The DJs and musicians of ZZK were my soundtrack for my year in Buenos Aires. Out there, glitchy electronic sounds rooted deeply in the folk music of Argentina. I once described one of the bands, Tremor, as “a UFO short-circuiting and being forced to land in an Andean village.”
2. A Tribe Called Red – Electric Pow Wow – electricpowwow.com
There are few albums that when you put them on, you’re blown away from the first note. ATCR’s pow wow music over deep dubstep beats just hits you right in the soul. And they’re nearly local, from Ottawa
3. The Funk Ark – High Noon – ESL
Straight up afrobeat meets funk from Washington, DC, the Funk Ark drops a groove and holds it tight. There’s not a bad song on this record.
4. Ana Tijoux – La Bala – Nacional
Chilean MC Ana Tijoux speaks specifically to the politics in her country on this record, particularly the student protest movement for affordable education. Yet her raps feel universal. Even if you don’t understand Spanish, you feel Tijoux’s flow.
5. Ondatrópica – Ondatrópica – Soundway
Two discs of banging cumbia, mixed with many other genres, from the Colombia studios of UK superproducer Wil Holland aka Quantic. So much to listen to, this is the gift that keeps on giving.
6. Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars – Radio Salone – Cumbancha
I thought the All-Stars last album was a bit weak and overly produced. This time they’re come up with their best yet. Their unique fusion of African high life, reggae, and their own grooves makes this album a dancing machine.
7. Debo Band – Debo Band – Next Ambience
This Boston-based 11-piece Ethiopian orchestra has got it all – violins, guitar, and a monster horn section. They channel the Ethiojazz of the 1960s while updating it with rock and funk.
8. Bomba Estereo – Elegancia Tropical – Polen
This Colombian group has a lot to prove after their debut album became a major hit across Latin America and the world. They followed up with a thoughtful, more mature sound that fits vocalist Li Saumet’s voice perfectly. This is grooves for all occasions that you can’t stop listening to.
9. Curumin – Arrocha – Six Degrees
Brazilian musician Curumin filters the samba and bossa nova beats of his country through the lens of hip hop, turntables, and jazz. The results are funky and just right.
10. Batida – Batida – Soundway
Angolan – Portuguese DJ Mpula takes 70s-era Angolan hits and weaves them into electronic dance grooves that keep you shaking. That sweet African guitar sound updated for the club.