Urban music may be dominating Latin playlists, but it’s not dominating the entirety of Latin tastes. On the contrary, Latin alternative sounds are pushing boundaries in multiple, unexpected directions, with exciting results.
Here are seven new tracks to listen to compiled by Billboard‘s Leila Cobo, Judy Cantor-Navas and Pamela Bustios.
1. “Confesión” – LADAMA
Alt female collective LADAMA — made up of four women from four different countries (Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, U.S.) with help from bassist Pat Swoboda — is currently touring with their self-titled debut (Six Degrees), an example of new music made by a new generation of Latinas. Their newest single, “Confesión” — an acoustic blend of Afro Latin percussion and guitar under almost improvisatory vocals — explores what it means to be a woman today. The video, directed by Bruno Guaraná with art direction by choreographer Beth Gill and cinematography by Kevin Bay, “imagines each in their own environments, isolated in a vacuumed world. If women had to build themselves from nothing what would happen?” — L.C.
2. “Bailar contigo” – Monsieur Periné
Take off your shoes while you wait for Monsieur Periné’s languid new album, produced due out on May 18. The Eduardo Cabra-produced record is called Encanto Tropical (Tropical Enchantment), and yes, it is. Shades of Tropicalia and swing, alternative pop, rootsy acoustic rhythms and firefly-like programming make for a full summer moon mix that, in the words of the first single, “Bailar Contigo,” bubbles “like foam on the sea.” Watch the video. — JCN
3. “Azul” – Zoé
Two decades into their musical path, Mexico’s Zoé navigates through contemplative and personal narrative in “Azul,” the first single of their new album Aztlán. An almost languid lament, its lyrics sympathetically implore for an interpersonal connection. The futuristic take of its video, shot between Tokyo, the Caribbean and Mexico, captures a convoluted love story. — P.B.
4. “Debilidad” – Centavrvs
An amalgam of electronica with Regional Mexican beats, Centavrvs plunge into Mexico’s manifold musical formats in “Debilidad,” and intrinsically integrate the big band sounds of their traditional dancehall and even 80’s cumbia in an uncanny bolero. — P.B.
5. “Tinta Roja” – Ana Tijoux featuring Lila Downs
Packed with a river of sensibility and fortitude, “Tinta Roja” is the first song of Roja y Negro, Chilean hip-hop singer-songwriter Ana Tijoux’s new album in collaboration with jazz musicians Raimundo Santander and Ramiro Duran. The song distances Tijoux from her usual rap avenue while conserving her exploratory platform to sensible matters, and features the dominant vocals of Mexican-American singer-songwriter, Lila Downs. — P.B.
6. “Play” – Aterciopelados
Aterciopelados’ “Play” comes accompanied by a fantastical 21st-century magic-realist video packed with positive vibes that takes place in a fabulous wonderland — and it features a cameo from Ana Tijoux. This simply marvelous first single from the Colombian Latin alternative pioneers’ first studio album of new songs finds them doing their usual thing, reminding us to “just play.” Hooray! — JCN
7. “Dale” –Niña Dioz
Rapper Niña Dioz, real name Carla Reyna, looks like a guera with her blond hair and blue eyes but is a Mexican through and through, born in Monterrey. Her hybrid life shines through in “Dale,” from her May 10 release Reyna, an anthem of perseverance with the Mexican side of Los Angeles as its backdrop. Pundits often lament the lack of strong Latin female voices in rap. Here’s one. — L.C.