A Voice of Survival and Regeneration: A Review of “40; Hopscotchin’ Carcasses”

40; Hopscotchin’ Carcasses by Chico’s Brother

                    A review by Mark Sebastian Jordan.

You wanna hear America right now?

It ain’t some chest-thumping, dumbed-down recycled-classic-rock with a yella-dog-in-a-pickup-truck-with-a-red-hatted-good-ol-bubba making Merica meth again. It ain’t the scratchy skirl of a Scottish fiddle playing a weathered tune, it ain’t the trip-skittle of hard bop, not the altered states of a Mahler mind-field, not The Beatles, no Nirvana, and it sure as fuck ain’t the latest auto-tuned non-entity sliding across the charts of lucre.

You wanna hear America right now? This is it. Folk ‘n’ urban, sweet as candy, and ready to cut you. Chico’s Brother, harmonious and alienating, narrative and nonsense, avant-ghetto, is the expression of Aurelio Villa Luna Diaz, resident of Mansfield, Ohio, and elsewhere. He’s a stew of ethnic and cultural storms, rich in voice, startlingly open and maddeningly elusive, like everything and like nothing you’ve ever heard before.


Aurelio Villa Luna Diaz is Chico’s Brother, the prince of Midwestern avant-ghetto. (Photo courtesy of Michael Pfahler.)


His 2016 album 40; Hopscotchin’ Carcasses (an independent production available on bandcamp.com) is fertile with creativity and guest performers including, among others, Sovroncourt, Orie Rush, Kate Westfall, Chuck Blackwell, and even the artist’s grandmother. But it is Diaz himself who shines as his lucid tenor soars out over the seething textures of songs like “programmed clouds” or in the elusive “or how,” where a story of bored kids in search of fun morphs into something darker under a werewolf moon. Or when the instruments pause for an instant and Diaz’s voice soars unfettered into the stratosphere in “but the Moon always glows,” the effect is nothing short of breathtaking. Such joy, such sadness.


Aurelio Villa Luna Diaz makes music for busted angels. (Photo courtesy of Kate Westfall.)


In “little mexiKan Kandy,” the beguiling sweetness of the music hides razorblades protruding from the lyrics. Violence and threat of coercion always lurk around the corner for Chico’s Brother. Tell me that ain’t Donald Trump’s America. But this artist is that dumpster fire’s worst nightmare: queerly defiant, brown and proud, a survivor of a faltering nation’s shit-storm meltdown.

From gently strummed autoharp to nearly atonal expressionism, 40; Hopscotchin’ Carcasses covers a startling range, probably more than is safe, but it dares the listener to try and keep up, though Diaz has a way of disappearing around a corner or down a brick-paved alley just when you think you’ve caught up with what he’s all about. He even taunts you in the refrain to “tires & scientology”: Na-na-na-na-na-na.


Chico’s Brother: The great American melting pot comes to a boil. (Photo courtesy of Greter Photography.)


This indie record’s production is raw but highly creative, distorting plain sounds into the blistered skin of the artist’s world, of our world, one that still wraps around a tender heart of sweetness. Heart-rending but inspiring, 40; Hopscotchin’ Carcasses announces a voice of survival and regeneration.

You wanna hear America?

This is it.

This is who we are.

This entry was posted in Aurelio Villa Luna Diaz, Chicos Brother, Indie Music, Mark Sebastian Jordan, Music, People, Reviews and tagged , , , , , by inventifier. Bookmark the permalink.

About inventifier

Mark Sebastian Jordan has been an active presence on the Ohio arts scene for over thirty years as a writer, actor, director, playwright, speaker, and improv comedian. His Malabar Trilogy of historical dramas was featured in sell-out performances for a decade at Malabar Farm State Park. As a living history performer, Jordan has portrayed director Orson Welles, composer George Frideric Handel, humorist Dan De Quille, and politician Clement Vallandigham. He has also been featured in television programs such as Ghost Hunters (SyFy), Mysteries at the Museum (Travel Channel), My Ghost Story (Biography Channel), and House of the Unknown (A&E), and appeared as an extra in the classic film The Shawshank Redemption. Jordan is a writer with numerous publication credits and awards, and has worked as a freelance journalist for publications all over the world. His hilarious mystery Sam Slammer, Private Dick was published by Sinister Hand Media in the summer of 2017. His satire on history textbooks, 1776 & All That, is available exclusively from XOXOX Press. Jordan's first poetry chapbook, The Book of Jobs, was published by Pudding House Press, and his second chapbook, Murder Ballads: American Crime Poems, was published by Poets Haven Press in 2014. His work has been included in numerous journals and collections. Jordan has written about classical music for High Fidelity Review, Surround Pro Magazine, Musicweb International, and currently reviews concerts of the Cleveland Orchestra and Apollo's Fire for Seen & Heard International (http://seenandheard-international.com/tag/jordan-mark-s/). Jordan is a refugee of the corporate business world, where he spent a decade in packaging purchasing. Finding himself compulsively writing and creating to escape the unfulfilling day job, he fled when a corporate buyout ended his position. Since then, he has only worked jobs that offer personal fulfillment and creativity. Starting in 2007, Mark began publicly sharing his work as a poet and since then has read across Ohio. He has won awards from The Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, the Ohio Theatre Alliance, the Theta Alpha Phi Drama Honor Fraternity, the Associated Press, the Mansfield/Richland County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Ohio Poetry Association, the Jesse Stuart Memorial Award, the Ohio Poetry Day Association, and the International Association of Audio Information Services. In November 2017, he was named the new Artistic Director of the Mansfield Playhouse. He lives in the central highlands of Ohio, near Loudonville.

2 thoughts on “A Voice of Survival and Regeneration: A Review of “40; Hopscotchin’ Carcasses”

  1. Pingback: Find Me At La Luna: A Review of “qPOC…&LMNOP” | Voices from the Borderland

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