Critics' Pick: Omar Rodriguez-Lopez
As the brains and guitar brawn behind The Mars Volta and their legendary El Paso precursors At The Drive-In, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez has influenced a greater part of the impressionable ears of young America to turn on, tune in and get cosmic. The guitarist's Pink Floyd/Santana influences didn't come to the front of the mix until Volta's 2003 debut De-Loused in the Comatorium, but once the proverbial floodgates were opened, shit got spacey quick.
Since 2004, Rodriguez-Lopez has been at work on solo stuff in countless permutations, and at a prodigious rate—when he isn't co-fronting Volta with Cedric Bixler-Zavala—and reserving the more challenging high-art work for his personal releases. You can hear influences from Miles Davis, Can, Kluster and the seamier, less commercial side of Jimi Hendrix here, expanding the palettes of curious fans drawn in by his better-known band's name.
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