Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rock: Los Piojos, Babasonicos

Los Piojos ('The Fleas') could be one of those typical Argentinean rock bands. Originating from a Buenos Aires suburb, heavily influenced by classic rock&roll and immensely popular in their home country. But there's something quite atypical to Los Piojos, something that makes them transcend to an international level. Is it the Stones-ish buildup of the guitars? Is it the fierce vocal sound of lead singer 'Ciro' Martinez? Is it the poetic quality of their songwriting?
"Pacifico" has some beautiful lyrics - I think Martinez is singing about the pain and emptyness after a broken relationship. However their straightforward stadium rock sound is more easily digestable - think the Rolling Stones, U2 and (closer to home) Gustavo Cerati. That soul-cutting scream at the end can only be compared to Bono!

Los Piojos - Pacifico mp3 buy@Amazon myspace

This spring Babasónicos have lost their bassist, but their latest album Mucho was still written with him. "Pijamas" is the first single, an eighties rock tale heavy on reverb (maybe a bit too heavy). Adrián Rodriguez asks us -with that instantly recognizable voice of his- if we can please understand for just one time. With such a catchy chorus, we sure can!

Babasonicos - Pijamas mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon myspace

Los Piojos - Pacifico

Babasonicos - Pijamas

Show Videos...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Upcoming on La Onda

Antilliaanse Feesten Hoogstraten
Sorry for keeping you in the dark the last two weeks. It's almost June, and faithful readers probably know things always slow down a bit in this dreaded exam period :) But here's a little teaser to what's coming up this summer!

First of all, next month La Onda celebrates its third anniversary already. So look out for a special contest soon! We're also thinking about a remix-themed post again like we did last year, but we'll need your help this time. If you find noteworthy remixes of your favorite latino artists, send them to - you decide what appears on the site!

We will continue to provide you with latino concert reviews during the summer festival season - traditionally a great time for European latin music lovers. After the very successful tours of Mayra Andrade and Spanish Harlem Orchestra (and the sadly canceled Eddie Palmieri show), here's our selection of the best latin music festivals this summer. If you're in Western Europe, each of these is definitely worth the trip!

Couleur Café (June 27th - June 29th, Brussels, Belgium)
Colorful vibes from all over Africa and Latin America on the inner-city Thurn & Taxis festival grounds. We'll probably be checking out the 'Rolling Stones of salsa' Los Van Van, who are apparently a once-in-a-lifetime live experience. French-Cuban singer-songwriter Raul Paz is the next big thing in the mestizo movement, mixing hiphop, dub and ska with Cuban traditionals. And Kassav' will get the party started with crazy zouk from the Antilles.

Antilliaanse Feesten (August 8th & 9th, Hoogstraten, Belgium)
The festival that always brings the biggest names and the best Caribbean atmosphere to the lowlands. We'll be staying on the multiculturally flavored campgrounds for extensive coverage of this world music walhalla. In the weeks prior to the festival, we'll shine a light on some of the performing artists. During the event we hope to set up some sort of live blogging for the less fortunate who can't be there. And afterwards you'll read all the concert reviews, interviews and backstage gossip first here at La Onda!

Here are some of the names already announced: on the salsa front there's Grupo Galé from Colombia, Magia Caribeña representing Venezuela, Maravilla de Florida from Cuba, and round the clock salsa dancing in the mirrored Palacio de la Salsa. Especially Magia Caribeña have an excellent live reuptation, you'll be hearing more from them soon! Gente D'Zona were already featured here with their exotic cubatón, you all know Monchy y Alexandra from their bachata pop hits, and Chichi Peralta brings infectious merenge from the Dominican Republic. The Caribbean islands are also heavily represented (and, I must admit, underrepresented on this blog). Small Axe from St. Kitts & Nevis, the excellent Carimi from Haïti and 3 Canal from Trinidad are three bands to watch. Their music (respectively soca, compas and rapso) brings the carnival atmosphere right down to Belgium! Last but not least, reggaeton superstars Wisin y Yandel will perform for the first time in Belgium - I can already imagine the exhilirating crowd and the explosive show.

Afro-Caribbean Festival (August 16th, Bredene, Belgium)
A small but promising festival on the coast, with an eclectic selection of international acts from Congolese soukous to Brazilian samba. We're hopeful for the La Kinky Beat show, mestizo from Barcelona, and for the creators of the timba sound NG La Banda.

Check out the websites for ticketing information and full programmes. Also, we wouldn't be doing concert reviews if it wasn't for the promotors (applause!) and the help from our amigos of Tropicalidad (more applause!).

