Club Fonograma's Best Songs of 2015 (100-76)

100. Pedro Ladroga - ≅ ☀ L U Z ☀ ≅
Much of Spanish rap’s obsessions (namely “trap”) still sound incredibly forced to us. On “Luz”, Pedro Ladroga invented his own reality in which the context of all music remains at a primeval stage, easing us into whatever experience he wanted to create. “Luz” works with an awkward clash of sounds and loops. Nothing is clearly defined, glitches are like flash floods in the canopy layer of a rainforest. The Sevilla artist sounds both distressed and intoxicated by the intensity of it all. By the time the clarinet comedown sets in at the last minute, you will be as well. - Giovanni Guillén
 (via Soundcloud)

099. Gepe - A la noche
“Ahora the voy a ponel a gosal” is the opening line on “A La Noche”- one of the highlights on the underwhelming Estilo Libre. First thoughts: Yikes. Is Gepe really adopting a Caribbean accent on this one? But it isn’t Gepe. Machito Ponce (AKA Gustavo Radaelli) delivers this line- a sample from his mid 1990s banger, “Ahora Te Voy A Poner A Gozar” which revamped "Lick it" by 20 Fingers for the “Latin” market, a formula Radaelli repeated on his rendition of “Short Dick Man”. Not sure a grody white dude from Argentina could get away with “sounding Caribbean” in the 21st Century but I could be proven wrong. The discourse of “A La Noche” is a bit of a worker anthem (even though on “Marinero Capitan” Gepe poetically dismisses worker essentialism). Gepe pulls a Shakira (circa Sale El Sol) on this one and does merengue, with his own personal “Andino pop” flair.- Zé Garcia

098. Velódromo - Gémini”
2015 gave us a whole new school of guitar-obsessed Chilean bands and it’s been quite a challenge keeping up. Velódromo’s self-titled EP easily caught our attention for its stellar collection of effortless shoegaze. “Gémini” reveals the most kinetic moment from the release. Here female vocals take over and immediately channel the interminable coolness of 90s alternative. The polished energy of the song never lets up. Even when the guitars need to rest, the calculated slowness still delivers a rush that makes it essential to revisit. - GG

097. Zemmoa - Es Para Ti
Zemmoa’s autobiographical NNVAV is a gem, an ode to postpessimist joy. NNVAV (which stands for Nada Nos Va a Vencer) is a formidable effort in the Mexican synthpop scene, produced by Tamil Rezc (Julieta Veneers, Hello Seahorse!). Mind your gender pronouns, however. Zemmoa grew up as a “fey boy” but doesn’t identify as a trans womn or subscribe to any fixed gender identity: “I’m unique, as is everybody else” they explained back in 2013. Album opener “Es Para Ti” is sonic optimism: euphoric, earnest, but short lived. - Ze

096. Jessica & The Fletchers - My Blue Jumper
The artwork on then-latest single from Jessica & The Fletchers' is paired with web store results for blue sweaters and old internet fonts. It's Twee Pop as a dictionary entry. The basic idea represented with the simplest images to transmit its meaning. In a lot of ways this is exactly what Jessica & The Fletchers' music aims for. With each song we've heard they come closer to distilling the essence of indie pop. "My Blue Jumper" is no exception to this. It launches straightaway and strikes like a freezing gust of wind, equal parts painful and pleasant. The distortion can even be overwhelming, but the promise of warmth signaled by its sweet vocal performance is enough to seek out repeated listens. - GG

095. Astro - Warrior
Despite Sam Rodgers’ brilliant assessment, Chicos De La Luz remains a confusing record for me. “Warrior”, with its meditative arpeggio, is a redeeming and reassuring summation of everything the album aimed for. Singer Andrés Nusser lets out not a war cry, but a reaching hand and in three minutes becomes a necessary leader through a procession of light and warmth (“Soy... un guerrero de la luz”). "Maturity" is an easy enough process for a breakout band, but who knew Astro could pull off subtlety and grace? - GG

