Club Fonograma's Best Albums of the 2010s

     Artwork by Alonso Ayala (@ouchal)











The Club Fonograma staff have reunited to recap the Best Iberoamerican (Latin America + Iberian) music of the decade. This project consists of essays from ex-Club Fonograma writers and friends, along with a full list of our favorite songs and albums of the decade.

Here are Club Fonograma's top 50 albums of the decade. You can listen to songs from the albums featured in this list on our Spotify playlist. And also check out all of Club Fonograma's best of the decade recap here.



50
El Sueño de la Casa Propia
Historial de Caídas
Pueblo Nuevo, 2010
There’s nothing really original about Historial de Caídas. Actually, now that I think about it, there’s nothing really original about El Sueño de la Casa Propia, either. I mean, glitchy, sample-fueled electronica has been making its way around clubs for the past 20-25 years or so. Much of this kind of stuff could rightfully be accused of being easy, lazy, boring, or confused (I’m looking at you, Greg Gillis). José Manuel Cerda Castro, the man behind El Sueño de la Casa Propia, seems to have a decent understanding of pre-digital electronic music. His sample manipulation is rudimentary, but not elementary; almost like early-90’s IDM. When the record starts to perk up the glitches and pops, Castro doesn’t override or counteract his beat, he makes sure it stays central to the auxiliary sounds. This is a record that’s deep, complicated, and full of warmth and optimism. But it also sounds like a banger playing on your speakers. Something for your head and your tippy toes. - Andrew Casillas (from Historial de Caídas album review)

♫ LISTEN: PUEBLO NUEVO



49
Univers
L'Estat Natural
Famelic, 2014
Described as a supergroup since their debut (the band included members from Mujeres, Aliment and Piñata who also later founded Heather), and having announced their separation at the end of last year with a series of concerts, Univers’ story equals that of a shooting star: brilliant, fast and fleeting. L’Estat Natural is their first album, released in 2014 following two previous EPs (La Pedregada and Cavall Daurat, from 2013) and it could be considered today, may I say, a classic. A perfectly calibrated set of songs that drinks from different sources ranging from post-punk (the drums, in particular) to shoegaze through dream pop. Evasive lyrics that talk about people, places, feelings, and the vocals, wrapped in haze, picture a fantastic, dreamlike atmosphere. Univers’ sound freed from the pressure of being original: nothing is new here, but everything is new at the same time. Plus, as Club Fonograma’s founder Carlos Reyes said back then, “nothing is particularly catchy here, yet everything resonates.” L’Estat Natural contains some of the most memorable songs of the band, including their first one, “Paral·lel,” “Travessant la llum del sol,” “Muntanya Màgica” and the one that closes the album, “Lluita infinita de cossos.” - Glòria Guso

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48
Buscabulla
EP
Kitsuné, 2014
Buscabulla, [the 2014] breakthrough tropical dream pop chanteuse closes her already iconic debut with “Sono” a sonic tropical paradise that would make J Dilla proud: golden hip-hop samples and Andean flutes customized to sound like a Curtis Mayfield. Is it weird to think about how in an alternate universe Buscabulla is performing “Sono” at an awards show and then the guitar part right after her tripped up & pitched down vocals is being played by Cristóbal Briceño or some other “Latin” virtuoso to widespread audience acclaim? EP is lush, vibrant, mellow, immersive. Buscabulla’s sparse vocal manipulation add so much detail to her compositions. This isn’t Fever Ray psychological inner torment – these are decorations for “the trouble maker’s” pastel island pop. On “Métele” she coos – “ooh baby” – funky lo-fi synth pop finesse. And her Caribbean accent really shows here: “métele (echoes) esta noche – hey! – me pongo los tacones...” ;) OMG I want to be walking Santurce smoking a blunt with you rn, Buscabulla! “Temporal” is fine aural pop made up of contemplative & effective samples. Synths elevate – our psychedelic tendencies enjoy this viginette – a single horn adorns her closing sighs, like a ghost ship trailing the Caribbean coastline. Indeed the only tragic thing about Buscabulla’s first release is its brevity. - Zé Puga (from Best Albums of 2014)

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47
C. Tangana
Avida Dollars
Sony Music, 2018
Avida Dollars recentered the whirlwind mainstream trajectory of C. Tangana’s career. In 2016 the Madrid rapper began steadily releasing singles that flirted with the kind of blockbuster urbano that’s made for YouTube’s right side recommendations (let’s call it the 1 Billion Views Club): “Antes de morirme” with its balmy yearning, the movie set lust of “Mala mujer,” and the downright nasty “Booty” alongside Becky G. These songs, all made with Barcelona producer Alizzz, signaled an ambition that, while fun in their chaotic spirit, spread Tangana’s artistry wider and thinner. Often when rappers have these career highs that threaten to overshadow what they stood for in the first place, the mixtape can set the record straight. But even then, Avida Dollars is not a purist collection of hard edged flows to assure us he’s “Still Rapping” – rather, it’s a statement on how success doesn’t have to translate into self deterioration. The gracious runtime also makes it one of the first essential Tangana records. “Baile de la Lluvia,” produced by Take A Daytrip, flexes in the rain and turns a depressing cityscape into a playground. “Cuando Me Miras” is Pucho at his most charming, with piano steps that feel almost whimsical. “Llorando en la Limo” details those first post-platinum moments of backlash and longing. Crying in the limo – still a flex. - Giovanni Guillén

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46
Ozuna
Odisea
VP Records/Dimelo Vi, 2017
Odisea served as a music industry standard of urbano excellence, to say the least. Ozuna’s debut album drove a new standard of expectation and quality in a latin urbano realm, and Ozuna set this excellence with his first album ever. It’s brilliant. Odisea is rich lyrical composition, concept sound with a larger aim and narrative excellence all with a a reggaetón-ruled rush. Indirectly, and probably not intentional, Odisea also served to challenge the urbano explosion, inviting musicians to creating conceptual albums with narrative arcs and tones. It’s a production display of beats, wildly inventive with Ozuna’s rich and textured voice and lyrical allure. Remaining 46 weeks at number one on Billboard Top Latin Albums charts, from “Se Preparó” to “El Farsante,” Odisea holds 16 songs that all-together create a landmark for urbano expression. - Marty Preciado

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45
Cupido
Préstame Un Sentimiento
Primavera Labels/Universal, 2019
Please allow me to be self-conscious for a moment and ask the following. What was the point behind all the nerdism, all the relatively unknown bands that were championed, all the records that were dissected 600-words at a time in this now-defunct music blog? The answer to that question is uncomfortable, mainly because nerdism (at least cultural nerdism) only seems to come in handy when discussing culture with other people well-versed in cultural nerdism themselves. Try reading a few of the longform album reviews that Préstame Un Sentimiento has spawned since its release and see how they all exude an unmistakable air of musical and cultural know-it-all. It’s not a coincidence. Cupido are the very incarnation of a nostalgic millennial culture nerd’s wet dream, the communion of so many pop culture references that you must wonder whether this was put together using the detritus of an early 2010s music blog content. The vintage bedroom psych pop instrumental backdrop, provided by members of band Solo Astra, takes us to the days when relevant music bloggers were going insane for Ariel Pink, vaporwave, and lo-fi psych pop. But it’s the heavily auto-tuned vocals of Spaniard trap star Pimp Flaco that take Cupido towards even nerdier territories, that of Simpsons’ references, social media-era narcissism, and Bad Bunny-esque emo romanticism. It’s for the egotistical enjoyment and dissection of records like these that nerdism for nerdism sake is all worth it. - Pierre Lestruhaut

