Estelar, the latest CD from Miami's Volumen Cero, conjures up memories of an innocent, pre-Columbine era, when disenchanted middle class youth in trenchcoats would meet up at Denny's to harmlessly commiserate over "Girlfriend in a Coma" by The Smiths.
Martin Chan alternates between dreamy guitar chords and spacey keyboard to give the music its melancholy feel, while Fernando Sanchez's driving percussion picks it back up and gets you dancing. Luis Tamblay's fine-tuned singing softens his recurring demands to be taken for who he is. On "Despiertame" ("Wake Me Up"), he playfully pleads to a lover to keep hanging on, even when the partner becomes aggressive or emotionally distant. And songs like "Biscayne," one of two English tracks on the album, symbolize the quest of many bi-cultural Miamians to find a common route to their two identities. "Take me as I am ... I've seen it. I've breathed it. I've lived it all through this boulevard," he sings.
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Every song echoes groups who have gone before. "Luces" sounds like The Church's "Under the Milky Way," while "Biscayne" reflects The Cult's "Sanctuary." But Volumen Cero deserves kudos for capturing the essence of the old modern rock era. Estelar's emotional swings fit the mood of the water-logged, indoor days of the hurricane season.