Hoy a las Ocho, Hello Seahorse!

Hello Seahorse! México

by: Carlos Reyes

Mexico has been for too long the biggest importer of crappy pop in Latin America. You may have heard about the end of RBD, that musical cancer that invaded radio and television for four years too long. Unlike the profitable business of the bubble-gum group, an explosion of independent music has emerged a line of clever musicians imposing pop as a norm of self expression. Hello Seahorse! is a Mexico City quartet working with similar themes and production adornments as The New Pornographers, but a lot sweeter. If you fell in love with the fused pop of Ximena Sariñana or Jovenes y Sexys as we did, this is an obligated listen.

Two years ago the group released their debut album …And the Jellyfish Parade, which was barely a rough draft of what they are able to achieve with their latest Hoy a las Ocho which is vastly superior on all levels. Vocalist "Vanil’ la face" switches her multifaceted and multicolored voice from English to Spanish as the minimalist band catches and synchronizes harmonies, jingles and melodies. The album displays synthetic currents from the Swedish pop in the 90’s while maintaining its modern appeal. The title of the production refers to the time they meet everyday to practice their music. The album itself is feels like an invitation to their music. Hello Seahorse! shares much of the exciting pop with Quiero Club, another worthy indie act to follow.

Throughout the production we can actually feel textures through the atmospheric backgrounds such as the aquatic waves that serve as connecting tissue throughout the switches of language and styles. “Won’t Say Anything” is the lead track: “I bite my nails even when I’m asleep, I can’t believe I swallowed the city.” Which immediately reminded me of an also fresh and very catchy act from England: Los Campesinos? It’s a piano based song that showcases their melodic abilities with the catchiest of pure pop. While songs such as “Ok Lobster” and “Esperando que llegue” cycle around happy pop and post-jazz. Their sweet sound feels like a very bright round trip to Sugarland. The very best track from the album is titled “No encontre nada”, about those unlucky journeys we do in life trying to find at least something meaningful.

Interlude: this is the best description of the album posted on the blog from Spain Es Pop Mama.

"Porque la música pop no solo habla de pegarle fuego a las cosas, y cuesta muy poquito darle pinceladas color naranja a las pupilas, a base de vibraciones sonoras que conectan los oídos con el centro tarareador del cerebro directamente por autopista de 3 carriles".

Hoy a las Ocho is a seven track EP that is actually not for sale. They have decided to giveaway their album for free, but with a password that can only be obtained at one of their concerts. Or at least that was the initial plan, due to the high demand and the attention they posted a temporary code and we have it for you.

Go to this website: www.helloseahorse.com
Type the following code: HSHAL8BEAT

Enjoy this exceptional album, if the download doesn't automatically prompt, just click on the "Si no se baja automaticamente haz click AQUI."

Numeric Rating: 91/100

Key Tracks: "Won't Say Anything", "Esperando a que llegue" and "No Encontre Nada."

Barrio Estacion, Los Bunkers

Los Bunkers, Chile

by: Carlos Reyes

In very few years Los Bunkers have proclaimed a status in the still developing rock scene in Chile. They are part of an interesting clan of talented rockers that are still trying to fix the decomposition La Ley left on the Chilean music industry. In an ambitious move to expand their popularity the band is now based in Mexico, which oddly but not surprisingly has tripled their recognition throughout Latin America. Barrio Estacion is their latest album; the premise is interesting to say the least. That almost blinding yellow cover is misguiding to the actual content of the disc. If you know Los Bunkers already you know a rush of dark misfits follows them everywhere.

The first single is “Deudas” is a conflicting track that took me a while for it to have an emotional reaction towards it. “I’m a bunch of bills that in life I won’t be able to pay”, a song about self actualization, self demoralization and emotional crisis. “And I have left my feet behind without knowing where they’re headed”, Los Bunkers go from the safe rock band revealed on their previous albums to actual musical consciousness. Generic rock exasperates my hearing, alternative music is like a consequence of Darwin’s law, now rock & roll doesn’t sound right, but I do wish all standard rock albums would have this level of lyrical perception to cover for the damaged genre.

In musical provisions Barrio Estacion doesn’t offer anything new from the band, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Los Bunkers just like their fellow Chilean band Lucybell have developed a trademark; we are still waiting for them to destroy every little piece of it. And they do show some effort in two unconventional tracks: the post-jazzy “Capablanca” and the risky reggae-oriented “El tiempo que se va.” Lead vocalist Alvaro Lopez has a distinctive voice that functions especially well through the bohemia of songs like “Me muelen a palos” and one destined to become a single: “Una nube cuelga sobre mi.”

