Cumbia Lulu, Los Labios

Independiente, Argentina ****
Rating: 80
By Carlos Reyes

If the guys and gals from Quiero Club were to take their Nueva America down to Argentina, they would sound even more from Monterrey than they actually do. Los Labios are their musical siblings, different wear and genre but outlining the same silhouette and character of where latin alternative pop wants to go. To any Mexican or anyone from North America, Los Labios could easily be part of Regional Mexican radio and highly popular music channels like Bandamax or Teleritmo. They fit more into the popular music of Latinoamerica, than the new wave of neo-cumbia leaded by Zizek and company. Thing is, these guys are so accessible and infectious that they are like a hybrid between Limite and Miranda! The comparisons with fellow cumbieras Kumbia Queers will not surprise anyone, but Los Labios has this pedestrian vibe and immediate charm to spice up anyone’s misfortune. Cumbia Lulu consists of five irresistible pieces, they’re all mellow anthems about love, but don’t let them scare you so quickly, this is where unpretentiousness pays off, resulting in pure genuine and sincere music. I can already see dozens of girls singing along to opener “Abrazo Magico”, it’s radio-friendly and Los 40 Principales material, and that makes it delightfully kitsch. “Bus Estacion” is a summer hit, refreshingly naïf and yet so conscious of its limitations that it doesn’t drown in its shallow lyrics. “Calesita” is definitely lousy, but play it loud enough and the any signal of lousiness washes away because after all, these are songs for the dance floor. Although they might be pushing for “Bus Estacion” to be the single, I would suggest the nostalgically and fluorescent “Luna Llena”, it’s got the sparks of of a pop hit: “no hay tormento ni rencon en el amor, solo hay que bailarlo al ritmo del corazon.” It’s a confident work, but I bet they don’t even care to show an ounce of security, they just want to feel some love, and I’m giving them some and a whole lot more. Cumbia Lulu is the first EP to visit our Best New Music corner this year, we’re glad to have you back little man.

"Controlling the Sun", Suave as Hell

Like I mentioned on yesterday’s Indie-O Music Awards post, my friends don’t like Suave as Hell (from Guadalajara, Mexico), honestly, I don’t know much about them and it’s only been 2 weeks since I got my hands on Well Well Mr. Whale, it’s doing pretty good on my iPod, but here is a response I got from my dear friend Gus: “I don’t like them because their pretension takes them outside the musical boundaries, there are hundreds of bands out there that sound just like them, plus they don’t even feel confident enough to reference anything to their homeland, not in language or emotion.”

I’m one of those who think people should do things they way they feel it, but it’s always a challenge to read the honesty behind any art. Therefore I don’t mind bands singing only in English, in fact, I think it’s an extension of the globalized skill. This discussion reminds me of Noche Pasta’s review for Carrie’s gleaming 1981, which questioned among other things, if Carrie was ashamed of her nationality. It’s all about identity and the stimulating force that makes an artist want to share his vision. Truth is, writing in English is so damn easy, that most people would assume the singing in English is a marketing tool … or a sellout.

One thing is for sure, I’m loving “Controlling the Sun” for all the reasons people don’t like it. What do you think?

Let Guille Milkyway educate your children through Yo Gabba Gabba

We learn through the spanish weblog Jenaispop that La Casa Azul's Guille Milkyway contributed with two songs for the children's TV show Yo Gabba Gabba, a paradise for us pop lovers and that among other artists, has been visited by The Shins, The Ting Tings and I'm From Barcelona. Let your kids see this, let their musical taste start its quest early on. Read the whole story here, "parece un video de La Casa Azul o viceversa", we couldn't agree more.

iDon, Don Omar

Machete Music, Puerto Rico **
Rating: 43
By Carlos Reyes

Considering “Virtual Diva” is the best single Don Omar has released since “Pobre Diabla” I couldn’t miss the chance to hear it once it arrived on the mail. Let’s start; the album’s title is an eyebrow raiser, there’s nothing wrong in trying to sound technologically modern and correct, put that’s pushing it too hard. But wait for the description coming out from the label’s press release, “… a half man-half machine creation, a transformation of the international superstar into a cybernetic being.” This is not even pretentious; it’s more of a concept that neglects the tons of people that have done what Don Omar thinks is inventive and a progression to his music. But is reggaeton catching up to electronic vibes? Will the reoccurring beat adapt itself to mechanism? Isn’t already a robotic sound? Daddy Yankee’s surprisingly pleasant Talento de Barrio explored this territory, after the influence of the true urban virtuosos from Puerto Rico, our favorites and still underrated Nejo y Dalmata and the now fully discovered/exploited Arcangel. The intro “The Chosen” is laughable, presents the whole futuristic scenario as a mutation, basically Don Omar babbles about his new characteristics, claiming he is a lot of thing, from a biochemist to a mathematician, and a bionic superstar “en perfeccion en practica.” The first single is his least embarrassing moment on radio in a long time; it’s not even near as functional as Yankee’s “Pose”, but at least it’s mystical enough to dance to it. There’s plenty of clash in “Blue Zone”, but he should learn that a just a few sparks won’t build an attitude, a bit of guidance from Zona Seis and their Electronic Swag would do him great. You don’t even want to listen to “Ciao Bella”, it’s a painful drown, and “Oasis” tests and fails to make its continental voyage. The album trips and although the lyrics have some moments of glory (particularly in “CO2”), iDon is not even honest to its concept. But hey, it’s an improvement over the abominable King of Kings.

