Club Fonograma's Best Albums of the Decade. 2000-2009

025. ZOE. MEMO REX COMMANDER Y EL CORAZON ATOMICO DE LA VIA LACTEA
EMI Latin, 2006. “Vinyl”
Today’s most idolized, most hyped and most important Mexican band is only half as good as people make it up to be, but oh boy, Memo Rex Commander… is a knockout. Among other flaws, my big complain with Zoe is their inability to walk around their own orbit; I’m not looking for a reconstruction of who they are but another side of them. Having said that, this album is truly wonderful within its marginal capacities, the kind of work one learns to respect first and appreciate later. This is their most liberating moment so far, the one hour where they display skill over technique and own themselves the ‘great band’ distinction. Because they are a great band, they just have flawed flustered albums which I have no doubt will be resolved with better and sharper galactic trips. Meanwhile, this is dazzling. JSB


024. LILA DOWNS. BORDER (LA LINEA)
Narada, 2001. "Medley: Pastures of Plenty, This Land Is Your Land/Land"
A heartbreaking, exquisite showcase of Lila Downs as Mexico’s 21st century’s best vocal performer, & also as a gifted and committed songwriter who manages to find the strength within to make both her roots (American father and Mixteca mother) hold hands, no matter how painful that might be ideologically. Border is the work of a fearless artist. Cumbia, blues, jazz, hip-hop & more traditional rhythms meet in a fresh, mind-blowing mélange. Coming from a classical formation, through studies in anthropology & serious life exploration, Lila got to the characters & stories here (mostly about the troubles and dreams of Mexican immigrants, and life around la línea). One day, hopefully, Border will be recognized for what it is: a gigantic masterpiece! JMT

023. AUSTIN TV. FONTANA BELLA
Terrícolas Imbéciles, 2007. “El silencio de las luciérnagas”
Is there any other band with such passionate followers as Austin TV? Probably not, these masked kids making high-rock are winning themselves adoring fans on arena-like proportions. I must confess that when this initially came out, I used to see them as one very overrated band until I attended one of their gigs, which blew me away. After that, I had that smoky trip through the woods and met the Mario Lupo character through these songs that serve as the pages of his diary. Fontana Bella is simply stunning; great instrumental music that lacks geographical precincts to instead project its ghostly beauty through emotional reach. It’s Austin TV’s shining moment as a transportive band. JSB


022. TELERADIO DONOSO. BAILAR Y LLORAR
Oveja Negra, 2008. “Cama de clavos”
The last album from Chile’s Teleradio Donoso is an engaging and heart-felt set of ageless pop and specifically, a landmark for the melodramatic popular song. The band’s approach to reach common ground inclines to individual change, about the joy of love and its painful desolation, and of course the physical manifestation of such broad feelings. Bailar y Llorar is ultimately resonant to the idealism of gender and its urgent collision with age. One could describe this as the obvious consequence of John Mayer’s “Daughters” with stunning tricks, pushing its themes up to generational edge and anthem-like provoking seductions. “Terminemos todo esto, el trabajo sin recompensa y el siglo sin amor.” CR


021. TEGO CALDERON. THE UNDERDOG / EL SUBESTIMADO
Atlantic/Wea, 2006. "Comprenderas"
In early 2006, reggaetón was blazing a trail throughout America in the form of newly re-formatted “musica urbana” radio stations (usually with inane taglines like “REGGAETON…Y MAS!”). Unfortunately, this trail was muddled with Luny Tunes production-overload and the continuing unending ubiquity of “Gasolina.” Then this album was released, reclaiming a bit of reggaetón’s soul while at the same time pushing the genre in a new direction. Its embracing of a freewheeling, adventurous M.O. was an obvious catalyst for Calle 13; its brash swagger provided an inspiration for Voltio; its wit and color gave way for Arcangel and others. Tego Calderon was always the bridge by which the genre expanded, but on this album, he was also the guide. AC


