Marc Anthony - El CantanteMarc Anthony - El Cantante
Marc Anthony plays the role of Héctor Lavoe in El Cantante, the film he had been wanting and waiting to make for many years. Lavoe is a hero to salsa fans, famed for the artistry of his vocals and the intensity of his rhythm; his records with Willie Colón during the early '70s were high points for salsa, and they paved the way for many vocalists to come (including one Marc Anthony). Anthony's physical resemblance to Lavoe is only passing, but no other musician alive could have done as much with this soundtrack tribute to Lavoe. Enlisting a variety of famed salsa musicians (including Yomo Toro, Marc Quiñones, Bobby Allende, Milton Cardona, José Mangual, and Tito Allen), Anthony and producer Sergio George reprise nine of Héctor Lavoe's best moments on wax, including "Aguanile," "Che Che Colé," "Mi Gente," and the title track. Read More >>

Federico Aubele - PanamericanaFederico Aubele - Panamericana
Federico Aubele's second album, Panamericana, features many of the same qualities that earned acclaim for his debut, Gran Hotel Buenos Aires (2004), and garnered a strong word-of-mouth following for his music. The porteño again sets his lovely Spanish-language songs against a hypnotic backdrop of Spanish guitar, dub basslines, hip-hop beats, Latin percussion, and ambient production motifs informed by Thievery Corporation, one of whose members, Eric Hilton, is credited with the album's production. Read More >>

Ray Barretto - The Essential Ray BarrettoRay Barretto - The Essential Ray Barretto: A Man and His Music
Since Fania began remastering and reissuing its vast catalog on CD, and putting together some of the most killer compilations of Latin jams ever heard, they've discovered an entirely new audience from the beat and crate diggers who could seldom find the original LPs on Tico or its own named imprint. That said, there is a consistently irritating fact that is true with most of those comps: there isn't any documentation in the liners provided for track attribution. They have the sound right, a lot of them look attractive enough, but not knowing where specific tracks came from can be frustrating for those of us music geeks who want to get really obsessive. That rather major complaint aside, they are priced right and sound as good as they can given the technology they were working with in analogue. The Essential Ray Barretto is, thankfully, not a case in point. Spread over two discs, containing 28 monster jams, this is all killer, no filler. Read More >>

Jorge Ben - Força BrutaJorge Ben - Força Bruta
The combination of Jorge Ben and Trio Mocotó had already produced great things when Força Bruta first appeared in 1970. Ben's self-titled album of the year before had reeled off a succession of Brazilian hits, including "País Tropical" and "Cadê Teresa," and made the four musicians very busy as a result. Força Bruta was a slightly different album, a slice of mellow samba soul that may perhaps have been the result of such a hectic schedule during 1969. Read More >>

Miguel Bosé - PapitoMiguel Bosé - Papito
Miguel Bosé's 2007 release Papito is nothing short of Latin pop heaven. So much so that when execs at Warner Latina heard the pitch, they must have thought they'd died and gone there. Selecting the hottest hits from his three decades on the charts, Bosé teams up with a who's who list of vocalist from all over the Spanish speaking recording industry for a record full of duets, re-buffed for a new generation. Sharing credits with artists such as Julieta Venegas, Alejandro Sanz, Juanes, Ricky Martin, Shakira and Laura Pausini to name only half, it's no surprise that Bosé find himself once again at the top of International and Latin pop charts. The repertoire draws on both Bosé's best known songs like "Amante Bandido," "Morena Mia" and "Bambu" and lesser covered gems like "Olvidame Tu." Read More >>

Café Tacuba - SinoCafé Tacuba - Sino
Since the mid-'90s, every new album release by Café Tacuba was an event, especially in the band's native Mexico. This was partly because of the band's considerable renown and their reputation for evolving stylistically, but also because new album releases were few and far between. Like Cuatro Caminos (2003) before it, Sino was eagerly awaited by fans of Café Tacuba, the world's most recognized torchbearer of rock en español. The beloved band took their time with both albums -- a gaping four years of time for each -- yet the wait was worthwhile, as is usually the case with Café Tacuba: the resulting music is abundantly creative, and enriched with fresh musical ideas and well-developed songs. Read More >>

Calle 13 - Residente o VisitanteCalle 13 - Residente o Visitante
Around the time the reggaeton gold rush of 2003-2005 was running dry, and a great many critics were eager to write off the style as a next-big-thing phenomenon that burned itself out, along came Calle 13. The Puerto Rican duo was a revelation: a reggaeton act whose appeal extended beyond clubs and mixtapes, one whose music was as engaging intellectually as it was sonically. Granted, Calle 13 was a reggaeton act that wasn't genuinely reggaeton. These guys were presenting an alternative style, one that was purposefully different -- when so many other reggaeton acts were parroting the mannerisms of Daddy Yankee and Don Omar in hopes of cashing in on the gold rush, Calle 13 blazed a trail of their own. Read More >>

La Clave - La ClaveLa Clave - La Clave
Music fanatics live for things like this: some long forgotten gem languishing in the vault of some record company whose librarians don't remember the thing existed, let alone care enough to make a case for its reissue. Latin funk outfit La Clave's sole album, recorded for Verve in the early '70s and then issued briefly in 1973, is shrouded in mystery even now. Thanks to the music maniacs at Dusty Groove who have had the class and dedication to create their own label for the sake of reissuing items like this, it can be brought out into the open for a bit at least. La Clave was headed by the Latin music percussion legend Benny Velarde. He is best known for his massive session work and the dates he recorded under his own name for Fantasy Records. Read More >>

Mala Rodríguez - MalamarismoMala Rodríguez - Malamarismo
Mala Rodríguez pushes the boundaries of hip-hop with her third album, Malamarismo, and not just in the direction of flamenco as she did on her previous album, Alevosía (2004), or even in the direction of other Latin styles like salsa or reggaeton as one might expect. Malamarismo instead finds the Spanish rapper pushing her music forward in new directions, expanding her flamenco-infused style of hip-hop to include more experimental beats, unconventional rhythms, and a greater emphasis on melodic singsong vocals, especially on the hooks of her songs. With the exception of "Te Convierto," an album-opening firestorm rap similar to her early work on Lujo Ibérico (2002), the album-closing bonus track, "Por la Noche," previously released in 2006 as a standalone single, is the closest the album comes to replicating her previous work. Read More >>

Julieta Venegas - Realmente Lo MejorJulieta Venegas - Realmente Lo Mejor
Over the course of four albums, from 1997 to 2006, Julieta Venegas evolved from a Latin alternative favorite to an international pop star, an evolution that Realmente Lo Mejor, a 12-track compilation of her singles to date, traces chronologically. Her four albums -- Aquí (1997), Bueninvento (1999), Sí (2003), Limón y Sal (2006) -- can be grouped together roughly. The first two, Aquí and Bueninvento, are abrasive alt-rock efforts, produced by Gustavo Santaolalla and backed by the rhythm section of Café Tacuba; though both albums were certified gold in Mexico, neither spawned a charting single (each did spawn a pair of singles, however, all four of which are compiled here). The latter two, Sí and Limón y Sal, are upbeat pop albums, produced and co-written by Coti Sorokin and Cachorro López; both albums were chart-toppers in Mexico, where each racked up four international hit singles, half of them number ones, and both albums were also Grammy recipients. Read More >>