Maifersoni - "Partners" / "Las flores más hermosas se marchitan"

Plot twist: Enrique Elgueta aka Maifersoni's Telar Deslizante doesn't go down as another unsung Iberoamerican masterpiece and instead finds new life amidst news of Elgueta's upcoming follow-up to his 2010 debut.

We last heard from Maifersoni by way of a Michita Rex compilation. The chaotic "Andina" had an immensity that spilled over and made us cry as many times as it left us in awe. There's a markedly different approach to Elgueta's two latest tracks, "Partners" and "Las flores más hermosas se marchitan" (released jointly on Quemasucabeza) but it's one that feels like the most natural kind of progression. Going by history, it's one we've seen before once shoegaze became stifled by its own listless nature and began to indulge in the exotic qualities of dance music.

A-side "Partners" benefits the most from this fresh pop compound. Maifersoni sounds at home channeling rhythm and flute grooves into the perfect pastel rave or future twee entry, the kind James Brooks (Elite Gymnastics) promised us through his Default Genders project. "Las flores más hermosas se marchitan" takes a more wistful approach but is equally touching. Both songs signal an exciting direction for Maifersoni and one we can't wait to see fully flourish.

Planta Carnívora & Diego Adrián - "Playa Salvaje"

New tropicalesque singles from Astro, Bomba Estereo, and now Planta Carnívora & Diego Adrián are the first signs that we're very close to welcoming the summer. The latter is specially exciting for how intoxicatingly cool it manages to be. While most bloggers took "Maracanaso" as a plain novelty piece for the world cup fervor and the RSS feeds, we applauded the song's proposal of something Andrew Casillas called, "alternative reggaeton." For their new collaboration, Planta Carnivora and Diego Adrian keep it risky and very, very weird. "Playa Salvaje" boldens the casio keys and triples the use of the reggaeton beat to steady results. Planta's delivery of the verses is strong and often hillarious, while Diego's near-broken pitch is almost too obtrusive for its own good. Nothing should work here, and yet everything DOES. In a year where too many singles have lacked a definitive chorus, it's refreshing to hear a piece that doesn't stop at the bridge and actually goes for the kill. Download the MP3 of the track via Soundcloud.

Video: Ibiza Pareo - "Arido Espejismo"

Argentinean newcomers Ibiza Pareo make music sustained by tone: songs with their own pace, helmed by minimalist resources and a deadpan delivery that's anything than instantly gratifying. Marina La Grasta and Ani Castoldi seem to lack interest for the zeitgeist, and yet somehow their first single "Arido Espejismo" touches the same heart strings that make acts like Linda Mirada and MKRNI so relevant to our generation. In fact, we could easily compare the duo's music to revivalists like Los Wendys and Afrodita, subtracting the cultural appropriation of course. Featuring the best use of spaghetti western chords in any indie song since Víctor Hugo's "Así es como se arruina un verano," Ibiza Pareo's single transports us to the steamy and cleansing revelations of the dessert -just like in its video. The lack of a real definitive vocal chorus will alienate more than a few, but reward any chords lovers out there.

Fuete Billete - "Buena Vida"

We still raise an eyebrow whenever the guys from Fuete Billete refer to their masterful debut, Música de Capsulón, as a "mixtape." But when you think about it, the boricuas are just being romantic by excercising the traditional way to release urban music. It is, perhaps, a clever choice to position themselves as underdogs first. Still, no critic out there would dare to reduce something as brilliant as unofficial. The group is catching up to momentum, releasing a new single of what they're choosing to call their debut album. "Buena Vida" is the first cut unveiled from the forthcoming Papelón City (out via Mexico's NAAFI). Beneath the cathedral beats and the ample template, "Buena Vida" embraces the candor of a relative fame they've acquired and the better life they're chasing after. "Al billete 'tamo adictos," they confess, keeping their discourse as non-subersive and raw as in Capsulón. While it's missing the crescendos and catchiness of "La Trilla" (the best song of 2013), Fuete pushes other buttons to re-purpose their own welfare to afford a good ilfe. A button like throwing a "chinga tu madre" in the song -a gesture of appreciation toward their most commercially-viable audience: Mexico.

Gepe - "Hambre" (feat. Wendy Sulca)

Fellow fonograma critic Pierre Lestruhaut refers to "En la naturaleza (4-3-2-1)" as the best song of the decade thus far. The more I think about it, the closer I come to agree with him (there's another chilean song to beat in my opinion). Truth is, Gepe never ceases to surprise us, and for his latest single he has recruited noneother than peruvian sensation Wendy Sulca (whose rendition of "Wrecking ball" was a truly pleasing surprise). While the unlikeliness of such collaboration worried us a little (kitsch and exploitation run on a very fine line), we trusted Gepe's and producer Cristian Heyne's sensebilities to resolve the song putting musical virtue in front of novelty. And they sure have done it.

