The brainchild of Andres (Andy) González, Latin Ska band, Roka Hueka, has been delivering fiery live shows around Colorado for more than five years. Known for Gonzalez’s riveting stage presence and their ace horn section, the band had yet to release any recorded material — save for a very DIY recording early on — focusing instead on their live shows and opening for acts like The Wailers, The Toasters, and The Slackers.
Now, the band has finally unleashed their official debut album, ¡Volar! which strives to capture some of that live energy on tape for the first time.
With 12 songs clocking in at just over 50 minutes, ¡Volar! Marks the group’s special mark on a danceable, Latin/ska soundtrack.
“Escape Musical” opens with Spanish narration from González before the punchy horns and throbbing beats drop listeners directly onto the dance floor at a tropical night club. The song is a great choice to open the record as it showcases the prowess of the musicians right off the bat with a couple of choice guitar licks from Mario Ro alongside some fireworks from the ample horn section. Just two tracks later, “Skank It!” injects some more raw energy into the album as González spits rapid-fire Spanish over a bouncing beat provided by drummer Blake Pendergrass and bassist Ric Urrutia. The festive vibe that weaves its way through the record comes to life two-thirds of the way through as the song is overtaken by audio of a party in full swing.
The middle of the album features three back-to-back bangers in the playfully titled, “Wrath of Skahn,” “Te Voy a Olvidar,” and another highlight of the album, “Hasta el Tope.” The latter is a powerful tune with a punk vibe that is emphasized by its politically-charged verses. The song, and possibly the album, reaches a high point with a spoken word section that begins in Spanish but culminates with González belting out “Let’s build a united front against fascism right now!”
With ¡Volar! Roka Hueka has taken the opportunity to make a statement while still crafting an album that gives listeners a feel for the personality of the band.