Our own MySpace page is doing quite well, but essentially MySpace Music exists to find new bands. When every kid that plays three guitar chords has its own page, discovering good music between the general sludge can be challenging. So the selection below is not representative at all - just remarkable findings for you to enjoy.
Maui y Los Sirenidos called their disc Flamenco Sumergido - and that's what it sounds like: jazzpop drowned in Andalusian influences. Check out the very excentric front lady Maui in the psychedelic video for "No Pensar En Nada".
They could've fitted well in our Electronic Week: Sidestepper makes cultures clash with their tropically spiced drum&bass and club music. Lead man Richard Blair picks his guest vocals very well, they give all songs an authentic bolero feel. Aterciopelados vocalist Andrea Echeverri joins in on one song too, apparently.
Jose Conde y Ola Fresca updates salsa and son with a funky and soulful touch. He defines his latest album as "musical ajiaco" (which is a famous Cuban stew with many ingredients mashed up). Tasty!
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Their self-titled debut launched them as one of the smartest and most innovative acts in reggaeton. Merely 14 months later, Calle 13 is back with Residente o Visitante, the Puertorican rappers' sophomore album. We told you already how eagerly anticipated the release was, and now we can safely say: it was worth it.
Rapper Residente (René Perez) has found his style in clever, satirical lyrics, and they're the first thing you'll notice on the album. He will make you laugh with his witty wordplay, and even if you don't understand Spanish you must feel the playfulness of his texts. DJ Visitante (Eduardo Cabra) still provides the most innovative beats in latin urban music, experimenting with sounds from all across Latin America ("Tango del Pecado", "La Cumbia de los Aburridos"). But on this album, Calle 13 sounds more mature - sometimes they'll even move you ("Llegale a mi Guarida", "Beso de Desayuno") or incite you to start thinking ("Pal Norte", "Algo Con-Sentido", "La Era de la Copiaera").
Residente o Visitante has an impressive guest list: Tego Calderón (our other favorite reggaetonero) joins in on "Sin Exagerar", clearly having the time of his life while Residente makes fun of hiphop-style bragging:
Tengo cuatrocientos carros, cuatrocientas motoras
Un caballo que vuela a cien milas por hora
Tengo comprada a todas las emisoras
Y pa' lavar el dinero, treinta lavadoras
Yo consigo lo que sea
Mujeres con dos, tres, cuatro, cinco tetas
On "Llegale a mi Guarida", the characterful voice of Vincentico (former lead singer of ska band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs) gives the song a serene feel, like an indigenous ritual dance. A greasy rock riff spices things up a little. And "Pal Norte" features the distinctly Cuban voices of Orishas. It's a socially conscious song on migration, a key theme on the album - the title, Residente o Visitante, not only refers to the two half-brothers' pseudonyms, but also to the status of latino immigrants in the USA).
Language is another key issue on the album: you'll find both poetical ballads and shocking profanities. The "Intro", for example, starts by saying "We promise you no bad words on this record", followed by an endless litany of Spanish swearing, performed by a church choir. Excuse me if I find this hilarious - kinda reminds me of what Molotov used to do.
On the other hand, in "Mala Suerte con el 13", misplaced profanity gives a rancid taste to what could have been an intimate hiphop song with a great guest rapera (La Mala Rodriguez).
Both the religious and the language themes come back in bomb single "Tango del Pecado", but you've already read all about that song here ;)
About halfway through the album, Calle 13 changes the pace for some more mature and serious songs: aforementioned "Llegale a mi Guarida" is calm and hypnotizing, and on "Beso de Desayuno" Residente proves he can write a beautiful ballad with imaginative lyrics. Visitante puts a wicked bossa nova/drum 'n bass sample under it - and it magically works.
More wicked samples, courtesy of Visitante and Oscar-winning producer Gustavo Santaolalla: "Algo Con-Sentido" is a 50's ballad disguised as hiphop, and "La Era De La Copiaera" sounds like a video game gone crazy. Both songs share the same subject: there's too much copying and fakery in latin urban music these days. When Residente -literally gone mad- starts shooting everybody in sight, "Con-Sentido" ends with "Don't worry, this is fake - just like most reggaetoneros. OK?".
