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.
YEИDRY, “El Diablo”
Approximately two months after the release of her COLORS performance, a visual that promoted her groundbreaking track “NENA,” Dominican-born, Italy-raised songstress YEИDRY drops “El Diablo.” Staying true to her eclectic roots, one that infuses sounds from her bicultural upbringing, she reclaims her divine power in the bilingual Max Jaeger-produced track. Aggressively exclaiming that she is not someone to play with, the artful visual finds YEИDRY in boss clips—whether it’s sitting on the car window while a vintage car donuts in an abandoned warehouse, drinking on the rocks, or sensual slick moves. –Jennifer Mota
Xenia Rubinos, “Who Shot Ya?”
Using dynamics and strategically placed distortion, Xenia Rubinos channels her rage and power on the urgent “Who Shot Ya?” to encourage us listeners to grab the bull by the horns and get what’s rightfully ours. She cites Cuban poet, singing “Soy de todas partes y de todas partes soy,” drenched in autotune and sounding fed up with politicians thinking they know what’s best for the people. Her command is clear, as she incessantly sings on the song’s hook: “Get it.” –Cheky
Ela Minus, “Close” feat. Helado Negro
At every turn, Ela Minus’ riveting, techno-infused full-length debut, Acts Of Rebellion, contrasts dance floor bombast against Gabriela Jimeno’s urgent yet remarkably vulnerable storytelling. But dig beyond the singles and you’ll discover the heartwarming stillness of her early releases is still very much alive. Punctuating the album with “Close,” Jimeno invites longtime confidant Helado Negro to meditate on emotional drifting, pondering the strength of our bonds and how a true spiritual connection could never be severed by something so paltry as distance. –Richard Villegas
Juana Molina, “Un Día Punk” (En Vivo en Festival NRMAL)
On March 7 this year, only four days before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and everyone’s lives changed, Juana Molina made her long-awaited return to Mexico City during a troubled but special Festival Nrmal. Now, the Argentine singer released a recording of the show under the name ANRMAL, and opener “Un Día Punk” transports us to a time, not too long ago, where we could enjoy the communal, physical ritual of live music carelessly and unafraid. –Cheky
Cholula Dans Division, "Crush"
This duo from Puebla, Mexico has steadily provided us with great electronic music to chill out, dance, and bliss out without breaking a sweat, working quietly on a magnificent catalog. For their newest single, they have taken one of their previous songs, “Yungelita,” and added some unexpected touches to give us a new take. “Crush” blurs the lines between genres; bringing in different vibes with acoustic guitars, vocoder-heavy vocals, and shredding metal solos. –Marcos Hassan
DJ GM ft. MC'S Lipi, Paulin da Capital, Lele JP, Nathan ZK, Ryan SP, Nego do Borel, Piedro, Theus – "Set 4.0"
Baile funk has a strong connection with street parties because it’s where producers, DJs and MCs try out new releases and constantly reinvent the genre. That’s all on hold with the pandemic, so the “sets,” long length tracks featuring several MCs, have gained success across YouTube. DJ GM masters this new sound and keeps the good work here. The producer made an identity for himself fusing treble strings, tropical upbeat keynotes and EDM-esque voice samples. The slower tempo—an aesthetic trend bred in the favelas of São Paulo in the past months—allows upcoming MCs Paulin da Capital and Lipi to play with melismatic singing and joyful lyrics about love, money and parties. –Felipe Maia
Xixa, "May They Call Us Home"
It goes without saying, psychedelic music should be a trip. Tucson’s Xixa knows how to bring sounds to life that takes the listener on a journey without leaving their sit. On their newest single, spaghetti western soundtrack fodder collides with strains of rancheras heard in the distance, while a chicha-meets-grupero groove propels them to a joyful frenzy. “May They Call Us Home” is perhaps the best Día de Muertos song that you can add to your Halloween mix as well. –Marcos Hassan
Itzel Noyz, “Amor Prohibido”
Covering an iconic standard can be tricky, especially if you mean to avoid comparisons or falling into cheap karaoke knock off territory. The most successful re-imaginings come from artists who completely subvert our expectations by delivering something completely different from the original; which is precisely what Mexico City producer and vocalist, Itzel Noyz, has chosen to do. Taking Selena’s legendary “Amor Prohibido” and giving it a minimalist R&B make over, Noyz spins a complex canvas of acapella loops, high hats and sparse kicks that make the track sound as if taken from a Tejano-themed episode of Glee. –Richard Villegas
MNKYBSNSS - “All Nite All Nite” (ft. Life on Planets)
For their first single on Kitsuné Musique, Colombian duo MNKYBSNSS get in tune with that French touch, giving us a house and funk-infused dance track titled “All Nite All Nite,” featuring Baltimore singer Life on Planets. Written and recorded during the quarantine, the song instantly takes our brains on vacation with its sunny sounds and lyrics about making a one-night-stand a moment to remember. You know your brain needs that vacation. –Cheky
Hiamu - “1983”
Raymond Jáquez has long been a misunderstood powerhouse of the Dominican underground, particularly as the brains behind the euphoric and bizarre sonic collages of Gallo Lester. Embracing his adventurous nature while taking a break from the dazzlingly weird, Jáquez has returned with a brand new project called Hiamu and an album titled 1983, casting a somber mood over his collisions of trap, witch house and bachata. The title track speaks of a constant search for muses and purpose, of the challenges we must overcome to remain inspired and how time can be our greatest obstacle; an internal struggle beautifully captured in the song’s music video. –Richard Villegas
Okeiflou, Mark B, Hache – “To2 A Cambiao”
Singer Mark B joins composer-producers turned artists Okeiflou and Hache for this track. The trio sprinkles romantiqueo on the Okei Flou-produced track, a contrast to the dembow-dominated scene. As seasoned producers in the game, Hache and Okeiflou have pivoted to taking control of the mic. Since co-producing tracks like Tokischa’s “Empatillada” and Los Blanquitos “Popiwa,” Okeiflou dropped his sophomore album Ki3N Xoy? in which he illustrates sad boy vibes and his Y2K, tropical-digital aesthetic. –Jennifer Mota
Morirás Lejos - "Nostalgia Sobre Fondo Blanco (versión cuarentena)"
Although the use of pop melodies in electronic indie music is quite common, few artists show such delight in its pleasures as Chihuahua, Mexico’s Morirás Lejos. The project led by Jorge Galindo has shared a new version of “Nostalgia Sobre Fondo Blanco” —originally recorded in 2013— relishes in its melodies as well as its textured, electronic execution. Folk gentleness collides with percussive vocals with just a hint of desperation to give it depth and edge. –Marcos Hassan
Around 2015, VHOOR was a bedroom beatmaker releasing chill baile tracks on SoundCloud. In recent years, he’s grown to become a promising Brazilian producer whose partnered with the likes of Djonga and Sango. “Dono” is indeed a fine work of production, from composition to mastering. The song revolves around a smoothened atabacado baile funk beat (you can expect heavy percussion here) topped by trap hi-hat rolls, powerful kicks and reversed dark synth chords. The fast-paced rhythm and flute line places the song somewhere between “Praise The Lord” by A$AP Rocky and Skepta and Rashad’s footwork gem “Drank, Kush, Barz.” –Felipe Maia