Felix Contreras

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After winning multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy awards, Juanes is at a point in his caree

At this point, Lila Downs now has the kind of artistic stature among her fans that she has for the women she has celebrated throughout her career. She has always paid tribute to great voices and artist such as Chavela Vargas, Mercedes Sosa and even Joan Baez.

It's not often that Latin music's newest names release music at the same time as one of Latin music's most revered and respected vocalists does. But it happened this week. Girl Ultra and Cuco share space with Omara Portuondo, showing, once again, the vitality of the Latin music world and as well as the possibility that some of today's artists may still be making music 60 years from now.

Personally, I like messages with my music. Some of my first experiences with music beyond the Top 40 format took place during the heat of the Vietnam War which became a high watermark for protest music in this country. It's how I discovered musicians like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Later on, the great voices of protest from Latin America became part of my playlist as songwriters began to speak out against poverty, inequality and racism.

New music makes it way to the Alt.Latino inbox from a variety of sources. This week, one new track comes by way of the popular HBO phenomenon Game of Thrones. Spanish vocalist and Alt.Latino favorite Rosalía and Peruvian musician Alejandro Chal make it onto a taste-making compilation of music inspired by the uber popular show and that's just the tip of the iceberg of a collection of new music.

Our shortlist of must-hear albums this week includes the incredible sonic adventures of Nick Murphy (formerly known as Chet Faker), acoustic, instrumental rock from Rodrigo y Gabriela, a byzantine concept album from The Mountain Goats and more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Felix Contreras and Stephen Thompson as they run through their picks for the best new releases out on April 26.

Featured Albums:

  1. Nick Murphy: Run Fast, Sleep Naked
    Featured Songs: "Sanity," "Sunlight," "Novocaine and Coca Cola"

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Vocalist Angélique Kidjo is on another creative streak. As she has throughout her career, Kidjo has left little space between two musically rich releases that showcase her artistic bonafides. 2018's Remain In Light was a track by track re-imagining of the Talking Heads 1980 album of the same name.

This week on Alt.Latino, the latest Latin songs on our radar embraced the idea of reconnecting back to intimate, past experiences. Whether it be a homecoming after weeks of travel, a self-reflection in the wake of romance or a reminder of where one started. In this week's music roundup, hear Las Nubes reiterate its post-punk femininity in Miami's hardcore scene, Twanguero return to philosophical roots and VINILOVERSUS duet with Tessa Ia in what feels like hazy nostalgia.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple playlists at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple playlists at the bottom of the page.


Angélique Kidjo now has a pair of albums that are essentially covers of other artists, but interpreted with an African sensibility so majestic as to render the originals almost as source material.

This week, the Latin music world is quaking! Bachata band Aventura reemerge from the shadows with their first song in 10 years, Jennifer Lopez duets with French Montana and Lila Downs releases a fresh Peruvian cumbia classic. You can also hear the follow-up to Anitta's trilingual EP Solo and revisit Ms Nina and Tomasa del Real's song with a recent music video.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.


American music can mean many things depending on the part of America you're experiencing. For much of the Southwest, the American sound includes accordions and cumbias — and that's just what we hear on American Music Vol. VII by Grupo Fantasma, a prolific nine-piece Latin funk outfit from Austin, Texas.

Attending SXSW is opportunistic in the sense that anyone can connect with other musicians and music enthusiasts in small bars, city stages and backyards around Austin. This year, Felix Contreras returned to Alt.Latino headquarters, aiming to balance out all the emotions of the festivals, as if his experiences came home with him.

I struggled to balance the conflicting emotions of enjoying the musical celebration that is the annual SXSW Festival with the pain of the devastating loss of life in Friday's terrorist attack in New Zealand. It was an emotional push and pull that I kept completely to myself.

Two South American countries have been in the news a lot lately. Venezuela's economy has collapsed in a political crisis and in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, the country's new far-right president, has made racist comments and been accused of stoking anti-gay violence. For musicians in both those countries, the news is affecting their work.

