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Having been born in Venezuela and living homeless in the U.S., suffering from a drug addiction and embracing an almost militant homosexuality, it would seem that Yva Las Vegass had no other choice than to be a punk in the stricto sensu of that term, ignoring all its musical connotations and fashion aesthetics that the late 1970’s brought it. She was brought up to everyone’s ears’ attention when a post-Cobain Krist Novoselic formed Sweet 75 in 1995, a now forgotten alt-rock band she was the singer for, after the bassist’s wife found her busking in the streets of an apathetic – because all grunge is apathetic – Seattle. I Was Born In A Place Of Sunshine And The Smell Of Ripe Mangoes is not apathetic in the least. It is a defiant record, a portrait of everything a gay woman of colour has been through in a foreign land to her, where deviation from the WASP norm is seen (even today) with an utmost disdain; a record where folk tunes meet latino tunes, where spanish is sung not because it is her first language but because it will piss off whitey; an album filled with passion, filled with sadness, filled with a guerrila’s spirit («I believe the Civil Rights Movement just wasn’t enough», says she on “Crack Whore”), filled with that kind of paradoxical regret you feel when something went bad in your life and you’re still proud of having experienced it, and, most importantly, a joie de vivre you simply won’t find anywhere else, unless you, like her, are a punk, an exception to the rule. I Was Born…, because of Yva’s life story, and because songs like “Mariposas”, “Diente Flojo” and “Mentiras Cuento” deserve their place in the rock pantheon, is the best record of 2012 you’ll probably only have listened to in 2013. It deserved more. So much more. But its mere existence is already – in her eyes, probably, and in our ears, definitely – a victory.

PAC

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