Carmen Sandiego - Joven Edad

Joven Edad, Carmen Sandiego

Independiente, Uruguay
Rating: 80 ★★★★

by Blanca

If you were a trendy kid circa 1996, you probably owned a digital pet of some sort. In the great Giga Pet vs. Tamagotchi debate, I was Team Tamagotchi all the way. Give me a weird blob of a creature over a digi dog any day. And, yes, I actually owned one that I may or may not have named Fiona because I was really obsessed with Tidal. But let’s not delve too deep into my childhood. What’s great about the song “Tamagotchi” on Carmen Sandiego’s Joven Edad is that, as the chorus tells us, the Tamagotchi (or family of Tamagotchis) is a better therapist than an actual therapist. Living a separate life with this “familia japonesa, aunque los fabrique un niño taiwanés,” solves all problems, apparently. This virtual pet as therapist model works because it provides a sense of control. You alone are in control of the virtual world of this pet and can alter it by feeding it on schedule, playing games with it, and disciplining when necessary. But as a long-term solution, it is problematic. After all, a Tamagotchi’s lifespan isn’t that long and, once it’s gone, you still have reality to deal with – realities like love, heartbreak, and fear, all of which Carmen Sandiego tackles cleverly on this album.

“Lunes” is the album’s most tender moment because it conveys that “Sunday Kind of Love” (or Monday kind of love in this case) feeling with almost too cute lyrics and Monday morning sound effects, complete with creaking doors and a whistling teapot. This feeling doesn’t last forever, though, and the band gets to that later in the album. If you don’t listen to the lyrics on “Superado,” you could mistake it for a lullaby with its sweet xylophone and lulling guitar. If you do listen to the lyrics, it’s actually a passive (okay, maybe not so passive) aggressive, relationship gone sour lullaby and the most relatable song on the album because who hasn’t been at the “te odio tanto que a veces me duele y no, no quiero ser tu amigo,” but I’m not resentful point?

More explicit with its intentions is “Asco Al Sexo,” a strange and spooky tune about sex as something equally fascinating and repulsive. If you think about how much of the album is about sex in some way and about how it was somewhat inspired by the band’s horror upon first hearing Calle 13’s “Se Vale To-To” and watching the video for it, then this song is the pinnacle of the album. You, too, might have felt an “asco al sexo” after first hearing the line “aunque seamos primos, yo te exprimo.”

Before I listened to a single note of Joven Edad, I could tell I was into it. Any album that includes tracks with names like “Asco Al Sexo,” “Pintame de Gatito,” and “Tamagotchi” has to be good, or at least entertaining. But it actually took a few listens for me to really get into it. The album is the kind that you need to spend time with to catch all of its subtleties and quirks. And, once you do, you’ll appreciate Carmen Sandiego’s expert delivery. Named after everyone’s favorite elusive educational criminal mastermind, the Uruguay-based band makes self-aware, tongue-in-cheek music with a fantastic dry humor a la Leslie Nielsen (RIP) in The Naked Gun series. Think a monotone voice singing very matter-of-fact songs about kisses that taste like cheese and induce vomit (there's actually one on this album) and you’ll get the gist.

Musically, Joven Edad, is, for the most part, pretty simple and straightforward rock and roll. But in terms of tone and content matter, the band displays a great range that takes us from flippant, IDGAF to dark and bizarre to soft and sweet, then bitter without being too jarring. Though I love Joven Edad’s comedic moments, it isn’t a comedy album. There’s much more to it than that. But like any great comedic routine, it’s all about the timing and delivery, and Carmen Sandiego’s got that down to an art.

♫♫♫ "Tamagotchi"

Video: Valentín y los Volcanes - "Piedras al Lago"

Valentín y Los Volcanes was one of the most notorious breakthrough bands in Argentina, their debut album Play al Viejo Walkman Blanco brought them enough critical acclaim and fan following to call them a true revelation. While we were busy compiling our end-of-the-year lists, they released this really cool 8bit-looking video for their album’s best song “Piedras al Lago.” The video is nicely introduced by no other than Daniel Johnston, or a pixelated extension of his brilliant bipolar mind: “they’ll play their music, and I’m excited about that.” This version of the song is different to that on the album, but keeps those desolated melodies that have made bands like Los Punsetes and Niña among our favorites.

Juan Cirerol - Ofrenda al Mictlan

Ofrenda a Mictlan, Juan Cirerol
Vale Vergas Discos, Mexico
Rating: 84
by Carlos Reyes
Think of Mexicali, then think of Nashville. Think of Michael Salgado, then think of The Tallest Man on Earth. You might feel like I’m adjusting your ink cartridges but I’m just setting the tone for this one (cheesy enough?). You could consider this as an exercise for the extension of the mind (and the music horizon), but that would be somewhat offensive, instead, think of it as a warm-up for one of the warmest, most heart-felt albums we’ve received in a while. But we can’t go on into a rave review without making a confession; it’s distressing to know just how much we like this, it’s quite disturbing actually. Mexicali’s Juan Cirerol could be classified as a Norteño folk troubadour, a storyteller, a romantic, a stylist of the popular song.

Ofrenda al Mictlan is an emotional album that reconciles Mexico’s popular music with country blues. The tactics are questionable, barely authentic, but show brilliance through every decision Cirerol and his spirited guitar take. He is not the first one to aspire to make a folk-norteño record (please don't think Nortec), but he might be the first one in our generation to triumph (at least on a personal level). Mexican icons Rockdrigo Gonzalez and Rigo Tovar did something similar at their prime, but this is much more substantial as the target audience is the young mp3 consumer, the indie kid who probably feels uncomfortable around his parents records. It might not be the mind-changing album that would make a kid say, “this is cool”, but it’s a progression towards that. Of course, this is just one of the many uses and readings of the album. As clearly expressed in "Como La Ves Carnal", clearly Juan Cirerol is less concerned with its intellectual use. Nice idea to release it on a label named Vale Verga Discos.

Club Fonograma’s staff is mainly of Mexican decent, so it’s easier to spot the qualities that make Ofrenda al Mictlan so transcendental. Since the first track (“La Banqueta”), the Mexican-nes is noticeable and quite generous. Quickly, you’ll recognize references (or at least remember) hardcore Mexican bands such as Los Alegres de la Sierra, Los Originales de San Juan, Los Inquietos del Norte, the humor of Piporro or El Tri, and from time to time, the subtleness of Joan Sebastian. “Crema Dulce” and “Hace Mucho Calor” have enough country in them to be featured on CMT and enough indie-flair for Pitchfork. But no matter how consciously pop this album might be, it’s hard not to classify it as a great rock record. Cirerol’s expressionist practices allow him to blur the lines of genres, and it’s almost intimidating how comfortable he seems to be in the middle of that entire idiosyncrasy.