Los Bunkers are working on a league of rock en español that seems to know where it’s headed, it’s a blurry vision that may take a few more years to fully mature and reproduce but Barrio Estacion portrays a sparkling confidence, and that’s its greatest virtue. We would like to see Los Bunkers working in contravention, just like the LA-based rock band Pastilla was able to achieve with A Marte. The album is available digitally, it might not be as accomplished as their acclaimed Vida de Perros, but it really deserves a U.S. release from either Universal Music or their adapted parents at Nacional Records.

Numeric Rating: 73/100

Key Tracks: "Deudas", "Me muelen a palos" and "Capablanca"

Suspension of Disbelief: VIDEO BIZARRO #1

“A Minha Menina”, Os Mutantes (Dipsetmuthafucka, YouTube)

We usually don’t embed YouTube videos on our posts to facilitate faster web loads, but we’ll make an excuse for a new temporary series of videos that we found to be bizarre in some way or another. Os Mutantes is still my favorite band from Brazil; “A Minha Menina” is my favorite song by them. YouTube user “dipsetmuthafucka” has uploaded a fantastically peculiar video for the song, where a guy named Mike just happened to enjoy dancing on top of a very shaky scaffolding. That’s the spirit! 

Talento de Barrio, Daddy Yankee

TALENTO DE BARRIO Daddy Yankee, Puerto Rico

by: Carlos Reyes

El Cangri comes back with an ambitious soundtrack for his movie Talento de Barrio (Jose Ivan Santiago, 2008), currently breaking box office records in Puerto Rico. We don’t deny the fact that Yankee changed the Latin urban scene at the right moment with the very solid Barrio Fino (2004). Expectations for his second major production were simply shooting for the heavens, and El Cartel: The Big Boss (2007) was not only disappointing, but a hurtful artistic breakdown. Raymond Ayala (Yankee’s true name) doesn’t strive for extreme music explorations or even contemplation lyrics, but we’re thankful he opened doors and windows for other majestic discoveries such as Arcangel or Calle 13 (although they are not reggaeton).

The expectations for this soundtrack were low and he did not only surpass them but has evolved his music; from the generic repetitious beat of reggaeton to an urban with electronic fuse. Not in the lines of Timbaland yet, but in the same league of the great American rapper T.I. Yankee has joined forces with two promising producers Musicologo & Menes, bringing stability to the round project, something that his previous album didn’t even try to achieve. First single “Pose” feels miles away from his work produced by Luny Tunes, and it might just be the very best single he has ever released. “Soy la evolución, la revolución, the big big boss!, el mejor de todos los tiempos ya tu lo sabes.” Let’s admire his guts to call himself the best Latino MC of all time, too bad that’s not a fact at all. Sardonically today’s best hispanic MC is indeed featured in his album.

Talento de Barrio features two of the most acclaimed reggaetoneros today, Randy & Arcángel. Ironically, both young artists hate each other and irritate one another through the deliciously offensive ‘tirarea’; this is a great opportunity for both to decently showcase their best attributes. “Salgo Pa’ La Calle” featuring Randy is the only track produced by Luny Tunes, and it does feel like an alien. In the other hand, Arcángel ‘La Maravilla’ shines once again in the infectious “Pasion.” Another notable track has to be “Candela”, the kind of song where the tables are turned and the producers make the standout, thankfully Yankee gives them out loud credit.

Reggaeton albums have adopted the idea of producing too many songs in one single disc. This only adds the chances for the desperate refills. And there we have a lineup of lazy tunes that do nothing for the album, not even prospecting commercial success. “De la paz y de la guerra” tries to hard to be figurative, “Infinito” is a disaster, and “Suelta” just feels like a recycled collection of the genre’s cliché. Suddenly, we find gold once again with “Somos de Calle; a song that may just become an anthem to those artists belonging to the streets because it made them who they are. Think of it as a new seasoned hybrid version of “Lean Back” by Fat Joe.

As a true cinephile, I can’t help criticizing the lack of instrumental themed pieces; this is a movie soundtrack after all. Soundtracks are parallel visions to the cinematic product, it’s sad, but they can’t have their own mind and they shouldn’t be walking around lonely. I don’t mind the integration of songs, in fact I enforce it, but knowing that the film lacks the key resource of musical composition, it just looses charm. Talento de Barrio is nonetheless a better than average urban album, expect a healthy path for some of the catchy songs. Definitely a worthy comeback for the island’s most popular artist.

