Alt.Latino's Favorite Music Of 2017 (So Far)

Jun 11, 2017

We've nearly reached the year's midpoint, and Alt.Latino is taking the opportunity to look back at all the new music that's come out so far in 2017. Our little corner of the music business, the Latin-alternative world, is always full of artists who push (or even ignore) boundaries, take risks, make us think and make us feel — and it's all well outside of the mainstream spotlight. So far this year, the music lives up to that promise.

Hear the conversation with NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro at the audio link, and listen to three of our favorites below.

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We've just about reached the year's midpoint. So some of our friends at NPR Music are taking this month to look at the year so far in music. Felix Contreras from Alt.Latino is here with some of his faves. Good morning, Felix.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Good morning. Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what are you noticing about the music that's come out over the past six months?

CONTRERAS: You know, it's always fascinating in our little corner of the music business - the Latin Alternative world - because it's full of artists who push or even ignore boundaries - take risks, make us think, make us feel. And it's always well outside of the mainstream spotlight. And so far, it lives up to the promise.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. I can't wait to hear. What have you brought us to listen to?

CONTRERAS: OK so check this one out.


IFE: (Singing in foreign language).

CONTRERAS: This is the sound of Afro-Cuban music reimagined, OK? It's amazing musical vision of Otura Mun and his band IFE. Now, Otura Mun is a Santero, which is a practitioner of a particular branch of what is commonly known as Santeria. The rhythms and chants on the record are the same. But they use electronic instruments and effects on the vocals like we're hearing right now to make the most ancient music sound futuristic.


IFE: (Singing in foreign language).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Oh, I dig this.

CONTRERAS: Look at that, right?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, no, this is good. And this is Cuban music from the island?

CONTRERAS: They're all Puerto Ricans who are practitioners of Santeria. So it's Afro-Caribbean, essentially.


CONTRERAS: And Otura Mun, actually, is African-American from the Midwest who ended up in Puerto Rico because the airline screwed up his ticket basically. And he fell in love with the culture and the music. And he produced this great record. It's called "IIII+IIII." And, again, the band is called IFE.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, that sounds amazing. All right, what's next?

CONTRERAS: OK. Great Latin music from Kansas City.



GARCIA-NAVARRO: The band is called Making Movies. And they're members with roots from all over Latin America. They have a great new album. Their second album is called "I Am Another You." And in the age of singles, this is a concept album.

And it's telling a great story talking about the immigration experience life in Kansas City and just being young and having dreams. OK, it's produced by Steve Berlin from Los Lobos. It's sonically and lyrically one of the best albums of the year so far. Check this out.


MAKING MOVIES: (Singing) So tell me when the season ends and teach me how to make amends. I heard you speak, baby. Come again?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Just shows you how wide the world of alternative Latin music is. It's - yeah - completely different from what we just heard. Beautiful.

CONTRERAS: Yeah. And it's all under the - whatever you want to call the umbrella of Latin music, which I think is almost used up. You can't even use it anymore.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You think so?

CONTRERAS: You know, because - I mean, listen to that. It's - you know?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, it's just - it comes from all sorts of different backgrounds. And they bring all sorts of different things to it.

CONTRERAS: That's a deeper conversation for a longer show.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, we'll move on. All right, we'll move on.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: What's next?

CONTRERAS: OK. Lara Bello - and she's a vocalist from Spain - does a mash up of Spanish song form, jazz, flamenco, classical. She released this great new album called "Sikame." This is the title track.


LARA BELLO: (Singing in Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Speaking Spanish).

CONTRERAS: Right? (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This Spanish from Spain accent and Lisp - beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. All right, Felix Contreras from Alt. Latino. Thanks so much for being with us.

CONTRERAS: Thank you.


BELLO: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.