Who Should Win: Indie-O Music Awards

Notes for the Indie-O Music Awards Jury
Who should win, according to us.

Band of the Year

NORTEC COLLECTIVE PRESENTS BOSTICH + FUSSIBLE. I really want to give it to Los Fancy Free, but I’m still drooling over Tijuana Sound Machine. Zoe’s Reptilectric is not aging really well, and I’ve never really liked Yokozuna. You can never go wrong with Plastilina Mosh, but let’s not forget their All U Need Is Mosh is their weakest album yet (not a bad album though).

Song of the Year
“BESTIA” – HELLO SEAHORSE! It was probably the indie hit of 2008 in Mexico; the creatures coming out of it are still phenomenally attractive, pop at its finest. “Ja Ja Ja” by Los Fancy Free is great indeed, but I must say it’s feeling old… wasn’t it nominated last year in this same category? I don’t really get the negativity some friends have towards Suave as Hell, “Controlling the Sun” would be my alternate option. “Maten al Criminal” by The John Band is an okay song, perhaps is the sociopolitical theme that inspired voters to put it here. While Plastilina’s “Pervert Pop Song” rounds up a fairly good competition, but where is Bam Bam’s “Sin las patas traseras”?

Best New Artist
JUAN SON. It’s by far the most talented figure; some will argue that he’s not new to the business but going solo means to defragment past lands and build new ones. I had no prior knowledge of Dirty Karma, they’re cool actually but if Juan Son doesn’t take this, my second option would be Bufi, he snaps the rest of the nominees with his music + it will be cool to see somebody winning in a 'high profile' category with a netlabel released EP.

Blog of the Year
ME HACE RUIDO. This is a new category, we’re glad our colleagues are getting some recognition. When TTSO was suddenly shut down, 8106 became THE blog for scenesters looking for great music, thing is, I can finger count the Mexican artists featured and so it lacks the merit to give it an award as the Mexican vein seems to be minimal, same goes for Life Box Set. Andamos Armados is becoming like a cult, kind of a Culture Bully meets Rough Trade, again not sure if it’s an award for any blog, or a music blog. Toni Francois takes astonishing pictures, she takes you whatever she goes and is my runner up for the award. But I must say the real winner should be Me Hace Ruido, I might not agree with MOST of their reviews but they’re building a great database, with plenty of national talents pouring in and out.

Indie Label of the Year
NENE RECORDS. Let me start saying that the snub for The Poni Republic is almost criminal. Three of the nominated labels are part of the Voy a Explotar soundtrack, so I might be biased. Discos Tormento has among others, one of our new favorites Afrodita, in terms of exposure they’re lacking excitement. Discos Intolerancia is giving full support to Los Fancy Free, I’m still confused, isn’t the double-feature Never Greens a 2007 release? The award should slide on the hands of Nene Records, they’re the exemplary picture of how to run a smart project keeping its vision and expanding it, they do whatever they want (or what their resources allow them to). Free music, great response from SXSW and lots of people talking about it.

Art Package
WELL WELL MR. WHALE, SUAVE AS HELL. Last year’s nominated lineup was fantastic, I must say this time is underwhelming. Yokozuna’s provocative cover fits the music and even puts ideas into my head, is that Jessy Bulbo showing off? Probably not. Twin Tone’s Capello di Mariachi is circular, nice condensation of the colors but also to simplistic to be remembered. I like Los Marty’s music a whole lot more than its artwork, the drawings are not that bad, but the font is just obtrusive. My preference is the pastel coloring in Well Well Mr. Whale, how can I not like a whale up in the sky hiding in between some clouds and rainbows.

Producer of the Year
MARTIN THULIN. Only three nominees this time, someone from Monterrey like Mou (Bam Bam, Mama Burger, XYX) or Bul (Album, Zozaya) should’ve sneak in to round a set of five. Yamil Rezc is getting more and more popular, his work with Subdivision is superb, the jury loves him, his production design for Le Baron definitely brought attention to one of Mexico City’s most demanded producers. But no one would be as deserving as Los Fancy Free’s frontmant Martin Thulin, not only is he responsible for the great production values of his band, but he’s forming a whole squad producing the brilliant Taras Bulba by Jessy Bulbo and Nos Llamamos self-titled debut.

Dance/Electro Album
TIJUANA SOUND MACHINE, NORTEC. Nortec for the win! This is probably my favorite category, and I get the feeling they’re throwing every single pop album here since they’re erroneously neglecting pop as a category. You know how much we liked Quiero Club’s Nueva America and Bufi’s Homeless Hero, still haven’t heard anything from Play & Movil Project but looking forward to it has great music around it. I’m not sure why Neon Walrus is in competition, is not a 2008 production, unless they extended the eligibility dates.

