This is our weekly compilation of bite-sized reviews of newly released songs by our talented music writers. Discover new favorites, read nuanced criticism of the week’s hottest releases, and much more. Who knows, you might walk out of this with a new fave or two. Some of the featured artists include Chicocurlyhead, J Noa, and MJ Nebreda with La Venek. Follow our playlist featuring these tracks and more on Spotify or Apple Music.
Chicocurlyhead - "En La Mañana"
The Panamanian emerging artist Chicocurlyhead is back with a new single called “En La Mañana.” In this new bilingual feel-good offering, he sings over a Kastelo-produced track that fuses catchy afrobeat and smooth electronic elements. As far as his lyrics go, the ATL artist sings, harmonizes, and raps about being completely head-over-heels for a special someone and pens the reasons why he’s so into her. Together, the two creative music makers deliver a tasteful, rhythmic, Caribbean-forward soundscape that’s a total vibe to close 2023 with. – Jeanette Hernandez
J Noa - “Spicy”
At 18 years old, Dominican rapper and self-proclaimed “autodidacta” J Noa has already landed a Latin Grammy nomination and brought her piercing and impeccable flow to NPR’s Tiny Desk stage earlier this year. “Spicy” is entirely immaculate from start to finish and is the young emcee’s most self-assured moment at the mic so far. Rapping over an ominous beat and rubbery bassline, J Noa boldly unleashes the ultimate flex and ranks herself among the likes of Biggie, Tupac and Cancerbero if they were to be resurrected, making her one of the most exciting acts to keep an eye out for in 2024. – Nayeli Portillo
MJ Nebreda, La Venek - “Belmont y el Gloss”
DJ and artist MJ Nebreda just released a new video for “Belmont y El Gloss” off her latest project Arepa Mixtape (EMPIRE). The song itself is a dembow-leaning club track featuring new artist La Venek. Her fresh take on electronic music is inspired by her interest in many types of house music while giving it her Latine flair. The music video captures her and La Venek’s raucous night out, seeing Nebreda opening a door Alice in Wonderland-style to a mysterious rave cave to keep the night going. The vibrancy of the track to the Y2K-inspired outfits will leave listeners captivated the whole time. — Chelsea Quezada
Marick Lewaii - “Your #1”
The last year has found Marick Lewaii kicking her budding music career into a new gear. Born and raised in the San Juan neighborhood of Santurce in Puerto Rico, her music is inspired by her roots, as well as Antigua and Saint Thomas. Earlier this year, she had her biggest hit to date — an afrobeats collab with Landry M. This week, she drops “Your #1,” which gives her another opportunity to show off her versatility, spinning a tropical pop ditty that’s right up her alley. In the song, she sings about a man she can’t stand, but also can’t resist, accepting the dynamic without discarding her agency despite it. — Juan J. Arroyo
Sadfields - “Adiós”
While Sadfields have made a name for themselves playing some of the best dream pop in Mexico, the band returns with a song that feels like a slight, if welcomed, detour. While most of their music up to this point could be broadly described as shoegaze, this time around, their downer vibes, full chord abandon, and unabashed melodicism place them at the top of the class of alt-rock’s new breed. The song is a sentimental affair, reveling in its own heavy melancholy as well as delivering hooks and brooding atmospherics. Doing away from oceans of reverb only adds to this magnificent lesson in songwriting. — Marcos Hassan
Depressiego - “Luces de la Ciudad”
Monterrey indie heartthrob Depressiego has just released a quintessential slice of teenage pop romance called “Luces de la Ciudad,” burning with the angst of a thousand hormonal high schoolers. It’s a simple yet effective ditty about taking a sweetheart by the hand and getting lost in the neon-lit night, with the added joy of throbbing pop bass lines and huge choruses. The music video also features a faceless blue creature that looks like a hybrid between Cookie Monster and one of Helado Negro’s tinsel mammals. But ultimately, this is a tale about youth euphoria, and if Netflix ever produces a Mexican edition of Heartstopper, this should be the theme song. — Richard Villegas
Reyna Tropical - “Ya Va Pasar”
Now carrying the torch of Reyna Tropical as a solo project, Fabiola Reyna has dropped “Ya Va Pasar,” which is also her debut single with Psychic Hotline. The song is the first Reyna wrote after the passing of her beloved friend and bandmate Sumohair last year, and she opens a window into her grieving process as she comes to terms with it with hope in her heart. It’s an African-inspired dance number with a breezy, nostalgic feel that reassures us that no matter what we’re going through, things will pass one way or another. – Cheky
