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Here Are 4 Latin Albums To Get You Through This Summer

Spain's Twanguero fuses an education in flamenco guitar with American ragtime and swing to create a Latin twang all his own.
Piero F. Giunti
Courtesy of the artist
Spain's Twanguero fuses an education in flamenco guitar with American ragtime and swing to create a Latin twang all his own.

Every month, Alt Latino's Felix Contreras drops by Weekend Editionto share his recommendations for new music and the best music yet to come. This year, Latin artists old and new are dropping new albums, including a reissue from a Buena Vista Social Club alumnus, a punk pioneer's concept album about the American dream and a sophisticated crossover collaboration featuring a '90s protest song repurposed for the current immigration debate. Hear the full conversation with NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro at the audio link and listen to the featured tracks below.

Orlando "Cachaíto" López, Cachaíto (reissue)

In addition to being the bassist for the Buena Vista Social Club, Cachaíto is from very storied lineage: His father Orestes López and uncle Israel "Cachao" López are often credited with having a hand in creating the rhythm we now know as mambo. This album didn't get the recognition it deserved when it came out in 2001, but it swerved away from the tradition of the Buena Vista Social Club and explored Afro-Cuban music in a way that laid the groundwork for many other Cuban releases since then — no doubt part of the reason why it's being reissued now.

Alejandro Escovedo, The Crossing

Alejandro Escovedo has led a number of bands over the years that have explored the intersections of everything from punk and country to punk and chamber music to punk and singer-songwriter. His entire career is notable for intelligent, passionate, music that avoids the stale sides of the mainstream styles it flirts with.

Escovedo's latest album, The Crossing, comes out Sept. 14. It's a suite of songs about two teenage immigrants who come to the United States: Salvo from Italy and Diego from Mexico. The album chronicles their experience looking for the American dream — which, in their case, includes music from punk pioneers The Stooges and MC5. (The first single, " Sonica USA," is out now and features Wayne Kramer of MC5 on guitar.) Over the course of the record, they find instead a culture that embraces blandness, tolerates racism and turns away immigrants.

Gaby Moreno & Van Dyke Parks

An immigrant to the United States from Guatemala, Gaby Moreno is aware of the issues that affect immigrants to this country today. Last week, she lent her voice to the chorus of musicians protesting what was a national policy of family separation at the border. "The Immigrants" is the first song from an as yet untitled album expected in the fall. It marks a fascinating new adventure for Moreno, who recorded this album with composer, arranger, and producer Van Dyke Parks, a musician's musician who has made records with the likes of Brian Wilson and others since the 1960s. The single gives you an idea of what to expect: really lush arrangements with lots of musical allusions in the instruments, rhythms and lyrics.

Twanguero, Electric Sunset

Spain's Diego García puts his own spin on American twang. Better known as Twanguero, the guitarist mines what he calls "Latin twang" on his new album, Electric Sunset.Growing up in Spain, García studied flamenco guitar, but he became fascinated with Western swing and ragtime from the United States and developed a sound and technique to forge his own distinct sound. Even director Pedro Almodóvar had used his sound in his films. This track, "Rasca Yu," features the Lebanese violinist Ara Malikian.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.
Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.