Published: February, 2008, West Coast Performer Magazine

Diego's Umbrella "Viva La Juerga"
(Barndoor Records)
Produced by Diego’s Umbrella
Recorded at Prairie Sun Studios, San Pablo Recorders and Awesometown
Tracks 2, 3, 9, 11 engineered by Bond Bergland
Mastered by Michael Romanowski

By Michael Fortes

Diego’s Umbrella is yet another example of the great variety of music coming out of the San Francisco Bay Area right now, and also a sign that there really is no longer a “San Francisco Sound.” The “Spanish surf” groove for which this band has become known is as strong as ever on its latest release, Viva La Juerga.

Even a cursory listen to the classical guitar and violin-laden instrumental “Theme of the Glowing Amigo” will conjure images of wandering sombrero-topped musicians performing in Mexican restaurants on Mission Street. And yet as “Here As I Lay” begins, the vocals and electric guitar are outright American pop rock. The reggae-like beat and accordion further place the song in its own world pop universe, and with its memorable “Do you like me now that I’m gone?” chorus, “Here As I Lay” plays like a potential hit single for those who like the idea of a Latin-tinged Sublime.

The most extreme example of genre jumbling is “The Fiberoptic Elflord.” The title says all one needs to know about the fantastical silliness running through the lyrics. However, it says nothing about the sound. Starting with a vaguely Brazilian beat underneath a scratchy record effect, adding a ska-inflected verse, throwing in some dub reggae flourishes in the chorus, and with some polka madness stirred in as well, the end result is uncategorizable except to say that whacked prankster side of Mr. Bungle lives on in spirit here.

With Viva La Juerga, Diego’s Umbrella has created a worldwide smorgasbord of fun music that ultimately plays like a cultured clown’s party mix. There’s no grand, sweeping theme tying together all of the disparate elements, but this may result in an album that sounds more like just a collection of songs than a solid whole, it suits the tone of the material just fine.

front parlour logo