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The child of a French father and a Venezuelan mother, Sophia Helena Fustec Briceño is a collage of cultures. A one-girl-band who composes, writes, sings, plays and produces everything in her home studio, her energetic creations convey common messages of faith and authenticity. Frequently known as La Chica, she affirms that her influences are widespread; when she’s not dedicated to her productions, she listens to sounds ranging from late-era Beatles and Radiohead to Caribbean artists such as Fania All Stars and Rubén Blades. Currently residing in Paris, international tours and concerts have been recurrent since the formation of her project in 2014. Her latest single “Sola” is an ethereal journey, as looped vocals and driving synthesisers build to a powerful electronic crescendo.
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In the Aymara language, “Churupaca” is a giant adaptable, multi-talented insect that can swim, fly, jump and hunt, amongst other skills; thus, the Buenos Aires neo-orchestra found the perfect name for their project. Formed by a diverse group of musicians of various disciplines, Churupaca stand out for their acoustic sentimentality and the romanticism of their lyrics. Together, members Juana, Fefo, Ricardo, Darío, Joaquín and Pablo gave birth to their second record this year, entitled “Antes de Mañana” (“Before Tomorrow” in English). The fifteen-track masterpiece guides us on a journey through countless textures and styles from across Latin America and the world, with folk and soul influences alongside classic elements of the tango, burlesque and waltz. The album’s instrumental exuberance is defined by the dramatic qualities of the wind and string sections, the sumptuous accordion melodies and Juana’s emotive, longing vocals, creating a rich, multi-layered body of work to be savoured.
‘La Niña Quantica’ Julián Mayorga, is a perfect example of the enigmatic Colombian producer’s ingenious, surrealist creations. The “cumbia” begins and a continued mantra that spouts: “A la niña le gusta la física cuántica (the girl likes quantum physics)”; unexpectedly, the lyrics also describe the function of the theory of perturbations in quantum mechanics. With such irreverent themes in his writing, this track from his 3-track EP “Nixon en la Playa” uses tropical elements and Andean folklore alongside progressive electronic experimentation and a somewhat black humor, the most characteristic elements of Mayorga’s sound,
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Almost a decade ago a dub legend, Mad Professor, originally from the tip of South Americas belly, Guyana, joined forces with the Uruguayan Alicia Dal Monte Campuzano known worldwide as Alika to give life to an iconic album in the history of dub: ‘Mad Professor Meets Alika’.
The complex work, entirely produced by Mad Professor, has seven tracks with their respective dub version of each. Alika’s powerful voice contributes direct, clear lyrics in both English and Spanish that speak of respect, dignity, and self-confidence as she rejects the oppression, consumerism and corporate dominance of Western society.
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One of the most talked about bands to appear on Brazil’s indie rock scene, Carne Doce hail from Goiás, a state traditionally famous for country musical acts but that has been breathing new life into the indie rock landscape in recent years with the emergence of bands like Boogarin. Carne Doce were founded 5 years ago by the couple Salma Jô (singer) and Macloys Aquino (guitar), creating an outlet where they could talk about their love and relationship in a frank and straightforward way with a refreshingly naturalistic perspective on sex, love and other drugs. The single ‘Amor Distrai (Durin)’, from the band’s newly released third album ‘Tônus’, is a perfect example of a passionate night between two lovers; a smooth, steady tune with honest lyrics that go straight to the point of the singer’s desires and wishes.
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An ensemble of woodwind instrumentation and beatboxed rhythms distinguish the sound of ‘Sistema’, a four track EP released last year by Eric Mandarina. An experienced musician, actor and all-round entertainer, since 2004 he has been studying self-taught percussion, classical guitar and acoustic drums. His latest proposal is a journey that mixes elements of dub and reggae with analogue house bass and funk-infused drum pulses, as lyrics loaded with mundane questions seek to demonstrate the systematic operations that we oppose.
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Tomás Justo delighted listeners this year with his debut solo album ‘Ronco y Bruxo’. A former member of successful acts Onda Vada and Michael Mike, the composer and vocalist moved away from constant touring life to create his most sincere and romantic work to date. In addition to taking care of the bulk of the composition and production of the album’s 11 songs, Justo also handles most of the instrumentation, playing guitar, bass, synthesisers and a range of analog and digital percussion, resulting in a unique blend of electronic folk and progressive pop.
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Berlin-based, Argentinian producer and feline fanatic Catnapp combines rap, breakbeat, drum and bass and more to create an intense, nostalgic atmosphere. Fat beats are driven by lyrics confessing the deepest childhood memories over huge, compressed pads and synths, resulting in a unique, original sound. ‘No Cover’, her most recent release, is an aggressive two-track EP engendered by feelings of deceit, disappointment and anger. Heavy breaks and broken glasses give ‘No Cover’ an air of invincibility, belligerence and empowerment.
Jojo Maronttinni scored a huge hit last summer with ‘Que tiro foi esse?’, a song with such an infectious chorus that it became a meme, spawning countless parodies and even appearing in some adverts. After this viral success, expectations were high for the singer’s follow up. And Jojo just released ‘Arrasou, Viado’, another pop-funk effort with a memorable hook, with the song’s title referring to LGBTQ congratulatory slang. Since it’s release, the track became an automatic hit and has divided opinions all over the internet. Some have said the artist was exploiting ‘pink money’ to boost her career, while others have praised Maronttinni’s courage to make a mainstream song with a visuals full of celebrities and personalities related to both pop culture and the LGBTQ community. In spite of the controversy, this song is another sure hit from a singer who’s fast becoming one of the biggest names in Brazil’s mainstream pop-funk scene.
