Zinacantepec, Mexico's José Carmen (guitar) and Claudio Lafania (drums) recently moved to San Antonio and are the latest White Stripes-offshoot to grace our town. When I asked them why they sang in English even while living in Mexico, Carmen said, "Because we like the blues." Huh? He sings like a spoiled six-year-old whose favorite toy has been stolen, and the EP sounds like an early precarious demo. Despite this, they know what they're doing. The Gamins are not into virtuosity or polished production values. It's power and attitude that they're concerned with, captured perfectly on four tracks and analog tape. Their darkness is tempered by a couple of blues standards they deconstruct into a crash course on aggression: Southern traditional "Old Lady Sittin' in the Dining Room" and Mississippi John Hurt's "Candyman Blues." The Gamins took these mellow originals and furiously reinvented each as something that has a life of its own. Along with the rest of the album, the result is intriguing enough for me to want to catch these guys live soon. Only then will I know, for sure, whether it's copper or gold we're talking about.
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