The absurdity does get irritating sometimes: "Uiyi Guaye" has a horrible chorus (though beatwise this is still prime material) and "El Avión Se Cae" is a bad B-side, at the most. But as a whole Residente o Visitante is even more impressive as their debut: Calle 13 have matured. Visitante confirms as a key innovator in latin urban music, Residente proves his splendid lyrical skill and sharp sense of humor. You'll discover some real gems ("Tango del Pecado", "Sin Exagerar", "Pal Norte", "La Crema"), but really the album needs to be savored as a whole to appreciate all the irony and deeper meanings. I wish Calle 13 a great future, and a dozen more Latin Grammy's.
Calle 13 ft. Orishas - Pal Norte
Calle 13 ft. Tego Calderon - Sin Exagerar
Sunday, April 22, 2007
We conclude our little electronic special with the announcement of the contest winner. The Luz Mob CD goes to:
Joris from Tilburg, The Netherlands
Thanks to everybody who (so massively) participated, and better luck next time.
I hope you enjoyed reading La Onda this week, we've put quite some time into it, and the results were overwhelming (all visitor records broken). We'll probably do something similar in the future!
(However, we were a little disappointed to see nobody commented on our posts this week. But you can make that up by showering us with love in the comments to this post! ;))
Friday, April 20, 2007
A new century, a new life for tango. That's what Philippe Cohen Solal (France), Eduardo Makaroff (Argentina) and Christoph H. Müller (Switzerland) must have thought when they founded Gotan Project ('Gotan' being Rioplatense argot for 'tango') in 1999. Mixing traditional, Astor Piazolla-influenced tango with smooth club sounds and basslines, in 2001 they came up with the startling debut La Revancha Del Tango that would give them world wide fame. Followers like Gustavo Santaolalla's Bajofondo Tango Club arose, the "Electrotango" movement was born.
In 2006, Gotan Project's second album Lunático appeared: maintaining the sexy electronic sound of La Revancha, it digs deep into the history of Argentinean music. A perfect example of this, is "Notas", a chilled out song that tells the history of el gaucho - the Argentinean cowboy - and tango, to the sound of the bandoneon. "Diferente" is more club-oriented: a pulsating bassline and wistful bandoneon come together in a feverish dancefloor dream (video below). "La Vigüela", with its looped guitar, (again) bandoneon and vocoder sound is also fairly danceable: not in a discotheque, but late at night in a stylish Buenos Aires afterlounge.
Lunático didn't win BBC's 'Club Global' Award 2007 for nothing: it's an inspiring, beautiful, and above all higly addictive album!
Gotan Project - La Vigüela
mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon
Gotan Project - Diferente:
Thursday, April 19, 2007
No, it hasn't been easy for Moenia. Mexico just wasn't ready for experimental synthpop in 1992. They could only emerge from the underground electronic scene in 1997, with the nationwide success of single "No Puedo Estar Sin Ti". Ten years later Moenia is Latin America's most successful electronic band, with 10 remarkable albums in their catalog, including the first latin 'remix album' (Moenia Mixes), and a critically acclaimed tribute album to latino rock of the 80's and 90's (Stereo Hits).
Although inspired by European electro pioneers like Kraftwerk, their music is often compared to Depeche Mode and New Order. More so on their latest work, Solar: the occasional greasy guitar riff confirms the 80's electro-rock comparison. It's a dark album, not easily accessible, but very rewarding if you appreciate the genre. Lead vocalist Alfonso Pichardo recites the almost poetical lyrics with his morbid, somber voice, accompanied by bizarre synth sounds. Though essentialy, tracks like "Lo Que Tu Digas" and "Me Equivoqué" are structured like a solid pop song - verse, bridge, chorus, repeat, climax. Which make them sound hopeful, even optimistic, despite the gloomy music.
