Shakira (feat. Maluma) - "Chantaje"

Andrew Casillas said it best when he rejected the notion of Shakira as Latin America's Prince and relegated her to the category of Latin America’s Jay-Z cemented by the catastrophic final result that was 2014's Shakira, a forgettable album of bland pop generica. As Shakira's net worth continued to soar, Shakira's social capital took a hit given the Baranquillera's cringe-worthy output in recent memory. From Bud Light Lime EDM classics with Pitbull, the Tecate Michelada rock stylings of Maná, to a culturally hegemonizing sports anthem, it would seem as if indeed Shakira was ‘trying everything’, much to the depreciation of her critical acclaim. We’re not even going to get started on "La Bicicleta”.

It seemed for some time as though only an innovator like Arca could resurrect our fallen Latina Empress of Global Pop. And although ‟Chantaje" does not feature production credits from the Venezuelan sound freak, it does sound as if an acolyte of Timbaland produced it. Firmly situated in the seductive future reggaetón environment spearheaded by compatriot J Balvin, "Chantaje" is ready for Top 40 mass consumption & personally gratifying listening experiences. It features rising star Maluma, further cementing Columbia as reggaetón’s current stronghold. Manipulation, codependency, autonomy, agency, unrequited love and emotional masochism take center stage on “Chantaje,” a narrative of intimate warfare amongst doomed lovers. It is Shakira's most relevant single since the merengue bangers of 2010's Sale El Sol and has reinvigorated a level of trust amongst those of us who have been here for Shakira since 1995 and care to see her be remembered for her artistic merits-not her commercial prowess.

Club Fonograma's Best Music Videos of 2015

“Amor Fantasma”
((The Plastics 
10. Sefárdico
"One day, when you sober up, we can be the Coen Brothers or whoever you want..." sighed by worried twin brother as the rest of the family could barely grasp who the Cuarón brothers are (yes, Univision, Televisa and now Pantaleon Films have them in an eternal Guada-loop with the Almada Brothers). Truth is, I've had my bull-neon eye on the Dardenne Brothers for quite sometime already. It hurts to be the one that has to wait for those hype/revivalists waves to come to shore, but Tex-Mex production house Sefárdico have offered a window of possibilities for uber-energetic "trends" like myself. "Amor Fantasma" surveys the culture of videohomes (that VHS phenomena involving mafia, guns, and the quintessential blonde femme-fatale). You could also make the argument that this is just a storyboard of a western novel, or the latest fable of forbidden love by Juan Osorio or Carla Estrada. Or, perhaps, it's a pitch for an episode of Mujer, Cansas en la Vida Real. This is campy and cutesy in the bigger picture, but technical decisions like expanding the camera aspect ratio of a dramatic television feature, to an action film in glorious widescreen, make this truly whimsical. - CARLOS REYES. FROM THE ALBUM: AMOR FANTASMA. DIRECTOR: SEFARDICO. MEXICO. 

“Lo Que 
((Natalia Lafourcade)) 
09. Alonso Ruizpalacios
Natalia Lafourcade’s most recent studio effort has given us some trouble in formulating a meaningful consensus. Though far from a masterpiece, the Fonograma staff can at least acknowledge that Hasta La Raíz contains some of the most important songs of Natalia’s career. This admission stems, in part, thanks to the album’s visual campaign. Directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios (Güeros), "Lo Que Construimos" shows Natalia battling a night of dissolution. Just as Güeros was lensed in a freewheeling, “anything goes” tribute to French New Wave, Ruizpalacios recreates the same magic for Lafourcade. The video begins in a bedroom, a conventional set up that quickly takes all kinds of turns. These fausses pistes cultivate a sci-fi tone that lends a creepy air to a mostly heartbreaking song. The clip culminates with a dance performance on an empty street. To see Lafourcade, the adult and not the infantilized indie girl of 2009, dancing like Anna Karina dressed in the plainest wardrobe (a hoody/that bed head) produces such an intense range of emotions. It’s cathartic and nostalgic, it’s devastating and uplifting. It’s wonderful. GIOVANNI GUILLÉN. FROM THE ALBUM: HASTA LA RAIZ. DIRECTOR: ALONSO RUIZPALACIOS. MEXICO

“Sol a Sol”
((Planeta No)) 
08. Felipe Prado
When you google otaku (Japanese term pronounced ōˈtäko͞o) you will find various definitions that overall describe a subculture of obsessive and isolated lifestyles surrounding manga and anime. Many times it is used with a negative connotation, but don’t we all have an obsession? For many of us is music, films, or science. Very few people understand the complexity of the otaku subculture, one of those few is Hiroki Azuma PhD who describes how this subculture is a reflection of Japanese culture, similar to that of a postwar Japanese society that encountered a cultural and technological revolution. When I saw this video it made think about the Chilean pop renaissance that we’ve witnessed for some years now, perhaps a generation that also grew up obsessed and isolated living in fantasy until it was finally freed. - RICARDO REYES. FROM THE ALBUM: ODIO. DIRECTOR: FELIPE PRADO. CHILE

07. Alvaro Puentes
Giovanni Guillén hit a homerun when describing "Secretos" as a "song about catching feelings and the collateral damage that comes with it." Although straightforwardly pop, the premise of Marineros has been aesthetically pleasing but intricate enough for audiophiles to attain a certain fondness for them. Is it crazy to think of Marineros as a cult band already? Perhaps we're getting too ahead of ourselves, but, could you resist making such noise with this level of fragility and intimacy? Before O Marineros unfolded itself as an album packed with coming-of-age gems, "Secretos" came to solidify the band as one that could fetishize and profit from their own branding. Helmed by Alvaro Puentes, the celluloid in "Secretos" is claustrophobic in its proximity to lensing skin (it's like the negotiating of a cultural wink between a bareback porn and The Virgin Suicides).. It gets to the pores and puts the scope on those h u m i d little beauty spots, scars, and goosebumps by which we're not only encouraged to loose our clothes, but to also make inventory of those stains of insecurities and consciousness that we should put to rest in our adulthood. Frigidity cured! - CARLOS REYES. FROM THE ALBUM: O MARINEROS. DIRECTOR: ALVARO PUENTES. CHILE

((Los Wálters)) 
06. Luis López Varona
It's 2016 and the indie-click bands are still centering anthropology in their mise en scène. If the videos aren't flooded with kids chanting "Folklore!," then they might exploit the elderly in the new-inquisition of the millenial "WeAreYoung!" anthem heights. Yeah, I loved Porter's Moctezuma, but those videos are impenetrable. While this might sound like a backlash to our own altar of visual feast, there are new margins of contemporary cultural output to keep at margin (Engel Leonardo, Juan Mora Catlet, to name a few). Director Luis López Varona takes things from mundane to a roadtrip of sorts in Los Walter's "Porsche." Working with a beautiful paletee of browns, blues, and yellows, the frame is helmed with such warmth that it's able to embed any furniture, tree, or citizen on its way into this tiny but gracious form of story-telling. What's truly transcendental here is the way López is able to keep the exotic at a low key, and maintain the visceral and the eroticism of the caribbean panoramic with, pardon my romance, bravura! - CARLOS REYES. FROM THE ALBUM: VERANO PANORAMICO. DIRECTOR: LUIS LOPEZ VARONA. PUERTO RICO

