Rosa listening to Bikini Kill on a beach in Guam, Dave blasting Tool on his way to school in Jersey, or Gary buying the first Nirvana record in Dublin, their penchant for edgy music brought them to Smash Studios--rental music spaces in midtown Manhattan--where they fiddled with amps as garment factory workers toiled a few floors below.

Years later, cholo is still somewhat of an outsider, but instead of being on the receiving end, they�re making their own brand of music. They regularly plays shows in downtown New York and Brooklyn, in venues like Cake Shop, North Six (now Music Hall of Williamsburg), the Knitting Factory, Galapagos, and Union Hall. They�ve opened up for Mobius Band, Ill Ease, Oppenheimer, Jeffrey Lewis, Only Son (ex-Moldy Peaches), and played the CMJ festival this past fall. They also spend time in the recording studio. In September 2005 they debuted a self-titled LP, which garnered praise from critics in the US, Peru and Italy. A year later they started producing their sophomore album, Unlimited Nights and Weekends, set for release in January 2008. It features cameo performances from Heather McIntosh of Elf Power and Simon Beins of The Wowz. They�re also the only rock band represented by 50 Cent�s booking agency, A-List Talent, whose roster includes other buzz-worthy NYC acts such as Roxy Cottontail, Kudu, Game Rebellion, and the Bangers.