Numeric Rating: 68/100

Artist of the Week: Vanexxa

Artist: Vanexxa
Country: Spain
Genre: Rap/Pop

Here we have one of the most exciting solo acts from Spain; Vanexxa is a progressive rapper and vocalist with a sometimes crude vision on womanhood. Her 2006 debut album Vanexxa Se Rompe o Se Raja was hardly heard outside Spain, sadly since it was a truly exciting first album. She maintains a bold and wild vision on immigration in the track “Superguay” and “Cuentos Chinos”, a self-protective song on machismo. The comparisons with La Mala Rodriguez are inevitable, but Vanexxa’s voice is so versatile that she is not only great at rapping but also success with ballads and edgier rock songs. Not only is she talented, but her beauty is simply astonishing. A new album was announced for September, but there are rumors it would be delayed as the powerful label Sony/BMG already has its eye on her.


De Regreso a Casa, Chucho Merchán

DE REGRESO A CASA, Chucho Merchán, Colombia

by: Paulo Correa

I am introducing you to a man to be respected. He is perhaps the most important figure in the incipient history of Colombian rock. Chucho Merchán a music graduate from Cambridge University has a long trajectory in the world rock scene. In the 70’s and 80’s he had his own jazz band, Macondo, which rapidly became known in Europe. This drew attention towards him and he was asked to participate as bassist in great artist’s productions. To name a few, he played in recordings by The Who, The Pretenders, George Harrison, Brian Adams, Sinnead O’ Connor, Simply Red, Everything But The Girl, Phil Manzanera, Bob Geldof, David Gilmour and Roger Waters from Pink Floyd, among others. His most noticeable participation took place as an active member of Annie Lennox’s band: Eurythmics. Afterwards he accompanied her in her solo carrier. While in Eurpoe he also directed The London Philharmonic Orchestra for a recording. In the 90’s his name started gaining recognition in Latin America by becoming the bassist of Jaguares, the well remembered Mexican band. Then he naturally evolved into producing music for several artists, like Fito Paez, Luz Casal, Robi Draco Rosa, Miguel Ríos, Los de Adentro, Ivan Lins, Miguel Bosé and Cabas.

Now, this sort of Latin music hero presents his first solo album, “De Regreso a Casa” (Back Home). After being on the back for so long it was almost an exigency for him to step forward and claim the place of honor he deserves in the Industry.

His first album exhibits what experience truly means. The lyrics have a nostalgia to them that remembrance the 60’s, the decade in which he grew up. We find him talking to us; form the beginning, about love, peace and rejection to war. Right in the middle, we find a song dedicated to his friends, a couple of environmentally themed songs and another one searching for restoration of the rights of the native Americans. We could just say that it is an album with a clear politic conviction in which Merchan is exorcised 17 times: Every recording is an ideological shout.

It is a very well produced disc, with dense powerful guitars, a vibrant bass, a piercing strong voice, a retro sound and choruses that will get stuck in your head but that are far from yearning to be a commercial success. In some moments we get submerged in dark hard rock fragments while in others we venture through small lounge textures at times accompanied by accordions and trumpets and some other times absolutely minimalist, with very few vocal arrangements but all of them being well elaborated in a work that keeps its unit from start to end.

I recommend “Una canción a la paz” (“A song for peace”) an unforgettable rock ballad. I also recommend the rhythmic and non-conformist “Cinturón de miseria” (Belt of misery, slum) and “Libre” (free) where he renders homage to Nelson Mandela. But most of all, I celebrate an applaud the energetic “Celebremos” (Let’s celebrate) which leaves the best for last and could easily be one of the best rock songs in Spanish of 2008.

Astonishing independent rock work, which is sadly scarce and poorly spread, it only has a video in youtube, the first single “Sin amor” (without love) and a couple of live performances, he doesn’t even have a myspace profile. For those interested in listening to the songs, a preview of the first album is available online on Merchan’s website.

