Best Latin Albums of 2007

A few weeks ago a friend at work who is in the business and is part of the selective process at Coachella asked me if there was any kind of consensus on the very best Latin albums of 2007. There were many lists on the web, most of them from incompetent bloggers who either don’t have a radical approach to critical analysis or simply are blinded to good music vision. Even though we are getting close to 2009 I asked our main editor Carlos Reyes to help me out and put together a list at least from the members of this club. He suggested that we should consider lists from other valuable people; I am deeply shocked how good the overall list is. Indie music from other parts of the world seem to be so ahead when it comes to reviews and music blogs, we are very happy to gather a small community of sharp writers, professional music journalists and radio hosts in this consensus of the music of 2007. Hopefully, we’ll keep doing this for the upcoming years. Also, hopefully we will broaden invitations so that we can cover all the music from Latin America.

Honorable Mentions:

The list was calculated on a priority count, which means that a critic's #1 album got 10 points, #2 got 9 points, # 3 got 8 points, etc. Plus the amount of participants that included the album on their top 10 list.


Carlos Reyes, "Club Fonograma" (Mexico/USA)
01. Residente o Visitante, Calle 13
02. Atemahawke, Porter
03. Samba Meu, Maria Rita
04. Fontana Bella, Austin TV
05. El Teatro de lo Absurdo, Robi Draco Rosa
06. 39 Grados, Lisandro Aristimuño
07. Mar Dulce, Bajofondo
08. Hoy a las Ocho, Hello Seahorse!
09. La Revolucion Sexual, La Casa Azul
10. Triangulo de Amor Bizarro, Triangulo de Amor Bizarro

Paulo Correa, "Club Fonograma" (Colombia/Argentina)
01. La Llave de mi Corazon, Juan Luis Guerra
02. Residente o Visitante, Calle 13
03. La Lengua Popular, Andres Calamaro
04. Somos Pacifico, Choc Quib Town
05. Papito, Miguel Bose
06. El Cantante, Marc Anthony
07. La Radiolina, Manu Chao
08. El Teatro de lo Absurdo, Robi Draco Rosa
09. Son... Para El Mundo, Jorge Celedon
10. Laberintos Entre Aristas y Dialectos, Catupecu Machu

Jean-Stephane Beriot, "Club Fonograma" (Chile/France/USA)
01. Fontana Bella, Austin TV
02. Juventud en Extasis, Maria Daniela y Su Sonido Lasser
03. Esquemas Juveniles, Javiera Mena
04. Paper Dolls, Descartes A Kant
05. Residente o Visitante, Calle 13
06. Live at the Village Vanguard, Bebo Valdes & Javier Colina
07. Sino, Cafe Tacvba
08. Atemahawke, Porter
09. El Dia Despues, Aroah
10. Santiago, Teleradio Donoso

Julio Meza, "Atrapa la Luz" (Peru)
01. Sino, Cafe Tacvba
02. El Zafiro de las Galas, Daniel F.
03. Aznar-Lebon, Aznar-Lebon
04. La Lengua Popular, Andres Calamaro
05. No Love, Turbopotamos
06. Fontana Bella, Austin TV
07. Bailando en el Mulador, Cementerio Club
08. Velocidad de Crucero, La Costa Brava
09. Rodolfo, Fito Paez
10. La Revolucion Sexual, La Casa Azul

Miguel "Chen" Muñoz, "Rockeros VIP" (Mexico/USA)
01. El Teatro de lo Absurdo, Robi Draco Rosa
02. La Radiolina, Manu Chao
03. Sino, Cafe Tacvba
04. Atemahawke, Porter
05. Fontana Bella, Austin TV
06. Bengala, Bengala
07. Triangulo de Amor Bizarro, Triangulo de Amor Bizarro
08. A Marte, Pastilla
09. The Stars and Suns Sessions, Chikita Violenta
10. Never Greens Vol.1, Los Fancy Free

Juan Data, "The Hard Data" (Argentina/USA)
01. Mexican Sessions, Up Bustle & Up
02. Residente o Visitante, Calle 13
03. Malamarismo, La Mala Rodriguez
04. Kaos, Anita Tijoux
05. Kumbia Nena!, Kumbia Queers
06. El Apagon, Dante
07. La Radiolina, Manu Chao
08. La Lengua Popular, Andres Calamaro
09. Logo, Kevin Johansen
10. Mar Dulce, Bajofondo

Sandra Guzman, "The New York Post" (USA)

01. El Cantante, Marc Anthony
02. Mi Sueño, Ibrahim Ferrer
03. CeU, CeU
04. King of Kings, Don Omar
05. La Radiolina, Manu Chao
06. Fire in the Youth, B-Side Players

Editors, "Amazon" (USA)
01. Mi Sueño, Ibrahim Ferrer
02. Residente o Visitante, Calle 13
03. La Radiolina, Manu Chao
04. El Cantante, Marc Anthony
05. La Vida... Es Un Ratico, Juanes
06. Paz, El Niño Josele
07. Rumba Palace, Arturo Sandoval
08. Pasajero, Gipsy Kings
09. Mujer de Cabaret, Puerto Plata
10. La Llave de mi Corazon, Juan Luis Guerra

Editors, "Heineken España" (Spain)
01. Triangulo de Amor Bizarro, Triangulo de Amor Bizarro
02. La Leyenda del Espacio, Los Planetas
03. Lisabo, Ezlekuak
04. La Luz del Mañana, Facto Delafe y Las Flores Azules
05. Verano Fatal, Nacho Vegas y Christina Rosenvinge
06. Tiny Telephone, The Sunday Drivers
07. No Land Recordings, Remate
08. The Marzipan Man, The Marzipan Man
09. El Dia Despues, Aroah
10. Fin de un Viaje Infinito, Deluxe

