Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Depresión - "Inexistencia"



Depresión unites two beloved punk acts (Los Blenders and O Tortuga) along with third member Héctor Escajadillo for a sound influenced by alternative rock and all things dark. The six-minute, aggressively brooding single “Inexistencia” contemplates existence with eyes closed. Guitars come in at all points, building a wall of sound to save the singer from himself. It’s a breakup song that combats heavy feelings with heavier music. Sound comparisons from other sources have been varied: Joy Division, Smashing Pumpkins, Nothing, (Title Fight should get a mention as well), and still there’s really no telling where it could go. Suffice it to say that since Chavos Bien and O Tortuga accompanied us during the warm months, we can assume that Depresión will be there to get us through the cold.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Algodón Egipcio - "Multiestabilidad"



September 2015 has been a good month for comebacks from the 2011 soundtrack to our lives. The eerily calm beauty of Mueran Humanos' “Miseress”, Adrianigual's holographic house hit "Nunca Vienes A Mi Casa", Algodón Egipcio’s “Multiestabilidad”. We also learned Alex Anwandter's follow up to Rebeldes is now finished and will be called Amiga.

"Multiestabilidad" is instantly tantalizing, jolting even. This is music you can see: sharp yet malleable pixels. And almost feel: metallic structures being manipulated to their percussive breaking point. Algodón Egipcio sounds like a digital seraphim: "cada puerta abierta es una dimensión", occasionally allowing his pitch shifted vocals to express those other dimensions without words. The results are a tinny yet pleasant landscape that at the 1:41 minute mark begins to test the limits of its own formula, eventually expanding into a segment that could almost be understood as footwork.

Presidente - "La Sociedad (de la tierra plana)"



Presidente is the solo project of Heberto Añez Novoa, a Venezuelan artist whose new single and pastel campaign has grabbed our full attention. "La Sociedad (de la tierra plana)" is at once minimal and challenging. Añez works with the most palatable of elements: slinky synths and 80’s radio guitar with a pleading vocal delivery to concoct something completely unique and beguiling to the end. The track is taken from the upcoming Ilustre Ventanal de Estrategias, an eight-track release due next month. Noting this, it’s worth mentioning how the short format release has become a mark of confidence in music (especially in our ibero-sphere). One that acknowledges a clear vision in an easily distracted age. With "La Sociedad”, Presidente has placed us en route to his own vision, and we can’t wait to see it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Papaya - "Cosas Fascinantes y Sencillas"



I stumbled across this really cool track on Madrid-based label Jabalina Música's YouTube page and, of course, I’m a bit angry with myself for sleeping on Papaya’s previous EP El Rey de las Camas. There’s an enigmatic depth to the project lead by Yanara Espinoza (member of Violeta Vil) that makes their music very cinematographic. “Cosas Fascinantes y Sencillas,” is a tale of someone who’s done with wanting to feel that elusive spark. The first single off Papaya’s upcoming album No Me Quiero Enamorar (out on October 16th) sits at the intersection of surf mysticism, Italo-western flamboyance and arty ’80s British New Wave. The amplified space around Espinoza’s androgynous timbre transforms the singer into an actress. Her voice draws the outlines of a territory balanced between concomitant universes.

Maifersoni - Maiferland (Acto de amor)

Maiferland (Acto de amor), Maifersoni
Quemasucabeza, Chile
Rating: 84
by Giovanni Guillén

More than half a decade now separates us from the era of chillwave. And while the internet will forever preserve all those YouTube mixes and gratuitously tagged bandcamp albums, it’s still not quite time to look back. Not yet. For Chile’s Maifersoni, this fall into obscurity represents a tragic overlook. Ostensibly, his project met us the way dozens of others got our attention in 2010: an eye-grabbing geometric campaign led by an elusive creator, not to mention a home on one of the most consistent and beloved Chilean netlabels (Michita Rex). But the dimensions of Telar Deslizante were unique. Eventually the shoegaze/lo-fi veneer faded away revealing a sincerity that went beyond taking drugs or going on YouTube and commenting about taking drugs. Our founder/líder Carlos Reyes must have seen this when he boldly extracted the song “Nómade” and fit it into a Fonogramáticos volume where it could connect with its pop origins alongside El Guincho’s “Bombay” and Dënver’s “Olas Gigantes.”