There’s room for improvement on the aesthetics department, but that’s probably one of the factors that keep Juan Cirerol’s music from becoming too cartoonish. Some would argue he’s embracing stereotypes, but this is sincere folk music we’re dealing with. Among the most sympathetic pieces are two originals by Los Pikadientes de Caborca (remember “Cumbia Sobre El Rio”?). The album’s most friendly and charming song “Toque y Rol” is the heart of the album, it tells the story 'as it is', stripped down to a raspy profound voice and affectionate strings, towards the end of the song he starts to mumble, drugs do that. Is this the ultimate definition of rock&roll? Probably not, but in a contextual culture where thing are hard to hold on to, Cirerol’s bared talents translate as hugs, the emotional range and powerful songwriting are the backbone of a one-man’s poetry that’s in itself, a nation’s legacy.

♫♫♫ "La Chola"

Michael Mike - Nena o Neno

Nena o Neno, Michael Mike
Independiente, Argentina
Rating: 73
by Carlos Reyes

“La musica que yo sigo escuchando.” You might think disco nights are the same all around the world, but South American disco nights are frivoled to say the least. Everyone finds in disco, the excuse to embrace the flesh and the fetish; the screams of today’s ‘glitching.’ For the past six years, Argentinean sextet Michael Mike has been dropping off-the-wall dance tracks; they’re ready for mass-consumption, but that’s of course a delusion of our hipster minds. The pulse by which their songs are born is a menace, they melt the minute they push the buttons, and turn melody into glassy and all-around wax.

Unlike some of their contemporaries (Crystal Castles, Bang Raiders, She's a Tease), Michael Mike’s music never feels like it’s been taken over by the machines. It feels incredibly human, yet again, you don’t risk much with disco; the genre is exciting and arousing all by itself. Where Nena o Neno succeeds is in delivering shamelessly eye-popping songs. “Lo Que A Vos El Amor” is a fully disavowed pop song, it might be on a spaceship, but what makes it great is the vulnerability of the chorus, pure late-night bliss. If Miranda! and Emmanuel Horvilleur are good at dismembering pop music, Michael Mike tears it apart, just give “Aveztruz” a spin (you’ll see an ostrich loose its feathers one by one).

Michael Mike isn’t fully emancipated from rock music, and while disco and rock go hand to hand, sometimes the overload can turn into a mess. Instead, I’d say the band should go even further into synth-wax; it would excuse the occasional Hip Hop moments in the album as well. “De Baile” and “Mi CD B” are suspenseful, and carry some serious tropicalia rhythms with them. Like its wonderful title, Nena o Neno is a bit bipolar, yet gripping on both sides. Michael Mike is aware they’re making songs and not just dance music, that is, the backbone of the album, the appreciation of its text.

Featured: Hypnomango - "El Mundo No Es Real"

Feature: Hypnomango - “El Mundo No Es Real”
Nene Records + Miut Records, Mexico

This is our favorite new song, to put it in better context, we were waiting for a song as good as this one to officially welcome the New Year. Something about a song named “El Mundo No Es Real” is immediately grabbing; the concept of isolation at such affirmative terms is moving, almost heart-trenching. Here we got a song that’s almost cheerless (“nada es real”), but self-responsive (“yo ya no existo”), in its own fuzzy way, it’s celebrating its existence, and that’s just what we need for a fresh start. Well-punched sequences, self-destructive drums and dissonant vocals describe Hypnomango, the new hot band from Monterrey.

Originally a one-man band by Rene Rodriguez, Hypnomango fell into the right hands a few months ago, as Nene Records’ leading man Mou (Bam Bam, XYX), who offered his excellent craftsmanship as a producer and drummer. We can’t emphasize it enough; Mou is one of the most creative individuals in Mexican music today. Hypnomango will bring its raging nostalgia and undeniable noise pop into record next month, through the release of its still untitled debut EP via Nene Records and Miut Records. “El Mundo No Es Real” could translate into “No Hope Kids”, but this one is actually alive.

MP3: Suave As Hell - "Talvez"

Suave As Hell - "Talvez"
Track from: Suave As Hell
A couple of Mexican publications included Suave As Hell as one of their favorite Latin albums of the year, so apparently, the anticipated full-length album by Guadalajara’s Suave As Hell is officially out. Their first release wasn’t virtually known (or as acclaimed) until it was properly leaked, so their new one might need that kind of viral push. The band unveiled two tracks of the album, the leading single “Maravillas” (download here) and the wonderful “Tiger in a Cage" (released on Matinee As Hell's third compilation).

They’ve just liberated a new goodie titled “Talvez”, perhaps their most accomplished track yet. They make every sound bit float with an effortless, almost psychedelic edge. Hardly as sing-along as “Controlling the Sun” but it’s innocent and meticulously reflective, a tale of gullible love. Oh and, whoever is doing the art for the new album deserves a medal of honor.

♫♫♫ "Talvez"

Creo Que Te Amo, 107 Faunos

Creo Que Te Amo, 107 Faunos
Discos Laptra, Argentina
Rating: 70
by Carlos Reyes

While not every band in the world wants to make a statement with their timing, it is quite noticeable whenever a band doesn’t seem to want (or be able) to make songs longer than two minutes. This is the case of Argentina’s 107 Faunos, a band that serves from a generation’s urgency and need for flashy, short-lived experiences, including our encounter with rock music in an era The Strokes have classified as “the modern age.” Creo Que Te Amo is the band’s second album, an appetizing 14-track record that puts the Buenos Aires band on a safe, yet compelling ground.

The album’s title is a great companion of my timing rule theory; a generation’s fear to commitment and overstatement is immediately suggested. The themes and topics of Creo Que Te Amo are those of the adolescent years where uncertainty overshadows positivism, which is why the band probably starts the album with the weirdly profane “Scottie Pippen y Yo.” The album follows with mostly unexpected numbers where the band shows as much eclecticism as many of today’s avant-pop practitioners (Star Slinger, En Ventura, Girls, to name a few). The band has the right amount of instrumental backbone, charismatic vocals and cool aesthetics, but it misses actual melody. “Noche Spooky Tropical” is the album’s most obvious ‘single’, and although great at deconstructing guitars, it submerges melody to the point it becomes aloof.

Where the band does triumph is at processing a post-punk sensibility that takes them outside the lo-fi nugget territory and into more stable ground. Not to say they’ve turn into a standard mature act, “Muchachita” still breathes garage nostalgia, and it’s got plenty of cowbells as well. Sometimes the band is so comfortable that they end up in truly unsuspected places, “La Gloria Secreta” totally sounds like something from the 31 Minutos repertoire. The best tracks in the album come at very end (“Movimiento de las Montanas” & “El Jefe de los Malos”), where they leave the monotone prototypes behind and find strength in group-shouting choruses. It’s the intensity that counts, not the lasting seconds, enough for an "I think I love You" record.

