Wednesday, January 23, 2008

En La Misma Onda

(Sorry about the lack of music posts, I'm in the middle of some heavy exams, I'll post whenever I find the time. To tease you a little: expect new material from Daddy Yankee, Los Hermanos Rosario, and La Valentina!)

One news item overshadows all others: a series of tragic deaths hit latin music last week, with three young icons passing away unexpectedly.

  • Andy Palacio, aged 47, died of multiple strokes and heart attacks in his homeland Belize. His album Watina - honoring the music and traditions of his Garifuna people - earned him a prestigious WOMEX award, the top spot on many world music lists and the title of UNESCO Artist for Peace. Belizeans are very affected by the loss, Palacio will receive a state funeral and a tribute concert is planned. The full press release is over at Soundroots.

  • Gabriel Manelli, bassist of Argentinean rock band Babasonicos, passed away at the age of 38, after a 'severe illness he has been fighting for a long time'. You can read the communiqué on their website. Babasonicos were working on their ninth studio album in London at the time. (via Latin Gossip)

  • And in a continuing spiral of violence in the Mexican grupera community, Jorge Antonio Sepulveda - better known as 'El Koquillo de Sinaloa' - was brutally murdered by multiple gunshots. He was only 20 years old. This is the fourth consecutive murder in little over a month, other victims were Jose Luis Aquino (Los Conde), Sergio Gomez (K-Paz de la Sierra) and Zayda Peña. (via VivirLatino)
May they all rest in peace.

Turn That Shit Off posted the second part of its "Hitchhikers Guide to New World Music". To be honest, I haven't had the chance to read it entirely, but considering the quality of part one I'll take the chance ;) This time they talk about 'nu' reggaeton, merengue, kuduro and much more - quite a goldmine.

More 'nu whirled' music thanks to Fat Planet (who are starting to deserve a space in our sidebar with that continuous post quality). El Remolón is one of the nueva cumbia geniouses that's conquering the blogosphere at the moment, and I was completely overwhelmed by his latest mashup of Modeselektor vs. Calle 13. Really combining the best of two worlds: Modeselektor are pioneers of modern Berlin techno, Calle 13 are the most inventive reggaeton combo out there. Read the full post with mp3!

Europe has a new reggaeton portal - arises from the ashes of our former partners and, bringing you news, videos, reviews and party info in four languages. I'm quitely hoping the Google News bit gets replaced by true content, but at least the party section tipped me to a great latin dance last weekend :)

Daddy Yankee is not the only reggaetonero to star in a movie soon (though half the world is wondering when Talento de Barrio will actually be released). Rene Perez a.k.a. Residente, the rapping half of Calle 13, also has plans to appear on the big screen. Pasiones Urbanas will tell the tale of three couples, all played by Perez and his girlfriend Denise Quiñones (ex-Miss Universe). (via BlogReggaeton)

And finally, here are two nice videos of songs we featured before on La Onda. Tego Calderón keeps it ghetto-style in La Perla, San Juan on "Ni Fu Ni Fa". Read the review of his album El Abayarde Contra-Ataca here. And Shakira takes us back to the time of cholera in "Hay Amores". Videos below!

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Friday, January 18, 2008


Next week a dear friend of mine is moving to Argentina for an indefinite time, and tonight tomorrow is probably the last time I'll see her. What better way to say goodbye than with beautiful music from her future homeland?

I know she loves Calle 13 and Don Omar more than anything else, but I haven't found any Argentinean reggaeton, ¡lo siento! But the first thing that pops into mind when thinking of Argentina is, of course, tango. "Sur" dates back from 1948, a classical tango masterpiece performed intimately and full of feeling by Andrés Calamaro (off Tinta Roja, 2006). I think it's about a loved one heading south, quite suitable no?