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44
Empress Of
Us
Terrible, 2018
What happened between Me and Us is Lorely Rodriguez opened up. She opened up to collaboration and to the vulnerability of crafting pop songs around the universal, rather than the specific, diary-entry stuff of her first LP.  We must add that the time between albums also gifted us with “Woman Is a Word” and Blood Orange collab, the devastating “Best to You,” two songs that cemented Rodriguez’s reputation among her peers and new listeners as a serious songwriting talent. On Us, we find a new confidence in Rodriguez’s song crafting and, more specifically, playfulness. She uses a lot more of the lilting jazz melodies and phrasing that made her demos Colorminutes and EP Systems so exciting. And the reintroduction of Spanish mixed throughout tracks is laudable as her star continues to rise. Why Us is not higher on our list than Me, however, could be the Club Fonograma penchant for the crunchier (pissed off) material – or the Bueninvento Factor if you will. Us, with standout tracks “Trust Me Baby” and “When I’m With Him,” is just as successful a realization, it’s just the strawberry to the former album’s chocolate. - Sam Rodgers

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43
Algodón Egipcio
La Lucha Constante
Lefse Records, 2011
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, and Destiny’s Child, the outcomes are phenomenal. - Carlos Reyes (from La Lucha Constante album review)

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42
Kali Uchis
Isolation
Rinse Recordings, 2018
After the wonderful Por Vida EP three years prior, many assumed Kali Uchis was on the fast track to pop stardom. But rather than settle for being Latinx R&B’s It Girl, Uchis went all-in on contemporary pop. Indeed, what makes Isolation such a revelation isn’t that it dips into different styles, but that Uchis delivers on evoking and embodying so many disparate sounds. That you could swap vocals (and add cartoons) and release this as a new Gorillaz LP is a high compliment (and indeed the Gorillaz-backed “In My Dreams” is probably the album’s standout). Hip-hop, vintage soul, quiet storm, música urbana, indie rock – everything was on the table, and Uchis succeeded at virtually each of them. - Andrew Casillas

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41
Helado Negro
This Is How You Smile
RVNG Intl., 2019
Sonically, This Is How You Smile has broad range and depth of sound and lyricism. Conceptually, this album is the dedicated culmination of Roberto Lange’s talent and journey; the masterpiece that has been unfolding in front of our eyes since 2009’s Awe Owe, Lange’s debut full-length album. This Is How You Smile, 12-track album, is Lange’s soothing exhale after a held breath. It’s releasing tension. It’s peace and emotional serenity. This album disentangles any and all emotional pains, and leaves you with nothing but warmth. With hallmarks such as “Running,” “Seen My Aura” and “Todo lo que me falta,” Lange delivers a wealth of experimental pop and emotional-laced poetry, a unique interpretation and masterpiece bringing together mind and soul. - Marty Preciado

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40
Mula
Aguas
Pulcra Records, 2017
A blend of dream pop with dembow is the best description for Mula’s Aguas. Las Acevedo leave the minimalist twee pop that made them famous in their circuit and get into the world of alternative rhythms such as R&B and a bit of reggaetón and trap. The futurist Gemini would not be the same without the strict intervention of Rachel Rojas who, with her contribution in production and melodies, grants the Acevedo sisters permission to solidly carry out a hypnotic tour through sensuality, empowerment, and the political history of the Dominican Republic. An enjoyable album for those looking for a party sound and who do not settle for radio hits. - Pablo Acuña

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39
John Talabot
Fin
Permanent Vacation, 2012
Ask anyone who has lived on a beach town in the Mediterranean to describe what life is like over there, and they’ll be quick to mention the 180-degree turn between the crowded party ambiance of the summer and the deserted gloomy feel of the winter. Logically, one of the musical movements most associated with Spanish beaches, Balearic beat, has only really been interested in soundtracking the energetic part of the year. Balearic beat is seldom mentioned when discussing John Talabot’s debut album Fin, mainly because, despite the feeling that the sounds and aesthetics of Ibiza form much of the palette and the feels behind the tracks, Talabot has always wanted to overlay a much darker mood over the glistening images that one might picture when listening to Mediterranean dance music. Contrary to other seminal dance records made these past ten years, it’s not the catchy hooks nor the rapturous vocals that make Fin such an enticing listen, it’s Talabot’s remarkable ability as a shifter of moods, as a commander of light and dark, pleasure and sorrow. - Pierre Lestruhaut

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38
Jessy Bulbo
Telememe
Independiente, 2011
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. Jessy Bulbo won our hearts since her very first album; the production of Saga Mama was almost damaging to the human ear but was still a treasure. Taras Bulba was just something else; an uncontrollable and alarming vindication of what rock and roll is all about. The true advancement between Taras Bulba and Telememe is the straightforward narrative. In “Belzebú” she stops singing for a bit to instead, tell the story through a very touching monologue. And that, along with “Flores y Frutos,” is the real nakedness on the album. Telememe is a round record, perhaps the first Jessy Bulbo work 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 (from Telememe album review)

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37
Gepe
GP
Quemasucabeza, 2012
Super entertaining and increasingly gay (musically speaking), GP captures a subculture that is very typical of the south. Daniel Riveros delivers a record very marked by the rhythms of Northern Chile, with Altiplanic sounds adapted to his distinctive voice and a few ballads. There is not as much post-production as in previous works, and the danceable electronic experimentation of previous albums can be heard almost only in “Bailar bien bailar mal,” a song where Gepe is accompanied by Mexican singer Carla Morrison. Virtuosity and palpable artistic choices take care of the rest. Gepe is still verbalizing universal feelings regardless of the vessel he is surveying. And it’s ultimately this conscious choice that makes GP truly essential. - Pablo Acuña

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36
Whitest Taino Alive
¿Dónde Jugarán Los Cueros?
Stereoptico, 2014
Led by the equally prolific and abrasive producer Cohoba, and branding on the idea of providing the audience with something they call Chopería Fina (rocking beats while wearing leather), Whitest Taino Alive afford to sound truly colossal on their debut album. Featuring a grand-sound design and an ambitious composition, ¿Dónde Jugarán Los Cueros? is an album that sounds nothing short of pristine. For a producer with a fondness for rapture and visceral banging, he is faced with the task of negotiating his beats for the vocal dissertation of WTA (comprised of Cohoba, Blon Jovi & Dominicanye West). The results are valiantly tackled and arresting for the most part. WTA pop references a wide number of topics that go from Sosa to Heisenberg and Lara to celebrating Selena’s butt as a cultural monument. While the abrasiveness of the lyrics makes it seem like they’re name-dropping indiscriminately, they’re actually using pop culture as a tool/hook to welcome non-Dominicanos to their idiosyncrasy. Lyrically, the album delivers plenty of hilarious one-liners, but frequently struggles to accomplish roundness in the storytelling. The narrative is still wonderfully uncompromised in both their outbursts and restrained lines of attack. And that’s perhaps WTA’s biggest attraction, its ability to position itself as understated text and then become a major threat to the dancefloor by the very next track. - Carlos Reyes (from ¿Dónde Jugarán Los Cueros? album review)

