Thursday, March 30, 2006

Rock: Catupecu Machu, La Secta

First a service announcement: I'll be in Spain next week so there won't be new posts till next thursday. Maybe I'll write something about my musical experiences in Sevilla then ;)

But these two rock songs will hopefully get you through the week. Both artists were already featured when this site was still written in Dutch, Catupecu Machu with the fabulous anthem A Veces Vuelvo and La Secta with Llora Mi Corazón (My Heart Weeps).
The latter seem to suffer a lot of heartaches, though "Este Corazón" isn't about a broken heart but about a lovestruck one ("This heart only lives for your love"). It starts out as a rock ballad in its purest form, a slow guitar riff with a few organ-like accents. But soon the song builds up to a grand climax with violins, organs, and all sorts of guitars. The rough voice of lead singer Gustavo Laureano is perfect for this song.

Catupecu Machu started out as another alternative/metal band from Argentina. Now they've crafted their sound along the years, slowly evolving into a more conventional poprock combo, but with their own unique style and sound. "En Los Sueños" might not be as instantly breathtaking as A Veces Vuelvo, but give it a few weeks and you'll grow very fond of it. Again it's the lead singers voice on which the song is built, and Fernando Ruiz Diaz has the vocal experience to captivate you throughout the whole track. Enjoy!

La Secta - Este Corazón mp3 buy@iTunes
Catupecu Machu - En Los Sueños mp3 video buy@iTunes(USA) buy@iTunes (Europe)

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Reggaeton: Limi-T 21, Rakim y Ken-Y, Tony Haze & Shaka Black

More new blood in reggaeton! While oldschool bigshots like Don Omar and Tito El Bambino prepare their new album (release: next month), yet unknown artists take the lead.

Rakim y Ken-Y are reggaeton's American Idol: they won El Draft, a talent quest on Puerto Rican television especially for young reggaeton artists. This month they released their first album Masterpiece, produced by Raphy Pina (a big name), and "Dame Lo Que Quiero" is the first single. It's a traditional reggaeton track focused on beats & samples, with lyrics about dancing, so nothing new really. The one thing that makes this song stand out, is Ken-Y's voice in the chorus, it's fresh and with an edge.

Tony Haze & Shaka Black are also releasing their first album next month (No Hay Mas Na Que Hablar). Single "La Tripleta" is promising, though not really standing out. Most samples & beats are copied from other songs, but the ones they created themselves are a lot better, I especially like the "human beatbox" reggaeton beat at the beginning and ending of the song. Hopefully the rest of the album will include more originality than cheap copies.

But we saved the best for the last: award-winning merengue band Limi-T 21 made an exceptional song with "El Baile Pegao". They call it merengueton, and once you heard it, you won't be able to get it out of your head. The song builds up to a climax, excellent dancefloor material. My only point of criticism is that the fast bit should be longer, but otherwise: a great blend of tropical & urban rhythm.

Rakim y Ken-Y - Dame Lo Que Quiero mp3 buy@iTunes
Tony Haze & Shaka Black - La Tripleta mp3
Limi-T 21 - El Baile Pegao mp3 buy@iTunes

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Pio Leyva Deceased

A short tribute to Pio Leyva, who died wednesday night of a heart attack at the blessed age of 88. Leyva was part of the world famous Buena Vista Social Club, the Cuban son and guajira band consisting of legendary musicians like Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén Gonzales and Compay Segundo, who also died during the last few years. If you haven't seen the Wim Wenders biopic about the band, you've missed an essential part of Cuban music history (and a good movie too).

Leyva didn't make a solo album after his Buena Vista success, so in memoriam here's a duet with Compay Segundo, "La Juma De Ayer" (link dead).
You can buy CDs of most Buena Vista Social Club members through iTunes: Buena Vista Social Club, Ibrahim Ferrer, Compay Segundo, Omara Portuondo, Manuel Guajiro Mirabal and Eliades Ochoa.

De concerten van de Buena Vista Social Club op 17 en 18 mei (zie concertnieuws hieronder) zullen dus zonder Pio Leyva gebeuren.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hiphop/Reggaeton: Calle 13

I've posted about Calle 13 earlier, but these guys deserve more attention. Because their self-titled debut album is one of the most original and renewing in the urban latin genre. Because Atrévete-te is such a good song I'm putting it back on the playlist. And because the whole Spanish-speaking world is talking about them.

Residente Calle 13 does the lyrics, Visitante does the beats, and both are quite good at it (though not all songs on the album are of equal quality). Humour, flow and -very important- content coïncide in Residente's lyrics. Humour, as in "Pi-Di-Di-Di" where he makes fun of P Diddy:

[...] ("Do you have some Coca-Cola?") No, pero tengo vino Perico...
Y rapidito ese tipo me salio malcriadito...
("Do you know who I am?") ¿Como? ¿Que te llamas Juan?
("Do you know who I am?") ¿Que si yo me llamo Juan?
("Yo querer Coca-Cola!") Pues, mira Juan [...]

