Fonocast #7: Last Call

Fonocast #7: Last Call
by Blanca Méndez & Pierre Lestruhaut

The end of the year is a time to reflect on the past year, on events that changed you and the world you live in, on what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve surpassed, on the new relationships you’ve built and perhaps the ones you would like to rebuild. For music nerds, this time of the year is also a time to reflect on the music that made an impact. Whether it was because of their audacity or subtlety, polish or irreverence, production or delivery, there are sounds that stayed with us. And just when you thought we were done reflecting (an 100-song list seems long enough, right?), we’ve got a little more in us. For this podcast, the Club Fonograma staff compiled a playlist of songs that might not have made it on our list (or high enough on our list) but are still worthy of a little recognition.

  • Monte - "Cielo Aparente" (INDEPENDIENTE, COSTA RICA)
  • La Ola Que Quería Ser Chau - "Ey Bonita" (INDEPENDIENTE, ARGENTINA)
  • Babe Florida - "Gigante Vermelha" / "Coleção de Amigos" (TRANSFUSAO NOISE RECORDS, BRAZIL)
  • Ximena Sariñana - "Lies We Live In" (WARNER, MEXICO)
  • Francisca Valenzuela - "Buen Soldado" (SONY, CHILE)
  • Colateral Soundtrack - "Me enamoro cuando" (feat. Apache O'Raspi) (INDEPENDIENTE, MEXICO)
  • Los Poca Soda - "Solo, loco y abandonado" (COCOBASS, BRAZIL)
  • Algodón Egipcio - "El Escapismo" (LEFSE RECORDS, VENEZUELA)
  • Matilda Manzana - "Trópico Del Álgebra" (GRABACIONES AMOR, MEXICO)
  • Fakuta - "Aeropuerto" (MICHITA REX, CHILE)

Club Fonograma's Best Albums of 2011

40. Antoine Reverb - Everything is a foreign language to me
In the best of Club Fonograma tradition, every year there's an album in our list that, at least for publishing purposes, we like to refer to as the "hot potato" record of the year. Antoine Reverb's Everything is a foreign language to me was the one record every writer on our staff got its hands into at some point or another, passing it over and hoping the next person would do something proper with it. We couldn't get around it to review it, but collectively, we can pretty much agree this is a close to outstanding album. Perhaps it's the over-assumed outlandish feel derived from its title, or the fact that it's got a song titled "No Universals," but this is the kind of alienating text that first pushes you away and later on reconciles with you through its seasick, extrapolating melodies. In all its profound ambition, the band is unyielding of providing a crowd-pleasing experience, but cloaked-clouded albums can be beautiful too, especially when embroidered in this amount of rococo pop. - Jean-Stephane Beriot

39. Javier Estrada -
Ritmos del Mundo (Series)

Mixes, remixes, refixes, and originals from DJ Javier Estrada have been giving Soundcloud’s bandwidth a run for its money. Also catapulting his name to the frontlines of almost every relevant urban publication out there. The Monterrey-based DJ is building an impressive resume, melting genres and cultures alike with culinary effervescence in his series Ritmos del Mundo. Even more interesting is the fact he’s currently the melting pot of the nu-rural world villages, communities that include digital cumbia, guaracha, tribal, moombahton, ruidoson, and third world hip-hop. Estrada drops more mixes than we could possibly review or the general cumbia lover could hear, but he has recollected an impressive body of work in the four published volumes of Ritmos del Mundo. Estrada is still in limbo when it comes to approaching actual structures and space, but with the expert advice of Diplo and Toy Selectah, he seems destined for an even brighter future. - Carlos Reyes

38. Torreblanca - Bella Época
With exceptional talent, determination, and passion for creating music that transmits vivid imagery and sensations through finely crafted melodies and precisely chosen words, Torreblanca has rapidly become an audience favorite delivering highly complex pop music combined with confrontational structures that incorporate a great palette of musical influences like swing, jazz, and alternative rock. Torreblanca’s first full-length, Bella Época, is a captivating work crafted by a five-piece of distinguished musicians that, under the direction of visionary leader Juan Manuel Torreblanca, have created a record whose compositions, with a certain level of obscurity and irony, remind us of past eras that appear to be distant, comfy, and sometimes scarily violent. - Enrique Coyotzi

37. Mexicans With Guns - Ceremony
It's weird: it's usually the po-faced residents of the World Music ghetto who get caught up in some misbegotten politics-of-representation stuff, but this is as perfectly Europhilic, and apolitical, a bass record as anyone's made; how this has gotten filed under "música mexicana" so often is a little inexplicable.What Ceremony is most like, in fact, is an oughty-teens update of the nineties-era Mo' Wax/Ninja Tune template: stylistic shifts through all the colors of the electronic-music rainbow, peppered with exoticism like falling confetti, and focused on very-Now fractal syncopation and American-style trunk rattle. I might hazard that it matters some that he's a native of San Anton', but I'm pretty sure it doesn't, anymore than it matters that dyed-in-the-wool guarachereño Untold went to Mexico that one time. In the end, Ceremony comes hard enough to render its own presentation obsolete, and these days, that's saying something. - Jeff Siegel

36. Voz de Hombre - Hombre Solo
Though lately many of our favorite releases from Chile have been using disco as their ground for crafting great pop songs, Voz de Hombre’s first release, Hombre Solo, displays a different concept for creating great timeless pop music. Like many of the “michitos," Gajardo sets his music’s backbone on a ground constituted by minimal techno and its child branches of electronic music in order to give birth to songs that are traditional in structure and interpretation. Just think James Blake or Jamie Woon and all the talk there’s been about them reworking dubstep around traditional song forms and you’re actually not too far from what Gajardo’s doing here. Hombre Solo is the kind of album that manages to display a personal vision of pop music amidst a great deal of nods and references to other types of music, a release that can only make us feel more hopeful for the future of the idiosyncratic roster of the Michita Rex label. - Pierre Lestruhaut