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35
Neon Indian
Era Extraña
Mom + Pop, 2011
Alan Palomo’s pun-titled sophomore release fashions an ensemble of synth-driven pieces that showcase the artist’s experimentation with textures. The album is a rainbow of sonic color woven with jewel-like blips and beeps, or arcade game samples, like on “Arcade Blues.” These deliberate flourishes form the signature of the band’s take on psych-pop/indie rock/chillwave. On “Future Sick” and “Polish Girl,” Palomo flexes the humor that will underpin the follow up LP, VEGA INTL. Night School, a much more upbeat record. Era Extraña, on the other hand, is an introspective, longing album recorded mostly in Finland. Here and there it gives us hints of the strutting rock star Palomo brings to the stage, but this is an album better fit for headphones. It’s an indie soundtrack for the memory of a summer. It’s day drinking as opposed to the subsequent record’s after midnight deviances. - Sam Rodgers

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34
Cardi B
Invasion of Privacy
Atlantic, 2018
Love it or hate it, “Bodak Yellow” was the Song of 2017. You could hear at every club, and every girl at that club knew every word – and thought she was bad as Cardi while singing along. The hit shot Cardi B into superstardom, and the album that followed, Invasion of Privacy, is unfiltered, unapologetic, and undeniable fire. It embodies everything charming, magnetic, and, yes, messy about Cardi B. The brash Bronx rapper sets it all up with “Get Up 10,” a foreward of sorts for those who don’t know about Cardi’s come-up. “Be Careful” is an immediate standout, unexpectedly tender and vulnerable, so honest that you can feel her pain.

“Money Bag,” with its haunted house synths intimidates as it flaunts, but it’s the chilling “Thru Your Phone” that’s straight out of an episode of “Snapped,” which thanks to Lil Nas X collab “Rodeo,” we now know is her favorite show (and another very good reason to “be careful”). While block party jam “I Like It” didn’t quite soar to the heights we expected, it was a fun way to bring together three heavy-hitters for a quick flex. The real flex, though, was closing the album with “I Do,” making sure we all know she does what she wants and scoffing at those who said her 15 minutes of fame would be up soon. You can almost hear her cackling. - Blanca Méndez

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33
Odisea
Odisea
Oveja Negra, 2010
As a transitional record between the post-DFA dance pop of Teleradio Donoso’s Bailar y Llorar and the more traditional pop singer-songwriter albums released under his own name, Alex Anwandter conceived his most captivating yet puzzling record under the name Odisea. The most self-evident stylistic shifts present in Odisea laid in the use of the disco and house sonic palettes and song structures, often extending tracks beyond the six-minute mark for dancefloor purposes. But the disco sequencing here didn’t form the backdrop for the individual liberation associated with escapist urban nightlife, instead it accompanied the alienation provoked by inner city violence and the impending smartphone-era technology. Despite often painting such dystopian landscapes, Odisea doesn’t come out as a pessimistic record. As Carlos Reyes’ review of the record pointed out: “He is not spitting on the place, he becomes aware of it. He feels the pain and sees the beauty of the place that’s transforming him.” Which is why the album’s full picture feels a lot more complete when experienced alongside the Anwandter-directed videos that were made for two of the standout tracks: “Cabros” and “Casa Latina.” Thematically and visually similar, the juxtaposition of closed/private and open/public urban spaces are the main forces here. Where the closed spaces feel dominated by routine, loneliness, and workplace exploitation, it is the open spaces that provide the escape, whether it’s in the form of solitary rapture or physical confrontation. - Pierre Lestruhaut

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32
Triángulo de Amor Bizarro
Salve Discordia
Mushroom Pillow, 2016
After releasing two of Spanish indie rock’s most important records, Triángulo de Amor Bizarro put out the very accomplished yet also somewhat unchallenging Estrellas Místicas. But three years later, their fourth album Salve Discordia made clear TAB was not a band that was going to musically settle down as they began their second decade of activity. This didn’t mean they were considering forgoing their identity either, as post-punk and shoegaze remained the bread and butter of the Galician band, one whose tongue-in-cheek name admitted in a very direct way just how derivative their sound was. Salve Discordia is full of frenetic distorted rock, and drummer Rafael Mallo shines as it’s the wild percussion and unexpected tempo shifts that elegantly hold the album together. But this is also where TAB started moving out of their comfort zone, giving us some of their most accessible work so far: there’s the reggae/dub vibe of opener “Desmadre Estigio,” the slow arpeggiated dream pop of “Seguidores,” and the very new wave (and shall we say “Age of Consent”-esque) “Baila Sumeria.” And in traditional TAB fashion, the political and social undertones are as ambiguous as they are amusing. In the Spectoresque “Qué Hizo por Ella Cuando la Encontró,” Isa sings about loving someone so much that you’re willing to vote to the right for them – the grandest romantic gesture TAB have ever put to words on a song. - Pierre Lestruhaut

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31
Fakuta
Al Vuelo
Michita Rex, 2011
Fakuta is a master of soundscapes. Her voice alone, infinitely clear and pure, is capable of remarkable reach, both into the ether and into your soul. The carousel chimes of “50 Años” are straight out of a dream or nightmare sequence, depending on how you look at it. “Mi Casa” builds on the dreamy-creepy carousel vibes with a stickier, sour instrumentation before “Mil Veces Vuelvo” takes you on a thrilling video game mission. The alien voice intro on “Segundando” gives way to a fascinating vocal performance that plays with shapes and spacing in challenging, refreshing ways.

The sparse opening of “Virreinatos” punctuated by tapping that’s hard to ignore is almost unnerving. As Fakuta slowly adds layers of sound, that tapping remains underneath, inescapable. Even Fakuta’s ethereal voice can’t quite distract from it, and it gets under your skin. By contrast, “Al Vuelo” is airy and invigorating and sounds like the sensation of taking flight and soaring above the clouds (or at least what you might imagine it to feel like). “Aeropuerto” is the song that everyone remembers, and for good reason. It captures the liminality of airports and airplanes beautifully, conjures the anticipation of traveling to some place far from the daily drudgery. And that’s really what this whole album does when you listen, each song its own fantasy land, it’s own escape from reality. - Blanca Méndez

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30
Silva
Vista Pro Mar
Som Livre, 2014
When I think of what made Club Fonograma so special, Vista Pro Mar is one of the first things that comes to mind. Without this wonderful website, the odds that I would have encountered Brazilian artist Silva would have been slim-to-none. And what a gift Silva provided us with in his standout 2014 LP. Vista Pro Mar catalogues one man’s personal journey through little more than hushes and pops. Close your eyes and you get the sense that he’s standing right behind you, ushering you through the heart of his world. “Okinawa,” in particular, remains singularly spellbinding – a song of personal longing juxtaposed with the sounds of waves crashing, as if the entire world is at the precipice. Armed with his guitar and simple folktronic sounds, Silva brings his world to you, and it’s a place that you’ll never want to leave. - Andrew Casillas