Solar lasts only 45 minutes, a wise decision: long enough to make an impact, and brief enough to keep our mood up. On our Best of 2007 list? I think so!
Moenia - Lo Que Tu Digas
mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Here in Belgium we have all the luck: two true masters of latin lounge music regularly provide us with their much-needed chillout tunes. Sven Van Hees and Buscemi have both played sets all over the world (including latin america), and since their first releases over ten years ago little changed in their style, or in their success. We're gonna review Buscemi's most recent record (which is all over the radio here), so you'll have to check out Sven Van Hees on your own.
Retro Nuevo is Buscemi's fifth album, and his most international to date. When Camino Real (2003) and Our Girl In Havana (2001) focused mostly on Latin America, his musical endeavors roam the whole world now. We hear soft female vocals in English, Spanish ("Retro Nuevo"), Arab, Hindi and Portuguese, but as usual loungy music and exotic samples form the foreground. Take "Não Falo Português" (I Don't Speak Portuguese): an irresistable 'patati-patata' chorus over samba percussion and weird electro sounds.
As with most lounge fusion, this album is best enjoyed at some beach, with a cocktail, watching the sunset. Opening track "Lost" would be the perfect soundtrack, and as Isabelle Antena puts it in "Nothing To Worry About":
Don't stress, it ruins everything, even happiness
Electronic albums often suffer from the 'originality syndrome': songs can sound very much alike. Retro Nuevo however has some interesting sidesteps: "Sahib Balkan" mixes Arab desert sounds and chants with balkan horns à la Beirut. "Jazz Jumper" lets Fay Lovsky sing along a skipping jazz piano like a true muse. And mind-blowing dance track "Bollywood Swing King" borrows its dry techno beats from Underworld, and its irresistable violins from an Indian movie soundtrack. Check out the video below.
An impressive journey through sounds and samples. After ten years and five albums, I'm still not tired of Dirk Swartenbroekx (Buscemi's not-so-exotic real name) and his tropical beats!
Buscemi ft. Fay Lovsky - Não Falo Portugues
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Argentinian songwriter Federico Aubele was discovered by Thievery Corporation, leaders of the Eighteenth Street Lounge label, when Aubele boldly gave them his demo at a party. An impressive debut (Gran Hotel Buenos Aires) and countless appearances on chill-out compilations and movie soundtracks followed soon. Aubele traveled the whole world, and being a constant foreigner "made him long for Buenos Aires and the Americas as a whole", giving birth to his equally impressive follow-up Panamericana.
The Panamericana is the 25,000 km long highway system connecting all North and South American countries. In that respect, the album's title is well-chosen: Aubele unites influences from all over the continent (tango, bolero, dub, mariachi,...) in a lounge/triphop setting. His melancholic, multi-layered songs remind me very much of compatriots Gotan Project, with the atmosphere similar to that of the self-titled Gorillaz debut. A unique blend, in all aspects. The album features a lot of likeminded guests -Amparanoia, Calexico, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs- and is produced by, of course, Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation.
The vocals on Panamericana attract a lot of attention: smooth warm echoes sing longingly about escapism, lost love, and old emotional songs. "Lluvia", carried by a great guitar melody and sung by the angel voice of Natalie Clavier, has beautiful lyrics about a rainy day. The intimate "Pena" starts with a cracking old record, Aubeles acoustic guitar and soft conga percussion. "Este Momento" features Colombian vocalist Vernie Varela, a great 'lalala' chorus and cool sound effects. Sounds great, right? My only point of criticism is that all songs are very similar, but who would notice that when you're chilling out in the sun? Panamericana hits the stores in May!
Federico Aubele - Lluvia
Monday, April 16, 2007
Luz Fleming, aka Luz Mob (sounds cooler, doesn't it?) was born and raised in San Francisco, but if I were to invent his biography myself, judging by his new (instrumental) album Luz Interpretations I'd say Frisco is just his current residence, the last stop after a long journey through the Carribean and Central-American area: it seems as if he had learned cumbia in Colombia, absorbed ska, dub and reggae in Jamaica and picked up some reggeaton here and there, before he finally added a jazzy electronic touch to all this in the United States. Sounds like a whole lotta styles!