35. Selena Gomez & The Scene -
When the sun goes down

When the Sun Goes Down is expertly produced and executed with the kind of poise and professionalism that can only come from having gone through the hated Disney machine. Riddled with cliches like "diamond in the rough" and "we'll sleep when we die," the album doesn't exactly reach great lyrical heights. But musically, When the Sun Goes Down is smart and well-crafted, a solid work of pop with plenty of party potential. I know many (or most) of you are skeptical. You may dismiss Gomez as just another product of the Disney machine, one that consumers will get bored with and discard in favor of whatever fresh-faced, wholesome youngster Disney is grooming to be the Next Big Thing. And you may be right. But, for now, it's great to have a young Latina so prominent in mainstream American music, especially one who such is a veritable force in pop, not just on Radio Disney. - Blanca Méndez

34. Las Ardillas - Las Ardillas
For over 10 years, Puerto Rican enfant-terribles Las Ardillas have not only shown signs of that runaway diaspora link, they’re so consciously into it that they’ve actually looped its urgency notions into noise-auteur transcendence. The self-titled debut record from Las Ardillas is a daring and sonically traveling piece of noise punk. Sharing two members with the universally beloved Dávila 666 (which has reached a must-enlist status in the music festival circuit) means a few things in the consolidation of Las Ardillas: 1) it has prepared them to contemplate a fondness for an intercontinental stage, 2) it has forced at least two if its members to make a homecoming to earlier roots (in sound and in mapquest), and 3) it has thought them about intellectual reshuffling. The unlikely entourage comprised by Gianky, Koki, Raul, Gio, and Latin Snake may lack the bushy tail appendages of the rodents they’re named after, but at least in perception and spatial memory, they’re more than assuring with their noise punk ecosystem. - Carlos Reyes

33. Violeta Castillo - Uno & Otro
At first listen, the 10 songs that shape Uno and Otro (five in each one) may not be particularly grabbing. This happens due to the length of the pieces (the majority of them last less than three minutes). It may be difficult for the listener to find something instantly memorable to grab onto in such a short time (although “Mi Cárcel” is an evident exception), especially considering that, while these are pop tunes, the structure they are built under is somewhat atypical. But Violeta's sharp craftsmanship is truly hunting. Presenting top-notch production by Tucumán’s psych-poppers, Monoambiente (Castillo’s favorite band), this is a provoking release that draws spectacular sophistication in the instruments it utilizes. There’s a placid flow throughout both EPs, ornamented by sharp electronic bleeps, texturized glossy synthesizers, and noteworthy rhythm bases that accentuate Violeta Castillo’s delicious guitar playing skills, as well as her sensitive fiber-moving singing. - Enrique Coyotzi

32. Kali Mutsa - Ambrolina
Celine Reymond, a Chilean popular telenovela actress, has smartly taken advantage of her performing capacities and elaborated the alter ego known as Kali Mutsa. Her imaginatively invented background indicates she’s a famous 90-year-old performer, yet she was absent from the musical world for decades, until she recently made her comeback to present Ambrolina. Each of the five songs included in her exotic EP are grabbing on their own, charged with unpredictable flavors ranging from Bollywood-esque essence to Andean music, nuanced with gypsy vibes and sophisticated quirky electro. Similar to what the Sri Lankan controversial rapper (M.I.A.) did with her debut album, Kali Mutsa’s expansive spectrum of influences result in a highly original work. - Enrique Coyotzi

31. Los Claveles - Nacional 42
The return of the 7’’ single is nowadays, one of the few current glimpses of the romanticism of the record. Empty alphabetized CD shelves are the horrific ruins of the physicality of commercial records. Indies are however, on a journey to become music collectors. If such transition causes a generation of MP3 & OGG buffs to start archiving music through discs you can actually touch or lineup, than let’s welcome such consumer conduct with open arms. One of the bands doing their share to prevent the record slaughter is Madrid’s new sensation Los Claveles. Their rock takes them back to the early (and dusty) progression of “new wave”, to a time-gap of stand-by insecurity regarding the genre’s future. The wave found glory with its contextualization of electronic equipment, but as Los Claveles show, the movement also left some string-wavers behind. - Carlos Reyes

30. Caravana - Caravana
It’s a beautiful thing when the personal approach becomes universal. I can’t remember the last time I heard a line diagram of bird chirping, bird calling, and bird singing and actually found it cute. This is the gorgeous vignette that surrounds Caravana, an album enriched by melodic muscle and moody cohesion. Quemasucabeza’s music director, Rodrigo Santi, departs from his previous music adventures (Congelador, Paranormal, Barco) to find his most intricate project yet, Caravana. Recruiting the MVPs from the prestigious label (Gepe, Pedro Piedra, and Fernando Milagros), Caravana is the extension of the one-man band into a perfect-pitched pilgrim. Caravana is woody but also garnished in an evocative fatalist crimson. It’s also the kind of half-broken album that’s more about its space than about its spirits. Slow-paced and obliquely self-indulgent, Santi’s solo return to the front stage plays as a surreal garment of compositional prowess. - Carlos Reyes

29. Varias Artistas - Se Puede
Four years ago, prolific Argentinean singer-songwriter Lucas Marti formed Varias Artistas, an ambitious project showcasing some of the finest and most buzzworthy female singers in the Latin pop landscape.Varias Artistas second collection, Se Puede, continues the momentum Martí established with the first album, Papá (Popart, 2007). However, where the first record was seemingly focused on influencing a non-starter of a gender politics debate with its song collaborations and subject matter, Se Puede is a far more celebratory affair, reveling in the sheer talent at its disposal. Indeed, the intonation from track-to-track shifts like the tide off of a coastal wave. The mix as a whole runs the heady gamut from precociously coy to sexually charged, and at no point does it ever feel disarmingly jarring. Varias Artistas project develop into something quite promising, and into something that smart and keen fans of outside-the-box pop music will hopefully have to look forward to for years to come. - Andrew Casillas