Editors, "Lavate Las Orejas" (Mexico/Spain/Peru/Argentina)
01. Sino, Cafe Tacvba
02. La Lengua Popular, Andres Calamaro
03. El Mamut, Massacre
04. Cuentos Chinos Para Niños del Japon, Love of Lesbian
05. Fontana Bella, Austin TV
06. La Radiolina, Manu Chao / Logo, Kevin Johansen
07. Andes, Becker
08. Su Majestad, Rosal
09. A Marte, Pastilla
10. Fin de un Viaje Infinito, Deluxe

Mara Williams, "Voice" (Brazil/Canada)
01. Fontana Bella, Austin TV
02. In Our Nature, Jose Gonzalez
03. Atemahawke, Porter
04. Le Baron EP, Le Baron
05. Residente o Visitante, Calle 13
06. The Stars and Suns Sessions, Chikita Violenta
07. Triangulo de Amor Bizarro, Triangulo de Amor Bizarro
08. Andes, Becker
09. Muerdete la Lengua, Francisca Valenzuela
10. Mar Dulce, Bajofondo

Editors, "Blogpocket" (Spain)
01. La Lengua Popular, Andres Calamaro
02. Esto Es Prin' La La!, Prin' La La!
03. Miniaturas, Pigmy
04. La Revolucion Sexual, La Casa Azul
05. Yo Mate a Kennedy, Acusicas
06. Las Otras Vidas, El Hijo
07. En la Oscuridad, Zola
08. Verano Fatal, Nacho Vegas y Christina Rosenvinge
09. El Hueso y la Carne, Tarik y La Fabrica de Colores
10. Cuentos Chinos Para Niños del Japon, Love of Lesbian

Wilfredo & Veronica Rodriguez, "Bilingual Distortion" (Puerto Rico/USA)
01. Residente o Visitante, Calle 13
02. Mar Dulce, Bajofondo
03. El Teatro de lo Absurdo, Robi Draco Rosa
04. La Radiolina, Manu Chao
05. Sino, Cafe Tacvba
06. Atemahawke, Porter
07. Malamarismo, La Mala Rodriguez
08. Hormigas, Arbol
09. Eternamiente, Molotov
10. La Lengua Popular, Andres Calamaro

Editors, "Musicarium" (Spain)
01. La Leyenda del Espacio, Los Planetas
02. Cuentos Chinos Para Niños del Japon, Love of Lesbian
03. The Sunday Drivers, The Tiny Telephone
04. El Show de Leta, Lagartija Nick
05. Triangulo de Amor Bizarro, Triangulo de Amor Bizarro

Not participants this time but already in the line for future listings, some were invited but didn't return their list (there was no dateline, my fault), others said maybe next year and some we just couldn't reach for some reason:

El Guiri & Chapin, "La Onda Tropical"
Ian Malinaow, "Latin Music Examiner"
Tijana Ilch, "About Latin Music"
Reclu, "Reclueless"
Jose Luis, "Rock en las Americas"

List compiled by Jean-Stephane Beriot
Visuals by Carlos Reyes

Dos Pájaros De Un Tiro, Joan Manuel Serrat & Joaquín Sabina

DOS PÁJAROS DE UN TIRO Serrat & Sabina, España
Sony BMG

by Paulo Correa

A hat on the top of a stool appears in the middle of the stage as the band starts playing. An intro with powerful wind instruments echoes through the place and suddenly, coming down the stairs, these two poets on the way to become legends appear intoning the double overture: “Ocupen su localidad” (Take your place) and “Hoy puede ser un gran día” (Today could be a great day). A vibrant beginning that anticipated the great musical time that was to come.

This CD/DVD can be looked at from two points of view. From the eyes of the fan of these two glories of the Spanish song or from the eyes of the young audience who perceive Serrat and Sabina as distant or unknown icons. For the first ones it will be an unforgettable experience where both artists’ greatest hits will be relived in exciting live versions. For the latter it is a rediscovery, perhaps even a first time, of two essential singer-songwriters of our musical history.

Personally, their songs dwell in my memory like old melodies my parents used to listen to and they fill me up with nostalgia. And this production is a voyage through many of the most significant songs of the last three decades, especially in the motherland, Spain, but also in Latin America.

After that introduction, I must admit that I have fallen in love with this production, full of beautiful songs, with incredible lyrics and new arrangements of overwhelming energy regardless of being an intimate ballad, a rhythmic song or a rumba flamenco.

Listening to these two geniuses converse in between songs is as enjoyable as it is to listen to them intonate each other’s songs. The performance is almost theatrical throughout the recital, like in “La del pirata cojo” (The pirate's lame) where they disguise as pirates giving the situation a very picturesque touch, while at other times they play, recite, make jokes or modify the lyrics making the audience burst out laughing.

Some could say that when singing Serrat’s songs Sabina lacks melody, and that when Serrat is singing Sabina's songs he lacks rhythm. But what is certainly true is that every piece fits together perfectly resulting in a solid album that is not interested in exceeding the original versions but in refreshing their sound and facing the two veterans with a new audience because, as they extol in “Para la libertad” (To the freedom), the song that closes the work “Aun tengo vida” (I am still alive), they have a lot of life and lots of music to give us.