020. NORTEC COLLECTIVE. TIJUANA SESSIONS VOL.3
Nacional Records, 2005. "Olvídela Compa"
Few acts can claim they have their own sound, the Nortec sound was an almost obvious progression of the alter-latino movement. The first volume of Nortec was thrilling and inventive, and we were all expecting its follow up, and guess what, they decided to skip it! Well, kinda, perhaps as a way of saying they had established the sound and were ready to make actual songs. They decided to jump into volume 3, the best out of the Nortec efforts. This is exactly why this installment is their major achievement, sure it’s important to sound innovative but this was their chance to actually give some form to this hybrid. This is global pop at its purest spirit. JSB


019. ARCANGEL. LA MARAVILLA
‘Unreleased’, 2008. “Quimica Sustancia”
It could very well be the decade’s most overlooked “record”; in quotation marks because as brilliant as it is, it never got a release, but it did however got its boom through a rapidshare leak by Arcangel himself. After a few collaborations and mixtapes, we all had our eyes on the guy behind “Chica Virtual”, but labels across had no intentions of releasing a pop album from a reggaeton artist who wants to be like Michael Jackson and Lil’ Wayne and who looks like Prince. While he doesn’t quite level up to his idols, we can think of La Maravilla as Arcangel’s heart-on-his-sleeve moment. It’s too bad he’s hanging out with the wrong crowd now that he’s signed under a big label, either way, it’s great to have a Ne-Yo in Latin Pop airplay radio. CR


018. ZURDOK. MAQUILLAJE
Universal Latino, 2001. "Asi Es"
When I say that Maquillaje “rocks,” I don’t mean in the way that word is typically used. I don’t say that it rocks because the drums are so pounding that you’ll spill your drink all over your pants, or that the guitars blaze a hole through your speakers, or that the vocals just make you want to bang your head. No, this album “rocks” because it’s genuine rock and roll. The rock and roll that evolved from Elvis to the Beatles to Pink Floyd to the Clash to Nirvana to Café Tacuba. It’s rock and roll without borders. Maybe not the best Latin album of the decade, but one of the most essential. AC


017. JUAN SON. MERMAID SASHIMI
Universal, 2009. "Toma esta menta"
This album is simply gorgeous. Maybe not exactly “Album of the Decade,” but you wouldn’t be crazy for thinking so. Musically, Mermaid Sashimi weaves so many disparate elements that it could almost give one the shakes: Björk-like electronic soundscapes (particularly on the opener and closer), Cut Copy dance beats (the title track), a Joy Division pastiche (“El Resplandor”), the sound of Café Tacuba doing baroque pop (“Nada”), mid-80’s Cure (“Goldfish,” which actually turns INTO Cut Copy at the back end), Arcade Fire if they used trumpets like every good band should (“Captain Whirpool”), and the jazz tracks towards the end. Combined with its dizzying storyline/concept, it’s a powerful debut that doubled as an instant classic. AC


016. BAM BAM. BAM BAM
Nene Records, 2008. “Trepabalcones”
Bam Bam’s debut is a jaw-dropping subversive record, a revelation of all sorts underlining what’s by far, one of Mexico’s true new great bands. It’s a consequence of pop music’s transcoding into scattered rock, one breathing youth and exhaling a virtuous shrewd of instrumental & lyrical skill. Bam Bam feels confident, a record so accomplished many would claim they’ve been doing this for years, truth is, it’s that vague and unpolished sound what’s taking them forward. From the beautiful “Oro Flash” to the self-resolving “Si Viviera En Paris” or the bouncy “Por Favor No Vuevas a Nacer”, this is a triumphant set of avant pop. Through either Mou’s or Luxor’s vocals, these vertebral songs take hold of one’s body, taking us to different altitudes rather than landscapes. CR



015. JULIETA VENEGAS. MTV UNPLUGGED.
Sony International, 2008. "Mira la vida"

Utilizing the Unplugged format as well as pretty much any other performer, she didn’t merely perform all of her hits by replacing electric with acoustic, she re-imagined every single one, with dozens of instruments and classical arrangements, changing many of their meanings in the process (Example: “Lento” was no longer an innocent plea to romance, but rather an acknowledgement of a relationship that has probably run its course). And the new songs, particularly “Algún Día,” were her strongest set of fresh compositions since Bueninvento. This album was easily her best since that masterpiece—and in fact, one of the best POP albums of the past 5 years—regardless of language. AC