Featured: Midiset feat. Fakuta - "Tonos Cromáticos" (Tropical)

Featured: Midiset feat. Fakuta - “Tonos Cromáticos” (Tropical)
Independiente, Chile

Chilean pop took Club Fonograma by storm in 2010, as we once put it, “it’s the collective well-measured sound involving numbers, distances and form.” It’s difficult to predict if 2011 will be as fruitful, but we’re hopeful. Midiset is a powerpop act in the line of De Janeiros and Maifersoni; their songs aren’t as textured, but definitely profound. “Tonos Cromáticos” is a rework/remix by house favorite Fakuta, who added vocals to their song “Tropical” and came out with a beautiful track that’s nothing less than a stroke of genius. Midiset’s watchful and revelatory shifts demanded beautiful on-action lyrics, “cuando me hace girar, cuando lo veo girar.”

Fakuta’s well-punctuated vocals build up the beautiful bridges she’s starting to be known for, like Robyn or Teengril Fantasy, the amount of emotional performance here is wonderfully euphoric. She sings about unresponsive rhythms and coordination with her heartbeats, but above all, there’s a sense of rendition in both, Fakuta’s profile (“Amar y Desarmar”) and Midiset’s “Tropical” that speaks straight to the heart. This rendition, like that of falling in love, finds the strength to let go through the unveiling of disco strings (halfway through the song), as she has finds the coordination of her heartbeat when she sings “frecuencias de movimiento sideral, de bailar, nos vamos a encontrar.”

Video: Los Ginkas - "El Gran Salto"

Los Ginkas’ Ongi Ibili Pop Abilly was one of our favorite EPs of the year; it arrived a bit late into the year (for us), but just as we pointed out on our Best Albums of 2010 special, it was the perfect set of “sticky songs” for us to spotlight them as one of the bands to watch in 2011. Well, it seems like they’re ready to start the New Year with the release of their full-length debut Retumbarama (out now on Spicnic Records). Los Ginkas’ pop flows with great ease, so much it could sound a bit cartoonish, we happen to like that. First single “El Gran Salto” (video via La Pagina de la Nadadora) sounds like what you would expect from an up-and-coming Spaniard pop band, but it’s risky nonetheless (crowd-vocals are always hard to coordinate), also, I swear I hear Panda Bear’s “Bros” somewhere on the background.

MP3: Astro - "Pepa" + "Pacifico-Atlantico" (Los Espiritus Cover)

Astro’s “Maestro Distorsion” was without a doubt, one of the indie hits of 2010, particularly in Mexico, where it ended up on several publications’ #1 spot as Song of the Year. On Christmas day, Astro unveiled one of their most peculiar songs yet, “Pepa”, a rare recording for Radio Horizonte (as explicitly embossed at the beginning of the song). They claim to have found what they call, "la super felicidad."

The song is quite a ride; immediately grabbing with those increasing synths and walking chords, later becoming somewhat hypnotic, as the song progresses into a state of drug-induced dream. In the song, a guy is transformed into a tree, or a forest, something like that.

Astro always succeeds with songs derived from the subconscious, most impressively, they manage to transform them into uplifting generational jams. Who knew true happiness could be found with a cherry’s overdose? Reminds me of that great Neil Patrick Harris-meets-Unicorn sequence in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.

As a bonus track, we’re also including an MP3 link to Astro’s awesome cover of Los Espiritus’ “Pacifico-Atlantico”, Club Fonograma’s #3 song of 2010 from Nostros Los Rockers.

Xenia Rubinos - Elephant Songs EP

Elephant Songs, Xenia Rubinos
Independent, USA
Rating: 75
by Blanca Méndez

Brooklyn-based Xenia Rubinos has an endlessly intriguing voice that is at once nostalgic and refreshing. It has a familiar warmth, like returning to your childhood home after years of absence, and a mesmerizing theatrical range that is best suited for the stage. Rubinos herself has said that her recorded music does not quite measure up to her live performances, and, after listening to Elephant Songs, one understands that the kind of drama that is on the EP is probably best experienced live and that Elephant Songs is only a small taste of Rubinos’ arresting vocal talent.

The EP begins quietly with the minimalistic “Elephant,” an elegant lament with restrained percussion beneath soft layers of vocals. “Pan y Cafe” is a short, boisterous track with mischievous wordplay in which the “pan y cafe” starts to sound like “panica fe” as the song becomes increasingly raucous. The verses are spoken by Rubinos and the chorus is a manic back and forth between Rubinos and her drummer, Marco Buccelli, that is charmingly unruly. “Ultima” begins with overlapping handclaps and murmurs that feels like those film sequences in which the protagonist is unable to focus in the middle of a dizzying crowd, then it goes into an upbeat, cheery melody that then slows down before going back to the melody and ending in a frantic repetition of the word “ultima.” At first it seems disjointed, but these different parts of the song are like the different movements in a symphony, they can stand on their own but are better together, driving a single plot.

Perhaps the most charismatic song on the EP is the playful and rambunctious “Los Mangopaunos.” With its onomatopoeic pots and pans rhythm section, it sounds like it belongs on one of those quirky children’s TV shows or like something the weird kids would sing on the playground. More than anything, and maybe this is just me, it’s what I imagine a Sandra Cisneros song would sound like. But its sound is one that is so involved that it cannot be categorized or really properly described. Rubinos claims Cuban and Puerto Rican children’s songs and rhymes, gyil music of Ghana, and José Martí as influences, and it is on this song that this range of inspiration is most apparent.

Each song on the EP is uniquely captivating and a promising sign for Rubinos’ upcoming full-length album. But because it is only four tracks long, Elephant Songs feels abrupt and incomplete, which is a shame because there’s a fascinating narrative there that cannot properly develop in just over 15 minutes. I guess we’ll have to wait for the album for the full story.

Club Fonograma's Best Films of 2010

25. J'ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother). Xavier Dolan
24. Greenberg. Noah Baumbach
23. Norteado. Rigoberto Perezcano
22. O Estranho Caso de Angelica (The Strange Case of Angelica). Manoel de Oliveira
21. The Crazies. Breck Eisner
20. Prodigal Sons. Kimberley Reed
19. Ne Change Rien. Pedro Costa
18. Singularidades de uma Raparinga Loira (Eccenntricities of a Blond-Haired Girl). Manuel de Oliveira
17. Blue Valentine. Derek Cianfrance
16. Liverpool. Lisandro Alonso
15. Amer. Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani
14. Alle Anderen (Everyone Else). Maren Ade
13. Black Swan. Daren Aronofsky
12. Alamar. Pedro-Gonzalez Rubio
11. Un Prophete. Jacques Audiard
10. Somewhere (Sofia Coppola)
09. Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Edgar Wright
08. Exit Through The Gift Shop. Banksy
07. Kynodotas (Dogtooth). Yorgos Lanthimos
06. Winter's Bone. Debra Granik
05. The Social Network. David Fincher
04. Año Bisiesto. Michael Crowe
03. Carlos. Oliver Assayas
02. Fish Tank. Andrea Arnold
01. Lourdes
Jessica Hausner

Javiera Mena - Hasta La Verdad Remixes

Javiera Mena’s monumental sophomore album has raised the bar high for any Latin Pop Albums in the next few years, as you know, she once again, topped our lists for Album of the Year and Song of the Year (“Luz de Piedra de Luna”). Needless to say we are also very surprised and disturbed by her absence on this year’s Vive Latino lineup, simply ridiculous. Despite efforts from fans across Latin America (including a TrendingTopic hashtag), she has yet to be added to the fest.
But moving on into more positive news, she has released a 9-track remixes album for her single "Hasta La Verdad", in Andrew Casillas’ words, “the zeitgeist of 2010.”

