The Best Chilean Albums of 2016

Alex Anwandter

The Chilean capital Santiago is one of the most prolific cities in Latin America when it comes to producing indie music. Chilean self-promoted musician Javier Barría once told me that he thought this was due to the fact that Chile has great internet connection, compared to other countries in the region, which allows for people to set up their own websites to showcase and share their music.

Another Chilean musician, Gepe, told me he believes this great moment for Chilean indie music is due to the fact that Chile is a sparsely populated country, with lots of room to grow and very strong and defined scenes in each major city that allow for various artist to thrive.

It might also be that, because of the easy access to technology, and the easiness to connect with other artists, Chilean musicians have found a balance between collaboration, creativity and musical identity.

Whatever the causes, 2016 was another excellent year for Chilean indie music. Here’s just a brief sample of the best music made in the elongated country in 2016.

Alex Anwandter––frequent Gepe collaborator and former member of Teleradio Donoso––for example, launched Amiga, a highly danceable, but also very sentimental techno-pop record, which features a collaboration (“Siempre es viernes en mi corazón”) with the legendary Argentine pop duo Miranda!.

Cristóbal Briceño, who has made a name for himself for his smart and convoluted lyrics, as well as for his public feuds with the media, released two albums this year. First, a surprise release on YouTube as a solo artist called Cuerpo a cuerpo, a mellow, yet melodic record which sounds like an indie pop homage to disappeared Mexican legend Juan Gabriel.

Then, El hombre puede with his band Ases Falsos, a follow-up to their immensely popular 2014 album Conducción. The new album build upon the catchy melodies and captivating bass lines from the previous ones, but adds a more punk-rockish layer, with more guitar distortions and effects, as well as a more in-your-face energy.

Another frequent Gepe collaborator, Pedropiedra, had a new release for the first time in three years: Ocho. It is a highly enjoyable mix of various dance rhythms: funk, disco, new wave and so on.

For his part, Javier Barria has a new dark, introspective, captivating record in Estación Pirque, an album which features frequent collaborations with lyrics and voices that make you truly listen to what is being sung.

There is also the crowdfunding success of La Maca Torres’s Las malas lenguas, a mix of hip-hop, salsa, flamenco and much more, all carried by the versatile and strong lead female voice.

And just to finish with another wonderful female voice, there is the self-defined “blue pop” of Wentru, with their new album Esquimal. The male and female voices of Wentru combine delightfully with the sweet pop arrangements in this relaxing, mellow album.

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