You Say Autumn, I Say Otoño: Fall Latin Music Preview

Sep 16, 2012
Originally published on March 4, 2013 9:34 am

Fall music releases are wedged in between the summer slump and the sprint for holiday sales. NPR's Alt.Latino hosts Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd have picked three very different tracks expected in the coming season, from albums that reflect the diversity and innovation in Latin alternative music.

Veteran Mexican rockers Cafe Tacvba will release their first album in 5 years. Contreras and Garsd give us a sample of how it sounds.

The popular Colombian band Bomba Estereo refers to themselves as electro tropical. Their sophomore release has unexpected textures yet still remains true to their vision.

And when it's time to turn up the jams and dance, there's no better band than Chile's Astro.

The holidays aren't that far away, and there's lots of new music to discover before then. We'll get you started.

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From George Gershwin to something a little more contemporary now.


WERTHEIMER: That's "Pajaros" by Bomba Estereo. It's one of the latest picks from Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd, hosts of NPR's Alt.Latino, our online show about things Latin alternative. They're back with us today to talk about the album releases they are most excited about, which are coming this fall.

Felix, Jasmine, thank you for joining us.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: Always a pleasure.


WERTHEIMER: Now, Felix, you are excited about that new release by the Colombian band Bomba Estereo.

CONTRERAS: I'm very excited about it. When I've been able to preview the album, I listened to the whole thing. The album is called "Elegancia Tropical," and it's not due out until November 6th but its well worth the wait. They're a fairly new band. They were founded in 2000. Their first really big U.S. release was in 2009, and after that they did a lot of festivals; South by Southwest, they did some touring.

That album was more of what they refer to themselves as electro tropical, a, like, very electric, very synthesized heavy but still very Colombian. There's a lot of cumbia, there's a lot traditional music. This album, there are a lot more textures. There are a lot more sounds. And what they seem to have done is just like they broke down those elements that made their first album such a great hit, and they realigned them with their own musical vision and heavy, heavy use of electronica.

WERTHEIMER: So we're going to listen to some of it. What track will we hear?

CONTRERAS: We're going to hear a song called "Pa' Respirar," To Breathe.


BOMBA ESTEREO: (Singing in foreign language)

WERTHEIMER: That's such a lot of electronica. I almost didn't get the voice when she started singing.

CONTRERAS: Jasmine and I had a chance to see them perform this song live in Colombia a couple of years ago when they were working on the album. And when you listen to the song, you hear that drumbeat that's going dunk-dunk, dunk-dunk, and everything else is kind of added on top of that. What they did was, is they had a guy playing what's called an allegre drum and it's like a Cuban djembe. And he uses his palm and he's hitting the biggest part of the drum and he's making a big sound.

And then, with the other hand, he has a shaker. So he's going schonce-sconce, shikky-jonce-sconce.


CONTRERAS: That's the tradition that they did and they just reinterpreted it with electronica and that's - to me, that is the genius of their vision.


ESTEREO: (Singing in foreign language)

WERTHEIMER: Did I hear one of those - what do call, rain, rain...

CONTRERAS: Rain sticks?


CONTRERAS: Yeah, palo de lluvia? Yeah, there's all kinds of stuff in there. They're just so creative. This really - I'm very impressed with this album.

WERTHEIMER: Now, there's another one you're looking forward to, a new release from a pretty legendary band in the Latin alternative world. Tell me about that.

GARSD: Well, Cafe Tacvba is really - they are Latin-American rock and roll royalty. They're a Mexican band and they have not released something new, I think in about five years. Nonetheless, they are beloved. We had the pleasure of seeing them earlier this year at one of the biggest Latin alternative festivals in Latin America, which is Vive Latino. And I cannot - how many people do you think were there?

CONTRERAS: Oh, it was at least 25, 30,000.

GARSD: Yeah, it was amazing. And the rapport that they have, you know, they just got on stage and they were like, hey, buddies. How is it going? It's been a while, we're back. And this new song is a really good example of why people love them. They're totally honest and unpretentious. And they don't have like this rock and roll ego. They're just like your neighborhood friends who have a band.

WERTHEIMER: And what's this track called?

GARSD: "De Este Lado Del Camino" or "On This Side of the Road."


CAFE TACVBA: (Singing in foreign language)

GARSD: This is an example why Cafe Tacvba is just so awesome. I mean, they're not doing a stereotypical love song or you're such a babe song...


GARSD: ...or something like that. The lyrics are talking about figuring out how to love ones self. It's kind of an ode to finding self-esteem, which is very unique in a genre that's really dominated by themes of love and lust and revenge.

WERTHEIMER: Well, speaking of love and lust, Jasmine, you have confessed on your show that you're obsessed...


WERTHEIMER: .,.with a new band from Chile.

CONTRERAS: Obsessed is a good word.


WERTHEIMER: Now, this is not your first Chilean obsession. WEEKEND EDITION listeners have heard you talk about the rapper Anna Tijoux, but we're not talking about her today. Who is the new artist?

GARSD: This is the band, Astro. We've been pushing them on Alt.Latino for a while now. But they just got picked up by the record label for Latin alternative, which is Nacional Records. And, ah, they're so good.


GARSD: I just - you know, if anyone out there is, you know, a jogger or really needs some new music to run to or exercise, I have Astro on a loop.


WERTHEIMER: So, Felix, is she right?

CONTRERAS: Oh, absolutely.

GARSD: This is "Panda."


ASTRO: (Singing in foreign language)

GARSD: So much of what's happening are coming from Chile is fusing this folk identity and politics and social issues with music. And these guys are - like, they want to party.


GARSD: And that's OK, everyone needs a break.

WERTHEIMER: Well, thank you both for all this music, Jasmine Garsd and Felix Contreras from NPR's Alt.Latino. That's a show about Latin alternative music and you can find some of that music at


WERTHEIMER: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PANDA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.