The Rough Guide to Latino Nuevo (World Music Network, 2007)
Often it is the flash and dazzle that takes center stage in the music business, but sometimes stepping off the beaten path of the latest fad band pays off, as it certainly does with World Music Network’s The Rough Guide to Latino Nuevo. While there is plenty of dazzle on this compilation CD, it takes a sharp turn away from the average by pooling and overlaying genres to create the innovative Latino Nuevo .
Opening track, Jose Conde y Ola Fresca’s "Ride La Ola," possessed by a swanky groove, smooth vocals and a breezy guitar licks, literally begs for a ride in an open convertible. The sound is fresh and bold, shaping a contemporary Afro-Cuban-Latin combination that shimmers. Following up on "Ride La Ola" is the Cuban Cowboys’ "Jardin De La Verdad." Mixing grunge rock, some salsa guitar licks and downright wicked rough vocals makes this one of the CD’s standout tracks.
The best part of The Rough Guide to Latino Nuevo is that it’s chocked full of surprises. "Sabor" by Quantic Feat Tempo is an example of that surprising sound with its mix of Afro Beat and Salsa overtones wrapped up in an infectious swinging beat. It’s hip cat sound is propelled by the vocals but it’s the horns that give it that slick edge. Equally surprising is Alex Wilson’s "Oh Kuri." This wicked mix of Caribbean, Cuban and Bhangra is simply stupendous. Also enthralling is Yerba Buena’s "La Candela" that simply soars with fusion of Yoruba chant and infectious dance funk. The opening drumming and chant section might lull the listener with the traditional, but the track takes off into uncharted territory full of the Latino Nuevo.
Ozomatli’s "La Temperatura’s" exhilarating dance mix, Juan-Carlos Formell & Son Radical’s meaty "Afrika" and the dreamy "Música Somos" by Hector Buitrago are all winners. Other treats are "Lay Em Down" by Rico Pabon and "Mayahuel" by Quetzal with sweet sweeping vocals and strings.
If The Rough Guide to Latino Nuevo is what is on the horizon of Latin music then fans are in for a wild ride.