Rock Album of the Year
REPTILECTRIC, ZOE. Again, my wishful thinking asks for cheers towards Nos Llamamos, but after much examination of all the nominated albums, Zoe still has it. The best Mexican rock album from last year was Jessy Bulbo’s Taras Bulba, and En Ventura’s Los Gandharvas. Add Los Fancy Free and Bam Bam and we would have our dream lineup. There are some good tracks from Dirty Karma, but nothing special really, Simplifiers has the hype but not strong enough either.

Music Video of the Year
CLAP YOUR BRAINS OFF, NO SOMOS MACHOS PERO SOMOS MUCHOS. Even Kanye West liked the innovative techniques from NSM PSM and director Frank Beltran. It’s magnetically circular, perfectly choreographed and supportive to its rhythm. Austin TV’s animated “Shiva” is the cutest thing, would also make a great winner. Juan Son’s “Nada” is dark and raw, a surprising nominee actually. There’s nothing to get excited in “Maten al Criminal”, we get it, violence is black or white.

Other categories:
Live Act: Plastilina Mosh
Experimental Album: The Versailles Sessions, Murcof
Punk album: Taras Bulba, Jessy Bulbo
Rap/Hip Hop Album: Ai con permisito, Menuda Coincidencia
Best Solo Album: Taras Bulba, Jessy Bulbo
Indie Music Publisher: Marvin

"Controlar", Ceci Bastida x XXXChange

The Fader has an exclusive freeload for Ceci Bastida’s “Controlar”, it features XXXChange and has that electro popish sound we go all gaga for. I'm not sure if this track will actually be published on an album, but we’re highly anticipating Veo la Marea, which should arrive later this year. On the surface, this track is about a dominant figure taking himself way too seriously, but I got a feeling she’s talking about a beat, a genre or some musical element. If you’re into these kinds of tunes like we are, get yourself familiar with Colombian cutie Naty Botero, I’ve always felt this big link between Bastida and Botero and this hot tune confirms it.

♫♫♫ "Controlar" [Via The Fader]

Quantization Proclamation, Album

Delhotel, México ***
Rating: 65
By Carlos Reyes

We got introduced to Album very recently; they are a direct outcome of our thirst to find more music in the likes of Monterrey’s grandeurs En Ventura and Bam Bam. We quickly realized that Album was a major force in the new wave; some of our favorite music bloggers around were placing it very high on their year-ending lists, with all merit, Cancer Baby is a stunning winner. All this momentum crumbled as the band had supposedly split, we’re glad they only took a break to work on their many side projects. As you can see, the expectancy for their new EP Quantization Proclamation was far above the ground, it’s an album I really wanted to like and it’s quite good, but still a feeling of discontent does pop up considering how great the previous work was. High on mechanism, this is has the feeling of a political proclamation with no clear course, something quite parallel to reality, but the intended musical reform this EP aims for never actually works. More than exploring sound, Album tries to give it a shape pushing melody away and relying on virtual patterns; this is where electronic rock dances with experimentalism and leaves more than one ‘huh’ to its alienated listener. “No Diga Eso” succeeds above the rest for its hyper multi-layered lasers, the collapsed wavelengths of sound collapsing one another and the unifying vocals serving as round borders. It’s those same vocals that damage the next song “Jesus Quantizo Mi Beatbox”, the voices distort and displace any direction line the music is willing to go, harming the otherwise splendid music. It’s rather funny the title track mentions that “nothing happens if you don’t record voices”, this piece in particular is like the band is thinking out loud and that brings everything closer to the eye. One last track, when everything seemed to slide in middling evenness a last piece shows up and it’s a dazzling piece, “Adivinar” disassociates itself from the album’s flaws almost to the point of rewriting the proclamation to a moment of transportive cuteness.

TEGO CONTIGO QUIERO! "El Master del Reggaeton" - Afrodita

You have no idea how much I like Tego Calderon, my frustration of people misunderstanding his art is now gone; as expected, I think pretty much by now he’s proven to be the institution for Latin Urban and to me, if there’s a god, he would be as cool as this ugly mofo. See, I think that if he was given a fare chance within the alternative groundings, he would be as popular and iconic as Calle 13, he’s an amazing figure, worthy of among other things, headline any music festival out there. As Tego’s music continues to transcend, reggaeton in the other hand is dying (Arcangel’s first LP was not the expected jewel), would Calderon’s majestic vision save the genre? Afrodita takes a moment to declare him “El Master del Reggaeton”, it’s a spoof, it’s a smile, and it’s what you might expect from Afrodita. Remember to subscribe to our 'videos' (lol) on YouTube.

“Tego, contigo quiero!”