094. Elandh - 
El frío entre los dos (feat. Fakuta)
There is such a thing is superior simplicity. Chile’s Elandh is a testament to this. There is literally nothing new to the 1990s era techno pop of Ficción besides a sophisticated elegance. Album centerpiece “El Frio Entre Los Dos” powers up like a late 1980s game console, but the heart of the matter lies in nightlife dream pop. This is likely the final song on your setlist, a song to greet the sunrise. “El Frio Entre Los Dos” gets the benediction of Chilean space pop prophet Fakuta for those wistful moments of regret: “la culpa y la traición, visten de gris tu religión.” - Ze

093. Tego Calderón - Mamey
Tego Calderón is the Tim Duncan of this game. You'd think that he'd finally fall off, or at least stagnate. But nah, dude is out here still the realest man in the game. Still working that dembow like it was blown glass. Doing that thing where he exaggerates the last syllable of a verse cause he KNOWS you're already wet for the chorus. You can't even sweat on these tracks--Tego just brush it off like it was lint. Tego, Tego, Tego that boy up to everything. - Andrew Casillas

092. Salfumán - Noche en el spa
Listening to “Noche en el spa” while walking the snow-covered streets of Montreal is only fitting. The bracing guts and gentle beat by programmed drums as the opening pitches of the piece, transforms the painful journey into a semi-mystical quest. The Valencia-based multi-instrumentalist dips into a dense, multi-layered electronic bed of synth hooks and reverb to create an alluring 80's-esque soundscape, to which she has accustomed us. With her soothing voice, recalling Raquel Berrios’, Sandra Rapulp maps out the contours of a rising and falling heartfelt melody that can warm a heart, relax a body and uplift a spirit. - Souad Martin-Saoudi
 (via Soundcloud)

091. Heather Run
There is a great creative chemistry that unites the five musicians of Heather and it comes across instantly on this B-side. The Barcelona outfit destabilizes and exhilarates from the very beginning of the 2:50 minute track, where the hyper abrasive guitar riffs and the break-neck pace highlights their strike force. Once the lead singer (who happens to bare the same first name as the band) kicks off her vocalization the song becomes even more powerful and grabbing. The inaudible words – still full of heaviness – gives the fuzzed out and raw "Run" an undeniable catchiness. - SMS
 (via Soundcloud)

090. Bomba Estéreo - Fiesta
For years, Bomba Estéreo has been your classic "Oh them? Yeah, they're good. Wish their records sounded as good as the live show." groups. On "Fiesta," they finally crafted a track that matches the frenetic energy of their stage performances. Li Saumet, in particular, sings like she's been possessed by a neon ghost; her vocals a masterful mix of the florescent and guttural. Shit, this song is so good, even Will Smith saw the need to co-opt it for his first good publicity since the alternate ending of I Am Legend- AC

089. Sr. Presidente - Ilustre Ventanal de Estrategias
 (via YouTube)

"Ilustre Ventanal de Estrategias” sounds like a song for jovial daytime illusions but lyrically it is the soundtrack for a cathartic breakdown in the indie tragedy that is our lives under neoliberal capitalism. It is also a “mixture” between “El Pez Traslucido” and Britney Spears' “Don’t Let Me Be The Last To Know”, at least according to the album credits. Sr. Presidente (AKA Heberto Añez Novoa) hails from Venezuela- a place enraptured by authoritarian state socialism and a traditionally villainous oligarchy of #TeamLightSkins. “¿Cuánto tiempo tengo que esperar?” Sr. Presidente bemoans. “No recuerdo el eco de su voz, el olvido empaña mi nación, por las calles sangre correrá, de mis venas toda claridad.” The sweet melody of that flute can soothe us, if just for a moment. - Ze 

