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"

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"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.