Feria Pop, Febrero

Independiente, Spain ***
Rating: 68
By Carlos Reyes

It seems like a good season for music releases in Spain, in particular new bands like Febrero applying the Radiohead In Rainbows ideal form of release, you know, allowing people to pay whatever sum they feel their music might be worth. Feria Pop is exactly that, a line of well structured colorful tracks waiting to be hummed. What makes Febrero’s third EP to stand out is that it actually has a concept, and it’s more of an event; it’s an afternoon at the fair, on a date, the premise is simple enough, but the moments coming out of it are like life itself. At first glance, they sound like El Otro Yo (from Argentina) in their healthiest season; they never get as catchy and fun as “Locomotora” but are a perfect fit for their target audience. The narrative places itself in the hands of love; Febrero does evoke some moments from childhood but makes it very clear that at any circumstance, love will be the dominant force circulating throughout the attraction park. There’s no surprising intro, “Tiovivo” does its job initiating the day with the popular fair waving, welcoming the listeners to this peculiar place, and promising they will have a fun time. Things jump up quick, “Montañas Rusas”, it applies the ‘life is a rollercoaster’ but other than falling into cliché, it opts for a muscular comparison between a person and his soul mate, this time rushing through a deep fall where they’re starting to fear one another. “Autos de Choque” is the best song here, bumper cars are plenty of fun and on a date they are a thrust for bonding, going over heels for protection and crashing obstacles out of the way. There’s no such romanticism here, it’s an intense place to be in, and it’s like trying to reconcile a relationship with pessimistic thoughts revealed out loud. Once “Laberinto de Espejos” arrives, the EP goes back to a state of calmness; the house of mirrors can be nostalgic sure, but not a flat condemnation, it is way too static and one-dimensional to actually work. Things get cool once again with “Pasaje de Terror”, the pop comes back to shift the moods of an uneven emotion, that’s until the afternoon and “Noria” shut down the lights, in a dark song of redemption and inglorious outcome.

"Nada Puedo Hacer" - Los Romanticos de Zacatecas

Yes, the blog looks different, you're not sick ... yet (just kidding, hope you're doing good). I have no idea what happened to the blog's template, perhaps it is infected or something, I'm trying to fix it, last week was too crowded for me, but expect lots of content this week. Anyway, the first update that poped up at our MySpace today was this pic from Los Romanticos de Zacatecas, you might remember the original pic and notice its scary transformation. So let's start the week with a very good song that's ironically titled "Nada Puedo Hacer", we like that they don't feel like they have to belong to Mexico's indie, their songs are kind of brave almost, and is kind of cool my non-spanish speaking friends think they sound just like Vampire Weekend.

Musica bonita para viernes desabrido: Children of the Moon. Unsexxy.

Two great happy songs for you today, the first one comes from Children of the Moon, an electro duo from Guadalajara that I’m digging a lot; is the project of Femmeboy and Iñigo, the former a quirky girl with a great voice, and the latter is a very cool DJ with several projects under his belt, one of them, Mutantek, previously featured on two of Club Fonograma’s Rocolas. They’re recording their first EP, there will be songs in Spanish!, that exclamation mark is necessary since we don’t get too much electro en Español, and just like that this becomes one of our most anticipated albums to hear in the upcoming months.

The second song is the Unsexxy caloron forever remix for Major Lazer’s “Hold the Line.” Unsexxy is Unsexy Nerd Ponies; I liked his Family Reunited a lot, and shared his badass track “Cave Cave Cave” in the Voy a Explotar Soundtrack. There are very few people I follow very close in terms of music taste is concern, and seriously his Tumblr Yo Te Amo has to be one of my favorite music corners, I make a daily visit, like it so much I’ve been thinking on inviting him to join the club. He doesn’t need to write anything to say so much, some people just got awesome taste like that.

Nos Casamos en Africa, Bi-Log

The Poni Republic, Venezuela ***
Rating: 67
By Jean-Stephane Beriot

The artwork of Nos Casamos en Africa doesn’t quite fit our reviewing format, Polaroid on Polaroid? I guess why not. This is the fourth Venezuelan act to release an EP through The Poni Republic, following the revelations of Todosantos, Jovenes y Sexys and Nuuro. Bi-Log is very lo-fi, the band and the sound coming out of them is naturally cute, I just wish these songs would actually transport me somewhere; instead, they do a good job salivating my thirst to visit another continent or revisit an emotion. It starts with “Lectura Obligatoria”, a very complex song that would seem like it took dozens of people to record, it is highly textured and nicely vocalized. The first impression is pleasant, reminded me of the now gone Mexican pop electronic group Fase or even Belanova’s first record Cocktail. “Devil Me” is all about identity; it asks somebody else for a little affection and help so she can “remember who I am.” Some of these songs need a higher centralization of vocals so they don’t drown in between the collage of sounds. The band breathes new life into “Issues”, a track by Hey Chica! (Whose EP is weak, but this song is quite good), even if Bi-Log doesn’t exactly make the song their own, this kind of collaborative works are thrilling and necessary, not to mention the long term friendships that come as an outcome from this. The fifth and last piece “Mi Sostenido” features Loocila from Jovenes y Sexys, whose voice has to be one of my favorites in today’s Latin pop. She plays keys and distant background vocals, so pay close attention to this multi-layered piece. The inspiration behind the album is more fascinating than the actual EP (read it on the release), and does give sense to the recurrent adventurous vibe felt throughout the album. A good start for yet another promising act from Venezuela, this group of young enthusiastic artists (add Ulises Hadjis & Domingo en Llamas) are giving us some of the best pop coming from our region.

