Prezident Markon’s New Singles Round-up (Newen Afrobeat, Haroldo Bontempo, Baltvs, Combo Chimbita, Miranda del Sol, Rolando Bruno and more)

By 02 March, 2024

The leap year has leapt, the daffodils are in bloom and spring is in the air. It’s time once more to catch up on some singles from the wonderful world of Latin music. So shake off your winter blues, agree to all your YouTube cookies and have a listen to this latest sample of leaping beauties.

Luisito Muñoz & Alzate: “Unas Copas de Mas”

We’ll start with a generous slice of Colombian popular music that clearly goes to show that some ladies in red find the prospect of two drinking buddies singing of how they were scorned by the fairer sex quite irresistible. Composed by singer-songwriter Hernán Dario Hernández, his protagonists “want to get drunk with pain and feeling” – and these two popular artists are determined that they’ll have fun in the process while guaranteeing a splendid time for all.

Marco Flores y La Jerez: “Mi Jerez”

And talking of splendid times, here’s the energetic Mexican singer’s musical paean to his home town of Jerez, Zacatecas. In celebrating the city, its people and the beauty of its streets and culture, the singer and his band give it their utmost. Great stuff, but I don’t know what the white horse makes of it all.

Newen Afrobeat ft. Chico Cesar: “Es La Vida”

I struggle to think of a better way to follow that than with a chunk of Afrobeat from Chile – particularly a chunk featuring the legendary Chico Cesar. He sings in his native Portuguese, while vocalist Francisca sings in Spanish. Just thought I’d throw that in to prove that I can tell the difference even if I can’t speak the languages. It’s a terrific single taken from Grietas, an equally terrific album, out at the end of March.

Ivan Llanes: “Cubahia”

OK, I hold my hands up in apology. I have already featured this young New York-based Cuban singer and percussionist’s first two singles in my previous two round-ups. But if you watch this fantastic frolicsome performance of his third single from his debut album, La Vida Misma, I hope you’ll agree that there was no way that I could leave this out – and thus accept my abject apology.  

Hermanos Gutiérrez: “Sonido Cósmico”

Since I’m already in a grovelling mood, here are some other regulars in this slot. It’s not that I’m getting stuck in my ways in the autumn of my days, but this Swiss-Ecuadorian guitar duo just keep coming up with the goods. As Gary Davidson 1970 comments, “What a remarkable, hypnotic sound.” It is, Gary, it is – and it’s taken from a second album, scheduled for June.

Haroldo Bontempo: “Um Novo Começo”

Here’s someone rather less established than our fraternal guitarists, whom I also featured recently – in the form of the delightful single he made with the late João Donato. He’s got a five-track EP, Indie Hippie Retrô Brasileiro, coming out in the middle of this month, which bodes well for a full album eventually. Try the opener for size, “Um Novo Começo”; it’s rather lovely.

Bruno Berle: “Dizer Adeus (feat. Batata Boy)”

Fellow tuneful Brazilian songster Bruno Berle has just released a second single from his second album, No Reino Dos Afetos 2, due in April. As it says on the tin, it features Batata Boy, Berle’s friend and production partner. It’s a little heavy on the Autotune, which rather puckers my mouth like a sour lemon, but it’s got such a lovely ethereal quality that I find myself floating away oblivious to any slight distress it causes.

Baltvs: “Lovin'”

If this psych-funk Colombian trio has cropped up in a recent round-up, it’s hardly surprising. During their comparatively brief time in the limelight, they have released two albums and… over 28 singles. Since 2020! Even The Beatles never managed such prolific numbers when I were a lad! Well, here’s the latest in a long line. Two minutes of prog-ish sweetness. It’s actually not a million miles from Bruno Berle – and I don’t ‘alf like it.

Traffic Sound: “Meshakalina”

Lest we all drift away on the limpid waters of some distant tropical lake, here’s a dash of “Meshkalina” to keep us on our toes. I’ve reviewed it before, but since Vampisoul have gone to the trouble of releasing it as a 7″ single coupled for the first time with Paco Zambrano y Su Combo’s fine, shorter version, it behoves me to flag up this perennial classic from Peru’s finest rockers. “Let me down, Meshkalina”? Never!

Combo Chimbita: “Margarita”

“Meshkalina” segues syllabically and pleasingly into “Margarita”. Produced by the celebrated Ticklah of Daptone fame with the likes of Sharon Jones and Antibalas, it’s the first release by the Colombian quartet on their own label. Mr. Ticklah said of the union that he liked “how the band brought in traditional Colombia elements, but never anything outright derivative.” It’s backed by the producer’s dub version of the cut, “Nene Dub”. The band just so happens to be touring through Colombia, Mexico and the U.S. in the company of Pachyman, interviewed recently by our very own Marco Pisciotti.

Calle Mambo: “Sopla Gaïtero”

Here’s a little bonus for all those lovers out there of the South American gaita, the wooden vertical recorder-like flute featured here in this rousing live performance during the Chilean band’s extensive European tour last year. There’s not much to be found on the band’s site about the new video and single, but I can tell you this: judging by this, it’s a damn shame I missed them on that tour.

Miranda del Sol:”Aguardiente”

Just out is this catchy (in a Sophie Ellis Bextor way) single by a young Cuban-Argentinean/American singer with roots in Miami and currently based in New York. It’s a song I’m told about rejection, the kind of subject matter usually associated with beer-drinking buddies and late-night bars rather than a contemporary dance floor. She’s due to land an EP sometime this summer and I shall be giving it my due care and diligent attention.

Rolando Bruno y El Grupo Arevalo: “Merentrash”

Rolando Bruno doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously and should therefore be commended for this fact alone. But the song, the title, the outfits and the awkward moves also make this a tongue-in-cheek joy. Way back in 2011, Russ Slater, late of this parish, reviewed the Argentinean (then) exponent of Peruvian cumbia’s four-track EP. His shows were described on his Bandcamp page as “a guarantee of Amazonian dancing until the last drop of sweat has been rung from the public.” That’s what I call an accolade.

Mon Laferte: “Obra De Dios”

That’s just about it for another month. I’ve always got a little spare time, though, for the Chilean singer-songwriter and visual artist, Mon Laferte. The single is taken from the album she released in November 2023, Autopoética. It’s a mesmerising bit of trip-hop that reflects the artist’s determination to “reign in darkness.” “It’s not something depressing,” she elaborates, “but understanding that life is violent, nature is violent and wild.” The video was shot in Berlin by Chilean filmmaker Camila Grandi and features some wild urban architecture.

And there we have it. The faces may be familiar in some cases, but the fare is definitely tasty. Bon appetit!

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