With the looming death of the Tucson Citizen, I decided to start cleaning out my desk. One good thing came out of the experience: I came across a pile of choice Latin CDs buried among the debris. They’re worth checking out.
Los Fabulosos Cadillacs
“La Luz del Ritmo” (Nacional Records)
Set for release Tuesday, this disc is the Latin rock band’s first studio album in a decade. Included are new original songs, reworked interpretations of such classics as “Mal Bicho” and “Padre Nuestro” and the group’s take on The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” The 13 tracks showcase the Grammy Award-winning band’s mix of ska, rock, tropical, punk, reggae and Latin rhythms. Standout tracks: the revamped “Padre Nuestro,” with its sweet reggae-tango beat, and the low-key, haunting “Condenaditos,” which shows a different side of the rollicking rockers.
“Coba Coba” (Cumbancha)
Music collective Novalima follows up its 2006 breakout CD, “Afro,” with the equally sizzlin’ “Coba Coba,” which continues the Lima group’s exploration of Afro-Peruvian rhythms blended with modern club-dance beats. The creative fusion of these Latin, African and contemporary dance sounds explodes in a frenzy of percussion, soul and high energy that will have music purists turning (and boogeying) in their graves. Also in the mix: reggae, dub, salsa, hip-hop and Cuban son.
“The Best of Lydia Mendoza” (Arhoolie Records)
Before there was Selena, there was Lydia Mendoza. Recognized as the first Queen of Tejano music, she was known as “La Alondra de la Frontera (The Lark of the Border).” The Houston native began her career in 1928 and entertained audiences for more than 60 years. The passion and depth of her interpretations of songs resonated with audiences along the border, especially the working class, who considered her the voice of the people. Mendoza was the first Texan to receive the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1999 by President Clinton. The CD chronicles the best material from the Mexican-American music pioneer: corridos, boleros and rancheras, including her signature hit, “Mal Hombre.”
“Quintana Roo”(Nacional Records)
A combination of indie rock and electronica, “Quintana Roo” is the U.S. debut CD from Chilean band RH+, formerly known as Rock Hudson. Fans of dreamy electronic pop groups such as Broken Social Scene, Air, and Stereolab will appreciate the music of RH+, the record label assures us. I’m sold. Interchanging male and female vocals, the songs offer a soothing, surreal feel and sound that is perfect chill-out music.
If you’ve never heard of Monte Negro, you will soon. The bilingual, bicultural alternative rockers are winning raves from critics and music fans for their sound, which they describe as an “amalgamation of styles.” According to their publicist, the group digests healthy portions of Jane’s Addiction, The Cure, The Clash, and the Sex Pistols, Caifanes, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Maldita Vecindad, Mano Negra, Soda Stereo, and Spinetta.
“Crucial Cuts” (Nacional Records)
For fans of Latin reggae who have been waiting for a greatest hits collection by Fidel Nadal, the wait is over. “Crucial Cuts” features 17 of the songs made famous by the founding member and frontman for Argentine rasta punk rockers Todos Tus Muertos. Nadal, who went solo in 2000, fuses reggae, dancehall and sound-system beats. Guest collaborators include vocalist Mykal Rose (Black Uhuru), cumbia villera musician Pablo Lescano (Damas Gratis), saxophonist Sergio Rotman (Los Fabulosos Cadillacs) and Jamaican trombone player Rico Rodriguez.
“Rio” (Nacional Records)
The Colombian group returns with “Rio,” the follow-up to the Latin Grammy-Award winning CD, “Duo” Singer Andrea Echevarri and bassist Hector Buitrago have never sounded better as their socially and politically-conscious music continues to evolve. They take on such subjects as the environment and immigration with their signature aplomb and intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics.