Various Artists

Merengue del Verano

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Just as its sister album, Salsa del Verano, provided a summer-friendly collection of music, so too does Merengue del Verano. Again, the focus of the record is on more modern artists who've emerged within the past decade or so (though no compilation that labels itself as such could be complete without a track from the merengue king himself, Johnny Ventura, whose "Bobine" shows up here), but there's still a nice variety of sounds, from Olga Tañon's "Vete Vete" to Los Toros Band "Buscala Tu" to Fernandito Villalona's "Carnaval." No, Merengue del Verano doesn't hold any surprises: the beats are fast, the vocals are warm and inviting, and there's a lot of passion that emanates from the music, which just means it's practically impossible to sit still while listening to it -- hardly a bad thing. It's not only a great summer record, it could also be used anytime hot, sunny days yearn to be remembered.

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