Best of 2017: Latin Alternative Releases
Music Director’ s Remark: In 2017, the Latin Alternative scene saw the debut of many new artists / new projects and a more prominent presence of Spanglish. With this new wave of artist, many of the veterans were overshadowed by the newcomers in the indie y Latin Trap genres. This is definitively reflective within our countdown. The TOP 20 Releases were picked by yours truly and the the TOP 40 songs were determined by the number of spins at our station. Enjoy! =)
Top 20 Latin Alternative Releases
20. Mon Laferte – La Trenza
Fresh off the heels of her new success, “Alternativo’s current ‘it’ artist” did not take long to drop another album. La Trenza received lots of hype when fans first heard its lead single “Amárrame”, a duet with Juanes. From blues to folk to pop , the Chilean singer composed some of her best songs yet. In fact, her single “Amárrame” won the “Best Alternative Song” on the 18th Latin Grammy in 2017.
GENRE: Alternativo / Indie Pop / Blues / Folk
19. Alex Ferriera – Canapé
Dominican singer-songwriter, Alex Ferreira, will have you swoon with his romanticas like “Ven Que te Quiero Ver” or ” La Noche Entera”. His writing and singing ability is highlighted on this album as he flawlessly goes from Spanish to English. Its an album that you can enjoy en las mañanas con un cafecito.
GENRE: Indie Pop / Songwriter
18. Miranda! – Fuerte
Miranda!’s unique 90’s synthpop trademark makes a sweet return on Fuerte. Anyone that knows Miranda!, they eat, breathe, and think pop which makes this an overall fun album to bop to. With collaborations con Reik’s lead voalist, Jesus Navarro, on “Enero” and early favorites like “Ahora Que Soy Cantante” showcasing a tone downed pop version of themselves, easily tops the countdown.
GENRE: ElectroPop / SynthPop
17. Residente – Residente
Calle 13’s frontman, Residente, made his debut as a solo artists last year, pushing the borders of hip hop to meet Chinese opera (“Una Leyenda China”), african chants (“Dagombas en Tamale”), church choirs (“Guerra”) and bollywood strings (“Milo”). The entire album is based on spiritual journey to reconnect with his rootsb(which you can follow on his website <http://residente.com/en/> ) When I first listened to the album, the 1st track “Intro ADN / DNA” gave me chills. Its a prologue that talks about how Wisin and Residente found out they were cousins by per chance. The entire album is a masterpiece and should be listened to from beginning to end to fully grasp Residente’s concept about making “music based on my DNA.” Fun fact, this album ended up wining “Best Urban Music Album” on the 18th Latin Grammy.
GENRE: Urban / Hip Hop
“I decided to make music based on my DNA, so I traveled the world discovering sounds and uncovering stories. We are all residents in the spaces that confine us. Only here, there are no borders.” -Residenete, residente.com
16. Say Ocean – Mejores Tiempos
When you thought punk pop was dead…well its not! Like deveras, estos chicos brought it on this album. Its reminiscent of the 2000’s pop punk that we grew up to and learned to love. This album is special in the sense, that fans helped pay for the completion of the album via a Kickstart; totally making this album even more meaningful. “Amnesia”, “Hostil” y “Huracán (feat. Miranda Ibáñez) do a good job highlighting the overall sound of the band and their potential.
GENRE: Pop Punk
15. Las Cafeteras – Taste Like L.A.
Taste like L.A. is Las Cafeteras’ anticipated sophomore album and they did not disappoint. With this album, the band perfect their unique folk / son jarocho sound by embracing pop influences into their songs. Unlike many artists that lose their identity when they embrace pop, Las Cafeteras remain true to their political identity singing about today’s struggle like in “Señor Presidente” and “If I Was President.” Perhaps nothing makes a political statement than their Chicano rendition to “This Land is your Land”. Frankly, listening to Las Cafeteras’ Taste like L.A. is getting to know the Chicano hipster experience.
