Jose Romero / Courtesy of the artist
In this playlist of our 2019 alternative Latin music favorites, you will notice that there is no particular sound that defines the domain of the genre. The common denominator here is that these artists decided to be sonically daring. It has been a magically bountiful year of exceptional music from musicians who delivered complex rhythms, gripping socio-political hymns, and imaginative interpretations of traditional Latin sounds.
This playlist is a carefully curated selection of Latinx artists who have created intriguing, unforgettable, and soul-stimulating sounds. The list includes 50 outstanding artists – among our 10 favorites are singles and albums by Superfónicos, Manatí, Beats y Batería, Combo Chimbita, Taina Asili, Gabacho, Olmeca, Ely Guerra, Le Butcherettes and Mueran Humanos.
Among the stars is Glittery! by Gaby Moreno and Van Dyke Parks, who together created a monumental uplifting orchestral album that pays homage to a new wave of Americana. Cumbia has held a constant reign as new artists embraced its heritage and elevated it to new heights, as is the case with Prince of Queens, Instituto Mexicano del Sonido, Mercedes Nasta and Sotomayor.
We also heard traditional styles of Colombian, Chilean, Puerto Rican, Panamanian and Mexican music turned into unconventional bangers by artists like Renata Flores, Lester rey, Nino Augustin and Olmeca.
That’s not to say that everything was a fusion of something else, so it was great to hear bands like Las Cruxes, Davila 666, Mueran Humanos, Choked Up, Le Butcherettes and Mi Puga Mi Pishgo rocker with punk, British influenced rock in Spanish and even dark wave sounds. On the other hand, what a blessing to hear the calming sounds of Carmen Ruiz, Cheo, Gabacho and The Altons.
2019 was also a beacon of outspokenness and hope, as the artists not only delivered majestic music, but also spiritual manifestos. Whether it’s addressing the politics surrounding immigration or speaking in solidarity with victims of inhumane treatment, artists like The Braided Janes, Ani Cordero, Maria del Pilar, Niña Dioz and Making Movies have failed hesitated to take things to another level. And in the very edifying case of Mexican muse Ely Guerra, she decided to take things in a whole new direction and recorded an album with her voice as the only instrument. Let’s talk cathartic!
As Superfonicos said when referring to their single, “Cumbéalo”, our favorite: “Cumbéalo is a metaphor to return our eyes to the primal and the ancestor and to remember all the great things that we have lost in this process of becoming modern and civilized. We believe that humanity is currently going through a great crisis, because we are disconnecting from nature, from our sense of oneness and from our spiritual self. Cumbéalo is an invitation to be memory.”