Best Albums of 2015
selected by Alfredo Richner

Nutopia <BR>“Nutopia” EP

“Nutopia” EP

After a couple of years of putting material together for their debut, Nutopia finally delivered one of the most confident pop-rock records of the year with their self-titled EP.

Single “Simpatía” was a surprising turn for the group, with big, melodic, radio-ready hooks and a chorus built for singing out loud.

♪♫ Listen: “Simpatía

Nutopia on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube.

Johnny Otis Dávila <BR>“P.I.F.F.” EP

Johnny Otis Dávila
“P.I.F.F.” EP

Known for years as AJ Dávila’s right hand man, as part of both Dávila 666 and Terror Amor, guitar-slinger Johnny Otis Dávila finally steps into the spotlight with this hard-rocking EP, titled “P.I.F.F.”

These four songs fly by pretty quickly, but not before setting up Johnny as an artist to watch within the garage rock scene.

♪♫ Listen: “Calle de Susto

Johnny Otis Dávila on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook.

Orquesta El Macabeo <BR>“Eutanasia / En la luna” EP

Orquesta El Macabeo
“Eutanasia / En la luna” EP

Still working on their much anticipated fourth album, old-school salsa revivalists Orquesta El Macabeo put out this surprise EP during 2015.

“Eutanasia / En la luna” features covers of two revered Spanish punk bands, La Polla Records and Eskorbuto, that have served these “rockers with salsa attitude” as musical influences.

♪♫ Listen: “Eutanasia

Orquesta El Macabeo on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, www.

Los Nervios / Nosotro <BR>Split EP

Los Nervios / Nosotro
Split EP

One of the great surprises of the year was the return of Los Nervios with a revised lineup and excellent single “Golpe”.

The band paired up with emerging noise-rockers Nosotros on this handsome EP out on local label Dead Mofongo Records which splits two songs each on the physical version of the release (with an extra song each on digital).

♪♫ Listen: Los Nervios – “Golpe” / Nosotro – “Hasta Donde

Los Nervios on Facebook. Nosotro on Facebook.

Fire Letters <BR>“Transmusical” EP

Fire Letters
“Transmusical” EP

Electronic duo Fire Letters matches Frances Marie Rodríguez’s haunting voice to Rodnnie “Conde” Santiago’s icy beats and ethereal production.

Their first EP, “Transmusical”, is a true showcase of how well these two artists work together on tracks like “Come to Me” and “The Girl and The Wolf” — hopefully a sign of things to come.

♪♫ Listen: “Come to Me” + album stream

Fire Letters on Bandcamp, Facebook, YouTube.

Rick Moon <BR>“Cottage Scenes”

Rick Moon
“Cottage Scenes”

“Cottage Scenes” is the second album by singer-songwriter Rick Moon, whose brit pop-influenced melodies and sun-kissed production have made him a favorite of the local scene even though he’s been based in Miami for a few years now.

♪♫ Listen: “Overtown” + album stream / download

Rick Moon on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, www.

Los Bronson <BR>“Los Bronson”

Los Bronson
“Los Bronson”

Los Bronson had a great 2015, having organized their own independent music festival to celebrate the release of their debut album, touring Perú, and playing many of the island’s biggest events and stages.

Their well-curated mix of surf, funk, and rock influences made for an interesting listen and a welcomed addition to Puerto Rico’s roster of instrumental groups.

♪♫ Listen: “Sangre en los adoquines” + album stream

Los Bronson on Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, www.

Robertito Chong <BR>“Hipoglucemia”

Robertito Chong

This young MC’s flow is bar none the most impressive of the current crop of hip hopers trying to make a dent on the land of reggaeton.

Robertito Chong’s second record, “Hipoglucemia”, is more confident, varied, and funny than his debut —but also than pretty much every other hip hop record that came out of Puerto Rico last year.

♪♫ Listen: “Rescate

Robertito Chong on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.

Los Manglers <BR>“Between Worlds”

Los Manglers
“Between Worlds”

Los Manglers are extremely adept at channeling ghosts from rock’s great past, be it sweet doo-wop melodies or early Pink Floyd.

