Aniv de la Rev favors a bottom-up philosophy in almost everything it does, whether it's political organizing or music making.
The local five-piece's name is Mexican slang for Aniversario de la Revolución, and at least two of its members have done grassroots work for nonprofits. The band's original bassist, David Alvarado, even left the group to pursue a career as a globetrotting labor organizer. To say the group's blend of punk and Latin American cumbia music -- a folk dance of the lower classes used to celebrate both courtship and resistance against Spain, among other things -- has radical undertones would be a bit of an understatement.
However, the music itself pays a lot of attention to the lower register as well, particularly through bass lines in the song "Sacrificial Blues." It's the bass and the lower rumbles of the guitar that really set the tone of the song in its first minute, adding a breeze of surf-rock and a slice of Sabbath to what's essentially a punk anthem on acid.
Guitarist and vocalist Jim Goronson says the song -- which, along with the rest of the band's self-titled debut, is up for the "Best Unique Album" prize at the Madison Area Music Awards -- is an explosion of emotions from the often-tumultuous world of nonprofit work.
"It's my expression of angst after voluntarily stepping down from the full-time job I had at the time at a small grassroots nonprofit in order to save it from financial disaster," he says.
While some of the lyrics get buried in the mayhem, those that emerge are pure basement punk, from shouts of "Fuck You!" to saucy quips like, "That's one thing I could say: I never had a soy latte." There's no doubt how the band feels about the fact that a lot of the folks running organizations for the oppressed and downtrodden are well-cushioned from poverty, promoting exploitation through mindless habits (consuming designer coffee drinks while those who grew the coffee beans starve) and empty gestures (attempting to heal the environment -- and shrink their waistlines -- with soymilk).
It's the energy of the track that conveys this message the best, though, and it's the melody that'll make you rally around their cause, whether it's saving the world or giving the finger to yuppified activism.
Alvarado is returning to make the band's sound even more thunderous when it plays a MAMAs afterparty this weekend. "He'll be joining us on stage for this song," says Goronson. "It'll be a two-bass assault for our heavy set-closer."
An MP3 of "Sacrificial Blues" is available in the related downloads section at right. More tracks by the band are available on the its MySpace page. Catch a deluxe version of the song when Aniv de la Rev performs with Whore du Jour at The Frequency on Saturday, May 9.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.