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THE BEST OF 2007 | LATIN POP

Artists from across the map expand musical boundaries

December 16, 2007|AGUSTIN GURZA

Calle 13, "Residente of Visitante" (Sony). The devilish duo from Puerto Rico is more mature though no less outrageous in its sophomore effort, expanding the boundaries of urban Latino with two of the most memorable songs of the year -- the deliciously seductive "Tango del Pecado" and the gritty immigrant anthem "Pal Norte," with a chorus by the Cuban hip-hop trio Orishas.

Juanes, "La Vida Es . . . Un Ratico" (Universal). The Colombian star returns to form with an emotionally and sonically charged album infused with hope and determination in the face of personal and social turmoil.

Manu Chao, "La Radiolina" (Nacional). A layered, loopy sequence of melodies and themes runs through the latest solo album from the Barcelona-based, Paris-bred musician, unifying threads of his eclectic style into a commanding statement.

Federico Aubele, "Panamericana" (ESL Music). This Argentine singer-songwriter takes inspiration from the Pan American Highway to create an album that connects cultural threads traversing the continent (bolero, tango, reggae) while bringing nostalgia, plus a warm Spanish guitar, to his cool electronica.

Kevin Johansen, "Logo" (Sony BMG). The droll baritone from Argentina via Alaska finds his voice again in this delightful bilingual work that uses cumbia, tango, folk and (U.S.) country as musical vehicles for his smart, satirical writing.

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agustin.gurza@latimes.com

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