Gustavo Cerati - by far my favorite Argentine - has a touching farewell song as well. “Adiós” (of 2006's Ahi Vamos) is filled with wise words, and boasts that nostalgic feeling we all feel when thinking of someone far far away. So without much further ado, I say adíos to Josefina:

Del mismo dolor

vendrá un nuevo amanecer


Poder decir adiós

es crecer

Gustavo Cerati - Adiós mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon
Andrés Calamaro - Sur mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Salsa: NG2

NG2 Ella Menea Puerto Rico Latin Salsa Music
When I started this blog, more than two years ago already, I wasn't really a salsa aficionado. I only knew salsa from the cheesy, romantic version played on Latin American radio and salsa classes for elderly couples in Europe. But over the years I've learned to appreciate it - the funkier Cuban and Colombian variety, the timeless New York salsa classics, and even the odd Gilberto Santa Rosa song.

But seldom a salsa song had such an instant appeal to me as "Ella Menea". The Puertorican boys of NG2 (which stands for Nueva Generación) bring a sparkling and joyful type of salsa they call salsa jóven - even though they sound as routined as many veterans. The rhythm is fairly typical (maybe a little spiced up) but I especially heard some great use of instrumentation - the deep brass sounds and percussion in the intro, for example. Highly danceable, and you won't forget the earworm chorus. Menealo!

NG2 - Ella Menea mp3

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Alternative: Radio Zumbido

Radio Zumbido Pequeno Transistor De Feria Revuelta Latin Alternative Instrumental Electronic Analog Music
I can seriously not believe I never bumped into Radio Zumbido before. Not only are they from Guatemala, my second home, but frontman Juan Carlos Barrios was a member of Bohemia Suburbana, one of the greatest bands Central American rock has ever known. Thank you, Fat Planet, for the discovery!

After he left Bohemia Suburbana, Barrios retreated to the magical landscape of Sololá, where he got inspired by the volcanoes and the pristine waters of Lake Atitlán, or as he puts hit himself:

The sights and sounds of old men discussing politics, chicken truck horns, dusty generations-old salsa and jazz records, and the ubiquitous AM radio [...] emerged to me in a way which transcended cliché and inspired me to express the poetry of my native land.

The result was Los Ultimos Días del AM (The Last Days of AM), a beautiful instrumental album of Guatemalan sounds amidst eerie live guitar and countless triphop loops.

That was five years ago. Now Barrios is more a global resident, hovering between Barcelona and Los Angeles, and the 2007 album Pequeño Transistor de Feria can be seen as a reflection on those cities. Not the palm-lined beaches or the big mansions, but the dusty streets of Barceloneta, or the chaos of a latino district in LA.
Radio Zumbido keeps true to the collage-style AM radio feeling, with the more electronic songs ("El Desierto") strongly reminding me of Boards of Canada. Psychidelica reigns on many tracks ("Third Day In Chinatown" is a guitar solo played backwards), but is never disturbing. It's the scruffy analog-recorded percussion of "Revuelta" that appealed the most to me, but the album is so diverse and layered I'm sure you'll find much more that draws you.

Radio Zumbido - Revuelta mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

En La Misma Onda

Penelope Cruz Lesbian Kiss Sister Monica Video Eduardo Cosas Que Contar Latin Pop Rock Music
What do you do when you are a talentless singer in desperate need of YouTube exposure, and your sister is Penélope Cruz? On your new video, you make her kiss your other very hot sister, and dub porn vocals in Spanish. Sadly, all the lesbian action can't disguise that the song is utter crap - better luck next time, Eduardo Cruz! (via mun2)

Turn That Shit Off (a blog on all kinds of party music from Mexico City) has more videos, photos and mp3s regarding the Zizek cumbia movement we talked about this week (article). The other incarnations of 'new world music' he mentions are quite interesting as well. I do hope the promised 'Part II' will be posted - I'm anxious to read what he has to say on reggaeton, baile funk and speed merengue. (via Masala)

mun2 reports on the declining CD sales in latin music, and the steady uprise of legal downloads. According to the numbers I'm guessing they're talking about the US market, or else the artists are in some serious trouble.

Tropicalidad discovers Grupo Fantasma, a Texan salsa outfit that released (in their words) " far one of the best live albums in my collection". And their enthousiasm is justified - sample the highly energetic Comes Alive album on the Grupo Fantasma MySpace.