GENRE: Folk / Son Jarocho / Pop
14. Jesse & Joy – Jesse & Joy
Jesse & Joy’s self titled album is their first bilingual album in attempts to crossover and honestly I live for it. There are some English versions of their most recent hits (no surprise there). But what I enjoyed from this album was hearing Joy’s voice transcend any language. They sound just as good in English as they do in Spanish. The new Spanglish / English tracks done en el estilo de Jesse & Joy are completely underrated. It just made sense for them to go this route and it was about time!
GENRE: Pop Folk
13. Sotomayor – Conquistador
Conquistador, the debut album of sibling duo Sotomayor, capture the essence of latinoamericana electronic music. Raul and Paulina Sotomayor fuse sonidos [sounds] form the Andes, cumbia, and afro rhythms with techno glaze and vanguard sounds. With the relax full melodies paired with Paulina’s enticing voice, makes this album hypnotizing to listen. Musically, this duo share a similar chill tropical electronic vibe to that of Bomba Estéreo. Although this band is still growing their fan base, I can see them bringing some attention to Latin electronic.
GENRE: Indie / Electronic / Psychedelic Cumbia / Afro Rhythms
12. Domino Saints – Rebels – EP
Domino Saints are an urban pop duo formed by lead vocalist Gigi Ojeda and David Leal. Formed back in 2012, they are currently based in Miami, Florida. Having released only singles in the past years, Rebels is this duo’s first anticipated debut. The duo adds a variety in today’s top 40 dominated reggaeton charts. In actuality its refreshing to hear Gigi’s vocals on this EP, which helps in providing more visibility to female artist in this male dominated genre. The songs explore the urban scene by flirting with some trap elements in “Devil” and fusing dancehall with electropop in “Mala.”
GENRE: Urban / Reggaeton / Dancehall
11. Lika Nova – Sangre de Prófugo
Lika Nova is an up and coming rock alternative band from Colombia making their debut with Sangre de Prófugo. I haven’t been super stoked for a new band in a while and Lika Nova definitely changed that. Their catchy tempos, easy to follow transitions, and Luis Rojas’ distinct vocals place this album on the map. “Cicatriz”, “Gravedad”, and “Vampiros” are early favorites.
GENRE: Alternativo / Rock
10. Sofia Reyes – Louder!
LOUDER! is a vibrant album that seamlessly transitions from to Spanish to English lyrics with fun and energetic beats. It is Spanglish pop perfection! With collaborations from Prince Royce to Wisin to Reykon to Francesco Yates to Spencer Ludwig to Cash Cash, this young Latina brings the best she has to offer on her debut. According to Sofia, the album was named “louder” because one’s positivity should be louder than their negativity. With that in mind, there are songs for everyone to bop to. Sofia is next up!
GENRE: Pop / Dance / Reggaeton / R&B
09. MULA – Aguas
Sometimes within the Latin Alternative scene you never know what you will come across which is the case with this group. MULA is a trio composed of Anabel and Cristabel Acevedo (Dominican Republic) and Rachel Rojas (Argentina). This electronic trio fuses rhythms that emphasize the contrast that can exist simultaneously with different musical elements. You would think that hearing variations of Caribbean rhythms with synth-pop, house, drum, bass with merengue, bachata, dembow, and dancehall would sound wrong. BUT its actually really good!!! With songs like “Retumba” and “Nunca Paran”, they can easily become a current obsession.
GENRE: Indie / Electronic / Dance
08 Costera – Aliados
Like many artists in this countdown, Costera also make their debut with Aliados. The band is composed of Mauricio García (ex guitarist & vocalist of Dirty Karma) as vocals & guitar, Andy Kenguan as keyboard, and Beto Ramos as drums. Their album is mainly characterized as melodic rock with hints of synthpop similar to Zoe’s music. They have blessed us with songs like “Me Quitas El Aire” and “Vuelta Atras” (which I’m still very obsessed over). Overall the album is a good listen, and grows on you.