Numeric Rating: 90/100

Key Tracks: "Sin amor", "Celebremos", and "Cinturón de Miseria"

!NUEVA YORK! Dan Zanes and Friends

!NUEVA YORK! Dan Zanes and Friends, United States

by: Carlos Reyes

Dan Zanes latest album is not only in Spanish, it's an outside examination of the culture and its music having New York as its center point. It is no surprise to witness Anglo artists entering the profitable Spanish-language music industry; mostly with translations of their hits or opportunistic full albums. What separates Dan Zanes from the others (Backstreet Boys, Madonna, and Beyonce) is that water-clear honesty reflected on this high profile collection of songs performed with admiration and respect.

The album has been tagged as a “pro-immigration” album, luckily it prevents itself from becoming a pretentious project. New York City is a land of immigrants; it would have been unfeasible to skip the political messages already imposed in the classic pieces. Dan Zanes doesn’t seem to struggle much in the pronunciations making the album much more attractive. However, it will be intriguing to monitor the album’s sensitivity and eventual transcendence in Latin America. They might be selling it as a world children’s album, but Latinos will most probably embrace it as a folk traditional album.

!Nueva York! is also a great encounter of New York-based acts such as the Villa-Lobos Brothers, Marc Ribot and La Cumbiamba Eneye. The song “La Bruja” features folk goddess Lila Downs, probably the biggest inspiration and influence of the overall approach. First single “Colas” is a fun traditional Jarocho song that combines the regional sound of Veracruz and its branches in the Caribbean. This is a work of research and they have done their homework. We can assume that much of the success of capturing the culture grounds from the new member of his band, Mexican musician Maria de los Santos.

What’s special about this album is the fact that the album wasn’t manufactured for young audiences trying to learn about the Latino culture. It’s simply a celebration towards the roots music of the Americas glanced from an outside view that doesn’t feel that foreign after all. The educational albums irritate many of us, but Dan Zanes and La Bruja posses the necessary charm to make “Pollito Chicken” a great Spanish-English learning session. For those waiting for second volumes from Putumayo Kids let’s not wait; !Nueva York! is a truly fascinating album within its specialty. It's flawed only because it's not radical enough for the experimental hungry buffs like me.

Numeric Rating: 80/100

Key Tracks: "La Piragua", "Colas" and "La Bruja."

Reviews are Back!

We go back to regular programming.
New playlist coming later today.

"Suerte", Jovenes y Sexys
"ABC", Nuuro
"Algo fue mio", Julieta Venegas
"OMG We Got It!", Todosantos
"Costa Paraiso", El Guincho
"Pervert Pop Song", Plastilina Mosh
"Somos de Calle (Remix)", Daddy Yankee feat.Many Artists
"Flores sobre las piedras", Austin TV
"Pescao Envenenao", Choc Quib Town feat. La 33
"Laydown", Chikita Violenta
"Carmensita", Devendra Banhart
"Left Behind", CSS
"Monitor", Ximena Sariñana
"En un momento", Teleradio Donoso
"Todas esas cosas", Smitten
"Enamorada", Miranda!
"La Llorona", Lila Downs
"De Carretera", Vanexxa
"El confort nos reconforta", Ojos de Brujo
"Millon de Primaveras", Vicente Fernandez
"El Anden", Bajofondo feat. La Mala Rodriguez
"Estrella Polar", Pereza
"Europa", Monica Naranjo
"Te Amo, I Love You", Ely Guerra
"Te Puedes Matar", Los Daniels
"A Minha Menina", Os Mutantes
"Yo Lobo", Emmanuel Horvilleur
"Esquemas Juveniles", Javiera Mena
"Attascato", Descartes a Kant
"Olvidalo", Dante feat. Julieta Venegas

Best Songs of 2008 So Far Vol.3

2008 Half-Year Roundup

Vol.1 - Songs #30-21
Vol.2 Songs #20-11

10. “Me hice cargo de tu luz”, Lisandro Aristimuño
From: 39 Grados (Los años luz)

Unlike the folk of Chetes, Lisandro Aristimuño is a maximalist; one that plays with limits and imposes its own musical regulations. The warmth of his singular voice is particularly intriguing in this poetic song. The instrumentals are top notch, production is ridiculously sublime and the lyrics are just meant to transcend through time. (Carlos Reyes)

09. “Vivir es fácil”, Los Fancy Free
From: Never Greens Vol.2 (Silicone Carne)
MySpace Video/MySpace

If you have not heard of Los Fancy Free yet, I suggest you go look for them quickly, and if possible try to attend one of their crazy concerts. “Vivir es facil” puts sound to simple things on life. A very accessible song that weights tons in my life right now, it might just be the cure for stress. (Jean-Stephane Beriot)

