Prezident Markon’s New Singles Round-Up (Flavia Coelho, Manu Chao, Cheo, Nosostros, Joaquin and the Glowliners and many more)

By 07 June, 2024

Phew! Things are hotting up here – not to the degree seen in the north of India thank the weather gods, but hot enough for your average indoor pop-picker trying to separate the current wheat from the chaff. Here are my selections…

Slavo Rican Assembly: “Bomba En Eslovenia”

It’s always good to start with something out of the norm and the idea of a septet of Slavic and Puerto Rican musicians based in New York appeals to my sense of inclusivity. This excellent slice of Puerto Rican bomba was written by the band’s percussionist, Fernando García, and celebrates the outfit’s summer tour of band leader Jan Kus’s native Slovenia in 2022. Somehow, I think, you couldn’t script it. Anyway, the proof of the pudding is in the percussion and this is terrific.

Flavia Coelho: “Mais Amor”

Staying in an upbeat mood for now, here’s the final single from the France-based Brazilian queen of “Bossa Muffin’s” new album, GINGA. If the single is anything to go by, it must be a delight. As The Sunday Times put it, “This is a helping of pure sunshine.” In the song, she invites listeners to transcend their difficulties through music and dance. Sound advice, Flavia. (Which is incidentally the name of our dog’s squeaky flamingo toy. No relation.)

Earthtones: “Limones (ft. Semblanzas Del Rio Guapi & Numu)”

Forgive the spurious link, but this single came out on the same day as GINGA. It’s taken from an album that comes out at the end of this month and reflects Serge Bandura’s (aka Earthtones) lifelong love of house, techno and Afro-Colombian music in particular and Latin music in general. Mr. Earthtones is based in the U.S.A., while Semblanzas Del Rio Guapi are a group from the Pacific side of Colombia whose music is about “safeguarding the roots and cultural traditions of their ancestors,” according to the artist and electronic-music producer. The marriage of the two musical genres works a treat, recalling the more electronic incarnation of Sidestepper. 

Los York’s: “Abrázame”

It’s hard to keep up with the Peruvian garage band’s flagrant use of the apostrophe. They seem to have got it right on the MAG label’s cover here, but are generally I believe referred to as Los York’s. Whatever your feeling on the subject, Vampisoul’s re-release of this twangy 60s hip-shaker overrides any grammatical unease. They don’t make ’em like this anymore!

Manu Chao: “Viva Tu”

If the Los York’s apostrophe is hard to pin down, what about Manu Chao’s whereabouts? The globetrotting minstrel transcends geographical borders to personify the term “citizen of the world”. He’s been a bit quiet of late, so it’s good to have him back. It’s the first single from a forthcoming new album and the wanderer describes his musical return as a rumba written for his neighbours.

Cheo: “Llegaste Tarde”

From Chao to Cheo is one easy alphabetical jump. The music’s in a not dissimilar vein, either. It’s the second single from the Los Amigos Invisibles songwriter’s EP in which he refreshes some of the old songs of the Venezuelan band’s repertoire.

Venezonix: “Fuego Candela” (Venezonix remix)

Talking of Venezuelan refreshments… here’s a splendid electronic transformation of a 1983 recording by Caña Brava. The original’s drums ‘n’ voices interweave with synths ‘n’ funky bass lines to create a thoroughly infectious slice of Afro-house dance music. 

Combo Daguerre: “Paris, Paris, Paris, Paris”

No prizes for guessing what this is all about. The first single and first track from the Brooklyn-based Franco-Latin outfit’s forthcoming debut album, Fracassines, was all about a group of cello-playing assassins. “It will all end badly,” the chorus stated. Perhaps Brooklyn-based bandleader Olivier Conan watched Alexander MacKendrick’s wonderful The Ladykillers once too often. His band is named after the street in Paris’ 14th arrondissement where Monsieur Conan grew up, and it’s the francophone offshoot of the psychedelic cumbia band, Chicha Libre, who have featured more than once on this site. Combo Daguerre play a truly Franco-Latin hybrid informed by boleros, cumbia, rock, chanson, Serge Gainsbourg and, apparently, 1930s surrealism. Quite surreal in itself, when you stop and think about it.

Lila Iké: “He Loves Us Both ft. H.E.R.”

Whereas this situation is bound to end badly. We’ve heard it many times before from soul singers like Millie Jackson, Laura Lee and Shirley Brown: two women into one man just won’t go. It’ll all end up in tears. The soulful Jamaican-based songstress and the Grammy-winning R&B artist H.E.R. seem to be rather more philosophical about the idea of sharing the man who (supposedly) loves them both. Girls, don’t trust him!

BOWA: “Tousel A Dé”

Back to the French Connection. The cultured Martiniquais pianist, Maher Beauroy, whose terrific album Insula featured in our “Nunca Tarde” of June ’22, has given birth to an avatar of the elegant jazzman we know and love: BOWA (same pronunciation; clever). The single came out a while ago, one fifth of his EP, MVT (an abbreviation of the Creole expression “Mové Tan”, which translates as “bad weather”). Each of the five songs, as Beauroy or BOWA suggests, “is a page from my personal story, a testimony of the ‘MoVé Tan’ of love and loss. Caribbean music, pop, and electro are powerful languages that have allowed me to narrate this story authentically.”

Daniel Noah Miller: “Típico”

The name may not be familiar, but the Nicaraguan-American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is a co-founder of the alternative duo Lewis Del Mar, who have clocked up more than 350 million streams to date. So that will have earned them at least $100, I guess. With this song, Miller gets back to his Latin American roots as part of his first solo album, Disintegration. It’s beguiling stuff that works an insidious kind of magic, as befits the artist’s acknowledged influences of Milton Nascimento, Steve Reich, experimental composer William Basinski and the remarkable Ethiopian nun, Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, who died at 99, some years after her piano compositions were released as part of the Ethiopiques series.

