Celebrating Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month
*Top row from left to right: Death Lens via Instagram, María Isabel via YouTube, and Slow Joy via Instagram; middle row from left to right: Victoria Canal via Spotify, Pacifica via Spotify, and Tatiana Hazel via Spotify; last row from left to right: Guaya via YouTube, Quelle Rox via SoundCloud, and Midnight Generation via Instagram.*
Happy Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month everyone! For those in the unknown, this celebratory observation is spread over the course of two months; beginning on September 15th and ending on October 15th. The month is split between the two because of the many monumental triumphs that have coincidentally occurred within them for Latinx and Hispanic communities. For example, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua all claimed their separate independence on September 15th. But since its inception, the month has expanded beyond reflecting upon the past. Now, it recognizes the ongoing influence and incredible contributions made by members of the communities in every facet of life. And that’s why today we’re taking a moment to appreciate and uplift Latinx and Hispanic voices in the music sphere. The criteria I followed by for my choices: the reviewed song had to be released this year either by itself or with a collection of music (like an EP, LP, or album); and the reviewed song must fall under the pop genre (or a sub-genre and/or pop adjacent genre). Let’s dive into the songs!
8. "I Drove U Crazy" - María Isabel
“I Drove U Crazy” is a soul-stirring depiction of an unhealthy relationship in demise. Through a haunting melody that showcases pronounced drumbeats, María Isabel’s contemporary R&B single is bound to “get under your skin” in the best way possible. Isabel’s deliciously venomous vocals let listeners know this is a love that has lasted well past its expiration date. And a relationship in decline, especially an unhealthy one, resorts to negotiation and manipulation tactics to keep it alive. This results in our artist pointing out a hard truth: “there’s nothing poetic about” driving each other crazy in the name of love. María Isabel is a Dominican-American artist and native New Yorker with a prolific discography for anyone whose heart lies in the depths of the city. “I Drove U Crazy” is the artist’s first release following a brief break and their second EP i hope you’re very unhappy without me.
7. "Someday" - Midnight Generation
“Someday” keeps hopes high for the day a situationship returns and matches the adoration we have for them. Midnight Generation’s nu-disco single features an infectious funk-laden rhythm that’s carried by rich guitar notes, driving drums, and dazzling synthesizers determined to have you dancing like Napoleon Dynamite. Even with promises of “treating them right”, the situationship keeps “playing games” with our heart. Yet, we’re still optimistic that they’ll “fall in love” with us “someday” in the future. Midnight Generation is a disco electronic pop group from Chihuahua, Mexico and led by Fernando Mares. The group is currently on their Drop the Synthesizer Tour with multiple performances scheduled for this month and November. Tickets for venues and their locations can be found here. But if you’re homebound, you can always indulge on the group’s latest album Afterlife.
6. "COHIBA" - DEZI
“COHIBA” is a dark-pop single that unleashes the daddy energy in any listener. With Latin beat infused verses that build toward a sinister industrial-synth chorus, DEZI is determined to bring out and keep out the “God complex” in you. Much like a Cuban cigar – better known as a cohiba – this song delivers lusciousness in the form of enticing vocals that also heightens one’s confidence beyond all tangible measures. DEZI is a queer, Cuban singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with roots in New York. But has recently set sights on California with their partner. Because of the move, there’s unfortunately no live performances scheduled now. But that shouldn’t stop you from listening to earlier singles DEZI’s released this year like the emotional “Make It Home” and resonant “Panic”.
5. "Maybe In Time" - Laura Galindo
“Maybe In Time” is an indie-pop single that loans itself to dream-pop all while centering on finding the optimism in a relationship’s end. The song’s star-studded percussion strings invoke ethereal feelings of freedom – like a gust of wind pushing your bike forward as you ride. Alluding to how freeing it is to look back on the denouement of a relationship with rose-colored glasses instead of bitterness. Through light and airy vocals, Laura Galindo reminds listeners that not all endings need to be shrouded in pain; they can also envelope us in endearment and hope. Galindo is a queer, Colombian singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and actress based in Brooklyn, New York. For those in NYC and its surrounding areas, there’s an opportunity to see Galindo perform live at The Sultan Room on October 17th; tickets can be found here. But those too far to travel can always enthrall themselves with Galindo’s soulful 2021 EP In Front Of Your TV.