To be highlighted the excellent potpourri they accomplished putting together “Aquellas pequeñas cosas” (Those little things) - “Ruido” (Noise) and “El muerto vivo” (The living dead), the most partying moment of the night. Also the energetic version of “19 días y 500 noches” (19 days and 500 nights) by Sabina and “Fa Vint Anys Que Tinc Vint Anys” (It’s been 20 years since I turned 20) in which Serrat couldn’t be left with the desire to sing in Catalan and, of course, the international “Cantares” (Chants) where their voices put together where at times dazzled by the powerful singing of a very excited and connected audience.

It should be mentioned that this album has one of the worst sound engineering’s I have heard in the last few years but in times like this the art surpasses the technique.

Numeric Rating: 91/100

Dos Lagrimas, Diego el Cigala

DOS LAGRIMAS Diego El Cigala, España

by Carlos Reyes

Dos Lagrimas is said to be the continuation of the majestic Lagrimas Negras which enchanted us all a few years ago, becoming not only one of the most critically acclaimed albums in Spanish and a best-seller. Cuban piano master Bebo Valdés and Spain’s Diego “El Cigala” had given us the perfect pitch of their careers. These two virtuosos promised a follow up, but they ended up breaking up their relationship with the project’s label. In 2005, a concert by the two was released in DVD only, it was never supposed to be released in audio format, but early this year the label that still owns Lagrimas Negras decided to put Blanco y Negro En Vivo in the market as if it was the second part of the first album. The live album is simply exemplary, but because I believe in auteur music and hate to see labels practicing these kinds of tricks I decide to put my attention on Dos Lagrimas, even if one half of the jewel is missing.

Bebo Valdes isn’t part of this album, but Dos Lagrimas carries the components of the 2002 masterpiece. His absence is indeed very disappointing, but he is replaced by some very impressive and experienced musicians that do an inferior but still outstanding effort. With that said, Diego El Cigala has released the album fully under his belt by releasing it independently; he owns the album with a firm vision and his distinguished emotional raspy voice. An album of bolero, Latin jazz, tango, and a series of flamencos and coplas that register a highly prolific album with much more uplifting tunes than the past black tears. First single “Si te contara” serves as a perfect transition between the two albums, from the dark bohemia spirit to a much more tropical search.

Cigala is said to be best cantaor since Camaron, the fact that he has dedicated to polish his music with Cuba’s contemporary tropical music are making him an exciting and prolific rich soloist for the ages. He makes classics such as “Dos Gardenias” and “Historia de un amor” his own. The album is especially exquisite with “Maria de la O”, the one track that combines Diego’s flamenco virtues and adopts an afro-cuban spirit. For those strict listeners that find his singing too repetitive, know that traditional music is supposed to make you adapt its mood and interpretation. “Caruso” is a Spanish version of the Italian classic, presented here in a bold and modern tango. “El dia que naci yo” is a big celebration of tropicalia, hard on trumpets and consistent in the drums.

The album cover suggests a mysterious approach to the encounter of cultures, juxtaposing the unyielding relation between Spain’s traditional music and its comeback to Latin-American music. Dos Lagrimas is also one of the best produced albums of the year, with top-notch engineering and mixing. Because of the release circumstances, this is one album hard to find. The album is being distributed in selected localities in Spain, backed by the journal El Pais that has included a wonderful book. It’s not available in the U.S. just yet, so most will have to wait to see if the album gets picked up by a distribution label. The other option to get it legally at least, is to acquire it as an import or just have nice friends in Madrid to send you the album like I did. Thank you Marcella.

Numeric Rating: 89/100

Key Tracks: "Historia de un amor", "Maria de la O", "El dia que yo naci."

Artist of the Week: Mónica Giraldo

Artist: Mónica Giraldo
Genre: Acoustic / Alternative / Pop
Country: Colombia

For many it was a surprise to see her name in at Latin Grammys nominees list as Best New Artist. You wish that all the surprises were so positives like this is. Monica Giraldo is a singer -songwriter borned in Bogota, Colombia, has a major degree in Music from Berklee College of Music in Boston. Until now she had released two independent albums, but was after winning the Billboard's songwriting contest for Best Latin song in 2007, as well as the Billboard's "We hear the future" showcase in Miami, that the eyes from the music industry were on her. WattsUp!/Codiscos, a small record company, signed her to released her first comercial album, recently published with the title "Todo da vueltas”

She describes her own music as "soft and delicious" and it is totally true. Is not Blues, is not Jazz, is not Cumbia, nor Bossa Nova or Son, but has a bit of all those. Her sound is characterized by the simplicity of its acoustic instruments and a direct and clean voice, clear as water. Her songs are real jewels fill with simple messages. If we had to find something similar to her, we would have to say that her style is so refreshing for the music in spanish as Feist is for the english music; personal and without pretentiousness. We can't hide our joy, in Club Fonograma we celebrate the birth of a true artist.


Que Lloren, Calle 13

In a previous post I mentioned that I hoped Calle 13 wouldn't loose its explicit and direct commentary, they didn't. The track "Que Lloren" made such a big impact during a pre-release press conference and it was leaked a few days ago. Journals around the country commented on a song that criticized Ivy Queen's lousy and childish attitude, truth is, "Que lloren" is so much more than that. We're talking about a direct attack on plastic music, on the manufactured products around and especially those reggaetoneros hating on Residente and Visitante for damaging the urban genre. We can already see so many people in the business crying, so much that rivers would come up here and there, our prayers towards "Rio" by Aterciopelados were heard.

