July 5th is independence in Venezuela, my country of origin. And right now Venezuela is all over the news for all the wrong reasons but we are not going to talk about that. Today we are going to celebrate my country by giving you the ten Venezuelan bands and duos I consider the best.
Venezuela is geographically located in South America. However 80% of its population lives along the Caribbean coastline, therefore the music of choice is tropical. Some of the biggest names in this genre include Oscar D’León and Guaco. But this country is home to 30 million people and it has produced artists in other scenes such as Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Arca, a producer for Björk and Kanye West.
Venezuela is also home to a vibrant rock scene that emerged in the early 1980s with progressive rock bands dominating it. Few rock bands survived the 90s, however the 21st century has produced a new wave of alternative rock bands with widespread international recognition.
The following top ten list is of my favourite bands.
#10 Los Mesoneros
Los Mesoneros (The Waiters) are an alternative rock band from Caracas formed by five high school friends in 2006. First, a teen rock band that played in local festivals, their 2011 debut LP, Indeleble (Indelible) gathered three Latin GRAMMY nominations. Similar to: The Strokes, Pierce the Veil.
#9 Zapato 3
Zapato 3 (Shoe 3) was a progressive rock band formed in the early 1980s by another set of high school mates in Caracas. They went on to become one of the most iconic Venezuelan rock bands. They disbanded in 1999 however their hits are still heard among rock fans. Similar to: The Cure, New Order
Jahkoga (Seed of Jah) is a reggae band from Maracaibo in western Venezuela formed in 2009. This is a socially-conscious band whose lyrics portray everyday issues intertwined with the Rastafarian philosophy. They are also one of the hottest band in the alternative scene of the country attracting youth from all backgrounds. Similar to: UB40, Matisyahu
#7 Desorden Público
Desorden Público (Public Disorder) formed in 1995 and is the most important ska band in the country. Their lyrics often reflect the social problems the country has been facing and because of this some of their songs had been banned by the government. “I wish all politicians were paralytic” are among their most controversial lyrics. Similar to: Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers.
#6 Masseratti 2lts
Masseratti 2lts is an electronic music duo by brothers Armando and Fernando Gómez. They began producing music while waiting for the early morning matches of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Since then they have released nine albums containing elements of downtempo, chillout, house, and even traditional Venezuelan rhythms. Similar to: Massive Attack, Portishead
Charliepapa hails from the small Andean city of Mérida and they can be regarded as Venezuela’s stoner rock band due to their psychedelic sounds and surreal lyrics: “Go to the Draa Hamada” or “Once again I see her levitate”. Formed in 2001, their latest album Y/O earned them their first pair of Latin GRAMMY nominations. Similar to: Tame Impala, MGMT
Viniloversus is a garage rock band from Caracas formed in 2004. They are characterized by their heavy sounds and a strong vocalist. Their last album received three Latin GRAMMY nods and they have recently entered the Anglophone market with their new song “Only Hungry for You”. Similar to: Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon
#3 Los Amigos Invisibles
Los Amigos Invisibles (The Invisible Friends) are an alternative pop band from Caracas formed in 1991. Their music is a mixture of dance, funk, acid jazz, and traditional music with absurdist and easy to sing-along lyrics that are present on every party. During their 25 years of career, they have received one Latin GRAMMY and one GRAMMY nomination. Similar to: Jamiroquai, Moloko
#2 Dermis Tatú/Sentimiento Muerto
No list of “best Venezuelan bands” is complete without either of the legendary Sentimiento Muerto and Dermis Tatú. The first formed in 1983 and the latter was established by some of their ex-members. Their sound was very consistent with the progressive rock bands that dominated the 1980s and both of them served as an influence for other bands not only in Venezuela but in the entire Hispanic world. Similar to: Marillion, Jethro Thull
#1 La Vida Bohème
La Vida Bohème is a Latin GRAMMY-award winning band from Caracas formed in 2006. Their musical style can be describe as post-punk and alternative rock, but they sure blend everything from hard rock to tropical music, and they are incredible. They often have philosophical lyrics reflecting the trauma of our country while having to deal with our own personal issues. Both of their albums are themed around this topics and have earned them respect within the Latin America’s alternative music scene.