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29
Füete Billēte
Música de Capsulón
Independiente, 2013
Hate them or love them, there’s no denying Música de Capsulón is a hell of an accomplishment. With hardly any pause between tracks, the MCs found a robust manner to accommodate their previous offerings, assembling an entrancing narrative. Whether it’s with the assistance of Freebass’ luxurious beats or Overlord’s under-purple-drank, stoner production, Füete Billēte’s vast musical spectrum, which ranges from 90s rap, to crunk, to contemporary hip hop, stands out throughout, revealing new genius in every spin. Beibi’s and Pepper’s performances, however, are what steal the whole show. Johnson’s reggaeton-esque flow is commanding, while Kilo’s sick, often Auto-Tuned verses are intrepid. The sheer volume of smashers on Música de Capsulón is impressive. Following the throwback intro “Mira Esa Perrita,” the title track quickly makes itself present. It easily equalizes the same exciting effect we had when we first heard “La Trilla.” The self-aware “La Moda,” hard-hitting “Hasta el Piso,” and Aaliyah-sampling “Una en un Millón” are ultimately designed for perrear/twerking. Outstanding singles “Bien Guillao” and “Al Mando” bring out their most gangster side, while Overlord-produced tracks “Fumaera Namás” and “Vaso Lento” exhibit them DUI all the way. They even show their more romantic style in the fucking sexy “No Me Quito” and get dreamy in the opulent “Peces Cuadraos.” Whichever side they present, they succeed in it. - Enrique Coyotzi (from Música de Capsulón album review)

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28
J Balvin
Vibras
Universal Latin, 2018
This is the sound of the brass ring hitting the table: J Balvin, fresh from achieving pop stardom (culminating in a remix featuring fucking Beyoncé), forgoing a victory lap for a trip around the world in 40 minutes. Beginning with an echoing indie pop intro featuring Mexican chanteuse Carla Morrison and ending with a stomping raver with Brazilian and Aruban singers, respectively, Anitta and Jeon, Vibras is as much a pop music snapshot as any other record this decade. In-between these jaunts, J Balvin unites the old world (via Rosalía and Willy William) with the new (he got both Wisin and Yandel!) in a way that his motherland’s eponym could have only dreamt (much love to Colombia, fuck you Christopher Columbus). Geopolitics aside, Vibras wouldn’t resonate if it wasn’t so uncompromising. This is J Balvin’s tour around the world, and folks, you better believe there’s a dress code. - Andrew Casillas

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27
Juana Molina
Wed 21
Crammed Discs, 2013
Juana Molina warrants many descriptions: composer, noise stylist, humanist, beat maker, and former comic. But we often forget to reference what makes her divine to the great spectrum of pop culture. Molina is a master of horror. Molina’s uncanny sensitivity is the rumination of our daily appointments with existential terror. Wed 21 makes emotional devastation sound monstrously beautiful in a deceptively simple manner. Conceptually and aesthetically, it’s one of Juana’s boldest provocations, and it’s far from being a shortcut to aural ecstasy. Throughout the record we find an artist who is compassionate to the medium, but who dares to be abrupt and compulsive for the greater service of emotional unease. There’s a metaphorical pull in Wed 21 that stops it from being read as a mere brainteaser. Molina fills the space with sound. A whole lot of sounds in fact. When deconstructed, the swarming conditions come off as inner wars of spiritual proportions. It’s a turmoil of an album – assaulting and frightening – and one of Molina’s most accomplished vehicles for letting out some steam. - Carlos Reyes (from Wed 21 album review)

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26
Julieta Venegas
Otra Cosa
Sony International, 2010
In the last decade Julieta Venegas gave us three albums, Otra Cosa, Los Momentos and Algo Sucede. Of the three, Otra Cosa is the hinge on which her former and current soundscapes coalesce: the metamorphosis from post-punk rocker en español to pop queen and then – in the last decade – the expert song-crafter. At the time it felt like an extension of the buoyant moments of Limón y Sal streamlined into a more cohesive whole, but that belied the fact that Venegas had spun out the whimsy from that album, made it electronic, and wrote one of the most upbeat heartbreak albums ever – a more mature twin of the giddy honeymoon of (look at the covers of these albums, people!). “Despedida” makes you tap your foot to a song about saying goodbye and respecting a relationship that ended. “Debajo De Mi Lengua” crystallizes the awkwardness of communicating what you need in a relationship, but it plays out like a sing-along with your governess over the Austrian mountains. Venegas’ witty humor is on full display throughout. I will also add that “Otra Cosa” is the most frustratingly short song of her catalog, because, musically, it’s one of her best. Perhaps this is true of the whole album, too? - Sam Rodgers

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25
Lido Pimienta
La Papessa
ANTI-, 2016
For any casual Club Fonograma reader, seeing Lido Pimienta’s name on the credits was like a guarantee of quality. Whether on her own songs, or as a collaborator, or even as a hook girl, Lido’s signature vocals led a powerful, naturalistic element to almost anything that she graced with her presence. La Papessa is mostly remembered by mainstream music fans for her passionate acceptance speech at the 2017 Polaris Music Prize ceremony, where she saliently called out racist attitudes in her adopted homeland of Ontario. But for those of us who’ve followed Lido’s journey for the past decade, La Papessa was a triumph – a wonderful symbiosis of soul and electronic sounds (“Agua” in particular continues to wreck your shit from the very first second). Lido Pimienta is essential to understanding Latinx pop of the 2010s, and La Papessa is her most essential work. - Andrew Casillas

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24
Ases Falsos
Juventud Americana
ARCA Discos, 2012
The transition of Fother Muckers into Ases Falsos brings forward some of the Chilean band’s most illustrious bridges. Ases Falsos embrace Juan Gabriel, the most beloved songwriter/performer of the Americas, through an original work bravely emerged from inspiration. But Juventud Americana is way beyond an appreciation album for the idol, it’s a work about América (the ONE continent), a climbing introspection on our continental idiosyncrasies, and an update to the “We are Sudamerican Rockers” maxim. “No soy y nunca seré un artista nacional.” This is one of many memorable roars in Juventud Americana, but the most significant in the band’s shot at reinvention.

Juventud Americana isn’t a doorway to the renaissance of the Chilean band. Ases Falsos have crafted a roll-with-the-punches album that blooms in transitions – the end of conservatism and the rise of progressive ideals – specifically as faced by our increasingly nearer continental youth. And yet, there’s nothing technologically accommodated for a Generation X absorption. They’re still using rock instruments as mass-triggering vehicles for emotional discharge and thematic dispersion. Unlike any of their peers, Ases Falsos manage to sound more unapologetic than apocalyptic; they make songs that invite youth for coalition more than we have done in our past. A strong, long hug seems like the first step. Hugging Juan Gabriel = hugging América. - Carlos Reyes (from Juventud Americana album review)

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23
Capullo
Testigos del Fin del Mundo
Tropic-All, 2012
Continuing their tradition for assembling catchy, infectious, synth-driven songs, Testigos del Fin del Mundo finds the Hidrocálidos notoriously improving and aggrandizing their songwriting skills, Isra through richer arrangements and catchier hooks and Cris and Sandunga with luscious vocal melodiousness. Their pop sensibilities have blossomed into smoother, rounder compositions, such as “La Marea” or “Quédate,” or should-be-smash-hits like flamboyant first single “Pretextos,” or “A quien amas en realidad es a mí,” a radiant, dynamic highlight where they team up with Colombian sweetheart Lido Pimienta for an outstanding collaboration. Capullo have developed a more electropoppy sound with this record without getting rid of the characteristic merengue, tropical, cumbia, and reggaetón rhythms that have been present through their previous tracks and made their framework distinctive from other artists with similar styles, like Maria Daniela y su Sonido Lasser, Quiero Club, or Javiera Mena. Even more admirable is the neat production level reached, which can be identified from the self-titled opener, a propulsive electronic rendition of Elmer Bernstein’s The Magnificent Seven theme (aka the infamous Marlboro commercials theme). Each track displays a more defined polished craftsmanship that results in a collection of sheer, gratifying, and finely accomplished pop tunes that, lyrically, don’t speak that much about the world’s destruction, but fuck it, this music makes it sound like Judgement Day would be a sweetly enjoyable event. - Enrique Coyotzi (from Testigos del Fin del Mundo album review)