Maifersoni returned this year with a double single ("Partners" / "Las flores más hermosas se marchitan"), marking a five year gap between his debut and new material. Despite the long gestation period, Enrique Elgueta and producer team De Janeiros knew exactly how to evolve the project. “Partners” showcased a blissful and weightless return that led to expectations of an exuberant full-length to match. Maiferland (Acto de amor), the resulting album, is much more reserved than its single led on. Yet through the weeks we have spent digesting it, the album remains as immersive and enthralling as when it was first released.

Maiferland approaches pop with a special reverence. As such, there are parallels to how someone taking on a new language would approach the task. While others would likely jump into it, awkwardly employing false cognates, settling on a short-lived charm (thus never achieving fluency), Maifersoni understands that pacing is everything. Syntax must be respected along with tenses and memorized verb forms. Opener “Partners” functions as any interjection would (a “здравствуйте” or “Hola”), a placeholder to set up a phrase of greater value. There’s flute sounds and drums working in tandem. One can almost imagine the spirit of a rave track left for the earth reclaim and for flowers to spring up. “Vuelta olímpica” brings out guitars and whistles for more carefree, pastoral pacing. The length of the song becomes a test of how long one can ward off a restless attitude (or the skip button). "Invocación" achieves this as well, but Elgueta carefully allows the composition to swell, building confidence and scaling new heights in a manner that would make Japanese artist Cornelius proud. 

Elsewhere Maiferland spends considerable length courting alternative rock. “En los pastos de la plaza” marks an overcast tint to the second half of the record. The stunning “Picorocos de Guanaqueros” leads us into twilight, beginning the transition with soft notes that end up at guitar distortion, heavy percussion, and overlaid vocals through a dramatic seven minutes. A sure contender for one of the best songs of the year. Noting that, there are some missteps here and there. “Andina” sounds less like an upgrade and more of an unnecessary paint job. At 55 minutes, already a bold enough choice, the album could have cut it altogether.

It is with the penultimate track “Idahue” (which might’ve made a more fitting closer) that the record wormholes back to Telar Deslizante. Uniting his previous work to the present perhaps as a pitstop on the new journey ahead. By now it should be clear that Maifersoni’s musical instincts have not let us down. Maybe next time people will stop sleeping on those instincts.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Video: El Último Vecino – "Tu Casa Nueva"



“Tu Casa Nueva” was released last December as a Maxi-Single CANADA Editorial and rose at once to the top 25 of our Best songs of the year 2014. So it was about time for this stellar synthpop track to be given the video treatment, and for El Último Vecino’s hard-hitting irresistible melodies to resurface. Gerard Alegre Dòria’s decadent, symbolist lyrics (“Todas las espinas que yo tenía en la cabeza / me han sesgado.”), deep and sorrowful tone and pure and immediate rhythms carry a melancholic urgency that sets him apart from other revivalists acts of the moment. Three decades interact here: the coldness of the new wave-esque synths, some rock impulses and an ever oozing dance side. Directed by Gerson Aguerri (who has also worked with El Guincho and Los Massieras), the video merges scattered elements (a rising sun, what could be doric columns, occultism and plant close-ups) reflecting the dizzying eclecticism of EÚV and wittily grasping the links between subject and space, a theme that seems central to Dòria’s work.

Video: Natalia Lafourcade - "Lo Que Construimos"



Natalia Lafourcade’s most recent studio effort has given us some trouble in formulating a meaningful consensus. Though far from a masterpiece, the Fonograma staff can at least acknowledge that Hasta La Raíz contains some of the most important songs of Natalia’s career. This admission stems, in part, thanks to the album’s visual campaign. Each successive clip has brought a unique thematic performance that’s helped underscore the beauty in the music. "Hasta la raíz" moved us as we saw Natalia carried by a crowd, drawing strength with each smile and embrace. A powerful image of community from a singer we once boxed in with idiosyncrasy. “Nunca es suficiente” took on relationship games where harmony and discord spun like a carnival ride. A third clip, and perhaps the best so far, brings to life another characteristic theme of Hasta La Raíz: solitude.

Directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios (Güeros), "Lo Que Construimos" shows Natalia battling a night of dissolution. Just as Güeros was lensed in a freewheeling, “anything goes” tribute to French New Wave, Ruizpalacios recreates the same magic for Lafourcade. The video begins in a bedroom, a conventional set up that quickly takes all kinds of turns. These fausses pistes cultivate a sci-fi tone that lends a creepy air to a mostly heartbreaking song. The clip culminates with a dance performance on an empty street. To see Lafourcade, the adult and not the infantilized indie girl of 2009, dancing like Anna Karina dressed in the plainest wardrobe (a hoody/that bed head) produces such an intense range of emotions. It’s cathartic and nostalgic, it’s devastating and uplifting. It’s wonderful.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Nelson y Los Filisteos - "2000"



Nelson y Los Filisteos (FKA Baby Nelson & The Philistines) left us scarred for life with an 80-second clip on last year’s “Ansiosos/Ociosos.” That image of a man being suffocated and gored with a pair scissors at the time seemed impossible to top. Now we know that for the DF-via-Guadalajara band, it was just the beginning.

Newest track “2000” continues the group’s hyper violent vision of the future and should probably come with about five trigger warnings. The threat now isn’t from an outsider as we saw in “Ansiosos/Ociosos”, this time it’s from within. Rabid guitars flood the composition while Alonso Mangosta sings on paranoia (“Soy la mirada de aburrida de tu novia”), self-doubt (“Soy lo que dicen detrás de ti tus amigos”), and anxiety (“Soy los fantasmas que en tus sueños se amontonan”). What’s especially sick is how this terror manifests itself as a 21st century masochism, catalyzed by technology and convenience. The only resolution to aspire towards is that once the demons are poured out, they can at least become like family (“Soy lo único que siempre estará contigo / Por siempre / Para siempre”). Emoji, sad faces. And yet, we're still listening.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Video: Carla Morrison - "Un Beso"



Going through our blog receipts, the last time Carla Morrison was mentioned around these parts was 2012. It was in that year that writer #PincheAndrew declared Déjenme Llorar a “disappointingly straightforward” record. Too tame for a double take, it seemed inevitable that she would disappear from our radar. Still, that shouldn’t suggest we were ever completely through with her.

Newest single “Un beso” is an exciting step forward. A change of scenery that delves into the dark corners that inspire longing and confusion and also make for some pretty great material. “Yo te voy a robar, te voy a secuestrar, yo te voy a robar un beso.” Damn. We really are a long way from “Compartir” now. Once presented in only the most stripped-down package (a guitar, her voice), Carla now requires reinforcements by way of horns and clattering drums. This kind of sensual, atmospheric turn also brings to mind highlights from Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence, which in 2015 hopefully counts as a compliment.

Then there’s the video. A leftover treatment from an unknown 90’s alternative band. Carla and a partner flail around against black and white while quick zooms add to the drama. The results really just give the visual an automatic expiration date. And yet, if anything, it will also serve to highlight the song’s own strength. Like Carla’s best work, it never requires a showy or slick presentation, just an honest listen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Heather - "Inside"



For a while now i’ve been eye-rolling at every mention of an emo/hardcore revival. Let’s be real, it just reeks as another excuse to keep ibero out of the indie convo. In my hometown of Houston, Texas this has manifested itself through one nightclub’s adoption of an “Emo/Pop-Punk” night where one can vibe to Taking Back Sunday and Saves the Day. Ah, OK.

