Club Fonograma's Best Songs of 2014 (25-01)


025. El Último Vecino 
“Tu Casa Nueva” 
Spain's big indie sensation of 2013, El Último Vecino sneak into this year's best of songs list with a song of continuum. Not many changes at an instrumental level, if anything more brilliant and clearer. But something in the vocal performance pushes the band forward: it's lot more dramatic. Recalling the sound of bands like The Drums, "Tu Casa Nueva" relies on a very fast rhythmic basis and on its very sentimental voice track, making a great synth pop song like the ones we were already used to. Surprisingly catchier than "Culebra, Columna y Estatua," and that one features Javiera Mena. - Glòria Guso



024. Kali Mutsa 
Canción de amor colla” 
Grandiloquent in all its proportions: the dramatic build up, the assaultive rhythm changes, the abstraction of its vernacular. Have you ever been so in love you start declaring your feelings in Chinese? “Canción de amor colla” is the sum of an intoxicating love, and Kali Mutsa’s best song to date. The eroticism that ripples from the track’s enlarged proportions is one of endless flourishing. Just when you think the song already has too many hooks, Kali re-shapes the entire song nearly at the end with the kind of chorus that brings your discourse together into a round triumph. - Carlos Reyes



023. Escuela de Trance“Combate” 
Argentineans continue to dazzle us with the urgency of their chord progressions. The emotional distress contained in Escuela de Trance’s “Combate” will either punish or reward you for all the times you’ve cruised around for simple leisure. This is the kind of song that doesn't quite make it deep into your bones, it rather stays in the flesh, exercising restraint until it's time for it to break out. The type of song that during the unpacking of its lyrics, scratches every vehicle on its way, negotiating themes of personal identity and collaborative/crowd noise. A swelling of the senses in the form of a jubilant blowtorch. - Carlos Reyes



022. Planes “Cosas Importantes” 
“Hay cosas importantes como ir a Marte, hay cosas imposibles como decir vamos los dos.” With simple but infectious lyrics, Colombian newcomers Planes added the elements of new wave for the greater purpose of seducing the chorus. Specially thrilling once you realize the real chorus here mainly consists of "ohhhs" and "ah/ah/ah/ahs" that pop through the song's wavelengths. If “Cosas Importantes” seemed straightforward production-wise, it’s because those tightly-sequenced melodies and trumpets were forced to fall in line with their command. Beautiful, earnest, and powerful stuff. - Pablo Acuña



021. Princess Nokia - 
“Bikini Weather / Corazón en Afrika” 
Idiosyncrasy is wasted far too often on the notion that an abundance of ideas is better than the execution of them. Princess Nokia predicated her star-making turn on the execution of two songs at the same damn time: the first, a flit of M.I.A.-esque globo-pop; the second, a mystical bit of tribal rhythms. But what makes this idiosyncratic is the marvelous minute-long bridge between tracks, a layered soundscape of parallel rhythms and melodies very few artists could imagine executing. If this is the future, it couldn’t have come at a better time. - Andrew Casillas



020. Los Blenders “Chavos Bien” 
It's always hard to take a band like Los Blenders seriously -not that earning such credit would ever be one of their goals. The self-mockery and parody to third parties only works when understanding the delicacy of hubris.This is the kind of act that may not have contributed anything new to 2014, but "Chavos Bien" (with all its recognizable hooks) achieves a meta-groundwork of carefree rock made inside Mexico. Recollecting the cliche dream of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, Los Blenders embrace the simplicity of a valeverguista generation who have yet to put their priorities in place - keep up the good work guys. - Jeziel Jovel



019. Javiera Mena “La Carretera” 
For any other artist, the aggressive pop sorcery of "Que me tome la noche" would have marked the point where things begin to wind down. Who knew Mena still had a NOS tank left? Even as "La carretera" centers around one of the most overused pop motifs ever, it's still the most transcendent song of her career. It's Mena joining her idols as an equal. It's like revisiting that special place in "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' right before MJ let out his trademark yell. Is that you, Pablo? Help me sing it: ADENTRO DE LA CARRERTEEERA. - Giovanni Guillén



018. Arca“Xen” 
A lot has been written about Xen, not the album nor the song, but Alejandro Ghersi’s own alter-ego that’s become a central point in discussing Arca’s debut LP. This, essentially, because Xen (the alter-ego) was the somewhat logical-but-still-poetical window towards grasping the psyche of an artist whose creative output has been in fair isolation from whatever’s going on around him. But it’s in “Xen” (the track), going from soothing to agitating, from lavishing to depressing, that the musical representation of the claustrophobia/liberation or tension/release dichotomy that constitutes the ego/alter-ego relationship of Ghersi’s own psyche is successfully brought home. - Pierre Lestruhaut



017. María y José “Plata o Plomo” 
Personal and political, María y José skipped the visceral imagery and went straight into a moment of viciousness in “Plata o Plomo.” A heart beat and an ambulance siren initiate a track about a miserable, unresolved generation that has been anesthetized by the times, and cornered to decide on their behalf: plata o plomo? The deflated balloons that construct the track play as ticking bombs that are as palpable as the “vampires” the song puts a light on. Gallardo’s treatment of an urban soundscape is the musical equivalent to something as terrorizing as Barber Schroeder’s La Virgen de los Sicarios- Carlos Reyes