4. "Vacant" - Death Lens
“Vacant” touches on the all too surreal reality of feeling empty when attempting to stay sober. Regardless of what your choice of poison is, Death Lens newest punk anthem reassures any listener they’re not alone in their struggle to stay on the straight and narrow. The musical arrangement perfectly encapsulates the overwhelming anxieties that come with avoiding a vice while ensuring the void that created the need for said vice somehow remains full. Death Lens is a Los Angeles-based alternative/punk band consisting of vocalist Bryan Torres, guitarists Jhon Reyes and Matt Silva, bassist Eduardo Contreras, and drummer Edgar Alejandre. A huge congratulations to the band for signing to Epitaph Records; “Vacant” is the first release they made under the new record label. The band also has multiple live performances scheduled for the next two months throughout the states – you can find the closest performance to you and their corresponding tickets here.
3. "Caught These Feelings" - Ale Campillo
“Caught These Feelings” showcases the unbridled zeal that overcomes us when we know for certain the person before us is who we want. The desire for the other person has gone beyond physical, though. It’s evolved into a full-fledged desire for a deeper commitment. With gospel-like hymns, futuristic synths, and versatile guitar strings, Ale Campillo’s radiating warmth is extended to listeners in this alt-pop single. If reassurances of “I’m yours” and plans for a shared “future” don’t spell out budding love, than I don’t know what does. Ale Campillo is a queer, Cuban-Mexican artist from California. The discussed single’s title also doubles as the title for Campillo’s second EP Caught These Feelings; where every featured track feels like a direct confessional shared between two friends. And it’s a bit late, but a huge congratulations are in order for Campillo, they recently graduated from Yale.
2. "Been On" - Javi Vera
“Been On” is all about knowing your self-worth and when to walk away from someone. Hypnotizing guitar riffs and explosive drumbeats topped with Javi Vera’s assertive vocals make this the perfect self-reminder that you don’t need to wait around for anyone. Especially if they’re going to take you for granted. Vera even manages to squeeze in a little cowbell for the song – amusing any fan of the infamous SNL skit with Christopher Walken. Maryland native Javi Vera blends contemporary alternative and classic rock to deliver indie funk-rock to eager listeners. For those itching to see Vera live, the artist has a performance scheduled for today at the Ottobar in Baltimore, Maryland. Tickets for the performance can be found here, with doors opening at 7:00 P.M. But if you’re stuck elsewhere, you can enjoy their latest single “BOXED UP”.
1. "reckless" - yungatita
Yungatita’s “reckless” allows listeners to reflect on the impulsive relationships they experienced in their youth. The vocals put you under a dreamlike trance that beckons deep introspection as a mellow guitar melody plays; showcasing how we tend think of younger relationships through a lens of nostalgia. It also hints at some of the naivety we have – especially in thinking our character was completely faultless while within these relationships. But heavy drumming and an overall change in mood signifies the sudden realization that we were just as careless (if not more so) as the other people in these early connections. Yungatita was originally an East L.A. project that turned into an indie-pop fusion band fronted by multidisciplinary artist Valentina Zapata. For fans dying to see yungatita, there’s two upcoming opportunities to see them perform live in California. They’ll be performing at The Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles on October 12th (tickets found here), and Nothing Fest’s 10th Anniversary at the Garden Amphitheatre in Garden Cove on October 21st (tickets found here). If that’s too short of notice, yungatita just dropped their latest single “Whiplash” for you to enjoy in the comfort of your home and anywhere you like to turn your speakers up to full volume.
If you’re familiar at all with my writing, then you know I’ve said multiple times that diversity in the music sphere is rare. Which is why I’m always ecstatic to find artists that better reflect the everyday world. But to be able to find artists and musicians that reflect my personal world means so much. It makes living while being Cuban just a little bit easier because it offers visibility and permanence. Two sentiments that are significant in a sociopolitical climate that’s been vocal about keeping Latinx and Hispanic identities on the sidelines of society. So, a huge thank you to the Latinx and Hispanic artists that continue to dedicate their energy and time into crafting music that allows the marginalized to see a piece of themselves and their culture in a positive light.
Written by Giavanna Gradaille
*copyright not intended. Fair use act, section 107.