28. Adrian Juárez -
Tu Nombre Es Fresa

The indie kid totem is such a scary and sensible topic. It’s hard to imagine anyone arriving at progressive pop without ever going through the cutesy twee, folk-inflected initiation. When going back to it, you could either cringe (taking part in the collective backlash) or feel nostalgic, but once in a while an exceptional album comes along and you can’t help but to shoot back up into the dreamy clouds of indie pop and adjusting alarm clocks. On his first proper record, Argentine songwriter Adrian Juárez offers an irresistible music sachet of seemingly harmless (yet heart-arresting) melodies in an album that’s ready for the winter gift wrap. There’s nothing really groundbreaking about Tu Nombre Es Fresa musically, aesthetically, or in its personality, but look further into its proportions and you’ll find an album that’s been gorgeously mounted and predestined to abduct a handful of your senses. -- Carlos Reyes

27. The Beets - Let the poison out
The Beets could easily be described as just another innocent lo-fi act from New York, but this Jackson Heights band of outsiders manages to compose atypical tunes that create an inimitable and infectious slacker rock garage sound and a delirious washed out image. There is a disconcerting authenticity and simplicity about them that perhaps only their live shows can reveal. With a kitschy Native American doll decorating the stage and Volz’s banners proclaiming auto-derisive slogans like “I’d rather watch paint dry,” Wauters, Garcia, and Mori’s evident chemistry and stage presence make these spontaneous performances seem like big dislocated parties where you feel happy you got invited. The whimsical, folksy experiment of Wauters once again captures the feeling of a chemically altered campfire sing-along session on Let the Poison Out, an album “about getting everything out of your system,” being yourself, and being free, which is arguably the best “collection of songs” the Beets have produced yet. -- Souad Martin-Saoudi

26. Babasónicos - A Propósito
A Propósito marks the band’s tenth studio album, yet another success in their fruitful career. Babasónicos understands the basics of discography digestion and, after a trio of precedent establishments (Infame, Anoche, Mucho), they’re back into the field of narcotized rhythms and baroque distortions. Babasónicos makes the most sylvan and thorny sexual songs (see the album cover), but this time around they all come with an extra sense of ceremonial hunch. These tracks include the masquerade-erotic suggestion in “Fiesta Popular," the love-on-a-boat shipwreck in “Tormento," and the savagely romantic “Barranca Abajo.” Babasónicos has never been the most optimistic band out there, and they almost go emo on this one. But there’s not much to be worried about; worst case scenario is you empty a bottle of wine and declare war on humanity singing to “Ideas.” A Propósito will hardly earn Babasónicos any new fans, but for those of us already on their bandwagon, it is a great chance to fall in love with them all over again. -- Carlos Reyes

25. Fother Muckers -
Entrega Tu Espíritu

The demise of Fother Muckers seems deceptively bittersweet in many fashions. For one, they aren’t exactly going away—the band has already announced plans to reassemble under the moniker Los Ases Falsos. As for lamenting their musical legacy…well, they hadn’t really built a substantial one. While they were certainly active in their time, releasing nine proper albums and EPs, they weren’t going out in some Relationship of Command-like last gasp. Fother Muckers was a good band that was getting progressively and measurably better but never quite hit that ceiling. It’s sad that this incarnation of the band is quitting while they’re ahead, but they aren’t exactly going away or squandering their potential. In that context, Entrega Tu Espíritu serves as a proper denouement to the Fother Muckers era, while slotting neatly into the band’s musical progression. The end-of-the-world vocals, the witty lyrics, the classic rock posture—the aesthetics are rote and familiar. But this record also packs in the most professional work in their catalog.-- Andrew Casillas

24. Poliedro - La Manifestación
The kick-ass album cover of La Manifestación makes the idea of the auteur-technician a reality. If you’re ever at an arthouse and you realize the sound isn’t as crystal-clear as in most Hollywood films, realize that burning-sound has an idea behind it. As far as breakthrough albums go, Poliedro’s La Manifestación is the embodiment of those grainy brave ideas comprising a truly great first album. Working with the most stripped-down tools of the lo-fi methods, this new Chilean one-man act has crafted a rainbow-hued EP built from all the corners of sonic complexity. And he does that, through atmospheric lens. Despite all the songs feature (some form of) vocals, not one track goes beyond the 16-character word count. The album’s title suggests the idea of a manifestation; a sign of existence, spiritual appearance, or the materialization of a revelation. Poliedro’s auteur approach to the premise is essential to the album’s triumphant results. -- Carlos Reyes

23. Hypnomango - Hypnomango
From Monterrey, Mexico rises René Rodríguez’ noise pop project Hypnomango. Rodríguez has recently become the guitarist and newest member of soon-to-takeover indie rock pioneers Bam Bam. Earlier in December of 2010, ClubFonograma's editor Carlos Reyes commented that Hypnomango EP killer-opening track “El Mundo No Es Real” “could translate into ‘No Hope Kids’, but this one is actually alive”, and I agree. Unlike Wavves’ Nathan Williams whose work, at its worst, can be perceived as a soulless experience (see 2009’s Wavvves), there’s plenty of life and mind-bursting energy in Hypnomango EP to assure Rodríguez as a passionate artist, one that might be seeking to achieve Thurston Moore/Lee Ranaldo status in the future. This EP might be just a warm up for the real deal, but what an amazing entrance to rock & roll. -- Enrique Coyotzi

22. Escuela de Trance -
Doktor Van Der Ger Ger Ger Ger

With acts like this, it’s really not difficult to feel excited about the young crowd of Argentine indie bands that have been blossoming these last couple years. But Escuela de Trance are really onto something of their own, to the point that sometimes they even remind me of the unfuckwithable band that is Deerhoof in pretty much everything I described in this review: being decidedly cute, pleasurable, nice to hear, but also straight-out nuts and incoherent. Still, what I like the most about these guys is that they actually managed to simultaneously create the album I was hoping other bands would: the erratically beautiful record Prietto Viaja al Cosmos con Mariano couldn’t pull off, the childishly charming Los Animales Superforros sort of failed at, and the musically challenging that La Ola doesn’t really seem to want to make. In the end they’re so terribly great because they’re making ballsy pop music like we rarely hear coming from the South American indie. And they’re actually succeeding at it. -- Pierre Lestruhaut