08. “Borrón y cuenta nueva”, Adriana Lucia
From: Nuevo Porro (EMI Music Colombia)
MySpace Video/MySpace

Carlos Vives compone y produce un apasionado tema a ritmo de Porro, el aire elegante de la Cumbia folclórica, pero esta vez acompañado por arreglos contemporáneos que mezclan los clarinetes y bombardinos con instrumentos eléctricos. Adriana Lucia es una artista que promete. (Paulo Correa)

07. “Palmitos Park”, El Guincho
From: Alegranza! (Discoteca Oceano)

El Guincho is a total breakthrough with music buffs all around, and I can’t help but join the crowds celebrating the percussions. Standout track “Palmitos Park” is fucking majestic simply because it’s like nothing we’ve heard before. El Guincho knows how to electrify his music and still keep the tribal spirit. (Carlos Reyes)

06. “Tijuana Sound Machine”, Nortec Presents Bostich + Fussible
From: Tijuana Sound Machine (Nacional Records)

I thought it would be impossible for Nortec to surpass the quality of their Tijuana Sessions; their new album is about as perfect as it can get. “Tijuana Sound Machine” is a highly energetic dancehall that really lights the accordion as its protagonist. (Jean-Stephane Beriot)

05. “Conteo Regresivo”, Gilberto Santa Rosa
From: Contraste (Sony International)

La salsa romántica siempre ha sido mirada con recelo por los seguidores de la salsa dura. Pero canciones como esta hacen que hasta el más tradicional se quede sin argumentos. Gran letra, gran melodía, excelente grabación, y unas vocales increíbles de Santa Rosa. (Paulo Correa)

04. “El Reloj”, Jóvenes y Sexys
From: Bruno EP (Poni Republic)

This is one for the ages, rarely do we get a pop song with this much charm and conceptuality. The Venezuelan duo makes a thrilling first impression with their Bruno EP. The clock starts and makes an appearance throughout the entire song, giving it guidance until it finds a substitution, the clapping. Finding Jóvenes y Sexys had the same impact on me as finding about Juana Molina; know that her album Son changed my perspective on music. (Carlos Reyes)

03. “Shiva”, Austin TV
From: Fontana Bella (Terricolas Imbeciles)

According to my iPod, Fontana Bella is the most played album of this year. The attention they are getting should come as no surprise, their Coachella performance was amazing and I can only imagine how big they’ll be in a few years. “Shiva” reunites all they got to offer, take it. (Jean-Stephane Beriot)

02. “Ta perdoado”, Maria Rita
From: Samba Meu (Warner Music Brasil)

Una canción realmente encantadora. La interpretación, la letra y la melodía son tremendamente limpias. Una delicada muestra de la música contemporánea brasilera, que supera las barreras del idioma. (Paulo Correa)

01. “Mas que a nada en el mundo”, Austin TV
From: Mas que a nada en el mundo OST (Terricolas Imbeciles)

Starts with an excerpt from a film by the same name in which a girl questions her mother’s affection towards her; sometimes as if she was invisible, others as if she was the only thing in the world. The band’s sensitivity is magical, mystical, and maternal. A track that functions as a meditation towards parenthood, with notes that portray and understand a child’s disconcert to the unknown. “Mas que a nada en el mundo” is a mesmerizing travel to the sometimes cruel of coming of age while still holding a piece of innocence with us. (Carlos Reyes)

Best Songs of 2008 So Far Vol.2

2008 Half-Year Roundup

Vol.1 - Songs #30-21

20. “Celebra la vida”, Axel
From: Universo (Sony)

Para muchos Axel no pasa de ser un cantante demasiado dulce, no apto para diabéticos musicales. Pero “Celebra la Vida”, una canción positiva a la “Color Esperanza”, logro enrutarlo hacia otros rumbos. Es una delicia escuchar como el Charango marca el ritmo de la canción. (Paulo Correa)

19. “Laydown”, Chikita Violenta
From: The Stars and Suns Sessions (Noiselab)

The Stars & Suns Sessions is truly complex album, it is extremely hard to digest but once it gets you, is hard to make it stop. Second official single “Laydown” is their finest hour of new wave, not just in music but also registering the themes imposed by the revolutionary musical movement. Chikita Violenta is an ambitious band that is universally appealing; “Laydown” might just bring them the attention needed to take another step. (Carlos Reyes)

