El Centro - Prohibido! (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

El Centro

Prohibido! (2003)


El Centro is band stuck in the mid nineties. The whole release reeks of The Suicide Machines 1996 release Destruction by Definition, with it's melodic punk music topped with gritty vocals. There is also a tendency towards ska and reggae, also reminiscent of that album, as well as Rancid's 1995 classic …And Our Come the Wolves and Sublime's self titled album from 1996. Maybe you're sayin' "Hey! I like all those albums!" But don't let that fool you into thinking you will like this. (And no this CD is not in Spanish, nor does it have any sort of Mexican themes or musical influence, in case you were confused.)

While all the El Centro guys are musically proficient, the melodies are sometimes catchy, and the "whoas" come at just the right time, something is lacking. Originality, perhaps, or maybe that everyone is past music like this these days. But even if you are open to this style, El Centro just has very little class, showcased in lyrics like "Your girlfriends are all hoes / they all work at the stripper shows" from "Sometimes." On "One Touch", an otherwise decent and catchy track with the lyrics "One touch will remind you / you cannot sleep on this bed alone", El Centro has the audacity to add as the last chord rings: "No Way / I found out she's gay." Classy. And with song titles like "Bouncy Song" (wouldn't ya know it, a bouncy ska song!) and "A.D.D." a song title that may work for a light-hearted or funny song- which this is not, this band is just not with it. The overuse of repeated words or phrases to form choruses gets a little tiresome also.

Another problem is the cheese factor. In the closer "Rain Song" a slow reggae tune, you'll hear a touching song about friendship. Walking through the rain / Feeling all alone / Life is what you make / Walk in time with everyone" and "Is it just the pain? / When the sun comes through / The rainbow starts to follow me." If you make it this far on the album, you will be cringing, especially hearing this from a tough guy punk band.

Speaking of tough guys, their singer honestly is one. All music bashing aside, here is an interesting side note: Soon after this album was put to tape, singer Steve Cabler and a former manager and friend went to Indonesia to surf. On October 12th, 2002 they were in a bar in Bali and terrorist bomb went off, killing 200 people, including Cabler's friend. He was one of the few survivors, and after healing from broken bones and severe burns, although sustaining major hearing loss, the band continued on. That I can respect. But I do not particularly care for the music.

Perhaps we should allow El Centro to be stuck in the mid nineties, after all they formed in 1995. But this is only their second album since then, so you'd think they'd have time to get some new CDs in their collections. Perhaps not.