The remixes are up for free download on Javiera Mena’s website, but it took us almost half a day to download it, so we’re attaching a more reliable link (via WeLikeItIndie). The MVPs in this round are the great remixes from Rebolledo (the extension), Astro (the prism), Lucrecia Dalt ( the mirror) and Pablo Bello (the bounce). Not included here (since it’s not a remix) is Joe Crepúsculo’s mesmerizing cover for Nosotros Los Rockers, in his words, “una version tosca de una bonita cancion.” Also not be missed, is an acoustic version of the song, stripped-down to guitar chords, so vulnerable and so beautiful.

Video: Dënver - "Los Adolescentes"

No one, and we mean no one (not even Mena) had more amount of critical success this year than Dënver’s Música, Gramática, Gimnasia. It’s the one album this year that had overwhelmingly positive reviews from every corner; particularly in Spain and the U.S. The album provided us with a few anthems, including the album’s second single “Los Adolescentes,” the catchiest track in the album. Music video directors Bernardo Quesney and Milton Mahan leaded our Best Music Videos of 2010 list with “Lo Que Quieras” (Dënver) and “Música y Discos” (Nueva Orleans), and now these two visionaries bring us another mesmerizing clip for a song that might just summarize our generation’s dilemmas. The video has a few less shots, less action bets, and less NSFW than El Guincho’s “Bombay,” but it’s hard not to want to be there: the perfect weekend, true paradise.

Club Fonograma's Best Albums of 2010

40. Carmen Sandiego - Joven Edad

Independiente, "Superado" ♫♫♫

Named after everyone’s favorite elusive educational criminal mastermind, Uruguay-based band Carmen Sandiego makes self-aware, tongue-in-cheek music with a fantastic dry humor a la Leslie Nielsen (RIP) in The Naked Gun series. Think very matter-of-fact songs about kisses that taste like cheese and induce vomit. There's actually one on this album. Musically, Joven Edad, is, for the most part, pretty simple and straightforward rock and roll. But in terms of tone and content matter, the band displays a great range that takes us from irreverent and IDGAF in “Destape” to dark (and kind of weird) in “Asco al sexo” to the soft and sweet, almost twee “Lunes.” - BM

39. Hello Seahorse! - Lejos. No Tan Lejos

MUN/Nacional Records. "7 Dias"

Being labeled as Mexico’s new great band is a heavy title, but Hello Seahorse! keeps things in perspective, persisting on a personal artistic approach that’s unattached to their increasing popularity. By now, many of us have completely forgotten about their sunny-bright beginnings. In a matter of two years, Hello Seahorse! grew up into a multidimensional band with the ideas and skill to merit universal acclaim. The album is not an extension of Bestia, this is more of a transitory album where they have set new horizons. Their vision is blurry and their ambition is profound, yet Lejos. No Tan Lejos (produced by Money Mark & Yamil Rezc) is an interesting step on the band’s competence to test and stylize music through nostalgic lens. - JSB

38. Los Mil Jinetes. Reconoceronte

Cazador. "Tarde Muy Tarde" ♫♫♫

Describing Latin America’s latest input on indie-folk as secondary garment is not an insult but a fitting quality on music’s extraordinary ways to manifest its force. Chile’s Los Mil Jinetes belong to this group, an impressive and nostalgic embroidery comprised by the Itinerant and almost nomadic musicians Andres Zaneta and Fother Muckers’ lead vocalist Cristobal Briceño. Los Mil Jinetes made quite an impression with their wonderfully titled debut Andate Cabrita, a standout among Chile’s blooming indie scene. Reconoceronte is a huge step forward, not only is it full of wonderful song but its production is also impeccable. Los Mil Jinetes employ trippy vocal harmonies and splendorous vivid instrumentation, all adding up to cacophonous depth and occasionally, layers of pure hippy magic. - CR

37. Los Ginkas - Ongi Ibili Pop-Abilly

Independiente. "Un Dia Raro" ♫♫♫

This was the last album to slip into our iPods this year, and indeed, it’s as slippery as it can get. It’s today’s trend, but lo-fi rock has always sound better with female vocals, even better if they’re formulated on a school-choir format. In “De Golde y Porrazo”, Los Ginkas sing about sticky songs and a sort of collective dance project, something they call pop. In the next song, “A Casa”, they argue their feet are slipping away (“no ves que se nos van los pies”), as if the catchy pop-punk they created takes a life of its own. Less sunny than Best Coast and less twee than La Casa Azul, Los Ginkas deliver a great presentation EP and place themselves as one of the bands to watch next year. - CR

36. Chancha Vía Circuito - Río Arriba

ZZK Records. "Caracol" (Tremor)

Pedro Canale and his Chancha Vía Circuito project is the latest ZZK outpost dedicated to exporting cumbia digital outside of its South American domain. On his full-length LP, the wonderfully titled Río Arriba, Canale continues to propel ZZK’s mission statement of hazy, indigenous-aping/sampling shuffle step, while also expanding the boundaries of the genre outside of the brash-beats of Toy Selectah and King Coya.Indeed, Río Arriba likely has more in common with indie records like Espíritu Invisible than any of its parent label’s excellent compilations. The dance beats moves at a hiker’s pace; the rubato steeped in a steady groove. Under lesser artists, the pacing would be at a risk of inducing boredom, but Canale still fits his share of grooves in throughout. - AC

35. TV Gamma - TV Gamma

Cazador. "Tan Normal" ♫♫♫

“Es la revelación de tu imaginación, atento, viene la programación.” Beyond the multiplex and on to absolute engagement, TV Gamma’s disinterred debut combusts on its own landscape, yet it storms its beauty from the ripeness of the moment. That awesome album cover is warning enough, the album is at an alarming stage of manifestation, with all senses pointing to a desired symmetry. With the help of up-in-the-air pedals & reverbs, mystified drums and distorted hooks, TV Gamma constructs a naturally divisive self-titled record, some will flee from boredom, and others will appreciate a set of 10 songs with prime encoding. Like cautious entrepreneurs, TV Gamma is the kind of band that surveys the ground they step on, which is why their lo-fi aesthetic feels a bit ecstatic. TV Gamma’s mechanisms are questionable, thrilling, confusing and ultimately, effective. - CR