Meet Heather: a five-piece act based in Barcelona with an upcoming single on Famèlic Records. Side A delivers “Inside”, a track that melds a post-punk urgency with touches of hardcore. The guitars (naturally) dominate against the English lyrics, leaving singer Heather Cameron to hesitate through collisions and speed. On the song’s chorus, however, everything soars which allows a melodic descent to remain the song’s lasting impression. At least what’s clear now is that if anyone can lead x-revival, better leave it to Catalunya.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Empress Of - Me

Me, Empress Of
Terrible Records, USA
Rating: 87
by Sam Rodgers

Two years ago, with a swatch of colors, Empress Of - a moniker with the mystique of a 'Lorde' or a 'Lana Del Rey' or a 'Kali Mutsa' - released fifteen snatches of ideas for beats and harmonies, with some bursts of melodic inspiration. Lorely Rodriguez's generosity, whether intended as a stepping stone or tentative first step, gave those of us paying attention a grab of an exciting new voice, one that we'd soon learn was producing everything herself. With Color #10,  you get an insight into Rodriguez's latin@ roots - a California-raised, Honduran-American, now based in New York. For the most part, her identity mirrors a lot of the Fonograma staff, and for this reason, we're claiming her; though she is definitely set to be watched by a vaster, more global audience sooner rather than later, with the release of her first LP, Me.

The first and, perhaps best, revelation on Me is that Rodriguez's vocals are now front and centre, an assured decision, and logical considering the album's title. However, unlike the previously mentioned masked singers, Rodriguez's voice swings between the bark of your best friend shouting at you from the swimming pool to eery-chanteuse-flexing-scales in a heartbeat: there's little pretense to it. Given the costume of 'Empress Of', it's the lyrics of Me that save the project from residing in the pile of 'just another...' (while we're using sentence fragments as nouns). Rodriguez thrusts her journal into your hands and says, "I'm going to sing this to you", and starts without permission. But this is a carefully considered journal: lyrically, Rodriguez knows exactly how much she needs to obfuscate, retain, and push forward. The anatomy of a pop song centers around a basic theme, but better still, a signifier that presents each track as a stand alone: something Javiera Mena continues refining in an alternative technicolor world. Me, on the other hand, is much more monochromatic, like its cover photo; much more tactile, too. You're still holding onto the newest per(sonal)-zine by Empress Of, the photocopier ink fresh and warm. It's just that now her aesthetic stands apart. (Note how un-flashy Rodriguez presents herself on the cover, but how her pose is calculating and observational all the same. A different type of power.)

What makes Me so conspicuous is its very contemporary take on relationship navigation: we're now in a post-casual-sex-happens-get-over-it world; we're in a post-Beyonce-is-also-a-Feminist world; we're in a post-another-article-about-how-selfies-are-narcissistic world. Me operates for those who've done the reading but know how messy life in 2015 really is: to choose not to be seen results in just as much isolation as presenting your best self at all times. The latter, the nature of social media, has also bred something not often broached in danceable pop outside of hip hop: class and money. Rodriguez targets these in two of the best tracks of the album, the arresting first single "Water Water", and one of the best tracks of the year so far, "Standard". Using potable water to signify privilege, we get a dirty dance track inspired by actual thirst whilst writing the album alone in small-town Mexico. On "Standard", the listener gets a clearer picture of Rodriguez's anguish. Here, she's addressing a trust fund love interest, with torch-song melodies and great, incisive lyrics, hitting bullseye after bullseye: "I've been living below the standard / while you struggle being home and bored"; "Tell me what you see / in the mirror when you're feeling restless / Do you see a man who isn't there? / Living for the sake of living / I can promise you no one cares."

