Category: Latin Music

 

J. Hacha De Zola is a Rahway, NJ-born, Jersey City, NJ-based singer/songwriter and musician, who became a scientist and a musician because of his father: a year within a Ph.D. program in Biochemistry, Hacha De Zola’s father died. He had to quit school to support his mother and the rest of the family, but the situation presented another life change that pushed him into pursuing a life long passion — music.

With the release of 2016’s Picaro Obscuro, the second of his two “urban junkyard” albums of that year, Hacha De Zola publicly insinuated that he might not continue on to make a third and that if he did, his plan was to “lighten up” the sound that he has previously described on some occasions as “boozegaze.” 2017’s Antipatico was the third album Hacha De Zola and his backing band had written and recorded in over two years — and with each successive album, Hacha De Zola increasingly found his own voice.

Hacha De Zola’s  John Agnello-produced fourth full-length album Icaro Nouveau is slated for a March 8, 2018 release through Caballo Negro Records and much like his previously released material, the New Jersey-born and-based singer/songwriter and his backing band practice his “reductive synthesis” method of what he has called “shooting the arrow and painting the bullseye around it.” Hacha De Zola explains, “I never go to the studio with songs written. I allow the musicians to be themselves and throw all they got at it. Then I’ll go and peel back the various layers to fashion a song from it all. It’s a pretty risky way of making an album because when it’s all done, you may have something that isn’t agreeable to you. Other times, you arrive at something truly magical and the songs take on a life of their own. There’s a certain kind of voodoo there that could not be planned.”

Interestingly, the album’s material is also deeply influenced by the life and death of longtime collaborator, Ralph Carney, a saxophonist best known for working with the legendary Tom Waits. Carney not only served as a player but a spiritual guide and mentor for Hacha de Zola. “He was an integral part of this sound. He was my secret weapon,” Hacha de Zola says. “His horns were ever–present, as was his input. Not having him around for Icaro Nouveau was unsettling for me.” But his spirit was still in the room while they were writing and recording the album.The album’s latest single “On A Saturday” finds Hacha De Zola and his backing band, sonically drawing from classic, barrio salsa — but seemingly played through rusty and busted instruments and with a drunken, lilting wobble.

New Audio: Combo Chimbita’s Propulsive and Psychedelic New Single

Throughout JOVM’s eight-plus year history, I’ve covered Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP)’s annual conference in some fashion or another. As a national service, advocacy and membership organization for those within the performing arts — particularly within dance and theater, APAP over the years has developed a reputation for their role in assisting musicians and groups, who specialize in “world music.” Along with the annual conference, which features discussion panels, lectures, networking sessions and the like for artists producing, recording and creating artwork in our extremely complicated and confusing political landscape, there are a number of carefully curated showcases hosted and/or sponsored by this city’s best known “world music” venues.  Now, as you may recall, the Lower East Side world music venue DROM hosts Barbes’ and Electric Cowbell’s annual Secret Planet APAP showcase — and earlier this year, their wildly eclectic showcase featured the New York-based Colombian folk collective Bulla en el Barrio; the Brooklyn-based act Drunken Foreigner, which specializes in a sprawling, psych rock-like iteration of the Akha and Lam Lao musics of Thailand and Laos; the Cleveland, OH-based Afro-futuristic soul act Mourning [A] BLKSTAR; the New York-based Afro-futuristic-inspired, psychedelic cumbia act Combo Chimbita; the New York-based Ethiopian funk and jazz-inspired septet Anabessa Orchestra; and the New York-based act Hearing Things which specializes in a sound that draws from Middle Eastern music, surf rock, and 60s soul and R&B.

