05 May 2010


various artists: Putumayo Presents Latin Party (Putumayo)
Grupo Fantasma: El Existential (Nat Geo Music)

Cinco de Mayo is the perfect day to look at a couple of new Latin-flavored albums. Officially, the holiday celebrates a Mexican military victory. Unofficially, throughout the USA (and perhaps elsewhere) it has become something of a giant celebration of Mexican (and sometimes pan-Latin) culture. And, of course, the excuse for a fair amount of tequila consumption.

Putumayo's compilation of 12 Latin songs does include one nominally Mexican track, "Mi Gente" by A.B. Quintanilla III & Kumbia Kings featuring Ozomatli, though much more of the album is dominated by Duban and Colombian sounds. Cumbia, salsa, boogaloo, and ska abound, in a mix that won't steer your Cinco de Mayo party wrong. Hear several of the songs and get a free download here.

The follow-up to Grupo Fantasma's 2008 Grammy-nominated album Sonidos Gold, El Existential weaves together cumbia, rock, salsa, son, Afro-funk, bolero, jazz, folkloric, even a bit of psychedelia. It's a unique sound that they were able to craft by self-producing the recording not in a fancy studio, but in a rented house in an Austin, Texas neighborhood. (See the video about the making of the album below.) The songs are all in Spanish, though the band provides English lyric translations. You don't need to understand the songs, however, to realized that these guys are tight, gifted, and having fun creating their own fantastic style of Latin groove.

[mp3] Grupo Fantasma: El Consejo

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Buy Putumayo Presents Latin Party
Buy El Existential (available May 11 on band website, June 15 in stores)
Putumayo website
Grupo Fantasma website
Grupo Fantasma facebook

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