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download some panamanian rock music – for free

September 11, 2010

One of the things that surprised me about Panama was the long standing love for rock’n’roll, especially old school punk. Though better known for its contributions to salsa and reggaeton, Panama has had a vibrant local rock scene in the two decades following the invasion. Grita Fuerte has put together a playlist showcasing some of the best Panamanian rock bands of the moment.

My favorite track is Insensato, by my good friends in Señor Loop. This track is actually a lot less roquero than much of their stuff, but no less ingenious. How many raving Rolling Stone reviews does it take for a band to break internationally? (Yes, that’s Señor Loop with 4 stars next to Gnarls Barkley with 3 and 1/2…)

Also worth noting is Los Amigos, a euro-rock influenced and very contemporary track from El Papo Vecino (also friends and badasses).

Among the rest of the tracks, Cienfue’s Pindín is the standout. An homage to Panama’s haunting típico (folk) music (also called pindín), it evokes the genre without attempting to replicate it. My first nights in Panama City were spent in a now defunct dive hotel in the Casco Viejo (old quarter), just blocks from the bay. In that neighborhood, the music is played loud and early. (At least it was before the recent gentrification.) I recall lying in bed on a Sunday morning, having awoken to sun, sea breeze, and quavering high-pitched wails pouring through the open balcony door. I’d never heard anything like it, but found it – in certain moments – to be as haunting as Hank Williams. Maybe even Skip James.

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