The most striking line in the song is Residente defining what's Urban. "La musica urbana se trata de respeto, se trata de quien escribiendo domina mejor el alfabeto. Yo estoy dispuesto a dar un mensaje aunque me maten a patadas, estoy dispuesto a aguantar cuatro derechazos en la quijada, se trata de que Calle 13 es musica urbana en una encrucijada, se trata de que cada rima que haga queda inmortalizada." Not only is it fucking amazing in lyrics, but Visitante's music as usual is astonishing. Holy shit, Calle 13 are not slaves of the industry and are defenately not going in the same direction as the waves of insignificant music.

This is one of, if not the best track I've heard this year. Speechless... bow down. Los de atras vienen conmigo drops October 14, 2007.

Greatest Hits, Acida

GREATEST HITS Acida, Argentina

by Carlos Reyes

Throughout the years we’ve been following the work by Tweety Gonzalez as a producer, which we found eclectic and wonderful. Greatest Hits is a compilation album that makes us realize he is also talented on record. Acida is formed back in 1999; a two-piece act by Gonzalez and his wife Alina Gandini, now celebrating their first decade together compile an album that will probably serve more as a presentation than a hits album. The album is an enjoyable ride of electro waves, sometimes soulful and obscure but always elegant and splendidly glossy.

Greatest Hits is an album full of transitions, the kind of album that would serve perfectly as a soundtrack for any roadtrip movie. It follows the idea of inter traveling, and unlike so many quirky pretentious motion pictures Acida knows when to stop and when to get back on the road. Just like any roadtrip, we meet some very familiar voices along the way, with guest collaborations from the great Gustavo Cerati, Dante Spinetta (Illya Kuriyaki & The Valderramas) and an outstanding lineup of instrumentalists, including the wonderful MCs that contributed with remixes.

The album is above all a joyful and eclectic encounter of many genres, from bossa nova to electro and waves of traditional music, always working together to shine but keeping a certain mystery and therefore becoming an unexpected experience. Right from my first listen the track “Burbank” stands out for many reasons but especially because it almost feels like a bipolar session. The music and lyrics seem to be working separately but keeping an unconscious connection that naturally finds them and makes them correlate.

For those first-time listeners of Acida (including me), we’ll find “La vida real” to be a treat. “Lo que hay es lo que queda, lo que ves es lo que viste.” A song about the search for the divine truth, a tough task to even think of, but while also listening to Groove and nostalgic arrangements it immediately gets easier. As of now, Greatest Hits is an only digital-release from Sonic 360 and is available on iTunes.

Numeric Rating: 81/100

Suspension of Disbelief: Video Bizarro #3

“Chop Suey”, System of a Down (Porcobain, YouTube)

Our third bizarre video features System of a Down on the audio and the cast of legendary television show El Chavo, what more can we say. There must be thousands of videos wanting to get views from us hungry users, but very few actually succeed. The image quality isn’t great; the video excerpts most probably come from VHS but that only makes the video much more surreal. There is just something special about a very conservative comedy series blending so well with the hard rock and salvation lyrics of “Chop Suey.” This is one awesome video that your friends will love, if they grew up with El Chavo. Random question, who did you like more El Chavo or Kiko?

Minis #1

Too many times we’ve started writing a review without finishing for several reasons: lack of time, lack of inspiration, and boredom. MINIS will be occasional posts with mini-reviews; from my part at least it is the most convenient way to talk about mediocre albums that don’t deserve a full review. Also, the fact that EPs are multiplying in numbers deserve a glance of our attention.

Minis #1 by Carlos Reyes

Imprevisto, Nina Pilots (Movic Records, México) **

Nina Pilots is an all girl rock pop band that struggles to visualize its own aspirations. Imprevisto is an unsecure debut album that appears to be fresh among the commercial audiences, but it’s nothing more than a less inspired Paramore. But this is not a complete disaster; it is a well intentioned approach to popular music. In their MySpace they list bands like The Killers, No Doubt or The Strokes as their biggest influences, their music doesn’t even scratch those important bands but at least aims to get there. First single “Estas” steps right away into silly territory, at least is a straightforward single of what to expect in the exhausting 14 track LP. The band has not exploded internationally yet, but it might just get the undeserved attention of radio stations that program this teenage bands to fill their quota for rock programming. Add Nina Pilots to that list of weak and immature bands that reach the masses: Allison, Nikki Clan, Kudai, Don Tetto, etc. But isn’t the album cover lovely? I think so, bonus points for that.

Key track: “Estas”
Numeric Rating: 48

Amigos EP, Nuuro (Poni Republic, Venezuela) ****

Alejandro Ghersi is an 18 year old Venezuelan genius of music software. Poni Republic released during the summer his return to the Spanish language. A sensational three track EP consisting of pure fun, upbeats and the transformations New York is inputting in his music. Nuuro is one act to follow, particularly during this early stage of musical ambiguity where we can see him falling and rising with plenty of revelation. Amigos EP is nothing like his full length album All Clear; his first jewel recorded when he was only 16 years old. This EP isn’t a contemplation search constructed of cohesive pieces, this time we get a refreshingly linear session of illuminated pop. “Diamante” is a blast of colors, “ABC” is freaking dazzling and “Un Paseo” has to be one of the most charming songs I’ve heard this year, great to play around your date. Just like most of the Poni Republic releases, this EP is available for free download at the label’s website.