Of course we'll keep you informed about the best latin releases out there in the meantime. Some of the artists coming up soon: Sergio Mendes, Los Piojos, Arcangel and Willie Chirino. If that won't keep you sweet until the next post... ;)

Show Videos...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Electronic: Bostich+Fussible, The Pinker Tones

Nortec Collective Bostich Fussible Tijuana Sound Machine Latin Alternative Indie Electronic Music Mexico
The Tijuana based electronica conjunto Nortec Collective is back with a follow-up to the Latin Grammy-nominated 2006 album The Tijuana Sessions Vol. 3. Two key members of the five-piece collective, Ramón 'Bostich' Amezcua and Pepe 'Fussible' Mogt, teamed up for Tijuana Sound Machine (Nacional Records), an electronic voyage into the deep north of Mexico, its deserts, and its polka-meets-mariachi norteño music.

Their contemporary update of the highly conservative norteño is entertaining and diverse whilst never losing touch with the roots. Clever beats accompany the quick-paced accordeon and bass rhythms, with layered vocals or echoing trumpet samples alternating in the lead role. Perhaps the biggest achievement is a sound that is uniquely their own, despite the similarities with other electronic-ethnic artist like Mexican Institute of Sound and The Pinker Tones (below). Tijuana Sound Machine puts their hometown yet again on the map as a crossing point between cultures and a leading centre of electronic experiment.

Nortec Collective presents Bostich+Fussible - Tijuana Sound Machine mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon

The Pinker Tones Wild Animals Latin Alternative Indie Electronic Pop Music Barcelona Spain Electrotumbao
The Pinker Tones are another electronic collective based in Barcelona, ready to conquer the world from their tiny rooftop studio with a very international sound. For starters, their latest album Wild Animals (also on Nacional Records, available digitally from May 20th) is in English most of the time. And then there's the sound: funky electro-pop with an indie egde, balancing between German techno pioneers Kraftwerk ("S.E.X.Y. R.O.B.O.T."), disco pop sensation Miranda! ("The Whistling Song") and modern electrotrash like Digitalism ("Fugaz"). Songs in four languages, the diverse influences and the general fun atmosphere make Wild Animals a very pleasant and eclectic listening experience. Ideal for the summer! The track below, "Electrotumbao", is graced with the always excellent Amparo Sanchez (Amparanoia) on guest vocals.

The Pinker Tones - Electrotumbao mp3 buy@Amazon

Show Videos...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

En La Misma Onda

We begin this news overview with two latin music figures who passed away too soon.

Gerardo 'Toto' Rotblad, who was the percussionist of the legendary Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, died of pulmonary edema at the age of 38. Despite this sad news, the remaining members of the band announced a reunion for this fall, and the web is buzzing about a possible new album by the Argentinean ska band.

Elvis Manuel, a succesful Cuban reggaeton artist, has gone missing and is presumed dead. Lured by a lucrative record deal in the US, Manuel made the jump to Florida on a raft with his family, friends and producers, but wasn't recovered after it sank. The Latin Americanist has the full story, Mister Bryans digs even deeper.

The Latin Americanist reports that the violent attacks against 'emo' youngsters (that started in the Mexican city Queretaro) are now spreading across the continent. Chili, Peru and Colombia have all seen their share of anti-emo violence, often originating from homophobic and extreme-right sentiments. Not good.

On a more positive note, a new solidarity concert has emerged: ALAS, meaning América Latina en Acción Solidaria, or the Spanish word for 'wings' - how cute. This Sunday May 17th, dozens of artists will be performing for free concerts to focus attention on the 32 million impoverished children of the continent. El Zócalo in Mexico City and Constanera Sur in Buenos Aires will probably fill with 300,000 enthousiastics for performances by Alejandro Sanz, Babasonicos, Calle 13, Chayanne, David Bisbal, Gustavo Cerati, Jorge Drexler, Juan Luis Guerra, Juanes, Los Tigres del Norte, Maná, Miguel Bose, Ricky Martin, Shakira, and many more!

According to Blogamole, 2008 will finally bring a new album from the queen of latin pop, Shakira. It's been two years since the double release of the Spanish-language Fijación Oral, vol. 1 and its English counterpart Oral Fixation, vol. 2.

Despite the very commercial nature of the Premios Billboard, there were a few deserved winners this year. Juan Luis Guerra took home 3 awards, and Marc Anthony and Gloria Estefan were victorious in the 'Tropical Album' category. Latin Gossip rounds up the other winners.

