Best Albums of 2018
by Alfredo Richner from Puerto Rico Indie

Ciénaga <BR> “Isla Eterna”

“Isla Eterna”

After two disastrous hurricanes hit Puerto Rico back to back in September 2017, the island was left to endure one of the longest power blackouts ever recorded in modern history.

Arming himself with battery-operated samplers, synths, and recording equipment, José Iván Lebrón Moreira set out to make sense of the struggles that enveloped the country. His ambient meditations make his debut a cathartic journey that documents our experience through sound and points towards comunal healing through acceptance.

♪♫ Listen: “Baja Señal” + album stream

José Iván Lebrón Moreira on Facebook, Instagram.

La Iglesia Atómica <BR> “Gran Muro de Coma”

La Iglesia Atómica
“Gran Muro de Coma”

Puerto Rico’s original stoner rock outfit La Iglesia Atómica arose some thirty years after its inception to capitalize on its influence – and to teach a few useful lessons to up-and-coming rockers still learning the ropes.

Their new album called “Gran Muro de Coma”, released on vinyl via German label Clostridium Records, is a three-song suite that launches listeners into outer space for a satisfying journey to the farthest reaches of rock and roll.

♪♫ Listen: “La Nube de Oort” + album stream

La Iglesia Atómica on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram.

Los Wálters <BR> “Caramelo”

Los Wálters

Puerto Rico’s favorite synth-pop band delivered the goods once more in 2018 with this deliciously sweet EP, “Caramelo”, which features one of the group’s catchiest singles to date, “Calma”. The EP was quickly followed up with two other singles that fans should definitely not miss out on, “Lava” and “Fragancia”. And if you are looking for even more boricua synth-pop goodness, look no further than touring Wálter Furry Vowels’s debut EP, titled simply “EP 1”, and his collaboration with the band on single “Temblor”.

♪♫ Listen: “Calma” + album stream

Los Wálters on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Nutopia <BR> “Huye”


After a lineup shakeup that resulted in the band losing members but opening up their guitar-centric sound to a more nuanced and synth-friendly approach, Nutopia released their sophomore record in 2018 to local acclaim.

Lead single “Huye” is a pop-radio friendly tune that weaves in politics and fake news between a call-to-action chorus that might not suggest a particular path forward, but offers plenty of forward momentum.

♪♫ Listen: “Compuertas” + album stream

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

Negro González <BR> “Anécdotas”

Negro González

Puerto Rico’s hip-hop scene has consistently offered a respite from reggaeton’s generally uninspired lyrical content. Boom bap rhythms and conscious lyrics might remain buried in the local underground, but the quality of island emcee’s has never been lacking.

With his debut “Anécdotas”, Negro González has positioned himself as one of the Puerto Rican rappers to watch out for —skilled, focused, and hungry.

♪♫ Listen: “Rap Latino” + album stream

Negro González on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Trending Tropics <BR> “Trending Tropics”

Trending Tropics
“Trending Tropics”

After Calle 13’s members decided to go their separate ways, Eduardo Cabra (aka Visitante) spent a few years producing other people’s projects, even winning 2017’s Latin Grammy for Producer of the Year.

Paired with Dominican singer-songwriter Vicente García and a slew of guest vocalists, Trending Tropics finally brings the multi-instrumentalist out of the studio and back on the road with a new band concept that addresses our over-reliance on technology while featuring a robot as lead performer.

♪♫ Listen: “Elintelné ft. Wiso G” + album stream

Trending Tropics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Dan Siego <BR> “Bloodpuncher’s Greatest Hits”

Dan Siego
“Bloodpuncher’s Greatest Hits”

Loud, and buzzy, and quick to the point, this bass and drums duo was the sound of 2018 kicking you in the face. Dan Siego’s debut features 14 tracks that don’t outlast their welcome, averaging about a minute and a half per song. They function as short bursts of rhythm and noise, spastic in nature —each offering an opportunity for release.

Indie label Dead Mofongo Records put out “Bloodpuncher’s Greatest Hits” on cassette, and I’ve got to say that the music lends itself really well to the format, which adds to its bite an extra layer of hiss.

♪♫ Listen: “Trampstamp” + album stream

Dan Siego on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram.

Pinc Louds <BR> “Delancey St. Station”

Pinc Louds
“Delancey St. Station”

In “Delancey St. Station”, singer-songwriter Federico Ausbery pulls off his madcap vision for a pop group, born out of New York City subway station busking yet refreshingly unconstrained by its surroundings and any particular musical style or leaning.

The world of Pinc Louds is populated with the fantastical, including cosplaying band members willed to life by Ausbery as lead singer Claudi Love. Clearly meant to be experienced rather than merely listened to, the music of Pinc Louds does enough to suggest its technicolor world in recorded form —a win for everyone who’s yet to witness the band live.

♪♫ Listen: “Shaking” + album stream

Pinc Louds on Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Fullminator <BR> “Crackattack”


Fullminator are a crossover band that quickly built its reputation in the indie circuit thanks to an explosive live show that highlighted the group’s trash metal chops and hardcore punk roots. Except for the lead singer, bandmates wear purple and green cyber-cockroach masks with feelers —and oh yes, I forgot to mention their giant robot, Crackbot, who shoots out lasers from its hands from the stage.

As expected, their first full-length record is blistering fast, obnoxious, and full of sci-fi world-building. But strip away all the gimmicky (super fun) elements and you are still left with a core group of talented musicians with catchy and dynamic metal tunes.

♪♫ Listen: “Johnny Died In A Mosh” + album stream

Fullminator on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Balún <BR> “Prisma Tropical”

“Prisma Tropical”

When Balún resurfaced some four or five years ago with their then new single “Años Atrás”, the electronic collective had successfully fused their dream-pop production to the dembow rhythm that powers much of reggaeton. Dreambow, they called it, a bit cheekily —yet savvily. The band knew it had struck indie gold.

Fast-forward to 2018, and Balún handily delivered on the promise of that early single, mining the Caribbean rhythms that had soundtracked their youth for inspiration into further explorations of… well, of dreambow. And with the rise in popularity of latinx pop music around the world, “Prisma Tropical” manages to sound both timeless and timely.

♪♫ Listen: “El Espanto” + album stream

Balún on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.