In this age of the internet, we are absolutely surrounded with new media and fresh content. But unfortunately, so much of it can only be labeled as derivative. So many bands are making incredible music right now, but I’d be lying if I said I could tell half of them apart by their music alone. It is very rare these days to listen to something and say, “I’ve never heard that before.” But when I got the chance to spin Querida Hija, the latest release by CT’s Foxtails, those were the very first words out of my mouth.
It’s hard to describe the sound of Querida Hija because there’s so much sound to take in. The guitar packs an array of tones into each tune: the soft sad chords opening “Lucky Cat Sticker Pack” bloom into delayed melodics before bursting as rakes of noisy distortion for the coda. The bass guitar eschews dead-horse booming root notes, instead running off-kilter rhythms and wandering harmonies that lead the ear along. The drums stomp and stutter in powerful syncopation, seamlessly stitching together tempo modulations and time-signature changes with quick fills and chaotic polyrhythms. Above this temperamental maelstrom of sound, the vocals whip from delicate consonance to vicious, blackened screams without warning, shuffling the pretty and the petrifying until there is no separation between them.
The instrumentation on Querida Hija is vicious, but it is the extremely diverse approach of Foxtails that makes this record stand out so loudly. Heavy use of color tones, varied time signatures and key changes point to a powerful jazz influence, reflected in the tasteful smattering of saxophone melodies complementing the core instruments. Latin rhythms and bilingual vocals further open the record up, weaving danceable grooves beneath their grindy skramz while providing a refreshing take on a genre that until recently has been dominated by whitebelts and white dudes.
The pieces of Querida Hija may come from all over, but the whole picture they create is one of viscerally emotional performance. Each note is pained, each pause between laden with tension; the sleepy melodies of the opening track hit as intensely as the crushing breakdown in “Ego Death.” The dynamic changes mirror this ferocity—”Saturday Night” lures the listener in with a dreamy diadem verse, before overwhelming the ears with an anarchic chorus of dissonant chords and maniacal rhythm changes.
If the emotion is embedded in the performances on Querida Hija, the lyrics shape that emotion into heated and intensive imagery. Violence both subtle and serious pervades the album, with threatening scenes like “My body is ruined / Your scent runs through it” or more blatant statements such as “Dreaming of bloodshed / Hit you in the head.” The almost-comforting image of being “sewn into bedsheets” in “zzz” returns in a far darker context by the end of the record with the line “I dream of you / since you bled / on the bedsheets you / tucked remembrance in.” Foxtails wield their lyrics like a scalpel on Querida Hija, using smart language choices to cut heavy and deep.
Between evocative lyrics, spiraling compositions, and genre-bending instrumentation, Querida Hija is a record that sounds like no other. No matter which angle you approach this album from, you will find something beautiful, something dark, and most importantly, something wholly new. Foxtails are pulling emotion from math and the shadows from jazz to make a sound that is entirely theirs. And in the future when a new pile of latin-jazz-skramz-math-madness bands begin to emerge, I have no doubt they’ll all be pointing to Querida Hija as their inspiration.
My Top Track: “Lucky Cat Sticker Pack”
Querida Hija is out via Emocat Records; you pick up a digital or physical copy via Bandcamp or stream it on Spotify. For more info on Foxtails including upcoming shows and news, follow them on Facebook or Instagram @foxtailsct.