05. Jaloo
Brazilian newcomer Jaloo is nothing short from ambitious as he embarks in the odyssey of writing, singing, directing, and portraying a dozen versions of himself as he strikes to make viral a story about the "greatest love story of them all." Like many of his contemporaries, Jaloo has come to a point of his life where spirituality, story-telling, and playing devil's advocate add to much more than his own amusement. "Insight" touches elbows with Vampire Weekend's "Ya Hey," Chance The Rapper's "Sunday Candy," and John Maus' "Believer"as one of the most faith-endearing pieces about that love that demolishes religious barricades and states of consciousness. Photoshoots, nightst of too many smoke rings/halos, drinks, and confessionals with new media almost drown the subject of the story, but Jaloo is clever enough to know just how good and bad the world around all of us is. We can't help but to celebrate the balance of this meta-videoclip and its found-beauty amongst the language of links, phone calls, frame distortions, and yes, those glimmering panoramas of the MySpace era. - CARLOS REYES. FROM THE ALBUM: #1. DIRECTOR: JALOO. BRAZIL

04. Dan Sickles & Antonio Santini
The stars we encounter on “Métele” are underground queens of a peculiar Puerto Rican nightlife, their time & place aurally framed by pop alchemist Dev Hyne's nostalgic synth driven compositions. Filmed by Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini, “Métele” expands on the director duo’s vision for the 2014 documentary celebrating the fluid gender identities found in the Borinken club scene, Mala, Mala. Our first protagonist glides through the streets of Santurce, their evening gown golden in glitter. Buscabulla’s Raquel Berrio enters our narrative as the onlooker caught in traffic, her vehicular claustrophobia juxtaposed with scenes from the sex trade: stage dancers, girls who do house calls. Strobe lights, a near empty club, pink imitation nails, another queen dressed in gold shaves her armpit hair, and our first protagonist tucks their genitalia. Then, a deeper intimacy: one of the girls sips into a plastic cup from KFC, sharing eye contact with her admiring john as he casually eats a slice of pizza from Papa John’s. By the music video’s rapturous final moments, it is clear who our ultimate star is. The girl who was just moments ago untucking the underwear sticking to her ass cheeks, is now dancing for 20s, in inches of heels, dressed in leopard print pink. It is a declaration of life for a community who has historically faced such condemnations of death.- ZÉ GARCIA. FROM THE ALBUM: MATUCANA. DIRECTOR: DAN SICKLES & ANTONIO SANTINI. PUERTO RICO

((Gepe feat. 
Wendy Sulca)) 
03. Ian Pons Jewell
For the video of Gepe's latest single "Hambre", the director, Ian Pons Jewell, has gone with a literal take on the lyrics of the song. And why not? What Gepe, like most of his Chilean peers, has been crafting through his career is a redefinition and refinement of niche genre: this song takes his past major-key singles and shaves off their edges, narrowing down ideas, but retaining the essence of pure fuck-yeah ANDEAN POP! As 'Club guru, Carlos Reyes, stated in his first review of the song, there is always the worry these sounds (and collaborations) will slide into kitsch - what pan-pipers the world over have been actively promoting for decades. Aware of this, but not embarrassed by it, this video celebrates the "disfraces finos y elegantes" of the past and present backbone of the continent. The video opens with a be-shorted hipster entering a cool establishment, greeted with a "Be Our Guest" enthusiasm, only to wind up as the main course. The wry humour, and deliberate gross out factor - that's just pork, isn't it? - subverts the theme of the song: the constant search for satiation, carnal or otherwise. We're all hungry, and there's a fine line between enjoying it, like a feast, and sacrificing each other to Wendy Sulca's high priestess. Dale de comer! - SAM RODGERS. FROM THE ALBUM: ESTILO LIBRE. DIRECTOR: IAN PONS JEWELL. CHILE/PERU

“Tu Casa Nueva”
((El Último Vecino)) 
02. Gerson Aguerri
“Tu Casa Nueva” was released last December as a Maxi-Single CANADA Editorial and rose at once to the top 25 of our Best songs of the year 2014. So it was about time for this stellar synthpop track to be given the video treatment, and for El Último Vecino’s hard-hitting irresistible melodies to resurface. Gerard Alegre Dòria’s decadent, symbolist lyrics (“Todas las espinas que yo tenía en la cabeza / me han sesgado.”), deep and sorrowful tone and pure and immediate rhythms carry a melancholic urgency that sets him apart from other revivalists acts of the moment. Three decades interact here: the coldness of the new wave-esque synths, some rock impulses and an ever oozing dance side. Directed by Gerson Aguerri (who has also worked with El Guincho and Los Massieras), the video merges scattered elements (a rising sun, what could be doric columns, occultism and plant close-ups) reflecting the dizzying eclecticism of EÚV and wittily grasping the links between subject and space, a theme that seems central to Dòria’s work. - SOUAD MARTIN-SAOUDI. . FROM THE ALBUM: TU CASA NUEVA EP. DIRECTOR: GERSON AGUERRI. SPAIN

01. Alejandro Ghersi 
Daniel Sannwald
La experimentación de nuevas formas sonoras puede ser un apuesta donde las probabilidades de éxito y fracaso comparten las mismas probabilidades. Escuchar el lenguaje musical creado por Arca produce la misma sensación cuando los oyentes acostumbrados a los cánones clásicos de composición, experimentan por primera vez los universos sonoros de Penderecki, Varese o Cage. La experiencia es similar a escuchar el Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, De Natura Sonoris o Kosmogonia. "Vanity," como el pasatiempo favorito del demonio, esta conformado por sonidos ásperos, ácidos metálicos que recuerdan al choque dos placas exponiendo nuevas formas cristalinas con latices bifásicos. La experiencia visual del video amalgama perfectamente la naturaleza dual: por un lado imágenes de contenido sexual ambivalente en una atmósfera lúgubre con destellos de luz y por otra parte sumergido de manera luminosa en el liquido amniótico universal como lo es el agua. El juicio de valor desaparece en el espectador, al igual que el miedo a experimentar un pecado capital como la vanidad. - JULIO PAEZ.. FROM THE ALBUM: MUTANT. DIRECTOR: ALEJANDRO GHERSI & DANIEL SANNWALD. VENEZUELA/USA

Balún - "La Nueva Ciudad"

Balún is a band from Puerto Rico with an acute sense of creating ethereal moments of the sad kind. Could the tropigoth tagline apply? As sunset approaches on the Summer of Love 2016 (a cosmic event that last took place during the tumultuous social uprisings of 1967) the Brooklyn-based via Borinken four-piece return by making ripples across waters with a trademark sound they call dreambow. Incorporeal dream-pop, techno, shoegaze, folkloric sounds of South America, & dembow (one of reggaetón’s rhythmic daughters) are the amalgamation of the band’s idiosyncratic soundscape. A formula that after almost 7 years since Balún’s first contribution to Club Fonograma has stood the test of time.