Featuring Bulla en el Barrio’s Carolina Oliveros (vocals) along with Prince of Queens (synths and bass), Niño Lento (guitar) and Dilemastronauta (drums), Combo Chimbita began experimenting with different traditional music styles during their late night residencies at Barbes — much of this experimentation included explorations between visual identity and improvisational long-form trips that eventually lead to their thunderous 2016 self-recorded debut, El Corridor del Jaguar. Interestingly, much like Mourning [A] BLKSTR, the New York-based act is deeply inspired by Sun Ra’s Afro-futurism — while championing their own take on it, which they’ve dubbed Tropical Futurism. As the band says “the idea that the future doesn’t necessarily have to be this super white Western high-tech Star Wars stuff; that the indigenous ideas and culture of people of color, people of Latin America, can also represent a magical and substantial future. It’s a vision that maybe a lot of people don’t necessarily think about often. The old and deep knowledge that indigenous people have of the land has been neglected for many years as part of capitalism and colonization.”

Their Lily Wen-produced sophomore full-length album Abya Yala was released through Figure & Ground Records was released back in 2016, and the album further established the band’s unique futuristic take on cumbia. And along with an incredible live show, led by Oliveros powerhouse vocals and commanding stage presence, the New York-based act has begun to receive quite a bit of buzz. In fact, renowned Los Angeles-based label ANTI- Records, a label known for having a roster of wildly eclectic array of artists that includes the legendary Mavis Staples, recently signed the band. As the band’s Prince of Queens says in press notes, “ANTI- is a special label. It is crazy to be part of such a diverse pool of artists, feels extra special being an immigrant band singing in Spanish. I grew up in Bogota listening to a lot of bands on Epitaph and not understanding a word they were singing but it made me want to be in a band and learn music. It feels like full circle working with [Epitaph’s sister label] ANTI-.”

The members of Combo Chimbita will be closing out a big year with a series of live shows the include sets at Lincoln Center and Philadelphia’s PhilaMOCA before joining Parquet Courts for the Midwestern leg of the indie rock’s current tour. You can check out the tour dates below. But before that, the band has released a trippy new single “Testigo,” a track centered by a looping Afro pop-like guitar line, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, rolling and propulsive percussion, a sinuous bass line and Oliveros’ powerhouse vocals. Sonically speaking, their sound serves as a power reminder of how much contemporary music — particularly Latin American music — draws from Africa, as much as it does from their own native traditions, and they do so in a wildly anachronistic yet dance floor friendly fashion. 

Danny Murcia is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, founding member and creative mastermind of Los Angeles-based bilingual indie rock act El Mañana. As an English major in college, Murcia immersed himself in magical realism, a major tenet of modernist and post-modernist Latin American literature, and after graduating, he was able to marry his loves for language and music as a songwriter. Interestingly, the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter wound up penning a number of songs that were recorded by mainstream radio and as a result of the attention he received as a go-to songwriter, Murcia wound up as part of the major label system, signing a record deal with a major label that released a single; however, it didn’t take long for Murcia to to realize that he was a commodity in a machine that wanted to exploit his Colombian heritage — and that the label was actively trying to mold him into a white person’s version of a Latino pop star. At the end of the experience, he felt as though is creative energy was sapped.

El Mañana finds Murcia returning to his original dream of what he wanted his sound and music to be: insightful, earnestly emotional and bilingual rock driven by enormous power chords and plaintive vocals. As the story goes, Murcia who suffers from bipolar disorder began writing material for this new project while he was battling cancer, having to undergo multiple surgeries before the cancer went into remission. During his recovery, he read the works of Pablo Neruda and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which long informed his own work.

“Gota En El Mar,” the Los Angeles-based band’s latest single sonically manages to bridge the dreamy psych pop of Tame Impala and Washed Out with enormous Siamese Dream Smashing Pumpkins-era like  power chords fed through distortion and other effects pedals, thumping drumming and arena rock friendly hooks — but most importantly, the song is a swooningly urgent and earnest song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria Del Pilar is a Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician, whose family immigrated to the States when she was a child. After developing roots in her adoptive hometown, Del Pilar became an integral part of the city’s music scene as the frontwoman of the critically acclaimed local act, Los Abandoned. Pilar’s solo debut Songs + Canciones I was released to critical praise for Del Pilar’s ability to craft infectious pop hooks that possess a rock ‘n’ roll grit that recalled her Riot Grrl roots. Interestingly, Songs + Canciones I‘s lead single “En El Dancefloor” skyrocketed to the top of the Mexican radio charts and led to shows at Vive Latino and Mexico City’s prestigious The Zocalo.