Each week, Alt.Latino whips up a curated list of new favorites that emerge from the Latin music world. This week on Alt.Latino, explore Piñata Protest's new twist on conjunto punk, Los Tigres del Norte's tribute to legendary mariachi singer Vicente Fernandez and a diasporic folk ballad from La Doña.

It was sometime back in 2011 during the first few years of Alt.Latino when I heard a CD that was unlike anything I had heard before. There were traces of ambient sound, the bips and squeaks of electronic instruments, even some acoustic music all nestled underneath a slight falsetto that seemed as if it were far away and yet right in front of me at the same time.

Each week, Alt.Latino curates a list of songs and hidden gems from the Latin music world. This week's packed with new releases and premieres, many of which engage with self-reflection and inner confidence in a fun and catchy way. Below, hear the song premiere - the only song in Spanish - off Yawner's upcoming album Just Calm Down, VINILOVERSUS' recent headbanger and an altruistic sentiment to Ambar Lucid's "Younger Self."

Every week, Alt.Latino puts together a list of songs that celebrate emerging Latino artists in the music world. This week's picks include Tagua Tagua's Brazilian rock swinging in the spotlight and a celebratory party anthem off Amara La Negra's debut EP.

As part of a series of NPR Music's favorite Latin songs, we created a Spotify playlist to accompany the songs we write about. Listen along and read our hot takes below.

There is no denying the impact Roma has had on the movie going public on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border. The story of a young indigenous woman and her life as a live-in care taker for a middle class Mexican family in the mid-1970's is one of those rare instances that has crossed demographic lines and has people raving about from all quarters.

Every week, Alt.Latino puts together a playlist that hallmarks the feelings and experiences that come along with any given season. Valentine's Day passed, but love yet still swirls in the air. This week's tracks emulate self-love, identity, confidence and the search for direction. Expect a self-loving R&B track from Noa Sainz, Tomasa de Real's heart-wrenching reggaeton and an electro-trap tune by La Dame Blanche.

Something happens when you get a chance to see Afro-Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez perform. First of all, his smile radiates. It's hard to imagine someone happier than he is to make music in front of people; and as we saw during his turn behind Bob Boilen's desk, he mesmerizes with this almost otherworldly talent on congas. His hands can be a blur because they move so quickly. To the untrained eye, it's hard to see exactly what he is doing to draw out the sounds he does from his drums.

It's all fun and games this Valentine's Day, and it's no different in Latin music. This week's Alt.Latino playlist is stacked with lovable favorites; Think romantic sentiments, a touch of bachata and breezy Cuban ballads in between.

At the bottom of this page is the playlist, as part of a series of NPR Music's favorite Latin songs, updated weekly on Spotify. Listen and read through our weekly hot takes here.

Somewhere out there in the public domain there is an iconic photograph of someone placing a flower into the barrel of a rifle held by a menacing soldier.

The early '70s was a watershed era for Marvin Gaye; What's Going On produced three chart-topping singles and became one of the most powerful and revered concept albums of all time, taking a reluctant Motown beyond producing hits; in 1972, Gaye recorded and released the film soundtrack, Trouble Man; between 1971 and 1973 he recorded tracks for what would become the iconic album Diana and Marvin, released in 1973; just two months earlier, he had released the legendary Let's Get It On.

This week, Alt.Latino celebrates a variety of new creative heights, including psychedelic cumbia, an acoustic Pink Floyd cover and a reggaeton dance record from Anitta and MC Kevinho.

At the bottom of the page, you can follow a series of NPR Music's favorite Latin songs, updated weekly on Spotify. Catch this week's hot takes below.

It's only January and already the mailbox at Alt.Latino World Headquarters is overflowing with new music. This week, we keep it simple: New music, not a lot of talking and an array of artists that show, once again, that Latin music in all forms is a seemingly endless well of inspiration.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.


Duologue is a reminder that one of the surest ways to get to the music of West Africa is to stop in Cuba first.

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