Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Here are the winners for last week's contest:

Danni from Boulder Creek, CA
Miriam from Pacifica, CA
JD from West Palm Beach, FL
Maria from Corona, NY
Evandrea from Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Luke from Hamilton, NY
Gabriel from Camden, NJ

Expect your Nacional or VotoLatino iTunes Card in your mailbox soon. Thanks for participating!

PS: Some busy weeks ahead but I'll post whenever I can!

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Contest!! Win iTunes downloads!

VotoLatino is a nationwide initiative to encourage latino youth to register for the 2008 presidential elections in the US. VotoLatino was launched by Rosario Dawson and Maria Teresa Petersen and backed by a lot of celebrities like Fat Joe, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba, ... You might have already seen the banner on the right, where you can buy a benefit album filled with exclusive tracks for just $3.99. The album has been #1 on iTunes Latino for a few months, and with reason: the compilation joins Pitbull, Don Omar, Aterciopelados, Los Amigos Invisibles, Ozomatli and many more. So if you're a US citizen and haven't registered to vote yet - the world needs you. Click the button below and register! Or support the cause and buy the album.

Check us out!

To encourage you all to register, VotoLatino has 3 exclusive iTunes download cards to give away, with five free songs each.

But there's more. The nice folks over at Nacional Records also have iTunes download cards to give away - DOZENS of them!
With their cards you can download 20 songs from the whole Nacional catalogue, which includes some of this year's finest releases: Plastilina Mosh's All U Need Is Mosh (review), Bostich and Fussible's Tijuana Sound Machine (review) and Manu Chao's La Radiolina (review).

So what do you have to do? Just send an e-mail to laondatropical@gmail.com, and put "Card Me!" in the subject. Be sure to include your mailing address, or we won't be able to send the card over!
Only one string attached: you need an account on the US iTunes Store, which requires a credit card and a US address.
The all but innocent hand of my lovely girlfriend will pick the winners on Thursday, September 25th, so your entries must be in by then.

¡Mucha suerte!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Electronic: Bajofondo - Mar Dulce

Bajofondo Mar Dulce
The name Gustavo Santaolalla keeps popping up on this blog - if it's not as producer for Café Tacuba, Juanes or Calle 13 then it's for his ground-breaking and Oscar-winning soundtracks (Babel, Brokeback Mountain, The Motorcycle Diaries). But he also has his own band, the electronic tango collective Bajofondo Tango Club. Now shortened to Bajofondo, the mostly instrumental group gathered an impressive list of guests for their new album Mar Dulce.

Bajofondo's tango-with-a-beat has long been a success in cafés all over the Northern hemisphere, but on this album Santaolalla wanted to incorporate a more Latin American feel. A hard thing to achieve with pure instrumental tracks and lots of violins, though the melancholic alma of the tango shines through on all tracks. Most of all, Mar Dulce sounds very cosmopolitan, a little how I imagine Buenos Aires or Montevideo sound after hours in some ultra hip district.

The eight instrumental tangos on the album swerve between sensual, melancholic, extactic and gloomy. But it's the guests that make the album. On "Ya No Duele", guest rapper Santullo converts a hyperactive accordeon into the perfect accompaniment for his poetic, almost spoken-word-like performance. The contrast with "Hoy", where Juan Subira screams out his emotions raw and raunchy, couldn't be bigger. The international names however, disappoint a little. Elvis Costello is just a big old bore, and Nelly Furtado still hasn't mastered her afwul accent.
The best tracks are reserved for a handful of Latin American superstars. "El Mareo" has an inspiring Gustavo Cerati marrying his bass voice to echoing guitars and accordeons. La Mala Rodriguez makes "El Andén" entirely her own with a ceaseless rap attack on what must be the first elektrotangohop ever. And on single "Pa' Bailar", Julieta Venegas enhances the best instrumental track on the album with an incredibly catchy vocal.

As electro-tango collective, it's inevitable to be compared to Gotan Project, the band that launched the hype about eight years ago. And I must say, despite the big names and quality musicians on Mar Dulce, Bajofondo still falls short of the original. Maybe it's the dominance of Santaolalla, but it all sounds so produced in comparison to the soulful Gotan. Or is it my European ears that are used to heavier beats than Bajofondo's? Still, Mar Dulce remains a solid record that is probably well on its way to a new load of Grammys.

Bajofondo ft. Julieta Venegas - Pa' Bailar mp3
Bajofondo ft. La Mala Rodriguez - El Andén mp3
Album: Bajofondo - Mar Dulce (Decca)
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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Salsa: Fania

Fania Records Gilles Peterson Dj Series I Like It Like That Remix Classic Nuyorican Salsa Latin Jazz Music
UPDATE: It seems I Like It Like That: Fania Remixed also comes as a double CD with the original (hard-to-find) classics, which makes it even more a must-have compilation!

Ever since the legendary Fania Records was brought back to life in 2006, the label has been issuing a steady flow of reissues and compilations. This year two remarkable releases deserve your special attention.

The first is a spotless selection of Fania tracks by jazz guru and worldwide DJ Gilles Peterson. For the first edition of the Fania DJ Series, the British record collector listened to over 200 albums to select and compile 26 tracks. It's the first time he does a latin compilation, and you can feel he purely selected on the sound and spirit of the songs. So even though there are tracks by famous artists like Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Willie Rosario and more, I didn't recognize many timeless Fania classics. This compilation goes beyond the popular songs you've probably heard already, and takes you into the 42 year long history of a very special record label. The amount of instrumental tracks reflect his unability to understand the Spanish choruses, but also gives the record a focus on dance and percussion. So if you're looking to get to know a great label in a completely different way, this is the CD you want. If you want the familiar classics however, look elsewhere!

Ya Yi Ki - Johnny Colon mp3
Album: Fania DJ Series: Gilles Peterson (Fania Records)
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The other album I want to talk about is I Like It Like That, a remix collection on which dance scene remixers are paired with classic Fania artists like Hector Lavoe, Willie Colón and Rubén Blades. It's a shy first step into modern music for the label, and many remixes are only subtly changed compared to the original track. But hey, those songs are legendary for a reason! The two Lavoe tracks are real standouts, not only because of their length (over 10 minutes!!) but mostly because his voice is just so great. "Mi Gente" is remixed (very true to the original) by his own nephew Louie Vega, by the way.
Also great is "I Didn't Want To Have To Do It" by Ralfi Pagan in a 4 Hero remix, who finds a good balance between new and original; and the jazzy rendition of Roberta Roena's "Take Five" by Italian DJ Nicola Conte. But the biggest treat for me was finding Brazilian funksters Bonde do Role on this album: Favela Fania!
The mixes with a more dance/techno feel are often quite boring: Bugz in the Attic, SSH and sadly Gilles Peterson didn't do a very good job. But with a good skip button or a strict iTunes selection you'll be the proud owner of some unique interpretations of Fania classics.

Take Five (Nicola Conte Remix) - Roberto Roena mp3
Album: I Like It Like That - Fania Remixed (Fania Records)
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