Best Albums of 2017
selected by Leonardo Suárez

EVHA <BR> “El Viejo Hombre de Los Andes”

“El Viejo Hombre de Los Andes”

El Viejo Hombre de Los Andes comes forth with a series of songs that find the pulsing beats in andean music and wrap them up in a complex package that rescues not only the sounds but also the tales of the mountains and the jungles and forest on their skirts.

During a playthrough of EVHA’s debuts There are times at which you will actually hear birdsong, and others at which your brain might just liberally insert them as it sees fit. Nature and technology collude for an album that is at times very complex and even a little bit difficult to listen to, but extremely rewarding for those that decide to stick around for the experience.

EVHA is music for your most intense dances, meditating, or for contemplating your favorite landscapes with your headphones on, especially if those happen to be located on the steep andean mountainsides. Sanjuanitos, bombas and pasillos all echo and bounce through the album’s ethereal soundscapes..

♪♫ Listen: “Despacio, adentro” + album stream

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

Guardarraya <BR> “Me Fui a Volver”

“Me Fui a Volver”

It has been 8 years since Guardarraya last released an album. The new album title “Me Fui a Volver”, seems entirely fitting given their long absence – a nonsensical idiom that has been a staple of colloquial talk in Quito-, it roughly translates to “I went to return”. The sound of Guardarraya has always about mixing some of the more traditional sounds that were inescapable during a normal upbringing in Ecuador, interspersed with some more contemporary elements of rock, at times spoken word, and in a couple very specific times hip-hop.

It has always been a sound that feels, at least to local youths, very akin to the living experience in any of the andean cities, a sound that draws as much from the traditional sounds of the andes as it does from the canteens found in the underbellies of the traditional historic centers of each of these urban settlements. “Me Fui a Volver” finds them digging even deeper into the folkloric roots that have always been part of their music while also expanding their sonic horizon through a heavy use of synthesizers where there had been none or very little.

“Me Fui a Volver” is a tremendous collection of songs with a sonic palette as diverse as the themes it touches upon -life after death, somber tales of sad clowns, repenting recounts of hangovers and tales of unrequited love- all to be found in the album’s one hour span.

♪♫ Listen: “Payaso Andrés” + album stream

Guardarraya on Facebook, Twitter, www.

Hiato <BR> “Linea Coral”

“Linea Coral”

Hiato is an electronic duo whose energetic live performances have gained them a lot of recopgnition from the local public.

“Linea Coral” is an outstanding album with angular rhythms, deep synthesizer soundscapes, ushering in the first album from Ecuador to display notable vaporwave influences. It is an album that at times remains minimalistic, while at others being very very crowded with layers upon layers of electronics.

The first single, “Escala”, which you can listen to below features drums from Jazz The Roots’ Raul Molina, as well as a sampled rhythm from now defunct Macho Muchacho’s “Tropicalia Super Estéreo”.

♪♫ Listen: “Escala

Hiato on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram.

Hombre Pez <BR> “Extranjero”

Hombre Pez

Classic rock n’ roll, psychedelic cumbia, hip-hop. It’s all in Hombre Pez’ latest. “Extranjero” calls for an uprooting of our youth and a mix of all our cultures and sound, pondering if it’s of any worth holding onto nationalities, flags and borders while symbolically blurring the lines between psychedelic rock, southern cumbia and folklore for an album that is simultaneously nostalgic and extremely innovative.

The album also finds Sebastian Game exploring and connecting with a softer, more tender side on tracks such as “Canción de Cuna” and “La Sangre Llama”.

“Extranjero” is a more diverse body of work than 2014’s blistering, heavy “Los Humanos Ya No Son Tan Amigables”, which incorporates a much welcomed wide array of new influences into Hombre Pez’ arsenal of sounds, without leaving behind some of the heavier aspects that defined the debut album’s sound. A fresh change of direction that manages to feel very authentic, and at times even heartfelt.

♪♫ Listen: “El Diablo” + album stream

Hombre Pez on Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram.

Jazz the Roots <BR> “Lúpiter”

Jazz the Roots

Jazz the Roots take us on a cosmic trip to “Lúpiter”, a planet of dense rhythms and grandiose, sprawling soundscapes.

For their sophomore album, Jazz The Roots bring a collection of themes that incorporates element of hip-hop, psychedelia, jazz, ska, and reggae for a result that is at times very laid-back and at others gets really hectic and crowded. It is best described as a sonic journey that must be experienced first-hand, allowing the sounds to conjure images in your head as the quintet guides you through the album’s twelve tracks.

Featured in the album are three chilean guests Tiano Bless, Matiah Chinaski and Como Asesinar a Felipes’ incendiary Koala Contreras, collaborations that came together during the album’s recording sessions, which were held in Santiago de Chile, where their guitarist originally hails from.

