One of Pop & Hiss' favorite radio shows is KPFK's "Travel Tips for Aztlan," the L.A. region's longest-running Latin-alternative music program, as well as one of its most clued-in and unpredictable.
Marco Torres, the Saturday night show's founder, and co-host Mariluz Gonzalez go beyond the usual heavy-rotation, instantly disposable Spanish-language synth-pop that dominates commercial airwaves. Instead, the pair consistently bring attention to deserving alternative rock, pop, electronica from across Latin America, as well as the bilingual United States. Their antennae are especially well-tuned to L.A. artists, both emerging and established.
All those criteria illuminate their choices for the best Latin-alternative albums of 2012, which don't include -- surprise! -- Cafe Tacuba's excellent new disc, "El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco" (The Object Previously Called a Record), an album that, ironically, has turned up on several prominent non-Latin music critics' best of 2012 lists.
In this case, however, the omission can't be dismissed as an affectation, because all of Torres' and Gonzalez's choices are tough to pick a bone with. Torres' choices include L.A. second- and third-wave Chicano outfits Quetzal ("Imaginaries"), La Santa Cecilia ("El Valor") and neo-jarocho fusionists Las Cafeteras ("It's Time"), along with Gaby Moreno's "Postales" and Carla Morrison's "Dejenme Llorar."