Four years ago we published from Diariocrítico our particular list on ‘The 100 best songs of Spanish pop’, trying to make our little grain of sand an improbable canon of Spanish popular music, a canon that has very few lists of this type. Now we have seen the time to expand that list with several specials in which we will review decade by decade, from the 60s to the one that now ends, the second of the 21st century, the 20 best albums, in our opinion, of each of they. After going through the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s, we arrived at our last stop in the second decade of the 21st century to review the most outstanding albums published between 2010 and 2019 (we have self-imposed a single limitation, choosing a only album by artist, so we will also include a brief selection recommending other albums, published in the same decade, of the top 10).
1. Rosalía – The Evil Will (2018)
There has not been in the entire 21st century a record that would have been more talked about in Spain before its appearance. What if cultural appropriation, what if ‘hype’, what if advertising campaign, what if the new Lola Flores, what if revolution or swindle … With only two songs, three if we count ‘Di Mi Nombre’, the singer, or singer , Catalan made more rivers of ink flow with her second work than much more popular and established artists. But ‘El Mal Querer’ lived up to it, it is an old-fashioned album, in which a story is told, and not a sum of singles. Rosalía looked at herself on albums like ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City ‘by Kendrick Lamar and delivered a work that was a kind of novel or movie, divided into 11 chapters. But there were also other influences like Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ in which the visual is also part of the narrative. Another interesting thing, in the rest of the album there was much more flamenco, something totally conscious. And it is that to that pitch that opened the album and turned it into a star, ‘Malamente’, is followed by guitar and clapping, and his voice like a caress, is ‘Let the moon not rise’, one of the most flamenco moments, and pretty, from the album. But this was still his own vision of the genre, with a spoken intermission in which a common element between flamenco and urban music appears, the two genres that shake hands perfectly on this album, their passion for jewelry and gold . The gigantic expectations were amply rewarded with one of those records that will be remembered for many years.
Other recommended albums: Los Angeles (2017)
2. Bizarre Love Triangle – Salve Discordia (2016)
With their fourth album Triángulo de Amor Bizarro they continued with their upward line, confirming themselves as the most interesting independent band in the country. ‘Salve discordia’ was full of great songs (among them ‘Followers’, our favorite national song of 2016) but it also worked as a whole, as a cohesive work in which there was neither excess nor anything missing. He had the clamor of the critics and rose as the winner of the 2nd Edition of the Noise Awards. It was not for less with a list of songs where there was that incredible tribute to Cure or New order called ‘Baila sumeria’, the approach to reggae / dub in ‘Desmadre estigio’, the round ‘Barca burned’, the immediate ‘Nuestro Siglo Fnord ‘, the spread of’ How he found the Goddess’ or the influences of the great ballads of the 50s in ‘What he did for her when he found her’ and the huge ‘Followers’. The moment when Isa sings “I liked you better when you didn’t speak, when you didn’t ask me for anythingaaaaaaa …” is, to paraphrase Kim Deal, gigantic.
Other recommended albums: Holy Year (2010), Mystic Victory (2013) Inside the light (2013)
3. María Arnal i Marcel Bagés – 45 Brains and 1 Heart (2017)
‘You who come to haunt me’ is the only song that can dispute the title of best song in Castilian of the decade to Rosalía’s ‘I Think of You Mirá’. But this ’45 Brains and 1 Heart ‘is much more than his best song, since the wonderful beginning with’ Canción Total ‘we meet two artists who have managed to create their own universe based on popular Iberian folklore. With little more than Arnal’s delicate and exciting voice and Bagés’s guitar, the duo manages to transmit poetry and beauty combining tradition and experimentation.
4. Standstill – Forward Bonaparte (2010)
Standstill’s evolution is paradigmatic for many bands on the national indie scene, starting with singing in English and then moving on to Spanish and taking much more care of the lyrics. Those of Enric Montefusco started doing hardcore to evolve towards a much more personal style with albums like ‘Vivalaguerra’ or the double ‘Adelante Bonaparte’, where two versions of the song that gives the album its name appear, which are perfect examples of how the Catalans had found the most important song of their career. A conceptual work, in which they were able to experiment with various sound palettes and instruments, achieving a record that is, is excessive and difficult, but at the same time sincere and exciting, as in the wonderful ‘When she plays the piano’ or ‘Song without end ‘.
Other recommended albums: Inside the light (2013)
5. Niño de Elche – Voices from the end (2015)
Francisco Contreras Molina, better known as Niño de Elche, has shown that he is one of the most restless types of Spanish music, as evidenced by his multiple collaborations with people as diverse as Toundra, C Tangana or Los Planetas. Defining him as a flamenco innovator is an understatement because Contreras does not stay in the genre but searches other places like Krautrock, post rock or electronic pop. What he did in ‘Voces del Extremo’ is a highly original concoction in which he made ten poems where flamenco goes hand in hand with electronics and jazz, with the excellent help of a couple of Pony Bravo members, to give life to something totally own.
Other recommended albums: Antología del cante flamenco heterodoxo (2018), Colombiana (2019)
6. Kase. O – The Circle (2016)
In a decade when urban music has been dominated by trap music, the most important album has come from the hand of a lifelong hip hop veteran like Kase. O. His return was through the front door with ‘El Círculo’, a double album, ten years after the last album by Violadores del Verso and five years after his experiment with jazz in ‘Kase.O Jazz Magnetism’. The album was a marvel that reconfirmed him as the most important Spanish MC of all time, shooting rhymes like an AK-47, on fabulous, more organic bases and with more instrumental weight, adding some choruses that stayed marked. The album is full of great songs like ‘Esto no para’, ‘Mitad y Mitad’, in which Najwa collaborates, that happy experiment that is ‘Mazas y catapultas’ or the waver ‘Yemen’, “Yo soy el sol que alumbra streets when the sky is gray. I read the future of MC’s in the foam of my pee. End of mediocrity: the crazy astronomer returns. I am an alchemist, I transform lead into gold. ” With or without money, he is still the king.