“Lúpiter” shows a band that, while being composed of musicians that are brilliant individually, as a group they form a cohesive, spacious sound in which their individual sounds play off each other in very interesting ways.

♪♫ Listen: “Transformando” + album stream

Jazz The Roots on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

La Madre Tirana <BR> “La Madre Tirana II”

La Madre Tirana
“La Madre Tirana II”

Raw sentiment and an intense outpour of emotion tinge the tone of La Madre Tirana’s second record. Their energetic live shows have situated them as one of the most interesting outfits among the local rock and roll bands.

“La Madre Tirana II” boasts some great songwriting and masterful arrangements, with string sections and subtle organs, which echo 70’s hispanic rock such as Los Iracundos and the sorts, accompanying some of the album’s highest points.

It’s an artifice used very successfully, and that has been gaining traction with other bands such as United States’ Chicano Batman and Argentina’s Los Espiritus. The album is not, by any means, a one trick pony, however, and remains interesting and diverse from the initial glitchy, angular sounds of “La Madre II” to the heavy, heartfelt chords and singing in “Crucifixión”

♪♫ Listen: “Barcos Ebrios” + album stream

La Madre Tirana on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook.

La Máquina Camaleón <BR> “Amarilla”

La Máquina Camaleón

The second album in La Máquina Camaleön’s color-coded discography ended their career.

Or so it seemed, the album was released in the weeks surrounding both their international festival debut in Lollapalooza Argentina and their apparent breakup. The band has come back, however, and “Amarilla” sees them retaining the same surreal, navel-gazing approach to the themes of love, thinking on your feet (or with your feet, rather) and going with the flow in life in a more upbeat, relaxed manner than the violent, at times abrasive “Roja”.

Some of the same ideas echo through the music, while a newfound lightheartedness and playfulness transport us to a dreamy dancefloor with pulsing drum beats, slinky bass lines and sprawling synthesizers.

“Todo es imperfecto menos bailar.”

♪♫ Listen: “El Manual del Perfecto Negociante” + album stream

La Máquina Camaleón on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram.

Pánico <BR> “Señales” EP

“Señales” EP

Pánico has remained, through the years, one of the more interesting (and prolific) projects in the local scene.

For “Señales”, they find themselves exploring more spacious compositions and atmospheres, while also allowing for songs that are a bit longer than their usual structures, self-defined as “micro-pop”.

The result is an ambitious album that feels right at home among international hit albums such as King Krule´s “The Ooz” or breakout vaporwave influenced artists such as Cuco. The overall product, however, remains succinct, with the whole album clocking in at 23 minutes.

23 very good minutes.

♪♫ Listen: “Banderitas de plástico” + album stream

Pánico on: Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.

Rio Mira <BR> “Marimba del Pacífico”

Rio Mira
“Marimba del Pacífico”

Marimba del Pacífico is a celebration of the shared afro tradition that is present in Ecuador and Colombia, told through the ancestral instrument that is its namesake (and which was in 2015 named by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.)

A project that has been in the works for a long time, it was recorded by a supergroup of sorts, featuring heavyweight afro musicians from both Ecuador and Colombia, such as Hugo Quiñonez, Karla Kanora and Esteban Copete coming together through producers Iván Benavides and Ivis Flies, to rescue and share with all of us the rich oral and musical tradition that joins the warmer regions of both countries.

Symbolically, the project is named after the river that flows through both nations, sonically, it presents a diverse landscape of sounds (andareles, bombas, rhythms indigenous to the latin-american pacific coast), masterfully performed and recorded.

It is at times an album that requires your undivided attention and elicits a contemplative response from the listener; while at other times it just reflects the daily lives (and struggles) and the warm, joyful, celebratory nature of the people whose tradition it represents.

♪♫ Listen: “Adiós Morena” + album stream

Rio Mira on Bandcamp, Facebook.

Wañukta Tonic <BR> “Wañukta Tonic” EP

Wañukta Tonic
“Wañukta Tonic” EP

Wañukta Tonic comes from legendary ecuadorian musician Alex Alvear and a handful of musicians, come together to create a blend of traditional Ecuadorian music, jazz, reggae and rock and roll.

The album features a collaboration from indigenous musician Enrique Males on its opening track, and some passages in kichwa throughout the short record, as well as all manner of folkloric instrumentation mixed with masterful jazz playing and Alvear’s lyrics, which at times hanker back to protest music and at others ponder the feelings of nostalgia and being an outcast in a foreign land.

This self-titled EP is certainly short, but it leaves a long lasting impression.

♪♫ Listen: “Ñuka Shunku” + album stream

Wañukta Tonic on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.