With the long-awaited, long-overdue demise of Kiss, Los Straitjackets have become the veteran force among rock stars who prefer to perform in disguise. Since forming in 1994, the instrumental guitar quartet has toured the world as a faceless entity, decked out in the most gorgeous Mexican wrestling masks that money can buy. For anyone unfamiliar with Los Straitjackets, imagine a campy horror movie with a two-headed stitchblend of Duane Eddy and Link Wray taking guitar lessons from Hank Marvin and learning to play spy/surf/monster themes on Dick Dale's Fender Strat through a Showman amp. If that doesn't clinch it, consider the band's most fervent fans -- Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter. Los Straitjackets have appeared on Late Night
three times since O'Brien's been at the helm, and each appearance has been more electrifying than the last (the band once presented Richter with a wrestling mask of his own, which he substituted for the star on his Christmas tree). Still not convinced? Maybe you just need a quick spin of The Velvet Touch of Los Straitjackets
, the band's latest epic on YepRoc Records. Beyond their muscular and manic surf/Tex Mex/rumba-tinged originals, the Straitjackets surgically deconstruct Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" (complete with chest-pounding, we can only hope) and reinvigorate the swing movement with a heart-stopping rendition of Louis Prima's "Sing, Sing, Sing!" A couple of successive spins of Velvet Touch
are sure to result in complete exhaustion, but just think what Los Straitjackets will do to you onstage.