088. Arca - Alive
After Mutant’s divisive run it looked as if we had begun to exhaust all superlatives with Arca. “Alive” awakened something else in us. The violent opener to Alejandro Ghersi’s second record might not be the strongest cut off Mutant (this spot is reserved for the album's title track), but it earns its legacy in how it reflects the fragility of life itself. Ghersi’s production is pure electricity, a muted static that evokes noises from an ultrasound. The struggle to survive perpetual warfare already taking place inside the womb. - GG

087. Jaloo - Insight
The verdict is in: Brazil’s Jaloo is fantastic, puzzling, alluring, but also a try hard. The strings on “Insight” are commanding, overwhelming, the synths earnest and lofty. The visual treatment for “Insight” is impatient- like an art school student with too many wondrous ideas that catastrophically intersect at once. Saturation can be fatal. Jaloo is definitely contemporary tecno brega. With a budget. - Ze

086. Bronko Yotte - Lealtad (feat. Gepe)
"Lealtad", it’s not just the lyrics, which range in brightness from cautious optimism to melancholic nostalgia, it’s the tone. The way it deepens into our hearts through its verses. There is a charming reciprocity occurring between rapping troubadour Bronko Yotte and the Chilean pop stars of today. Fakuta featured Bronko in 2014. Bronko featured both Gepe and Cristóbal Briceño in 2015. With this Gepe collab, the pair sound like they’re holding back tears while rapping along to the lightest (certainly sweetest) piano and flute melody of the year. - Pablo Acuña

085. Ulldeter - Cala Nova
There is a child like curiosity that is piqued with every layer that unfolds on “Cala Nova”: those supplicating vocals, the spellbinding keyboards set on mystery, and the percussive whistle of a machine that keeps us grounded & attentive. “Cala Nova” sounds like a faraway indefinite vista of nonpictorial sound. “Cala Nova” ‘a kind of natural resort’ looks pretty cool in that ‘early days of the music video’ kind of way (really digging that fog machine) except for the fact that dude is straight up wearing a burka. White People, can you not? Not to be the Politically Correct Social Justice Warrior of whatever scene this is, but really dude bro, cultures aren’t costumes. This isn’t just “a quirky episode of Goosebumps”, either, Remezcla. Alex Clavera, next time, come correct. - 
 (via YouTube)

084. Dënver - "Noche profunda"
The synth fade-in of Angelo Badalamenti, a train passing in the distance. Writer Zé García called it “dreamlike R&B”, but on the intro to Sangre cita the Chilean duo also go full Twin Peaks. Even Mariana’s premonitions sound ripped from the diary of Laura Palmer. These are serious night demons that have set up camp both in her room and within her psyche. Milton’s cameo is akin to appearances from MIKE, the one-armed man, and BOB. The real question is, which one of the two is he? “Noche profunda” will never answer this- its moodiness is overshadowed by the two voices colliding in a dizzying, tragic conclusion. - GG

083. Carla Morrison - "Un Beso"
After years of teasing, Carla Morrison finally let her freak flag fly in 2015. Not that Amor Supremo was some sort of left-field masterpiece--the bleeding heart romantics of the world were still capably served. But what Ms. Morrison did embrace was the world-stomping tension that's been simmering within her best work. And on "Un Beso," Morrison brings that tension up-front, with post-punk rhythms, hypnotic chanting, and keyboards lifted from the Phantom of the Opera. I don't know if Carla Morrison was trying to make something that could have been on R.E.M.'s Dead Letter Office, but that's exactly what we got here. And that's a damn high compliment. - AC

082. Ela Minus - Small Moves
With Small Words, the Colombian artist based in New York, Gabriela Jimeno aka Ela Minus, completed an outstanding debut EP that made every tender ear turn their attention to her. "Small Words" is a four-minute exhibition of elusive patterns and tones that weave ambient, and pop tropes together to form a lucid dream pool of sound; there are overriding tones that carry the track along, but they are punctuated by delicate and unexpected jolts, remnants of percussion. It invokes feelings of both uncertainty and comfort, where there is nothing assertive to grasp onto except for the most poignant and private insights that Jimeno is able to carry on the weight of her most subtle melodies. - PA