014. BABASONICOS. JESSICO
Delanuca, 2002. “Fizz”
Perhaps the most determinant band of the decade (after Café Tacvba of course), Babasonicos might be the leading band to acquire a place on the historian side of the 00’s. Jessico is considered their masterpiece and has situated itself among stunning landmark albums such as Re, Hombre Sintetizador or Bueninvento, while the recognition is a bit of a stretch considering the album isn’t as groundbreaking as the noted albums, it’s close enough, meaning it’s fucking fantastic. Jessico is classy and flashy, sober and ambiguously adolescent. But it’s ultimately their delightful cynicism in songs like “Los Calientes”, “Pendejo” or “Toxica” what make this album the standout in their healthy and grand discography. JSB


013. JUANA MOLINA. SON
Domino, 2006. "Malherido"
Sounding somewhat like your most beautiful nightmare. Unique, like your first trip on some psychedelic drug. Mesmerizing & scary. Drowsily profound; it’s a river that’s everything but dry. Enter Son and you’ll be pushed on your journey by the winds of time. By that voice that floats halfway between belonging to a lost little wise girl, and a sad, forgotten forest witch. Inhale the joyful presence of humor, and that Argentinean quality of unexpected word play. From the title that might talk about the simple essence of being (found in all things that just are), or could also refer to a tune or a pretty sound; to a way or reason… this is a fierce and subtly philosophical experience throughout. JMT


012. GEPE. GEPINTO
Quemasucabeza, 2005. “Estilo Internacional”
Gepe is a folk-pop astro whose songs dance in and out prisms; a one of a kind multi-dimensional talent swinging art through emotional depth and affluent rhythms. Gepinto helms from its author’s affiliation with Chilean local songs and his condition with contemporary sounds. A perfectly-realized and executed record that shines through Gepe’s dense and heart-warming vocals, the gratifying strings and when needed, a confident measure of percussions to make his little songs tour distant sceneries. From the poetic folksy “La Enfermedad de los Ojos” to the ambiguous “Los Barcos,” one comes to realize these are calculated songs with unsystematic results, having full control over their construction but leaving their emotional complexity up to chance. CR


011. HELLO SEAHORSE! BESTIA
MUN / Nacional Records, 2009. “Miercoles”
There’s an incomprehensible darkness inside all and every one of us, it’s just the yin to our yang. Judging it as something reprehensible that we should resist, only causes pain and makes it persist. Somehow, despite her really young age and angelic features, LoBlondo (voice and lyrics) managed to grasp this deeply and to express it through the most complex poetry, that of simplicity. This album is much more than a powerhouse single. More than hype. It’s the transition into maturity for a band that’d already shown skills in a sort of lighter, upbeat, synth-pop couple of records. Bestia isn’t heavy nor depressing, though; it’s a pleasure to explore, but it’s not ‘easy’ pop, it’s not shallow waters, it’s real. JMT


010. EN VENTURA. LOS GANDHARVAS
Independiente, 2008. “Hoy La”
When talking about Club Fonograma endorsing an album you better think Los Gandharvas. Truth is, we never got to review it because we heard it about a year after its release, considering it doesn’t have many editors referring to it as ‘best of the decade’ material, this is a reminder to download this jewel. In terms of composition, there probably wasn’t a rock album as randomly complex this decade; En Ventura owes much of its charm to its unexpected myriad of melodies, always negotiating rhythmical aura and when unable to do so, they self-destruct leaving rewarding treasures behind. Los Gandharvas is balanced and as irresistible, adventurous and one of those few albums that are able to justify its flaws and exploit them as intrinsic shining virtues. CR


009. EL GUINCHO. ALEGRANZA!
Discoteca Oceano, 2008. “Kalise”
This album, by Spanish DJ Pablo Díaz-Reixa, is a textured and dizzying collage of Afrobeat, dub, tropical and rock samples that much easier to dance to than think about. A lot of people compare El Guincho to the great 60’s Tropicalia bands, or indie folksters such as Panda Bear. First of all, this is nothing like Tropicalia, which had a bigger emphasis on lyrical content. But it pisses all over Panda Bear (and the rest of Animal f’ing Collective). It’s a very artful record, one that you could spend hours listening to and still not fully grasp. And it’ll make you shake your booty. And isn’t that what’s really important? AC


