Category: Latin Music

New Video: Swedish Nu-Cumbia act Cumbiasound Releases an Adorable Visual for “Cumbia Alta Vida”

Daniell Fridell is a Swedish-based multi-instrumentalist and producer with a deep background in jazz, funk, soul and Balkan music, who spent a decade residing in Denmark. Throughout his career, he has played and produced material for albums, commercials, TV and for the theater — and as a result of his various work, Fridell has managed to tour across the European Union, Africa and the States.  

His latest project, Cumbiasound finds the Swedish multi-instrumentalist crafting compositions that draw from Colombian cumbia and Peruvian chicha with elements of reggae, Balkan folk, Afrobeat, soul and jazz among others. Interestingly, the project can its origins back to 2010 when Fridell first heard cumbia. “2010 I heard Cumbia the first time while standing outside of a supermarket eating ice cream,” Fridell explains in press notes. “It was blazing hot and all of a sudden this music came out of the speakers. ‘What’s that?’ I asked and the rest is history. A true love affair.”

Cumbiasound’s debut EP Vol. 1: Instrumentales sees Fridell collaborating with longtime friend and colleague Erik Axelsson who contributes trombone and euphonium to the mix. The EP’s latest single “Cumbia Alta Vida” is centered around shimmering and arpeggiated Rhodes, looping guitar and shuffling, Latin polyrhythm — and while sounding as though it were recorded sometime between 1962-1965, the song is a joyous and much-needed bit of escape. 

Speaking of escapism: the recently released video by Cesar A. Ortiz, the recently released video stars two adorable rugrats dancing to the song in their backyard and messing around with some instruments at home. We see the youngest kid, a tow-headed boy eating arepas — because of course. Life seems so much simpler in their eyes doesn’t it? 

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New Audio: Meridian Brothers Release a Chiptune Inspired Take on Cumbia

Eblis Alvarez is a Bogota, Colombia-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed and forward-thinking recording project Meridian Brothers.  Alvarez’s forthcoming Meridian Brothers album  Cumbia Siglo XXI is slated for an August 21, 2020 release through Bongo Joe Records — and the album, which is the highly-anticipated follow-up to the act’s critically applauded (largely  acoustic) ¿Dónde estás María? continues the Colombian artist’s long-held reputation for relentlessly pushing his sound and approach in new and radical directions. 

Inspired by Cumbia Siglo XX’s experimentation with traditional cumbia in the late ’70s and early ’80s, which led to a completely new form of the genre, Cumbia Siglo XXI sees Alvarez using a multitude of guitars, synths, algorithmic software, vintage drum machines and whatever tech that the acclaimed Colombian artist could get his hands on. And while the album’s material sonically seemingly to draw a bit from Kraftwerk, the album reportedly is a sonic blend of EDM “sidechain” techniques and traditional cumbia.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Cumbia Siglo XXI‘s first single “Puya del Empressario,” an infectious yet let field take on cumbia that sounded a bit like like eThe Man Machine-era Kraftwerk meets JOVM mainstay El Dusty — with a mischievous sense of adventurousness.  “Los Golpeadores de la cumbia,” Cumbia Siglo XXI’s latest single is a mischievous synthesis of chip-tune, electro pop and cumbia that sounds like came straight from the Island of Misfit Toys. 

The recently released Bibiana Rojas-edited video for “Los Golpeadores de la cumbia” features a split screen — the left-hand side of the screen we see a man, text people, receive a phone call and take selfies. On the right-hand side, we see some surreal drawings by Mateo Rivano. 

New Audio: Meridian Brothers’ Forward-Thinking and Adventurous Take on Cumbia

Eblis Alvarez is a Bogota, Colombia-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and creative mastermind behind the acclaimed and forward-thinking solo project Meridian Brothers. The act’s forthcoming album Cumbia Siglo XXI is slated for an August 21, 2020 release through Bongo Joe Records — and the album, which is the highly-anticipated follow-up to the act’s critically applauded (largely  acoustic) ¿Dónde estás María? furthers the act’s long-held reputation for relentlessly pushing their sound and approach in new and radical directions.

Inspired by Cumbia Siglo XX’s experimentation with traditional cumbia in the late ’70s and early ’80s, which led to a completely new form of the genre, Cumbia Siglo XXI sees the act employing a use of amultitude of guitars, synths, algorithmic software, vintage drum machines and other tech that Alvarez could get his hands on. Drawing a bit from Kraftwerk, the album reportedly is a sonic blend of EDM “sidechain” techniques and traditional cumbia.