Blog Reggaeton informs us that the highly successful Panamese rap duo La Factoría is splitting up. Both ladies want to pursue a solo career in the distinctive reggaeton panameño genre that got them continent-wide hits such as "Todavía", "Perdoname" and "Moriré". Here's a piece on La Factoría which we wrote back in 2006, when the reggaeton genre was just exploding.

A new addition to our blogroll! Club Fonograma may only exist for little over a month, but has already proven to be an essential read if you're into latin music. The sharp pens of bloggers Carlos Reyes and Paulo Correa deliver quality reviews of recent latino releases - for example this review of Alegranza! by El Guincho. There's also a great article on the most anticipated 2008 albums.

Show Videos...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Electronic: Pacifika - Asuncion

Pacifika Asuncion Me Cai Oyeme Latin Electronic Indie Flamenco Dub Bossa Global Pop Music Canada
'Global' is the only right word to describe Pacifika. This Vancouver-based trio is comprised of a Peruvian singer with a love for flamenco, a dub infused bassist raised in Barbados, and a Canadian guitarist with roots in 80's new wave. That's eclectic for ya. The result is Asunción, an international yet unique sounding album filled with minimalistic electronic pop.

Opening track "Sol" will inevitably remind you of Aterciopelados, although the ethereal voice of singer Silvana Kane and the more spiritual sound and theme of this song are the only points of comparison. Nature is however a recurring theme on the album: also see the flamenco-infused "Paloma", the mystic "Las Olas", and the single "Me Caí". It's a great single, with warm percussion, guitars and delicate electronica provoking scenes of sunshine and happiness. More melodious merriness on "Oyeme", an uplifting and energetic song uniting the best of the poppy voice of Silvana and the skilled guitars of Adam Popowitz.

If Pacifika prove one thing, it's that they sure can relax. "Estrellas de Miel" is a jazzy acoustic song suited perfect for a late-night bar performance, "Cuatro Hijas" has Silvana in a sultry mood and floats on delicate guitar arpeggios, joined by warm and smooth cellos near the end.
The band thrives on subtlety: the percussion is at times barely more than a whisper, and you'll hear very few instruments used at the same time. This minimalistic approach results in some delicate jewels of songs, but at times I craved for more depth and harmony. On "Mas y Mas", dirty guitar contrasts with an angel's voice, but the climax feels incomplete without drums or percussion. Also, Silvana's bubblegum pop background sometimes shines through, like on the English-language "Sweet" or the bossa dub "Chiquita".

So Asunción is a great summer album, but nothing more. The album ends with "Las Olas", a relaxing soundscape of sea waves, guitar plucking and violins, not the only nice-but-not-great album filler. Still, I'm a fan of the sparkling and dynamic Pacifika you hear on "Me Caí", "Paloma" and "Oyeme".

Pacifika - Me Caí mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon
Pacifika - Oyeme mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon

Show Videos...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Contest! Win Concert Tickets!

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The concert was CANCELLED because Eddie Palmieri needed to return early to the USA. Of course I'll have to cancel the contest as well, sorry for that, and thanks for your participation everyone!

You've probably noticed that we branched out our latin music activities recently. This spring and summer quite a few important latin artists pass though our tiny home country Belgium, so we decided to try the difficult but rewarding task of writing concert reviews. Mayra Andrade and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra were two big successes, and we hope to see even more latino performers do such a good job on unfamiliar soil.

Eddie Palmieri La Perfecta Salsa Charanga Mambo Latin Jazz Music Free Concert Ticket Gratuit Contest Wedstrijd Concours Gratis
The next concert sheduled for review is a real legend of latin music. Already over 50 years in the business with 38 full album releases and 9 Grammy awards, Eddie Palmieri is the unquestioned king of latin jazz. His latest tour (with the band La Perfecta II) brings him to the Ancienne Belgique concert hall in Brussels, more info on the show here. And we have some great news for all you Belgian/Dutch/French/German readers who can make it to la Bruxelles.

We're giving away 2 x 2 tickets for the Eddie Palmieri show on May 18th in Brussels! All you have to do to participate is answer this easy question: Which of the following albums did not win a Grammy award?

  1. La Perfecta II
  2. The Sun of Latin Music
  3. Listen Here!
  4. Solito
Mail your answer to laondatropical at gee-mail dot com before May 10th, 2PM central European time. Be sure to include your mailing address or we won't be able to send you the tickets!

This contest and the reviews wouldn't be possible without the help of the concert promotors and programmers, so here's a big up to Greenhouse Talent and De Roma, and a hat tip to for being always there to assist us!

Show Videos...