34. Balún - Memoria Textil

Sgulp! Records. "Muchas Muchas Veces" ♫♫♫

Aural hues, infectious vocals and sophisticated 8bits; Puerto Rico’s Balún crafted one hell of a good mini-album, one that blossoms as it gets unfold. The New York-based band has been under our radar for a while, finding proper momentum through the release of EPs, singles and a bunch of compilations. Recently, they released the captivatingly forlorn and ghostly “Camila”, which is actually an upfront from their forthcoming LP, the second in their career. The song revealed a sharp, awe-inspiring and clear-headed Balún, Memoria Textil might be an ‘in between mini-album’ but what a wonderful endearing surprise.The band is still branching out their sound, holding their feet in that sort of substantial equation where they’re still allowed to chase themes and music channels. It’s nice to see they don’t just stop at brainstorming and actually find texture along the way. - CR

33. Fother Muckers. Si no tienes nada que decir entonces calla

Cazador. "Decirlo y No Decirlo" ♫♫♫

Fother Muckers is one of those bands you learn to recognize through the years but get lost in the bunch. They don’t show much personality beyond their cool band name, nor is their music immediately arousing, but I always find myself interested. With four releases under their belt, the band is earning respect and a well base of followers, their latest installment is sure to conquer more hearts. Si no tienes nada que decir entonces calla is their most inspiring moment yet. While the album’s title doesn’t do much for me, it does find its place throughout the album. Not to say this is an album framed by positivism, it rather avoids choice while still holds its pieces together by means of experience and yes, some tricks. - CR

32. Chikita Violenta. Tr3s

Arts & Crafts. "The Pause"

Let me be the one to call Chikita Violenta’s Tr3s as the one intimidating record to Club Fonograma’s staff this year. It’s the one album this year we observed from a distance. It might be its progressiveness or that it’s just a pretty damn hard record to immerse in. It has taken months to see it unfold, and as expected, it’s flourishing with menacing beauty; so much, it feels so right to give it a spot on this list even if we never had the balls to properly review it. With such memorable songs as "Roni", "Tired" or "All I Need's a Little More," this is a not to miss record. With repeated listens, you’ll learn to respect it as a friendly pedestrian record, appreciate its narrative arcs, the coy sound and the subdued atmospheres. - JSB

31. Calle 13. Entren Los Que Quieran
Sony Music. "El Hormiguero"

Placing yourself into any sort of zeitgeist isn’t fundamentally difficult (see any number of reality television “stars”), but maintaining your place in the cultural cognizance without shredding either your dignity or your integrity is, for all but a select few, virtually impossible. Yet here’s the point that the boys of Calle 13 find themselves in at this exact moment. If their career trajectory dovetailed quite nicely with the stagflation of the reggaetón era, their present situation finds them as the acknowledged flag-wavers of Latin pop music’s infantry. Today, they are the sound of Latin hip-hop; they are the mainstream; they are your grandfather’s favorite “young” group; the once-underdog now the establishment. - AC

30. Maria Rodés. Una Forma de Hablar

BCore Disc. "Lo Que Hay Que Oir"

Rodés’ songs have the immediacy of modern folk, not as extreme as the irreverence of anti folk, but decidedly fun, honest, organic, definitely fresh, definitely strong and particularly mesmerizing. Think Sufjan Stevens and then try to think Juana Molina at the same time. Maria brings truly memorable melodies to the table, sorta like (instant) classic, timeless melodies; gorgeous yet simple and (as it’s been said before when referring to her) naïve tunes that work perfectly as canvases for her truly felt, sincere lyrics, which mainly deal with the matters of relationships, people, thoughts. Everyday things any young girl could relate to. Birds chirp, more hiss, wind, wind instruments. Maria Rodés and her 2010 album, her first under her own name, Una Forma de Hablar. - JMT

29. Prisma en Llamas - Aeropuerto Extrañamente Blanco

GsshGssh Records. "El Primer Amor del Lobo"

If the waters of compositional avant-pop heaven were to congregate Los Planetas with Animal Collective and El Guincho, it would sound something like Prisma En Llamas. This hot new band from Madrid hints back to some of the late 90s art-rock, to that exciting time frame that anticipated a new millennium by wanting to jump into the future while dragging the goodies from the past. Aeropuerto Extrañamente Blanco converges the spacious conditions of a band that can be both, catchy and abstract, delivering uneasy songs heavy on harmonies and vocal assembly, while keeping an indeterminate idiosyncratic profile sure to surprise more than a few. Aeropuerto Extrañamente Blanco is only 13 minutes long, rarely has a band revealed so much at such conditions and resources, simply gorgeous. - CR

28. Las Robertas - Cry Out Loud

Art Fag Recordings. "Back At The End" ♫♫♫

Skuzzy riffs, cavernous drums and a nosebleed, things you're likely to find in Cry Out Loud, the outstanding debut from Costa Rica’s all-girl punk band Las Robertas. Somewhere in between Sonic Youth, Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls, the band acquaints tropical fervor as means of idiom, immediately sounding as confident and vigorous as Spain’s punk-tropic bands Triangulo de Amor Bizarro and Veracruz. Las Robertas morphs from a cultural gap (for the good or the bad), one that could justify their English lyrics and their anxiety to dress up lo-fi as 21st century epoch. Cry Out Loud is comprised of ten mesmeric pieces that go from cold to sweaty, always keeping a cohesive charm that enforces the practice crying out loud as long as one smiles out loud. It’s this kind of fainted subtext that raises Las Robertas from the crowd of punky chicks trying to exemplify today’s riot girl. - CR

27. Piyama Party - Michael Esta Vivo

Delhotel Records. "Porque te hiciste blanco?" ♫♫♫
“Praise the goddess and pass the lube.” This is how Piyama Party’s latest EP, Michael esta vivo, starts and how I know it’s going to be a good time. Not that I expected otherwise, given that last year’s Mas Mejor was one of my favorite rock albums in recent memory.In terms of musical style and subject matter, Michael esta vivo is all over the place, which is actually quite impressive considering that the EP is only seven short songs. The way it goes from garage rock to hip hop to country to electro and covers everything from porn to border violence to love and self-esteem might be confusing to some, but it makes perfect sense for these irreverent rockers. - BM