Video: "Bestia" - Hello Seahorse!

Back in October of last year, I uploaded the track "Bestia" by Hello Seahorse! to youtube, as it soon will reach the 100,000 views, the indie hit finally has a video. News on their upcoming LP titled Bestia should drop in a couple of weeks. I was expecting a video like this, it's pretty awesome, I'm glad they kept the darkness of the track, like I told them back when I first heard it, "le apagaron las velitas al pastel." The video debuted yesterday on MTV Latinoamerica, a chick already uploaded on YouTube, first comment comes from the band, asking how the hell does she have that video, so it might not last too long under this account, so make sure to see it before they make her take it down. Remember that "Bestia" is part of the Voy a Explotar Soundtrack: Las Canciones de Maru y Roman, which you can download here.

La Casa Azul - Video Playlist

La Casa Azul is music remedy… what? Ok, never mine, just trying to sound as lame and melodically lousy as their music, thing is, Guille Milkyway finds great virtue in his bubble-gum pop and that’s why he’s got to be one of our favorite individuals in music today. For those who don’t know much about La Casa Azul, here is the catch; it’s actually a one-man show as opposed as the band you see on the videos. For a couple of years, Guille Milkyway kept this project as a “secret author”, using models on his videos and for T.V. performances. Music has changed, now that playback is almost gone he had to come out and to our surprise, the appeal has not dissolved a bit. For once, we must thank him for making one of the few anthems this decade has given us: “La Revolucion Sexual.” When I started listening to this it was a challenge to get my friends to join me, now La Casa Azul is a reason to get together (+ the music surprisingly does work great with Halo).

Video Playlist:
“Como un fan”
“La revolución sexual”
“Superguay” MP3
“El sol no brillara nunca más”
“Esta noche todos cantan para mi”

Rita Indiana > Miti Miti

I heard this dope song called “La Sofi” over at Harold’s really cool corner, I wasn’t too sure what to make of it, but it’s plenty of fun. So I contacted him looking for some info on the girl behind it, he tells me is Rita Indiana from Miti Miti, it was one of those ‘duh’ moments that still get you by surprise, this song was from a previous project. Miti Miti is a very cool project from New York, formed by two insanely sexy girls, Indiana Martinez and Raina Mast. I’m not fully convinced of the actual execution of their funky merengue in their album (Jean-Stephane says they're amazing live) but there is definitely talent there, in fact, plenty of expectation of what they might do next. Here are two tracks to get a taste; “La Sofi” in particular is insanely infectious.

♫♫♫ "La Sofi"
♫♫♫ "Darte"

Veracruz, Veracruz

Yo-Yo Industrias, Spain ****
Rating: 82
By Carlos Reyes

The disoriented rock stacks of smoky rock & roll come into a course in the self-titled second LP by Barcelona’s wicked kids Veracruz. The band has no regret sounding plainly rude with their ambient rock, they’re pleasantly vulnerable to get rushed by the urgency of its core, and yet delicate while constructing the noisy patterns that make this sophomore production a success and one of the year’s best rock albums (the best so far). Two things to consider, all the tracks here in English, something very common in Spain’s rock where bands release an all-Spanish album and then one fully in English.

Veracruz walks around the vein of the radical European indie, which includes the likes of El Guincho, Extraperlo, Joe Crepusculo, Triangulo de Amor Bizarro and others. But in terms of actual discovery, the band is closer to Mexico’s Nos Llamamos; both bands keep melody at a distance, but contemplate the element as a precious musical stance to admire and guard. The clashing and dusty opener “Odetta Satan’s Rum” might scare off our popish costumed friends, but it’s nothing to worry about, in fact, the actual execution is like a luminous awakening of the devil himself or the mysterious guy from the album’s cover.

It gets a whole lot happier with the potent and exotic “Port of Havana”, it’s a persecution of sounds and a hunt of love. “Mao-de-Pilao” makes the listener an accomplice, its arousing intimacy is discomforting and along with the next song track, “The Breaking Knots”, set up a bridge of bleakness and flair for a second set of songs that are in their own way, profoundly blissful. It’s as if Veracruz assumes that an eternal bonding has been created between these songs and the listener, and from that affiliation is that tracks like “Ex-Boxer” or “Them Black Bones” not only overcome their desiccated mood but be the backbones of this subtle enchantment. The album has a very limited vinyl run, but don’t worry, Yoyo Industrias is offering it for free download, you shouldn’t mind rapidshare’s limitations.

