Currently Listening To: The One Year Pandem-aversary Edition

We’re past the one-year mark of this horrid and frustrating pandemic. Those initial months filled with angst & fear from the (somewhat slightly still) unpredictable nature of the novel coronavirus forced me to make numerous changes in my life, including to my thesis, that set me back at least half a year but, hey: boats against the current and all that!

The good news is that it all appears to be coming to an end. I received the first dose of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine already. Many of my family members & dozens of friends (some of whom survived COVID though a few their loved ones, friends, & co-workers did not) have received their doses as well.

Music played a role in getting me through it all (as it did last year). There weren’t any live shows to enjoy but plenty of new releases to listen to! Here’s a shortlist of artists/music I’ve listened to recently. May it captivate you as it captivated me in this continually strange time!


Antifragile is the first “artist” and first release at Spirit Bomb, a record label whose founders want to build a roster of “digital” artists. In this case, Antifragile is a weird, goat-headed creature that bears a slight resemblance to the Icon Of Sin from the DOOM franchise whose music is composed by Eye Contakt (Autry Fulbright and Mark Pagly).


BarzoBahía (feat. Pahua)

Costa Rican producer Barzo has been incredibly busy for more than a year now. He released an album with numerous singles & videos last year, many of which were collaborations with other Latin American artists: Nakury, La Dame Blanche, El Individuo, and Un Rojo Reggae Band, to name a few. His latest is also a collaboration: Bahía feat. Pahua a.k.a. Pau Sotomayor of Sotomayor. Their track is an electronic banger that is a hypnotic and psychedelic tropical banger for the hopefully mostly pandemic-free summer that awaits us.

Bomba EstéreoAgua

“Agua” is the first single off Bomba Estéreo’s upcoming new album, Deja. The duo of Simón Mejía & Li Saumet. Check out the single on Spotify which comes with two additional tracks: “Deja” and “Soledad.”

Also of note is their work on the documentary film Sonic Forest (which you can watch below), which “showcases the inspiring journey of Simón Mejía, founder of Latin music sensation Bomba Estéreo, as he travels deep into the jungles and mountains of the Colombian Pacific to discover the richness of Earth’s most megadiverse places through its local music and its people: indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities who work every day to preserve their territories.”

Simón Mejia also contributed music for the film under his solo artist moniker Monte.

Divide & DissolveGas Lit

When I say that this album is heavy, I mean it both sonically and emotionally. It’s political, instrumental drone/doom metal courtesy of Takiaya Reed (Black & Tsalagi [Cherokee]) & Sylvie Nehill (Māori) that they create “to undermine and destroy the white supremacist colonial framework and to fight for Indigenous Sovereignty, Black and Indigenous Liberation, Water, Earth, and Indigenous land given back.”

There’s also a bit of spoken-word poetry on “Did You Have Something To Do With It” by Minori Sanchez-Fung that lays it all out on the table:

This is our time
The legacy of greed has grown from its seed
To infiltrate every place
Every face

Releasing a suffering recorded in
And in bone
So old that language can’t console it

This was the blow which we struck
At first without knowing how deep it would grow.
It would grow
Into a frightening history that fractures hope

First, by attacking the body
And then, by distorting the mind

It would grow
And force us to question if we are a part
Of this world
or its affliction.

Whether our addiction to power will consume the beauty that was once our birthright

This is our time
What is certain, is life
Growing out of itself greater than the moment before
Within us, around us, in spite of us.

Proving we can’t control
The thing that brought us up from the cold
and will press us back like flowers into the mold.
We are tethered to a circuit that excludes nothing
a song the dead can hear.
Something resilient forming all
Something that makes time small.
So old, that language can’t dispose of it

Still gold over the violence.
Don’t forget, this too, this too, is our time
Our spirit is not weaker, it is waiting on us to decide
What it is, that we will honour while we are alive.


Listen/watch the single “Denial” shot by Amber Beaton:


Another artist who hasn’t slowed down throughout the pandemic is the Bronx Dominican LASTMONDAY who stays killing the game with his beats, flow, and bilingual Spanglish rhymes! He released a slew of singles, videos, and a mixtape, Yo, Tigerito!, throughout the pandemic last year. This latest song/vid was shot in Atlanta a year after dude & his crew were stuck in Miami during the first lockdown.