008. TRIANGULO DE AMOR BIZARRO. TRIANGULO DE AMOR BIZARRO
Mushroom Pillow, 2006. “Estrella azul de España”
Triangulo de Amor Bizarro’s confident debut had a section of our youth shoegazing to “El Himno de la Bala” or “Quienes Son Los Curanderos”, while the other half sweeping over “El fantasma de la transición.” Just like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, it’s hard to talk about their sound but rather easy to refer to its punchy little anthems. We could refer to this album as one of the very few generational gems, surprisingly, a universally acclaimed album if not the decade’s critics’ darling. It's far more than noise pop, it’s a deeply engaging band whose songs are easy to fall in love to/with and then spread the love around with friends, impeccable on all its ends. JSB


007. NATALIA LAFOURCADE. HU HU HU
Sony International, 2009. “Tiempo al viento”
The charming girl singing “En el 2000” about female upraise on the new millennium, Ricky Martin and Gael Garcia Bernal, evolved into a splendorous songstress in Hu Hu Hu. We can think of this transformation as Natalia’s shift from novelty to a music stylist. Not to say she’s lost her sense for discovery, she’s just in better control of her surroundings. The story-telling here is delicate while sounding gigantic, these are lullabies tenderly amplified to the majestic. The wall of sound establishes the album’s form, never enclosing its elements but giving the call-and-respond effect a sort of liberation. An unexpected tour de force and a manifestation of Pop en Español overriding its clichés and borrowing rock’s spirit once and for all. CR



006. EMILIO JOSE. CHORANDO APRENDESE
Foehn, 2009. “Leire Martínez”
Yes, it’s a young record, but this an astonishing militant masterpiece that acquires form and size to create its own template. Once it establishes its premise, it abandons it, to instead, unveil itself as a spreadsheet. Every now and then, an album shows up and expands our definition on music as art and something else. He might not accept it, but this is as radical as sports and as pastoral as the nativity scene. Chorando Aprendese is a record not be consumed on its abstract, but to be wired on its network. You might think it’s too much, that it’s too crowded and in need of shape, but move around it and you could end up as part of its portrait. CR


005. CALLE 13. RESIDENTE O VISITANTE
Sony International, 2007. “La Crema”
With Residente O Visitante, Calle 13 broke through the stratosphere. Residente in particular was a revelation; his rhymes on this album putting him in the conversation as perhaps the funniest MC ever. And as he showed on “Un Beso De Desayuno”, “Pal Norte,” and “Tango Del Pecado”, he’s an ample storyteller to boot, able to work jokes AROUND his stories, rather than let them dominate what he wished to convey. Visitante, on the other hand, just sat back and let his soundscapes quietly do the talking for him. Mixing the standard “dem bow” beat with samba, tango, indie rock, Central American folk, cumbia and (yes) opera, he shred yours, mine, and everyone else’s expectations not just about the limits of reggaetón, but about Latin music in general. This was Latino art that we can all be proud of. AC


004. JULIETA VENEGAS. BUENINVENTO
Sony International, 2000. “Hoy no quiero”
Bueninvento is one of those few masterworks so transcendent they defy music’s formats by living through them, the kind of classic endurance that doesn’t even consider the iPod’s upgrades because it knows it’s got a life of its own. While we embrace Julieta’s shift to pop we can’t deny this as her most precious moment. To this date, it’s hard to believe it was only her second album. Aqui was phenomenal and had people comparing her to Fiona Apple, Bueninvento arrived to own her personality and reaffirm her artistry. The songs are confident lyrical daggers, a bunch of anthems functioning with a sense of urgency and nicely glazed by alt-rock strings. Gorgeous. JSB