With Afro Caribbean sounds like tipple, bomba barrel drum, dembow & a hazy, humid sense of a transcendent melancholy at work, “La Nueva Ciudad” joins the cannon of unorthodox, reggaetón-based classics of late. The sonic transmutations of established greats like J Balvin, Arca, Gepe, Javiera Mena & newcomers like MULA, Coral Casino, & Tomasa del Real have been expanding our understanding of the infinitely mesmerizing possibilities of the genre. Even Ibiza Pareo expressed interest in flirting with reggaetón during their Ruido Fest showcase in Chicago this summer. Clearly, our collective sonic future still belongs to the iconic, Afro-Caribbean sound. 

Balún’s return feels accomplished, academic and ancestral. The chorus of “La Nueva Ciudad” invokes collective rapture (the spiritual power of reggaetón at work here) while Angélica Negron's vocals communicate intimacy & distance, discussing the circular nature of time, planets, & the need to create a city without mirrors. The prolific percussionist/producer Lawson White (Shakira, Wilco, Jamie xx) has been working behind the scenes with Balún, whose current lineup boasts PhD ethnomusicologist and Puerto Rican folk music expert Noraliz Ruiz (playing cuatro and on “La Nueva Ciudad”), Raul Reymundi, along with veteran players Angélica Negron & José Olivares. It would seem as though Balún have become curators of globopop. “La Nueva Ciudad” is the lead single from the forthcoming Prisma Tropical LP which is due in 2017. Listen to it below and its b-side, “Esta En Tus Manos,” a cover of the pioneer of indietronica reggaetón herself, Javiera Mena.

MULA - "Nunca Paran"

Dominican trio MULA arrived last year with one of the most fascinating pop projects we had heard in awhile. The self-titled album was a free spirited exercise in genre fusion. Caribbean rhythms intertwined with heavier electronics and political lyrics blended perfectly on the dance floor. 2016 still finds creators Anabel and Cristabel (from Las Acevedo) along with Rachel Rojas making magic under MULA. Two preceding singles, “No hay manera” and “Retumba,” have highlighted their ongoing search to discover a more defined sound leading up to their new material. With third single “Nunca Paran,” they’ve hit the jackpot.

“Nunca Paran” has been billed as utopian, a celebration of perfect moments. Even with the best intentions that kind of party music will overindulge in too many ideas while forcing joy down our ears. But here those elements come together and play out as natural as watching a sunset. What begins submerged in heavy, chopped and screwed soundbites breaks through and turns weightless. There’s merengue that sneaks up and entices, there’s Marta Sánchez’s "Desesperada" vibes that want more than a simple 90’s flashback. On the chorus the low-key vocals cling to a light reggaetón, celebrating both the past and the future. A future that clearly belongs to MULA.

Füete Billete - “Trå” / “Una Changa (feat. Yung Beef)"

Last year saw Füete Billete take a victory lap with “Buena Vida,” then later boisterously declare “Somos Hp” as they raged to trap. The two cuts were welcome treats, but the Puerto Rican crew was also due for a clear-cut banger worthy of Música de Capsulón’s legacy. The latest single from the rap trio’s upcoming album Papelón City might just be an answer to our prayers, if not that, then at least a much needed supplement to our summer playlists.

“Trå,” which was released as a music video a few weeks ago, is a hyper dance track with rap verses stacked between strobe lights, filthy beats, and West Coast touches. Pepper Kilo and BB Johnson’s flow is so effortless that the refrain “muévelo” overtakes the imperative and transforms itself into a pure celebration. B-side "Una Changa," backed by PXXR GVNG’s Yung Beef, continues to idolize the night show with softened production not unlike Rae Sremmurd’s neon-soaked banger “Look Alive.” “‘Una Changa’ es una canción del verdadero poder que tienen las strippers en el club,” Kilo told i-D where the song originally premiered. Strip clubs have long been credited for their power to turn singles into actual hits. Here Füete Billete are ready to submit to all the seductive powers at work (“Ella es la que manda aquí”), which help set up Papelón City as an ambitious project we can’t wait to hear in full.

Felipe Neiva - "Conte Comigo"

For years Carioca netlabel Transfusão Noise Records has been the name behind Brazil’s most unique noise-revivalist, punk, and lo-fi albums. The catalogue is still going strong, pushing forward by rejecting a boutique mindset that relies too heavily on nostalgia. On the contrary, there is always something challenging or idiosyncratic to discover.

Through Escritório, an extension of Transfusão, we are learning about more and more fresh Brazilian acts to follow. Escritório’s ongoing Cassete Club series is releasing exclusive songs recorded on tape and streaming them through Soundcloud. This third offering comes from Felipe Neiva, an artist that caught our attention thanks to his song’s somber, wounded spirit laced in affecting guitars. The track initially offers pure indie rock which then timehops back into a 60s freak out, a move that works because it places the vocal’s garbled pleas in the proper context.

Produced by Lê Almeida, "Conte Comigo" will be included in an EP from Felipe Neiva due later this year.

Marineros - "Torbellino"

A photo posted by Marineros (@omarineros) on

"Torbellino" dropped quietly just days before Club Fonograma's unforgettable encounter with Marineros in Chicago. Our full interview with the Chilean duo is forthcoming, but be prepared for a conversation regarding the limitations of Latinx identity, ancestral trauma, & darkness.

"Torbellino" is a gray number, with a transcendental bluish hue- cer & Soledad always have the blues. Produced by Christian Heyne and Soledad, it combines typical Marineros signifiers: hip-hop kicks and snares, love confessions & their signature melancholic skygaze. There is no guitar distortion here, but the sound of splintering metal gives to dream-pop at the 0:45s mark. cer's vocal melodies find a wider range, contemplating the eternal, starry skies, & romantic euphoria with an unusual sense of positivity & hope. "Torbellino" (which is also the name of their current international tour) will soon get a visual treatment and a new Marineros LP in 2017 seems likely. "In times such as these, there is no way to go but darker" cer told me in Wicker Park. Take my breath away.

Helado Negro - "Runaround"

"Leopard garden / walk backwards / like you with me before." 

Helado Negro's newest track, "Runaround," delivers this syntactical blow engulfed in heat energy and molecular tension. Seconds later, that tension is brought to a simmer. Its singer’s voice now delivers a deep lull that’s as serene as it is engrossing. Whether in English or Spanish, Roberto Carlos Lange has always known exactly how to fuse his surreal compositions with the proper words and emotional response.