La Vida BohemeFr€€$$r

Last year saw the quartet from Caracas (long since based in CDMX) release nearly a half-dozen tracks that were ultimately compiled into the EP titled Fr€€$$r. The album shows off the group’s range and the sonic territory they’ve covered since their debut. The album is also the first in a planned release of trilogy of EPs


The band also unveiled a 40-minute concert film titled Tiempo Compartido composed of live & alternate versions of seven songs from their repertoire:

Mexican Institute Of SoundDistrito Federal

This latest work by Camilo Lara, head honcho creative of M.I.S., is an ode and soundtrack to Ciudad Mexico (Mexico City) formerly known as the Distrito Federal; hence the album title. Speaking of which, y’all ever eaten a pambazo? I recommend ’em!


Below is the lyric video to “Se Compran,” the opening track on the album:

I also recommend listening to the interview between Lara and Felix Contreras at Alt. Latino.

Miki GonzalezZAP XXXX

a.k.a. Juan Manuel González Mascías. This guy has a long history recording and performing music that began in the rock scene in the 1980s. He started blending electronic music with Andean & Afro-Peruvian music in the mid-aughts & hasn’t stopped since (this track a case in point!).

MogwaiAs The Love Continues

The Scottish (mostly) instrumental rock band is back with As The Love Continues. The album arrives on the band’s 25th anniversary.

The best/easiest way to get acquiainted with the group (besides diving headfirst into their discography) is to read Andrew Parks’ retrospective piece on the band: A Guide to 25 Years of Mogwai.

Mogwai also has a unique, often dark sense of humor—something they share with longtime friends and fellow countrymen Arab Strap. Seeing as how they’re a largely instrumental outfit, this mostly shows up in song titles along the lines of “I Am Not Batman,” and  “I Love You, I’m Going To Blow Up Your School.”

“They aren’t always meant to be funny,” explains Braithwaite. “More random than anything else. I think being Scottish, we have a real aversion to pretentiousness, and it’s so easy to slip into that realm making instrumental music. We’ve always been wary of doing that. I think after a while people stop thinking about the words in song titles and just think of the song itself. I do anyway.”

Andrew Parks, A Guide to 25 Years of Mogwai


Watch the video for single “Ritchie Sacramento” below:

VudufaSouth American Loa

Vudufa is the other musical project of Peruvian Hip-Hop duo Pounda & Nomodico who are continuing in the new tradition of Cumbia Darks aka Afro-Peruvian Dark Electronic Cumbia (a mouthful if there were ever one!) in the vein of Dengue Dengue Dengue, Animal Chuki, Deltratron, Tribilin Sound, & others.


Listen to “Ayahuasca Shock” below:


Math-rock is back…or it never left? I honestly don’t know but I’m always happy to listen to some new math-rock. Such is the case with “Desierto,” the latest song by Peruvian group Wanderlust. It’s an uplifting anthem written specifically for these times. Listen & feel your anxiety float away!

For Venezuelan Rockers La Vida Bohème, La Lucha (“The Struggle”) Continues

La Vida Boheme. Courtesy of Nacional Records.

Henry D’Arthenay sits in the living room of his new apartment in Mexico City, thousands of miles from his hometown of Caracas, Venezuela. We’re a few weeks shy of four years from when the singer-guitarist for Latin rock group La Vida Bohème spent two hours with me on Skype, explaining the massive protests in Caracas after an election placed the deceased Hugo Chavez’s chosen successor, Nicolás Maduro, in the presidential seat. Neither of us could have predicted then the upheaval he and his bandmates would endure in order to complete their latest album, La Lucha.

“It was like a month after we talked, actually. After we talked, everything changed!” he says, explaining the earth-shattering abruptness of it all with a snap of his fingers. Their homeland began its political deterioration with continued inflation and devaluation of the bolivar, international airlines abandoning the country, lower oil production and food shortages. The band made a last-minute decision to remain in Mexico City after their appearance at Vive Latino in 2014. D’Arthenay’s mother died in Caracas from cancer the following year.

