On Olden Goldies, Tall Juan mixes things up. The ecstatic rock n’ roll stylings of his latest transmission on BUFU Records resonate with the playfully inverted title of the record: on Olden Goldies, Argentinian-born Far-Rockaway transplant Tall Juan mines a sound reminiscent of the golden oldies of AM radio scuzz—but, not without reverence, warps the sound and structure of a racially and sonically exclusive genre with his Spanish lyrics and casual brashness. This nonchalantly progressive attitude, always tinged with a cocksure enthusiasm, colors the resplendent Olden Goldies with an insouciance tinged with loss and hardship—of drug addiction, heartbreak, and immigration—that Juan bats away with a grin. But beneath this grin scratches, yelps, and yawps Juan’s inimitable voice, a testament to both his Latin roots and his new digs in Queens.
Ranging from a youthful squeal on “Time Bomb” to the soaring spaciousness on the reconciliatory “Kaya” to the introspective melodiousness on slow-burning closer “Take Your Time,” Juan’s versatile voice jaunts with the listener through a rollicking subway ride around Juan’s geographies and relationships. Although Tall Juan may “not know what to do” as he maintains on “I Don’t Know What To Do,” our next step, as listeners of Olden Goldies, is clear: to canonize Juan along with the rockstars of the golden oldies, celebrating both his virtuosity—comparable to classic rock’s standard-bearers—and his visionary rejuvenation of a dormant genre.