26. Protistas - Nortinas War

Cazador. "Volar en Llamas" ♫♫♫

With one foot on a shadowed hallway of Nirvana’s Bleach, and the other on a bright empty house in Santiago, Protistas’ sound is both, fundamental and cacophonic (on its most positive definition), humid and overwhelmingly mellow. Although straightforward and painfully human, Nortinas War is hardly meant for mass-consumption. Like many of today’s -revived- old-fashion aesthetics, they are a band that yearns for flannel shirts as a way to step back into bare essentials. Title track “Nortinas War” ventures on an indie-folk arena, keeping vocals out of the landscape for most the entire song, building echoes and bricks of redemptive chasm, so when the vocals do arrive, they’re tender dreamy whispers and the broken pieces of an inner-war mayhem. - CR

25. Napoleón Solo. Napoleón Solo En La Opera

Independiente. "Perdiendo el Tiempo"

Napoleón Solo En La Opera brings some of the year’s greatest rock songs; tormented vocals ("Lolaila Carmona"), disco-induced synths ("De Noche"), unpolished hooks ("Hola Que Tal"), and a whole list of unforeseen mechanisms, above all, it’s the one rock album of the year with a personality. Every Latin hipster got disco-strings Diabetes this year, but Napoleón Solo provides an unmeasured cure with steady drums and reasoning rumbles, that are also very mainstream-friendly. It’s not as avant-garde as the usual albums that show up on our year-end list, but this is one of the most beautifully crafted albums of the year, fully to the edge and in the middle of our youth rush. - JSB

24. Aias - A La Piscina

Captured Tracks. "Aias" ♫♫♫

We use to think "La Truita" was a homage to la tortilla, when it's actually a homage to the omelette, we're still in absolute love with it. When reading any text, one must appreciate the music form & aesthetics before consuming the text’s actual topics, this breaks any language barriers without the cheesy ‘music is its own language’ cliché. Aias’ debut A La Piscina is a personal music venture with the charm of a scrapbook and the right rhythm sections. In fact, this album is probably the greatest revivalist moment since Tijuana No!’s “Spanish Bombs” cover. Without subordinating into the themes of the lo-fi renaissance, these three ladies deliver an exhilarating debut; it’s concise (on its own terms), nostalgic and practitioner of the hand-to-hand throwback. - JSB

23. Prehistóricos - La Orquesta Ocúlta

Independiente. "No Tenemos Remedio" ♫♫♫

Prolific songwriter Tomas Preuss and his bandmates Jessica Romo and Felipe Moreno take their name seriously. They make music that is primal and instinctive and untarnished by modern embellishment. The band was inspired by Fernando Pessoa’s ideas about human imperfection that he expressed in The Book of Disquiet (“everything we do, in art and in life, is the imperfect copy of what we thought of doing”), as well as his ideas about the complexity of self and the many separate selves in each person ("my soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tamboura I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony”). Prehistóricos’ debut album, La Orquesta Ocúlta, explores all of these complexities and imperfections thoughtfully and honestly. - BM

22. Astro - Le Disc De Astrou
Wash Dishes. "Raifilter"

Astro arrives to Chile’s awesome scene as the new divisive kids on the block. When I say divisive, think of it in its most literal understanding; the love and hate generated by Astro’s galactic-induced songs speak for themselves and reaffirm the band as one of the most arousing and provocative revelations. When we first encountered the band Astro was the luminous project of Octavio Cavieres and Andres Nusser, two young guys driving a spaceship, a couple of months later and they found themselves recruiting two other pilots, a sign of success. “Maestro Distorsion” (a hit on the rise) brought them attention right quick; Le Disc De Astrou hopes to find its place and ground. - CR

21. Ceci Bastida - Veo La Marea

Independiente. "No Me Conoceras"

Enter Veo La Marea and experience the aggressive mantra, the summation of militant songs made out of well-executed ideas and sonic venture. After providing a generation with a true classic as “Pobre de Ti” and making the best version of “Spanish Bombs” one can think of with Tijuana No!, Ceci Bastida’s solo career is at full throttle with Veo La Marea, her compelling and completely triumphant first solo album. While most female singers around chop their emotions through sympathetic corners, Ceci’s serves from aggressive styling, which can be beautiful too, and above all, very rhythmic. Veo La Marea is not an angry album; it just reveals actual warmth from social-political topics and relationships through unsuspected, captivating stern. It’s Ceci’s ownership of the medium what makes this a revelation album and one of the year’s essentials. - CR

20. She's a Tease. Millonaria

Happy-Fi. "Calabozos y Princesas"

Those of us not fully immersed in Mexico’s independent scene might not understand the expectation for the debut album by She’s a Tease, apparently, one of the most anticipated albums in years. Outside, they were virtually unknown; it’s fair to say that to the rest of the world, they were officially born with “Datos Intimos”, an indisputable anthem of 21st century love. Monterrey is home of the new school of cool Mexican bands, She’s a Tease might be the most hip, mad-decent friendly act in the country. Once you pass their image and the trends, there’s a tremendously talented band behind Millonaria, home of some of the oddest and coolest ideas put into record this year. Millonaria is worthy of much of its hype; it’s a mirror ball, an achievement. - JSB

19. Julieta Venegas. Otra Cosa

Sony Music. "Eterno"

Otra Cosa—the feeling that Julieta Venegas is calm, collected, and at ease with herself and her work. It’s a common argument that great art stems from conflict and turmoil, and there are certainly examples of this in every form. But art doesn’t cease to exist when the tide begins to subside. Pop music, in particular, can’t entirely rely on a single emotive aesthetic. Pop music is an art of a disposability unsurpassed by anything besides cooking. Otra Cosa is not some mind-bending breakthrough that transcends sound, it’s not the sequel to Bueninvento, it’s not fundamentally different from anything the singer has done before—who said it had to be? It’s simply another solid Julieta Venegas record in every sense of the word, with all the hallmarks and idiosyncrasies that have made her one of the most important figures of Latin music’s past 20 years. - AC

18. Torreblanca. Defensa EP

Independiente. "Nunca acabo lo que empiezo"

Juan Manuel has come a long way since cutesy songs a la “Pancakes” or “Nada Me Saca de la Cama”, his music has evolved into songs that are hard to spoil, between the brimming and the transcendental, and the nihilist soundscape. Under the format of a band, Torreblanca exclaims autonomy in all four tracks that comprise the captivating and far-fetched debut Defensa EP. And it doesn’t hurt to have Andrea Balency as a member of the band; she does some of the most outstanding vocals I’ve heard in a while. This is a pop record worth of investment on just about any of its layers; it’s polite, agonizing, audacious, but most of all, an overture of music’s very own virtues and contradictions. Torreblanca’s anxiety to portray pain as a valuable, healing and untamed resource for inspiration. A wonderful, edgy and ferocious debut. - CR

17. Delorean. Subiza

True Panther. "Simple Graces"

