salvador noiseSalvador heads back to their roots after a diversion toward CCM. The boys make the right kind of noise again...
Make Some Noise
INPOP Records
11 tracks 46:19

When Salvador's self-titled debut was released some thirteen years ago, the Latino 'jam-band' injected some much-needed salsa into the otherwise bland menu of mainstream Christian music. Existing somewhere between the rock and soul of Edgar Winter's original White Trash band and the percussive ethnic drive of Santana, Salvador at last gave us music with some dirt under its fingernails. It wasn't hard to imagine these guys working out their songs in a hot garage in some Texas barrio. In 2008 the band's sixth studio album, Aware, found Salvador sounding safer and more mainstream, seemingly trading much of their edge for a more radio-friendly approach.

I'm happy to say that Make Some Noise, the band's new album, puts them back in the garage – a nicer garage, sure – but still...

The first blast of the title track (which starts the album) puts Salvador right back where they belong, sonically. Lead singer / front man Nic Gonzales delivers a nice, raspy vocal backed by a punchy, hot horn section, solid Latin percussion, thumping bass, salsa-style piano and sizzling guitar lines. Salvador is an excellent live band and the songs on Make Some Noise were reportedly created with that in mind – it worked. "Tirate," the second track on the album, goes deeper into the band's Latin roots and features a wonderful extended ending that no-doubt evolved during some live-band jamming. The loose ending, with its breakdown and laughter, gives the music a nice lived-in feeling.

"God of Forever" sounds like it could have been on Aware, and is most likely the song you'll hear on Christian radio (still a place where programmers play it safe, unfortunately). A fine song, but it doesn't reflect what Salvador does best – if Gonzales were to put out a mainstream solo project this would be fine, but on a Salvador album it's not a good fit. We get through a good, soulful ballad ("Better Man") and then it's back to some steaming Latin sounds with the Spanish-language track, "Este Corito." You don't have to speak the language to feel what this is all about.

Salvador's cover of Los Lonely Boys' "Heaven" got a lot of attention and their cover of Steve Winwood's "Higher Love" should do the same – it's a fine, funky re-interpretation of the song, set right in the middle of Make Some Noise. The balance of the album follows at a good pace, with a bit of reggae-pop on "Who You Want Me to Be," a couple of moderate-tempo ballads, a bit more pop-production on "Get up and Dance" and closing with "Not Alone," a genuinely moving prayer/song.

Salvador is at its best when they play in a 'live in-studio' mode and allow themselves to be a little more on the raw side. This is a band that should never use female back-up singers (are you listening producers?) but should keep 'the guys' voices active in that White Trash mode – the more testosterone the better with this band. A word here about the wonderful guitar work of George Cocchini, who's featured on most of the songs and has, in fact, played on Salvador's recordings since their debut. Cocchini's playing is fiery and passionate, taking a back seat to no one in this genre, including that guy named Carlos....

All in all, a mixed bag but with enough good stuff inside to want to keep that bag open and taste what's inside every now and then.

Welcome back to the garage, guys.
-Bert Saraco

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