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Felix Contreras

Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering program about Latin Alternative music and Latino culture. It features music as well as interviews with many of the most well-known Latinx musicians, actors, filmmakers, and writers. He has hosted and produced Alt.Latino episodes from Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, and throughout the U.S. since the show started in 2010.

Previously, Contreras was a reporter and producer NPR's Arts Desk and, among other stories and projects, covered a series reported from Mexico on the musical movement called Latin Alternative; helped produce NPR's award-winning series 50 Great Voices; and reported a series of stories on the financial challenges aging jazz musicians face.

Contreras is a recovering television journalist who has worked for both NBC and Univision in Miami and California. He's a part-time musician who plays Afro-Cuban percussion with various jazz and Latin bands in the Washington, DC, area. He is also NPR Music's resident Deadhead.

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During the course of their performance behind the desk, the four core members of LADAMA — Lara Klaus, Daniela Serna, Mafer Bandola and Sara Lucas — had a chance to display their individual cultural and musical roots as part of an engaging and mesmerizing whole. Represented in glorious musical virtuosity are Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela, with a dash of New York City thrown in just to make it interesting.

This week, new music came in from the around the globe and it settled on our weekly playlist. And as you would expect, they are stylistically all over, but in a very good way. Buenos Aires, Havana, Mexico City and Santo Domingo are all represented, with the sounds of folk, reggae, pop and Cuban guaguancó.

Dig in and enjoy!


Haydée Milanés, "Identidád (feat. Ibeyí)"

It's been a fascinating journey following the trajectory of Rodrigo y Gabriela as they rose from self-imposed exile from their native Mexico on the streets of Dublin to international acclaim and admiration.

All with just two acoustic guitars.

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After winning multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy awards, Juanes is at a point in his caree

At this point, Lila Downs now has the kind of artistic stature among her fans that she has for the women she has celebrated throughout her career. She has always paid tribute to great voices and artist such as Chavela Vargas, Mercedes Sosa and even Joan Baez.

It's not often that Latin music's newest names release music at the same time as one of Latin music's most revered and respected vocalists does. But it happened this week. Girl Ultra and Cuco share space with Omara Portuondo, showing, once again, the vitality of the Latin music world and as well as the possibility that some of today's artists may still be making music 60 years from now.

Personally, I like messages with my music. Some of my first experiences with music beyond the Top 40 format took place during the heat of the Vietnam War which became a high watermark for protest music in this country. It's how I discovered musicians like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Later on, the great voices of protest from Latin America became part of my playlist as songwriters began to speak out against poverty, inequality and racism.

New music makes it way to the Alt.Latino inbox from a variety of sources. This week, one new track comes by way of the popular HBO phenomenon Game of Thrones. Spanish vocalist and Alt.Latino favorite Rosalía and Peruvian musician Alejandro Chal make it onto a taste-making compilation of music inspired by the uber popular show and that's just the tip of the iceberg of a collection of new music.

Our shortlist of must-hear albums this week includes the incredible sonic adventures of Nick Murphy (formerly known as Chet Faker), acoustic, instrumental rock from Rodrigo y Gabriela, a byzantine concept album from The Mountain Goats and more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Felix Contreras and Stephen Thompson as they run through their picks for the best new releases out on April 26.

Featured Albums:

  1. Nick Murphy: Run Fast, Sleep Naked
    Featured Songs: "Sanity," "Sunlight," "Novocaine and Coca Cola"

On this week's Alt.Latino music roundup, check out the latest Latin spins we've heard reflect and cross-reference the cultural roots, settling feelings and lived experiences that are beyond our lifetimes. Yesterday, we were blessed with a new video accompanying Cuco's dreamscape song "Hydrocodone." Likewise, C. Tangana and Alizzz dropped a video for "Para Repartir," a free form visual that settles nicely over the Cuban groove.

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