Like all of Gepe's first singles, "Hambre" is grand and more than the sum of its parts. Bold percussions, syncopated horns, hip-hop flirtations, and the catchiness of the andino music that glues it all together are part of a narrative that keeps unveiling its charm from beginning to end. Whether some will appreciate its function as plain escapism, we should look into its the deeper romanticism: our insatisfiable hunger for leisure, partying, and our constant search to fulfill emotional/sexual deficit. Gepe's fifth album should see the commercial light by the summer.

Audri Nix - "1,000 MPH"

In all honesty, To Pimp A Butterfly should be the one and only priority on your queue. But once you give Kendrick's latest a proper listen, make sure you stay bold and urban and give boricuan newcomer Audri Nix a chance. "Todo lo que quiero lo persigo," exclaims an exciting voice against an all-enveloping landscape of beats by Overlord (of Fuete Billete fame) that play like race cars shadowing shooting stars. Audri Nix's vocals aren't dripping novelty -it's a full-blown revelation. "1,000 MPH" (first single off debut EP, El Nuevo Orden Vol.1) is in its essence, a call of arrival by a truly exciting voice (it's like Beyond the Lights, minus the romanticism). What's truly attractive here is the construction and execution of its parts, all sustained by an outsized narrative that doesn't stop at earnest.

Jessica & The Fletchers - "Air Balloon Road"

Jessica & The Fletchers is a noise pop project from (where else?) Barcelona who seem bent on recapturing the spirit of C86 revival through airy and catchy songs that also sound fleshed out quicker than a sugar rush will take to crash. New single "Air Balloon Road" builds on the endearing qualities of last year's split EP with The Prams, taking in a sing-along delivery and backed by distorted and fuzzy melodies. It's no surprise that among the obligatory labels mentioned (Creation, Sarah Records) they also cite Slumberland as part of their influences. This one has the feel of all the early Pains of Being Pure at Heart singles, which is more than enough to put them down as one of the must-see acts for this year's Primavera Sound.

Tony Gallardo II - “Juventud Guerrera”

"I don't wanna be deep on this beat, but I can't fucking let go of what's around me."

M.I.A - “Caps Lock”

In the wake of 2014’s traumatic and shameful moments, I find myself going back to the above quote at least once a week. In it I am reminded of how living out the #StayWoke mantra carries a very specific set of risks and how one should always be careful. Engaging with the truth and remaining unscathed is a challenge that not all accomplish. Eventually those vicarious experiences, wherein injustice and oppression are relived again and again, start to take their toll.

Last year offered seemingly endless moments to relive tragedy. Those that were privileged enough to turn a blind eye often rejected causes linked to those suffering or flat out demonized them (#BlackLivesMatter, #BrownLivesMatter); or even worse, still, they embraced a pastiche version (#JeSuisCharlie, French for #OnlyWhiteLivesMatter). I don't bring up these cases as a way to blindly preach how things now are worse than at any other point in history. Nihil sub sole novum, or better yet, nihil in interreti novum. But the truth is trauma distorts reality. It makes things appear hopeless and leaves with it a pain that becomes so ingrained one cannot imagine a world without it.

Tony Gallardo II first leaked his latest track (days before its official NYLON premier) with an image of him carrying his own child. At this sight I immediately became overwhelmed which only got worse upon confronting the lyrics (“Luchamos por la idiotez, de ser humanos y vivir / Discriminamos por color, mentes cerradas en estupor”). While most everything attached to María y José/Tony Gallardo II is imbued with irony and cynicism, one cannot dismiss the call to arms found on “Juventud Guerrera.” It is one that still holds frustration and disgust towards a system that allows Michael Browns and Eric Garners to be continually repeated. It is a voice that cares about not just 43 but 30,000 missing in Mexico since 2012 and 250,000 dead since 2006. More importantly, it so badly wants the future to be different.

As the vocal narrative in “Juventud Guerrera” mirrors the cry of #YaMeCansé, the music thrives by submerging itself in eighties decadence. Synths take cues from Polymarchs Vs Patrick Miller techno, the beats are glittery and vibrant. Motorcycle engines are not just signifiers of nostalgia, but of passion and purpose. Then comes that pause- a moment of hesitation. How to keep on when “Sigues igual de infeliz, la victoria nunca llegó” The answer comes with a howl: JUVENTUD GUERRERA. Unleashed over and over again with the same raw urgency that MJ once gave us on "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." Noting how the internet’s ruined all uses of the superlative, i’ll just add this: You crazy for this one, Tony.