21. Helado Negro - Canta Lechuza
At this juncture in time, there is an overlapping presence of traditional instruments and electronic production tools. Yet, only a few folk artists play around in the surmounting pile of electronic gadgetry. During this embargo, we find an exception and a pioneer in Roberto Carlos Lange as Helado Negro. While previous work, Awe Oak, introduced an already dynamic Latin American folk artist, Canta Lechuza audaciously navigates through a new fertile territory in the same Latin folk vehicle, now powered by electronic energy. Canta Lechuza is a digital time-lapse photograph of the surrounding natural environment, which was taken during Lange’s month-long residence in Connecticut. While Lange actively processes his surrounding space and its organic life, he anachronistically places sound sculptures to visualize anatomical and atomic structures of nature. -- Adrian Mata Anaya

20. Luciana Tagliapietra -
Diagrama de Ben

Of gargantuan confection and gorgeous sophistication, Luciana Tagliapietra’s sophomore album, Diagrama de Ben, is an astounding collection of sonic motifs packed with enough progressive elements for an individual’s revolution and a collective warfare. Recorded in the fertile Tucumán Province in Argentina, this record nuances the solidification of Tagliapietra as one of the most exciting new voices on the continent. Targeting personal overhaul rather than crowd-pleasing delegacy, Diagrama de Ben arrives at grandiosity with a lavish orchestration worthy of a Renaissance affair and an allocated space in its digital environment. Tagliapietra’s instrumental wardrobe is rich and eccentrically hermetic, like a demoiselle’s turnaround toward social interaction. Yet, it is the songstress’ analog lyricism that also finds her as an immaculate renegade. -- Carlos Reyes

19. Los Mundos - Los Mundos
“It’s just that I can’t wait to see your face again,” claim Mexico’s newcomers Los Mundos in a climatic state of angst and clouded strings. Their name might be a derived fanatic upshot for Los Planetas, and the album cover of their self-titled debut might have a post-adolescent Little Red Riding Hood on it (well, that or some type of hipster witch, or nu evangelist). Yes, there are already too many maybes up for second-hand conclusions in this review, but really, what is shoegaze more than just a hazy feeling that is also, floating in the mist of pop music, awaiting for the endorsement of a generation of romantics to swell its transcendence to the rest of the pedestrians. Los Mundos carry their influences with so much charm that pointing them out would come off as obsolete. Impeccably timed and devoid of any fillers, Los Mundos is delightful - a work about the visibility of crescendos in a world of hazy melodies, topped by the duo’s assessment to make every action part of their idiosyncrasy. -- Jean-Stephane Beriot

18. El Medio - El fin del sueño del helicóptero personal
Leonardo Velázquez’s approach to songwriting is as personal as you can get. His subjects of interest are his own life, memories and experiences; his favorite medium to express them is a room-constructed arrangement of string instruments and ambient synth washes that are finally shaped in the form of a lo-fi home-recorded product uploaded for free on bandcamp. As much personal as it is DIY, yet it’s through his own DIYness that his songs excel as universal entities. Take his outstanding single “Que bueno que nadie piensa en mí” from last year. While its whole construction responds to all these different levels through which Leo developed his very own personal vision of loneliness, its appeal eventually resided in how it managed to transcend the small sphere of the songwriter and actually become a universal manifesto for the lonely kids of the digital era. The ones who would rather spend a Friday night listening to the stuff they downloaded through the week and waiting for a (1) to appear on their twitter account. -- Pierre Lestruhaut

17. Anna-Anna -
Last night I lit the moon

The woman behind this project is Manuela Leal, a Brazilian visual artist who moved to the U.S. as a teenager, but later returned to her home country, where she’s been making “indie electronic” music for less than a year. Her debut EP, Last Night I Lit the Moon, is the sort of record that’s immediately striking for its outstanding uniqueness and, because of this, it's a record that can be enjoyed both as an easy listening experience and as a wholly immersive one, where her distinctive soundscaping and jaw-dropping lines hit you even harder. Which is why easy comparisons can be drawn between Manuela Leal and other women making avant-pop, like Laurie Anderson, Trish Keenan (Broadcast, RIP), or even the rising Claire Boucher (aka Grimes). Yet, these comparisons would seem to be a lot more fueled by gender and overall edginess, than in an actual similarity in their distinctive approach to song-crafting. -- Pierre Lestruhaut

16. Mueran Humanos -
Mueran Humanos

For most publications writing about Mueran Humanos, an Argentine couple based in Berlin, it’s precisely their move from New World to Old World that has raised some eyebrows, primarily in how their music seems so tied to the musical heritage of Berlin and Gemany, despite them not totally dismissing their Argentine roots by writing their lyrics in Spanish. One might also easily see this as being in hand with the duo’s unearthly aesthetics, as most of these musical references refuse, or at least try to separate themselves from, the effortlessness and melodic appeal of pop music in general (though without wanting to explore the limits of noise either). Yet, in their greatest songs, Mueran Humanos actually find their beauty behind the heavy melodic work in their use of vocals and how it eventually manages to share pop music’s desire to gratify its listeners by treating them to something that is ultimately very pleasurable to listen to. -- Pierre Lestruhaut