Recorded by the skillful team of psych rockers at Casa Fantasmes, the album is consistent in its lush production, with Laira Díaz’s commanding voice bringing everything together and into focus.

♪♫ Listen: “High Wired

Los Manglers on Bandcamp, Facebook.

Prettiest Eyes <BR>“Looks”

Prettiest Eyes

“Looks” is the debut LP by Prettiest Eyes, a garage rock trio based off Los Angeles that reunites the talented Pachy García and Marcos Rodríguez, formerly of experimental noise rockers Tachdé.

Their brand of rock and roll is — as expected — noisier and more experimental than your average garage group, yet anchored in the unhinged and primal.

♪♫ Listen: “Get Away” + album stream

Prettiest Eyes on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

fAi <BR>“fAi” EP

“fAi” EP

The flip side to Héctor “Stonetape” Hernández’s solo work, fAi showcases the producer’s poppier and more radio-friendly side, along with singer Beatriz Faísca’s bouncy, warm voice.

This is sticky sweet bubblegum pop perfect for teen telenovelas and Saturday’s at the beach, but also carefully crafted and smartly produced.

♪♫ Listen: “Rosas del Tíbet” + album stream

fAi on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube + beehype.

StoneTape <BR>“Wintermute”


One of the island’s most gifted emerging producers, Héctor “Stonetape” Hernández first made a name for himself by helping other groups make some of the most remarkable Puerto Rican rock records ever made (Campo-Formio, Tachdé).

His second collection of songs, “Wintermute”, explores lush baroque pop landscapes unique to our scene.

♪♫ Listen: “Wintermute” + album stream

on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter + beehype.

Los Pepiniyoz <BR>“Alta tensión”

Los Pepiniyoz
“Alta tensión”

Los Pepiniyoz are elder statesmen within the local punk community, having released several records over the span of a decade on their own label, Rokirol Records.

“Alta Tensión”, their fourth LP, is nearly flawless in execution, dialing up the band’s pop-punk charm to eleven and delivering track after track of hooky, ebullient melodies.

♪♫ Listen: “Deja La Ciudad” + album stream

Los Pepiniyoz on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr.

Velcro <BR>“El Nocaut”

“El Nocaut”

The hardest working man in Puerto Rican hip hop, Velcro, returns with a new star-studded mixtape a decade after delivering his very first.

That would be in and of itself plenty reason for celebration — but what makes “El Nocaut” a true knockout is the MC’s combative, confident delivery that renders him equally as dangerous even at his most relaxed.

♪♫ Listen: “Tate quieto” (feat. Báez Rivera & Nébula) + album stream

Velcro on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Zafakon <BR>“Release”


Metal masters Zafakon aimed high for their third release and came back with a progressive metal masterpiece.

Not content with raising the bar for themselves on “Release”, they ended up raising the bar for the entirety of Puerto Rico’s metal scene with their crushing production, dexterous playing, and smart compositions that dare peak outside the box.

♪♫ Listen: “Arbeit Macht Frei” + album stream

Zafakon on Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube.

Alegría Rampante <BR>“Se nos fue la mano”

Alegría Rampante
“Se nos fue la mano”

Getting to finally listen to “Se Nos Fue La Mano” in 2015 felt like nothing short of a minor miracle. The long-awaited debut by Alegría Rampante began gestating a decade ago as discarded songs intended for Superaquello, singer-songwriter Eduardo Alegría’s previous (and hugely influential) alt-rock group, responsible in large part for birthing our current music scene.

Epic in scope like very few other records released last year, this concept album about the decline of Puerto Rican civilization goes from peak-Radiohead guitar freakouts to hushed, confessional balladry, leaving no musical stones unturned on the way to its 80s-inspired gospel choir conclusion.

Cleverly written and bravely performed, it is a record that will stand the test of time and provide us with questions and answers for years to come.

♪♫ Listen: “El Recipiente/Tsunami” + album stream

Alegría Rampante on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube + beehype.