A civil war may have shaped the course of Guatemala’s history, but so has the ingrained music of the Spanish and Mayan peoples. Amid native woodwinds and percussion thrives a resistance that comes from song. Here are five notable music acts from the Central American country.
Fresh off their first album, Pasa el Tiempo, this searing punk quartet serve it up organically. If Face to Face spiced up with more hardcore vocals are your thing, Trastorno are your guys. Known for tearing the roof off small venues and house parties, the foursome are just begging to be scooped up by Kevin Lyman’s Warped Tour family.
The universal appeal of house and other electronic genres didn’t bypass Guatemala. In fact, its DJ-driven culture is drawing outsiders from all around. This is thanks in part to Wicho Coto, who infuses the most modern of elements with Mayan flutes and tribal drums. His elemental rhythms and zeal to get the crowd moving earned him a spot among Comvite’s top turntable masters.
Just Make Music is the name of their debut record, and it’s an incredible testament to this band’s experimentation. Soulful big-band jazz? No problem! Grizzly Bear–like grooves? Absolutely. They name Maroon 5 among their influences, but Filoxera’s debt to Adam Levine’s pop juggernaut hails back to that group’s earlier, less cheesy works. Whether you want to mellow out or tap your toes, these formative artists have your back.
There is danger and immediacy in her art. The daughter and niece of citizens who directly dealt with the Guatemalan civil war, Lane has adopted a militant feminist style to combat conservatism and femicide in her country. Hip-hop has given this 32-year-old an outlet to fight misogyny through thought-provoking earworms such as “Este cuerpo es mío.” (Thank you to Remezcla for the suggestion.)
A feel-good prince of electronic pop, Ale Q has gotten kudos from music’s biggest names. (Plus, according to his Facebook page, he’s his mother’s favorite first son. She must be so proud!) He’s tapped into the fever pitch of EDM, mixing esoteric rises and drops with monumental choruses. (Dig the spirited refrain of “Open My Eyes,” one of his signature songs.)
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