An Alt.Latino New Year's Eve Playlist

Dec 31, 2017

To help get you in the mood for New Year's Eve festivities, Weekend Edition guest host Lauren Frayer asked Alt.Latino host Felix Contreras to share some new Latin music released this year fit for dancing into 2018. From Tokyo to Miami to Venezuela and more, Contreras highlights music that he believes satisfies the "insatiable quest" for undiscovered sounds that can carry party goers into the new year.

"The sonic landscape is so vast. There are so many different styles and culture references," Contreras says. "I'm always looking for, 'Okay, what's going to surprise me? What's going to be new?' And every now and then a band comes along and completely blows my mind."

Check out the songs for every stage of a New Year's Eve party — from the first pop of bubbly to the midnight kiss — below and hear the full conversation at the audio link.

The Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, "World Rude Connection"

"Ska is really big in the Latin Americas from the early '90s. A lot of the really big Latin rock bands took ska as their base. These guys have been around almost 30 years and they're favorites going back that long. ... Everything's uptempo and it's a great way to get the party started."

Elastic Bond, "Eclipse Total"

"Their self-described thing is psychedelic tropical soul. ... It's big band, '70s funk, soul, just this nice groove that goes way back and updating it in a really cool way."

La Vide Bohème, "Lejos"

"He's lost in his life. He's struggling. He's trying to figure out what's going on all around him within society. This band, I think, is one of the best examples of artistic expression of going on around them in Venezuela even though they're based in [America]."

Jungle Fire, "Cumbia de Sal"

"This is a song [Jungle Fire] picked up while traveling in Colombia. ... It's a little subdued so we can send people home dancing, but they still gotta go home."

Radio producer Peter Breslow contributed to this story.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WORLD RUDE CONNECTION")

TOKYO SKA PARADISE ORCHESTRA: (Singing in foreign language).

LAUREN FRAYER, HOST:

OK, so it's the morning, you're drinking your coffee, but you know what tonight brings - New Year's Eve. And to help you get in the mood early, we've asked our good friend Felix Contreras to come into the studio to share some festive music that was released this year. Felix is, of course, the host of NPR Music's Alt.Latino podcast.

Hey, Felix.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Good morning. Good morning.

FRAYER: Good morning. Now, am I missing something? That song does not sound Latin to me.

CONTRERAS: OK, this is the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. Now, ska is really big in Latin America from, like, the early '90s, and a lot of the really big Latin rock bands took ska as their base. These guys have been around almost 30 years, and they're favorites going back that long. And this is from their new album. This is called "World Rude Connection." Everything is up-tempo, and it's a great way to get the party started tonight on New Year's Eve.

FRAYER: So they're Japanese. This is not a metaphor. They are from Tokyo.

CONTRERAS: They are from Tokyo.

FRAYER: Ska, Latin music from Tokyo.

CONTRERAS: Yup, there you go.

FRAYER: Go figure.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WORLD RUDE CONNECTION")

TOKYO SKA PARADISE ORCHESTRA: (Singing in foreign language).

CONTRERAS: Great band.

FRAYER: Wow. OK, so take us to Latin America next. What's up there?

CONTRERAS: OK, we're going to stop in Miami first - OK? - with this band called Elastic Bond.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ECLIPSE TOTAL")

ELASTIC BOND: (Singing in Spanish).

FRAYER: So tell us about that music. Where are they from? What are they doing there?

CONTRERAS: OK, these guys - like I said, South Florida. They're self-described thing is psychedelic, tropical soul.

FRAYER: Wow.

CONTRERAS: And I met them earlier this summer at the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York, and they gave me their second album. This one has a little bit more hip-hop influences on some of the other tracks, but as you can hear, it's big band, '70s funk, soul - just that whole nice groove that goes back - and they're updating it in a really cool way. It's produced by this guy named Adrian Quesada, who - everything he touches, I think, turns to gold. He's based in Austin. He has a whole bunch of bands that he works with. And this track is called "Eclipse Total."

FRAYER: Which is appropriate - what we had this summer.

CONTRERAS: That's right - total eclipse.

(SOUNDBITE OF ELASTIC BOND SONG, "ECLIPSE TOTAL")

FRAYER: So I'm hearing brass instruments. I'm hearing - this is not what I expect from Latin music. Is this sort of a new trend in Latin alternative music?

CONTRERAS: You know, the sonic landscape is so vast. There are so many different styles and cultural references. So yeah, I guess you could say it's a trend, and the trend is an insatiable quest to produce the sound that you've never heard. I mean, I'm listening to records, and I'm always looking for, OK, what's going to surprise me? What's going to be new? And every now and then, some of it comes along, completely blows my mind, and the bands I brought in this morning fall into that category.

FRAYER: And this next band that has blown your mind is from Venezuela.

CONTRERAS: Venezuela - La Vida Boheme. They had a great new record out called "La Lucha," and this track is called "Lejos."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LEJOS")

LA VIDA BOHEME: (Singing in Spanish.)

FRAYER: "La Lucha" - I mean, there's quite a lot of la luchas - struggles - going on in Venezuela right now. This is sort of an upbeat-sounding track, but does it have to do with current events in Venezuela right now?

CONTRERAS: Absolutely. He's, like - he's lost in his life. He's struggling. He's trying to figure out what's going on with - all around him in society. You know, it's one of those things where, this band I think is probably one of the best examples of artistic expression of what's going on around them in Venezuela, even though they're based mostly here. But they still reflect that life of what's going on there. And, it also reflects that concept that happens in Latin music a lot of times where very intense, heavy psychological, emotional things are taking place...

FRAYER: Political too, yeah.

CONTRERAS: ...Over rhythms and beats that you're just going to dance your butt off to, right?

FRAYER: Yeah. So whether you understand Spanish or not, that's a fun track to listen to.

CONTRERAS: The party - the New Year's Eve party's still going strong.

FRAYER: OK. It's going strong, but we're getting near the end of the night. Maybe it's past midnight. You've kissed your sweetheart at midnight. Maybe you're the host of the party. You kind of want to get people out of the door. What can we get them to sort of dance their way home to?

CONTRERAS: Check this out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CUMBIA DE SAL")

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: Cumbia. Cumbia de sal. Cumbia de sal. Cumbia de sal. Cumbia de sal.

FRAYER: It sounds like Muppets or children kind of like dancing.

CONTRERAS: It's a little voice tricks, but this is "Cumbia." This is from Colombia. This is from the band Jungle Fire, OK? They're a great 10-piece outfit from Southern California. This is their second album, and what they did was, they've done a lot of traveling since their first album was released. And this is a song they picked up while they were traveling in Colombia. This is called "Cumbia De Sal." And, you know, it's - they did little to it, right? It's just straight-ahead dance. It's a little subdued, so we can send people home dancing, but they still got to go home, right?

FRAYER: That's a late-night, chilled-out, wandering-your-way-home track.

CONTRERAS: Yeah, there you go - party's over.

(SOUNDBITE OF JUNGLE FIRE SONG, "CUMBIA DE SAL")

FRAYER: Felix Contreras is the host of the Alt.Latino podcast. Feliz Ano Nuevo, Felix.

CONTRERAS: Gracis, (speaking Spanish).

(SOUNDBITE OF JUNGLE FIRE SONG, "CUMBIA DE SAL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.