GENRE: Alternativo / Rock / Melodic Rock
07 AJ Davilá – El Futuro
An album full of good vibes, que mas quieres!?! [what else can you ask for!?!] With its upbeat melodies, bright guitar lines, and lyrical motivation, El Futuro embodies the positivity one should maintain within their lives. AJ Davila writes from experience; this album is a reflection of his own rebuilding and resilience which can be hear on the self-love anthem, “Beautiful”. Other fun songs to jam to are “17” and “Mi Vida” (feat. Dënver).
GENRE: Punk / Pop Rock
06 La Vida Bohemé – La Lucha
Grammy winners, La Vida Bohemé, stick to their eighties punk, new wave, and alternative rock influences for their new album La Lucha. With their harmonious ambient tones, they seamlessly transport the listener to a of world seen through their eyes- a world of frustration, violence, protest, and hope. The protest-oriented lyrics are still present with songs like “El Milagro del Sur”, a poem in homage to the fallen students during the 2014 Venezuelan protests, and “Voce”, a folklore-rooted Latin American protest song in which Henry D’Arthenay repeats “¿Te molesta si canto?” [“Do you mind if I sing?”]
“¿Te molesta si canto?” [“Do you mind if I sing?”] -Henry D’Arthenay, La Lucha
After 10 years, La Lucha completes a remarkable trilogy that began with a high energy rock from “Nuestra” and continued with a somber and atmospheric “Será.” Together the title assembles an overall message preached by Venezuelans seeking to live freely and peacefully – “Nuestra Sera La Lucha” [“The struggle shall be ours”.
GENRE: Alternativo / Rock / New Wave
05. Shakira – El Dorado
El Dorado is Shakira’s recent Spanish album since 2010. In this album, Shakira flirts more predominantly with trap and reggaeton sounds on tracks like “Chantaje”, “Trap”, and “Perro Fiel”. She has catchy pop songs (“Me Enamore”) and for the 1st time surprises fans with a bunch of collaborations from Maluma to Prince Royce to MAGIC! She also shows her fans the simple songwriter side of hers with a romantic ballad played on the piano (“Toneldas”). And you can’t forget the hidden gems on this album like “When a Woman” and “Amarillo” that make this album an overall standout.
GENRE: Pop / Reggaeton
04. Cocó Cecé – Bestias de Cuida
Only at 17yrs old, Cocó Cecé is already creating a lot of buzz in Mexico with her debut material. She is originally from Ciudad Juárez but relocated to Mexico City to pursue music. This album is a reflection as an independent artist in the music industry that’s left her feeling marginalized (“Marginado”) and metaphorically fighting for survival against the beast from the city (“Bestias de Cuidad”) but at the same time has seen hope from the love present in the streets (“Amor en la Metrópoli”). And like many of us, when you’re feeling homesick you write a song about them. At least in the case of Cocó Cecé that’s what she did when she missed her sister; she wrote a song about her (“Nikki”). Aesthetically, she reminds me of Lorde and like Lorde, all of her songs on this EP is on-air worthy. Definitely an artist to keep you’re eyes on. I can’t wait for her 1st album to drop, I just know it will be fire!
GENRE: Alternativo / Indie Pop
03. Juanes – Mis Planes Son Amarte
Juanes presented an ambitious 7th studio album with Mis Planes Son Amarte. The release of this album was accompanied by music videos for every song; which, took us into a journey of time, love, and soulmate searching. Juanes outdoes himself on this album by bringing a new sound to his repertoire but still remaining true to his old self. Artistically, he reminds me of Maroon 5 because like Maroon 5, he adapts his musical style to the changing times to remain relevant. The songs in this album are a mixture of pop, salsa, guasca, and some disco (my favorite sound in the album). Standouts like “Fuego” and “Hermosa Ingrata” both have this kinda of sultry sexiness to it (idk its hard to explain, you gotta listen to it). And my favorite is “Perro Viejo” for its chill summer vibe. “Goodbye for Now” is actually Juanes 1st recorded English song. Its good but the Spanish songs out shine this tiny gem.
