Has it really been ten years since the Escats played their first concert? The answer is that it has, indeed, been a decade since the inception of this musical trio and they have grown from a local San Jose bar band with a homegrown following to a nationally recognized group with fans all over the country. The band was formed by Luis Alonso Naranjo, who plays keyboard, sings and writes most of the songs. Kin Rivera is the drummer/percussionist and Felo Contreras, who joined the band two years ago, is the bassist. Both Contreras and Rivera have each recorded more than three hundred songs in the studio and both were nominated for Latin Grammys in 2007. The band has recorded three albums, each receiving more airplay than the prior one. Their first album, “Para Quien Quiera Que Seas…Donde Quiera Que Estes” was released in 2006. Two years later, the band recorded “Para Que Estes En El Concierto”. Their third album, “Manual Practico Del Amor Y Del Desamor” came out in 2010. Thirteen of their songs from these discs have charted on Costa Rican radio. And it is that radio push that has helped to enhance their popularity, helping to broaden their fan base to extend past the Costa Rican borders, and into Panama, Guatemala and El Salvador and north, into Mexico and the United States.
The band has released a compilation of seventeen songs from their past projects titled, appropriately, “Radio Hits”. In addition to the thirteen songs that spent time on the national charts, the disc offers four new bonus tracks, one of them, “Al Frio Que Hay en Ti” is a live recording.
The band’s musical styles range from ballads and romantic songs to pop and rock. With Naranjo as arranger, the songs are all very slick, lush and polished. From the first album, I think “Tu Nombre” and “Recuerdame” are standout songs, both with strong, melodic singing and a very clean studio sound. All three songs from the second album lean toward a marketable Pop sound, “Que Mas Da” being the most popular. This was the album, I believe, that springboarded the band into being a commercial success. The third album is represented well on this compilation with nearly half the songs originating from it. It also demonstrates how the band has built upon its reputation, producing more hits with each release.
“Radio Hits” is a nice history of the Escats. The songs are historically progressive, so the listener can her the band grow. Naranjo’s keyboard work expands and becomes multi-layered. There is a confidence, a familiarity between the three musicians that meshes throughout their ten years together. I do wish there had been more information provided with the disc, liner notes to expand some of the information. For example, as an official music nerd, I’d like to know who played guitar on a few of the tracks. It will be interesting to watch them mature together over the upcoming decade.
The Escats CD is available at Jaime Peligro book store in Playa Tamarindo, where they will gladly sample the music for their customers.