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Alt.Latino Playlist: New Music To Start 2020

Tall Juan goes kitschy with cumba, but is still punk as ever.
Courtesy of the artist
Tall Juan goes kitschy with cumba, but is still punk as ever.

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

Let it be known: Alt.Latino turns ten years old on June 15! We'll have a bunch of cool things to help us celebrate into June and beyond. But first, here's a batch of new music to kicks things off.

Arcángel, "Mi Testimonio"

Twelve years ago, Puerto Rican reggaeton pioneer Héctor el Father included a track called "Mi Testimonio" on his final album Juicio Final. Closing out 2019 (and kicking off Capricorn season), Arcángel opened his sixth album Historias de un Capricornio with his own testimony. It's sometimes said (my astrology-versed friend Serena tells me) that Capricorns have a tendency to age backwards. This album sees Arcángel return to his youth and to the influences of his early work, from the childhood photo on the album cover to the tender voicemails interspersed throughout "Mi Testimonio," a reflection on family, fame, and faith with a devotion fitting of his namesake. — Stefanie Fernández

Tall Juan, "Sentimiento Villero"

Tall Juan Plays Cumbia is the Argentinian-born Far Rockaway transplant's first release since 2017, and it is as kitsch as you'd expect from a musician that is equal parts Elvis and Iggy Pop in his performance. The EP's two songs indulge in the swirling synths and electric riffs of the '90s (as the "Vienes y Te Vas" video attests). "Sentimiento Villera," in particular, honors the socially-driven Argentine cumbia villera of that decade, and it is just as punk as any of Tall Juan's previous work. — Stefanie Fernández

People of Earth, "Majestad Negra"

On this YouTube-only track, People of the Earth brilliantly combines Puerto Rican bomba and Afro Cuban guaguanco, two traditions that are essentially musical first cousins (or primos hermanos, as they say in Latin America). The collective promotes a back-to-roots vibe with old-school drumming. So much of what we listen to coming from Caribbean today has origins in this music and it's a joy to get a taste of it. — Felix Contreras

Los Volks, "Tarde de Domingo"

The Brazilian band Los Volks has straddled the worlds of classic tropicalia and contemporary folk for some time now. After a few band member adjustments, they are now ready with this new video (based on the video for The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever") and a busy touring schedule that will hopefully bring them to the U.S. in 2020. — Felix Contreras

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Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.