Key track: “Un Paseo”
Numeric Rating: 87

Dame Mas, Sussie 4 (Home Records, México) **1/2

Dame Mas is the new EP from Sussie 4, the much acclaimed electronic act that enjoyed fame with its previous installment Red Album (2006). Their music always demands careful listeners; I’ve always found their music very hard to digest. But the talent is undeniable; they seem to be in control of their musical ornaments that may scare too many people off. Dame Mas is probably the only release that will not deliver extremist opinions, it’s drastic enough to please the conceptual critics and sufficiently classy to keep the purists happy. And that opens spaces for the intermediate reactions like mine; I hear a middling product from two gurus with a lot more potential. “Dame Mas” is the song that gives title to the album is one of those songs that tries too hard to be different (on all six versions of it), that it transforms into a mechanical hybrid that has no fuel to work properly.

Key track: “Wanna feel you”
Numeric Rating: 58

2C, Intocable (EMI Music, México) ***1/2

Intocable is in my opinión, the most important regional Mexican group nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, Los Tigres del Norte did their thing decades ago but their music has got stocked right after their classic “De America Yo Soy”, a song that would supposedly internationalize norteño music. The music of Intocable shows clear influences from popular norteño, but also registers a great amount of conjunto bands from Texas, and the defining melodies that Ramon Ayala brought to accordion. It is perhaps the only norteño band that keeps evolving. Their previous release Crossroads was an unprecedented encounter of norteño and country music, a majestic work from Dixie Chicks producer Lloyd Maines. A misunderstood album that I’m sure will serve as a base for future generations of Mexican-Americans. Their 12th studio album is a comeback to traditional music, but always improving acoustics and doing wonders for the genre. The opening (Estela) and closing (Como me las pongan brinco) tracks are two extraordinary instrumental pieces of folka (polka+folk). My only complain is its weak lyrics, Intocable has an established group of songwriters and it is time for them to chase new waves, let their music also evolve lyrically.

Key track: “Que fácil es amarte”
Numeric Rating: 74

Indienella, Indienella (Unsigned, Spain) **1/2

I didn’t catch the wordplay behind the name of this new pop duo from Spain until I visited their MySpace. Argentina’s Pimpinela (also a male/female duet) was a sensation during the 80s and 90s, back on the day when labels didn’t care about age. I always found Pimpinela very lousy and excessively lazy; Indienella’s music isn’t so distanced from the topics handled by their godfathers. Debut albums should be anything but safe. Indienella fails to contribute anything new to Spain’s exciting indie movement and ends as a forgettable phonogram. For those wound up about its happy pop and garage premise I suggest to jump on the NIZA wagon, one of the great kitsch bands early this decade. A very flawed album in production and lyrics, but at least they maintain a level of confidence in their naïf punk, something quite rare in first productions.

Key track: “Secretos de Belleza”
Numeric Rating: 56

Artist: Roberta Sa
Genre: Samba/Tropical/Pop
Country: Brazil

Unlike like last year, this year’s lineup of Best New Artist nominees at the Latin Grammys is pretty damn solid. We’re in front of one of those occasions when we must thank the Latin Recording Academy (Latin Grammys) for bringing Roberta Sa the attention she clearly deserves. There’s something nostalgic in her voice, but her lyrics and vocal arrangement tell us about a classicist in the works. Que belo estranho dia pra se ter alegria is an exciting album with a privileged spot in Brazil’s music, just in the borderline of Brazil’s contemporary pop music and MPB music. Yup, we loved her.

Song: "La Luz del Ritmo" by Los Fabulosos Cadillacs

Club Fonograma exclusive photo, by Ricardo Durán

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, returned on July 1, 2008, to present the reunion tour that will take over Latin America starting in October. That day, under the slogan "Yo te avisé”, the Cadillacs performed at Buenos Aires’s Planetarium hits like "León Santillán", "Malbicho" and "Siguiendo La Luna" among others. But it also introduced a new song, which will surely be included in their next album."La Luz del Ritmo" is the name of the song, which shows the tropical side of the band and the energy that has always characterized them. As we await the beginning of their tour, we'll enjoy this preview of Cadillacs taken by an amateur video. Los Cadillacs cantando para vos (The Cadillacs singing for you…)

"La luz del ritmo", youtube amateur video:

Alternative Songs: Juana Molina, Aterciopelados, Zoe & Calle 13 feat. Cafe Tacvba

We don’t usually post info about new single releases, but this week has been truly amazing. It seems like some of my favorite artists wanted to uplift my spirit this week. The startling lineup of new songs is simply jaw-dropping, most of these artists will release their albums in October, let’s start saving some cash for what seems to be the best month for Latin alternative this year.

“Un dia”, Juana Molina
I was convinced Juana Molina would change Latin American music, and the new emerge of acts influenced by her music can’t prove me wrong. Careful, I’m not talking about innovations, it’s Molina’s deep-felt emotional approach to music; the power of music lies not in what’s hidden in between lyrics, treasure is found behind lyrics. Just like cinema is a visual media, music’s ultimate command is its sound resonance. “One day I will be a somebody else, I’m going to do things I didn’t do, I won’t care about what others say, neither if they will work out, I will travel, I will dance, dance dance, I want to dance!…” Starts with truly poetic lyrics, the entrance to a world of its own, one that reunites abstract vocals, sweet fairies and factories of sound loops creating new beginnings. My friends know I go nuts about her; again I can’t handle myself when taking about the single most visionary artist of Latin America. "Un dia" is available for free at Juana Molina's official website.

