Nuevo Culture

From Arca’s Heartbreaking Piece To C. Tangana’s Perreo Bossa Nova, Here’s This Week in New Music

This is a weekly compilation of bite-sized song & EP reviews from our music writers. Discover new favs, read nuanced criticism of the week’s hottest releases & more.

Arca – “Madre”

Part of a new four-track maxi-single of the same name, “Madre” is one of the most heartbreaking pieces to come out of Arca’s discography. Featuring her vocals and strings recorded by Radiohead collaborator Oliver Coates, the nine-minute song is a cathartic lamentation that brings to mind the Venezuelan tonadas she explored on her 2017 eponymous album. She projects rays of pain and forgiveness as she reflects on her relationship with her mother and how she recognizes her in herself. —Cheky

C. Tangana, Toquinho – “Comerte Entera”


Anyone used to Toquinho’s extensive work can’t help but show a timid smile when he sings: “No puedo más que pensar/En tu culo al pasar.” Along with Vinícius de Moraes, aka the little poet, Toquinho composed a number of ornamented themes that shaped bossa nova. But who dares to say that singing about culo is that different from singing about love? C. Tangana definitely doesn’t share this thought, and he asked if Toquinho could give him a hand—the same hand who made wholehearted love songs like “Carolina Carol Bela.” For el madrileño, this perreo bossa nova is just another bridge with Brazil: two years ago he had teamed up with Mc Bin Laden in “Pa’ Llamar Tu Atención.” Love seems to be his writing fuel. —Felipe Maia

Jonatan Piña Duluc – “Veneno Pt. III”

Revered Dominican jazz composer Jonatan Piña Duluc has unveiled a brand new album titled Sountrack Vol. I: Secuencia, filled with explosive, avant-garde pieces inspired either thematically or narratively by film scores. The album is described as oscillating between meditative pieces and “Afro-Dominican Jazzodelic Progressive movements,” with one of its many high points coming in “Veneno Pt. III;” a towering maelstrom of saxophone, electric guitar, wordless chants and lighting-fast tambora. The album is available now on Bandcamp and will hit streaming services on February 5. —Richard Villegas

Norii – “Exocoetidae”

Titled after the animal colloquially known as flying fish, “Exocoetidae” showcases San Diego artist Norii’s chops as a songwriter and singer. Using bright, theatrical production as her vehicle, she glides seamlessly between fantasy imagery and personal revelation, turning family estrangement into empowerment while pouring her soul out with a passionate vocal performance. She might not have that familial ground, but she can still fly and swim to survive, and that’s beautiful. —Cheky

Abayomy feat Orlando Julius – “Adará”

The Abayomy Afrobeat Orchestra is one of the most important Brazilian big bands to keep the tradition of the Nigerian afrobeat alive in Latin America. After a four-year hiatus, they come back to the frontline accompanied by the yourubá jazzman Orlando Julius. His sinuous, ornamented contralto sax lines laid the foundations of Fela Kuti’s oeuvre, but this had never stuck in the past. On this track, Mr. Julius effortlessly shows his signature moves while the band—summoning deities like Oxum and singing Asé in chorus—delivers the good old afrobeat: energetic, ritualistic and deeply connected with the Black diaspora. —Felipe Maia

Xixa – “Eclipse”

There are plenty of reasons why psych rock is having a moment in Latinx rock; however, hip-shaking songs is not something that has endeared fans of the genre. Tucson, Arizona’s Xixa might change this with “Eclipse,” a track that brings the best of sonically-expansive guitar music with cumbia. The song doesn’t skim on the weird sounds and evocative textures while delivering flavor to the dancefloor. The result is a track that makes the trippy soundscapes tasty and more accessible. —Marcos Hassan

Cueva – “Capybara”

Have you ever seen those wonderfully wholesome memes of capybaras hanging out with every gang of animals in the jungle? Well, Costa Rican rapper and producer Cueva has decided to embody the rainforest mammal’s forever-chill ethos for an uproarious new single appropriately titled “Capybara.” “Semi-acuático/el más simpático,” he raps over a sinister trap beat, describing the capybara’s amphibious and friendly nature, while finding parallels in his own day-to-day interactions. Left-of-center as it may seem, a trap safari has never sounded so appealing. —Richard Villegas

Voltar – “Everything Is Full Of Love”

“Bright” and “beautiful” might not be the first words to come up when talking about metal, yet El Salvador’s Voltar has managed to make a song that is full of heavy guitars and pounding drums, as well as gorgeous atmospherics. The shimmering “Everything Is Full of Love” brings to mind the colors of a breathtaking sunset while being undeniably a heavy, kick-ass song. In the process, Volta flips preconceptions on its head and delivers a song that combines light and darkness effortlessly. —Marcos Hassan