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22
Alex Anwandter
Amiga
Nacional Records, 2016
From the very beginning of Amiga, “Siempre Es Viernes En Mi Corazón” recalls the grit and glory of Odisea and sets the tone for a symphony lamenting the state of the world and human relationships. “Cordillera” asks if this earth even wants/loves us, then “Traición” follows with “Si ya la vida es difícil / ¿Por qué hacerla peor? / Si donde sea que vayas / Te espera siempre una traición.” Bleak. But before you sink into despair, the steely synths of “Amiga” clang together with an almost-twang at a tempo so fast it’s nerve-wracking. “Manifiesto” is all piano and resilience, a show tune of a proclamation, determined to live in truth even if it kills.

On the most vocally interesting track, “El Sonido de los Corazones Que Se Quiebran,” Anwandter unravels a tragedy, scooping and dragging his voice, then stretching it like a rubber band that collapses back on itself until it’s so soft it sounds trapped in a box before finally belting out “no te quise engañar.” But even more heartbreaking than that line is the song that follows. “Qué Será De Ti Mañana?” is a eulogy to relationships lost to the hustle and grind of capitalism that wears us out and leaves us empty. Even in the swirl of strings, synths, brass, and percussion, you can’t escape Amiga’s darkness. It’s an album that confronts you with all the cruelty of the world, which is equal parts exhausting and liberating. In the end, are you resigned to your grim fate, or will you fight it? - Blanca Méndez

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21
María y José
Club Negro
Casete, 2013
As the great 2 Chainz once said, “They ask me what I do and what I do it for, and how I come up with this shit up in the studio.” This is a fair approximation for most peoples’ reaction to the María y José oeuvre. Seriously, put on a María y José song for any “regular” person, and the typical reaction is generally, “Whoa, what the hell is this?” Let’s face it: Tony Gallardo’s ear is full of some pretty fucked up sounds. But they’re damn good sounds. And in the case of Club Negro, these sounds are downright masterful. Calling Gallardo’s María y José project “rudderless” would imply that his craft should contain a rudder in the first place. Gallardo runs his ship on much more rudimentary scale. His records don’t set up blocks for the purpose of knocking them down later; rather, his auteur approach to DJ music is free form and keeps any foundation to a minimum. Given these circumstances, it is no surprise that his prior music, under his real name and as María y José, is singular and highly acclaimed. But, with Club Negro, Tony Gallardo takes that next step: his music is important. He is no longer the resident weirdo at the Iberoamerican pop banquet table. He is the visionary. Albeit one who’s really good at Twitter. - Andrew Casillas (from Club Negro album review)

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20
Diosque
Constante
Quemasucabeza, 2014
Since its birth, Constante aligned itself for a healthy, vibrant life. Whereas a title like Constante would make you think he would subscribe to form and shift toward more stable and digestible narratives, Diosque gold-brushes and shines his sequencing tools, placing a rare faith in the listener’s aural sense. From its very first track, Constante reveals itself as a puzzling work. Album opener “Fuego” is chopped and tormented – as if Diosque wanted us to see the unlikely construction of his composition (perhaps hoping for a deconstruction of our own). We may question his methods of storytelling, but it’s that progressive unlikeliness of Diosque’s melodies and hooks that brings it its appeal. That incessant search for a chorus and its half a dozen rhythm shifts make “La Cura” a marvel of a song. What’s truly interesting here is the almost anti-climactic approach on its fast-paced canvas. It’s beautiful to see the discourse of Constante unveil before our eyes. Diosque chooses its moments and chooses them well. Moments like the “papapahs” in “La Verdad Rota,” the disco rapture of “Soy Las Seis,” and the intoxicatingly beautiful elevation of a bridge cascading itself up to a climax in “Broncedado.” Perhaps what gets Constante further than other recent works from Diosque’s contemporaries [...] are its monumental pop pieces. “La Cura” and “Broncedado” are as grandiose as any single by Javiera Mena or Astro, and that makes Constante truly stunning to behold even during its uncanny moods and quietly gripping conclusion. - Carlos Reyes (from Constante album review)

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19
Helado Negro
Invisible Life
Asthmatic Kitty, 2013
Invisible Life is what trip hop would sound like if its genesis was in the Americas: a darker chillwave with more pronounced song structure. Unlike Roberto Carlos Lange’s more “accessible” recent work, the sounds on Invisible Life are more abstracted and repeated listens reveal hints of bird call and electronic chirping cicadas. But it’s all about the beats: the tribal in “Arboles”, the skittish in “Junes,” the claps in “Relatives,” the pistons in “Cuantas” and “Ilumina Vos.” Lange’s dreamy voice imperceptibly moves from English to Spanish throughout the album and even within songs, but in Invisible Life the lyrics aren’t front and center, they’re as abstract as the soundscape. Stand out track “Dance Ghost” evokes the late night/morning after without the need to understand every word, no matter what language Lange uses. - Sam Rodgers

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18
SVPER
Pegasvs
CANADA Editorial, 2012
Progressive rock lost its sanity during the aughts. After thirty years of the prog rock theorem, song structures devalued artistic credibility, and intricate compositions exceeded shock value. Like many other shifts in culture, the genre is moving into a more subtle golden wave of progressive pop, one that doesn’t need to push the boundaries of the genre to achieve artistic integrity (the grace of pop music). So much of this swing translates as glory in the Olympian debut album of Luciana and Sergio, two synth junkies that cultivate melodic splendor as the esoteric constellation. Although hardly conceptualized in its themes, the nine tracks that comprise the album circulate on a beautiful (yet heretical) landscape of shoegaze orchestration. The songs are rapturous and digressive to the zeitgest. Pegasvs keeps a minimalist aesthetic to rather point its exponential eye to a perpetual extent, and they’ve succeeded. For referential purposes, it wouldn’t be a surprise (or a blasphemy) to remember this album as a shrewdly mythological box of synth crescendos. But these crescendos are more than tools for melodic ascendance, they carry the emotional force needed for an album that travels on its own atmospheric drift. - Carlos Reyes (from Pegasvs album review)

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17
Rita Indiana y Los Misterios
El Juidero
Premium Latin Music, 2010
El Juidero remains, to this date, the only full-length music album released by writer and singer-songwriter Rita Indiana. It is also one of the few records released this decade that greatly succeeded in striking a sentimental chord with what it means to be Latin American. Granted, the record is imbued with the local: the vivid imagery of life in the Caribbean islands forms the poetic backdrop, the Dominican slang and colloquialisms add a distinctive native charm to it, and merengue is the one sonic constant that holds it together. But a lot of it also inhabits the communal space defined by the shared experiences of a group of more than six hundred million people very loosely connected by language, culture, and geography. These are the lands where the influence of the U.S. permeates our language and culture (“Equeibol”), the impending possibility of emigrating to meet with relatives is ever present (“El Juidero”), the privileges inherited from past (or present) authoritative governments are still felt (“En el Mercedes de tu abuela / Se lo regalo Trujillo”), and colonial borders have created cultural and racial agitations between pueblos hermanos (“Da pa lo do” as a metaphor for Dominican Republic-Haiti relations). Already known as a master storyteller and poet, Rita Indiana found amazing new heights in the musical form with El Juidero, hitting the sweet spots that constitute Latin American joy and sorrow while keeping merengue moving forward. - Pierre Lestruhaut

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16
Arca
Arca
XL, 2017
I won’t even bother contextualizing Arca’s impact over the course of the decade (I'll leave that to the pros), but Arca’s self-titled album is a seminal work of incomparable beauty. As the first vocalized Arca record, the Venezuela-born artist unlocked a new vulnerability that felt like meeting her for the first time. “Piel” is a fragile and dissonant opener expanding in solemn verses: Quítame la piel de ayer / No sé caerme. The angelic quality of Arca’s voice turns skin motifs into something spiritual. They resurface to confront all that has come to define her sound: unsettling contortions, atonal pulses, and opulent strings with organs.

While Arca remains an experimental artist reimagining pop as formless, there are moments that evoke the pop ideal we have all been marked by. The propulsive melodrama on “Reverie” feels like a club banger draped in mournful chants. “Fugaces” unravels with the same carnal progression as some of Björk’s best ballads and the emotional release is twice as devastating (“¿Por qué me mentiste?”). Then there’s “Desafío,” which could rightly be claimed as the record’s centerpiece. The opening sirens are never abrasive, Arca’s words are alarming in themselves as they, ready or not, approach an abyss. These lyrics are pronounced with all the sensual energy of a pop diva aiming for glory, which only makes me think of the future legacy that Arca will birth with each new release. I’m ready. - Giovanni Guillén

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15
Bam Bam
Futura Vía
Arts & Crafts, 2011
Voted as Club Fonograma’s Best Album of the Year in 2011, Futura Vía by Bam Bam continues to fulfill such truth. A psychedelic reverb-bathed pop album that opened the new decade with a powerhouse sound and shaped the journey of indie pop in Mexico, and consequently into spaces beyond its limitations. Bam Bam’s avant-garde and psychedelic pop masterpiece delivered tracks such as “Abismático” and “Extraña Coincidencia,” all experimenting the boundaries and capacity of sound. More than an album, Futura Vía is a mad scientist experiment with noble heart; surgical care with sincere values are intertwined in each song, resulting in a 10-track album produced by Bam Bam's Valis Ortiz & Martin Thulin. “Ragatrón” the leading single off the album was an experimental song in both sound and context, with dystopian undertone tapping into newfound capacities to imagine a utopian world, one where otherness and alienation are the new norm. Futura Vía continues to hold value and space in latin indie music history.  - Marty Preciado

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14
Empress Of
Me
Terrible, 2015
The first and, perhaps best, revelation on Me is that Lorelly Rodríguez’s vocals are now front and centre, an assured decision, and logical considering the album’s title. However [...] Rodríguez’s voice swings between the bark of your best friend shouting at you from the swimming pool to eery-chanteuse-flexing-scales in a heartbeat: there’s little pretense to it. Given the costume of ‘Empress Of,’ it’s the lyrics of Me that save the project from residing in the pile of ‘just another...’ (while we’re using sentence fragments as nouns). Rodríguez thrusts her journal into your hands and says, “I'm going to sing this to you,” and starts without permission. But this is a carefully considered journal: lyrically, Rodríguez knows exactly how much she needs to obfuscate, retain, and push forward. The anatomy of a pop song centers around a basic theme, but better still, a signifier that presents each track as a stand alone: something Javiera Mena continued refining in an alternative technicolor world. Me, on the other hand, is much more monochromatic, like its cover photo; much more tactile, too. What makes this album more remarkable, though, is Rodriguez's claim that making the album was purely instinctual. To do it all oneself, and to then put yourself as the main subject matter without older professionals helping you edit that down to a listenable whole, is no mean feat. - Sam Rodgers (from Me album review)

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13
Javiera Mena
Otra Era
Unión del Sur, 2014
Maybe it’s not fair, but after the dazzling Mena, it was hard to imagine what could be next. How do you follow a masterpiece? Four years later Javiera Mena answered with Otra Era, and it turns out that the way you follow greatness is by letting go and going full throttle. Otra Era is a maximalist dream, layers and loops accelerating into a decadent density of sound. Effervescent as “Luz de Piedra de Luna,” album opener “Los Olores de Tu Alma” features dizzying synths and a relentless beat that explodes into wall-to-wall sound and literally leaves Mena (and listeners) short of breath. Similarly ambitious, “Esa Fuerza” spins into a dancefloor high with “que el ritmo no pare, no pare” and “Que Me Tome la Noche” relinquishes control to the beat and cover of night.

The album’s title track scales back for a more restrained arrangement that could be at home on BFlecha’s βeta. Expansive, yet subtle, Mena also explores alternate dimensions and timelines. “La Joya” digs up a sweetness that recalls Esquemas Juveniles and “Pide” takes an unexpected, but pleasant, detour into tropical territory before Mena reaches her final form in “Espada” and goes full anime soundtrack. How gratifying to hear Mena in her element, giving nods to her past but not dwelling on it. - Blanca Méndez

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12
Dënver
Fuera de Campo
Feria Music, 2013
Based on a story of a war, the conceptual Fuera de Campo involves the listener to fully catch the warlike storytelling, which makes itself first present on “Las fuerzas” and the line “No gana la guerra quien más soldados ni armas tenga.” This time they strive to put on a somewhat more serious suit, which could be a very unintelligent movement in any other band that shared the same features they do. However, this is not the case for Dënver, as Fuera de Campo sounds fresh, exactly like the Chilean project is identified. Fuera de Campo’s over-the-top production lines up the two poles of Dënver. On the one hand you have the sentimentality, and on the other the urge to turn everything into caricature to dump sentimentality away. The spirit has not changed, and Fuera de Campo offers the same glowing pop as we know it. - Pablo Acuña

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11
Natalia Lafourcade
Hasta la Raíz
Sony Music Latin, 2015
Hasta la Raíz is the culmination of years of sound and music in Natalia Lafourcade’s career. The sixth album in her career comes in 2015 after Mujer Divina, her tribute to Agustín Lara. However, it had been since 2009 with Hu Hu Hu that Lafourcade had not delivered original music. The standard edition of Hasta la Raíz delivers 12 songs, with delicate and meticulous composition and execution; doused in sounds oscillating from ballads to pop to folk and exploring a wrap around message of disillusionment and evolution. “Nunca es Suficiente,” “Hasta la Raíz,” “Lo Que Construimos,” and “Mi Lugar Favorito” are amongst the staple songs that deliver Lafourcarde’s perfect composite of her career-long sounds; she penned an album with honest approach about heartbreak but most importantly the process of healing, all while doing what she does best: pop music. Lafourcade is committed to her sound and growth, this is an album of letting go and growth; and without hesitating she placed herself in a vulnerable yet honest offering. Hasta la Raíz erased any invisible boundary in Natalia’s composition limitations, it draws the listener in with hypnotic swooning vocals and melodies; an album that strongly cements itself as an emblem of Lafourcade’s career. - Marty Preciado

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10
Gepe
Audiovisión
Quemasucabeza, 2010
So many times regarded as a pupil of Chilean icons Víctor Jara and Jorge González, [Gepe] proves to be as essential for our generation in [...] Audiovisión, the work of genius. Starting his career with Gepinto, already a cult classic, means to have a massive weight under his shoulders, but Gepe’s miraculous abilities are subdued to his sensibilities, not only are his songs sincere, they speak about the man and the people and the land around him. If he had already shown flexibility in his two previous albums, his latest continues that breed of epic and sophisticated chants, those slices of intense rush that find themselves at a privileged spot in Gepe’s vision of high pop-art.