“Rio”, Aterciopelados
It only took me one listen to decide that this had to be the track welcoming readers to our MySpace (replacing “El Reloj” by Jovenes y Sexys). Aterciopelados is along with Café Tacvba the best rock band Latin America has ever had (you had read this statement before, I agree). Rio asks us to send our rivers some oxygen, to send prayers and hope for the fish to comeback. The song humanizes our rivers and seals a connection between nature and our bodies, both in need of clean waters. The backgrounds are particularly outstanding; Andrea Echeverri and Hector Buitrago are true mavericks of atmospheric sensibility. “Vienen las aguas del rio, corriendo, cantando!, por la ciudad van soñando ser limpias, ser claras.” One of the very best songs of the year.

“Reptilectric”, Zoe
Zoe went from the small and shy band that would replace Zurdok, to having the all-time best selling EP in Mexico to finally becoming the most popular band in Mexico nowadays. The band has yet to fully internationalize itself, but their long titled Grammy nominated Memo Rex Commander y el Corazon Atomico de la Via Lactea earned them enough recognition for their new album to travel new territories. The title of the song didn’t make any sense to me, I tried to google it and it seems Zoe has invented a word/species/new god? : reptile + electric. “Reptilectric, welcome to earth”, the song goes from confusion to illusion, seems like Zoe is waiting for the arrival of a prophet from another galaxy. Seems like they run out of patience with other gods and have transported themselves to a new cosmos; they ask for more love and less pain, to make them forget about everything that makes suffering. I like this new messiah, this “messenger of light”.

“No hay nadie como tu”, Calle 13 feat. Café Tacvba
Some months ago Calle 13 had asked its fans at their blog for suggestions on future collaborations. Calle 13 is a very appealing act that is mainly acclaimed by alternative music followers, so it came as no surprise that Los Tacubos ended as a favorite. The bad boys for the first time have overlooked reggaeton for a first single. “No hay nadie como tu” is a catchy song about so many things, about so many people and that special individual that connects them all. Here is hoping Calle 13 doesn’t loose its delicious explicit lyrics and political commentary. The song is simply triumphant and only makes us think that we’ll be getting another jewel with Los de atras vienen conmigo.

9th Latin Grammy Nominations

Latin Grammy Nominees / Nominaciones al Latin Grammy

Our commentary about them in a few hours...

LOS ANGELES, Sept 10, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The 9th Annual Latin GRAMMY(R) Awards nominations were announced today at a press conference attended by national and international media at the House of Blues Sunset Strip. Artists reading nominations this morning included Buika, Lila Downs, Flex, Kany Garcia, Esai Morales, Gustavo Santaolalla, and Ximena Sarinana. In a year that recognized an array of artists and creative professionals across numerous styles, the nominations celebrate and spotlight a unique mix of established and emerging artists. The 9th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards, set for Nov. 13 at Toyota Center in Houston, will be broadcast live on the Univision Network from 8 - 11 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. Central).

Cafe Tacvba leads the nominations with six; Juanes and Gustavo Santaolalla garnered five nods each; Andres Calamaro, Kany Garcia and Julieta Venegas each received four nominations; 2008 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Gloria Estefan, Victor Manuelle, Soraya Moraes, Ximena Sarinana, and Joan Sebastian are among those who earned three nods apiece. And a contingent of long-established artists and emerging music makers -- including Pepe Aguilar, Maria Bethania, Andrea Bocelli, Tego Calderon, Daddy Yankee, Placido Domingo, Jose Feliciano, Vicente Fernandez, Flex, Gilberto Gil, Alejandra Guzman, Los Tigres Del Norte, Gian Marco, Manu Chao, Sergio Mendes, Molotov, Ednita Nazario, Laura Pausini, Maria Rita, Olga Tanon, Tito El Bambino, Caetano Veloso, and Wisin y Yandel -- each earned nominations.
"In its ninth year, the Latin GRAMMY nominations continue to reflect a diverse and eclectic worldwide Latin music community of well-respected artists while bringing fresh new acts and trends to the forefront," said Gabriel Abaroa, President of The Latin Recording Academy(R). "With more than 5,000 entries this year, it's encouraging to see so many music makers and professionals participate in the awards process, and to see so many albums, songs, and creators getting due recognition from peers. The world will be watching on Nov. 13, and there will be much to celebrate."

Important Notepads: Aterciopelados, Calle 13, Latin Grammy & Los Premios MTV.

Thanks to Jose Luis from Rock en las Americas for the heads up on the new single by Calle 13 featuring Café Tacvba. We had heard a live version at the VMAs parallel pre-party hosted by MTV Tr3s, but the final outcome is finally here.

Aterciopelados also added their brand new single to their MySpace “Rio” from their upcoming album by the same name. I absolutely love the song, just like almost anything by one of Latin America’s greatest bands ever.

Los Premios MTV Latinoamerica have announced their nominees for the upcoming October show at Guadalajara, Mexico. Juanes leads the nominatioins with seven, followed by Babasonicos and Belanova with 6 nominations, Café Tacvba and The Jonas Brothers with 5 and Kuda, Miranda!, Tokyo Hotel and Ximena Sariñana with 4. Full list of nominees is available here.

Oh and yeah, in just few hours the press release for this year’s Latin Grammy Nominees.

"No hay nadie como tu", Calle 13 featuring Cafe Tacvba.

