Tag: Latin music

New Video: San Antonio’s Fea Releases an Anthemic Ode to the Working Class

With the release of 2016’s self-titled, full-length debut, the San Antonio, TX-based punk outfit Fea, which features Girl In A Coma’s Phanie Diaz and Jenn Alva with Letty Martinez and Sofi Lopez, quickly developed a reputation for a trailblazing and proudly genre-defying aesthetic that meshed Chicana Punk, fuzzy power chords and three-part vocal harmonies with Riot Grrl ethos. 

Now, as you may recall, the San Antonio-based punk quartet’s Alice Bag-produced sophomore album No Novelties is slated for a November 15, 2019 release through Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records, and the forthcoming album features bilingual material that thematically focuses on a number of hot-button topics, including sexism, the toxic self-awareness, self-promotion and vapidity of social media and others — with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and feministic punk sensibility. Additionally, the material may arguably be the most intricate in the band’s history — to date, at least. 

Last month, I wrote about No Novelties’ first single “Let Me Down,” a blistering takedown of modern society’s dependance on social media and reality TV that calls out the obsession with fame, constant praise, instant gratification, self-absorption, self-promotion, sex and consumerism at its core. Sonically, the song found the act meshing classic ’77 era punk with power pop in a way that was infectious and defiant. The album’s second and latest single “Ya Se,” is a blistering, old school punk anthem, centered on the plight of the constantly exploited working class sung entirely in Spanish. Considering the constant torrent of racist bullshit coming from our current administration that’s aimed at our brothers, sisters and friends in the LatinX community, the song possesses a deeper sense of righteous fury. 

“The title is Spanish for ‘I know,’ vocalist Letty Martinez says in press notes. “Most of our generation is living paycheck to paycheck. Getting caught up in that cycle where you spend the money you don’t have on vices just to feel relief from the financial stress.” Guitarist Sofi Lopez adds, “When you just work work work, you get into this groove that you can’t escape. But it drives you mad in the end.“

The recently released video stars the members of the band as frustrated blue collar mechanics, who are exploited by their white collar — and very male — boss. The band members work hard for very little money and to escape their dreary lives, they spend what they earn on vices — booze, weed, gambling, cigarettes. But at the end, they all revolt against the dreaded time clock, which enslaves them. 

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Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstay El Dusty Teams Up with Tiano Bless on a Sultry Club Banger

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the  Corpus Christi, TX-based JOVM mainstay producer, DJ and electronic music artist, El Dusty. And as you amy recall, the Corpus Christi-born JOVM pioneer has received 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, house music and samples of classic and beloved cumbia songs in a swaggering, genre-defying and club banging take on traditional border music. 

Not only has El Dusty received a a Latin Grammy nomination for his work, he was named on 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.  And adding to a growing profile, the Corpus Christi-born and-based JOVM mainstay released his full-length debut, last year’s Cumbia City, an album that found him pushing his sound and approach in new directions, further revealing why he has quickly become a highly sought-after producer and collaborator. 

Since the release of Cumbia City, El Dusty has been busy producing original music and collaborating with a variety of artists on releases through his independent label Americano Label. His latest single “El Pescador” is a sultry, two-step inducing club banger, centered around thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a classic cumbia sample that prominently features accordion and Latin percussion and an enormous hook paired with 2012 Rototom Latin contest winner, drummer and vocalist Tiano Bless contributing hip-hop inspired rhymes to the proceedings. 

New Video: Inland Empire’s QUITAPENAS Releases an 80s Spielberg-Inspired Visual for Breezy Album Single “Tranquilidad”

Deriving their name from the Spanish slang term for “to remove worries,” the Inland Empire, California-based tropical, Afro Latin sextet QUITAPENAS, which is comprised of Daniel Gomez (guitar, vocals), Mark Villela (guacharaca), Hector Chavez (bass, sax,  vocals), David Quinetero (keys, bass), Ivan McCormick (drums), Eduardo Valencia (conga, drums) formed back in 2011. And since the band’s formation, they’ve developed a reputation for a sound that draws from the sounds of Angola, Peru, Colombia, Brazil and elsewhere during the 60s-80s, but with a subtly modern touch. But interestingly, the California-based act has a simple mission —  to make you dance all night, and forget your worries. 

QUITAPENAS latest album Tigrada is slated for release on Friday through Cosmica Records, and the soon-to-be released album reportedly finds the band speaking about the realities of the world they come from — and in a joyful and fiercely confrontational fashion. The album’s latest single “Tranquilidad” draws from the Funana music of Cabo Verde and Puerto Rican Bomba, and as a result the propulsive, dance floor friendly track possesses a breezily escapist air. But underneath that is a song that pays homage and respects to the environment. 

Directed by @Bracero.LA,  the recently released video for “Tranquilidad” follows an extraterrestrial, who crash lands on Earth — and fittingly in the band’s native Inland Empire.  Although the brightly colored creature has traveled the known universe in peace, discovery and friendship, as soon as it leaves its damaged spaceship, the authorities — in this case, the dreaded la miagra — chase after it, with intentions to lock it up. The extraterrestrial, which is the anthropomorphic representation of tranquility manages to charm some local kids in the immigrant and migrant community of Inland Empire. And of course, it’s the local kids and a handful of other kind souls that protect the extraterrestrial traveler, helping it return to its spaceship to escape. Drawing from Star Wars, ET, The Goonies and Stranger Things, the video, which was shot in what director Andrew Vasquez puts it “the Tatooine of Riverside,” a “. . .reimagined world that Spielberg left behind.” While serving as a statement on the power and idealism of youth pushing humanity forward, it’s also an apt (and much-needed) statement on the humanity and decency of our country’s immigrant and migrant communities. 

 

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.