“The Cage," Angel Zuniga Martinez (www.zunimarmusic.com)
Angel Zuniga Martinez is a guy who seems to have come from a more romantic age - maybe a more romantic new age. Martinez's best selling points include a dramatic croon that recalls Morrissey and Freddie Mercury and melodies that could've easily slipped onto MTV in the 1980s. In fact, the lovely "Broken In Two" makes a good case for bringing back the era. Then there's the sweet "Play," which rambles along with such a likeable lilt that it could've been created by some British Invasion group in the late 1960s.
At other times, you just have to pause and wonder. At first I hated the electro-disco "Sounds" (with a rap by drummer Frank Sheadrick), but for some reason when the language changes to Spanish it became cheesily charming. There is no doubt that Martinez continues on his own musical path. It's always fun to follow along.
Wayne Bledsoe may be reached at 865-342-6444 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He is also the host of "All Over the Road" midnight Saturdays to 4 a.m. Sundays on WDVX-FM.
© 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel
'Cage' match: Angel Zuniga Martinez takes on toil and strife on new CD
By Steve Wildsmith
Originally published: February 04. 2010 1:47PM
Freedom and sacrifice — it's been the artist's credo since Cro-Magnon first smeared ocher onto a cave wall, and all these thousands of years later, it's no different.
Take Angel Zuniga Martinez, formerly of Angel and the Love Mongers — he's got a new album, “The Cage,” that he'll celebrate with a performance on Saturday at The Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville. It's been an endeavor more than a year in the making, one that's seen him through the dissolution of his old band and the loss of a good job.
It's his vision — his baby from start to finish, made without the input, argumentative and otherwise, that characterized the first two Angel and the Love Mongers records. But it's been a long and difficult birthing process, Martinez told The Daily Times this week.
“It's been a process of change,” Martinez said. “When I started it out, the songs got written and then rebirthed again in the studio, sometimes by accident. Some of the stuff I got excited about and thought was great; other stuff I thought was too much. It just all started with a beat or something that got my brain grooving, and it just grew from there.”
In a way, Martinez has come full circle. Originally from South Texas, he moved to Knoxville a few years ago after spending time in Nashville. In Texas, he was so active in the Dallas-Fort Worth music scene that it nearly consumed him. However, it was a period of his life during which he learned much, and getting back to those roots during the making of “The Cage” has been nostalgic, he said.
“I started out in a band, but I would also play out as Angel Zuniga Martinez, so I'm familiar with the process — I just haven't done it in so long,” he said. “Sometimes, it's hard to get the terminology down again, especially in the studio. I would hear something but couldn't put my finger on it, so I would tell the guys to play it louder or softer, and we would just keep going back until we got it and I said, ‘OK, that's how I wanted it to sound like.'”
With Angel and the Love Mongers, the emphasis was on Brit-pop; the group often earned comparisons to Queen with Martinez playing the role of flamboyant front man to the hilt. “The Cage,” however, takes those basic elements, throws in plenty of additional ingredients and pushes puree on the whole thing.
The title track kicks things off, and for the first couple of tracks, it seems like a familiar shirt — worn but comfortable. With the fifth song — “My Fault” — the differences leap from the shadows, and all of the sudden Martinez has veered into new territory — mournful blues guitar weeps alongside wailing sax solos, and from that point forward, it's game on.
“Sounds” ventures into the borderlands where rock and electronic music meet, with spoken-word and hip-hop providing the vocal anchor. “The Man” sports a lounge lizard-esque vibe, and a few songs later, “Play” sports a cabaret vibe while the very next song, “Madman,” flirts with Middle Eastern beats. It's quirky but whimsical, a solid effort that wallows in and celebrates its diversity.