Artist of the Week: Plastic Caramelo

Artist: Plastic Caramelo
Genre: Electro/Glam/Dancehall
Country: USA/Colombia

There is not much I can say about Plastic Caramelo, but their first song by the same name is on fire! I visit La Onda Tropical every day and I found a website link about this great act from New York that bet for a new sound called Glampeta (Glam + Champeta). The blogosphere has noted the act’s similarity to M.I.A., that by itself should convince you to at least click on their MySpace. If you are a DJ I’ll guarantee this track will get the partying crowds banging. All three writers of Club Fonograma enjoy the great vision of Naty Botero, another great Colombian artist that carries this fluorescent sound. Having Plastic Caramelo featured on our favorite section of the blog with only one song released is risky, but having one of the best singles of the year has earned them our confidence.

In Production: Superlitio

Superlitio, the alternative band that was nominated at the 2004 Latin Grammy Awards for Best New Artist, is producing their new album, under the baton of award-winning producer Rafa Sardina.

Superlitio just entered the studio to record the songs selected in the preproduction, and have decided to make us part of the process of recording through the website, with “webisodios”, online weekly episodes where they narrate how the process is going, and where you can also download, free, two unreleased tracks every week, and special material of the group never published before

This week, the song "Perro Come Perro" is available for download, it is the original song from a motion picture under the same name (Dog eat Dog) which was an official selection for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. In addition, an acoustic version of the song "Perdóname” is also available, a track from their previous album “Tripping Tropicana".

More information:

Shake Away, Lila Downs

SHAKE AWAY Lila Downs, Mexico/USA

by: Carlos Reyes

Lila Downs sings the traditional music of Southern Mexico, the other half of music culture that doesn’t identify itself with Mexico’s northern popular music (Norteño, Banda… etc). The 2002 film Frida (Julie Taylor) launched the internationalization of one of our most visionary individuals in music today. Shake Away is her fifth studio album and it is the most diverse record from the Mexican-American vocalist that reaches that exciting but risky move from folk to alternative music. Her last production La Cantina has to be one of the best ranchero albums ever made and it gave us a glimpse to what was coming. Shake Away magnetically unrolls folk, rap, rancheras and huapangos in its multilayered premise with Downs’ gifted voice.

Lila was raised in the state of Oaxaca, a tourists’ favorite destination because it is a state prominent of indigenous municipalities. A region that refuses to loose its culture and has too many times been remarked as an alienated community that isn’t evolving. Lila Downs continued her education at north, always carrying her indigenous roots as a valuable personal choice. It must come as no surprise that her new album explores those American roots that clearly influence her music but had not been fully exposed on previous works. Shake Away features a number of interesting covers, but the standout track is Lucinda Williams’ supreme “I Envy the Wind”, one of my all-time favorite songs.

Shake Away is also Lila’s most political album yet; subjects such as immigration and minimum wage are handled with a sense of logic that may be also perceived as humoristic satire. “Perro Negro” features Ruben Albarran (Café Tacvba’s vocalist), it is a delicious attack towards corrupt leaders proclaiming honesty from them as it shouts “I want the truth.” The best track in the album features another rock legend: Enrique Bunbury (Heroes del Silencio). “Justicia” is a sublime heart trenching anthem about justice; a word that has lost itself in between political chaos. The song assembles in its introduction a traditional andino verse, some rap lines and finally exploding into Bunbury’s rock territory. The chorus retrieves a failed search for justice, but still confesses their optimism for things to get better, even personificating justice through “la conciencia te llama” (conscious is calling you).

First single “Ojo de Culebra” features La Mari from Chambao, another traditional act that made a jump from flamenco to alternative pop with their last album. The song takes a realistic approach to the negativity around us and it gives it a way out: to stir it off just like snakes get rid of their old skin. Instrumentals are especially sharp with a standout work from harpist Celso Huerta who adds power to the awaited encounter of Lila Downs and Mercedes Sosa. It was to be expected, “Tierra de Luz” becomes eventful with this two ladies shining in the middle of heartbreaking lyrics about redemption and loss. A song that throws its listeners back to earth, reminding us of our miniature and momentary presence here regardless of religious beliefs.

Mexico and Iberoamerica will be getting an album titled Ojo de Culebra, but we are not sure how different they’ll be from one another. I must confess I’m not a big fan of albums presenting songs with several language versions, especially because of what gets lost in translation. The centerpiece of Shake Away is such a round, complete album that it should have cut some of the refill tracks such as “Silent Thunder” and “Nothing but the Truth” out, just like the snake. Several publishers have proclaimed it as her most complete work yet, I’m not completely sold on that, but I would say this is her most personal album yet, a truly emotional journey, in fact one of the true essentials of the year.

Shake Away is currently available in its entirely for streaming at Lila Downs MySpace. First single "Ojo de Culebra" is available for free download to MySpace members.

Numeric Rating:

Key Tracks: "Justicia", "Los Pollos" and "Tierra de Luz"

Maria Daniela y Su Sonido Lasser / Silverio Concert Review


María Daniela y Su Sonido Lasser / Silverio / Devon Disaster
August 30, 2008 (Phoenix, AZ)

Nuevos Ricos is a growing independent label based in Mexico City on support of the electronic scene and its derivatives (clash, glam, garage etc). They may not be delivering the level of quality releases from MUN or Tercer Piso but that doesn’t stop it from been the most exciting label of modern music made in the Aztec country. Understanding their project means setting the music industry into different disciplines: the visual goodies of their colorful and abstract websites, the exhilarating press releases, the music itself and their code for partying hard and loud. The Blackout Party is a 30-city tour from two of the label’s most popular acts: the unpredictable DJ who wants to be called “your majesty” Silverio, and the very girly but magnetic Maria Daniela y Su Sonido Lasser.