18. “Left Behind”, CSS (Cansei de Ser Sexy)
From: Donkey (Sub Pop)

This band is proving to be one of the only alternative imports from Brazil, a country categorized for the high demand of roots music. “Left Behind” actually sounds like your teenage pop star song, eventually getting into Bjork territory, but you won’t care at the end as the song is catchy as fire. Cansei de Ser Sexy rocks! (Jean-Stephane Beriot)

17. “Tem que ser voce”, Victor & Leo
From: Ao Vivo Em Uberlandia

Una balada en portugués, cantada por dos hermanos representantes de la movida “Sertaneja”, algo así como el Country de la región de Sao Paulo en Brasil. Grandes voces en una buena canción. (Paulo Correa)

16. “Hansel y Gretel’s Bollywood Story”, Porter
From: Atemahawke (Tercer Piso)

One of Porter’s most psychedelic pieces, their interpretation of the classic children’s book is alarming and orgasmic. Bollywood is a great host but the siblings are still invaded by tragic. Juan Son is a master of tales and the artwork in Atemahawke signals an unconventional creative writer that is able to circuit through different art media. “El mundo es cruel, te va a comer, si tu antes, no lo atacas a el.” (Carlos Reyes)

15. “Politik Kills”, Manu Chao
From: La Radiolina (Nacional Records)

Ever since I played this song from La Radiolina, I can’t stop thinking about its resemblance to M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes.” Both are political songs that do their job without been cheesy or trying to change the world with melodrama. (Jean-Stephane Beriot)

14. “Bonita”, Cabas
From: Amores Dificiles (EMI)

Romántica, rítmica y melodiosa. Cabas nos demuestra en esta canción como se escribe sobre el amor sin llegar a ser cursi. (Paulo Correa)

13. “Normal”, Ximena Sariñana
From: Mediocre (Warner)

This was supposedly the first single from Mediocre, which always felt too risky and dark to be truth. “Normal” was released as an internet single and has quickly and deservedly overshadowed the not-so-good “Vidas Paralelas.” (Carlos Reyes)

12. “Carmensita”, Devendra Banhart
From: Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon (XL Recordings)

Hippies get up! Banhart is back with another hit from his awesome latest album, exploring the Spanish language again, much more fluent this time. “Carmensita” works on all levels, and especially visually with that extraordinary music video honoring bollywood. (Jean-Stephane Beriot)

11."Algun día”, Julieta Venegas feat. Gustavo Santaolalla
From: MTV Unplugged (Sony BMG)

Banjo, xilofono, y tuba no son instrumentos tipicos en una cancion pop. Julieta sabe como hacer para sonar diferente en una canción esplendida que evoca los sonidos de la música tradicional mexicana, esta vez junto al maestro Santaolalla. (Paulo Correa)

Artist of The Week: Iluminate

Artist: Iluminate
Country: Argentina
Genre: Hip Hop/ Rap/ Urban

Argentina is recognized like the country with greater production of rock artists in Latin America, until the point to turn to the other music generes in minority participants of the industry of that country. And if we spoke of Hip Hop, we are speaking, perhaps, of the cinderella of gaucha music, due to the little space of commercial diffusion that it is been offer to it, in spite of Hip Hop have given to the continent artists like Ilya Kuryaki and the Valderramas (Later Dante, as soloist), and to the Sindicato Argentino del Hip Hop. For that reason it surprises when an Hip Hop band is made notice like it are making the boys of Iluminate, who with their second album are confirming why the critics had acclaimed it’s first album, until the point to assert that they redefined the argentine sound of Hip Hop. In “Luminareas” beats originating from Reggae, Samba, Funk, Jazz and Pop and a continuous flirt to national rock matches to some effective rap lyrics. Their first single is “Ventanas al mañana” made in company of the Reggae band Los Cafres.

