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Alt.Latino Shares New Favorites


OK, so the year's not done, right? There are still almost four more months to go. Yet Alt.Latino's Felix Contreras says he's already heard his record of the year. He's here with Jasmine Garsd to tell us about it. Hi, guys.



MARTIN: All right, Felix, dish it. What you got?

CONTRERAS: OK, this is a band called the Y La Bamba. The record is called "Ojos Del Sol." Let's listen a bit, and I'll tell you about the band in a minute.


Y LA BAMBA: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: They're from Portland, Ore. And Luz Elena Mendoza has that striking voice, that falsetto-tinged, almost otherworldly voice. I've been a fan of hers for a while. And this new record has lots of instrumental configurations, but they use Luz's voice as another instrument. It's really a fantastic record.

MARTIN: I love it. All right, Jasmine, part of your dynamic with Felix, you guys always try to one-up each other. So that was pretty awesome. What you got?

GARSD: I brought something from a music collective called Shika Shika. It's a two-volume series called "Confluencias." And it includes 18 songs by musicians and producers from a dozen countries. And this is my favorite. This is an Italian producer called Populous, and the song is called "Guadeloupe." The whole theme of the compilation is nature, the mountains. It's very Amazonian. And I think it's really very danceable and soothing, so check it out.



POPULOUS: (Singing in foreign language).

CONTRERAS: Oh, that's cool.

MARTIN: That's super cool.

GARSD: Yeah, 'cause it starts with, like, a dance hall feel...

MARTIN: That's awesome.

GARSD: ...And then it gets very folksy. Yeah.

MARTIN: All right, you've got one more, Jasmine?

GARSD: Yeah. This is R&B singer A. Chal, or A. Chal. His real name is Alejandro Chal. He's Peruvian-born, based in Los Angeles. He reminds me a lot of Miguel in his style. And I love this thing with LA, West Coast music where it's very driving music just because of the geography...

MARTIN: Drivers there, yeah (laughter).

GARSD: ...Of Los Angeles.


GARSD: And this is called "Round Whippin." And again, like, these are just crazy, interesting textures of sound and layers of very different, maybe clashing sounds that work really well. So check it out. This is "Round Whippin."


A CHAL: (Singing) Four a.m., driving in Rodeo, we out here doing donuts like tornados, cruising past the sun in San Diego 'cause I said so. I've been going 'round whippin' all through the night, me with a two-seater like 'round whippin', going get it right, going get it right.

MARTIN: That's smooth.

GARSD: Right?

MARTIN: That is smooth. All right, Felix, you can close this out. I mean, you started by saying you had already heard your record of the year, which is pretty bold. There are several months left. What if you hear something else and you're like, oh my God, I changed my mind?

CONTRERAS: I know, I throw that out there. But, you know, the reason why I say that is because the record I just played, Y La Bamba's record, which is out in September - we're giving you a sneak preview. We're also going to give you a sneak preview of our next artist, Gaby Moreno.

What they're doing is they're sort of - they're changing the game, as far as I'm concerned, in Latin music because they're mixing all of these different genres and styles and just sort of busting loose of all that and bringing it all together so that what we consider Latin music, very much like what Jasmine just played, it's changing the idea of what Latin music is. Gaby Moreno's new album is called "Illusions." This is called "Fronteras." Gaby Moreno.


GABY MORENO: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: I describe the album as sort of a dusty R&B-country potpourri. Oh yeah, it's really fantastic.


MORENO: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: She's from Guatemala City originally...

MARTIN: I love it.

CONTRERAS: ...And she grew up listening to blues and R&B.


CONTRERAS: And she's got a wonderful voice.

MARTIN: Yeah. Well, once again you guys have blown me away - so much new music out there. Thank you so much. Jasmine Garsd, Felix Contreras. They are the hosts of NPR Music's Alt.Latino. It's a weekly show about Latino arts and culture. Once a month they update our playlists. You guys, thank you so much.

CONTRERAS: Thank you.

GARSD: Thank you.


MORENO: (Singing in Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: WEEKEND EDITION is a production of NPR News, which is solely responsible for its content. Learn more about the music and artists you hear on NPR, and discover new music by visiting There you can also watch a Tiny Desk concert or get an exclusive first listen of new music.


MORENO: (Singing in Spanish).

MARTIN: Our theme music is written by BJ Leiderman. This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Have a great day. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.