“Puya del Empreasirio,” Cumbia Siglo XXI’s first single is centered around layers of fuzzy analog synths, off-kilter and propulsive rhythms, snatches of vocals is an hypnotic, infectious and completely left field take on cumbia that kind of sounds like The Man Machine-era Kraftwerk meets JOVM mainstay El Dusty — but with a mischievous sense of adventurousness. “Cumbia disintegrated into drum machines. AIs are fucking idiots, Puya rides the machine,” Alvarez says of the track. 

Snowapple is an Amsterdam-based, multi-national, multi-ethnic and multidisciplinary ensemble that specializes in a unique sound that frequently combines diverse and eclectic musical influences, including pop, folk, opera and experimental cumbia among others. Visually, the ensemble uses theatrical elements, extravagant costumes paired with provocative thematic concerns to create epic live sets and videos.

The members of the Dutch ensemble have brought their unique and epic live show to the international festival circuit with sets at Eurosonic Nooderlsag, Cervantino, Ollin Kan, Oerol and Larmer Tree — and they’ve made appearances on a number of TV stations around the world, including Canal11, TV Azteca, and Canal22. Adding to a growing international profile, the act has also received airplay on BBC Radio multiple times.

Snowapple is currently working on their new festival set 4 Lunes, the follow-up to the act’s 2019 theater shows Mr. Moon and Project Lucy and to their political program La Llorona — Ser Mujer (The Weeping One — Being a Woman), which raises awareness of femicides in Mexico. But in the meantime, the act’s latest single, the David Ott-produced “Simple Things” is an adaptation of Armando Tejada Gomez‘s and Cesar Isella’s “Las Simples Coasas,” which has been performed by Chavela Vargas, Mercedes Sosa and countless others. Centered around a cinematic, genre-mashing arrangement that’s one part tango, one part chanson and one part Tropicalia, the Dutch act’s rendition evokes smoky cafes, narrow and foggy European streets and the work of David Lynch but imbued with an aching nostalgia. And as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the song takes on a heightened and deeper meaning: there’s a longing for the things, places and experiences we may never get back — with the acknowledgment that there are things we often say goodbye to way too quickly, not noticing how much they meant to us until they’re gone.

 

 

 

Live Footage: Juana Molina’s “Cara de Espejo (Home Session)”

Throughout the site’s almost ten year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of ink covering the Buenos Aires-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, actress and JOVM mainstay Juana Molina. Her father was renowned tango vocalist Horacio Molina and her mother was beloved actress Chunchuna Villafane, and as a child, Molina grew up in a intensely musical home: when she was five, her father taught her guitar and her mother introduced a young Molina to the family’s extensive record collection. 

After the military coup of 1976, Molina’s family fled Argentina and lived in exile in Paris for several years — and during her time in France, Molina’s musical tastes were vastly expanded by regularly listening to a number of French radio stations known for programs that spun music from all over the globe. When she was in her early 20s, her family returned to Argentina. Naturally, as a young woman, Molina was determined to be independent and pursue a musical career — and like many young people, her initial aspirations were to earn some decent money for a few hours of work a day while having enough time to write songs, record them and play live shows. The Buenos Aires-based JOVM mainstay had a talent for imitations and impressions and while looking for a gig, she auditioned for a local TV program. Based on the strength of her impressions and imitations, she got hired on the spot. 

Molina quickly became one of her country’s most popular comedic actors, and within a few years of that initial auction, she had starred in her own show, Juana y sus hermanas, a Carol Burnett-like variety show, in which she created a number of beloved characters. Her show, which was syndicated across Argentina and its neighboring countries was wildly popular. While pregnant, the Buenos Aires-based JOVM mainstay’s show was on hiatus and with a lot of free time of her hands, she found herself reflecting on her rise to stardom. Despite the massive success she attained, Molina couldn’t help but think that she wasn’t doing what she really wanted to do. So Molina quit acting to focus on her lifelong passion — music. 

Her decision to quit her popular show was one that many Argentines bitterly held against for a number of years. Her full-length debut, 1996’s Rara was critically panned by journalists, who resented her career change. Fans of her TV show would show up to her live shows, expecting to see her pay homage to her TV work but instead they found they couldn’t understand this new “folk singer character” that sung strange songs without any obvious jokes. Feeling dejected by the criticism and feeling misunderstood but wanting to continue onward with music, the Buenos Aires-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and actress relocated Los Angeles, where her work as much better received. And while in Los Angeles, she began experimenting and familiarizing herself with electronics. 

After spending time licking her metaphorical wounds and honing her songwriting and sound, Molina returned to Buenos Aries, where she wrote, recorded and produced her sophomore effort Segundo, which started a critically applauded run of material in which she meshed organic, rock-based arrangements with electronic production — typically layered and sampled loops of acoustic sounds with beats and synths. Her breakthrough, third album, Tres Cosas was championed by David Byrne, Will Oldham, and others and landed on The New York Times‘ Top Ten Records list.

Halo, Molins’s seventh album further established the Buenos Aires-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist. producer and actor’s long-held reputation for being restlessly experimental — and arguably one of South America’s most innovative artists. Interestingly, last year’s Forfun EP is an exuberant and decided sonic left turn, inspired by when they were forced to play a set of material at a major festival without some of their gear, because their airline lost their luggage. And as a result, the material is imbued with a punk rock and garage rock-like DIY ethos and spirit.

Recently, Molina released a new rendition of Halo album track “Cara de Espejo,” which was recorded and filmed at Molina’s home studio near Buenos Aires. Similarly to the material on the Forfun EP, the new rendition of “Cara de Espejo” features a decidedly post-punk arrangement and air, centered around later of squiggly synths, shimmering synths and a driving motorik groove. Filmed by New York-based multidisciplinary arts platform Kabinett, the live session is intimate, playful and mysterious, as it features the band playing in murky shadows. 

New Video: Mexico City’s Sotomayor Releases a Trippy Visual for “Sin control”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the Mexico City, Mexico-based sibling electro pop duo Sotomayor. The act, which the duo founded in 2015 features arguably two of their hometown’s most accomplished musicians: Paulina Sotomayor (vocals) is known for her work as a drummer in local rock/folk act folk act Jefes del Desierto,  and Raul Sotomayor (production), best known for his work as one-half of award-winning jazz/funk duo Beat Buffet and for creating DayOff, a Sunday afternoon party that presents global bass acts from around the world.  

Since their formation, they’ve released two albums –2015’s Salvaje and 2017’s Conquistador — that have received attention from Vice, MTV and KEXP for a sound that meshes elements of cumbia, Afrobeat, dancehall, Peruvian chicha and merengue with modern electronic production and rock ‘n’ roll-like urgency. Adding to a growing profile, the act has toured across the UK, the States and Colombia.

Recorded in studios in Puerto Rico and Mexico, the duo’s recently released Eduardo Cabra-produced, third full-length album Origenes further cementing their sound — while further drawing from the sounds of Latin America’s clubs and streets. Possessing a strong sense of tradition, the album’s material is centered around their unerring knack for pairing pop friendly melodies with rock ‘n’ roll urgency. But unlike their previously released work, the Sotomayors add and explore Afro Caribbean percussion to their overall sound and aesthetic. 

“Sin control” Origenes’ third single continues a run of club friendly material — but in this case, the track is a decidedly Larry Levan-era house inspired track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping Latin-influenced percussion and Paulina Sotomayor’s sultry and ethereal vocals. Nodding at the work of artists like Sango and Branko, the track is an infectious and summery bop written and designed to get asses shaking on the dance floor. 

Directed by Drew Boyle, the recently released video for “Sin Control” features some mind-bending  and lysergic computer animated visuals — also by Boyle — that at times pulsate to the music’s hypnotic beats. 

New Video: Sibling Duo Sotomayor Releases a Surreal Visual for Dance Floor Friendly “Meneate pa’ mi”

Sotomayor is a rapidly rising Mexico City, Mexico-based sibling electro pop duo featuring arguably two of their hometown’s most accomplished musicians: Paulina Sotomayor (vocals), best known for her work as a drummer in local rock/folk act Jefes del Desierto,  and Raul Sotomayor (production), best known for his work as one-half of award-winning jazz/funk duo Beat Buffet and for creating DayOff, a Sunday afternoon party that presents global bass acts rom around the world. Paullina Sotomayor and Raul Sotomayor founded Sotomayor back in 2015. And although it’s their first project together, the act which has released two album’s — 2015’s Salvaje and 2017’s Conquistador — has received attention from Vice, MTV and KEXP for a sound that meshes elements of cumbia, Afrobeat, dancehall, Peruvian chicha and merengue with modern electronic production and rock ‘n’ roll-like urgency. Adding to a growing profile, the act has toured across the UK, the States and Colombia.

Recorded in studios in Puerto Rico and Mexico, the duo’s soon-to-be released Eduardo Cabra-produced, third full-lengh album Origenes is slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Wonderwheel Recordings. Reportedly, the rapidly rising Mexico City-based act’s third album finds them continuing to draw their sound and aesthetic from the sounds of Latin America’s clubs and streets.  Possessing a strong sense of tradition, the material further cements the sibling duo’s reputation for an unerring knack for melody paired with a rock ‘n’ roll-influenced urgency — but unlike their previously released albums, Origenes finds the Sotomayors exploring and adding Afro Caribbean percussion to the mix.

“Meneate pa’ mi,” Origenes’ second single is a decidedly upbeat, track centered around Raul Sotomayor’s thumping, club thumping  production featuring a chopped and looped horn sample and tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with Paulina Sotomayor’s self-assured half-sung, half rapped vocals. Much like JOVM mainstay El Dusty, the Mexico City-based duo’s newest single envisions a globalized, genre-free world, a world as the great George Clinton once sung that’s “one nation under a groove.”

Directed by Sotomayor’s Raul Sotomayor, the recently released video for “Meneate pa’ mi,” features mundane and surreal actions placed within pastel color sequences — and as a results, it captures the act’s mischievous aesthetic. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Brownout Releases a Swaggering Arena Rock Friendly Single

Over the course of this site’s nearly ten-year history — yes, ten years! — I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, Austin, TX-based Latin funk-based outfit and JOVM mainstays Brownout. Now, as may recall the act was formed over a decade ago as a side project that has composed and arranged music that at points evokes the likes of WAR, Cymande and Funkadelic that features members of the Grammy Award-winning Latin funk act Grupo Fantasma. Interestingly, during that same period of time, the project has managed to evolve into its own unique, critically applauded effort, completely separate from the members primary gigs — while having a long-held reputation as being a highly sought-after backing band, collaborating with GZA, Prince, Daniel Johnston and Bernie Worrell.

Adding to a growing profile, the act has toured across the national festival circuit, playing at Bonnaroo, High Sierra Music Festival, Pickathon, Bear Creek Musical Festival, Utopia Festival, Pachanga Fest, and others in support of the act’s handful of EPs and their six full-length albums — 2008’s Homenaje, 2009’s Aguilas and Cobras, 2012’s Oozy, 2015’s Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath,  2016’s Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath, Vol. II and 2018’s Brownout Presents: Fear of a Brown Planet.  

Slated for a March 6, 2020 release through Fat Beats Records, the Steve Berlin-produced Berlin Sessions is the Austin-based JOVM mainstays’ full-length album of original material from the band in over eight years. Interestingly, while the album continues an ongoing collaboration with Berlin, it’s also the first album of original material featuring lead vocalist Alex Marrero, who collaborated with the band on the band’s successful Brown Sabbath albums. Sonically, the album reportedly finds the band drawing from and meshing a multitude of sounds and genres including rock, psych rock, Latin funk and breakbeat. 

The album evolved shortly after the Fear of a Brown Planet sessions. Recorded during hot Texas summer afternoons in Beto Martinez’s Buda, TX-based Lechehouse Music Studio, many of the album’s takes were recorded with the AC off — and with the temperature well past the 90s. And as a result, the sessions captured the enthusiasm, sweat and swiftness of a band eager to record their first batch of new, original material in close to a decade. “The ideas came swift and there was much experimentation in recording techniques and instrument usage,” Brownout’s Beto Martinez says in press notes. “Steve Berlin was very hands on with implementing new sounds and tones through effects or otherwise. I not only played on the record but recorded it at the same time. After placing mics and setting the recording gear, I had to play parts I had either just written or just learned all while watching meters and the tape machine to make sure it was all recording correctly with Steve Berlin sitting directly behind me. It was a nerve wracking and trying experience, yet a very fulfilling learning process.”

With the addition of Marrero as the band’s full-time vocalist, Brownout’s material features a lyrical depth and themes that the instrumental albums simply didn’t exude.  “As I started writing lyrics for Berlin Sessions, I noticed there were more abstract yet universal themes,” Brownout’s Alex Marrero says in press notes. “Writing in a way that doesn’t spell everything out directly. They can mean anything to anyone depending on what they need it to. Although seemingly ambiguous, all the songs ended up having a lyrical thread and thematic connection of stepping outside of your physical realm and connecting to a more universal energy.  Fighting for your individuality. Healing and processing our human emotions, connections and turmoil with a sense of awareness that we are still connected to something outside of what we consider ‘physical reality.’ It’s about overcoming your problems, the cards you’ve been dealt in life or just enhancing your personal connections by acknowledging we cannot be defined strictly by how the material world has laid ‘reality’ out to us; especially not societal norms and expectations. There is a bigger truth we just keep forgetting to look at. I don’t mean religion, I mean energy.”

The swaggering, arena rock friendly “Somewhere To Go” is Berlin Session’s first single. Centered around a propulsive and funky groove, the enormous horn section that they’re known for and Latin percussion, the song is an uplifting anthem that the band says is about tackling complacency by taking chances. 

Brownout will be celebrating the Berlin Sessions album release with a pair of shows at Austin’s 3TEN ACL Live on March 6, 2020 and March 7, 2020 with more national dates to be announced. “I think the history and evolution of this band is being captured and showcased well in our live shows,” Brownout’s Alex Marrero says in press notes. “We’re perfecting the marriage of the instrumental catalog of the band and the newer material where I can step away from the percussion and serve as full-on front man for the songs that require it. It makes for an exciting live performance.”