Songs + Canciones II, the highly-anticipated follow-up to Del Pilar’s solo debut is slated for a November 2, 2018 release, and while finishing up the album, Del Pilar has managed to collaborate with a diverse array of renowned artists including Chicano Batman, Francisca Valenzuela, and Tegan & Sara; in fact, the album features collaborations with a virtual who’s who of the Los Angeles music scene, including members of Chicano Batman, No Doubt, Las Cafeteras, Fitz + The Tantrums and others. But in the meantime, the Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has also performed as a backing singer  during tUnE yArDs’ most recent appearance on Conan. Adding to a growing profile, “Se Me Hace Mas” was recently  featured on the new Starz drama Vida.

“Original Dreamer,” Songs + Canciones II’s latest single is of our current sociopolitical moment, as it was written while the Trump Administration and the Republican led house was busily repealing DACA, which struck a chord both personally and politically. After the introduction and approval of 2001’s DREAM Act, millions of undocumented minors were granted legal residency in the States along with their parents and guardians. Del Pilar’s mother and father were among the first DREAMers — but sadly, her mother died when she was 12.  The stories reminded me of what I saw my parents go through when I was a kid immigrating from Chile to the US,” Del Pilar says in press notes. “I had a chance to thank my father for these sacrifices but never got a chance to thank my mom. This song gives me that chance.”

Produced by Poolside‘s Flip Nikolic, the song features looping, psych rock-inspired guitar lines from Chicano Batman’s Carlos Arevalo — and while centered around a fiercely held belief that no one is an illegal alien, the percussive, deep groove-driven song manages to bring Fear of Music-era Talking Heads to mind; but with a bold, distinctly Latin flavor and vibe, along with some infectious hooks. Of course, at its core is a deep (and much-needed) empathy and understanding of the plight of society’s most vulnerable, reminded the listener that a great deal of Americans are descendants of those who have taken great risks and had enormous dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan is a rather unique band — with a unique backstory. Comprised of Michell Serrano (vocals), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Carlos Amigo (percussion) Juan Jose Espindola (drums) and Arvid Sjöö (guitar), the band features one native Swede — Sjöö — while the the other members relocated from South America. And with the release of their furious and incendiary full-length debut Caballo Negro, the Stockholm-based quintet quickly received attention for a signature sound that meshes elements of Latin music, in particular, Latin rhythm, percussion and groove that would have been part of musical and cultural heritage of Serrano, Gonzalez, Amigo and Espiondola while pairing it with the blistering guitar punk of Thee Oh Sees, At the Drive-In and Death from Above 1979.

Slated for a September 7, 2018 release the Stockholm, Sweden-based punk rock act’s highly-anticipated Daniel Bengtson-produced sophomore album Swedish Cobra finds the band capturing their raw and raucous live sound on record — with all five of the band recording live to tape at Bengtson’s Studio Rymden, and with minimal takes and overdubs. As the band’s Michell Serrano says in press notes, “You can hear that on the album. it’s quite raw and very intense.” And while reportedly being the most blistering effort the band has released to date, it’s also interestingly enough the most experimental one as well, as the members of the band’s roles became much more fluid. Additionally, the album finds the Swedish punk rock band expanding their sound through the use of different instrumentation to the usual punk rock arraignments. “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” Serrano explains. “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”

Additionally, the album lyrically reportedly is the most personal while not being the most overly political as it deals with the bandmembers’ everyday reality — and unsurprisingly, each individual member contributed lyrical ideas to the whole. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this. Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things – like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden – it’s relatable in any other country, I think,” Maikel Gonzalez says in press notes.

