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Latin Roots: The Best Alternative Songs Of 2019

The Braided Janes
Jose Romero
Courtesy of the artist
The Braided Janes

In this playlist of our 2019 Alternative Latin music favorites, you'll notice there isn't a particular sound defining the realm of the genre. The common denominator here is that these artists decided to be sonically bold. It was a magically abundant year of outstanding music from musicians that delivered complex beats, striking socio-political anthems and imaginative takes on traditional Latin sounds.

This playlist is a carefully-curated selection of Latinx artists who created intriguing, unforgettable and soul-boosting sounds. The list includes 50 exceptional artists — among our top 10 favorites are singles and albums by Superfónicos, Manatí, Beats y Batería, Combo Chimbita, Taina Asili, Gabacho, Olmeca, Ely Guerra, Le Butcherettes and Mueran Humanos.

Among the standouts is ¡Spangled! by Gaby Moreno and Van Dyke Parks, who together created a monumentally uplifting orchestral album that pays tribute to a new wave of Americana. Cumbia held a steady reign as newer artists embraced its legacy and elevated it to new heights, as is the case with Prince of Queens, Instituto Mexicano del Sonido, Mercedes Nasta and Sotomayor.

We also heard traditional styles of Colombian, Chilean, Puerto Rican, Panamanian and Mexican music transformed into unconventional bangers by artists like Renata Flores, Lester Rey, Nino Augustine and Olmeca.

That's not to say everything was a fusion of something else, so it was great to hear bands like Las Cruxes, Davila 666, Mueran Humanos, Choked Up, Le Butcherettes and Mi Puga Mi Pishgo rocking out with punk, Brit-influenced rock en español and even dark wave sounds. On the flip side, what a blessing to hear soothing sounds from Carmen Ruiz, Cheo, Gabacho and The Altons.

2019 also served as a beacon of outspokenness and hope as artists not only delivered majestic music but also spirituous manifestos. Whether addressing politics surrounding immigration or speaking in solidarity with victims of inhumane treatment, artists like The Braided Janes, Ani Cordero, Maria del Pilar, Niña Dioz and Making Movies did not hold back in taking things to another level. And in the highly uplifting case of Mexican muse Ely Guerra, she decided to take things in an entirely new direction and recorded an album featuring her vocals as the sole instrument. Talk about cathartic!

As Superfonicos said when referring to their single, "Cumbéalo," our top favorite: "Cumbéalo is a metaphor for turning our eyes back to the primal and ancestral and to remember all the great things that we've lost in this process of becoming modern and civilized. We think that humankind is in a big crisis right now, because we disconnect ourselves from nature, our sense of oneness and our spiritual selves. Cumbéalo is an invitation to remember."

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Sandra Treviño covers Latin alternative music, art and culture as a music journalist and DJ based in Chicago. She also hosts and produces live radio broadcasts and is the founder of , a Latin alternative website and is a contributor to World Cafe Latin Roots.