Luz Mob may sound familiar to fans of the Cuban-English band Ska Cubano, with the difference that Luz is a lot more laid back. Nevertheless, "Luz Interpretations" is not just an album for laying back and smoking joints. In fact, it's also the perfect album for waking up and getting out of bed on the right side. Or, as a colleague on 3Hive described it so well: “Recommended for [...] the lazy days you call in "sick" to work and end up dancing all morning in your pajamas.” "The Selecter", for example, is a great cover of the 70's ska revival band of the same name. If this song won't make you want to joyfully move your feet, I assume you don't have any!
For a chance to win this album, click here!
And as an extra, enjoy the video of cumbia-esque "La Subienda" below.
Luz Mob - The Selecter
mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon
At the end of this special week, one winner will find Luz Mob's intriguing instrumental album Luz Interpretations in his or her mailbox. All you have to do to participate, is send an e-mail with your name & address to: email@example.com. And please mention "Contest" in the subject. This friday, the innocent hand of El Guïri will pick the winner.
Luz Interpretations is the second album of US-based electronic artist Luz Fleming, aka Luz Mob. His latin-influenced ambient instrumentals is "not just an album for laying back, [but] also the perfect album for waking up and getting out of bed on the right side."
Read our review here!
buy@iTunes - buy@Amazon
Sunday, April 15, 2007
April 16th - April 20th
There's one genre that has been shamelessly overlooked during the 22 months this blog has been running: electronic music. Considered indispensable for dancing, chilling or listening in most of the Western world, Latinos never really adopted the 'monotonous' white music. Top DJ's like Chilean Ricardo Villalobos had to move to Berlin before getting the attention their talent deserves. On the other hand, Western electronic artists embraced traditional latin elements, mixing them up with (mostly) loungy beats, to much success on countless compilations (Cafe del Mar, Putumayo,...).
During our special Semana Electronica (Electronic Week), we will present you 5 recent albums for your electronic enjoyment. It was hard to find artists with latino roots making latin electronic music, so you'll come across some foreigners with loads of southern influence in their music too. And we didn't include some obvious choices, like the aforementioned Villalobos, because their music has nothing to do with their origins. Be sure to come back regularly: we'll have new tracks up every day, and there's a contest coming up soon as well.
We hope you enjoy the discovery!
Friday, April 13, 2007
Crossing Over: Beyoncé, Shakira, Alejandro Fernandez, Don Omar, Rell, Zion, Akon, Daddy Yankee, Fergie
Sometimes we just have to give in to the acts being pushed by the music business. And a lot of crossing-over is going on between the Anglo and Latino industry lately. An overview:
R&B meets Pop Latino
Beyoncé is pretty serious about marketing herself into the latino audience (as we reported earlier). Not only has she recorded a (stale and uninspired) r&b song with that other pop queen of the moment, Shakira - it's called "Beautiful Liar", check out the videos below. She also realized that, if you're an artist that wants to get to the heart of latin pop culture, there's only one thing to do: record a theme song to a telenovela. On "Amor Gitano" she joins Mexican pop idol Alejandro Fernandez on a gypsy/flamenco influenced ballad. I'd say her accent is improving (however, ayayayayaaaay sounds the same in every language). The novela is about Zorro, by the way :)
Reggaeton meets Hiphop
Don Omar is announcing his breakthrough into the English-language market. For the 10th time, that is. "Calm My Nerves" is still mainly in Spanish, but at least he's is trying. The Jamaican dancehall influence is undeniable on this song, another move to appeal to a more international public? Anyway, both El Don and guest rapper Rell do a really good job rhyming over the (suprisingly fast) reggaeton beat. A dancefloor topper, and sure to stick on the radio too:
Baila como diosa sobre la luna
Y en una bola, vuelta tu cabeza
Baby-faced reggaetonero Zion is dropping his first album without companion Lennox soon, it will be called "The Perfect Melody". That's right, in English! He's even got a track with the Anglo r&b star of the moment, Akon. "The Way She Moves" is smooth and overproduced like any other r&b song, but Zion was part of my former favorite reggaeton duo so I'll cut him some slack ;)
And last but not least - here's the first single of Daddy Yankee's 8th album El Cartel. "Impacto" features Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, and I must say I like how it sounds, even though I can't stand either one of them. Maybe it's the excellent work of reknowed producer Scott Storch?
