It’s a tropical night. You hear the sound of congas and bongos, brass sections and chorus vocals. It’s a toe-tapping hip-rolling mambo and that cowbell is ringing and the bass is bouncing and while it’s a familiar sound, something seems different this time.
San Lazaro’s unique take on Latin music is a blend of old-school salsa and classic Cuban Son. Beyond that, it references everything from psych funk to roots reggae to Spaghetti Western film soundtracks. It’s raw, noisy and electric one moment and sweet and soulful the next. They sound like no one else, and maybe that’s because San Lazaro come from an unexpected corner of the world: Melbourne, Australia. How did the continent of kangaroos and deserts come to contribute such arresting Spanish language songwriting and dazzling musicianship? “It’s all about Serendipity,” according to San Lazaro’s lead singer, Keko Viran. Serendipity is also, appropriately, the name of San Lazaro’s new five-track vinyl EP.