A hot foreign exchange student has been a staple in high school movies from the 80s to the naughts, from "Better Off Dead" to "American Pie." Imagine a stint abroad but rock-star style; all night parties, indie shows, musical exchange. That's the idea behind Utopians' singer Barbi Recanati's visit this week. She is working on a record in an NYC studio but mostly she is here to meet the city and make some friends with her bilingual vocals and garage-riffed guitar.
Barbi is sharing bills with New York City counterparts from the LES and Brooklyn up to Shrine in Harlem. "Attack of the 50-ft Chica" is a fitting description of Utopians' sound. It's a series of shows where Barbi shares the stage with female-fronted acts Cordero, Madison Cano, Tisra Dewitt, and Redheadphone. DJ Small Change spins the East Village show. It's Barbi's first trip to North America and she's the new girl.
Meanwhile, local artist Ani Cordero is dipping into South Am territory with an album of classic Latin American tracks produced by Sergio Dias of Os Mutantes, that include songs from 60s-70s South America. Ani fronts her band Cordero with vocals and guitar and plays drums for the excellent band Pistolera. She was inspired to make "Recordar" by memories of music from her childhood in Atlanta, where her Puerto Rican parents played records by "Nueva Cancion" artists like Violeta Parra and Victor Jara.
Utopians sent me a photo of Barbi and Joan Jett, after a stadium show that included the Foo Fighters in Buenos Aires. The shot with her idol says a lot about the raucous rock vixen from the other side of the equator. Her trip to New York might not include CBGBs, but it will be full of denim, leather and Pabst as she sings to her first English-speaking audiences. She shares a stage with Cordero band at Nublu Thursday, May 3 for a foreign exchange of the hottest variety.