Elsewhere on the album, Rodriguez nails the frustration of being cat-called in the street with "Kitty Kat", a stomping declaration of independence and intolerance of double-standards: "Don't take me by the hand and walk me through with pity / If I was a man would you still do the same?" But this is just one moment in a life - on other tracks, Rodriguez allows us to hear her vulnerability through co-dependence: whether on human contact or human escape. On "Need Myself" she meditates on balancing one's own identity within a relationship "to be happy with you" - like Björk's rumination on the edge of a mountain in "Hyperballad." Sonically, Me shares an experimental pop edge like the Icelandic artist's first solo albums, never losing sight of its digestibility. What makes this album more remarkable, though, is Rodriguez's claim that making the album was purely instinctual. To do it all oneself, and to then put yourself as the main subject matter without older professionals helping you edit that down to a listenable whole, is no mean feat. The fact that Empress Of made it to this stage without even commenting on this laborious process within the album is testament to her tenacity and understanding that non-artists don't 'get' what's on the other side of a shining piece of pop. She touches on it in the video for "How Do You Do It"(all backstage and touring footage) and much more obliquely in the closing track "Icon" where the lyrics about the absent, heart-curdling feeling fresh from a break up mirrors the intense isolation an artist feels when no one's there appreciating the work: "Every minute passes like an hour / When I'm just in the room with the lights on / And there's no one who knows I'm their icon." Luckily for Rodriguez, there's sure to be worshippers at the Empress Of alter soon enough.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Jessica & The Fletchers - "My Blue Jumper"



The artwork on the latest single from Jessica & The Fletchers' is paired with web store results for blue sweaters and old internet fonts. It's Twee Pop as a dictionary entry. The basic idea represented with the simplest images to transmit its meaning. In a lot of ways this is exactly what Jessica & The Fletchers' music aims for. With each song we've heard they come closer to distilling the essence of indie pop.

"My Blue Jumper" is no exception to this. It launches straightaway and strikes like a freezing gust of wind, equal parts painful and pleasant. The distortion can even be overwhelming, but the promise of warmth signaled by its sweet vocal performance is enough to seek out repeated listens.

"My Blue Jumper" is taken from Connecting People, which will soon be released on Discos de Kirlian.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Video: Adrianigual - “Nunca vienes a mi casa”



Easily one of the best comebacks of this year, “Nunca vienes a mi casa” is the result of a long apprenticeship but also of a certain experience. Diego Adrián, the man behind Adrianigual, was busy producing for others, DJing, collaborating (Planta Carnívora and others), working on Terry Unplugged (his techno project) and, of course, songwriting. The first cut from the forthcoming album Rap y Amor, which was co-produced by MKRNI’s own Marcelo Miopec, reveals a beautiful fragility and a newfound ability to diversify his emotional range while arraying a more classic Chicago house sound and some legit, straightforward and well-placed grooves. Adrián sings about acceptance and rejection, the erosion of self-esteem and ability to love in a clashing yet effective voice.

Throughout the video, directed by multidisciplinary artist Begoña Ortúzar, we follow a rather flustered Adrianigual making his way into a gloomy country road. With every step he drifts into darkness, blurring the lines between predator and prey. The Santiaguino ultimately unleashes his finest dance moves, leaving us spellbound by his flair to tell the innermost secrets of human condition and express emotions through movement.

Adrianigual will be releasing his album next March through Enciclopedia Color.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Video: Lola Pistola - "Tu Pensabas"


Months after releasing her only (official) track and touring the US with AJ Davila T/A, Lola Pistola returns with a video for "Tu Pensabas." Shot in and outside her apartment in Bushwick, NYC and produced by the Sea Smoke collective, the clip takes on the form of a psychological thriller. Armed with a t-shirt bearing the words “Life is Hell,” a 40 and a face marked by spite, disillusioned love and an irresistible desire to kill, Lola Pistola leads us into a muted color fresco where passion becomes unbearable, affection turns into anger, and confusion is made easy by sadness. 

While the gloomy image sequence exacerbates suspense through ambiguity, Pistola’s description of her desire to face and transcend her anger and loneliness to (re)discover her own self empowers and oddly allays all fear – leaving us ready for another heartbreak.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Julieta Venegas - Algo Sucede

Algo Sucede, Julieta Venegas
Sony Music, Mexico
Rating: 89
by Andrew Casillas

Julieta Venegas is past her prime. She’s a relic of a prior era, an embodiment of the establishment, a musician whose most innovative years are behind her. And she’s just made her best pop album yet.