Captain's Crate has found another funky old latino LP, this time the obscure Phirpo y Los Caribes brings you rhythm & soul from 1973.

Another good place for timeless latin music is Nelson Guirado's Cubanocast. Nelson combined his love for pre-revolutionary Cuban songs with his interest in politics on a special series of posts recently: he selected an appropriate Cuban campaign song for every presidential candidate.

Do I still have to link to Ritmo Latino, or are you already tired of my endless praising of this always diverse, hip & surprising podcast and its spontaneous, often hilarious presenter? This week's show has some lesser-known reggaeton & hiphop I'm really liking!

We're in the paper! La Onda Tropical is mentioned in The Guardian as 'one of the best sites for free music', among Pitchfork, iTunes and Discobelle. Read the article and be sure to check out the other sites - especially the smaller blogs are really worth it!

(And to all the new readers who are wondering what this post is all about: in En La Misma Onda we link to articles on other blogs and websites we enjoyed reading lately. It's a kind of regular feature here, along with the Lost in MySpace posts that focus on newly discovered bands. Want more? Click the "links" or "myspace" tags below this post, or in the sidebar!)

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Pop/Rock: Le*Pop

lepop le pop le*pop bendita televisor no tengo calma latin indie music mp3 costa rica electro rock electropop
You'll agree with me that televised singing contests rarely result in the discovery of exceptional talent. I even tend to think the Star Academy's, Idols and Eurovisions of this world are the last twitches of a marketing machine doomed to go down with the rise of the internet. MTV Latin America (a channel where you can watch music videos sometimes - in contrary to European MTV) had a similar contest, but more internet-oriented: on bands could post a profile with mp3s, and votes from registered users decided who deserved a contract. And behold: the victory didn't go to 'that cute boy with his romantic reggaeton' or 'that hot chick with the fake rock attitude' - an unknown indie-pop band from Costa Rica called Le*Pop won the contest on pure quality. In any case, a band that cites Fisherspooner, CSS, Hot Chip and Gustavo Cerati as their influences can't do anything wrong in my eyes!

Debut single "No Tengo Calma" is infectious and energetic. Lead singer Stella Peralta combines a poppy voice with rock maturity. Indie electro-rock from the top shelf. Yes, there was obviously a big production team behind this (their MySpace and website are quite too hip for a debuting band as well) but you can't deny the quality of the song, which is sparked with the honesty and enthousiasm of a starting band. I even like the crisp-clean mix, it kinda fits with their overall sound.

Other songs on their album Bendita Televisor put forward a more commercial electro-pop sound, still a clarity and purity makes them stand out among similar bands (Miranda, Belanova). I predict them a great future in Latin American charts, and lets hope their songs keep the same vibe!

Le*Pop - No Tengo Calma mp3 buy@iTunes

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Pop: Jorge Drexler

As you might remember from this post, Uruguayan cantautor Jorge Drexler made a beautiful cover of Radiohead's "High and Dry" for his eighth and most recent album 12 Segundos de Oscuridad (2006), maybe his best - and most melancholic - record yet. So if you're getting tired of listening to that song over and over again - that's what I did! - now is the time for you to get to know another genuine Drexler gem!

12 Segundos de Oscuridad is a story about darkness, so says Jorge Drexler. In the title song, he sings about the intervals of darkness between the beams of light of a lighthouse:

No es la luz
lo que importa en verdad
Son los 12 segundos
de oscuridad

This "darkness" is to be understood in a metaphorical way: it represents his divorce of Spanish singer Ana Laan. This explains the bitter-sweet taste almost every track on this album leaves in your mouth. All songs express Drexler's sadness, his doubts and fears, but never in a dramatic way. On the very last track on the album, "Sanar" ("to heal"), the singer talks once more about the pain of losing love. But this time, there's a spark of hope:
Y volverás a esperanzarte
Y luego a desesperar
Y cuando menos lo esperes
Tu corazón va a sanar
Va a sanar
Va a sanar
Y va a volver a quebrarse
Mientras le toque pulsar

After the rain comes sunshine, his heart will heal again. But everytime, it will break again... and then heal again. It's the circle of love, which Drexler seems to finally accept in this song. It's a down-to-earth conclusion for a poetic and stunningly beautiful album...