15. Adrianigual - Exito Mundial
The national idiosyncrasy is the heart and cerebral consciousness of a country’s musical legacy. That secretive, almost tabooed understanding of existence and infrastructure gives music a national aroma. This is not a reflection of national pride, but a common denominator in how the romanticism of the arts is inclined to a form of collective absorption. In the words of Club Fonograma’s chairman, Carlos Reyes, “Chileans carry the poetic vein.” Almost mirroring the history of Chilean diplomacy, Adrianigual has decoded their storytelling abilities, appreciation of the music form, and techno-anthem ambitions into the realm of pop expression. Éxito Mundial feels like a tailor-made blockbuster full blown into a pop record. Adrianigual’s practices are often questionable and relentlessly aggressive, yet for every midnight escapade they also kiss the sun. Self-empowerment at its core. - Jean-Stephane Beriot

14. Astro - Astro
Crowds of deer running towards the golden sun, armadillos used as cannon ammunition, legged snakes with flashes on their heads, and watermelon tree branches growing out of the human body are only a handful of the fantasy cards that comprise something Astro has come to describe as “La Super Felicidad.” The self-titled, first full-length album by Chilean pop excursionists Astro is a liquefied, never-restraining plate of polyrhythmics. Designers of one of the most universally beloved indie hits to come out of South America in years (“Maestro Distorsión”), Astro is also the protagonist of one of the most divisive young careers in our Iberoamerican pop landscape. Having the melodically belligerent Le Disc De Astrou under their pair of full-spread wings, the lurching of Astro is just what’s needed for fans and retractors to sort things out. Colossally imaginative on every track and contentiously militant with its resources, Astro is beyond what’s suggested; it’s earnest. -- Carlos Reyes

13. Mentira Mentira - Meaningmore
Back in the winter holidays of 2009, before the exile of the Monterrey indie scene to the Mexican capital, our circle of trusted tastemakers made sure to build significant buzz for the new great band in town, Mentira Mentira. Two years later, the promising band has proven to be more than a stroke of infernal glow. The opening sequence in MM’s debut LP, Meaningmore, is a combustive line of resonant drums where MM’s conductor, Gaby Noriega, makes us jump drastically into a blood-rushing chase that seems to be spiraling from many blocks away. When the melody mutineer shouts, “Let’s keep on waiting!” one learns to recognize this procession as an admonition to formative rock and an amendment to the Mentira Mentira jargon. Meaningmore is the bewilderment of feeling meaningless in an absurd world. -- Carlos Reyes

12. Odio París - Odio París
Here’s a quick summary for the simpletons in the audience: Odio París’ debut full-length sounds pretty similar to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. So however you feel about that band’s first record, this album will leave you with pretty much the same taste in your mouth. Thanks for reading Club Fonograma! Alright, for the rest of you, here’s the low-down. This Odio París debut LP is fantastic. Like the sort of fantastic that makes you want to go to sleep ASAP so you can get up and go play this record for all of your friends the next day. Some people out there may instantly turn off when they hear white noise; some may still listen to Loveless once-per-week (for real, I know you’re out there). Whatever your previous experience is with this sort of rock music, Odio París is definitely a band that’s worth giving a precious listen to. Who knows? You may fall in love with them, or they may fall in love with you. -- Andrew Casillas

11. Juan Cirerol - Ofrenda al Mictlan
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. -- Carlos Reyes

10. Fakuta - Al Vuelo
It's a magnificent work constituted by ravishing pieces, precisely built under a meticulous architectonic conception. In a year where guitar-driven acts have dominated our radar, Al Vuelo’s intricate playfulness, larger than life audacity, and math pop grandiosity, arrives like a deep breath of sweet, fresh air. Ending a long, anxious wait, Al Vuelo is a masterful breakthrough which possesses the chances to harvest international success. Longtime Fakuta followers will most likely be already familiarized with the majority of these songs, since live recordings have been floating around on YouTube for a while, but every track is executed with current freshness that it seems incredible they’ve been in gestation for such a long time. With its mesmerizingly clever compositions, the blissful majesty that is Al Vuelo will position Fakuta in the line of cream of the crop of Chilean stars, in the meantime bringing us transcendental anthems of monumental proportions. -- Enrique Coyotzi

09. Installed - Plancha
Listening to his intimate music you get the sense that it betrays him, like it’s revealing secrets that he didn’t intend to disclose. But he’s more in control than that. At times the intimacy is even mischievous and wry. In Plancha, Installed knows the ins and outs of his conflicts, acknowledges the battling states within him, and delivers this awareness so intelligently and poetically, it might just break your heart. That remote feeling in the music is present on much of the album, acting as a foil to the personal lyrics. And a lot of the album is made up of elements that contradict each other, but somehow harmonize in the soundscapes that Alvarez creates. As tumultuous and haphazard as it all may seem on the surface, what Alvarez has orchestrated is an album of delicate balances much like the meticulously crafted turmoil in the poetry of Anne Sexton (though perhaps not quite so dark). Plancha is a bold exploration of sound and self and one of the most ambitious albums of the year. -- Blanca Méndez

08. White Ninja -
Sounds Like Cocoon Fever

Musical and visual composition tends to respond well to otherworldly abstraction, especially when the surfer of its wavelength is in full dialogue with the human condition. Part space opera and part velvety chillwave, White Ninja’s sophmore album is a triumph of gorgeous digital sequencing, analog proverb, and individual grooving. Two years ago, Leo Marz astonished us with his debut Guacala Los Modernos y Su Electro, a spellbinding record we described as “a series of adrenaline rushes, jammed technos, and unbounded clutter.” Marz’s comeback is less militant in its execution, equally intricate in its assortment of beats, and more affecting to the creator’s well-harvested, shoegazing morph. -- Carlos Reyes

07. Neon Indian - Era Extraña
In many ways Era Extraña is a far more serious album than its predecessor. Thematically, it tackles heavier topics and emotionally it explores much deeper than Psychic Chasms. It has a more defined concept and narrative and approaches the experience of heartbreak, which countless of artists have undertaken in their art, in a way that hasn’t really been done before. At least not in the precise and nuanced way that Palomo has. Perhaps the most notable difference, most noteworthy growth, is in the album’s production. Even though there are still just as many elements this time around, they are much more refined, much better orchestrated, and much more indicative of Palomo as an artist. When you speak to him you get the sense that there’s so much going on in his head, but he somehow filters all of it into thoughtful, articulate, and engaging conversation, which is exactly what he did with Era Extraña. -- Blanca Méndez