To build up buzz for the new album, Sudakistan has released two singles from Swedish Cobra. First is the furious, jangling and swirling psych punk/surf punk “Whiplash” which is centered around Serrano’s howls, pedal effected guitars and tons of feedback, thunderous drumming, subtle bits of Latin percussion — and in some way, the song reminds me a bit of The Black Angels, complete with a swaggering sense of menace and an expansive song structure. Second is the mid-tempo ballad “Two Steps Back” a track that finds the band employing a 90s grunge rock song structure — alternating quiet, loud, quiet sections with a raise-your-beer-in-the-air-and-shout-along worthy hook, blistering power chords and Latin percussion. And while passionate and urgent, there’s something sobering about the material in a heightened age of nationalism, racism, xenophobia and sexism. Cultural exchange and openness has brought about new takes on the familiar, new modes of thinking, new foods, new words and perhaps more important empathy and understanding. Goddamn it, before we completely head off the rails, we need quite a bit more of that these days.

New Video: Renowned Argentinian Producer and Electronic Music Artist Chancha Via Circuito Releases Breezy and Trippy Sounds and Visuals for “Alegria”

Over the last decade or so, Argentina has become the home of an new digital-influenced take on cumbia, in which artists blend the traditional folk music of the Andes Mountains with electronic beats and production, and interestingly enough Pedro Canale, a Buenos Aires, Argentina-born and-based electronic music producer and electronic music artist, best known as Chancha Via Circuito is one of the genre’s leading figures, arguably responsible for its emergence on the global stage with the release of his 2008 debut Rodante. And since, then Canale has released a string of critically applauded and commercially successful albums, including 2010’s Rio Arriba, which Resident Advisor described as “aural magical realism,” and his international breakthrough, 2014’s Amansara, which received critical praise from the likes of The Fader and NPR among others.

Bienavaenturanza, Canale’s fourth, full-length album is slated for release next week through Wonderwheel Recordings, and the album, which derives its name from an Argentinian Spanish word that translates roughly into English as bliss will further cement his reputation for pairing traditional Andean folk instrumentation, typically flute and charango with slick, dance floor friendly electronic production centered around thumping, tribal beats; however, the album which marks Canale’s first batch of new material in over four years, was written and recorded with an unprecedented amount of care and in a highly collaborative fashion with a number of digital cumbia and regional All-Stars making appearances, including Mateo Kingman, Kaleema, Lido Pimienta, Kawa Kawa as well as Colombian Dancehall king Manu Ranks and others, who contribute their highly distinguishable sounds and talents to the natural flow of the album. And as you’ll hear on the breezy yet tribal album single “Algeria,” Canale has expanded upon his sound in an effortless and organic manner — in this case, the song seems to draw from cumbia, tribal house, ambient electronica that that’s psychedelic and mystical. Directed and animated by Kati Egely, the recently released video meshes the natural and synthetic through the use of Egely’s vibrant and childlike watercolor drawings and paintings, which morph at will from a birds, to a modern women, desperate to escape the doldrums of the workplace and so on.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay El Dusty Returns with a Swaggering, Genre Mashing, Club Banger

Born Horacio Olivera, El Dusty is a  Corpus Christi, TX-based JOVM mainstay producer, DJ and electronic music artist, who has seen attention across the blogosphere as a pioneer of a sub-genre he’s dubbed “nu-cumbia,” which features elements of hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass and house music and samples of classic and beloved cumbia songs — with the end result being a swaggering, club-banging take on Latin music that as you may recall resulted in a Latin Grammy nomination. Adding to a growing profile, the Corpus Christi, TX-based producer, DJ and electronic music artist has bee named one of Rolling Stone’s 10 New Artists You Need to Know, Billboard’s New Latin Act and to Watch and was placed on Pandora’s Latin Artists to Watch. He’s also played at EDC Las Vegas, EDC Mexico, Ciudad Sonido Festival, Fiesta De La Flor, Universal Records’ Latin Grammy Showcase, Brisk Bodega Tour, the Mad Decent Block Party, Austin City Limits, SXSW, and others.