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The daughter of a renowned exponent of Argentinian tango, Juana Rosario Molina was raised with classic record collections and guitar lessons. In the mid-70’s, due to military disputes, the Molina family fled the country to go into exile in Paris, where teenage Juana’s musical scope expanded vastly. Nonetheless, when Juana was able to return to her native Argentina, she followed her actor mothers steps by beginning a television career. Her popularity rose exponentially and within three years she already had had her own successful comedy show, airing across Latin America and making her one of the most popular comedians in Argentina. Suddenly, at the peak of her fame, Juana took the hard decision to leave her successful work as an actor in order to pursue a career in music. After multiple releases, in 2017 she delivered her seventh and most solid LP ‘Halo’, which derives its name from one of the most famous folklore myths of Argentina and Uruguay; a halo of “evil light” that floats above the ground where bones were buried. The record evokes the occult in its music as much as in its lyrics. As in previous deliveries, her sound oscillates harmoniously between nature, folklore, humanism and fearless electronic experimentation.
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Celebrating 10 years deep into her music career, Bárbara Eugenia’s fourth album is imminent. Over the last decade the Rio de Janeiro-born singer has explored several musical styles, although always retained a consistent Tropicalia flavor throughout. With such local, nostalgic energy so well established in her music, the artist decided to join forces with Felipe Cordeiro, one of the most prominent names within the new wave of Guitarrada, the genre from the northern state of Pará where guitars and percussion combine to make a sound resembling a mix of Afro-Caribbean Calypso infused with a tropical flavour unique to Brazil’s north. Together the pair created ‘Confusão’, an irresistible tune that invites the listener a hot summer’s night of dirty dancing.
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Nego do Borel is a Brazilian funk hit-maker and entertainment prodigy. Born Leno Maycon Viana Gomes in Rio de Janeiro, he adopted his the name of his community, Morro do Borel – a favela home to more than 20.000 inhabitants. He started to gain recognition in 2012, when his track ‘Os caras do momento’ became a hit – the MC then went on to appear in some of Brazil’s most famous soap operas, often in cameos portraying himself. After consolidating on his celebrity status, Nego do Borel started to release a series of singles, collaborated with some of Brazil and Latin America’s most famous singers such as Anitta, Wesley Safadão and Maluma. With his latest single ‘Me Solta’, Borel decided to take on a funk 150bpm rhythm, a high-octane, faster and more aggressive version of the regular funk carioca, enlisting the help of DJ Rennan da Penha, one of the pioneers of this growing sub-genre. The 150bpm style is already taking the underground by storm in funk parties all across the country, but this track could well provide the bridge that enables it to filter into the mainstream.
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Born in NYC but of Colombian roots, Crudo Means Raw stands out as one of the most exciting members of the golden generation of Colombian rappers. Both an exceptional MC and producer, Crudo adorns his beats with elements of jazz and soul, spitting raw lyrics that tell stories from the streets of Medellín.
‘Sangre en el Pool Party’ begins with the voices of Tanga, an old friend of Crudo, who one day casually passed by his studio. They left the track rolling, turned on the microphones and started talking, and that’s how this brilliant track was born.
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In Andean culture the most important festivity in the calendar corresponds to the summer solstice of June 21st, and it was on this day that Ecuadorian singer Huaira chose to release her first solo EP ‘Ñuka Shunku’ (“I am pure heart”). From the centre of the planet Quito on the day dedicated to the sun, Huaira (meaning “wind” in the Quechua language), the project opens with ‘Semilla Solar’ (“Solar Seed”), a song loaded with timeless Andean elements and beautiful vocals that seems to bring a message from the earth itself.
Maria Beraldo only recently released her first album, but she’s by no means a rookie in Brazilian’s music scene. A renowned clarinetist who has already played alongside significant avant-garde and música popular brasileira (MPB) artists such as Elza Soares and Arrigo Barnabé, on her debut album ‘Cavala’ she crafts an in-depth study of what it means to be lesbian in a country and society where the dominant macho culture is such an undermining force for minorities. The song ‘Amor Verdade’ (Love True) is a moving confession of the artist’s sexual orientation to her parents, with the power of the lyrics emphasised by the minimalistic psychedelic style, encouraging the listener to focus on what the artist has to say.
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Last year, Buenos Aires psychedelic rock/blues band Los Espíritus released their third album ‘Agua Ardiente’. A few months later, while still touring the album, they released a three track EP called ‘Guayabo de Agua Ardiente’. The group describes this extension as containing the songs that were “too spaced out to be inserted in the official album but also too good not to be shared”. This EP ends with the aching guitars and deep, rasping vocals of ‘Ruso Blanco’.
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Though perhaps better known in Brazil as a producer and composer for new MPB indie artists such as Céu and Lucas Santtana, Gui Amabis is no newcomer to the microphone himself. His latest album, ‘Miopia’, is the fourth in a series which began back in 2011 with ‘Memórias Luso-Africanas’, followed by 2012’s ‘Trabalhos Carnívoros’ and ‘Ruivo em Sangue’ in 2015. ‘Contravento’ is actually a song that was originally recorded by Céu on her album ‘Caravana Sereia Bloom’, but here Amabis crafts a new version that completely reworks the genre and mood of the song: where before there were notes of tropical cumbia, Amabis spins a smooth, melancholic take, adding a philosophical and reflective depth to the lyrics. Amabis handles vocal duties, enlisting instrumental assistance from a band of four; Dustan Gallas (electric guitar), Regis Damasceno (bass), Samuel Fraga (drums) and Richard Ribeiro (vibraphone).