Gepe exposed a whole new group of Latin-American youth to Chile’s folk by diligently embedding it to the sprawling songs in Gepinto, he later redefined his own notions (and nations) with the risky and ultimately brilliant Hungría. [Audiovisión] carries on with the two principles, balancing folk and dancehall in unspeakable manners, keeping the descriptive detail he is known for, the observational study of music form we’ve been celebrating about the new Chilean song. The way Gepe expresses affection by setting up a step-by-step structure is mind-blowing. Audiovisión isn’t much about finding space for exploration, it’s already there; it’s time for the songs, it’s about the songs and for the songs. It’s a splendid ride that feels so close from encountering true definition of the dimensional purpose of the song as a format. - Carlos Reyes (from Audiovisión album review)

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09
Bad Bunny
X 100PRE
Rimas, 2018
X 100PRE is not only the best Latin trap album of this era, it’s also one of the best rap albums and best emo albums of the entire decade (regardless of language). Bad Bunny’s genius comes in recognizing how to combine these disparate sounds into a cohesive persona. Sure, we can chuckle at the intro guitar lick in “Tenemos Que Hablar,” but when it’s quickly followed with “Odio tus mensajes, cuando dices que tenemos que hablar / Oh Dios, ¿qué yo hice?, ¿qué yo hice?, que tenemos que hablar,” you know that this dude can list his favorite Vagrant Records cuts off the top of his head. That 1-2-3 punch of “RLNDT,” “Estamos Bien,” and “MIA” not only coexist, but add to the consistency of the record, is a revelation. And we haven’t even touched the spellbinding “Caro,” swaggering “La Romana,” or the greatest Javiera Mena song that never was, “Otra Noche en Miami.” The best thing to come out of nochebuena since lechón, X 100PRE was announced to the world with a tweet promising 15 fire hits. And, goddammit, has there never been a more truthful tweet since? - Andrew Casillas

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08
Rosalía
El Mal Querer
Sony, 2018
When writing about Rosalía’s El Mal Querer, one can get lost in the exercise of describing its main aesthetical elements and stylistic choices, many of which are as fascinating as they are disconcerting. This is mostly because of how they emanate from such disparate worlds – flamenco and Spanish folk on one side, trap and electronic music on the other – even more so when one of these worlds is obsessed with tradition and the other one with novelty. El Mal Querer is a bullfighter fighting a motorcycle, it’s a nazareno skateboarding in the suburbs, it’s a song intro made of flamenco claps and trap synth chords, it’s flamenco in its institutional form (guitars, claps, quejíos) but also in its spiritual form (love, hardship, injustice), it’s based on an anonymous 13th century Occitan novel about a woman cloistered by her jealous husband, it’s a music school graduate thesis being experienced by millions of people on streaming platforms.

Citing all of this makes music writing easier, but one can also end up feeling like writing a press release. Eventually you end up facing the painful abyss of rationalizing what makes a piece of art so capital-T Transcendent, because you cannot escape the fact that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Other albums more consistent, more in touch with our staff’s consensus musical taste, and (for now) more robust to the passage of time, ended up ranked higher than El Mal Querer here. But there was no other Spanish language album that stimulated the musical g-spot of people from different cultural backgrounds and disparate musical sensibilities as much as this one. As an exceptionally talented musician, Rosalía transcended musical, cultural, and generational borders like no other Iberoamerican artist did this decade. - Pierre Lestruhaut

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07
Triángulo de Amor Bizarro
Año Santo
Mushroom Pillow, 2010
Año Santo is Triángulo de Amor Bizarro’s second album and the confirmation of the band being one of the most important Spanish acts at the time. TAB has ever since grown in popularity with every new release and they just announced a new album coming out in 2020. Club Fonograma’s founder Carlos Reyes considered Año Santo a masterpiece when the album came out in 2010, and it has aged incredibly well, as some of its songs have become generational hymns. Nine songs delivering 30 minutes of a very special mixture of frantic rock and noise pop, adorned with synthesizers and vocals that swim through the fuss. As for the lyrics, the songs deal with Spain’s very own religious and political idiosyncrasy in a clever poetical way. The album is fleshy and raw from every possible point of view, so energizing that its last song feels like a mandatory catharsis. - Glòria Guso

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06
María y José
Espíritu Invisible
Grabaciones Amor, 2010
Religion and the heart, their juncture and fork should provide endless material for popcraft, yet there’s so little eloquent art taking notice. [Antonio Jiménez] employs the vernacular like few people in pop, transposing it to narrative and visual flare. Not so bad for an adolescent mindset using Audacity and Fruit Loops in his search for holy beats and tribal soundscape. In terms of musical ferocity; Espíritu Invisible stands at its core. His songs could be described as unparallel chthonic cuts that march between the transcendent and the forgotten (and the ghosts). María y José is simply, a chillwave and nostalgic installment of pop music. The kind of assorted dream that is warped and wrapped through personal approach; Jiménez’s vision is wonderfully conflictive, breezy, and affectionate. If you practice music form it will be as hard to enjoy as Neon Indian’s Psychic Chasms, but if you instead, feel the form, get ready for an extraordinary album. I can’t remember how many times I’ve used and read the description “for the soul and the mind,” but this is one time I can’t stop myself from using it. For the most part, Espíritu Invisible utilizes love for religious inquisition, negating as much as embracing the faith of the common Catholic believer. From the refreshing militant sound to its aesthetics, this is a tremendous achievement. - Carlos Reyes (from Espíritu Invisible album review)

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05
El Guincho
Pop Negro
Young Turks, 2010
From the first clap and steel drum beat of opener and No. 3 song of the decade, “Bombay,” Pop Negro doesn’t let up for the rest of its half hour run time. Pablo Díaz-Reixa’s follow-up to 2008’s Alegranza! sidesteps into pure pop territory, the predecessor’s looping Panda Bear-esque carnival replaced with bigger sounds and clearer song structures. It’s a heady celebratory album, best enjoyed moving your body, the tempo never relaxes. It’s youthful and glowing, a love letter to all of Spanish-born Díaz-Reixa’s influences from either side of the Atlantic. The first three tracks, “Bombay,” the Miami-tinged “Novias,” and exultant “Ghetto Fácil” come out the gates so strong, the album could have stopped there, but every track creates its own unique environment, regardless of the overarching electro-palm tree theme, to keep replaying this über-tropical masterpiece over again. - Sam Rodgers

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04
BFlecha
βeta
Arkestra, 2013
If I can point to one flaw in this end of decade list, it’s the shortage of post-2014 releases from artists with under a million streams per song. There’s an obvious reason to it. We ceased to be an active music publication after 2016, and with that, it meant we were no longer indulging in the collective activity of sharing and discussing the rise of talented independent musicians. BFlecha’s βeta was one of the lesser-known rising artists whose discovery caused an excessive use of superlatives and exclamation points in our Club Fonograma email thread. It had everything that could fit into our consensus musical taste: pop bangers, club bangers, flirtations with hip-hop aesthetics, a charismatic singer/producer, grand maximalist production, blatant nerdism on some of the lyrics. In short, if I can paraphrase my original review of βeta, BFlecha got to us for how she was an internet-era nerd’s music wet dream, devouring many influences and scenes, but still building a craft that was populist enough as to not show any signs of underground snobbery.

Six years later, the record is still a bomb that sounds both pristine and grandiose. Although βeta stands a few spots above Rosalía’s universally acclaimed El Mal Querer in this list, its popularity in the global (and even local) pop music landscape is minimal. Whether BFlecha will eventually gain mainstream recognition or remain an underground fave of music dorks is beside the point. The end of running a music publication such as this one was never to engage in the prediction of future popularity/influence, nor was it about one-upping weak-ass music fans with our knowledge of non-mainstream dope music. We were engaging in the very human experience of sharing our joy for the existence of music (good and bad, well-known and obscure), and our collective discovery and enjoyment of βeta will remain a major event in the history of the Fonograma family. - Pierre Lestruhaut

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03
Alex Anwandter
Rebeldes
5AM, 2011
Alex Anwandter, beloved Teleradio Donoso frontman and dystopian soundscape sculptor Odisea, went back to pop basics with Rebeldes, and it’s precisely within that simple framework of lustful melodies, romantic strings, and direct lyrics that brilliance bloomed. “Tatuaje” captures the wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve spirit of the album – melancholy but relishing the memories, good and bad. “Como Una Estrella” is delicate and earnest, undulating synths like a lullaby and the twinkling of bells mirroring twinkling stars. When Anwandter sings “el pulso de tu corazón se acelera” in “Tormenta” and the instrumentation that follows mimics that pulse speeding up, it’s perfection. “Rebeldes,” sweet and idealistic, would fit nicely in today’s K-pop world, and I could see a group like Twice or TXT doing it justice. “Cómo Puedes Vivir Contigo Mismo?” is dark disco at its finest, and in “Que Se Acabe El Mundo, Por Favor” anguish fuels destruction and creation, a phoenix rising from the ashes in song. On Rebeldes, Anwandter feels it all and isn’t afraid of his feelings, inviting listeners to experience the catharsis with him. Pro tip: listen with Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion and prepare to ascend. - Blanca Méndez

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02
Dënver
Música, Gramática, Gimnasia
Cazador, 2010
It’s nearly 10 years old, but Música, Gramática, Gimnasia feels as fresh as when we first heard it. Dënver’s entire discography is a thing of splendor, but this album in particular is back-to-back shots to the heart. Early favorites that stood the test of time are “Los Adolescentes” and “Lo Que Quieras.” The bold guitar that opens “Los Adolescentes” epitomizes young rebellion. The layering of Mariana Montenegro singing “un día… al otro” over Milton Mahan singing “te queda mal ser tan fatal” is brilliant. “Lo Que Quieres” embodies the starcrossed lovers concept with our protagonist saying they’ll give their love whatever they want, whether that be the planets, wings, a Romeo and Juliet-esque double suicide, or nothing at all, if that’s what they really want. It’s a destructive devotion reminiscent of BTS’ breakthrough, “I Need U.”

“Olas Gigantes,” starts by softly bubbling underwater then slaps you like a giant wave rushing to shore. The description of waves like explosions and antagonists paired with drums like gunshots and panic that melts into surrender is breathtaking. “En Medio de una Fiesta” similarly washes over you in waves of elegant, poignant strings. “Chicos que se estrellan como cometas,” evokes a lovely image of youth burning so bright it crash lands. Even the less-talked about tracks carry weight. There’s expansive “Feedback” with drums like a punch to the gut, glitchy “Litoral Central” like a sea of glowing neon, and the funereal “Segundas Destrezas” that, while just a minute long, stays with you for an eternity. Just like BTS did five years later with The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Dënver gave us an opus on the beautiful pain of youth that’ll knock the wind out of you, no matter your age. - Blanca Méndez

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Javiera Mena
Mena
Unión del Sur, 2010
It should come as no surprise that the only album to ever receive a perfect score in Club Fonograma history is our #1 album of the decade. Released only eight months into the 2010s, Mena appeared generation defining from the outset. Our beloved founder Carlos Reyes referred to it upon first listen as “a dance in love record.” Our chief editor, Blanca Méndez, raved and considered that Mena would be the site’s “Kid A moment.” My own initial reaction was “I've listened to this already a half-dozen times and I think it may be, pound for pound, BETTER than Esquemas Juveniles.” Such initial enthusiasm wasn’t limited to the staff either, as evidenced by the (wonderful) comment thread on our review.

Nevertheless, Mena’s place atop this list is not meant to vindicate that perfect score. Mena is Club Fonograma’s album of the 2010s because it remains one of the most singular records of its time. It represents the moment when Javiera Mena became Javiera Mena; when her alchemy of late 70s disco, early 80s Hi-NRG, and 90s electro and freestyle fused into a signature sound built for the 21st (if not the 31st) Century. Even the sequencing rips – big beat bangers, disco stompers, eternal prom slow jams all sitting in perfect harmony. But behind the hi-hats and synthesizers also lies an album that’s tender and graceful and even inspiring. It’s an unabashed tribute to love: physical love (“Primera Estrella”), emotional love (“Ahondar En Ti”, “Sufrir”), even the concept of love (“Hasta la Verdad”). Ultimately, it’s that aspirational wonder which makes this album so powerful. As this decade closes on a harrowing note for many Latinxs, albums like Mena serve as an affirmation that there’s beauty in the world. That, even as the rest of the world may be going to hell, you can pick up your headphones and have a friend right next to you. Un audífono tú, un audífono yo. - Andrew Casillas

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11 comments:

  1. Chaz, pinches hipsters ovacionando mucha basura

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  2. Buen top! Nada de Él Mató? Tampoco en su lista de canciones.

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  3. G R A C I A S por tanta labor y dedicación en sus reseñas de la música latinoamericana. *tear queue* Siempre llevare Club Fonograma conmigo en un lugar muy especial del corazón. Espero poder leerlos a todos en un futuro no muy lejano! *soft fade*

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  4. 5 de mis diez favoritos de la década aquí están, buena lista! Abrazo querido Club Fonograma!

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  5. Los amo <3 espero que regresen. Son lo mejor que le pasó a mi adolescencia con su música.

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  6. Me ha hecho mucha ilusión volver a leeros. Club fonograma ha sido siempre una referencia. Varios discos de esta lista los conocí gracias a la web, y ahí siguen siendo parte de mi vida.

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  7. Es triste pensar que tendremos que esperar al 2029 para volver a saber de ustedes, pero mientras tanto siempre les estaremos agradecidos por tanta buena música, tanto genial descubrimiento, y tantas buenas palabras. Club Fonograma FOREVER

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  8. Me encanta volver a leerlos. Gracias por dar a conocer tanta buena música que seguro no hubiera encontrado sin ustedes. La lista, como siempre, bien bonita. Los tqm, espero volver a leerlos pronto <3

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  9. Qué lujo.
    Gracias gente!

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