The immediate impression that “Runaround” leaves is pure Psychic type. Subdued, but not defeated. Inspired by the titular Issac Asimov short story, and gestated during a traumatic moment when Michael Brown’s murder at the hands of police did not lead to convictions, the song is revived now at a time when little has changed. Trauma just might become our decade’s hallmark, but Helado Negro’s electronic coda resists complete despair. At its core, this is a fortifying track, a new verse in the thematic mantra offered in last year’s “Young, Latin & Proud.” We needed this.

"Runaround” is taken from Helado Negro’s new album titled Private Energy, out September 30.

Video: Playa Gótica - "Fuego"

Playa Gótica’s first entry was a seismic breakup song that went unrivaled by anything else out of the pop Iberosphere in 2015. If Ana Gabriel wrote a track with the gothic icon Alaska, then perhaps “Reptil no gentil” would be its reimagined tribute. Since their explosive debut the Chilean group has remained relatively quiet, allowing them to refine their sound and build our expectations to near insane levels. It’s only fitting then that Playa Gótica’s comeback would also inspire us to return to our blogging duties.

“Fuego” moves the band forward with an updated version of the previously released song along with a new clip directed by Bernardo Quesney. Set in the woods and surrounded by mountains, the video contains a star making performance by singer Fanny Leona. She easily steals the spotlight with her restless presence and energy. The intercut shots where she struts along bathed in a Lynchean lens are easy contenders for our favorite mv images this year. On its own “Fuego” brought moody guitars and bass grooves that were not hard to love instantly. Thanks to its visual, one is now opened up to more anthemic layers and lovelorn chaos. #FlameEmoji.

Club Fonograma x Ruido Fest 2016

A photo posted by Dani 👁👁 (@_badgaldani) on

Club Fonograma has been invited back to Ruido Fest for the 2016 edition of Chicago's premiere "Latin Alternative" Music Festival. Last year was glorious- an affirmation of the power of Club Fonograma and our quest to catalog and document emerging and established music from our milieu. From hanging out backstage with Dënver, getting drunk with Silverio and Jessy Bulbo (Jessy, I still have your luggage), to performing onstage with Maria y José, Ruido Fest 2015 was the place to be.

A photo posted by Dani 👁👁 (@_badgaldani) on

This year, we will have the privilege of hanging out with Ibiza Pareo all weekend- fresh from their Argentinian Grammy nomination. We will also be catching up with Marineros and hand delivering some flowers to our girls, Natalia Lafourcade and Las Robertas. We most definitely will make contact with Miranda! and touch base on their artistic trajectory and their collaborations with our prince of pop, Alex Anwandter. We wanna chill hang with Helado Negro and personally thank him for the shout out he gave Club Fonograma in the LA Times. & Silverio might not attack me with a beer this year so there is plenty to look forward to this weekend at Ruido Fest 2016.

A photo posted by 🏴 zé 👼🏾 (@pepe.acab) on

Purchase tickets here and stay tuned for Ruido Fest 2017. There were many Club Fonograma favorites who were considered for the 2016 edition of the fest (Javiera Mena, Alex Anwandter, Fakuta, Ases Falsos, Diosque, Tego Calderon) that might make the cut next year. Check out our in-depth coverage of Ruido Fest 2015 and our explosive conversations with Dënver, Silverio, Jessy Bulbo, and more.

los enamorados, Dani & Gio. 

In mourning, in rage: The Pulse Orlando Nightclub Massacre.

The following is an attempt on behalf of the Club Fonograma family to send our deepest condolences to the communities impacted by the "worst mass shooting in US history." We also wish to be historically accurate: the Pulse Orlando Nightclub Massacre isn't the worst mass murder that American $ociety has produced. The largest massacre in U$ history happened at Wounded Knee in South Dakota in 1890. 500 indigenous people were exterminated by colonial white supremacy on December 29th at the Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation. Club Fonograma strives for intersectionality. Our writers span continents, our roots run from Africa to Mexico. As music anthropologists, our unique approach and perspective and praxis may differ, but we stand united on the cultural battle against hate and brutality. We stand united with our Muslim and Arabic friends. We stand united with our gay, queer, trans, lesbian communities and everybody outside colonial gender binaries. We stand united with our Black & Brown communities worldwide and therefore reject any attempt on behalf of white supremacist state power configurations that will turn this tragedy into yet another tactic of fear led social control. In other words, we reject authoritarianism in all its forms. We reject our communities being murdered and disappeared by agents of hate and control, whether they be lone wolves or governmental bodies and their acolytes. We propose healing, autonomous & community based solutions to the problems that impact the lives of each and everyone of us in unique and nuanced ways. We remember the words of Alex Anwandter on "Manifesto":

"Yo quiero ser un manifesto hecho cuerpo, si, un cuerpo, que va a disparar. Y entiendo toda tu violencia, que, niño mío, no es ciencia, que lo justo no es normal. Defiéndete no más." 
In English: "I want to be a manifesto made flesh, yes, a body, that is going to shoot. And I understand all of your violence, that, dear boy, isn't science. Justice is not normal. Simply, defend yourself."

We will never forget our queer & trans communities and everyone outside repressive colonial gender binaries who struggle everyday to simply exist and resist inside a $ystem that wishes the annihilation of dangerous and unforeseen ways of living and loving. We will continue dancing our reggaetón, our cumbia, and our salsa.

UPDATE: We have just been informed that a similar attack took place in Veracruz, Mexico back in May. 7 people were murdered at the gay nightclub La Madame in the town of Xalapa. 

Video: Piyama Party - "Paz Mundial"

Piyama Party’s glorious shoegaze waltz “Paz Mundial” opened Álbum De Oro with the kind of serenity and wisdom reserved for album closers. Luis Angel Martínez took us along as he scaled that familiar “wall of sound” where a new perspective was waiting to deliver bliss. It was a bold move, but months after sifting out less essential 2015 records, one can appreciate a whole lot better. 

Recently Sefárdico, pen name for Austin-based director Luis Eduardo Flores, took on the mission to deliver visuals for the underrated “Paz Mundial.” Jumping in we see a charismatic and terminally chill cult leader meditating and vegging out. His psychedelic landscape tinged in purple fauna pulls from Richard Mosse photos (h/t Remezcla), then flips to a reality where young people, plagued by failures and regret, announce their departure from the material world into a more meaningful existence inside a purple paradise. The treatment is notable because it presents a narrative that edges by, never encroaching the song’s gravitational pull and leaves us feeling as serene as the lyrics promise, “Qué bien se siente.”

