Best Albums of 2016
selected by Leonardo Suárez

Camila y La Máquina de Luz <BR>“Vértigo”

Camila y La Máquina de Luz

Young Quito-based singer and composer Camila Terán finally presented her first album, “Vértigo”, last year, and it was another proof of the liveliness of the contemporary Ecuadorean alternative scene.

Recorded together with Camila’s band, La Máquina de Luz, in an old house in Ecuador’s mountains, the album draws inspirations from jazz, pop, alternative and folk, and that mix of diverse influences and Camila’s distinct vocals is both elegant and electrifying.

The record was preceded by a beautiful eponymous video: a minimal, then picturesque, finally surprising clip directed by Paola Granja.

♪♫ Listen: “Vértigo” + album stream

Camila y La Máquina de Luz on Facebook, TwitterSoundcloud.

Da Pawn <BR>“Verano En Coma”

Da Pawn
“Verano En Coma”

An abundance of live shows has certainly made an impact on the musical workings behind Da Pawn.

While the introductory EP “El Peón” heavily featured vocalist Mauro Samaniego’s folk influences, “Verano en Coma” draws from a much wider spectrum of influences, from alternative 90’s guitar tones to the harmony of Brasilian music for an album that not only draws from a bigger spectrum.

But it also presents a bigger variety in its mood, ranging from very soft, acoustic moments to highly-produced, lush electronic breaks.

♪♫ Listen: “Años” + album stream

Da Pawn on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.

El General Villamil <BR>“Jalea”

El General Villamil

Pink-hued tints of psychedelia resound all along El General Villamil’s second release, follow-up to 2014’s “Archipielago 32′” EP.

More sophisticated production brings out the depth of the sounds that the five-piece band bings to the table, straying a little bit from the original lo-fi sound of the first EP, but going from surf-rock to straight-on psychedelic experimentation over the course of a relatively short album.

“Jalea” feels like a band coming to grips with the potential of their sonic trappings.

♪♫ Listen: “Esquina Mapleton” + album stream

El General Villamil on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook.

Guanaco <BR>“Blasfemia”


Guanaco presents his deepest, most unique work to date on his fourth album, titled “Blasfemia”. Gone are the dancehall-infused-by-way-of-90s-hip-hop beats of his previous work, replaced by the wailing requinto’s of traditional ecuadorian musica rocolera.

Thematically, it’s an album that connects with more personally themes in the MC’s life, seemingly inspired by the sonical exploration into his own life and childhood that had to happen in order to assemble an album so deeply rooted in popular music.

What remains untouched, though, is Juan Pablo Cobo’s relentless flow, ripping straight through the entirety of the album.

♪♫ Listen: “Canción Para Juan” (live) + album stream

Guanaco on Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook.

La Madre Tirana <BR>“La Madre Tirana “

La Madre Tirana
“La Madre Tirana “

La Madre Tirana is a new project of Jose Orellana, known from the band Jodamassa.

An exploration in lo-fi pop and rock through acoustic guitars and a very somber tone, La Madre Tirana has become an intringuing presence in the southern part of the country and very well received, in general.

The self-titled album was released in a limited run in June, preceded by single “Alferecia”, released with a fantastic video cut from old b-movies. It is currently available on a pay-what-you-want model over on Bandcamp.

♪♫ Listen: “Alferecia” + album stream

La Madre Tirana on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook.

Lolabúm <BR>“El Cielo”

“El Cielo”

“El Cielo” is a fantastic album.

If at first you are left kind of left dumbfounded by the janky guitars and wails coming from the four-piece band (as I was), the naive approach to songwriting and the reminiscence to 60s Latin American music will certainly allow the songs to worm their way into your head (if not that, then the hook from “Crystal” will give you some pretty great release by the time you come to the end of the album).

Overall, “El Cielo” is an album that is loaded with personality and a youthful outlook on all of the themes it touches.

♪♫ Listen: “Guayaquil Tyci” + album stream

Lolabúm on Bandcamp, SoundcloudFacebook, Twitter.

María Usbeck <BR>“Amparo”

María Usbeck

Following her cultural comeback to South America, Maria Usbeck gave us a beautiful first solo album, a result of the search of her identity and an attempt to rediscover and revivify her roots that started to blur after after 13 years spent in the US.

On “Amparo”, she sings for the first time in Spanish, her native language that – shockingly to her – she started to forget.

The first single off “Aparo”, a four-minute (master)piece titled “Moai Y Yo”, was based on the stories Maria’s grandfather told her about the famous statues on Easter Island.

The song shows Usbeck’s very particular approach to this new material, which was composed on electronic devices but recorded in acoustic fashion. The result is irresistible.

♪♫ Listen: “Moai Y Yo” + album stream

Maria Usbeck on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook.

Mateo Kingman <BR>“Respira”

Mateo Kingman

We kept Mateo Kingman’s fantastic single “Lluvia”, both the clip and the song, on constant repeat throughout 2016 and it remains one of the most memorable things we’ve introduced on beehype yet.

“This song was inspired by the place I grew up, Macas, a small village located in the Ecuadorian Amazon,” Mateo told us. “There is a time of year when there is no rain at all and the people, plants, trees and animals are dying (not literally) of heat and thirst. Thus, the presence of rain is vital for the development of life.”

And so is his debut album “Respira”, released in August, a psychedelic Amazonia-soaked collection of diverse sounds and inspirations that, eventually, always take us back to the place he grew up in and decided to dedicate his art to. We’re dying of thirst to hear and see more, literally.

♪♫ Listen: “Lluvia” + album stream

Mateo Kingman on Soundcloud, Facebook, www.

Morfeo <BR>“Ra”


“Ra” has been on constant rotation ever since it launched, and it remains every bit as interesting and haunting on the 20th listen as it did on the first.

A complete upturn in the band’s sound, from acoustic folk to synth-laden industrial-experimental rock, Morfeo’s sophomore album remains a testament of the versatility of this conglomerate of four musicians that make up the current lineup of Morfeo.

This approach brought them to completion a full LP, and they are currently hard at work on IZANA-MI, their next project, slated to be announced (or maybe released?) on February 22. Stay tuned.

♪♫ Listen: “Más” + album stream

Morfeo on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook.

Swing Original Monks <BR>“Somos”

Swing Original Monks

“Somos” stands somewhere between a reinvention (or, refining) of the sound first established in “La Santa Fanesca” and a complete new album.

Featuring the songs from their debut, but re-worked by Calle 13’s Visitante, along six new songs, “Somos” brings an experience much closer to the band’s frantic live shows directly into listener’s headphones.

♪♫ Listen: “Caminito” + album stream

Swing Original Monks on Twitter, Facebook, www.