First things first: What do we make of Delorean? Are they the sunnier form of the “chillwave/glo-fi/tapecore” movement? Are they basically a Scandinavian blisscore techno act in Xavi kits? Are they really just a rock band with house accents? In reality, they’re obviously a mix of all three propositions. They share the same passion for effects processing and shoegaze affinity as your Washed Outs and Neon Indians, the same sunny exterior and dreamlike harmonies of the Tough Alliance and Air France (who is perhaps their easiest single comparison), and it certainly wouldn’t be a stretch to accuse these guys of owning a Booka Shade 12” or two. What sets this up-and-coming Spanish band apart is how they choose to blend all of these elements together: as equals, something that’s readily noticeable upon first listen to Subiza. - AC

16. Rey Pila. Rey Pila

Sony Music. "Suspira"

Like the best dark comedies, Diego Solórzano’s debut album as Rey Pila is a masterfully crafted narrative that toes the line between tragedy and comedy with impressive agility and creates a functionally dysfunctional family of songs. But unlike most dark comedies in which the humor is masked by the morbid, the music’s cheerful melodies and buoyant rhythms almost betray the melancholy and disenchantment of the lyrics, while allowing the gloom to float just below the surface. This sounds hard to pull off (because it is), but it helps that Rey Pila delivers the vocals with a cheeky and irreverent, almost smug self-awareness, which is a departure from Solórzano’s less subtle days in Los Dynamite. The result was a half in English, half in Spanish, clever and misleadingly upbeat album. - BM

15. Klaus & Kinski. Tierra, Trágalos

Jabalina. "Mama no quiero ir al colegio"

The genre-defying Spanish group Klaus & Kinski haven’t quite figured out what they’re about. Or maybe they’re not willing to compromise just yet, and that is apparent in their latest album, Tierra, trágalos, which might be as close to a multiple personality disorder diagnosis that an album can get. At times they are bouncy and irreverent like Bam Bam or Capullo, but then they’ll be spacey and wistful like Juan Son or Bat for Lashes, and later on they’ll be elegant and majestic like Beirut. And while that might seem off-putting, in this case it really is the more the merrier. With Tierra, trágalos, Klaus & Kinski demonstrate that it is the versatility of their eclectic sound that is the band’s core strength. - BM

14. La Ola Que Quería Ser Chau. Películas Caseras

Discos Laptra. "Hijo Mio" ♫♫♫

Aching romance in the midst of an unsettled party-going background, infectious guitar riffs, and cheering kids living the dramatic moment buoy the extraordinary new release by Argentina’s La Ola Que Quería Ser Chau. Like some of their contemporaries (Black Kids, Los Campesinos), it would be extremely easy to dismiss them as plain revivalists, but with this much acquired sonic rupture, their punk-to-disco qualities and their young-blooded progression are just too much of a good thing to overlook. The warmth of Películas Caseras is the warmth of a jam-packed household of friends and memorable songs. They prove romance is not boring and that every heart-bleeding instance should be confronted, even if that means you’ll keep documenting your revolution with a Sharpie and asking your folks for vitamins. - CR

13. El Sueño de la Casa Propia. Historial de Caídas

Pueblo Nuevo, "Acomodate en el Suelo" ♫♫♫

There’s nothing really original about Historial de Caídas . Actually, now that I think about it, there’s nothing really original about El Sueño de la Casa Propia, either. I mean, glitchy, sample-fueled electronica has been making its way around clubs for the past 20-25 years or so. Much of this kind of stuff could rightfully be accused of being easy, lazy, boring, or confused (I’m looking at you, Greg Gillis). However, there are certainly exceptions that float up from time-to-time: You've Come A Long Way, Baby , Since I Left You, and Thunder, Lightning, Strike are perhaps the quickest that come to mind—and for good reason. Each of those records is a complex, dedicated, and gutsy album, yet also built-up a sincere and engaging narrative that kept their unapologetic thievery (in the legal sense) from seeming wrong and empty. - AC

12. El Guincho. Piratas de Sudamérica
Young Turks. "Cuerpo Sin Alma"

El Guincho was working with exclusively personal moods (Alegranza!) —you had to be there in the first place in order to grasp the feeling. Of course, it didn’t help that that debut album was stacked with cacophonous sampling and instrumentation—you couldn’t exactly be blamed for not loving every song on it, especially if you aren’t the type of person who salivates over Animal Collective leaks. But on Piratas de Sudamérica, El Guincho trades the disparate sound collages for “straightforward” (by his standards) covers of the Cuban and South American songbooks. And it’s fantastic. El Guincho has delivered on his debut’s substantial promise, expanded his sound, and established a greater foundation of personality all within this 5-song salvo. Hopefully, the rest of his Piratas series will hold serve, but at the least, he’s given us a lot to enjoy, absorb, and remember. - AC

11. Los Punsetes. LP2
Recordings From The Other Side. "Estilo"

Scattered rock is best when dotted by peculiar nostalgia, even better at the hands of an enfant-terrible band like Los Punsetes. This hot band from Madrid is the real deal when it comes to rock melting geographical distinction; in a sort of Atlantic Ocean adventure, they have managed to surpass their celebrated debut with LP2, a splendorous set of songs deeply carved in pop’s perplexing bizarreness. With the help of producer David Rodriguez, they've polished one of the best albums of the year. LP2 is a killer, a reunion of exquisite songwriting and top-notch execution. For those completely unaware of Spain’s pop idiosyncrasy, this might be a hard album to sell, but this album is guaranteed to wash away any kind of self-esteem obstruction preventing you to stop for a moment and laugh at yourself or the person next to you. - CR

10. Lido Pimienta. Color

Independiente. "La Minga"

Colombian darling Lido Pimienta would qualify as one of those true shining definitions of artistic truism. Her artiste qualities as a singer, writer and illustrator not only speak for themselves, they outshine their own spectrum.The structure of the album is simple, delightful songs divinely connected to Lido’s vivid persona, all envisioned and executed for the senses. Her gifted vocals direct her songs on cosmopolitanism and inner strength/choice. “La vibracion te guiara... y la musica te calma y sana”, it goes beyond its words to literally loop music from one state to another, and from one purpose to another. Lido understands composition and art as an ongoing stimulating medium (‘the triangular prism’). Having said that, her songs display as much personality as musicality. A stunning debut whether in chops or its entirety. - CR

09. El Guincho. Pop Negro

Young Turks. "(Chica-Oh) Drims"

While the album was evidently meant to be more put together, and it succeeded in that mission, my main issue with it was its lack of narrative. It’s trajectory was a very straight, marked path that, despite having a clear route, didn’t seem to have any particular destination. In this, Pop Negro failed where Alegranza! and the more recent first volume of Piratas de Sudamerica (which I would have liked more time with before the release of a new album), succeeded. Even though Pop Negro is not the sartorial equivalent of a multi-colored, multi-textured, heavily accessorized Claudia Kishi or Clarissa Darling wardrobe that I had hoped for, it is still a masterful work of psychedelic pop in that it manages to remain clean and sleek even with all the layers of percussion. It’s an exercise in restraint that would make Coco Chanel proud. - BM