Ivy Queen - "Que Se Jodan"

A photo posted by @ivyqueendiva on

Ivy Queen's 2016 return is buzz worthy by its own merit, but these are no ordinary times for Ivy Queen to release a single. Javiera Mena's revelation to Club Fonograma last week that she is determined to work with Ivy Queen has our musical mythologies reeling. The prospect of such a collaboration is the stuff pop dreams are made of. As legend would have it, Shakira released three merengue singles from 2010's Sale El Sol as per Club Fonograma's suggestion. Evidently, Rita Indiana's excellent El Juidero made it to the ears of Shakira's production team, thereby inspiring the Caribbean sounds found in her last decent album. Or so the legend goes. Since 2009, Club Fonograma has been a haven for the analysis of provocative sounds from both the underground and the mainstream. It is our belief that a Javiera Mena / Ivy Queen collaboration could pave a road towards a certain type of immortality for both artists. On one hand, Javiera Mena could gain the notoriety and respect of going to the source- the Queen herself- for the reggaetón backdrops she employs on everything from "Cuando Hablamos" to a few tracks from Otra Era. On the other, Ivy Queen could steer her industry towards a different plateau by incorporating emerging left field talent from Latin America into her repertoire. Javiera Mena could be Ivy Queen's first of many fortuitous collaborations with a hipster underground. I mean, "Que Se Jodan" already sounds like Ivy and her producers have been listening to Puerto Rico heavyweight, Füete Billete.

"Que Se Jodan" is hip-hop, showcasing the strong rap element Ivy Queen honed in on for 2014's ambitious Vendetta, a multi-part album that dedicated itself to substantiating four different genres of music: reggaetón, bachata, salsa, and hip-hop. Ivy Queen does a lot of posturing during "Que Se Jodan," a nefarious if short lived number. Ivy Queen flaunts her two decades-long artistic career, her rap skills ("¿Qué sabes tú de letra?), and proclaims her love for hip-hop ("esa es mi medicina"). Ivy Queen is a good enough rapper, but it should be noted that some of the braggadocio on "Que Se Jodan" is not befitting a 20 year veteran. Still, her claim that she reminds womn to fill themselves up with greatness is pretty powerful. Consider "Que Se Jodan" a reintroduction to Ivy Queen, a good enough track that has us hoping she can channel the brilliance of 2003's "Yo Quiero Bailar" at least one more time.

Video: Princess Nokia - "Tomboy"

Small titties, big bellies, the allure of cannabis, gold chains, sweat pants and a Blues Clue's sample in the hood. Destiny AKA Princess Nokia AKA A Stripper Named Equality, AKA Wavy Spice is back. We talked at length about her convictions as an African-Taino warrior when we covered her Honeysuckle breakthrough, "Orange Blossom"- our #71 song of 2015. Now, we can begin having broader discussions about the impressive and appetizing cultural musings Destiny has been offering through anti capitalist, anti colonial, anti patriarchal social healing initiatives such as Smart Girl ClubWe Are Brujas, and of course, the reason we even pay attention, the music. The breadth of these conversations has been revitalized as attached to Destiny through the power house that is "Tomboy". Everyone can fuck with this jam.

Engines ignite. Vintage (1990s) family portraits adorn the wall of Destiny's housing project apartment. Black & Brown girls of many shades delight in sororal street subversion, in sweat pants. The fashion throughout "Tomboy" is decidedly baggy 90s.  Blunts of modest proportions are smoked in public spaces, in a family kitchen with dirty plates chilling in the sink. Girl on girl love is mutual, adorned in gold. The chains that decorate their diverse bodies are precious and gaudy, relics of quinceañeras, bodas, and bautizos. Coal plants in the background act as menaces of anthropogenic global ecocide & Destiny pisses off abuelita- intergenerational skepticism. "Tomboy" is a tour de force that will continue inspiring editorial think pieces and street turn ups alike. "Tomboy" is a party jam- the type of cultural ammunition that we enter Summer 20,016 with.

Video: Babasónicos - “Vampi”

Does Babasónicos still matter? Do we need another melodious ballad in which Andrián Dárgelos displays all his lyricism ability? In the rather desolated mainstream Argentine music scene, they still stand out. They may not be the band from the Jessico days, which started a revolution in the mainstream radio by speaking on the inner thoughts of youth with a delicacy and straightforwardness that was both seductive and defiant. However, their new single, “Vampi” – a live recording to be included on their upcoming live album Desde adentro – shows that the band still has a lot to say.

If you thought Babasónicos’ position in the music scene was stable because “everyone” knows them, Adrián Dárgelos is here to mess it all up. On the chorus to “Vampi,” he asks himself: “So what if I am a vampire, if I am going to fall in love anyways? What’s the use of being immortal if you can’t die of love?” The possibility of being an observer in the periphery is not an option. Society has defined him as a rather cold and extravagant persona more interested in building up a character than in his emotions, but on “Vampi” he recognizes that you can’t live isolated – not even a character – because everything reaches you sooner or later.

The canonized status of Babasónicos have detached them from society. There are no longer passionate to death discussions about them because they won that debate and became immortalized. However, what was the use of winning? Revolution and outrage was left in the past and replaced by imitation bands who’d rather see them dead. But being mainstream doesn’t necessarily mean that people won’t point you out in a crowd. “I don’t want to be a freak anymore,”Adrián Dárgelos sings exhausted, but we all know that he is maybe bound to it.

Juana Giaimo writes about music for The Singles Jukebox and on her Tumblr. 

De antro con Zemmoa + LA ENTREVISTA

Donna Summer playing at Sofia Moreno's apartment in Pilsen
It was late April in Chicago and the entire world was collapsing as islands of opulence exerted their methods of social control across entire populations of traumatized and heartbroken mortals. Chicago had just broken a new record: 1,000 people had been shot between January and April 2016, a 400 person increase juxtaposed to the same time period in 2015. This in combination with interpersonal and personal miasma meant that I would dance that weekend. I needed an escape. I needed to get lit. I arrived at Sofia Moreno’s apartment in Pilsen for breakfast at about 2:00PM with some angst, some journalistic prospects and a desire to connect to the brilliant, artistic resilience of those of us who live in one of the many purgatories of capitalism, Chicago. Me and Sebby were greeted with besos en la mejilla, conchas, and a panic-inducing cafecito. Cafecote. There was disco already playing on vinyl: Donna Summer. Zemmoa picked the record. Zemmoa was Sofia Moreno's guest of honor. Sofia Moreno. Perhaps the most controversial anomaly in the Chicago art scene. And the most essential. She is one of the chief architects of s+s project, a curatorial practice creating direct cultural exchange and dialogue between artists in Mexico City and Xicago. Don't be skeptical about the pre-hispanic, Indigenous art that adorns many of s+s project's promotional imagery.