003. PORTER. ATEMAHAWKE
Tercer Piso, 2006. “Vaquero Galáctico”
When listening to Atemahawke two things come to mind; what a waste of talent and never mind, those kids left us a stunning work of art. Their renowned EP was remarkable at underlining the emergence of a great band but it’s really this glorious LP what set them apart from anyone else. From start, it showed they were way more than what “Espiral” had told us, on top of delivering great suspended tracks, they had evolved into audacious sound engineers. It’s the perfect balance; psychedelic rock marginalizing Juan Son’s fantasized stories and sky-high vocals. Atemahawke is very Olympian and baroque, but at the same time, it’s the most pedestrian and city-intoned record of the decade. CR


002. JAVIERA MENA. ESQUEMAS JUVENILES
Índice Virgen, 2006. “Como siempre soñé”
Much is made of the flash and style of Javiera Mena’s electro-pop filled debut—and with good reason. Songs like “Al Siguiente Nivel” and “Cuando Hablamos” were inspiring moments of synth-clashing force, like the Knife with balls. But it’s important not to overlook the softer songs, which acted as both breathers and the soul of the album. The masterful melodies of the title track, “Sol de Inverno” and “Como Siempre Soñé” were matched by an even greater sense of grandeur and weariness that made the album all the more human. That, coupled with Mena’s chanteuse-like vocals, makes Esquemas Juveniles the perfect soundtrack for both those cold winter nights, and those hot summer days. AC


001 CAFÉ TACVBA. CUATRO CAMINOS
MCA / Universal Music Mexico, 2003. “Cero y Uno”
If we were around the 90’s it would’ve been Re. But once again, this isn’t one of those career-inspired picks; Café Tacvba proved in Cuatro Caminos why they truly are our best band. See, Club Fonograma might be all about novelty, but when something as whimsical and flat-out exceptional arrives from the legendary band you would expect to be able to do it, well, it’s a wonderful feeling. Four visions unifying into an elusive monster; genius from beginning to end, and aware of its tininess in that beautiful scope that is the musical landscape. A spellbinding moment of full immersion and retrieval, an arresting slice of the band’s branched ears and a trip to compositional heaven. “Para poder llegar, para llegar a tus oídos, necesito cantar, mover el aire, crear sonido.” CR

25 comments :

Anonymous said...

que lista tan mexicana !!!

Anonymous said...

yay

el amarillo said...

better! love nunero 1,2, 3 wowww 4. definitivamente cuatro caminos es el disco que a nadie le puede faltar en esta decada!

k said...

cuatro caminos! you guys rock

and thanks for not ignoring the recent albums, chorando aprendese and hu hu hu are amazing

about it being too mexican, well, 3 of you are mexican/mexican decent so it's obvious

it's not a list made for latin-alt-union, leave that to billboard etc. it's "club fonograma's ..."

very surprised about Javiera taking #2 wow, you guys really love her, I do too haha

parare said...

que bonito repasar la decada con ustedes, where have u been all my life?

lo vi en el twitter de toy selectah, cute blog!

Mando said...

Good list, but too much reggaeton and you guys are pushing this Javiera Mena chick way too much. And I love Julieta, but 3 albums out of 50? C'mon.

No Amanece by Lucybell? Cerati's Siempre es Hoy was way better than Ahi Vamos. Their last album sucked, but Uno by La Ley was a great album. No Los Bunkers, Ely Guerra, Bunbury or Enanitos Verdes?

Good job on Triangulo de Amor Bizarro though.

Anonymous said...

atemahawke merecia el #1 pero ya que ajajajaj wena lista,


no se quien es gepe, en ventura, emilio jose, arcangel, taringa ay te voy!

Santiago Ulloa said...

okokok

so cuatro caminos isn't a what?amazing! kind of choice, but oh it's fantastic! glad to see los almight tacvbos weren't forgotten

I feel there are other better albums by lila downs, la cantina and shake away come to mind

there's artists you love and I guess if they were to release 5 albums you'll place all five (like Calle 13, julieta, tacvbos etc) and it's great to hold that

many will get surprised by en ventura and bam bam getting such high spots, I'm glad, zoe and austin tv are good but overrated

not sure if TAB deserved a spot on the top 10 but good choices

ya'll missing:
manos de topo and la mala rodriguez

JOSE LUIS MERCADO said...

Pa' que veas Demon que soy Nostradamus jejejeje

Como dirìa Anonymous...
que lista tan mexicana !!!