This is an intermediate post. Soon, we will continue with the list of the best songs of 2008, Vol. 2

My Space Iluminate

Best Songs of 2008 So Far Vol.1

2008 Half-Year Roundup

“Lejos”, Becker
From: Andes (Home Records)
Becker was one of the great discoveries for me that resulted from the Latin Grammy special. It was listed by both of my partners in the breakthrough category and I completely agree. Becker has that “it” factor bands all around latinoamerica are searching for and a bit more, they sound like nothing I’ve heard recently especially on this heartbreaking song. (Jean-Stephane Beriot)

29.“Donde estaran, tan, tan”, Cantoalegre feat. Juanes
From: Un dos tres por todos mis amigos y yo (Independiente)

Resulta poco común incluir una canción infantil en una lista como esta. Pero quise rescatar esta pieza escondida en un disco para niños realmente memorable, que hace un recorrido folclórico a través de las voces inocentes de los pequeños de Cantoalegre, acompañados por su mas reciente padrino: Juanes. (Paulo Correa)

28.“Querer”, Chetes
From: Efecto Domino (EMI Music Mexico)

Chetes is much more enjoyable working with minimalistic lyrics. “Querer” is about given yourself to that special one, at times sounding cheesy and too standard, but acquiring emotional heights along the way. Admitting that you’re in love is admitting that you must take extra steps to find equilibrium. A non-traditional approach to accepting loving someone by a non-traditional singer who is always ahead of his game. (Carlos Reyes)

27. “Amar en el campo”, Teleradio Donoso
From: Gran Santiago (Independiente)

Teleradio Sonoro is along with Javiera Mena one of the most promising acts from my adopted country Chile. “Amar en el campo” is a great pop song, working with themes concerning lifetime’s mediocrity and more crap like that surprisingly dissolved in great catchy tunes. The kind a song I always demanded from La Ley, the band that undeservedly still holds the spot as the biggest musical import from Chile. (Jean-Stephane Beriot)

26. “Todas esas cosas”, Smitten
From: En algún lugar (Iguana Records)
Esta banda de rock argentina dio una sorpresa con esta vibrante canción, que con una melodía basada en escalas sucesivas (al mejor estilo de Fito Páez) logro recientemente colarse en los conteos de los principales canales musicales de Suramérica. (Paulo Correa)

25.“El sexo sin amor”, Jessy Bulbo
From: Saga Mama (Nuevos Ricos)
YouTube, MySpace/IMEEM

If you don’t know Jessy Bulbo yet let me tell you she is freaky, in the best possible way. “Sexo sin amor” is one of the best laidback songs this millennium has given us. A song working on parallel disfigurations, meaning that each one has its own mind but will eventually encounter. So stop the worries, get lost for a day, and don’t even try to care about stuff, see what it feels to be arrogant. Time consumes our lives and sex is a way to let it out, as long as you’re not in love. (Carlos Reyes)

24.“Tu sombra”, María Daniela y su Sonido Lasser
From: Juventud en extasis (Nuevos Ricos)

Perhaps because I mostly live in Los Angeles, but most of the music I listen to in Spanish comes from Mexico, Maria Daniela has become a favorite. I adore everything about “Tu sombra”, its kitsch, the girly attitude and the fun electro backgrounds. And is still so poetic, “tu sombra se ira, mucho después que tu.” Maria Daniela’s Juventud en Extasis is her most complete work yet and one of the finest albums lately. (Jean-Stephane Beriot)

23.“Pa’ lante”, Willy Chirino
From: Pa' Lante (Latinum Music)

Compuesta por el cantautor chileno Alberto Plaza, es una prueba mas que el tropipop esta en su furor. A ritmo de vallenato y acompañado de acordeón, Willy Chirino regreso al top de las emisoras tropicales. (Paulo Correa)

22.“Algo musical”, Ñejo y Dalmata feat. Arcangel
From: Broke & Famous (Unsigned)

Ñejo y Dálmata are the latino answer to The Cool Kids. In this song they joke about how their music is selling more than crack, yet they acknowledge their underground status by naming their album Broke & Famous. Before the duo decided to unite, they had solo projects that already portrayed non-comforting visions. “Algo Musical” also suggests music being a sex appealing attribute, and Arcangel’s presence only adds attitude to the majestic urban song. (Carlos Reyes)

21.“Hello Tarantino!”, Descartes A Kant
From: Paper Dolls (Intolerancia Records)

I first heard of Descartes A Kant by a friend who is one of the members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs who recommended me to listen to this great band from Guadalajara, Mexico. To my surprise, they sound very similar, and that is one of the best compliments I can possibly give. Great female vocals in this experimental band that should appear on a soundtrack by a Tarantino movie. (Jean-Stephane Beriot)

Parts II and III coming soon.