Balthvs: “Asha”

The Colombian Indie trio is getting to be a habit in these round-ups. Well, this is the sixth single from the band’s summer-slated fourth album, Harvest, and the fact is that their brand of psych-funk or whatever you want to label it is just so finger-lickin’ good. This one adds some Middle Eastern spices to the mix – with suitably exotic results. Baghdad via Bogotá, perhaps.

Superfónicos: “La Semilla”

The Austin, Texas-based band specialising in cumbia and other funky Colombian sounds are no strangers here, either. Hot off the press comes this latest single from July’s album on Spaceflight Records, Renaceré. The title translates as “The Seed”, “the perfect metaphor for rebirth,” suggests bass player Nicolás Sanchez Castro. “It is the message passed down by the ancestors and if we forget to sow and water it, we will never get to harvest the wisdom that has been entrusted to us.” Quite so, which reminds me that I must give the tomatoes a bit of liquid sustenance.

Nosostros: “Esperanza”

This lot have been here before, too. Rightly so. The ten-piece from Santa Fe play a cheery, brassy brand of big-band Latin music that can’t help but make you feel good. In the words of the band, “We want to spread a positive message with this song because we all need hope to overcome difficult times. We see this track as a crack to let the light into the darkness.” I like that last sentence almost as much as I like the single.

Diamante Eléctrico: “El Amor es un Juego de Perdedores”

Love is a jug of perdition? My Spanish isn’t up to titles like this one. “El Amor…” certainly speaks of the struggles and beauty of love and its composer and producer, Juan Galeano, suggests that “it is a song that has an anthemic component that can be very beautiful for the followers of Diamante Eléctrico.” I dare say. Fans of the Colombian band founded in 2012 will have presumably placed their orders for their eight studio album, Malhablado, which comes out in mid June.

Lika Nova: “De Cero a Cien”

Whatever you think of the music – and I’d suggest that it’s a pretty nifty form of Latin AOR (or Adult-Oriented Rock to anyone who’s a bit slow on the acronyms) – you gotta love the video. I can tell you that it’s all about the durability of a loving relationship (not necessarily with a colander) but I can’t tell you anything much about the band. Oh well, I did my best. Let’s move on…

Los Hermanos Medina: “Mala Suerte”

On the other hand, I can definitely say that the Medina Brothers are the numéro-uno-ranked cumbia outfit in Colombia, that they specialise in a fusion of traditional and contemporary rhythms as typified by this jaunty number, and that the track comes from their first EP of 2024, Sigue La Cumbia. Enough already?

Joaquin And The Glowliners: “I Remember”

With a name like that, the music couldn’t be anything other than a throwback to the age of street-corner Doo Wop. Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, their brand of old-school Chicano soul should stir the embers of anyone like your worthy constituent here who still dusts off cassettes by the likes of the Moonglows and Flamingos on occasions when the call of those yearning vocal harmonies becomes too hard to resist. If you didn’t hang onto a cassette player, close your eyes and enjoy this bit of nostalgia.

Indus: “Cae el Sol feat. Jose Reb”

By way of almost complete contrast, why not engage in a spot of sensuous dancing to some modern day electronic beats when the titular “sun goes down”? It’s the second single from Negra, the second album by the Colombian group scheduled for later this month. It was written by their front-man Oscar with his long-time collaborator Jose Reb apparently after attending a Chancha Via Circuito gig in Bogotá. In case you’re wondering, the video was shot on the beach in Cartagena.

Aczino feat. Kid Frost: “Neza”

Time for a bit of finger-jabbing and macho posturing, methinks. It’s a terrific bit of collaborative freestyle rapping courtesy of Mexico’s finest, Aczino, and chicano rap pioneer, Kid Frost. The former dubs the latter “one of the most important chicano rappers in history, one of the first to rap in Spanish. He left me with a phrase for posterity, ‘Don’t try this at 60,’ and started rapping.” There’s some heavy-duty mutual respect going down here and rhymes about their mutual neighbourhoods. “L.A. in his case, and Neza in mine.” Great stuff, but I think I’ll stick to boring old rural France.

Kinky: “El Paso del Gigante”

More from L.A. now. This is a much-viewed song from the band’s five-track EP, 5 Disparos. It’s a funky re-working of the Grupo Soñador number and sits squarely with Kinky’s disco-tastic transformation of the Mexican heartbreak classic, “Fuentes de Ortiz”. Indeed, the entire EP is a homage to ranchera, cumbia and mariachi classics. All done with fun, verve and tongues respectfully in cheeks.

Santiza: “No Hablo Chino”

This Venezuelan-born artist and producer is now based in Tijuana, having studied Art and Sound in the Netherlands and Ireland. The single is a taster for a projected EP and highlights the way literal meanings get twisted and lost in translation. Her artistic background clearly informs her generically indefinable music. That promised EP could be rather interesting.

Menahan Street Band featuring Rogê: “Tropical Man”

Just for a change, we haven’t had much from Brazil. Let’s put that right before I put my keyboard to rest. Actually, Menahan Street Band record for Daptone Records of Brooklyn, but Rogê is a bona fide Brazilian musician based in Los Angeles. Roger José Curyman – to give him his full name – released his sixth album early last year. It was scored by Arthur Verocai and produced by the Daptonian, Thomas Brenneck, and very good it was, too. This single suggests that there’s a lot more to come from this west coast/east coast coalition.

And there I must leave you, before my fingers give out. Arthur Ritis preys on those of a certain age. He likes his joints. Until the next new moon or two…

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