Flow, as in "La Jirafa", where his words help define the complex drum rhythm. And content, as in Atrévete-te, the answer to all the complaining that reggaeton is dirty and ordinary:
Yo se que a ti te gusta el pop-rock latino
Pero es que el reggaeton se te mete por los intestinos
Por debajo de la falda como un submarino
Y te saca lo de indio taino [...]
[...] ¿Que importa si te gusta Green Day?
¿Que importa si te gusta Coldplay?

On the beat side, Visitante is clearly better at producing reggaeton than hiphop. The latter songs are not varied enough to grab attention, while the reggaeton tracks instantly make you move. The difference is best noted in "Suave", which exists in both versions.

Calle 13 are white, both come from middle class families, and they went to art school. But who cares? Their music is different, exactly what the reggaeton genre needed, to keep from repeating itself. I'm pretty sure their universal sound will soon conquer the USA, keep an eye out for them!

Calle 13 - Atrévete-te mp3 video buy@iTunes

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Een overzichtje van de latino-concerten die we de komende maanden mogen verwachten in België.

Woensdag 3 mei, Vorst Nationaal
Ricky Martin
De One Night Only tournee stopt ook in Brussel. Benieuwd of zijn iele popliedjes overleven in de betonnen bunker van Vorst.
Tickets: 45€.

Dinsdag 9 mei, Sportpaleis Antwerpen
De Mexicaanse gitaargod Carlos Santana strijkt neer in Antwerpen. De wereldmuziek heeft hij al een tijdje achter zich gelaten, maar zoals steeds blijft zijn muziek een latino tintje behouden, zeker de collaboraties met latino-artiesten (onlangs ook Shakira). In Antwerpen zal hij zijn beroemde gasten (Sean Paul, Steven Tyler, Joss Stone, Stevie Wonder, ...) waarschijnlijk niet meebrengen, maar Santana kan putten uit een persoonlijk archief van wereldhits sinds de jaren '60. Memorabel wordt het zeker.
Tickets: 42 tot 59 € ngl. plaats.

Woensdag 17 mei, Concertgebouw Brugge
Donderdag 18 mei, Elisabethzaal Antwerpen

Live From Buena Vista: Havana Lounge
Havana Lounge is een samenwerkingsverband van topsterren uit de Cubaanse volksmuziek. Dat betekent: een tiental oude knarren brengen, live en akoestisch, zowel Son-klassiekers (Chan Chan!) als nieuwe nummers. Gegarandeerd een unieke ervaring, dat weet iedereen die wijlen Ibrahim Ferrer of Compay Segundo nog heeft weten optreden.
Tickets Brugge: 22 tot 38€ ngl. plaats.
Tickets Antwerpen: 27 tot 42€ ngl. plaats.

Donderdag 29 juni, Rock Werchter
Manu Chao: Radio Bemba Sound System
Werchter heeft niet meteen de beste reputatie qua wereldmuziek, maar met Manu Chao weten ze (net als in 2001) het beste van de mestizo te strikken. Zijn mix van Franse, Noord-Afrikaanse, Spaanse en Latino-invloeden is uniek en wereldberoemd, en live is het elke keer feest gegarandeerd.
Tickets: 60€ per dag of 132€ voor 4 dagen

Hetzelfde weekend, Couleur Café
Sergent Garcia
De mestizo verovert België eind juni: een luttele 50 km verder in Brussel zal El Sergante met zijn reggaesalsarock ongetwijfeld Thurn & Taxis doen ontploffen. Ook Braziliaanse legende (tevens minister) Gilberto Gil zal aanwezig zijn!
Nog geen tickets beschikbaar

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Pop Stars Embracing Reggaeton

For this post I'll have to make an exception of the "only Spanish" rule at La Onda Tropical. Lately, two latin stars with a bit of success on the international (English-language) market have included the omnipresent reggaeton beat in their new singles.

Shakira is re-releasing her 2005 album Oral Fixation vol. 2 (the English one) at the end of this month, because she wants to add "Hips Don't Lie", a reggaeton-influenced song also featuring Wyclef Jean, to the track list. And with reason: this song is destined to become an even bigger hit than La Tortura. The song title refers to Shakira's hips, who apparently have always been an indication of a great song, and I'm pretty sure this track will move more hips than hers alone. Shakira's singing is brilliant as always. Wyclef's input is limited to some Spanglish muttering in the chorus - too bad, I would have liked to see him do lyrics like in his 90's Fugees period. The (Haiti?) guitar and trumpet elements make the song very contagious, though I think when this will be played 24/7 on radio stations you'll eventually get tired of the song. But until then: just enjoy!
The video for Hips Don't Lie comes in two versions: a regular one (of course including lots of hip, booty and boobie shaking) and one with footage of fans dancing to the song. I'll add a "buy" link on March 28th, when the album is re-released. (Thanks to jeanluc for the info)

Ricky Martin hasn't had that much success with his latest album Life, and now hopes to score a big hit by taking advantage of the Daddy Yankee hype in the US. "Drop It On Me" includes a few lines by the Puerto Rican rapper, in my opinion the best part of the song. Taboo (Black Eyed Peas) is also featured.
Martin (or his producer) obviously tries to imitate previous reggaeton successes, by using exactly the same beats and samples (horns, starting engines,...). But it kinda works, the more I hear the song the more I like it (and I'm not a fan of neither Martin nor Daddy Yankee). And no doubt this is excellent dancefloor material!

Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean - Hips Don't Lie mp3 video special fan video buy@iTunes
Ricky Martin ft. Daddy Yankee & Taboo - Drop It On Me mp3 video (in-studio) buy@iTunes

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tropical: Tecupae, Vos Veis

Since things are a bit slow on mainstream tropical bands, I thought I'd show you two poprock bands issuing tropical songs.

Vos Veis is a tropically-inspired pop band, and in their home country Venezuela they've scored quite some radio hits with sugar-sweet romantic ballads. But "Niña Dura" reminds me more of early work by Juan Luis Guerra: a merengue rhythm combined with a lot of trumpets and (cheesy?) backing vocals. It sounds very carribean, a guaranteed hit on beach parties. Lyrics are definitely cheesy, try to ignore them!

Tecupae are also Venezuelan, and they succeed to combine cumbia and rock influences in "Ven Ven". Their previous (rock) song "Dejate Querer" was also featured in our playlist some time ago.
The accordeon and rhythm are unmistakenly cumbia elements, and they add a special vibe to the song. The singing/rapping in the verses even suggests hip hop (or reggaeton) influences - you might say the song is a four-minute summary of contemporary Venezolan music. Or: you might say "Ven Ven" is chaotic and structureless. It's up to you!

Vos Veis - Niña Dura mp3
Tecupae - Ven Ven mp3 buy@iTunes

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Salsa: Tito Nieves

Tito Nieves is sometimes called 'The Pavarotti of Salsa', not only because of his similar belly size but also because of his strong tenor voice. Although his latest hits were mostly reggaeton influenced, Tito is still a big name in salsa after three decades of making music. "Si Yo Fuera El" is not his best song, but it gives you a good idea of his vocal qualities and versatility: salsa and reggaeton are not very different when Tito sings them. In fact the difference is so minute I'm only putting up the salsa version (removed), which is getting a lot of airplay on Latin radio stations throughout the US. This is a song with a message, he sings about a girl which suffers from domestic violence (and about how she would find real love in his arms, of course).

Tito Nieves treedt zondag (12 maart) op in de Tivoli in Utrecht. Tickets zijn nog steeds verkrijgbaar aan 30 euro.

Tito Nieves - Si Yo Fuera El (Salsa Version) mp3 buy@iTunes

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Reggaeton de Panama: Mach & Daddy, Jimmy Bad Boy

Both artists are unknown to me, but I like their sunny pop songs very much. There's a special summer-night feeling about them that makes me wanna go to the beach and dance below the setting sun. Maybe it's because of the smoothed-down reggaeton beat that characterizes both songs, or maybe because of the easily sung along choruses... And is it a coincidence that both artists are from Panama?

Mach & Daddy's "Pasame La Botella" is intrinsically a sad song, about boozing over a lost girlfriend, but the groovy rhythm makes up for all that. No wonder its a big hit in all of Latinoamerica (especially with verano coming to Central America now).

Jimmy Bad Boy is supposedly a reggaeton artist, but he shamelessly stole the chord progression of "Bailando" from pop artists Bacilos (listen carefully to Caraluna, another very sunny song). Anyway who cares, Bailando is a nice song that makes you feel like jumping up and down all night long.

Mach & Daddy - Pasame La Botella mp3 video buy@iTunes
Jimmy Bad Boy - Bailando mp3 video

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Pop/Rock: Argentina

Guasones, Babasonicos and Bersuit Vergarabat: three great poprock bands who all happen to be from Argentina. (And that's not a coincidence, Buenos Aires has the most lively rock scene in Latin America!)

All three groups have a long story involving underground gigs, a breakthrough record in the nineties and finally star status throughout Latin America during the last few years.
Especially Babasonicos is immensely popular south of the equator. Their latest single "Yegua" is steeply climbing charts in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and Chili. A very polished sound and lots of echo/reverb never let the song become boring.
Guasones aren't as big, but certainly match up musically. "Reyes de la Noche" is a very nice guitar song (you can call it pop or rock or whatever). Lyrics are captivating too.
Bersuit Vergarabat is a horrible name for a band, but if you know that they have songs called "Sons of the Ass" and "Shit, Shit, Money, Money" you realize they're just not good at names. As long as they write nice tracks like "Sencillamente" they're forgiven. The reggae-ish rhythm, in combination with the street organ, brings a sixties mood over the song. No hit material but certainly pleasant to listen to!

Babasonicos - Yegua mp3 video buy@iTunes
Guasones - Reyes de la Noche mp3
Bersuit Vergarabat - Sencillamente mp3 buy@iTunes

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