Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Best of 2009-Part 4: Top 11 Albums

I know old-school readers are gonna try to argue this, but I don’t really like albums. There, I said it. I think that (aside from some extremely few exceptions) genius comes in small doses and sporadic influxes of inspiration. There are maybe ten albums EVER that I can really listen from beginning to end without being tempted to skip a track. Lots of great albums have many inspired moments, which I love, but even the best ones have some filler or some self-indulgent parasite crap attached to them. Besides, from a DJ perspective, albums are absolutely pointless because you never play more than two or –in exceptional cases three- tracks from one record in your set (unless it’s a compilation, of course). That’s why DJ’s in general, and I in particular, love singles. I love 7 inches and yeah, I love MP3’s, a format that allows me to keep only the tracks that I like and/or I might play, and delete the rest of the crappy album to save storage capacity in my hard-drive (and avoid embarrassing moments when you have guests and you have your ITunes playing in shuffle mode). So, without further ado, here’s a list I compiled of 11 albums released in 2009 that I enjoyed and saved in their entirety.

1.- ZZK Sound Vol.2
File under: Post-Neo-Cumbia and beyond.
Format: I have two CD’s, the ZZK Records' version and the Nacional Records' version. And no, you can't have one, I’m keeping them both for their historical significance. Besides, the Nacional Records' version has one track less (the one by Marcelo Fabián) but one more (by El Remolón) if you buy it digital.
Reason to keep it all: Virtually all the tracks here are must-haves for my DJ set. There’s no filler.
Mixability: Both my mixtapes Linyerismo II and Mersaholic have plenty of music borrowed from here, and there’s still more to use in future work.
Favorite track: “Cartagena” by Sonido del Príncipe.
Available: on emusic.com, itunes, etc.

File under: Post-modern hipster-hop and random self-indulgent ironic crap. Format: Nacional sent me the CD, which forced me to listen to the album as a whole, if I had to buy it track by track, I would’ve probably gotten 9 out of the 14. Reason to keep it all: I have Camilo’s same sense of humor so the whole album makes me laugh.
Mixability: “Cumbia” is a great track to play with and also is “Yo Digo Baila,” I used pieces of those two in my mixes Mersaholic and Linyerismo II respectively.

Favorite track: “Alocatel (Ad Rock Remix)” if only for the fetish extra value of having one of the Beastie Boys work on it... I’m so jealous...
Available: on emusic.com, itunes, etc.

3.- CHICO SONIDO – Chico Sonido
File under: Cut-n-Paste collage of old school Latin funk and other weird shit.
Format: I got it on CD, but MP3 would’ve been just as good because the CD book doesn’t have any interesting information at all.
Reason to keep it all: There are many lessons to be learned of this and it requires multiple listens to appreciate it.

Mixability: Mixing in a DJ set tracks by other DJ that already are a mix of other tracks is like cheating for some, but I’ve done it and I don’t regret it (a break from “Más Discoteque” was used in Mersaholic). Still, this is an album designed for attentive listeners and not so much for DJ’s to play.
Favorite track: “Ye Ye Ye”
Available: on emusic.com, itunes, etc.

4.- BRONX RIVER PARKWAY – San Sebastian 152
File under: Latin funk.
Format: MP3 but if I ever see the vinyl LP, I’ll buy it right away.
Reason to keep it all: I never listened to the album in order as a whole, but I had it on random rotation on my Ipod for months and every time a track from this album comes up I’m instantly like “wow, what is that?!” It hasn’t ceased to surprise me yet.
Mixability: Haven’t played any of these tracks on my set or mixtapes yet, but I’ll probably find a way to do so soon.

Favorite track: “La Valla”
Available: on emusic.com, itunes, etc.

