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They say that when times get rough, the music gets better, so today we're bringing you good news for your ears, hips, and feet. While 2014 may well be a year of great challenges for Puerto Ricans, the country's independent music scene shines with an energy and excitement that are not only tangible, but contagious.
In the same week that one of our most beloved veteran musicians succeeded in raising thousands of dollars via crowdfunding for the production of his new album, another is hanging out with the Shakiras and Enrique Iglesiases of the world on the iTunes Store best-seller lists. But that's not all: La Macha Colón will travel to Sweden to play with Los Okapi; vinyls of Macabeo‘s albums are being released in Spain and Germany; and the lineup for Austin Psych Fest includes Fantasmes among the best groups in the genre. The good news just keeps coming, and Moody's doesn't suspect a thing.
Years of growth – slow but continuous, against wind and sea – have resulted in this fertile period for the indie music scene, marked by constant record releases and weekends packed with events. The truth is that in the five years that I've been writing about our artists, it hadn't occurred to me to write an article like this before, if it even would have been possible. But the volume and quality of work you'll hear in 2014 deserve it. The world is already listening to us. It's time to spread the word in Puerto Rico.
AJ Dávila – Terror Amor
AJ Dávila, bassist and main composer of Dávila 666, is back with a masterpiece of pop sucio, full of attitude, energy, and catchy choruses. His album features an impressive list of guest artists, from Fofe Abreu (Circo, Fofe y Los Fetiches) to Alex Anwandter of Chile and our favorite Cadillac, Sergio Rotman (Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, El Siempreterno).
Terror Amor will be released on February 18th by Nacional Records, one of the most influential Latin music labels in the United States. Judging by the critical response to the album, AJ can expect a year full of success – and increased attention to the independent music coming out of our country.
Campo-Formio – Here comes… Campo-Formio!
After releasing four EPs on their own label, Dead Mofongo Records, this impressive trio of musicians polishes their sound to perfection with their eagerly anticipated debut album. On Here comes… Campo-Formio!, the group shows off their encyclopediac knowledge of the history of rock, expertly blending an infinite spectrum of musical influences from Puerto Rican punk to surf, prog, and post-punk in the same song.
Campo-Formio also stands out by virtue of the attention to detail that goes into their releases, this time producing a colored double vinyl limited edition. One might call it overkill for Puerto Rico to offer another new jewel of Ibero-American rock, less than a month after Terror Amor – but I would call us all very lucky.
Charasmatic singer-songwriter and performer Eduardo Alegria threw himself into the challenge of creating a new musical identity after the breakup of his former group, Superaquello, one of the most influential and important bands in the history of Puerto Rican rock. The result, Alegría Rampante, debuted in 2011 and took form before our eyes on the stage of La Respuesta via the ambitious and magical conceptual concert series “desde el Hotel Puercoespín.”
The group has been releasing various singles online in past years, but only now are they preparing to complete their debut album, produced with Nicolás Linares at Little Big Audio. To help achieve their goals, Los Rampantes launched a crowdfunding campaign that will serve as a pre-sale for the album.
This post is written by Redod, an entrepreneur, writer, producer and designer based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is the founder and editor in chief of Puerto Rico Indie.
Check out the rest of the year's most-anticipated releases at Puerto Rico Indie.