Furland - Cuervos

Cuervos, Furland
Terrícolas Imbéciles, Mexico
Rating: 77
by Sam Rodgers

This album, Furland's second LP in five years, seems to have had an overlong gestation period, the band piquing interest with a glitch-like single in 2011's brilliantly promising "Faladó Fala", then almost disappearing altogether, leaving fans' expectations returning back and back to 2009's Historia De La Luz; an album buoyed by its folk-pop sensibilities, drawing hype at the time for being Mexico's answer to the genre. The long wait could be positive or detrimental to Cuervos' success, the band relying on its fan base as it simultaneously and obviously reaches for new, broader audiences - a fan base which may not have followed the same string of inspirations the band has themselves.

It's now December 2014, over a year since the first single from Cuervos - "Corazón Típico" - was released, which, again, seems over-the-top. However, time has proven to serve it well. At first listen, this was not the Furland who inhabited a world with the naive aesthetics and folksy banjo of tracks like "Quiero Ser Un Color", but an almost disappointingly straight-forward rock band. But over the following months of full album mystery, God help us if we couldn't shake the track's hooks out of the old noggin. One thing Furland has never purported to be was a band with loftier goals than pure pop: and, by definition, isn't pop a celebration of the most memorable and most universal of melodies? "Corazón Típico" delivered and then some, three minutes of exuberant, pop-blather feels, at once meaning nothing and everything if the mood was right. Following six months later was "Estar Solo", colouring the image of Furland as a black denim rock band pitching for the stadium rocker, but... not quite. With Sergio Silva's introspective lyrics and spirited timidity, "Estar Solo" becomes a kind of endearing melancholic rock anthem - a cry out to finally let go of someone while acknowledging ones codependency issues. It's like a little emo brother to that song a Disney queen sings on a mountainside.

Speaking of queens, after the one-two punch of the first singles, Furland seemed to mirror Javiera Mena's slow release of Otra Era. Like her "Espada" and "La Joya", "Corazón Típico" and "Estar Solo" were immediate and easy to digest, but it wasn't until "Otra Era" and Furland's "Quiero" that a more textured, nuanced new sound was introduced in the third singles, right before the album propers' release. In "Quiero" we find Furland revelling in that melancholia, layering it with electronic howls by aid of theremin, and restraining the balls out narrative of the aforementioned tracks. It spoke of more interesting sounds to come - of a band ready to play "rock band" on their own terms.

Now we have Cuervos - an album that presents us with a band not so much casting off the sounds of their previous releases, but one moving through and towards other inspirations, while retaining a firm hold on pop dramatics. Opening and title track rehashes Silva's taste for bells, and bridges old and new Furland sounds. "Cuervos" throws everything sonic into the mix, sometimes to the point of overwhelming itself, as does "El Rey del Tiempo", though both provide enough memorable moments. The rest of the album, on the other hand, is clear cut. There are tracks like towering beasts: so complete in the direction of hooks and melodies, you want to turn the volume up high and let them invade the neighbor's yard (see the Tame Impala-esque "Cardinales" and album closer "Fugaz"). Meanwhile, mid-album tracks "Nuestras Sombras" and "Fantasmas" seem half-baked in comparison, and the whistling on the former seems incongruous with the overall sound of the album, at least placed in the middle of it. The most sublime moment on the album comes when Furland take a song not even three minutes long - "Ciencia Perfecta" - and leave the listener wondering if it was hijacked and remixed by Daft Punk; the gear change still surprising on repeat listens.

And this is where Cuervos will be tested: who will listen to this on repeat? Will the vestiges of innocent pop be embraced by new rock fans, will the growling guitar licks be embraced by the folk-pop fans, and what sounds will the band explore next? Let's hope it's not as long in the making.

Pedro LaDroga - "≈KE KIERE ASE /KE KIE/≈ "

The prolific Sevilla MC/producer with a penchant for breathing new life to previous works, seeking to make them as eternal as possible, delivers a sonic and visual triptych in “≈KE KIERE ASE /KE KIE/≈.” LaDroga initially invites us to climb aboard his Window 95 interstellar vessel and venture outdoors into the confines of the digital realm. The strayed remix of "Acostumbrao a sufrir" accompanying the takeoff suggests contemplation and escapism. Then, “Ke Kiere Ase”, structured around the legendary Zappa’s slow seven-note motif, creates the space for poetic and timeless gaze through which we discover Cerro del Hierro and San Nicolas del Puerto, Sevilla. Footage of water flowing like LaDroga’s very thoughts are paired to the phrase “Ke kiere ase” and recited repeatedly, revealing that he would do everything and anything with and for that coveted somebody. The journey ends with him “fumando bajo cataratas”, using a cut from the très à propos Catarata” (produced by $kyhook) off of SKYDRVG 1.0. Playing on the  trialectic of being, doing and becoming, LaDroga turns a pot-fueled venture into something mystical, almost sacred.