Enjoy the song, and don't hesitate to go for the full album! You won't regret it.

PS: It's O.K. to secretly shed a tear while listening to this song. Don't worry: va a sanar!

As an extra, here's the very original stop-motion videoclip for "Transoceánica", the first single off of 12 Segundos. It's directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep). Check it out!

Jorge Drexler - Sanar mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon

Jorge Drexler - Transoceánica

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Lost in MySpace: La Nueva Cumbia

La Nueva Cumbia Zizek Buenos Aires Argentina Villera Colombia Vieja Hijo de la Cumbia Rebajada Sonido Martines MySpace Latin Music Links
The internet is buzzing about a new scene emerging in Buenos Aires (and, thanks to MySpace, in the rest of the world): la nueva cumbia. Young but influential latino producers are rediscovering traditional cumbia songs, and mixing them up with all kinds of modern influences - from crazy electronics to hiphop beats, even dancehall. As long as it's rhytmic and mixable!

All you Europeans definitely heard at least one example - DJ Samim might not be Argentinian, but he did use a cumbia sample in THE European club hit of this summer, "Heater" (video). The sample is actually <"La Cumbia Cienaguera", a popular Colombian cumbia from the 1950's, in a version by Alberto Pacheco.

Central in the Buenos Aires scene is an urban dance club called Zizek. What's Up Buenos Aires and the Muy Bastard blog (in Spanish) are excellent starting points for discovering the artists associated with the club.
The distinctively Argentinian cumbia villera from the late 60's is used in slow chill-out electronic tracks (Chancha Via Circuito), chopped up to an experimental dub beat (El Remolon) or drowned in worldly urban sounds (El Hijo de la Cumbia).

Going international, American producer Oro11 mixes the cumbias with baile grooves to form a bass-rich mashup that's damn infectious. Check this out: "Pibes Chorros vs DJ Uhn - Que Calor" (via Muy Bastard).
He also has two very dope cumbia-house-reggaeton beats up on his MySpace.

A special mention goes out to cumbia rebajada, which basically consists of pitching down those old cumbias until they sound okay to mix with r&b/dancehall stuff. I kinda needed to flip a switch in my head before I liked it, but the idea is great in its simplicity. Bolivian DJ Sonido Martines has some great examples, along with a fine 'guaracha mix' of MIA's "Paper Planes".

Other producers are already picking up the trend - Diplo (Bonde do Role, MIA) even did a whole podcast on the Zizek movement. Villa Diamate mashes up everything he gets in his hands - check his website packed with mp3s of rap vocals over reggaeton and nueva cumbia rhythms.

More reading on this quite exciting movement on the better urban world music blogs: Masala, Ghetto Bassquake, Mudd Up! and Wayne&Wax.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Lo Mejor del 2007

A little later than expected - it's those darned exams again - La Onda Tropical presents: the best of a year in latin music.
PS: all songs removed.

Best 2007 Albums
Best Rock/Alternative Album: Café Tacvba - Sino

mp3: "Volver A Comenzar"

Café Tacvba blew away the competition, crowning themselves yet again as the kings of Rock en Español. Los tacubos combine epic stadium rock, powerful guitar ballads and electro influences on a diverse and adventurous album.

Best Pop/Ballad Album: Ibrahim Ferrer - Mi Sueño

mp3: "Quizas Quizas"

If today's bubblegum teenie pop (RBD) and nauseatingly cheesy ballads (Camila) are becoming too much, we'll just have to resort to the dead for quality love songs. Ibrahim Ferrer made his life-long dream, to sing an album filled with delicate boleros, come true more than two years after his death. A posthumous jewel by a monument of latin music.

Best Salsa/Tropical Album: Marc Anthony/Hector Lavoe - El Cantante

mp3: "Aguanile"

It's definitely because of the timeless quality of Hector Lavoe's original songs, but I've never played a salsa album as much as El Cantante. Marc Anthony puts down a near-perfect vocal imitation, and the arrangements are delicately modernized, but in the end you're just listening to el cantante de los contantes himself. Salsa just tasted so much better in the 70s, no?

