The Iguanas

00:00 April 28, 2014

 Though perhaps not what you’d think of as a quintessential New Orleans band, The Iguanas are indeed one of the city’s mainstays. Guitarist Rod Hodges, saxophonist Joe Cabral, bassist Rene Coman, and drummer Doug Garrison have been rocking the local music scene for the better part of twenty years with their Latin-influenced brand of Chicano Rock. Remembering that New Orleans is indeed a port city, a melting gumbo-pot of people, cultures, and sounds can help one understand how a band can play Creole inspired Latin rhythms, sing in Spanish, and in the process pick up scores of local musician street cred. Many New Orleans bands and musical artists owe a nod to The Iguanas and give them just respect; be it from their sheer musicianship (many of the bands members play multiple instruments) or their venerable guile and staying power, nearing over two decades with a consistent lineup. Their newest release, Juarez, keeps the fiesta going with twelve tracks just as diverse and animated as the city they hail from. The first track, “Love Sucker,” exactly defines their Creolized Latin sound. The groove is all New Orleans, but their musical sensibilities creep in. Calling this Lowrider music isn’t a stretch. Riding while playing it and the second track, “Blues for Juarez,” just made me wish I had switches on my dash and a candy-coated paint job. “Chicken and Shake” is another WWOZ blaster; it just screams New Orleans, but with a Latin twist as if the treaty of San Ildefonso never happened. Joe Cabral’s saxophone is prominent on “Make the Magic Happen” and the 60’s inspired “It Keeps Raining” both having serious dance potential. But honestly, my favorite tracks on Juarez are the more Chicano inspired tunes. Songs like “Matamoros Way” and “Problems with You” are wildly entertaining, even more after a few tequilas and cervezas. Another favorite is the album’s final song, the heart warming “When the Weather Breaks.” It’s a classy ballad, and is perhaps a nod to the band’s exile to Austin, Texas after Katrina.

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