Sofia Moreno as A$$ Pussy @ TRQPITECA. Photo by Zé Garcia Puga
Sofia Moreno- a grotesque and bewitching survivor of European commanded genocide- is aware of her Indigenous, Mayan ancestry. s+s project is the reason Zemmoa is in Chicago and showcasing at the idiosyncratic TRQPITECA. As I sip my coffee, Zemmoa grooms her nails, and talks about her conflicted origins, her present resentments, and her uncertain future. It is remarkable how beautiful Zemmoa looks without makeup, in baggy clothes, disheveled. Zemmoa and Sofia Moreno just woke up. Its 2PM. Zemmoa begins our interview by calling Mexico City home but explains that she was born in the “city of the eternal spring,” Cuernavaca. She lives in the Coyoacan neighborhood of DF and was neighbors with Frida Kahlo at one point: “we used to be friends”. Not even 5 minutes into cafecito & chill with Zemmoa and her pedigree begins to show: “my grandmother played piano for Frida Kahlo once. Music has always been in my family.” She isn't joking this time, she comes from a strong lineage of classically trained musicians. Zemmoa abruptly changes pace, her body movement tense and her explanations become terse. Zemmoa is on the run. Not from the law, mind you. Zemmoa is on the run from a supreme power. Zemmoa is on the run from love, from heartbreak. In a span of 1 hour, Zemmoa returns to speaking about the man that broke her heart a few times, her face in sincere anguish each time. “I’m tired of Mexico. I fell in love. Typical. This güey stopped seeing the light inside of me so I began to question myself and I had to escape.” I usually self destruct, but when you’re Zemmoa and a güey breaks your heart, you go on tour. But Zemmoa won’t just play anywhere. Her performances are methodical, precise. She explains her DIY approach but makes clear divergences from a “play anywhere, anytime” punk praxis. We delve deeper. Zemmoa speaks on recurring feelings of self doubt and emptiness. I sense self hatred, the same self destruction that propels each and every one of us to the depths of a disfigured sense of self worth. “I feel without love, self love or otherwise. I am crazy and this is how I feel, abandoned.” Self deprecating tendencies are the reason behind Zemmoa’s search for optimism: NNVAV (Nada Nos Va a Vencer), also the name of her most recent album. It is a nostalgic record indebted to 80s synth pop that simultaneously pays homage to the sounds of that era while addressing the current landscape of 21st Century pop. It is one 2015's most underrated albums in the Club Fonograma scene.

Zemmoa has valid reasons to hate and want to conquer the pop underground. Zemmoa resents life because of the tribulations she has undergone as a gender non conforming trans person in Mexico, a country that routinely murders its origins: its indigenous ancestors and its womn. She seems to be channeling some total destrucción vibes and talks at length about the intrinsic human desire to search for meaning and happiness beyond the current suffocating paradigms of everyday misery. Very early on our conversations became deep cuts and I realized these were fresh wounds for Zemmoa so I had to change course. Zemmoa had just met me and here I was pressing for more intimate, jarring details- I had to back off and asked her about Mexico’s underground music scene. “I am very much part of the underground,” she explains. “But what has changed is that now I am part of the global underground. A lot of friends tell me to simply believe it, that I have made it. But I think the moment I believe it, I will lose my humility."

Zemmoa @ TRQPITECA. Photo by Zé Garcia Puga

We talk about record deals and her artistic process. “I am very DIY, all my videos I direct myself, with the help of friends. This is out of necessity, everything costs so much money so I have to do it myself." We talked about her search for a disquera: "record labels in Mexico were not ready for a persona like me so que chinguen a su madre. I started my own.” She is apparently good friends with Julieta Venegas and asked me to say hi to Javiera Mena on her behalf in the coming days during our exclusive interview in LA. We turn the conversation towards her first album and the #LaEdadDeAcuarioTour (her first tour) which showcased in Madrid, Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Milan, Barcelona, New York, Los Angeles, Tijuana, Guadalajara, Leon, Aguascalientes and Mexico City. We talk about DF nightlife, los antros: “the Patrick Miller is a must, my song ‘Te Enterraré El Tacon’ is a classic there.”

As violence against trans womn and gender non conforming people continues to not make (inter)national headlines, it should be noted that Sofia Moreno and Zemmoa are brown trans womn from Mexico. On April 22nd 2016, their alchemy was devoted to a night of mischief, mystery, and dance. TRQPITECA was the showcase for MALA NOCHE (co curated by Jonathan Summer of s+s project) which also featured performances by Sofia Moreno (A$$ PUSSY) and BONBON. We got lit until closing time, courtesy of CQQCHIFRUIT and La Spacer- seminal figures in Xicago’s queer underground nightlife. La Spacer took us through cybernetic reggaetón wormholes whereas CQQCHIFRUIT reminded us of some of the origins behind the likes of "El Fondo Del Barro" and Adrianigual: Alaska y Los Pegamoides. TRQPITECA's MALA NOCHE- a space curated by queer and trans brown womn- and its collusion with incomprehensible and magnificent ways of self liberation felt like a zenith in Chicago's measurable tradition as a fulcrum of underground self expression. To me, it seemed like the next battlefield was to take such elated degrees of nightlife to the streets, to the illegal warehouses, and conflictual spaces where our fullest potential for dangerous liberation could manifest into a weaponized turn up. Sonically, the cutting edge was already here.

La Spacer & CQQCHIFRUIT @ TRQPITECA. Photo by Zé Garcia Puga.

Video: Kali Mutsa - "Interstellar"

Kali Mutsa’s first LP Souvenance was like being stabbed with an epipen for your allergies to twee folk strumming. Nearly every song felt like the heroin shooting scenes in Requiem for a Dream. Now Chile’s persona-bending songstress returns with new single “Interstellar”: more valium than amphetamine. The song combines bursts of Kali Mutsa’s raison d’être Andean cumbia, while channeling a refrain from Björk’s “Hidden Place”, and something akin to Goldfrapp’s Felt Mountain soundscape. Directed by Enciclopedia Color (a go-to Chilean design studio), the video mixes the existential imagery of Bergman’s The Seventh Seal with the sexual dread of Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. There’s sensuality and dark moon mysticism here, which, if the single’s artwork is anything to go by, could be Kali Mutsa’s next goddess phase.

Nite Jewel - "Kiss the Screen"

It’s been quite the wait since 2012's One Second of Love, but Nite Jewel, aka Ramona Gonzalez, has finally returned. The second taste from the upcoming LP Liquid Cool (we were a bit late to cover “Boo Hoo” and its charming Janet Jackson vibes), “Kiss the Screen” replicates the smartphone’s glow through synth pulses and comes away both restless and giddy, the way anyone would feel after getting 127 weeks deep into someone’s Instagram. If Soulja Boy's "Kiss Me Thru The Phone" offered unbridled and heartfelt devotion to his future wifey, not to mention a gratitude to the technology that connected him, Nite Jewel reflects an inverse situation: online crushes that will only ever exist as a “handheld fantasy.” In the chorus Nite Jewel vocally adorns her own charged delivery, sprinkling a “kiss, kiss” in a whispered manner, like a double tap. This is Nite Jewel in top form, fully making use of pop’s gifts to dissimulate longing.

Liquid Cool arrives June 10 via her own Gloriette label.