Olivera’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Cumbia City is slated for a May 11, 2018 release through AfterCluv Records, and while the album will further his reputation as one of electronic Latin music’s highly-sought after producers and collaborators, the album also finds Olivera pushing his signature sound in new directions as the album’s material crosses genres, trends and cultures while redefining what both Latin music and electronic music should and could sound like. “This album is cool as hell and funky!” Olivera says in press notes. “This takes the old with the new and it becomes a new style, a new song, a new genre – it is more than Cumbia, it’s electronic styles with live drums and modern beats.” El Dusty adds “I approach the whole album with live recordings in mind. Every sample was re-recorded live to create a mashed up turntable-like production meets a song-like format.” Unsurprisingly, El Dusty’s full-length debut, is deeply influenced by his musical upbringing which included Tejano anthems, Chicano soul music, classic rock, boom bap hip hop, house music, drum ‘n’ bass, turntablism, but mashed up and re-imagined for a new generation of bass-heavy and soundsystem music.

Album title track “Cumbia City” is a swaggering track around tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, trap snares, an iconic sample from San Jacinto,  Colombia-born cumbia star Andres Landero and Boogat spitting fire in Spanish — and while mischievously bending and playing with genre boundaries, it’s an anthemic and crowd pleasing banger.

Set on the streets of Corpus Christi, the brightly colored video for “La Cumbia” is a cinematically shot video that features dancers of all ages and from a variety of the city’s cultural traditions — from the ancient and contemporary — to the song’s thumping beats.

New Audio: Renowned, Spanish Indie Rock Act The Parrots Release a Shambling, Garage Rock Take on Latin Trap Star Bad Bunny’s Smash Hit “Soy Peor”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about the Madrid, Spain-based indie rock trio The Parrots. Comprised of Diego Garcia (vocals, guitar), Alejandro de Lucas (bass) and Daniel “Larry” Balboa (drums), the members of The Parrots are among the forefront of a collection of Spanish artists, who sing in English and Spanish that have received attention both nationally and internationally; in fact, with the release of “I Did Something Wrong”  off their Aden Arabie EP, were praised for a boozy and riotous garage rock/garage psych rock sound comparable to Thee Oh Sees,  Black Lips, Raccoon Fighter, High Waisted, White Mystery and others.

Adding to a growing profile internationally, back in 2015, NME named the Madrid-based trio as one of  SXSW‘s “buzziest bands” and since then the members of The Parrots have managed to be pretty busy — they followed up with a critically applauded EP Weed for The Parrots, made a repeat appearance at SXSW before signing to renowned indie label Heavenly Recordings with whom the band released their full-length debut  Los Ninos Sin Miedos, which featured the shambling and swooning “Let’s Do It Again,” a single reportedly inspired by the members of the band drinking beers and Horchata, eating Moroccan delicacies and the feelings of profound friendly and loyalty they all felt towards each other — and in some way, the song evokes the sort of feelings that are brought about when you’re drinking way too much and having ridiculous adventures with your pals. Album single “A Thousand Ways” was largely inspired by that moment in one’s youth when you may be most tempted by the forbidden and unknown, and when you may drop or avoid responsibilities of any sort. “This is the moment when, along with your friends, childhood dies,” the members of the band said. And much like its predecessor, the shambling, garage rock barnburner managed to remind me of Raccoon Fighter and 60s garage rock. 
Some time has passed since I’ve last written about them but as it turns out while the band is currently working on the much-anticipated follow up to their full-length debut, the members of the band have released a one-off, ramshackle, shambling, garage rock cover of Latin trap artist Bad Bunny’s smash hit “Soy Peor,” and as the band explains “We’ve always been big fans of urban music, trap and hip-hop. Not long ago, these styles started to be everywhere again in Spain, and with it we discovered many interesting new acts, both Spanish and Latin American. One of them was Bad Bunny, from Puerto Rico. The first song of his that we listened to was “Soy Peor” and we loved it. Since we started the band, we’ve always liked to cover songs that we like, usually it’s from bands that are more similar to our style — rock ‘n’ roll, punk . . . It’s the first time we picked a song in another style and tried to make it ours. The idea came up in a rehearsal, talking about choosing a new cover for a forthcoming show. People really dug it and a few weeks later we went to Paco Loco’s studio to record it. We have all been through one or several relationships where things didn’t end up well, you realize you are not the same, you go out partying and blame it on your ex but, maybe, it was all your own fault.”