That poor attempt at misdirection aside, the past decade of Julieta Venegas’ career is one of the most idiosyncratic in the pop landscape. After helping signal the end of Mexico’s rock en español era with 2003’s Sí, she’s spent her last four albums stretching the bounds within her specific sound, like an aural auteur. Whether it’s incorporating new styles wholesale (think the rap verses on Limón y Sal or the Chilean electro-pop of Los Momentos), or reimaging her punk sensibilities into adult reflections (think the MTV Unplugged version of “Sería Feliz), Julieta’s proven a willingness to deliver eclectic sounds—even if the results have varied compared to the consistency of her first three albums.

So it comes as a surprise that Algo Sucede, her eighth album, is Julieta Venegas at her most distilled. She’s shaken off the genre experimentation: there are no awkward hip-hop tracks; no crashing disco beats. Instead, the album delivers an array of addictive melodies, subversive wordplay, and delicately intricate arrangements that’s been the foundation of Julieta’s career thus far.

Lead single “Ese Camino” is a prime example of this foundation. An analogue to Miranda Lambert’s “The House that Built Me,” Julieta substitutes a jaunty exterior for the latter’s pensivity. However, the two songs differ in another important way aside from tempo. “Ese Camino” eschews “House’s” specificity to follow one of the great critic Matt Cibula’s golden songwriting maxims: you must either show or tell, but never both. Indeed, the entire first verse alone tells a dynamic and poignant parable:
“Háblame con cuidado si vas a hablar de lo que fui / Mi pálida infancia ya está tan lejos de aquí / Aún me estremezco ahora cuando me encuentro ahí / Por un momento una niña solo quería ser feliz.” 
And the remainder of the song ruminates on nostalgia in a fashion worthy of Mad Men’s “The Wheel.” But you’d never know it going off the instrumentation and chorus, which sound like some grand celebration of abuelita’s Sunday consommé. But even within the melody, one can hear dreamy sound effects and theramin-like keys, as if reality and the ethereal are pushing and pulling the song within its realms. It’s not just one of Julieta’s most poignant songs—it’s one of her finest singles ever.

Algo Sucede is bursting at the seams with moments, large and small, that hit such highs. The title track is a pop riot marrying a bold rhythm (that post-punk bassline!) with intricate percussion (listen with headphones for the little clicks and pops). “Se Explicará” has a melody so effervescent you could use it to brew an IPA. Opener “Esperaba” is a close marriage of and Los Momentos, coming across as a whimsical (dig them hand claps) mash-up of past collaborators Miranda! and Gepe.

But where Algo Sucede distinguishes itself from Julieta’s prior work are the introspective numbers, songs that were her specialty in her nose ring years, but have fallen out of favor as Julieta’s music veered away from the alternative. Algo Sucede not only sees the return of these meditative piano-ballads, but also drops the angst of Aquí in favor of sagacity. On “Una Respuesta,” for example, Julieta takes on the role of an elder stateswoman. Straightforward almost to a fault, the lyrics don’t tell a story so much as provide counseling—the lyrics reflect a pain has been lived in for years, not merely some fleeting heartbreak.

Easily the most gorgeous of these numbers is “Porvenir.” An exquisite rumination on separation, the song contains one of Julieta’s most heart-wrenching melodies, which is bolstered with sparse yet powerful piano and cello-work. I found myself replaying the final chords just to feel the devastation.

And then there’s “Explosión.” While the political meaning of the track has been well documented (our own Zé Garcia summed it up well), Julieta’s own methods are certainly worth dissecting. Melodically, one wishes that her Tijuana No! roots would have surfaced more directly. But as the rest of Algo Sucede makes clear, that Julieta Venegas is gone. Replaced by someone trying to use her position as a mass-market musician to attack a sizable segment of her listeners who willfully ignore the atrocities of Mexico’s commercial class. But there’s also an implied lament that the wheel turns without repose. As a result, “Explosión” doesn’t incite retribution so much as it challenges its listeners. Whether the message is effective depends on your level of cynicism, but as a pop song, it’s directness and audacity is, at a minimum, admirable.

