Los Chinches (which translates as ‘The Bugs’- a Beatles reference?) is a London-based band that follows in the musical footsteps of classic Peruvian bands such as Juaneco y su Combo and Los Mirlos as well as New York revivalists Chicha Libre. They play a highly danceable style of psychedelic, guitar-based cumbia called chicha (after a highly fermented Andean drink).
Los Chinches debut album, Fongo, contains all original songs with the familiar bubbly percussion, steady bass-lines and twanging, effects-laden guitars and keys that typify chicha. They have clearly done their homework into the roots of this style.
The band is composed of English and French instrumentalists and singers, and Peruvian and Colombian percussionists. Their sound is certainly a further hybridization of the already hybridized chicha style, which was born when Peruvian musicians mixed cumbia, Andean tonalities, and instruments and influences from English and American surf and psychedelic rock. Although the English punk and ska influences that Los Chinches claim on their website are not readily apparent musically, there is a certain kitsch-pop sensibility to their music. All of the songs wisely feature the instruments, although most contain simple vocals (or corny, depending on your ears) in English and Spanish. Although there is nothing particularly innovative about Los Chinches, they definitely have a groovy thing going on, and they’re definitely worth a spin or two.