♫♫♫ "Ex-Boxer"
Download LP [Free on Rapidshare, Via Veracruz Blog]

"Mrs. Love" - Disco Ruido

Our friend Mateo Gonzalez (Bufi, Neon Walrus) sent us this hot tune from discoRUIDO! one of the many great acts from the Rudo y Cursi Soundtrack (upcoming May release by Nacional Records). “Mrs. Love” is centered from a sample by The Beatles, which by itself is a risky thing to do. But damn, this has to be one of the most uplifting musical moments to come out of our region lately. 8106 posted the song yesterday and the 152 kids that have hearted this song over at The Hype Machine merit a hit. Disco Ruido will be performing at this year's Vive Latino, they just got a whole lot hotter.

"cause you are the greatest project, feel the stars!"

Go to this LINK, listen to the song, if you like it (I'm sure you will), click on the heart, let's make this thing go all the way to #1.

"19" - Emmanuel Horvilleur feat. Gustavo Cerati

This is one of my favorite tracks from Mordisco, the great album by the brilliant Argentinean popstar Emmanuel Horvilleur. And certainly, I wasn't expecting a new single from him, more like a new album, but I'm happy to see Sony/BMG is taking good care of him. Releasing "19" (featuring Gustavo Cerati) as a single is nothing but a smart juicy decision.

Travelling Partners, DJ Raff

Mutante Records, Chile

Check this out, Travelling Partners EP is an amazing set from DJ Raff, a Chilean virtuoso who released his EP through Extravaganza! last October, 2 months too old to get into my top lists for this year, but if I had heard it on time this would’ve easily slipped somewhere among my favorite 40 records from last year. Expect some singles from this to place high during upcoming lists, particularly “I need a beat” featuring Maca Melendez which has been playing on my iPod a bit too much perhaps, wonderful track. I don’t think I’ve liked an urban-r&b track as much since Lil’ Rob’s fantastically catchy “Summer Nights.” DJ Raff takes a voyage as his start point and inspiration, recording these tracks in diverse conditions, magnetizing the vibes and warmth of the cities where these songs were recorded.   

♫♫♫ "I Need a Beat" feat. Maca Melendez
♫♫♫ "Soul Streets"
Download EP

MAP - Music Alliance Pact April

AMERICA: I Guess I'm Floating
4 Thing OneMop Yards
New Jersey's Thing One have been on my radar since last year when I first heard a few tracks from their debut album You'll Be Fine. Mop Yards brings traces of The Smiths and ELO into the new millennium with strange electronic warbles and dancey synth patches. Singer Joey Palestina creates a veritable summer anthem with the repeated line, "The heat is non-stop, hide the women in cop cars". Whatever that means, Joey, I feel ya.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
4 Chau FanBoletos De Tren
Chau Fan is a boy-girl indie folk (or anti-folk?) duo from Buenos Aires, starring Micaela Quinteros and Marcelo Lares. They both sing and play acoustic guitar, and in this particular song Micaela does a charming harmonica solo. Boletos De Tren will be part of Zonaindie's new compilation which features five songs from artists who have never had the chance to record in a professional studio (we invited them to the studio and helped them record). So consider this a MAP exclusive premiere.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
4 Lisa MitchellCoin Laundry
So, yeah, this could easily be an iPod Nano commercial, but catchy accessibility is hardly a terrible quality for a song to have. Who really expected a former Australian Idol finalist to produce anything of worth? This is a lovely song and I hope it gets overplayed.

BRAZIL:Meio Desligado
4 HurtmoldMúsica Política Para Maradona Cantar
There is no other band like Hurtmold. You have to listen and feel it. It's more than music, it's an experience.

4 Dinosaur BonesNYE
Dinosaur Bones are currently attracting all sorts of interest on the back of their debut EP, and this song makes it easy to see why. They blend together The National's world-weariness and a very English-sounding pop sensibility, with the end result something that's entirely their own.

CHILE: Super 45
4 The Same SkyWe Sleep Under The Same Sky
The Same Sky is the music project of Joseph Simon, a 15-year-old Chilean who was born in Canada. It is precisely this biographic fact that can define his music – warm guitar sounds of slow rhythm alongside a smooth voice heavily influenced by bands such as Beirut, Arcade Fire and The National. The recent release of his first album (Two Hearts / Apart Under The Same Sky) supports this feeling of songs as a perfect soundtrack for winter days spent at home, enjoying the natural melancholy.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
4 Ruhan DaisyWe Know You
There's quite a bit of post-rock going on in Scandinavia these days, one brilliant act being this Danish quintet. It's grandiose, funky with bits of (acid) jazz thrown into the mix and sports an equilibristic sense of detail. Ruhan Daisy's crowning achievement, however, is their catchy pop sensibility driving the complex compositions out of nerd-country into the mainstream. At least that's how it should be.

ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
4 Alessi's ArkThe Horse
Alessi's Ark is west London teenage sensation Alessi Laurent-Marke and here is the single version of The Horse from the Mike Mogis-produced new album, out next month.

4 PalmaRide Around
After a couple of years in the making, Helsinki band Palma recently released their debut album Be Bold And Mighty Forces Will Come To Your Aid. Palma refers to an old soda drink in Finland and the band, indeed, produce some refreshing indie-pop songs, rooted in the classic sounds of the 70s, and with a danceable groove. It's retro and modern. For fans of The Soundtrack Of Our Lives and Supergrass.

FRANCE: SoundNation
4 SundogsSo Close
Sundogs are a French band who live in London but play in both England and France. The group is made up of two guys - bassist Jeff ("le petit blond") and Pierre on guitar. The other musicians are French or English guests, depending on where they are playing.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
4 Lali PunaNin-Com-Pop
Lali Puna is another band from the great Weilheim circle led by Valerie Trebeljahr. Established in 1998, I consider them to have a higher creative potential than recently featured The Notwist, where her boyfriend and Lali Puna fellow Markus Acher is playing. Nin-Com-Pop is a song from their second album Scary World Theory. A new record will be released later this year.

ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
4 Lay LowLast Time Around
Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir is a 26-year-old half-Sri Lankan, half-Icelandic singer, born in London. She sings under the name Lay Low and her music is a combination of blues, folk and country. This year, Lovísa has already supported Emiliana Torrini on tour and signed a record deal with Nettwerk. Last Time Around is on her third solo album, Farewell Good Night's Sleep.

IRELAND: Nialler9
4 202sEase My Mind
There was a general air of being caught unaware in the Irish media and bloggers when this duo's debut landed on their desks. Without any gigs and already signed to French label Le Son Du Maquis, their charming Primal Scream and Broadcast-indebted indie-pop has skipped a few hurdles without skipping on the tunes.

ITALY: Polaroid
4 Gazebo PenguinsWallabees
A punk band that quotes Alfred Korzybski? Yes, please. The Name Is Not The Named is the title of Gazebo Penguins' new album and it's full of powerful hardcore in the style of At The Drive-In, with a nod to Motorpsycho. Sharp guitars, heavy rhythms, driving choruses and smart attitude.

MEXICO: Club Fonograma
4 Mexican Institute Of SoundReventon
Mexican Institute of Sound is a solo project by the multi-talented Camilo Lara. He just released his third album Soy Sauce, another celebration of Mexico's traditional music fused with funky tunes, electronica and the genre that's getting ready to shake the world again, cumbia. MIS is an explosive adventurous musical ride of our rich culture. They are preparing to perform at this year's Coachella festival and with songs like Reventon, it is sure to get the fiesta up in wild spirit.

NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
4 Three Legged HorseRed
Red is the opening track on Down, the debut album of Three Legged Horse, a trio from Waiheke Island, around 20km offshore from Auckland. The band bring together the grungy dark introspection of lyricist/vocalist Bede Taylor, the smooth powerful vocals of Gina Higham and the musicality of Aaron Carpenter into a combination much greater than the sum of its parts. Red is a good intro to an extraordinary album that melds acoustic country blues with dirty guitar and vocal grit and growls.

NORWAY: Eardrums
4 Dylan MondegreenAnimal (Hiawata! cover)
For this month's MAP I will present not one Norwegian act, but two. The performing artist here is Dylan Mondegreen, one of my absolute favourites in Norway. He is currently working on his second album, which should be released later this year. The song he sings is written by another favourite of mine, an indie-pop band from Oslo called Hiawata!. Mondegreen's cover of their song Animal was a b-side on Valley Boys, the first single from their second album, These Boys And This Band Is All I Know, due out soon on SellOut! Music.

4 AutobusVolver
Autobus formed in Lima in 2006 and released their debut album last year. Although they have a clear rock essence, they have electronic influences and a pop touch which sets them apart from their peers, so much so that many people are surprised by where they come from. They have made a good impression abroad, achieving their aim of drawing attention to the local scene.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
4 The ClitsLay Low
If there was a such a genre as electro-psychic-punk-rock-pop, The Clits would be the kings. It all started in 2006 when Carlos (guitars, keyboards and backing vocals) invited Ana Leorne (vocals) to form an electro-punk project, influenced by the riot grrrl movement and some of their favourite artists such as Joy Division, Bauhaus, Nina Hagen and Suspicious (another Portuguese electro-punk project). Their first record, The World Is A Mess But My Hair Is Perfect EP, was released in December 2007.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
4 PersonaMomentary Lack Of Passion
Inspired by Ingmar Bergman's movie Persona, this band belongs to the new generation of Romanian musicians that bloomed after the anti-communist revolution of December 1989. The group's members have been involved in the music scene since then, playing in several acts before forming Persona. Their music is, indeed, one of British influence but cannot be strictly labelled – the musical background and influences of each of the members, refined by experience and artistic maturity, blend together in the Persona genre.

4 There Will Be FireworksForeign Thoughts
Bands of the calibre of There Will Be Fireworks are far too rare, but that's not a bad thing because you'll end up appreciating them all the more. Although TWBF seem like the perfect new students in Scotland's renowned post-rock school, their take on the genre is far more moving and lyrically impassioned than anything that has gone before them. Foreign Thoughts, taken from the Glaswegians' forthcoming eponymous debut album, has the beautiful intensity of a Band Of Horses classic and will stay with you long after its three-and-a-half minutes are up.