Arriving almost twenty years after her arrival in the music world, Algo Sucede cements Julieta Venegas’ place in the canon. By no means is it going to have the personal impact of Aquí or Bueninvento, or shake up the scene like or Limón y Sal. It’s just the culmination of an artist whose spent over a decade refining her style into a workhorse of pop pleasantry and infectious wordplay. To a skeptic or an outside observer, it may sound like Julieta Venegas has merely perfected living along the middle of the road. Well, if this is middle of the road, call her Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Video: Destiny - "Orange Blossom"



Née Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, we were introduced to Wavy Spice through the wormhole (the hypothetical connection between regions of space-time) that coalesced cybernetic Barrio beats with Indigneous identity- the #Taíno_Banger of "YAYA". Our girl evolved & adopted the moniker of Princess Nokia, unleashing "Versace Hottie"- the hard-femme / sex positive / anti-snitching / resting bitch face anthem of chicas pesadas everywhere. The Boricua Lolita's next hit "Bikini Weather / Corazón En Afrika" (featured on Club Fonograma's best yet compilation Papasquiaro) recaptured the ideas brewing behind "YAYA" and captivated our imagination with ancestral drums, oceanside nightlife, and a woman's voice reminding us to speak to los espíritus. "Bikini Weather / Corazón En Afrika" was among the best tracks on the afrosurrealist Metallic Butterfly, a record that elevated us to the 'fifth dimension- the metamorphosis of the 22nd Century'. Metallic Butterfly went on to become our 19th best album of 2014.

But our girl has the ability to transmogrify so now she's back, this time as simply Destiny (who rumor has it has yet another alter ego, a stripper named Equality). Shot and edited in the realm of VHS tape nostalgia, "Orange Blossom" is the latest visual offering from the forthcoming Honeysuckle, following the delightful & empowering (& Video of the Year contender) "Soul Train". Invoking the soul of disco divas of days gone by, "Orange Blossom" sounds like a 1970s vintage dream. Destiny says Black & Brown liberation & expressions of joy & happiness were at the forefront of her psyche during the making of Honeysuckle. "I am a proud Afro-Latina and Native American woman, and there are many aspects of my pride. It's not just a deep cultural pride; it's a pride in my ancestors" she recently told VICE. "People expect us to forget and not over-exaggerate the pain and sadness of oppression and genocide, and I think that's bullshit. I have an obligation—not only to the women in the last two generations of my family—but to my ancestors, so that they are proud. I incorporate my love for their values in my work. I'm black as hell, and I'm so prideful to be a black woman."

The #PopInsurrection of 2015 is going in harder, more precise, and uplifting all of us who are paying attention. Conversely (popular culture can reveal a lot about the psyche of the society we are living in) the racist & colonizing efforts of the likes of Miley Cyrus are considered the pop du jour and factions within the ruling classes are talking about rounding up all the Mexicans (in essence calling for concentration camps) & building the Great Wall of Trump with live drone shows that will require a two drink minimum. It will be the voices that have been historically and systemically eradicated and silenced since the dawn of colonialism and white supremacy that will continue making those foundations tremble. Destiny, a queer Indigenous Afro-Latinx womn is one of those voices, a true Pop Prophet willing to challenge everything, even our notion of what a diva can think, feel, say, and be. Continue falling in love with Banji Girl Realness by watching this super dope interview from 2012 where (then Wavy Spice) looks amazing, reveals she has eczema and licks a lollipop that leaves her tongue matching not just her yellow butterfly hair clips, but also her eye shadow.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Video: Empress Of - "How Do You Do It"



We are just a little over a week from the release of Empress Of's long-awaited debut album, Me. Newest single and video acts almost as a reference to the gestation of the project: "How Do You Do It." Not a question here, but an interjection in disbelief.

Lorely Rodriguez uses the statement to flip between first and third person while delivering her catchiest, most colorful pop to date. Maybe it's how the chorus is backed up with lines that encourage a sashay moment ("Like this, like that"). Indeed, one can imagine a movie montage launching forward in time, bouncing over months of work to arrive at a crucial point. The video certainly explores this with VHS footage of domestic scenes and life on the road, switching with a digital performance from the Empress herself. How does she do it tho?