016. Sofi de la Torre “Vermillion” 
3:45 a.m. is a weird time to feel empty. But it’s also weirdly appropriate, especially when you’re in a big city. You love the people but they don’t want to talk. The empty void only exacerbates the loneliness. But it’s home. You decide to walk into the night, with only your wallet as a companion and wind-blown trash as passersby. Then you feel the euphoria of the sun rising in the east. But then you remember you’re alone. In the city. Another wasted promise. Another wasted evening. That’s the sound of “Vermillion.” - Andrew Casillas



015. Lust Era - “Baila Conmigo” 
“Baila Conmigo” is a cavernous and frantic number in which David Arraya and Melvin Reyes conjure a daunting reality that operates right at the borders of musicality. The ghostly synth-wave, the compelling and measured voice evoking the incantations of a mage compose this hypnotic sound swirl where ephemeral and immortal bodies move like tightrope dancers above a dark abyss. Raw, wiry and dark romanticism (some may call it fetichism) straight from San Juan, Puerto Rico. - Souad Martin-Saoudi



014. Ases Falsos - “La Gran Curva” 
Everything about “La gran curva” is arresting: the enthralling arrangements that simply send goosebumps down your spine, the beautiful pacing that shoots fireworks at the bridge (“¡En la curva tengo que acelerar!”), and of course, Briceño’s ever touching words that characterize him as one of the greatests songwriters of our generation. I interpret “La gran curva” as a song about taking risks and getting back on track after encountering “el filo de un peldaño aterrador”. It’s a spectacularly crafted composition that will speak to listeners on many personal levels while allowing the chance of free interpretation. - Enrique Coyotzi



013. Cohoba - “I Just” 
With the highly infectious “I Just”, Dominican born beatmaker Jorge Read achieved his most sophisticated production of the year. It certainly takes just one play to be fully immersed by this extremely catchy track. Utilizing an unidentifiable Beyoncé sample, out-of-control beats, exquisite hi-hats, and a synth drone base, Cohoba made of the stirring “I Just” a powerful, kinetic tour de force. - Enrique Coyotzi



012. Matilda Manzana - 
“En otras dimensiones” 
“Si alguna vez me perdí, lo siento,” Óscar Rodríguez sighs as chirping animals, keyboard notes and delicate guitar strums set the tone. "A veces no soy yo," he warns. The song then unfolds magically, hinting at exceptional beauty in every turn and functioning as a confessional space for the artist. “Yo te encontraré en otra dimensión,” he coos, sounding more like a desire than a promise. Full determination comes during the final seconds, when the song changes into an astonishing shoegaze-y sphere—at last embarking his journey to trespass portals and achieve his treasured goal. - Enrique Coyotzi


011. Escuela de Trance 
Tan mágica, tan especial” 
Everytime I hear this track reminds of how great of a place is Papasquiaro to start loving iberoamerican music. The epic-sounding, rock arena-capable "Tan mágica, tan especial" represents two important sides of Escuela de Trance, where human moments morph into precision-tooled professionalism and then get turned inside out again. That's something of a motif for this band, who show here how they effortlessly operate between the everyday and the fantastical. - Pablo Acuña



010. Tunacola - “Danky” 
Hard to believe it, but we still live in a world where songs try to sound like "Wake Up" and, of course, end up near "We Are Young"/"Ho Hey" feels. "Danky gets it right because scale is an afterthought. Tunacola just let their emotions spill over with the grace a three-year-old ("Y cada sábado morir en la pista!") while baroque splendor surrounds them. Andrew Casillas called it a summer jam, but it's December and we still want to go out this way. - Giovanni Guillén



009. J Balvin feat. Farruko - “6 AM” 
Sophisticated & visual reggaeton / tropicool r&b minimalism, "6AM" is both an anomaly and among the finest tracks on any 2014 countdown. Weirder still, "6AM" climbed the charts, got the radio airplay, & secured two Latin Grammy nominations along the way. "6AM" is an anomaly because at a time when U.S. radio "en español" has become the sonic equivalent of stepping on dog shit- J Balvin & Farruko deliver one of the greatest tropical slices in recent memory. J Balvin has come a long way since 2008's Real- (he apparently used to sell the album door to door) let's hope he keeps it on gold- radio needs it. - Zé Garcia



008. Buscabulla - “Caer” 
I’ll admit that it took me a couple spins to figure out “Caer,” off Buscabulla’s marvelous debut EP. It seemed a bit hushed, and the bubbly sound effects sounded out of place. Then I gave it the proper headphones treatment. Then I realized how Raquel Berrios’ vocals melt into the mix, giving the track an element of grandeur amidst the whirlwind of changing instrumentation. Once you begin appreciating the level of sophistication, it all falls into place. Even the Bee Gees would be satisfied with the level of sophistication on this track. - Andrew Casillas