The event was scheduled at 8:00 P.M. at Tio Leo’s Cantina; nature sometimes is bitch and decided to give us a strong monsoon just a day before the party. Electricity was off and so it was decided a few hours before the show to change its location to an open place on downtown Phoenix. Because there was no official announcement (at least not on time) we ended up translating from the old place to the new one, almost looked like a caravan of fluorescent colors. Aside from the uncomfortable but inevitable voyage through the not very exciting phoenix night life, things looked promising as many lights waited for us. Also awaiting audience was Cidade dos Homens, the follow-up series to the Oscar nominated film Cidade de Deus directed by Fernando Mierelles projected on a two-story building next to the hosting party house. Presumably shown in there for visual pleasure, but meaningless until the music kicked off.

The improvised stage welcomed the opening act Devon Disaster, an exciting electro/club act from Germany. It is led by an attractive girl with strong attitude. The performance suffered from all the technical problems one can think of. At one point she even joked about them making honor to their name through this disaster. Nonetheless it proved to be in the right place with potential followers in blowing attendance. Next up was Silverio, a one of a kind character hard to resist. In my review of a couple of months I mentioned that his albums are incomplete offerings, he is a showman by all means and brings one of the most unprecedented “styles” of reaching the audience. I’ll just say that like his music, he lets it all hang out.

Silverio is releasing his latest EP titled Superacion Personal, which I initially found annoying but after getting that other half at his performance grew on me. Still, an inferior sophomore production that is just too safe for its own good. Those of us following Silverio knew what we were getting into; those people that were brought to the event by friends or just stopped by showed shocking reactions from their first encounter with Silverio. Anthem track “Yepa Yepa Yepa” was a stunner opener, followed by songs he dedicated to himself such as “El Idolo” and “Superacion Personal.”

Headliner Maria Daniela y Su Sonido Lasser reached the stage at very ‘late’ hours; people were waiting for that peculiar voice of hers and the talents of electric guru Emilio Ecevedo. Maria Daniela is simply charming, a petite body doing its thing at very high energy. The track “Pecadora normal” opened the act’s performance, while first single “Pobre Estupida” exploded the wild audience, which was followed by some of her best songs from her latest album Juventud en Extasis. Electro pop acts in Latin America seem to embrace Daniela Romo, a telenovela actress that made a quick career in music during the 80s but apparently left her influences in the most radical kitsch sound of Maria Daniela or the down tempo electrifying music of Javiera Mena. Maria Daniela does a fine job at making homage to the actress with a cover of “Mentiras.”

The finest moment of the night arrived with the performance of “Carita de Angel”, a cover included in the Rigo es Amor compilation, a collection of some of Rigo Tovar’s most popular songs on altered versions by Nortec, Plastilina Mosh, Cabas, Los Amigos Invisibles, Austin TV among other artists. As we were waiting for “Miedo”, the first and most popular hit by the duet the volume was shut down and the Phoenix Police interrupted the ‘healthy’ session of electropop in the dance halls. It appears that the event was taken as a loud party, but it’s understandable since the organizers probably didn’t have time to put everything in order, again nature sometimes is a bitch. The event was actually awesome considering the circumstances, and we had enough Maria Daniela y Su Sonido Lasser to reaffirm her status as the leading electropop act in the Mexican indie scene, which includes among others Sussie 4, Quiero Club, Faca and Electrica Miami.

Next concert in Phoenix
THE MARS VOLTA, October 1, 2008

Suspension of Disbelief: Video Bizarro #2

"El Avion se Cae", Calle 13 (Manson766, YouTube)

We are extremely anxious to hear the first single from Calle 13’s Los de atras vienen conmigo, which features Café Tacvba, double orgasm. Residente o Visitante, their previous album, was undeniably the very best production of 2007; the bar was raised so high it brings uncertainty and reservation from our part. But for now we have to go back to that urban experimental masterpiece and its wackier track: “El avion se cae”. A song about an overdose resulted from mule smuggling converted into illusionistic paradise through sexual misconduct, economic classes and a whole zoo orgy. The YouTube profile “Manson 766” has taken the initiative to make a video for it with no budget but a lot of imagination. Raymond is one heck of an entertainer, taking the song to a whole new level of bizarreness. Alright, the plane has finally crashed.

Artist of the Week: Puerto Candelaria

Artist: Puerto Candelaria
Country: Colombia
Genre: Jazz/ Folk

Puerto Candelaria is the most important jazz group from Colombia nowadays, mainly because of the creativity that they have imposed on their musical work, where you can hear Andean and Caribbean sounds mixed with jazz. These young people have released 3 albums so far: "Kolombian Jazz" (2002), "Majagua" (2004), and "Llegó la Banda" (2006), the most vibrant record, that has catapulted them to important scenarios of Europe and Latin America, where it currently are introducing his "Vuelta Canela Tour 2008".

Last June, Puerto Candelaria presented a live show entitled "Puerto Sinfónico", where they played their new compositions with symphonic arrangements performed alongside the Orchestra of EAFIT University of Medellin, an institution where the group originated. We don’t know if they will release that concert on an album, but they should really do it because it was simply great. In their myspace you can enjoy some of the songs from that live concert, and also the best songs from their previous albums. All the songs there are amazing, but I especially recommend "Vuelta Canela Sinfónica" and "Llegó la banda". Puerto Candelaria, colombian music solutions.