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Aural Pleasure Review

Various Artists: 'Café Con Música'

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It took about three years for Los Angeles-based label Nacional Records to convince Starbucks to sell a cool Latin alternative compilation in its stores. The result is a mostly solid bag of bands and solo artists signed or licensed by the label. You get heavyweights like Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux ("1977," from her eponymous previous album), Colombian Andrea Echeverri ("A Eme O," from her first solo album, and "Río" with her band Aterciopelados), the electro-reggae of NY's Pacha Massive ("All Good Things"), Guadalajara's vastly underrated songstress Sara Valenzuela (if "Para continuar" doesn't hook you, nothing will), and an alternative pop gem called "Chau" by Uruguay's No Te Va Gustar, among others. But you also get Barcelona's overrated the Pinker Tones with the lame "The Whistling Song," arguably one of their worst singles (please someone tell these guys you don't pronounce the "t"). Overall, this is a fun and at times impressive bilingual (but mostly Spanish-language) introduction to the different shades of today's Latin alternative music. If you don't find it at Starbucks, you can order it through Amazon.

★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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