7 Spanish-Language Albums Recorded by the Legendary Steve Albini to Remember Him By

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for
Art by Stephany Torres for
Read more

Steve Albini, one of the most important persons in the punk and indie rock underground of the last 40 years, has died at the age of 61. Albini is probably best known for his work behind the mixing board, producing albums — although he preferred the credit to go as “recorded by” — for Nirvana, Pixies, Iggy Pop, The Breeders, PJ Harvey, Joanna Newsom, former Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and hundreds of others. However, he also worked with bands from all over the world, big and small. These included outfits from Latin America and Spain, from living legends like Los Crudos to underground bands like Ojo Por Ojo.

Albini emerged from the Chicago punk underground in the early ‘80s with his band, Big Black. From the onset, he was committed to the craft of no-frills music with everything from his subsequent projects like Shellac, as well as his work in the studio with other artists. He contributed to the recording of bands ranging from metal to chamber music and everything in between, characterized by placing the listener as closely in the room as possible. Just as important, his social commentary around society — found everywhere from his lyrics to various public declarations in media, spanning from fanzines to his Twitter account — was just as sharp and biting.

Albini was very prominent in the studio, working on around 1,000 recordings, many of which were made in his Electrical Audio facilities in Chicago. Here are some of the most prominent Spanish-language albums he worked on.

Los Crudos/Spitboy - “Viviendo Asperamente/Living Roughly”

The ‘90s saw an explosion in hardcore punk where more Latines got involved and made their identity and struggles central to their lyrical themes. Perhaps the two most prominent of these in the U.S. scene were Los Crudos and Spitboy, and Albini captured all their fury in this 1995 split album. Los Crudos is one of the most important Spanish-language hardcore bands of all time, expressing the anger and impotence of a generation. The lesser-known Spitboy is no less angry or inspired, dealing with women’s issues along with their heritage in some amazing display of controlled punk violence.

Fun People - “The Art(e) Of Romance”

Having ties with Chicago’s music scene for most of his life, Albini was responsible for recordings by melodic punk bands from the area, like Screeching Weasel and the Bollweevils. So it’s unsurprising that one of Argentina’s most popular and beloved pop-punk bands recorded what many consider their best album with Albini. Fun People’s brand of brash, frenetic, and highly melodic music struck a chord with fans at home and abroad, and The Art(e) Of Romance — with its barely controlled music and Spanglish lyrics from vocalist Nekro, later of Boom Boom Kid — remains a Latin American punk classic.

La Habitación Roja - “Nuevos Tiempos”

Thanks to their pop-rock approach, Spain’s La Habitación Roja might seem like an outlier in this list. Unsurprisingly, they are the band with the biggest audience at home and abroad on this list. However, listening to their 2005 album, Nuevos Tiempos, you can hear Albini’s no-nonsense approach working amazingly with the band’s power pop style. There’s a gritty quality to the instruments that contrasts deliciously with their catchy, melodic pop, making this one of their very best albums. Arguably, the band never captured such an exciting sound as they do here, as heard on the title track, which seems to jump out of the speakers to demand your attention..

Descartes A Kant - “Victims Of Love Propaganda”

Guadalajara’s Descartes A Kant is a prominent indie rock band from the Mexican underground that has been around since the mid-’00s and is well known for their schizophrenic songs marked by the contrast between sweet melodies and jarring, dissonant explosions. For their third record — 2017’s theatrical, conceptual Victims Of Love Propaganda — they decamped to Electrical Audio to capture their rawest material to date, giving us a glimpse into their pop sensibilities, angsty vocals, and layered yet direct guitar work, boiled down here to their bare essentials for one of their best albums.

La M.O.D.A. - “7:47 (Ni Un Minuto Más)”

Spain’s La Maravillosa Orquesta Del Alcohol is one of the most peculiar bands on this list. They play highly melodic folk pop with traditional instruments and have garnered a cult following thanks to their very fun concert experiences. Back in 2018, the septet decamped to Chicago’s Electrical Audio to record this very short release, one of the most kinetic and raw recordings that doesn’t skim on the sing-along choruses. Again, Albini’s touch is evident as you can practically feel yourself sitting in the room, right in the middle of the action. Also, check out the artwork by renowned Mexican illustrator David “El Dee” Espinosa.

Austero - “Austero”

It’s pretty obvious that Austero has a predilection for many of the bands Albini produced in his early days behind the board. So it’s with great fortune that they tapped him to produce their 2020 self-titled full-length debut. This trio from Chihuahua, Mexico, loves to play with a bit of dissonance and plenty of melodic screaming, which shines through in many of the songs of this collection. With nods to Nirvana and The Melvins in their sound, this is perhaps the most retro recording Albini did in the last few years of his life — in the best possible way.

Ojo Por Ojo - “Paroxismo”

One of Albini’s most admirable qualities was his generosity in sharing his knowledge with the world. One of the best examples of this is Ojo Por Ojo’s 2021 release. León, Mexico’s Victor Velazquez once interned at Electrical Audio to learn everything he could about recording, then returned home to open his own Testa Studios to work on a huge array of projects. Later on, Albini visited Testa to impart a masterclass and recorded this raw hardcore punk trio from Mexico City to demonstrate how to capture the best sounds to tape. The result is as raw and amazing as many recordings by any world-famous band.