Alt.Latino
5:03 am
Sun November 25, 2012

Argentine Funk, Mexican Pop And Puerto Rican Hip-Hop

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 10:22 am

Once a week on the NPR podcast Alt.Latino, hosts Jasmine Garsd and Felix Contreras share new music from across the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking world. Today, they visit Weekend Edition Sunday to highlight some recent favorites that didn't make it onto the show. Included are the funky Argentine ensemble Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas, and Mexican singer Carla Morrison, who reinvents her hit "Dejenme Llorar" with help from Nina Diaz of the Texan trio Girl in a Coma.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's time to return to the world of Latin alternative music with NPR's Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd, of NPR's online music show Alt.Latino. Hey, guys.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: Hi.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: OK, so you two feature the best new tracks coming out of the Latin Alternative music scene, on your podcast. But today, we're talking about a few tunes that you couldn't quite fit into the show, but you think it's still music that we should definitely get to know. So, where do you want to start today?

CONTRERAS: Let's go a little rootsy.

MARTIN: OK, I dig it.

CONTRERAS: I...

MARTIN: Get it, dig it?

CONTRERAS: Rootsy...

(LAUGHTER)

CONTRERAS: Well, what I dug up was...

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Oh, nice.

CONTRERAS: What I dug up was a track from an album called "Diablos del Ritmo: The Colombian Melting Pot from 1960-1985." And this cut is called "Calambre." The group is called Conjunto Barbacoa. And it's a mixture of African music and Colombian music - but with a twist that I'll tell you about, in a second.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONJUNTO BARBACOA SONG, "CALAMBRE")

CONTRERAS: Colombia has a lot of African influences going back to the slave trade. And what this album is, it's contemporary African music influencing that African-influenced music. So there's a influence on top of an influence.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONJUNTO BARBACOA SONG, "CALAMBRE")

CONTRERAS: And what you're hearing on this track - the sinewy guitar part reflects back on Afro-beat that was popular throughout different parts of Africa in the '70s.

GARSD: I love that it's called "Calambre," which means like, a foot cramp; like, when your foot falls asleep.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Oh, yeah?

GARSD: Yeah, 'cause it's very thick and pulsating, but it also makes me think of the way like, I jump around...

(LAUGHTER)

GARSD: ...to get rid of my foot falling asleep.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Foot cramps.

CONTRERAS: Funny.

MARTIN: OK. So Jasmine, you brought an older track with you - right - which has kind of a new video out?

GARSD: Yes. I brought a track by one of my favorite current Latin alternative bands, which is Calle 13, in Puerto Rico. This is the song "La Bala." It's from their latest album, "Entren Los Que Quieran," which won them nine Latin Grammys. But they have a new video, which they did with the support of UNICEF, which is very beautiful. And I'll tell a little bit about it, after we hear some of the song.

MARTIN: OK, let's listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF CALLE 13 SONG, "LA BALA")

GARSD: So this is a video in which they're talking about gun violence. And the video - there's no blood; there's no gore. It's just civilians from all over the world, being gunned down by invisible bullets.

MARTIN: Oh, my.

GARSD: And it just talks about how every day ,there's this rampant violence that can really affect anyone.

(SOUNDBITE OF CALLE 13 SONG, "LA BALA")

MARTIN: Switching gears a little bit - Felix, this next artist, I understand, won her first Latin Grammy - which is something that you guys are happy about?

CONTRERAS: Very happy. We're big fans of Carla Morrison. Recently, she was nominated for four Latin Grammys, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year, as well as Alternative Album and Alternative Song of the Year. Now, she won the Alternative categories. But it's a big deal that she was nominated within the major categories 'cause it shines a light on an independent artist, an independent label, getting some mainstream recognition. She re-recorded her song "Dejenme Llorar," which won for Song of Year, with Nina Diaz - from another group that we really like a lot, called Girl in a Coma.

(SOUNDBITE OF CARLA MORRISON SONG WITH NINA DIAZ, "DEJENME LLORAR")

GARSD: It has like, such a Southwestern twang now.

CONTRERAS: Yeah, 'cause Girl in a Coma is from San Antonio.

MARTIN: Ah.

CONTRERAS: And to hear them together on this song, when she sings probably at least an octave, maybe two octaves lower than Carla Morrison, just brings a whole different feel to it. I'm such a fan.

(SOUNDBITE OF CARLA MORRISON SONG WITH NINA DIAZ, "DEJENME LLORAR")

MARTIN: OK, Jas, the next band you brought has an unusual name that I will proceed to butcher, but let's try it - Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas.

GARSD: Very - yes. Very good.

CONTRERAS: Ta-dah, you made it.

MARTIN: Yay!

(LAUGHTER)

GARSD: So the name of the band - which is goofy; it comes from an old TV show that I've never seen.

CONTRERAS: Yeah, it was a 1960s TV show; starred Robert Vaughn. He was "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." But his sidekick, his Russian sidekick, was Illya Kuryakin. Why they chose that name - no idea.

(LAUGHTER)

GARSD: And it's a combination of that and Colombian soccer star - and frankly, the best hair in soccer...

MARTIN: Ooh...

(LAUGHTER)

GARSD: ...Carlos Valderramas. They have a strange status in Latin alternative because they are very loved in like, the underground scene. But I still - I've always felt like this band didn't get the props they were due. Like, they should have been a lot bigger. They've worked with Bootsy Collins. They're very respected. So they got back together last year, and they released this album called "Chances." I love the album.

(LAUGHTER)

GARSD: I love this song. My roommates are fed up of me dancing in my room. This is my favorite song off the album - "Helicopteros."

(SOUNDBITE OF ILLYA KURYAKI AND THE VALDERRAMAS SONG, "HELICOPTEROS")

MARTIN: I can see Jasmine doing some head-banging to this.

(LAUGHTER)

CONTRERAS: What strikes me about this band is that the way they so accurately nail that '70s funk sound.

MARTIN: Yeah.

CONTRERAS: This sounds so familiar to me. But it still sounds fresh and new, at the same time.

MARTIN: Jasmine Garsd and Felix Contreras - they host NPR's Alt.Latino. Thanks, you guys.

GARSD: Always so much fun to be here.

CONTRERAS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF ILLYA KURYAKI AND THE VALDERRAMAS SONG, "HELICOPTEROS")

MARTIN: And you can find Felix and Jasmine's picks on our website, nprmusic.org. This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

(SOUNDBITE OF ILLYA KURYAKI AND THE VALDERRAMAS SONG, "HELICOPTEROS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.