Thee Sinseers: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert
The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.
To appreciate the magic of a performance from Thee Sinseers, you have to understand the co-mingling of Chicano and African American communities in post-World War II, Southern California. Living in the same neighborhoods, these communities created a virtual symphony of R&B, mariachi and boleros. And what you hear in this California band's Tiny Desk (home) concert, as they perform among plants in a flower shop, builds on a legacy of music that became known as "oldies but goodies" in the Chicano community.
Right from the start, band leader and vocalist Joey Quiñones and his crew dig deep with their original songs that pay homage to the oldies in a way that evokes my own memories of lowrider car shows and lazy Sunday afternoons at Roeding Park in Fresno, Calif. "What's His Name" features a delicate falsetto that was popular in 1950s R&B. The short horn parts and the doo-wop background vocals fall into a call and response backdrop for lyrics about a broken heart.
There is a very real connection in this set between the passionate vocals of the best R&B ballads and mariachi ranchera, both borrowing from the emotional devastation of Italian opera. That's all on display in "Hold On," which makes us question how we have the power to keep on living. Particular attention has to be paid to vocalist Adriana Flores' delicate pleading on "Lovin You," which crescendos into a blown out ballad powered by a tight, shouted chorus from the entire band.
TINY DESK TEAM
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