The Alhambra, Spain. Photo credit: Victoriano Izquierdo at Unsplash
Since I signed up to Spotify and discovered that it suggests new music for you based on the artists you like, I’ve been branching out in my musical tastes. Logging onto Spotify and having a mosey about is like going down a veritable rabbit hole: you don’t know what you’re going to find, and you can end up somewhere that’s very different to where you started.
I listen to a lot of Spanish and Latin American groups, and I’ve found artists I probably wouldn’t have without Spotify. There’s a whole world of music out there, away from the vanilla, mainstream pop that’s always playing when I turn on the radio in the car. When I’m at my desk, it’s pretty sweet to be able to listen to radio from all over the world, thanks to internet live streams and sites like Radio Garden. (Look at me, using ‘sweet’ in a hip, urban kind of way. I’m so down with the kidz, yo)*
*(I’m really not).
But I digress. On to the playlist!
Algo Sucede (2015) by Julieta Venegas
Julieta Venegas is an American-born Mexican artist who sings pop-rock in Spanish — Algo Sucede is her seventh studio album. Rolling Stone named it one of the top 10 Latin albums of 2015, and it won Best Pop/Rock Album at the Latin Grammys. It’s cheerful, easy to listen to, and I like having it in the background when I’m working.
Balas y Chocolate (2015) by Lila Downs
American-Mexican singer-songwriter, Lila Downs, has been producing albums since 1994. The title of her latest, Balas y Chocolate, literally translates as Bullets and Chocolate. The songs are upbeat and draw on indigenous Mexican influences — this album evokes the colour, heat and vibrant culture of Mexico.
But if you speak Spanish and can understand the lyrics, a lot of the songs are actually about death. It sounds morbid, but it really isn’t. In this Washington Post article about the album, Lila says “this is probably the happiest album I’ve done”.
However, behind the cheerful melodies, the lyrics allude to the ongoing struggle against political and social violence in Latin America. La Patria Madrina, one of the songs on the album, directly references the unsolved abduction and kidnapping of 43 Mexican students in 2014.
Con otro aire (2007) by Chambao
Chambao are a flamenco-electronic band originating from Málaga in southern Spain. Listening to their songs makes me want to get on a plane to Spain. I studied Spanish as part of my linguistics degree, and the culture really draws me.
What’s on your current playlist? Who are your favourite artists/bands? Do you stick to a particular genre of music or do you like to find all sorts?