06. Dávila 666 - Tan Bajo
In Tan Bajo, their second LP releaed through In the Red, the guys from Puerto Rico show nothing to get rid of that idea, in fact they had rarely sounded this much like a garage rock revival act. But this is also probably the album where Dávila 666 has finally managed to underline the difference between being a revival retro-rock act in the wrong place, and appearing as an out of time channel for dazzling rock songs and impossibly catchy hooks. Because even if their vastly discussed “Menudo on drugs” self-description sounds a lot more like a gimmick than anything else, Dávila’s approach to songwriting doesn’t differ significantly from that of the popular boy band. Take Menudo’s use of lyrical repetition and playful melodies in “Subete a Mi Moto” as a frivolous conduct for teenage love angst and compare it to Dávila’s abrasive yet very catchy mourns of “Esa Nena Nunca Regreso” and “Eso Que Me Haces” and you’ll see that structurally and lyrically they’re on a very similar page. -- Pierre Lestruhaut

05. Rebolledo - Super Vato
Somewhere out there is a room that’s darker than anything in Entertainment 720’s color palette, where aged whiskey and justifiably-priced champagne flow like lava. Where lights exist for the sole purpose of looking cool. A place where shiny shirts are banned in favor of comfortable, tucked-in button downs, and where nothing matters except how deliberately outmoded your hairstyle is. This is the coolest room in the world. And, right now, Super Vato is spinning on the P.A. in an endless loop. The debut full-length from Xalapa, Mexico’s own Mauricio Rebolledo is a confident, irreverent, and fundamentally funky slice of new world techno. While other producers are equating “progression” with “throwing extra shit on top of my old shit,” Rebolledo, a former industrial designer, is finding reasons to fit disco, funk, synth-wave, rock and roll, and street festival cacophony into the same space. -- Andrew Casillas

04. Algodón Egipcio -
La Lucha Constante

Like the well-packaged titles of his songs, Algodón Egipcio’s shrewdness for craftsmanship is of inner expression and experience, but also attentively in dialogue with its era. In dialogue, but not in tune; Cheky’s platforms neither practice nor reject vocation, - they’re just ‘flowy.’ All these conditions allow for such a song like “La Transformación” to be read as a piece about the alteration of data, genetics, your virtual 'Second Life' character, or a full metamorphosis (and how sadly, there is no 'back button'). The cultural epochs in La Lucha Constante aren't allocated to a time frame; instead, we get a comprehension of its installment through the negotiation of rhythms that are presented to us. It’s as if Cheky’s infamous afro was the epicenter for sylvan ideas and actions. The execution of such ideas - and how they come to action through the music- is more suffocating than nurturing, but trust me, for a visionary fascinated by The Smashing Pumpkins, Akron/Family & Destiny’s Child, the outcomes are phenomenal. -- Carlos Reyes

03. Jessy Bulbo - Telememe
A few years ago during the MySpace golden age, a hot punk girl showed her panties to the world, as you would assume, she got herself a few millions of profile views. But once you actually sent her a friend request, she would respond back with an automatic message celebrating the new friendship with an excerpt from Timbiriche’s “Somos Amigos.” This is the kind of personality switch that makes Jessy Bulbo such an interesting character in Latin Rock music, many have not realized it yet, but nowadays, she is Latin Rock’s most talented lady. In 1998 Julieta Venegas and Ely Guerra appeared on TIME magazine’s cover as the publication announced the surfacing of the ‘Era of the Rockera’, if the TIME was to recreate the cover today, Bulbo should be leading the pack. Telememe is a round record, perhaps the first Jessy Bulbo that actually feels complete. The album cover outlines the album’s roundness, and as it suggests, she seems to have found a sense of absolute freedom. -- Jean-Stephane Beriot

02. Alex Anwandter - Rebeldes
Anwandter, by going back to pop basics, has created a kind of self-centered world with Rebeldes (the very first album under his name). The album may strike some as too straightforward, but the music’s beauty lies precisely within that simple framework of lustful melodies, romantic strings, and direct lyrics. Rebeldes feels so youthful, so idealistic in its pursuit of what feels right. We all know Anwandter is a musician who is always exploring. Even though we loved Teleradio Donoso and mourned its end, the marvelous and fascinating dystopian landscape created by Odisea last year quickly healed that wound. Not one to lag between ideas and inspirations, Anwandter has, this time around and with the help of Cristian Heyne, crafted an album that seems to almost retreat into simplicity. But when you hear the bare honesty of it, it’s a purity that’s almost virtuous, and you know that this is no retreat. Alex Anwandter only moves forward. -- Blanca Mendez

01. Bam Bam
- Futura Vía
Albums that are determined to become legendary milestones seem to be appearing less frequently during the 21st century. With the immediacy of the Internet, as listeners, we consume a bigger number of projects than we did during our adolescence by just watching MTV. In the thousands of MP3s by countless artists, most are forgettable, ephemeral movements whose days are numbered. But a few reveal themselves as classics that may even transcend into consolidated sub-genres. Monterrey’s beloved indie rockers Bam Bam surprised music blogs with their fascinating self-titled debut EP, astonishing the indie circuit geeks with fresh, out-of-this-world grooves. Although their success was moderate, hopes for the regiomontanos to release an even more impressive first full-length were in. And Bam Bam has surpassed all expectations, opening an exciting new chapter in Mexican rock history with the stellar Futura Vía, a psychedelic pop record equivalent to an intergalactic experience. Futura Vía is bound to be a reference in years to come, a majestic exercise about the universe, a meticulous work in conceptualization, and an undeniably fantastic achievement in the psychedelic field. - Enrique Coyotzi

Club Fonograma's Best Songs of 2011 (20-1)

20. Odio París -
Cuando nadie pone un disco
Since you hear the clicking of the drumsticks announcing the following explosion of noise in Odio París’ dissonant single, you know you’re up to something good. Setting the cadence for the rest of their excellent self-titled album, this anthemic distorted opener is the band’s definitive entry point. With its tense build up and blissful development, melodically captivating and powerfully striking, this track stands as one of the finest pieces to come out from countless shoegaze revival acts and as one of the year’s most splendid rock marvels. - Enrique Coyotzi

19. María y José - “Rey de Reyes” ♫♫♫
“Rey de Reyes” was the unforeseen and outlawed anthem of the winter season. This is the first time in which we see María y José (whose veins carry royal blood) immersing in 3Ball territory, and he's so brutal to the dancefloor that this is the sole definition of SWAG. The way Tony’s vocals chase the Aztec rave beat while dragging some elements of ruidoson into the ritual speak of an artist ready for his own crown. Through comedic hubris and some corrido-striking guts, “Rey de Reyes” is the idolization of the forbidden fruit. - Carlos Reyes

18. Neon Indian - “Polish Girl” ♫♫♫
"Polish Girl" may be Neon Indian's most straightforward pop statement to date, a song that infects every indulgent nerve in whatever part of the brain processes music. But that's no reason to accuse the song of being some kind of red hearing, everything about "Polish Girl" matches the dense sci-fi aesthetics of Era Extraña. Just as classical works go through dynamic changes, this is an allegro movement bursting in chillwave crescendos and a brilliant trip into a grooving territory that Alan Palomo is in full control of. - Giovanni Guillén

17. Juan Cirerol - “Toque y Rol ♫♫♫
“Toque y Rol,” the heart in Cirerol's vernacular-conquering Ofrenda al Mictlan, tells the story "as it is." Stripped down to a raspy profound voice and affectionate strings, the Mexicali hero picked up a guitar and rolled with it until his valve ports bled out. Towards the end of the song he starts to mumble, a hit of weed tends to do that. Is this the ultimate definition of rock&roll? Probably not, but in a contextual culture where notions are hard to hold on to, Cirerol’s bared talents translate as hugs. Emotional range and powerful songwriting are the backbone of a one-man’s poetry that’s in itself, a nation’s legacy. - Carlos Reyes

16. Furland - Faladó Falá♫♫♫
The Furland guys always manage to find that ideal organic-synthetic balance, creating soundscapes that are at once cosmic and arboreal. "Faladó Falá" continues to strike this balance, but takes the Furland sound into bolder territory with bright synth, bouncy folk strings, and hazy, yet punchy vocals. At times it seems like the folk and electronic elements are two separate conversations, but two conversations coexisting instead of conflicting. It's one of those songs with such depth and breadth that it envelops you in an unexpected elegance that's almost symphonic. - Blanca Méndez

15. Pegasvs -
“El final de la noche”
If M83’s Midnight City has been described as a “hook in search of a song” then Pegasvs “El Final de la Noche” would be more of a hook vacillating with the thought of being a song. Despite the fact it's got a very well executed first half with all the roundness of Jessy Bulbo’s “Permanentemente,” and that it becomes an incredibly exciting prog pop jam towards the end, it’s really that hook that’s gonna stick with you for weeks, no matter if you think its catchy as hell or just plain obnoxious. - Pierre Lestruhaut

14. Alex Anwandter - “Tatuaje”
Anwandter’s return to heart-on-your-sleeve songwriting. In this song, the Chilean pop visionary reconditions his past as a sort of explicit capsule, moving forward under the warmth of a four-minute song that marches its pulse under a stripped-down sense of pop songcraft. The image of ink carving beyond the human skin reveals Anwandter as a dreamer and a romantic. “Tatuaje” is so cleansing, fetching, and stirringly-tailored, that it’s, ultimately, Anwandter’s most cultivating shot at newfound freedom. - Carlos Reyes

13. 3Ball MTY feat. El Bebeto
& America Sierra - “Inténtalo”

In an interview with Noiselab a few years ago, Toy Selectah––who has served as a sort of mentor figure for 3BALL MTY since their inception–– predicted that, in the coming years, rave music would become “la música de las periferias,” or the music of the urban outskirts, as it were. “Inténtalo” is a testament to tribal’s new stature as an authentic regional Mexican style with its goal firmly bent on mass appeal. But, almost as if preempting global commodification, it winks at its presumed hipster audience, all the while basking in all its pointy boots glory. - Reuben Judah Torres

12. El Columpio Asesino - “Toro” ♫♫♫
El Columpio Asesino became a whole new band the minute “Toro” was unleashed. For one, because this year they're holding an intercontinental hit. It's their widest known song and a critics' darling already rolling in transcendence. Featuring a simple bassline, a sung-kinda-spoken conversation between lead singer, drummer, and leader, Álbaro Arizaleta, and singer, guitarist, and front woman, Cristina Martínez, the song gently builds up until it sonically bursts (“no me vengas con que es vicio”) and emotionally concludes. Hinting at sex, decadence, and excess in its lyrics, “Toro” already feels like a classic. - Enrique Coyotzi

11. Jessy Bulbo - “Belzebú ♫♫♫
Equal parts songstress and sorceress, Jessy Bulbo might be the most powerful rocker in Mexico. Bulbo's "Belzebú" can be heard as a downtempo and delirious inversion of M.I.A's "Paper Planes." At the same time, the track's hypnotic spells of piano breaks serves as a reference point to White Magic, among other analog dissensions in the mapping of the witch house field. Throughout her dark prayer to Belzebú (or Lucifer), Bulbo medidates on the poetic journey of the diabolic figure. Ultimately, I am left wondering when will we see the immersion of a new Mexico City banda dedicated to the realization of the Cult of Bulbo. - Adrian Mata Anaya

