2018 saw scores of Latinx artists building wide-ranging, ambitious bodies of work, both in the pop mainstream and underground. 2019 is already poised to bring that and more to our ears (and not just because Bad Bunny gifted us with the surprise release of his album, X100PRE, during the holidays.)
Here are five upcoming albums from standout talents, all set to release this first quarter of the new year, that we can't wait to hear.
A few months ago, Juan Wauters, the Uruguay-born, Queens, N.Y.-based singer-songwriter, launched an interactive website. In it, you can choose to go the English or Español path (denoted by a New York City Metrocard or the Uruguayan flag, respectively) to follow Wauters on a trip he took through Central and South America. Wauters, who also fronts the garage rock band The Beets, collaborated with local musicians to create songs together over his travels, lugging his studio practically in his suitcase. Over time, these experiences became Wauters' upcoming album, La Onda de Juan Pablo, which will be released on January 25th. Leading up to it, you can go to the site to hear snippets of these tender, openhearted songs that he crafted in Chile, Puerto Rico and beyond.
Nicola Cruz, the Ecuadorian artist and producer, is one of the preeminent tinkerers of our time. Since his first release in 2015, Prender El Alma, Cruz has made propulsive, experimental tunes rooted in electronic music and folkloric traditions alike. His music listens like intensive studies in immersive sound, restorative and unprecedented all the same. Later this month, on January 25th, Cruz will release his latest album Siku. The album, which nods to the Andean wind instrument siku both in title and conceptually, contains idiosyncratic flourishes central to his sound. Siku's singles thus far—the sitar-propelled "Siete" and "Arka" a collaboration recorded with the flautist Esteban Valdivia—are, like anything Cruz touches, a transformative listen.
To listen to Le Butcherettes, the punk band based in El Paso, Tx., by way of Guadalajara, Mexico, is to gather strength. Fronted by Teri Gender Bender, and featuring drummer Alejandra Robles, as well as Rikardo and Marfred López-Rodríguez, Le Butcherettes forge cutting, adversarial songs about moving forward in a world that's intent on holding people back. "strong/ENOUGH," one of the barreling singles from the band's upcoming release bi/MENTAL (out February 1st), is about one of those moments of reckoning, and coming out on the other side of a calamitous experience. Behind a storm of guitars, Gender Bender belts, "You love your hurting more than life / I'm done giving you all of myself."
Y La Bamba
Luz Elena Mendoza is the mind behind the Portland band Y La Bamba; the band's expansive music melds elements of indie pop and bluegrass with Mexican folk traditions. Mendoza's inimitable songwriting is propelled by an earth-shaking voice and incisive lyrics that speak towards the duality of hurt and healing. The band will release its sixth album, Mujeres, on Feb. 9, the follow-up to 2016's Ojos De Sol. The band has given us a glimpse from it, released two singles from the upcoming album so far: One is the eponymous "Mujeres," a throttling rallying cry that Mendoza has described as a response to misogynistic experiences in her life. Another single, "Cuatro Crazy," is a poignant ode to fleeting experiences — two formidable volumes in Mendoza's seismic, growing oeuvre.
Roberto Carlos Lange, a.k.a. Helado Negro, the Ecuadorian-American musician and composer based in Brooklyn, N.Y., makes affirming, multi-sensory electronic music that feels like a balm for the ears and the soul. He's also a keen orchestrator of how music can is a multi-sensory experience: For his last album, the spectacular Private Energy, Lange conceptualized "tinsel mammals," two slow-dancing, fully-dressed entities present with him onstage during performances. On March 9, Lange will release his new album, This is How You Smile, on the experimental label RVNG Intl. The album is a meditative listen, with shape-shifting synthesizers and beats threading themselves through Lange's lovely vocals. In the release accompanying the album's release, Lange mentions that the album is not unlike "the soundtrack of a person approaching you, slowly, for 40 minutes." A lot can happen in that gradual movement — and does — within this extraordinary album, where Lange shows us what he's capable of unfurling.
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