Best Merengue Album: Juan Luis Guerra - La Llave De Mi Corazón

mp3: "La Llave De Mi Corazon"

After six Latin Grammys, the only possible winner in this category is Juan Luis Guerra. The baladas can't compete with Ibrahim's above, but the upbeat mambo he's serving throughout the majority of the album was THE soundtrack to my 2007 primavera.

Best Reggaeton/Hip Hop Album: Calle 13 - Residente o Visitante

mp3: "Pa'l Norte"

The funniest, dirtiest, cleverest, catchiest, most innovative, most conscious, and most musical latin album of 2007. Taking the commercialism out of reggaeton, and putting the social issues back in hip hop. While delivering smash hits like "Pa'l Norte" and "Tango del Pecado". Calle 13 is how latin urban music should be.

Best Songs
Best Rock/Alternative:
1) Café Tacvba - Volver A Comenzar (post)

2) Inmigrantes - Golpe de Suerte (post)

3) Manu Chao - Me Llaman Calle (post)

More great stuff: Caramelos de Cianuro, Los Bunkers

Best Reggaeton/Hip Hop:
1) Calle 13 & Orishas - Pa'l Norte (post)

2) Casa de Leones - No Te Veo (post)

3) Dalmata - Pasarela (post)

3) Don Omar & Wisin y Yandel - MySpace (post)

I really couldn't decide on those last two :)

Best Pop/Ballad:
Shakira - Despedida (post)

And in my humble opinion best song of 2007.

Best Salsa/Tropical:

Best Merengue:
Juan Luis Guerra - La Llave De Mi Corazón (post)

Though I also enjoyed Elvis Crespo a lot this year.

Best Electronica/Funk:
Los Mono - Promesas (post)

Special Mentions
Best Overlooked Song: Orishas - Hay Un Son

Nope, we didn't post this, but it was merely a technical reason: El Guiri was waiting for a copy of Antidiotico, Orishas' greatest hits album, in the mail. It never arrived - and we forgot about "Hay Un Son". It's a sunny Cuban hiphop song that's certainly not Orishas' best, but still a welcome summer hit.

Best Video: Los Mono - Promesas (post)
buy video @ iTunes

The most simple concepts are often the best. Have a guy in an orange jumpsuit dance through some hallway, add monkey faces, and there's your YouTube hit!

Most Nostalgic Song: Tito Nieves - Mas Que Tu Amigo (post)

Nostalic images of watching some telenovela in a Guatemalan mountain village pass through my mind. The chicken-filled buses, the colorful trajes, the tasty garnachas, it all comes back thanks to Marco Antonio Solís and Tito Nieves.

Most Annoying Hit: Nigga (Flex) - Te Quiero (post)

I hear you shout "Whaa? He just posted that last week!" Yes I did. And I'm sorry. Guess I was appealed to the caribbean atmosphere at first listen, but the fact is that this is a very, VERY annoying song if you hear it often. It has everything an irritating latino hit needs: infuriating contagiousness, stomach-churning lyrics and a cheap reggaeton drum. Ugh.

Most Overrated Artist: Maná (post)
How can MTV give four awards to the very disappointing Amar Es Combatir? Only because the endless plugging of Maná songs on latin radio. Even the nice songs sound dull after the 100th time. Well-deserved second place: Jennifer Lopez (but she isn't exactly overrated, the press hated her album just as much as I did).

Most Popular Download: Dalmata - Pasarela (post)

Of the 113 songs posted on La Onda this year, "Pasarela" was the most popular with 570 downloads. Now let's hope at least as many people acutally bought the catchy reggaeton tune by DJ Nelson.

Readers Award: Calle 13
You have decided! Calle 13 is the most important latin artist of 2007, scooping a quarter of the 191 votes in our poll. They're followed closely by Shakira, who didn't even have to release an album this year to earn 19% of the votes.

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