SINGAPORE: I'm Waking Up To...
4 AstrealSnowflake
Some may say that when you're in love, the stars align. For Astreal, love is more of a cosmic collision course between stars and planetary bodies. In the unassumingly titled Snowflake, there lies so much destructive potential in a love so intense that, yes, even "the stars, they burn for you". Taken from their second album Fragments Of The Same Dead Star, the song combines the melodic infatuations of shoegaze with the aural impudence of noise-rock for a blistering and haunting love song that almost borders on maniacal obsession. Is this love? That's for you to decide.

4 ToxicbiasfleurivyParallel Assembly
GDM duo Toxicbiasfleurivy might not be the obvious choice for MAP but their latest album, Particles, provided an interesting exception from my usual listening when it was released late March. Electronic, experimental and pretty much the opposite of easy listening, the listener is advised to enjoy astral emotions while digesting this music inspired by quantum physics.

SPAIN: El Blog De La Nadadora
4 AnntonaNunca Es Tarde
Apart from his membership in the band Los Punsetes, Manu has a solo project called Anntona, in which he makes the best pop songs imaginable. He has just released his second album, En La Cama Con Anntona ("In Bed With Anntona") which contains 10 fizzy and addictive pop pearls such as opening track Nunca Es Tarde.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
4 The Late CallLinnea
The Late Call is really just one guy (and friends) from Stockholm named Johannes Maye. His debut album, Leaving Notes, chronicles the long distance relationship he had with his girlfriend. The record and this song has an organic feel on account of the mostly acoustic instrumentation. Linnea is a perfect example of the gorgeous pop you can expect from The Late Call.

To download all 25 songs in one file click

Somos Nerds y Nos Aburrimos en las Fiestas, Geekcore Vol.1

Geekcore, México ***1/2
Rating: 70
By Carlos Reyes

Geekcore is the latest Mexican net label we’ve come in contact with; they love mechanics, pixels and robotic sounds, in short, geeky nerds making music. Their releases remind us of the beginnings of The Poni Republic although the poni has never really reached this level of happiness. Somos Nerds y Nos Aburrimos en las Fiestas is not their first release, but it’s a great way to introduce Geekcore as it embodies the general idea of their interesting project. It’s not exactly a catalog compilation, but it’s definitely gives us hints of what’s to come and most importantly, what direction and risks they’re contemplating for future releases. Among the 11 artists that collaborate on the album, there’s only one familiar face, pepepe participates with “sobredosis de te” who had released a Remixes EP with The Poni Republic and has continued to electrify us with almost every remix he drops lately. Dañez vs. Rifhes open the show with the exhilarating “see u fallin”, a congruent clash of electro beats rasping through beautiful vocals. The next two acts, Lumen Lab and Los Bendings make their contributions with rock gloomed tracks, the Geekcore now stands out with versatility and knows how and when to expose its tricks. Another standout tracks include “half army drms of war” by Mary’s Cancer and “dear random honey” by Easily, both carry a great deal of melancholy with them and reconnect with textures the emotional depth of the overall futuristic compilation.   

Romancero, La Bien Querida

Elefant Records, Spain ***1/2
Rating: 79
By Carlos Reyes

The most awaited debut album in Spain in a few years finally arrived; Romancero by La Bien Querida is the ultimate point of conversation and debate among music journals. The leak of her Maqueta, which includes seven of the tracks from this first official album, has been praised enough particularly as it is seen as a stimulating revival of the romantic Spanish song; ideally constructed out of pure lyricism and good vocals, which Ana Fernandez has no problem excelling on. The critical reception is split between those expecting a continuum of what was leaked, great songs without supreme production behind it (don’t want to call them purists), and those that appreciate the cacophonous density of an actual grounded first production. So is this the immediate classic we were expecting for Spanish pop? It probably isn’t, but it spotlights an artist with everything in her favor to achieve a classic very soon. Aside from the inflated expectations, Romancero is actually a great first album. Ana is a fantastic songwriter, she isn’t afraid of reaching the peak or hit bottom; the songs can sound lousy and still hold space for possibilities. The first three tracks “Ya No”, “Corpus Christi” and first single “De Momento Abril” are highly elevated in the new production; the orchestration on these tracks is quite supreme, not in excess but enough to feel glossy and straightforwardly classy. Next track “A.D.N.” continues the magic and becomes my favorite moment of the album, in part for the vocal collaboration of Joe Crepusculo in his most charming and dazzling dimension. When “9.6” shows up, it distorts the solid formation the first four tracks had built; the upbeat here is quite ridiculous, it wants to prove a song can be melodic regardless of its rhythm and although it’s a great idea, it doesn’t work as an actual motif. This idea shows up again in another flawed track “El Zoo Absoluto”, which sounds rude to the ear with the radical potency of its strings. Once Romancero returns to the initial feeling with “7 Medidas de Seguridad” it’s a great relief, and although it never fully recovers, La Bien Querida still offers one of the best pop albums from a new artist this year so far.

♫♫♫ "Corpus Christi" (demo from Maqueta)