08. Carla Morrison. Mientras Tú Dormías

Cosmica Records. "Una Salida"

There’s something perfect about this record. Something terribly familiar without this meaning it’s neither fresh nor original. ‘Cause it is, and boy, how, how powerfully
fresh it is! It’s just that (I think) the world is about to listen/see/feel the birth of a new classic. And classics always feel like home. Carla’s voice is spectacular, heavenly, clean, sweet, lovely and electric. But maybe we knew that already. And her knack for crafting round, clever, unpretentious and unabashedly emotional and sincere songs doesn’t come as a surprise either. Yet here it’s just more mature, more acute, more polished… and deeper. But what I’m aiming at, it’s bigger, more mysterious and deeper than that. It goes beyond the five senses and straight to the heart and soul. And somehow Carla Morrison’s music gets it. And gets to me that way. - JMT

07. Odisea. Odisea

Oveja Negra. "Nuestra Casa de Violencia"

A one man’s odyssey is only as adventurous and transforming as his surrounding. If such backdrop is conditioned with the possibilities of a blossoming soundscape, an individual can march for his own cause and inspire its own revolutions (as imaginary or extraordinary they may seeem). Odisea is the work of an auteur at the peak of musical venture. Odisea is a personal record in-provision of Alex Anwandter’s pop virtuosity, and his relationship with Santiago de Chile’s self-analytical character. The ex-Teleradio Donoso vocalist is no longer apprehensive with the psychology and logistics of a generation’s dance floor flooded in tears (Bailar y Llorar). The man with the hypnotizing vocal highs and extravagant opus styling evokes Michael Jackson on his rebellion to confront Chile’s unforgiving vigilant mechanical eye and vigilantes. - CR

06. Gepe. Audiovisión

Quemasucabeza. "Ayelen"

Daniel Rivero better known as Gepe is today’s leading man in that very special and continuously surprising Chilean indie scene. So many times regarded as a pupil of Chilean icons Victor Jara and Jorge Gonzalez, he proves to be as essential for our generation in his latest album Audiovision, the work of genius. Starting his career with Gepinto, already a cult classic, means to have a massive weight under his shoulders, but Gepe’s miraculous abilities are subdued to his sensibilities, not only are his songs sincere, they speak about the man and the people and the land around him. If he had already shown flexibility in his two previous albums, his latest continues that breed of epic and sophisticated chants, those slices of intense rush that find themselves at a privileged spot in Gepe’s vision of high pop-art. - CR

05. María y José. Espíritu Invisible

Grabaciones Amor. "Maria Purisima" ♫♫♫

In terms of musical ferocity, Espíritu Invisible stands at its core. His songs could be described as unparallel chthonic cuts that march between the transcendent and the forgotten (and the ghosts). María y José is simply, a chillwave and nostalgic installment of pop music. The kind of assorted dream that is warped and wrapped through personal approach; Jimenez’s vision is wonderfully conflictive, breezy, and affectionate. An album that feeds from informality rather than practicing form. It sets up its dynamics to assimilate structure; notice the “este album no fue masterizado” hint on the album’s credits. If you practice music form it will be as hard to enjoy as Neon Indian’s Psychic Chasms, but if you instead, feel the form, get ready for an extraordinary album. From the refreshing militant sound to its aesthetics, this is a tremendous achievement. - CR

04. Dënver. Música, Gramática, Gimnasia

Cazador. "En Medio De Una Fiesta"

Five years ago when Mariana Montenegro and Milton Mahan initiated the Dënver adventure they weren’t expecting that a few years later they would have an international mob watching every one of their moves. They should get used to it, Dënver is no longer Chile’s best-kept secret; it’s unofficially, this year’s breakthrough band, the band the cool guys are listening to, the one band we love to cheer in full blasting celebration. Música, Gramática, Gimnasia is like a young adult masterpiece, a trial on error success of a duo in full command and affection to their art. You know when you ran a marathon and you see the final line on the horizon, and you start visualizing what’s at the other end, well, Dënver's album is the embodiment of that desired, assuring and cheering response awaiting at the other end. Gold medals for this one. - CR

03. Triángulo de Amor Bizarro. Año Santo

Mushroom Pillow. "El Baile de los Caídos"

Somewhere between medieval times and the arrival of sci-fi, the new great band from Spain crafted a genuine hybrid of monstruos spectacle and human nature. Even the most vanguard bands and revolutionary individuals have set parameters through conventional music form, but when music revisions not only past sounds, but the collective socio-cultural habitat by which it is surrounded, that’s a good sign for the millennials. Triangulo de Amor Bizarro’s sophomore album is either a masterpiece, or something to close to it. It’s fleshy, it’s raw and a catharsis, where sound crystallizes its own history by means of purgation. TAB’s thirst not only accomplishes to be curious, they bring tailor-made consciousness to the front of the line; “de donde sacas esos ropajes? parecen medievales.” - CR

02. Rita Indiana y Los Misterios. El Juidero
Sony Music. "Pasame a Buca"
Add Rita Indiana Hernandez to the list of extraordinary individuals who carry transcendence in every step of their creative spectrum. Rita, a visionary, dances around its own dialect, yet reveals her visceral experiences through universal language. Always drawn to apply her vision to new narratives, she found the monster that would allow her dialect to fully blossom, music, the kindest, most accessible medium. Rita had found the medium, but was out of her course, like the character of Silvia in her novel, she needed the warmth of her home country to blossom her revolution. Rita Indiana y Los Misterios blossoms on an age where music is more contextual to its media than to its locality. The sounds in El Juidero are the crowning pieces of ‘La Montra.’ We can’t put a definition to this music, but for the moment, let’s call it Musica Dominicana with universal eye. - CR

01. Javiera Mena. Mena
Union del Sur. "Un Audifono Tu, Un Audifono Yo"

Mena’s copious gestures are self-defining, self-driven, and self-pleasing; this is where her skills come in handy, she loops our generation’s flashy, anti-preventive narrative through her own skin and pop-glam commemoration. When approaching Mena, one must understand this isn’t a pastiche of chamber pop songs crafted for revival purposes, yes, the songs sound retro, but only because they’re channeled through Javiera’s revisionist sensibilities. Mena is instead, a diaspora of nine songs that are pushed forward into a gravity sprawl of prisms and shooting stars. Javiera is a pupil of pop music’s endless corners, with influences that go from Daniela Romo to Karen Carpenter, flirting around the Cocteau Twins, Juan Gabriel, and of course, Italian 90s music. This isn’t electro-pop or sophisticated kitsch music, this is pop idiom at its finest. - CR