5.- QUANTIC and his combo bárbaro – Tradition in Transition
File under: Gringo digging Colombian music.
Format: MP3 but would be great to find it on vinyl.
Reason to keep it all: Record collector Quantic has proven many times that he knows way more about Latin (but cool) music than almost anybody else in Latin America. He moved to Colombia, formed a band with locals and this is the result: a Latin beathead's wet dream.
Mixability: Unlike previous Quantic work that used to be more electronic and DJ oriented, this is some old school instrumental shit, the type he likes to sample from. Besides pleasing the break-hunters out there, it'd pretty good for the traditional salsero crowd if only they were a little more open minded.
Favorite track: "Mambo Los Quantic"

Available: on emusic.com, itunes, etc.

6.- ANA TIJOUX - 1977
File under: Classic hip-hop with nostalgia for the 90's.
Format: Bootleg MP3 sent by Anita herself before the official release of the album. Pretty cool, yeah, but I still prefer the old days when she would send me a signed CD.
Reason to keep it all: It's Anita, my biggest and longest lasting "celebrity" crush ever and I love her to death, so I have to save anything that has has her voice in it (I also saved the work-in-progress demos of this album).
Mixability: Oh, how I wish there was a party or venue and a crowd where I could play her music here in the States! Unfortunately, I haven’t found it yet. The Latin-pop and LatinAlt audiences still don’t understand hip-hop (unless it’s fusion). The US Latin hip-hop audience doesn’t understand “good” hip-hop. Otherwise, there are plenty of tracks in this album that I’d love to spin. Since it’s mostly jazzy downtempo, I’ll be including many of these tracks in my lounge sets for sure.
Favorite track: "Crisis de un MC"
Available: Here.

7.- EL REMOLÓN - Pibe Cosmo
File under: Neo-Cumbia.
Reason to keep it all: Nobody personifies all the greatness and innovative characteristics of the whole Zizek scene in one artist better than El Remolón. Besides, hes from Caballito!
Mixability: Not all the tracks are dance-floor oriented, but you can tell they all have a DJ brain behind them. Plus they have plenty of clean breaks to cut and play with, ideal for mash-ups and shit like that. I used his music in all my mixtapes of 2009.
Favorite track: "Negros Cumbieros"
Available: on emusic.com, itunes, etc.

8.- TOY SELECTAH - The Mex-More LP
File under: Neo-Cumbia and Ravertón remixes.
Format: As far as I known, it was only released in MP3 for free download, I guess they can’t really sell it because of all the copyright infringement.
Reason to keep it all: Duh! It’s Toy! What kind of question is that?
Mixability: By definition, all Toy Selectah tracks are great for DJing and are a must on everybody’s play-lists. The only problem is that sometimes he over-produces them too much, puts way too many layers of stuff leaving very little air to breath, or breaks to play with.
Favorite track: “One Minute Pal Cumbión!”
Available: Here.

9.- DJ RAFF – Traveling Partners EP
File under: Post-hip-hop, turntablism.
Format: Free MP3 download.
Reason to keep it all: His previous album Raffolution was pure gold so this one was a no-brainer, and it was free! Dude, I would’ve paid for this. DJ Raff is the best DJ in all Latin America, is that enough reason?
Mixability: 100%, For DJ’s By DJ’s could be the slogan.
Favorite track: “I need a beat”
Available: Here.

10.- AZAXX – The Exotic Delight Bay
File under: Refined Latin beats for the dancefloor and lounge.
Format: Bootleg MP3.
Reason to keep it all: French dude here released an elegant collection of instrumental tracks with plenty of Caribbean and Brazilian sounds. Sophisticated listener, diggers and beat-heads will love it while the mainstream Latin crowd will continue to be indifferent because of the lack of recognizable catchy choruses.
Mixability: 100% DJ-oriented music.
Favorite track: "Zorbanissimo"
Available: Unknown.

11.- SANTULLO – Bajo Fondo Presenta
File under: Post-Electro-Tango-Rap?
Format: Bootleg MP3 but I wouldn’t mind paying for it.
Reason to keep it all: After years of defending their arch-nemesis Gotan Project, in 2009 I became the ultimate fan of everything Bajofondo.
Mixability: OK, maybe not all the tracks are DJ-friendly, but there are plenty of great moments for those who can understand the Spanish language and appreciate good lyricism.
Favorite track: “Quién”
Available: Unknown.

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