Best songs and albums of 2008: "International"

In the upcoming days we will bring you another Club Fonograma special, but don’t panic, this won’t be as long and time-consuming as our Latin Grammy FYCs. We didn’t have time to make an official post on the music that has been released so far this year. Our next article will include our favorite 30 singles released so far in 2008, with songs in any language by Latino artists. But to get you ready for it, I’ve decided to include my personal list on the best ‘international’ music so far, because we don’t just listen to musica latina of course.

Top 13 Singles.
  1. “White Winter Hymnal”, Fleet Foxes (Fleet Foxes)
  2. “Time to pretend”, MGMT (Oracular Spectacular)
  3. “Water Curses”, Animal Collective (Domino)
  4. A-Punk”, Vampire Weekend (Vampire Weekend)
  5. “Collapsing at your doorstep”, Air France (No Way Done)
  6. “I’m not gonna teach your boyfriend…”, Black Kids (Partie Traumatic)
  7. “My year in lists”, Los Campesinos! (Hold on now, youngster…)
  8. “Id Engager”, Of Montreal (Skeletal Lamping)
  9. “Everybody here is a cloud”, Cloud Cult (Feel Good Ghosts)
  10. “Salute your solution”, The Raconteurs (Consolers of the Lonely)
  11. “Gobbledygook”, Sigur Ros (Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust)
  12. “Viva la Vida”, Coldplay (Viva la Vida and all his friends)
  13. “Flashing Lights”, Kanye West (Graduation)

Top 13 Albums.
  1. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
  2. Water Curses EP, Animal Collective
  3. Oracular Spectacular, MGMG
  4. The Carter III, Lil’ Wayne
  5. Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, Sigur Ros
  6. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
  7. Nouns, No Age
  8. Saturdays=Youth, M83
  9. Hold On Youngster, Los Campesinos!
  10. The List EP, The May Fire
  11. Real Emotional Trash, Stephan Malkmus
  12. Santogold, Santogold
  13. Third, Portishead

Monte Negro Concert Review 08/12/2008

Monte Negro, Circo Rocktastico Tour 2008 @ Modified Arts, Phoenix-AZ.

We were extremely skeptical of the MTV Tr3s project a few years ago when it was announced; it has proved to be not as bad after all. An idea catapulted after the reggaeton phenomenon, so we expected a music channel with eyes shut down at the alternative scene. There is a long way to go, but at least we have a space that showcases Latin rock in the broadcast channel that is surprisingly available on regular broadcast television. MTV tr3s was one of this year’s most important supporters of the LAMC (Latin Alternative Music Conference) at least financially; too bad they cancelled their show INDIE 101 to cover it. Monte Negro is one of the new acts the channel has been extensively showcasing, along with The Dey and Pacha Massive. They all belong to an emerging generation of English-speaking artists getting their message through Spanish, English or Spanglish, with artists like JD Natasha and Alejandra Alberti also enjoying the attention. Monte Negro is currently the headliner of the Rockstatico Tour organized by MTV Tr3s in more than 30 cities of the U.S.

The Latin alternative scene in Phoenix is taking baby steps when it comes to solidifying a profitable audience. At least that’s what the 25 people number tells us, or it might just be that the concert last night had zero promotion in all media. The opener band was a notable discovery, the also L.A-based band Astra Heights. In fact, they were a tough act to follow and they were indeed the better band of the night. When a virtually unknown band steals the show from the band you went to see it means you’re pushed into a juxtaposing situation, where you wish to have the power to put an order on the concert lineup. They were followed by The May Fire, yet another interesting band that added to the overrated expectations we had for the leading band.

Montenegro kicked off their performance with the song “Me Duele No Estar Junto A Ti”, the song that made them popular early this year when they were featured on the –Descubre and Download- segment of MTV Tr3s. The music was accurately executed, but the vocals were quite hard to swallow. It appears that they have over tuned the vocals with synthesizers; the outcome can’t be less than disappointing. But as the concert went on with the next songs it turned into a much more enjoyable night because of the vocalist’s explosive visual performance. As usual with any new band they performed a cover, they chose “La Negra Tomasa” made popular by Jaguares. The most celebrated song of the night was indeed their new single “Give Me Love (No Llores)” which is currently playing everywhere as it is offered for free on MTV and iTunes. It was followed by new songs from their first LP album Cicatrix, which includes the closing and best track by the band, “Arde El Corazon.” There’s nothing else to do but to keep on eye on the promising band. Here is hoping someone gives them some guidance on the overall sound system and especially hope for the vocals to at least be shallow.

Next concert in Phoenix:
August 30, 2008
Tío Leo’s Cantina