10. Rebolledo feat. Matías Aguayo
& Diegors
“La Pena”
Since my very first spin of "La Pena," I've been selling this as the meeting of El General and Ry Cooder at the microdisco, when in reality, I should've been shouting how this is the single most life-celebrating song since Celia Cruz's "La Vida Es Un Carnaval." Yes, the horror disco whips might articulate early onset dementia, but this is the labor of a sinister virtuoso. Because life is indeed, worth it, Rebolledo and friends evoke that Latin-American sorrow (the same Bolaño and Rulfo wrote about) that is in itself, a merriment of our very own idiosyncratic. - Carlos Reyes

09. Mueran Humanos -
If your own mother says you're garbage, and reaffirms it right afterwords with an accentuation that echoes all the way down to diabolical caverns, than you probably are a monster indeed. This is the gore notion you get in the year's most brutal song. Affection and harm start with the family, and when the soul and body are nourished with such dissonant aggression, smiling to the world isn't a gesture you can afford. Yet, the beast in this landfill finds the goodness in him. Even if it's pure compassion, you can't help but to sing along when horror is turned into gorgeousness. - Carlos Reyes

08. María y José - “Granada” ♫♫♫
Fuck Bruno Mars. Tony Gallardo made the best song about a grenade this year. Remember that ending scene in Reygadas' Batalla en el Cielo when a Mexican army retrieved a colossally large Mexican flag from Mexico City's Plaza de la Constitución to the wounding drums of an infantry band? Well, "Granada" is the song that should've followed during the ending credits. This visceral piece starts on the edge of redemption and marches its way into a baroque, step-by-step danced tragedy about loosing sanity. Gallardo is not looking to catch a grenade, he's searching for the peace that will make his body and torned-to-pieces heart even. - Carlos Reyes

07. White Ninja - “El Alfa” ♫♫♫
White Ninja’s flirtations with wavelength allocate the act as part of the exciting group of artists pulsating rhythm into faded synth-pop memories (Neon Indian, Washed Out, Toro y Moi). But unlike these contemporaries, White Ninja has the psychotropic vertebrate to travel within its own grooves. When, in the first sequence of compression, springs start bouncing in “El Alfa," you just know this will be a bewildering adventure of proportion and digital blossoming. This is a song that progresses from a perplexed urban number to a sort of futuristic cumbia. - Carlos Reyes

06. Violeta Vil - “Amish ♫♫♫
Perhaps the most seductive song in a while. In this track (explicitly referred as a demo), we've come to understand what the VV fuss is all about (watch out 2012!). "Amish" is the story of a teenager in the sect who finds it in his heart to venture to the outside - to an exotic world we find normal, and yet, for him, is the embellishment of his identity and his last act of faith. Even more fascinating is the way VV juxtaposed the Amish character within his environment. See, the real secluded element in the track is a line of whispered microhouse in hopes of relief from its isolated, tormenting noise. - Carlos Reyes

05. Bam Bam - “Abismático” ♫♫♫
"Let's hear us in silence. Make an attempt." That's how it starts. Except, instead of going back to your house, Bam Bam would rather invade your brain. Behind the maniacal chanting and rumbling percussion lies the feeling of all tension and pathos being ripped apart with no regard. Push and pull, lightning crashes, etc. It's rock and roll but that type that WILL DESTROY YOUR (metaphysical) SHIT. Cause that's what maniacs do. It comes together, the way it does in GREAT films. - Andrew Casillas

04. Mamacita - “No Eres Tú”
“No Eres Tú” presents itself with a disembodied armor of disco sequences, and a whispering disco string announcing a hurtful realization: “Te he conocido todo este tiempo, me he dado cuenta quien eres tú.” Vocally, Mamacita could be described as an encounter between "upside-down" Diana Ross and Las Chicas del Can, occasionally exploding into the fetishism of Mariah Carey’s songbird abilities. A consumption song had rarely been this introspective. To feel like you’re not yourself once in a while is a beautiful and thrilling thought. - Carlos Reyes

03. Dávila 666 -
“Esa nena nunca regreso” ♫♫♫
Any song that causes your mom to sing the chorus within 30 seconds of playing it must contain some inkling of genius. Either that or it’s just really damn catchy. Somehow I suspect that “Esa Nena Nunca Regresó” is both. While I admit that the whole sunny, 60s garage rock revival has mostly eluded me, there’s no denying that Dávila 666 rocked the year like no other Iberoamerican act, delivering an excellent album that is all but devoid of fillers. Also, Scarlett Johansson was at their Cinco de Mayo party in New York. Probably. Maybe. - Reuben Judah Torres

02. Adrianigual -
“Me gusta la noche”
Before the booming of Chilean pop, Adrianigual had already secured a page of on our history book through their kill-your-generation anthem “La Mistica Espiral.” Four years later, they've achieved linear progression in the year's most polished and fulfilling jam. Armed to the fullest, "Me Gusta La Noche" is rowdy and chaotic, yet so warm and orchestral. Without marginalizing its topics to adolescent agony, Adrianigual sings about “dancing your dreams,” and I don’t know about you, but that just makes me sweat all over the dancefloor, walls, and ceilings. - Jean-Stephane Beriot

01. Los Claveles - “Nacional 42” ♫♫♫
“Nacional 42” is a dissertation of Spain’s highway A42, described by Los Claveles, as the horrific intersection where ruin and routine meet. Like some classic road songs (AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”, Roam’s “B52”, etc), this is not the most optimistic song out there. On the contrary, it’s an emotional tragic squash that at times feels profane and brutally disenchanting. The dexterity of guitar riffs outlines a doodle that feels humid, harmonic, and hazard. The band sings about a road without a landscape, and sing-prays they don’t get to die among the dried flowers that populate a road God seems to have stopped watching over. A man’s confrontation to the road parallels with that of his love life; it haunts him in triumph and hardship, and it keeps him away. Guilt and redemption flirt with the track’s hooks, even saving some room for irony as they claim that love is to be afforded. A42, where religious entity is put into question and nostalgia reaches its saddest course. This is carved to-the-bone harmonious poetry, so austere and so achingly human - Carlos Reyes