081.  MULA - 1959
MULA is an “electronic female band" from the Dominican Republic. The tags on MULA’s Bandcamp page read “dembow” “merengue” “reggaetón”, “trap”. Now that we have your attention, the futuristic demure of “1959” doesn’t even clock in at 3 minutes but it manages to paint a vibrant vignette of a girl from Cuba named Mariana whose life is changed after reading Karl Marx. Now, Mariana escapes by night in a black Volkswagen to pass out pamphlets and returns by morning. “El papá no se imagina en lo que anda la muchachita, la Mariana”. - Ze

080.  Mueran Humanos - Miseress
The synths are set on darkwave, the ambiance a muted tribulation. There is a fortitude to the voice of Carmen Burguess, the intensity of an age old melancholy. “Miseress”- the sound of painful sincerity- is a beguiling introduction to the rest of the latest record by Mueran Humanos. The rest of the album does not match the subtle intensity of its opening track. With an aural quality like the streaks of star dust, “Miseress” (the most essential song on the Berlin based Argentine duo’s comeback) is for those low serotonin days, a Hennessy and Parliament in hand. Treat yourself. - Ze

079.  Emilio José - Hoje - tu e eu
As expected, Agricultura Livre went down as the most intimidating record of the year. At three discs and 52 tracks, the album’s behemoth status will probably never deliver a clear consensus from Club Fonograma. But props to Emilio José for knowing exactly how to introduce his masterpiece. “Hoje - tu e eu” is a disarming number. The song is a rooted in a folk way but there is room to experience the sappy kind of love scored by Gordon Jenkins, in a string-filled number. By the way, Emilio José might be the only artist who make can a trip to the supermarket and dinner at McDonald's sound regal. - GG

078.  Mahmundi - Eterno Verão
Mahmundi’s “Eterno Verão” is the vision of an eternally chill summer. Its visual treatment captured our attention in the same way Bairoa’s chosen colors convey a cool summer breeze. Coconuts, just-fished shrimp, soft serve ice cream, men carrying watermelons on their shoulder- activity in a Brazilian market beautifully framed. Mahmundi rocks a natural, she wears a revealing top that forms a “v” down to her belly button- the wrinkles on her normcore beige pants appear crisp, making her seem relatable. Then Mahmundi jumps in the pool with her orange crème guitar. A piano revivifies the soul, a simple guitar solo adds relevance to a scene where guitars are becoming just as important as synths. A Silva / Mahmundi tour would be an exemplary ticket to showcase the sophisti-pop of today's Brazil.- Ze

077.  Downtown Boys - Monstro
“Monstro” by Downtown Boys can’t just be reduced to a song with a memorable, uplifting saxophone riff. The rest of “Monstro” sounds glum and Victoria Ruiz screams at the top of her lungs, “she’s brown! she’s smart!” Literally everything is on the table rn- the press release for Full Communism talks about the prison-industrial complex, racism, queerphobia, capitalism, fascism as “things people use to try to close our minds, eyes and hearts”. What a time to be alive. Downtown Boys is definitely cheesy but sometimes, that's ok. Especially when your other band is the "tropical / anti colonial" turn up of Malportado Kids. - Ze

076.  Selena Gomez - Camouflage
In which Selena Gomez is at her most adult (contemporary). Seriously, this song has fucked up my afternoon commutes dozens of times. Initial listens might have you thinking of Anna Nalick’s “Breathe”, but be warned that that there is no friend here to deliver warm affirmations. Instead, Selena is left to navigate between sunset serenity and the overwhelming sensation of looking back on the past (“Riding alone on the 405 / And life's so fragile, it's like I could cry”). As solid as Revival is, much of its life force draws from contemporary music trends that will soon become outdated and replaced. “Camouflage” is a magic hour ballad that already sounds timeless. Oh, and that 405 reference? Selena, we all know you meant I-45- GG



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