This week’s Music Monday further explores Latinx musicians for Latinx Heritage Month. Ecuadorian-turned-Brooklynite indie-rocker Maria Usbeck, French-Chilean artist Ana Tijoux, Brazillian “tropical punk” Cibelle and Texas-born Venezuelan tropicalia folkster Devendra Banhart all headline this week’s playlist, where they’re joined by other brilliant artists. This playlist delves deeper into folk, indie and rock bands and artists with Latinx backgrounds.
Maria Usbeck’s latest solo work, Amparo, is a reflection of her childhood in South America. Usbeck left her home country by herself at the age of 17 in order to move to the U.S., where she became the lead singer of new-wave band Selebrities. After singing in English for five years with Selebrities, she realized it was “time to let the mother tongue speak,” so she created a solo Spanish-language album.
Amparo was written and recorded across the span of three years in Ecuador, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Barcelona, Lisbon, Easter Island, Costa Rica, the south of Florida, L.A. and her home in Brooklyn. Usbeck’s childhood was filled with sounds of salsa, merengue, bachata and Andean music, and tinges of that are heard throughout the album.
Ana Tijoux was born in France to Chilean political refugees during Pinochet’s dictatorship. She rose to fame in Latin America as MC of hip-hop group Makiza in the late ’90s. Tijoux takes on political topics like indigenous issues, motherhood, feminism, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and many others.
While much of her work is hip-hop, she recently covered “Luchin” by Victor Jara, a political folk singer who was tortured and killed by Pinochet’s henchmen during the coup. The murder solidified Jara as a martyr for the resistance and a potent symbol of the struggle for human rights and justice. Tijoux pays her respect in the form of this beautiful tribute to Jara and her beloved home.
Cibelle is known for stitching together a patchwork of sounds to create her own signature “tropical punk.” The Brazilian artist has worked with folks like Devendra Banhart, Cocorosie, Gilberto Gil and Tunng, among many others. Along with her own beautiful originals, she is well-known for interpretations of popular songs, like her incredible cover of Tom Waits’ “Green Grass,” from her first album way back in 1999.
Indie-folk darling Devendra Banhart is back with a new album this year, Ape In Pink Marble. The Venezuelan-American musician was a poster boy for the freak folk/psych-folk revival that hit hardest between 2005 and 2010 with artists like Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Animal Collective, Juana Molina and Sufjan Stevens.
Upon realizing that he would never sound like his heroes Mick Jagger, Axl Rose, and Kurt Cobain, the singer crafted a more “feminine” sound and approach to singing. Banhart is memorable for whimsical tunes like “Long-haired Child” and his Charles Manson-esque beard and sound. Along with music, Banhart is also a visual artist and occasional poet. His work has been shown in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. Over the years, his sound has become a bit more mature and subdued but no less powerful.
Next week is the last installment of Music Monday’s Latinx Heritage Month feature. Come back for a super grooveable playlist of reggaeton, hip-hop and more! We want to see this beautiful month-long celebration out with a proper dance party!