“I really understand, now that we’re in Mexico City, how closed we were from everything else, from everyone and everything happening, because the country started to build a fence around itself,” he explains of life back home. “For me as a human being, returning to my country right now is not a possibility. For me to make a living there, there’s no future I can bring for myself there, and the only way I can bring a future for my country is by making my art.”

Continue reading at LA Weekly

Hugo Chavez Can’t Stop La Vida Boheme’s Dance Party!

I’ve been obsessed with La Vida Boheme’s debut album Nuestra for the past few weeks. I’m definitely not the only one enthralled by it as the lp was nominated for Best Latin Pop, Rock, Or Urban Album Grammy last night alongside the works of Calle 13, Gustavo Galindo, labelmates Los Amigos Invisibles, and Mana.

I learned about the Venezuelan dance-rock/post-punk quartet two months ago while listening to the FIFA 12 soundtrack, which includes LVB’s song “El Buen Salvaje.” I liked the song but wasn’t able to get my hands on the full album until a month later in early November when Remezcla put me in contact with Nacional Records. La Vida Boheme was in town and would I like to interview them? Heck yes!

In the Nacional Records office. Not pictured: the Flinstones rug on the floor.

From the interview:

D’Arthenay: The record [Nuestra], we made it while I was still in college. It was very troublesome because in 2008, we had some of the songs. We started recording it but we didn’t like the record, then went off to record it with another guy, but we still didn’t like it. In 2009, most of the songs had changed. When we recorded the master, it was in 2009. For some of the songs that we initially started recording in 2008, we didn’t feel that they were representative of the things we wanted to say so we made new songs on the spot. So 2009 was a reflection of what happened between 2006 to 2009.

With this new record we just recorded, there’s two songs in it that we were playing for a long time and the second half we made them in one month. We’re very unorthodox in that sense. We’re not willing to release something that we’re not proud of. A work of art speaks for itself. When it’s complete, you know it’s complete. Most of the times, songs are very difficult to get to that point where they’re finished and others, they just flow naturally. We struggled a lot with our second record because of that, and because we don’t want it to be sloppy — we want it to be better. It took us time but we’re very happy with what we have done.

Two days later, I made a trip to Las Vegas to watch LVB perform at Remezcla’s Latin Grammy pre-party:

The set was short but intense and the songs sounded even better live than their studio-recorded counterparts.

Keep your eyes and ears on La Vida Boheme in 2012.

Selections From The FIFA Soccer 12 Soundtrack

Another year brings another FIFA game and, with it, another topnotch soundtrack! I picked a few of my favorite tracks from the game to share below. Check out the entire tracklist at FIFA soundtracks dot com. I meant to post this days ago but I got stuck sitting on the couch, posted in front of the tele playing the game demo. Whoops!

Le game!

ALL MANKIND – Break The Spell:

I get the feeling I’m going to hate this one eventually because every movie producer on the face of the earth will attach it to their Oscar-baiting trailer. I’ll enjoy it for the time being.

CHASE & STATUS – No Problem

A nightmare acid trip!

CSS – Hits Me Like A Rock

I wrote a little something about this video for Remezcla.

GRAFFITI6 – Stare Into The Sun

The Caucasian Gnarls Barkley.


For the record, these guys aren’t Japanese. They’re British. Also, this song features an appearance by Green Velvet. So, erm, yeah.

LA VIDA BOHEME – El Buen Salvaje

Here’s a hard rock band from Caracas, Venezuela. I love all the fuzzy distortion throughout the song.

PORTUGAL, THE MAN – Got It All (This Can’t Be Living Now)

Psychedelic Indie/Rock via Wasilla, Alaska/Portland, Oregon. Watch and listen even if you hate male singers with high-pitched voices.

THE NAKED & FAMOUS – Punching In A Dream

This is a little band from New Zealand that’s gaining fame for its psychedelic, 80’s New Wave influenced dance tunes.


When did Madonna, Blondie and Soft Cell get together?


Grab a cigar, a glass full of brandy and turn the lights down.