Javiera Mena x Club Fonograma: Otra Era Tour 2016

Photo cred: Nacho G Riaza
Javier Mena has cordially invited Club Fonograma to attend her Otra Era 2016 Tour. We will be spending some intimate moments with the Queen of Chilean Pop on May 4, 2016. Club Fonograma will report back on our encounter with Javiera Mena as soon as we return from LA. We would love for our readers to be able to contribute to our discussion with Javiera Mena and we invite questions via our Twitter account or directly to Zé Garcia Puga's Instagram.

Javiera Mena, #OtraEra Tour 2016: 

Saturday, April 30, 2016 @ Juvia, Miami, USA 
Free Admission 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016, Resident, Los Angeles, USA - Tickets: 

Thursday, May 5, 2016 @ Festival CincoTeca, San Diego, USA
Free Admission 

Saturday, May 7, 2016 @ Escena Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico - Tickets:

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 @ doppler, Texcoco, Mexico 

Friday, May 13, 2016 @ BMLS Showcenter, Guadalajara, Mexico 
Free Admission with Registration:

Saturday, May 14, 2016 @ Food Truck Fest, Morelia, Mexico - Tickets: 
Garcia Obeso 169 Colonia Centro 

Sunday, May 15, 2016 @ Lunario, Mexico City - Tickets: 

Video: Ases Falsos - "Mi Ejercito"

As far as poetic contributions are concerned, Cristobal Briceño postures as the leader of the pack in Chilean pop. This is true despite the fact that Ases Falsos are actually the contemporary descendants of rock en español. The poetic finesse of Conducción is charming, vague and compellingly incisive. Back in 2014, Pierre Lestruhaut called Conducciónlyrical pop grandeur,” a record that scaled back the aggressively political intentions of its predecessor, Juventud Americana. This isn’t necessarily true. Ases Falsos’ 2016 single “Mi Ejercito” shows Conducción wasn’t primarily a scaling back of political intensity but rather a calculated channeling of the age old mantra: the personal is political.

As the first single from Conducción indicates, our realities must find symmetry. The fourth (and likely final single from Conducción) succeeds in conducing balance. “Mi Ejercito” contemplates the limitations of teen angst: “parece que fue ayer cuando creí en la lucha contra el mundo” instead of channeling the energy of the world for combat. As Briceño would have it, the world is his army of which he is its commander and first line of defense. The Zapatista saying “mandar obedeciendo” comes to mind. In other words, Briceño alludes to the concept of command-obeying where the power of leadership directly stems from obeying the will of the community. True to form, Briceño channels personal agency over being a martyr for empty populism: “soy mi propia carne de cañon, y mi conspirador” (I am my own cannon made of flesh, my own conspirator).

But this isn't just a fluff piece for Ases Falsos or Cristobal Briceño's ego. I have thoughts regarding the music video for “Mi Ejercito” which follows a trend of cringe worthy visual presentations for the group: its corny. I also have some choice words regarding Cristobal Briceño’s confusing, nauseating, and disappointing comments regarding feminism which Alex Anwandter recently chastised and attributed to machismo. Cristobal, meet bell hooks en español. In the pejorative sense, Briceño's comments were pretty rock en español indeed.

Alex Anwandter - Amiga

Amiga, Alex Anwandter
Nacional Records, Chile
Rating: 90
By Zé Garcia

Club Fonograma first began transmitting communiques about the (nominal) pop insurrection sometime in October 2014. The term came attached to Fakuta’s Tormenta Solar, a record that sportively reflected Chile’s combatant youth with a mantra (as heard in “Fugitivos”), urging us to become outlaws rather than cogs in a machine. In recent memory, a growing number of artists in the Club Fonograma scene and beyond have gone on to make their own statements regarding an array of amalgamated global crises. From Beyoncé’s anti police publicity stunts, The Knife's conflictual Shaking The Habitual, Julieta Venegas’ plea for the 43 students of Ayotzinapa & against femicide, Lido Pimienta’s vocal repudiation of white supremacy & her celebration of water as an Indigenous womn, Destiny’s celebration of Taino & African ancestries through funky soul music, to the rapture that is felt every time Kendrick Lamar sings about hating the police & articulates Black resiliency in the face of social death. Systems of domination everywhere are trembling at present (& forthcoming) insurrections. We should continue celebrating our liberation, our uprisings. Our soundtrack is sounding pretty lit, too. Which brings us to the seminal record of the pop insurrection in the Club Fonograma scene: Amiga by our Prince of Pop, Alex Anwandter.

You will likely find many publications gushing over Amiga, claiming it is a progeny of this white man from New York, or that white band from Europe. Let us settle the score: disco, soul, funk, & Motown (the dominant music styles at work on Amiga) are mediums of the African diaspora. It isn’t surprising publications are more eager to name drop Phil Spector as an influence on Amiga but couldn’t even mention the Queen of Disco herself, Donna Summer. All shade aside, Amiga exists because of Grace Jones, Gloria Gaynor, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Ashford & Simpson, Chic, and Marvin Gaye well before any white person. I am reminded of the words Lido Pimiento recently shared with Club Fonograma: “there is this wrong impression that white people created “rock and roll”, Rock and Roll was pioneered by a Queer Black woman, her name was Sister Rosetta Tharpe.” Mentioning the liberation soul music of Chicago’s very own Curtis Mayfield seems compulsory when discussing Amiga, Chilean pop’s most explicitly political album thus far. Without resorting to cultural cannibalism, Alex Anwandter's magnum opus seems to derive its life source from Nina Simone’s “Baltimore,” a timeless protest record that has enjoyed a resurgence since the Black Uprisings following the police murder of Freddie Gray.

Amiga feels like a candidate for Album of the Year. For immediate reference to this claim see the elegiac “Cordillera” which finds Alex at his poetic peak. Lyrics like “El Mercurio miente y la verdad se tira desde un Puma al mar, a ese mar que todavía baña a los niños en el litoral” feel like post colonial parables, while indictments of electioneering and lines like “que esto no se acabe…yo quiero pelear” feel like voices from street battles against $tate forces. “Cordillera” is monumentally gorgeous: the lush string arrangements at the end of the track uplift the record from memorable to epic. This is true of every moment in Amiga that makes use of 1970s disco & soul era horn sections & orchestral strings (reaching one of many zeniths during the riveting, The Smiths / Elton John-esque "El Sonido De Los Corazones Que Se Quiebran"); such embellishments only add to the exquisite feeling of grandeur reminiscent of the album's aforementioned cultural predecessors. And since we are in the subject of Chilean pop, it should be noted that Dënver went on to create their best record yet using a similar formula, their "tribute to Motown," Fuera de Campo.

