Favorite Albums I downloaded in 2014

31 Dec

Ana Tijoux- Vengo (2014) Already named among the best of 2014 by  NPR, the LA Times, and tons of other places. I am predicting she will join Quetzal and La Santa Cecilia in taking home a Grammy in February. Its hip hop with live instruments en español sung yes SUNG and rapped by a socially conscious Latin American WOMAN. YES!

Pepe Aguilar-MTV Unplugged (2014) – Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if you are a fan of Latin Alternative, mariachi and pop then its an absolute worth while of listening. The concert/album as whole  does not flow well, but each song individually is a jewel. They are fantastic. The whole CD is arranged by none other than Meme from Cafe Tacuba. Also consider the guests in his album: Saul Hernandez, La Marisoul from La Santa Cecilia, Miguel freakin Bose, Natalia Lafourcade and her highly matured voice, Amandititita (brought out of semi- retirement/exile after her feud with Sony), Reyli and Pepe’s incredibly talented children.

Arpia/Cecilia Toussaint- 25 Años de Arpia en Vivo (2010) : Before Julieta, Andrea, Ceci Bastida and the like there was Cecilia Toussaint. Not only does her work with the band Arpia sound like real El Tri inspired rock with the crazy guitar solos and ZZ Top sound, but she also knows how to sing. Its the closest I have heard to women singing harder rock in in español in quite a while. My favorite is “Tres Metros Bajo Tierra” which I found is actually a cover of an acoustic song. “Prendedor” is also a great opening track along with “En Esta Ciudad.”

Makiza- Casino Royale (2005)  Ana Tijoux before she went solo partnered with a male MC and 2 DJs. Its quite awesome to hear male and female voices that can sing and rap interchangeably. Where is all the amazing hip hop en español? I mean that none overly aggressive like Cartel de Santa and Control Machete. Sigh. My absolute fav is “Cosas de la Vida” “Amar es solo Amar” and “Todo Va Mas Lento”

Jorge Drexler- Bailar en la Cueva (2014)  If Ana doesn’t take the Grammy then Jorge should take it. “Universos Paralelos”  rightfully won the Latin Grammy for Record of the Year. Each song on this album is genius with the brass arrangements and very rhythmic guitar. It sucks the listener in that world. Absolutely worth the listen.

Jumbo- Alfa Beta Grey (2014) Ahh Clemente oh Clemente oh Clemente. Oh wait are we focusing on the music or the looks of Clemente? Its great to hear these guys still rocking a very solid sound. “Sin Respuesta” was nominated for Rock song of the Year for the Latin Grammys. They can still rock and its always soothing to listen to Clemente’s voice. “Bala Perdida” and “Invisible” are fabulous to listen to .

Los Lobos- La Pistola y Corazon (1988) – Their own take on mariachi and old school corrido classics. It sounds like it was recorded just yesterday at a family gathering in their backyard. Impressed with how great their covers sound. “Las Amarillas” “Si Yo Quisiera” and an acoustic cover of “Que Nadie Sepa de Sufrir” (La Sonora Dinamita” are standouts.

Quetzal- Quetzanimales (2014)-  Funded by Quetzal’s fans (including me), Quetzal released an abstract album based on the lives of urban animals and how similar they are to us humans. “Hormiguitas Divinas” and definitely “Palomo Vagabundo” are definite standouts the later with a weeping violin that makes you sing along with Martha. “Roster” is also wonderfully written with a very modern take. Its a more acoustic album for Quetzal full of violin and cello, but still with the jarana and cumbia twist to it. And we all know that Martha’s voice is just one of a kind.

Trio Ellas- Noches Angelinas and Con Ustedes… (2014)- oh yes! These ladies always wowing crowds wherever they go. They harmonize well, play well, do covers of Spanish and English rock songs, dress very fashionably and are the official trio of the Dodgers. They do typical trio songs, but also cover Cafe Tacuba, the Bee Gees, a Spanish version of “I will Follow You into the Dark,” Soraya and Miguel Gallardo.

 and also

Maya Jupiter- Maya Jupiter (2010) – Maya Jupiter is Aloe Blacc’s wife. She was already making a scene as a Mexican raised in Australia and influenced by hip hop (hi  Iggy!) and son jarocho when she met and married Aloe Blacc. This CD is a bit hard to get into, but what impresses me the most is the ability to blend so much into each song. Its clearly a reflection of her identity and I admire that. There’s hip hop, son jarocho, rock, soul, and so much going on here. “I am” is an uplifting song about finding identity while “El Secreto” is a great tug an everyone’s heart as an open discussion to the secret of having a successful marriage. Oh yes and Quetzal Flores (from Quetzal the band), Juan Perez (from Quetzal the band), Martha Gonzalez (from Quetzal the band), and of course her hubby Aloe Blacc make several appearances. I really recommend her live performances on youtube as I feel that the studio album limits the listener to the intensity of her music.

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