Daniel Noah Miller - "Opening Me"
Following his sophomore single “Typical,” Daniel Noah Miller released “Opening Me,” a sentimental, feedback synth-driven, and experimental track from his upcoming debut album Disintegration. In “Opening Me,” the Nicaraguan-American creative enthralls his audience by taking them on a sonic journey full of unexpected turns, entrancing reverbs, and soft, painstaking croons that embody a heartbreak. In this black-and-white minimalistic live recording, he channels his vulnerability through music and, in doing so, gives his public an alluring taste of his upcoming album that will be out on Feb. 16. – Jeanette Hernandez
Alé Araya - "in motion"
Alé Araya is a Chilean singer-songwriter and producer weaving her background in classical and jazz music into experimental and effervescent electro-pop songs. Earlier singles like “Endlessly Sky” featuring greek tip into the world of sultrier R&B, while “Orange Juice” swells into FKA Twigs-like ethereality. On the heady “in motion,” the LA-based artist’s silky-smooth falsettos wrap around intoxicating instrumentals as she quietly muses over knowing that “nothing lasts forever.” – Nayeli Portillo
Michelle Maciel, Alex Favela - “PVTIVUELTA”
Michelle Maciel and Alex Favela unite to deliver the shapeshifting track, “PVTIVUELTA.” The song title is a slang term that references the act of walking around a club, party, or bar to see who’s available. Going from a mesmerizing house beat to nu-reggaeton, the two artists succeed in setting the scene musically on the two-and-a-half-minute track. To quote Lady Gaga, the genre transitions give “No sleep! Bus, club, another club, another club, plane, next place.” Maciel takes a creative risk here, and it definitely nails the sensuality of being out and about, while delivering the right amount of attitude. — Chelsea Quezada
Batallón Sónico - “Tiramisú”
They’re finally making it official! After a few years of mutual collaboration, the Puerto Rican trio of Aurelio Adasme, LAPERRERA, and Julio Del Hoyo have joined together formally, now under the Fania-inspired moniker of Batallón Sónico. Talented musicians and rappers unto themselves, their solo and collaborative work has made them indie fan favorites. Their debut single, “Tiramisú,” perfectly captures the sonic and lyrical creativity that’s heartened them with listeners: offbeat rhymes that balance humor and randiness, a rousing chorus, and music that fuses traditional genres with modern rap production. With plans for an EP in 2024, fans can expect even more soon from this “new” group. — Juan J. Arroyo
Madi Díaz, Kacey Musgraves - “Don’t Do Me Good”
There’s more in common for these two musicians. Not only do they play in the stylistic fringes of country music to make something even bigger and beyond genres, but they are also master songwriters. Both Madi Diaz and Kacey Musgraves wear their heart on their sleeves in this confessional love song about breaking away from someone harmful to them. Drums keep a simple backbeat while guitars and pianos remain spare, taking a backseat to the lyrics delivered through their amazing vocal abilities. Musgraves is known for taking this emotional music to the top of the charts, and it doesn’t sound like a stretch for Diaz to follow suit. — Marcos Hassan
J Rochet, Vento Alejandro - “Kyeto”
After working behind the scenes for over a decade producing Puerto Rican stalwarts like Nutopia and Calma Carmona, J Rochet is finally making his play for the spotlight. Boasting collaborations with the likes of TodosAnimales and Mairaly, his new EP DESFASE is a throbbing collection of glitchy Boricua indie pop designed for sexy late-night grinding. On “Kyeto,” his crossover with Los Rarxs alum Vento Alejandro, a restrained beat and atmospheric synths provide a pulsating canvas for ruminations on keeping up with someone who both inspires and challenges you. Though not expressly about hustle, the track is all about making decisive moves to get what you want, and maybe shaking some ass along the way. – Richard Villegas
Chuquimamani-Condori - “Breathing”
Fresh off a joint exhibition at MoMA PS1 with sibling Joshua Chuquimia Crampton, Northern California-based multidisciplinary artist Elysia Crampton Chuquimia has now dropped DJ E, their new album as Chuquimamani-Condori. Inspired by Aymaran water ceremonies, songs like opening track “Breathing” feature the artist’s use of cacophony to create overwhelming emotion. A glimpse of vocals from the cumbia hit “Por Un Vaso de Cerveza” peeps out before layers upon layers of EFX sounds, Andean flute melodies, blown-out beats, celestial chimes, and gorgeous synths stack up to a joyous and moving explosion of sound that brings a tear to our eyes. – Cheky