Other recommended albums: Kase.O Jazz Magnetism (2011)
7. Pony Bravo – Clapping and hunting (2013)
From that post punk flamenco with which the album begins (‘Turista Ven a Sevilla’), with Niño de Elche on the Spanish guitar and the choruses (anticipating what would come later in ‘Voces del Extremo’), until the closing with the angular ‘The World Faces Great Dangers’, Sevillians deliver one of the most original records of the decade with ‘De palmas y cacerías’. If ‘Mi DNI’ was the song with the most accurate lyrics on the entire album, as well as being a real blow to the world of music criticism (or, as Peter Griffin would say, a pounding in the whole mouth), ‘The neoliberal politician ‘was the most representative song of it. If lyrically it is still great, with those “Sarkozy cosi cosi, Sarzoky cosi cosá”, musically it was as if Gang of Four were led by Héctor Lavoe ready for the party at the end of the world: “Vote for me, because my rumba is good”.
Other recommended albums: Un Gramo de Fe (2010)
8. Rocío Márquez – The Firmament (2017)
Flamenco continues to be the most important music in this country and in this decade it has seen how two heterodoxs, from outside their ranks, like Rosalía and Niño de Elche, gave him a stir again, but perhaps the most important voice from within, nor has it remained within orthodoxy. Rocío Márquez has a privileged voice that won her the prestigious Mining Lamp of the Las Minas Cante Festival in 2008, but she has never forgotten to take risks. In 2017 this wonderful ‘El Firmamento’ appeared, in which he mixed jazz and flamenco with an unusual sulture, as in the incredible title song, ‘El primer rayo de sol’ or ‘Alegrías y pesares’. With the production of the man behind many of the best records of this decade, Raül Fernández Miró, Refree, and the splendid collaboration of the Lorca Project, Márquez plays various flamenco styles with the sole accompaniment of Dani B. Marente’s piano, the magical saxophone by Juan Jiménez and the excellent percussions by Antonio Moreno. A true milestone to put next to ‘Jazz Flamenco’ by Pedro Iturralde or ‘The cicadas are perhaps deaf’ by Jorge Pardo.
Other recommended albums: El Niño (2014), Seen on Thursday (2019)
9. El Guincho – Pop Negro (2010)
The solo work of Pablo Díaz-Reixa Díaz, the man who hides behind El Guincho, has been somewhat overshadowed by his role as producer in Rosalía’s ‘El Mal Querer’ but his records, especially this ‘Pop Negro’ are of the most interesting and exportable things that Spanish music has given in these years. The fascination for Animal Collective is still evident, and in particular Panda Bear, but he mixes it again with a more Caribbean and danceable touch, ‘Pop Negro’ confirms him as a master of ‘sampling’ and rhythm, without forgetting to write songs as fascinating as the essential ‘Bombay’, ‘Novias’ or ‘FM as sexy’.
Other recommended albums: Hyperasia (2016)
10. Last Experience – The House of the Witch (2012)
A whisper, a psychedelic guitar and a melody with the best aromas of Haight Ashbury began a song that, like the rest of the album, was not what it seemed. ‘The Witch’s House’ was broken into a rock blues theme that is released with a guitar solo that contains the best aromas of Rory Gallagher. Although unlike the cake on the cover, an appetizing piece that as you get closer you discover that it is full of worms, the first work of Last Experience left a pleasant aftertaste on your first listen but it improved with each new bite. They were not cool, nor did they pretend to be cool, they did not look at each other in Joy Division, nor in Can and Velvet preferred ‘Loaded’ to ‘White Light / White Heat’. They preferred to look at the Who, Hendrix or Cream, groups that with a voice, a guitar, a bass and a drummer were looking for the nirvana of rock, but instead of aromas from the Mississippi, they appear beyond Jarama. And yes, this was an old-style rock album, with stops in the blues, soul, country or seventies hard rock, but here there are songs that go far beyond the exercise of style, things like ‘Ladyizabella’ , ‘Lo Sentido’, ‘La Espiral’, ‘La Rueda Gira’ or the huge ‘He Muerto Hoy’, which we chose as our favorite national song in 2012, and which should have made them the heirs of bands like Los Enemies or 091.
* (Nepotism, shame, hands up this is a robbery and many worse things will think whoever sees this list and sees that the one who makes it is the brother of the most unknown group that has appeared on it. But look if this album appears here instead Above is because of how little they are known because if it were for personal preferences it would be much higher. This choice also goes for all those groups that have not had their chance and nobody has come to know, for every T. Sex that he did not get to publish an album in life or for every great band that we have not listened to because nobody gave them a ball)
Other recommended albums: Eléctrica (2015), Cultura Caduca (2018)
11. La Bien Querida – Ceremony (2012)
12. Derby Motoreta’s Burrito Kachimba (2019)
13. Exquirla – For those who still live (2017)
14. Silvia Pérez Cruz and Raül Fernandez Miró – Granada (2014)
15. Klaus & Kinski – Earth, Swallow Them (2010)
16. Rufus T. Firefly – Magnolia (2017)
17. Josele Santiago – Transilvania (2017)
18. The Evangelists – Tribute to Enrique Morente (2012)
19. Vetusta Morla – La Deriva (2014)
20. Los Punsetes – LPIV (2014)