GENRE: Pop Rock
02. Bomba Estéreo – Ayo
Having achieved a bigger presence with their international fan base from their last album, Amanacer, there was high expectations coming from this album. Upon hearing the first song, I knew this album was going to be a banger. Simon Mejia and Liliana Saumet transport us to Colombia once again. Ayo touches on love, celebration, and self -pride through a fusion of dance, reggae, y psychedelic cumbia. Saumet gives an energetic touch to songs like “Amar Asi” and “Internacionales” that makes you want to move your caderas. And “Ayo” is a perfect follow up to “Soy Yo”, one of the biggest song for the band. Overall, Ayo is an album with a great modern sound with a holistic feeling.
GENRE: Dance / Reggae / Psychedelic Cumbia
01. Little Jesus – Rio Salvaje
Rio Salvaje is not your ordinary rock album; Little Jesus provides listeners to a unique retrofuturistic of 60’s old fashioned psychedelia. You can hear influences from Pink Floyd to the Beatles. Their use of experimentalism paired with pop rock provides for a delirious album of dance rock songs like “La magia” and 60’s influenced sing along anthems like “TQM”. Frankly, its disappointing this album didn’t get nominated for a Grammy; by far one of the best alternative rock album I’ve hear in recent years. Anybody looking to get into Latin alternative, start of with this album it is sheer bliss.
GENRE: Alternativo / Pop Rock
Top 40 Songs
40. Raquel Sofia – Tenemos Historia
39. Say Ocean – Huracán (feat. Miranda Ibáñez)
38. Residente – Somos Anormales
37. La Misa Negra – Veni Pa’Ca
36. Sotomayor – Electrico
35. Alex Ferreira – La Noche Entera
34. Shakira – Chantaje (feat. Maluma)
33. C. Tangana – Mala Mujer
32. Sofia Reyes – De Aqui a la Luna
31. OneRepublic & Sebastian Yatra – No Vacancy
30. The Chamanas – Feel It Still
29. Miranda! – Ahora Que Soy Cantante
28. Miss Caffeina – Mira cómo vuelo
27. A. Chal – Love N Hennessy
26. Caloncho – Optimista
25. Las Cafeteras – Tiempos de Amor
24. La Vida Bohemé – Pupitres en fuego
23. Lika Nova – Cicatriz
22. Ikloó – Adiós Amor
21. Mix5 – Crazy
20. Cafe Tacuba – 1-2-3
19. AJ Davila – Mi Vida (feat. Denver) [Capri Remix] 18. Danny Ocean – Me Rehúso
17. La Gusana Ciega – 1987
16. Little Jesus – TQM (feat. Ximena Sariñana & Elsa Y Elmar)
15. Jesse & Joy – More than Amigos
14. Domino Saints – Mala
13. Kali Uchis – Tirano (feat. Fuego)
12. Juanes – Perro Viejo
11. Cocó Cecé – Besitas de Cuidad
10. Costera – Me Quitas El Aire
09. Vaya Futuro – Sueco en África
08. Durazno – Todo Lo Que Soy
07. MULA- Retumba
06. Clubz – Áfrika
05. Mon Laferte – Amárrame (feat. Juanes)
04. Becky G – Mayores (feat. Bad Bunny)
03. Novedades Carminha – Te Quiero Igual (feat. Alba Galocha)
02. Bomba Estéreo – Ayo
01. Little Jesus – La magia
Written by: Ruben Casas, originally posted on <picodegallomusic.com>
Ruben Casas – Alternativo En Español Director
Que rollo! Whats up!
On-air, I go by the name of Kydd Sasquatch. You can catch me playing all your Latin favorites and soon to be favorites on my show called ‘Pico De Gallo’. Asi que no se lo pierdan, solamente en 90.5fm KSJS!
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