As the days get closer to Christmas, record labels start pushing all their potential moneymakers to the forefront. Sometimes quality releases go unnoticed in the avalanche of greatest hits and blockbuster releases. Here is a reminder of some releases that you can find in our Latin Rock & Pop section for yourself and for future gifts for Christmas.
Aterciopelados' newest release, Rio, is their most focused release since 2001's classic, Gozo Poderoso. Filled with melodic vocals and soft Latin electronica beats, Aterciopelados explores their Colombian hippie side without sounding contrived. Life and the environment are the central themes of this album that link each song with the sound of a river flowing, rio/river...get it? Click here to watch a song from their Amoeba instore.
Rodrigo Y Gabriela, the surprise Flamenco hit of 2006, return with Live In Tokyo. Fans of the brother/sister duo claim that their strength comes from their live performances, including many Amoebites who witnessed their in store performance at Amoeba Hollywood two years ago. The release includes a DVD and a few new tunes for you to play air guitar to.
The much anticipated live performance of The Buena Vista Social Club at Carnegie Hall is finally available on both LP and CD. For those who had forgotten, this is the infamous performance caught at the end of Wim Wender’s film of the group. Most of the key players in that concert, Compay Segundo, Pio Leyva, Ruben Gonzalez and Ibrahim Ferrer have all passed on in the recent years. This CD/LP is a document of one of the greatest nights of their lives. My question is, why they didn’t include the entire concert on DVD?
Calle 13’s Los De Atras Vienen Conmigo is another classic from half brothers Residente y Visitante. From the offset, Calle 13 distances themselves from the Reggaeton movement, calling out not just some Reggaetoneros, but all of them! The music as well as the lyrics is irreverent, mixing Urban beats with Mexican Banda, Gypsy Music and Cumbia Villera. Calle 13 collaborates with Indie En Espanol stalwarts Café Tacvba on the song "No Hay Nadie Como Tú," which to me, feels like an updated version of Manu Chao’s "Me Gustas Tu." Another collaboration is with Salsa legend Ruben Blades on "La Perla," in which Ruben Blades shows much updated flow! Calle 13's latest is my favorite of the bunch so far.
Nacional Records are releasing two CDs from Senor Coconut. First is the domestic version of Around The World and the re-issue of El Baile Aleman. For fans of Senor Coconut (also known by his German name, Uwe Schmidt), you know what to expect. Around The World contains the a Latin Lounge version of the Daft Punk hit of the same name as well as versions of Prince’s "Kiss" and The Eurhythmics classic, "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This." This is perfect for fans of kitsch and those who yearn for the days of Les Baxter and Perez Prado performing contemporary hits. El Baile Aleman is the classic album which Senor Coconut does Cumbia, Merengue and Mambo versions of famous Kraftwerk songs. This is true genius at work.
Speaking of Cumbia, Crammed Records out of Belgium get into the fray with Arriba La Cumbia, a mix CD compiled by DJ Russ Jones (Future World Funk, Gypsy Beats & Balkan Bangers). Jones mixes classic Cumbia with remixes from Toy Selectah, Up, Bustle & Out, Mo'Horizons and Basement Jaxx. The selection is more than adequate, though if you grew up listening to Cumbia you may find it a little trite. Russ Jones is not as good as the DJs you would find at a Quinceñera, wedding or club anywhere in the Americas. Russ sort of plays it like an European, which is well...what he is.
Yet other non-Latino exploring Latin America culture is Afronaut, formerly of Bugz In The Attic. His Afronaut Y Su Amigos is bumping! It is a house blend of Puerto Rican folk music, Bomba Y Plena. This one is for fans of Deep Latin and Afro house music. Afronaut is for fans of Quantic & Nickodemus, The Bronx River Parkway and The Candela All-Stars.