007. Diosque“Broncedado” 
"A veces no importa quién lo dice primero, sino, quién lo dice mejor." A fitting opening line for a track oozing with bravado and soul. Constante's most audacious dance track "Broncedado" paints a microcosm of melodies inside a sci-fi/western landscape. As for its climatic duel scene, Diosque puts words aside and summons a dance battle instead, complete with a disco section. We already knew Diosque could make us move, but on this one he is our hero. - Giovanni Guillén



006. Javiera Mena“La Joya” 
"La Joya," like most of the Otra Era Mothership, is the pop equivalent of the Powerpuff Girl's Chemical X- powerful stuff but certainly not for everybody. Right before the second verse she leans in for "fijate, me duele, auuuuuu!"--it gets me every time. And the synths- do Mena & Heyne have weird acid sessions and spiritually communicate through pop music?  It might be time to accept that our darling is at times chiseling bigger, more transcendent hits- even though it seems her electronic arsenal is now being aimed at stadiums. Do not doubt it- the pop gem is here. - Zé Garcia



005. Bill Yonson - “Chola” 
If there’s a song in this list that we’re liking for all the wrong reasons, then it’s Bill Yonson’s inescapably contagious summer-jam “Chola.” The song destroys every notion of traditionally admirable musicianship that academics have ever built and nurtured throughout the course of humanity: a repetitive 90’s Nintendo melody, a digitally assembled beat that abuses hi-hat, Yonson’s heavily auto-tuned voice, and then some incredibly lowbrow rhyming. “Chola” is a lazy ass song from a lazy ass musician that turned out to be incredibly good. If anything, it just pleads you to not intellectualize things too much, and just worry about enjoying that awesome beat, melody, hook and rhyming. - Pierre Lestruhaut



004. Kap G - “Fuck La Policia” 
Kap G throws himself into "Fuck La Policia" with juvenile honesty, in passing shaking preconceptions about southern rap. The young Mexican-American MC from Atlanta spits his merciless chronicles of racial profiling on a summery yet grimy groove (producer Squat Beats) with a distinctive nonchalance; a charming synthesis of channeled rage and sedation. “So the cops pulled me over say the windows too tinted/Basically saying that my ‘migos ain't from here,” Kap raps, making the immigration debate – which is too often being seen through racial bias - personal. - Souad Martin-Saoudi



003. Diosque “La Cura” 
Sonically audacious, musically hallucinogenic and structurally confounding, the exceptional “La Cura” serves as the core of the brilliant Constante. Through a chilling vocal performance, Diosque conducts his cryptic lyrics over a puzzling development that’s filled with splendor. The first half’s far-out build up derives to a breathtaking section where Diosque manipulates his voice with ravishing effects. “La Cura” is a statement of grandiosity; a daring piece of grandeur that’s as confrontational as it is docile. Who would have imagined it was inspired by Magnolia- Enrique Coyotzi



002. Whitest Taino Alive - 
“Mi Bandera” 
“Mi Bandera” is a song that reminds us of the universal scope of rap music. Sure, rap’s aesthetics are usually imposed by the US mega industry trends, but its flexibility is such that a trio from the Dominican Republic can seamlessly use beats and rhymes as to both conflate and separate the gap between past and present (digital production with sounds reminiscent of another era), or local and regional (spitting Dominican slang terms while thematically touching on American pop culture references). But more importantly, like all great hip-hop, it’s also party music that’s wholly inviting to a collective escaping of real-life’s harsh realities. - Pierre Lestruhaut


001. Javiera Mena - “Otra Era” 
Oh Javiera, how could we ever doubted you? Who knew that after the extroverted abrasiveness of both, “Espada” and “La Joya,” our Chilean chanteuse would choose to nuance the discourse of queen of the night into the subtle, deeply affecting “Otra Era.” It’s not the detachment from the disco ball that makes this track marvelous, it’s the proper engagement of its proportions that make it exquisite in tone and execution. Dazzled by a kind of beauty her eyes had not seen before, Javiera asks, “acaso no eres de acá?" Curiosity becomes the first of many small revolutions in the song. Small revolutions, like that of being transported to the Roman Empire, or being able to glimpse the future. And although it only lasts couple seconds, you and I know Javiera and Heyne flirt with the reggaeton beat at least once in the song -it may feel as out of place as Sofia Coppola’s modern soundtrack to Marie Antoinette, but it’s the humanist dearing behind the decision that moves us. Aesthetic splendor goes a long way around these parts. “Otra Era” carries a minimalist beauty to it, but don’t underestimate its generosity. The song slowly reveals itself to the listener, charting and defining the space between us, the protagonist, the past, and the future. When restraint becomes obsolete before the flourishing of love itself, the discourse turns metaphysical. When she describes her feelings as entering a new dimension, we can’t doubt her sense of discovery. And by the time that last sequence of synth eruptions arrive, we've already been empowered by the escapisms - latching to our own love stories beyond the corners of the frame. - Carlos Reyes

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