(PS: Watch this blog closely the next few days... a special feature is coming up very soon!)
Don Omar ft. Rell - Calm My Nerves
Daddy Yankee ft. Fergie - Impacto
Beyoncé & Alejandro Fernandez - Amor Gitano
Beyonce & Shakira - Beautiful Liar:
Beyonce - Bello Embustero (Beautiful Liar Solo Spanish Version):
Beyonce & Alejandro Fernandez - Amor Gitano:
Don Omar ft. Rell - Calm My Nerves
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Estrella is a young pop artist from Sevilla with a great voice. She grew up hearing her mother sing flamenco, and now she tried to combine that with modern black music in an original way on her self-titled debut album. She describes it herself as 'soul flamenco', but to me there is an essential component of modern pop involved too. No doubt, her vocal performance is impressive, best compared to an Andalusian version of Christina Aguilera. The difference being: Estrella is a purely natural talent, she learned everything from listening to old flamenco records.
"Tan Solo Tú" is a sparkling, captivating song zigzagging between mainstream r&b pop and flamenco. We even hear some arabic elements here and there. Producer Erik Nilsson knows very well how to let his Estrella shine: keep arrangements modest, and let her voice stand out. For a conventional Spanish pop song, this is an innovating experience. We wish Estrella a bright future!
Estrella - Tan Solo Tú
mp3 buy@iTunes (Spain only)
(Video is bad quality, sorry.)
Thursday, April 05, 2007
A collection of latin links from around the blogosphere.
-About Latin Music is wild about Venezuelan salsero Victor Hugo.
-IndieLondon loves the musical testament of Ibrahim Ferrer just as much as we do. Another review here, in Dutch from Nu.nl.
-Slant Magazine dislikes Jennifer Lopez just as much as we do. Not surprisingly, album sales are not as expected.
-Latin Gossip rounds up the rumors in the reggaeton scene.
-The promising Afro-Peruvian band Novalima won an Independent Music Award for World Fusion. Crisol de Musicas has a great article (in Spanish) on them.
-More awards: electro-tango combo Gotan Project wins a BBC World Music Award in the 'Club Global' category. We're reviewing their latest album Lunatico here soon!
-SoundRoots puts flamenco rappers Ojos de Brujo in their World Music Top 10.
-More Ojos de Brujo: the band proves an excellent live reputation on FabChannel: their entire concert in Paradiso (Amsterdam)
is was available online. Update: the rights have expired now, too bad if you missed the concert!
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
I've been wanting to post this song ever since I went to Cuba last year. You can imagine how hard it is to find Cuban music sometimes. (Side note - with iTunes supporting DRM free music, things will be a lot easier and more legal soon!)
Gente de Zona is a typical cubatón band, incorporating timba elements into a straightforward reggaeton sound. Just how I like my beats: exotically flavored, smooth on the ears, and verrry contagious. "Soñé" was the perfect summer hit: sunny music with playful lyrics, perfectly suited for sensual dancing. No Cubana can resist these guys, check out how the audience is dancing in the (bad quality) video below. Makes me wanna go on holiday VERY soon!
Bonus videos: timba band Bamboleo side-stepping into reggaeton with "El Bueno Soy Yo", and La Charanga Habanera joining rapper Eddy-K on "Llegaron Los Grandes". Couldn't find the mp3s for these songs, so the videos will have to do!
Gente de Zona - Soñé
Gente de Zona:
Eddy-K & Charanga Habanera: