Julieta Venegas | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Julieta Venegas

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JULIETA VENEGAS

What I've found most consistently compelling about pop-rock produced in Latin America is the way many bands, including Mexico's Cafe Tacuba, Colombia's Aterciopelados, and Argentina's Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, have fused regional traditions and international style. But not all Latin American rockers are interested in representing their native culture--take, for instance, the roster of Revolucion 2000, a 15-city package tour of mostly Mexican rock bands that hits Chicago this week. The closest kin to Julieta Venegas, one of the tour's biggest names, are Polly Harvey and Fiona Apple. The tunes on her new album, Bueninvento (BMG U.S. Latin), are built on majestic, haunting melodies, with huge hooks shaded by darkness or tangy bitterness, and like Harvey she exercises masterful control over every curlicue, trill, and bent note. But singing in Spanish is a choice for her--she grew up in Tijuana and speaks fluent English--and her evocative accordion playing and the occasional fiddle part do connect the album to Mexican culture. The album was produced by regular Cafe Tacuba collaborator Gustavo Santaolalla, who helped surround her spectacular voice with a mix of acoustic warmth and cool electro beats; guitarist Joe Gore (who toured with Harvey), drummer Joey Waronker (of Beck's band), and reedist Steve Berlin (of Los Lobos) are among the notable American musicians who played on it. Jaguares, who sell out arenas in Mexico, headline. Tuesday and Wednesday, October 17 and 18, 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-923-2000.

PETER MARGASAK

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