:P y añado:

Pero bien Fonograma....

GabyS said...

que bonita lista, es una latadera que por aca (buenos aires) no salgamos de cerati cerati, es bueno pero tampoco tanto

buena op con prietto viaja al cosmos on mariano, igual banda de turistas merecia puesto, pero ta' bien

bonito ver a javiera, juana, y emilio, mis discos de la decada sin duda

DECIREVES said...

son la leche en club fonograma
merecidisimo lugar para tacvba
mis respetos
ese album es de rock!
aunque falto La Barranca!
jojojo

Anonymous said...

This is my christmas present!
Thank you!

Bul said...

I love finally seeing "Bueninvento" in a Decade's List!!! Its probably the most underrated mexican album of the decade...

I strongly disagree with "Cuatro Caminos"... "Sino" is a much better album... specially because it doesnt sound like Café Tacuba trying hard to sound like Café Tacuba... with a drummer... oh, and it doesnt have "eres"... yuck

Anonymous said...

MUUUY COOL BLOG

Anonymous said...

I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?

Carlos Reyes said...

yes you can
give us a link so we can see it :)

twitter.com/clubfonograma

Juan Data said...

Arcangel sucks ass, he can't rhyme shit. Babasónicos kicks Cafe Tacubas ass.

lidopimienta said...

No veo la hora de visitar Mejico y Chile!!! Demasiada cultura!

lidopimienta said...

No veo la hora de visitar Mejico y Chile!!! Demasiada cultura!

Pedro Paramo said...

Sigo sin entender la obsesion con meter el reggaeton aunque no quepa. Calle 13 lo mas que te pueden dar es un dolor de cabeza.

Con Zoe me parece que ocurre lo contrario, Memorex 25???? Algun dia habra mas honestidad y menos escribir pensando en el que diran, Reptilectric es uno de los 10 discos de la decada.

webby said...

Los superelegantes debieron de haber estado perdidos en esta lista, no se acordaron de elllos?

SAMBOY said...

Que raro que no incluiste Lotofire o Sweet and Sour Hot and Spicy de Ely Guerra. Para mi uno de los que deberia figurar buen lugar en la lista

Tomas said...

Muy buena lista, auque muchos de los discos tengo que buscar y escuchar todavia. Pero hay uno que falta un monton. El "Sufro sufro sufro" de San Pascualito Rey. No es que tiene que ser tipo de musica de ustedes, pero si es un disco excepcional. Y de verdad que deberia estar en los primeros diez.

Marcelo said...

Interesting list, but although I'm a huge Cafeta fan, I don't think it's their strongest work (that being Reves/Yosoy) and other records on your top are way better.

Javiera is great, and you guys got some other great stuff on here. Still, I can't believe something like 'Animalitos' by Hidrogenesse or 'El Escape Del Planeta Viviente' by Mataplantas didn't make the top 20. Not only are those recordings (technically speaking) incredibly innovating (Hidrogenesse has Russian 80s synths up in there!) but lyrically, nothing even comes close to them. Same for Nacho Vegas.

You guys shouldn't be afraid to knock the oldtimers (I'm looking at anybody with a song in a 'Rock En Español' comp from the 90s).

Love the site anyway.

Saludos,

- M

pap said...

evidentemente esta lista debe respetar algún género o estilo musical particular.
debe ser muy interesante analizarla y entendenderla siendo conocedor del parámetro que se utilizó para seleccionar los discos. se ve muy atractiva! felicitaciones.

(eso siendo objetivo, como hay que ser a la hora de criticar)


(siendo subjetivo)
es la peor lista de mejores discos de la década que ví, y eso que ví un par jajaja cafe tacuba en el primer lugar? wow.
no entiendo qué criterio se utilizó para realizarla, claramente 'el habla hispana', o algo similar, tiene que ver... pero en ese caso que los baba, juana, etc, sean los elegidos argentinos? mmmmm....
raro...

en fin,
si bien la consideré la peor lista que ví, respetando mis gustos musicales (y los generales que ví por ahi) me pareció la más diferente y rara..
calculo que eso un cumplido


saludos!!

is this it #1, siempre.

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