Music » Livewire

The Iguanas

With Mary McBride. Friday, May 21, at the Beachland Ballroom.

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The Iguanas have a knack for disregarding musical borders. While the quintet keeps its rock roots firmly planted in hometown New Orleans, it's also managed to naturalize Mexican conjunto and tejano styles. Given the geography, the result goes beyond Tex-Mex. When the Iguanas mix it up, you can call it Chicano R&B.

Their latest release, Plastic Silver 9 Volt Heart, proves that they are more than a compelling dance band; they're also gifted interpreters of everyday life. The ethereal tunes are snapshots from a two-lane-highway trip across America, south by southwest. Its spirit lies in the title track, co-written with the Blasters' Dave Alvin, which tells the story of a child's first radio. Alongside a couple of bona fide barroom rockers, other tunes recall Nebraska-era Springsteen, Big Star, and the Band. With Spanish rhythms and lyrics punctuated by hearty, honking saxophone riffs, there's plenty to dance to.

The Iguanas are in the same league as Los Lobos, the Pogues, Shonen Knife, and others who have successfully translated their culture into rock and roll. Brush up on your Spanish and lace up your blue suede zapatas. The border police have the night off.

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