THE TRACKS: TREASURED MEMORIES
In the late 2000s, a very exciting offshoot of the post-garage/punk scene began to emerge from East L.A. and Boyle Heights. These bands disovered deep connections to the garage, punk, and blues scenes of the 60s, but unlike more mainstream bands—such as the revivalist Strokes—they did not stop there. Having grown up with two cultures as well as a deep regional history of music and social activism, the bands drew from their rich Latinx and Chicanx roots to create a musical genre that was wholly unique to East L.A. One great example of this was a band called De Hombres, fronted by Bobby Sandoval, which had a song about the Sleepy Lagoon murder that sparked the Zoot Suit Riots. It had the energy and power of a kick right to the face, and at the same time it spoke about things that mattered. During this same era there was another band I really loved called Gossip Tree who played a deeply romantic and nostalgic kind of music that echoed and buzzed forth from amplifiers in small bars, community centers, and backyards across the city. The band eventually became East Of The River and later its front man Venancio Bermudez reformed the band as the Tracks. The Tracks came out with a few singles in 2017, including arguably one of the best songs of the year from the L.A. indie scene: “Go Out Tonight,” which had an amazing video made with vintage footage of downtown L.A. and its vital Latino history. The song leads in with a low hum from a keyboard that gives way to deliberate and rhythmic single string strumming from a guitar. As the intro builds, everything comes into crescendo with the drums, the harmonic and distorted guitar and the bass flying in at the same time. Once Venancio begins to sing, you know this band has something. His voice just cuts into you and makes you bleed. This is something that I really enjoy about the Tracks—all the songs hit you in a very personal place. While referencing the past, either directly or subtly, these songs gave you a sort of prostalgia for a pain that you have yet to feel but know will one day come. For many years, the Tracks have been a sleeper hit in L.A., culminating with their appearance in the Amazon show series based off the Chris Kraus book I Love Dick, where they performed an amazing cover of Don Gibson’s “Oh Lonesome Me,” and later a masterfully atmospheric version “You Can’t Judge a Book by Looking at the Cover” that came out in an Apple commercial. Finally in late 2018 we were given the full treatment with the release of their Treasured Memories LP. The album opens up with the single “Go Out Tonight” and another future classic “The Quit Song” but quickly expands into new material that carries the band to a whole other level. One highlight is the deceptively simple “Take You Alone,” with its cyclical effect of slightly changing the verse each time through—it stays familiar even as it creates a narrative that grows. Another hit is the “Hustle,” with a heavy punk influence that pulls no punches. The album closes with the lightly blues/country influenced “See Them Go.” The twang of the guitar pairs perfectly with Bermudez’s crooning as he laments over having a woman stuck in his head. As with many of the Tracks’ songs, it rises and falls at key moments and leads to an insanely good melodic bridge that reverses course at Bermudez’ revelation that he too was residing in the thoughts of his lover. This album is one you should not miss. It is a great introduction to a scene more people should experience and I am positive this band will only get bigger.
— Zachary Jensen