This is a weekly compilation of bite-sized song & EP reviews from our music writers. Discover new favs, read nuanced criticism of the week’s hottest releases & more. Follow our playlist featuring these tracks and more on Spotify or Apple Music.
Chocquibtown x Lil Silvio y El Vega x La Ross Maria - "MORENA"
It’s hard to miss the Tropical Vibes target when you blend together the sounds of high-pitched marimbas, upbeat guitar chords, and watered-down syncopated beats. And “La Morena” hits right on spot. The song is the latest release by a Continent-to-Caribe crew formed by the rising trio ChocQuibTown, from Cali, the duo Lil Silvio y El Vega, from Cartagena, and the singer La Ross Maria, from Santo Domingo. You can only shine on summer tones with such a team, and we predict loads of TikTok dance videos accompanied by this track. — Felipe Maia
Jay Wheeler - “BIOL-101”
The reggaetón/electronic mashup train keeps barreling forward with no signs of stopping, as Jay Wheeler’s new single “BIOL-101” proves. Wheeler’s success stems from his talent at threading the line between the saccharine and the sensual, which he employs here once again. The result is a catchy, melodious track that’s served by a music video channeling that sexy energy into its own alluring imagery. A Titanic-esque sweaty hand imprinting itself on the inside of a fogged-up car window tells you all you need to know about the sultry charge of the song. The soundtrack for a different kind of biology class. — Juan J. Arroyo
LASTMONDAY - “Pegao”
LASTMONDAY is back with a new jam, and you might want to find a dancing partner for this one. On “Pegao,” the Bronx artist summoned the elements of bachata entirely through electronic production and gave us what he calls “rachatta,” and we’re instantly digging it. On top of that, the lyrics about being emotionally hooked to an old flame unrequitedly pair up with the music to perfection. — Cheky
ÌFÉ - “Heart Full of Love”
With “Heart Full of Love,” ÌFÉ demonstrates why they are one of the most unique contemporary artists making soulful music today. Originally a 1960s ballad by The Invincibles, the track adds Afro-Latine-influenced percussion and slightly autotuned vocals, yet Otura Mun’s and the backup choir connect with the transcendent spirit of the original. As a result, ÌFÉ brings different worlds together and puts a personal spin to an already great song. — Marcos Hassan
Tambino - “Estos Días”
Last year, when Peruvian singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Tambino hit the scene with his self-titled solo debut, he introduced the world to a hazy signature sound dubbed as cumbiagaze. Now, the NYC-based mad scientist has unveiled a new song titled “Estos Días,” meditating on the protests and accompanying police brutality that swept through the US and Latin America over the course of the pandemic. The track expands Tambino’s palette into baile funk, ambient synths, and a crescendo of euphoric percussion, hinting at an exciting sonic update on his forthcoming EP, Sin Miedo. — Richard Villegas
Jards Macalé & João Donato - "Côco Taxi"
Jards Macalé and João Donato are living legends of Brazilian music. Jards was a quintessential figure to the Tropicália movement and João Donato is arguably one of the greatest jazzists to ever play the piano in Brazil. Seeing them work together in 2021, for the first time ever, is like attending a long-time promised gift. “Côco Taxi,” the first single of their upcoming album, lives up to the expectations: it’s a funky tropical jazz fusing hints of afoxé (an Afro-Brazilian rhythm) and Cuban colors—the Coconut Taxi is a tourist cab often seen in the island. — Felipe Maia
Luckre Gerad - “Tus Planes”
Earnestness is a commodity in songwriting, and one has to reach deep in the trough of the industry to find it. Luckre Gerad is a musician that doesn’t lack sincerity or talent, and he displays both in his single “Tus Planes” off his new EP Voluntades. Growing off his 2019 debut album, Cracks, Luckre’s music recalls the heyday of ‘90s rock en español when emotion had the wheel and feelings proudly adorned your sleeve. The five-track disc includes the participation of Ricky Laureano, of Fiel a la Vega fame, making the influence even starker. — Juan J. Arroyo
Shower Curtain - “Me Engole”
Brazilian-born, New York-based singer/songwriter Victoria Winter just dropped her third project as Shower Curtain. The gorgeous Something Instead EP is a four-track exploration of her relationships, both personal and to her own art. “Me Engole,” the sole track sung in Portuguese, is a dreamy indie-pop gem where she wonders if she wasn’t really made for love. She manages to move us using only a few elements and a damn catchy chorus. — Cheky
Estereomance - “Gardenia Dreams”
The temperature may be dropping and the days may be getting shorter, yet you wouldn’t know that summer is over by listening to “Gardenia Dreams.” Formed by ex-members of Ciudad Juarez/El Paso band The Chamanas, Estereomance brings together 2010s indie club sounds with ‘90s R&B, as co-vocalists Paulina Rezain and Adria Del Valle trade verses, rap, and harmonize on a deliciously catchy hook. Here they deliver a track of blissful instant nostalgia. — Marcos Hassan
Las Dianas - “Beef Mac”
Causing a ruckus for all the right reasons, Spanish rockers Las Dianas have unleashed a blistering new anthem titled “Beef Mac,” taking on the parade of guitar-wielding chauvinists that pop up at every turn. The final single in the lead up to their debut album Lo Que Te Pide El Cuerpo–out now–melds pop saccharine with surfy guitars and epic digs about how if festival-goers run to the restroom during your band’s set, you should probably pipe down. — Richard Villegas