The album’s title track is a peculiar ode to Top 40 radio, although more effective and elating than its leading competitors in the charts. This foray into the 'top of the pops' allows us a glimpse into how EDM might sound if the calculated intentions of its maker were pure of heart. It comes with an incisive, no apologies breakup mantra (giving me Empress Of vibes), “y aunque no supe amarte, no pido perdon, si mi corazon cambio”. Slick and precise synth pop, “Mujer" contemplates centuries of patriarchy and rape culture- its staying power is accentuated by its sprite, orchestral panache. “Traición” is a disco showcase for Alex Anwandter's "future queer kingdom". All the wonders that Amiga has to offer are at a ten here: house keys, female backing vocals for added flare, & (again) orchestral opulence. "Caminando A La Fábrica" is pure melancholy, illustrating that it isn't necessarily life itself that is the source of our torment, but rather capitalism. Sufjan Stevens vibes aren't out of the question here. And I most definitely needed this song during my near suicide depression days of third shift factory work a few years ago. Did I mention “Caminando A La Fabrica” features backing vocals by Julieta Venegas?

Only time will tell if "Manifiesto" is our generation's "Imagine" although no other exemplars have emerged to date. Like John Lennon's ode to world peace, "Manifesto" is stripped to bare bones: only a piano complements Alex Anwandter's silvery vocals. Like "Imagine", "Manifiesto" rejects formal theology and traditional systems of social control. However, "Manifiesto" offers something "Imagine" doesn't; its protagonist betrays a privilege (or perhaps a hindrance) afforded to them since birth: an emotionally stunted, male subjectivity. As the protagonist rejects male subjectivity to instead embody womanhood, they offer a glimpse into the terror experienced by trans and gender non conforming people: "sere el maricón del pueblo, aunque me prendan fuego." “Manifiesto” isn’t just theory, it is also a praxis; advocating for armed self defense: "yo quiero ser un manifiesto, hecho cuerpo…que va a disparar / lo justo no es normal, defiéndete no más.” Alex Anwandter claims his "Manifiesto" stands on the shoulders of his compatriots Victor Jara and the "poor and queer" literary genius, Pedro Lemebel. "Manifiesto" deserves our full attention Such a bold record has the universal spirit to command awards ceremonies. Next year’s “Hasta La Raiz” at the Latin Grammy’s? Better than winning industry awards, "Manifiesto" has an alchemical quality to make hearts made of stone bleed.

"¿Qué Será De Ti Mañana?” is completely devoted to Chilean folk music, the Nueva Canción movement, and it's protagonists like Mercedes Sosa and Violeta Parra. After all, Alex Anwantder is beaming his 21st Century pop manifesto to us from a post-colonial, post-dictatorship social reality in the southern cone. As suicide pandemics, modern alienation, and our interpersonal relationships continue to suffer in this purgatory of capitalism- "¿Qué será de ti mañana?" (what will become of you tomorrow) seems like a perfectly poignant question. I'm not simply projecting my own alienation as I write this essay, Alex Anwandter literally talks about the failings of capitalism. Alex seems to be alluding to the inherent emptiness universally embodied when energy (power) transfers are articulated through the spell of capital. Alex appeals to populism, "si alguien queda atrás, nadie avanza," alludes to the ebb and flow of revolt, reminding us that rebellions are temporary, "la revolución en dónde quede?” and finally, aspires for a day that doesn't betray our personal and collective potential for happiness. This was a song we listened to in a squat at 4 in the morning, accepting our collective and personal depression, and pressed on with our resolve to do something dangerous about our current myopic horizons. Y empecé a chillar.

Like pulling a page from Juan Gabriel's diary, "Te Enamoraste" is perhaps Amiga's crowning achievement. It is a heart wrenching story of gracefully accepting the misery (& optimism) of falling in love with someone else. Alex accepts that there's nothing inherently wrong when love finds solace in the heart of another, "no tienes que pedir perdón". He accepts such jarring and traumatic developments with a profound sensibility, proclaiming that he understands that one doesn't discard a lover for another "eso lo entiendo yo / que no funciona así". The Orquesta de Camara de la Universidad Austral is simply exquisite on this album. Allow yourself to languish in the whimsical musical flourishes that complement these niceties. Grace gives way to an homage of shared, beautiful moments. And then Alex loses his elegant stride and begins to beg his former love to in turn bless his new love, begs her to be happy being just...a friend. "Te Enamoraste" displays a musical richness that speaks to the musical heritage of soul records. But we must firmly situate this number in the tradition of breakdown inducing Juan Gabriel epics. The strings reminisce "Querida", the final belt of "bendice mi amor, quiero que estés contenta, bendice mi amor" recalls the beautiful despondency of "Te Sigo Amando." Is it safe to say that "Te Enamoraste" is not unlike the cathartic urgency a queer boy might have felt in 1986, the year that birthed "Hasta Que Te Conocí"? But here Alex does something JuanGa could never do in his heyday (because of strict homophobic ethics in the Latino music industry), Alex seems to swap the pronoun from female to male as he delivers the devastating final moments of a career-defining album, from amiga to amigo. Where does one go after such a devastatingly tragic moment? Right back to the beginning of the record for the finest exemplar of our current pop insurrection: the anthemic disco house of "Siempre Es Viernes En Mi Corazón”. Alex Anwandter calls this track his wolf in sheep’s clothing, “a protest song disguised as a party anthem”. As I stated before, “Siempre Es Viernes En Mi Corazón” is "our eternal mutiny in the discotheque and in the streets". It urges our generation to attack the modalities that Church and $tate have created. WITH FIRE.

Amiga is a sophisticated pleasure that is by no means facile. It is neither strictly synth pop nor disco. It also isn't exclusively “suited for the dance floor” as some publications have suggested. The first half of Amiga is euphoric discotheque bangers. But “Manifiesto” marks the turning point towards the album’s dysphoric second half. This is where some of the finest moments in Amiga can be found, as Alex gently takes us by the hand to show us his political project with a splendor that matches Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” In other words, this is some of the saddest (& vitalizing) music Anwandter has ever created, reflecting a widespread societal malaise. Most of the moments Amiga generates are spaces of personal-political solace, a collection of melancholic melodies that allow broken spirits the ability to process, reflect, and yes, cry. Amiga could come with a trigger warning: it is a record full of confessional interpersonal & social miasma. Lines like “madre, tómame la mano / ya no tengo dudas, esto es el final" during the fascinating “Intentarlo Todo De Nuevo” function as double entendres. Clearly Alex is speaking to an end in a romantic relationship while simultaneously alluding to a broader eschatology; that we are living through a literal end of days.

Capitalism unquestionably shapes and molds our social realities, accomplishments & shortcomings. Amiga deconstructs and attacks various modalities of control and even though our total liberation might never materialize, we are already creating our moments & methods of liberation. But our fortitude comes in our ability to share & create our own stories, our own otherness, our own queerness, as part of a deprogramming that we must undergo (individually and collectively) if we are to reject capitalism, patriarchy, & colonialism. When we build under capitalism, our desires are subjugated. Our agony, however we feel it, is the birthing pains of a world surviving capitalism. As "Siempre Es Viernes En Mi Corazón" suggests, we can weaponize our desires to destroy this reality, even as we subsist under the domination monolith of Capital. Amiga plays like the current soundtrack of the ungovernable.