Hailing from Bogota, Aterciopelados are Colombia’s best known rock export. First off, I have to give props to any band that has the courage to call themselves Aterciopelados – it’s a mouthful of a name even for someone fluent in Spanish and it took a hack like me quite a while before it started to roll easily off my tongue. The name best translates as “the velvety ones”.
The band is essentially a collaboration between Andrea Echeverri and Héctor Bultrago that began over ten years ago. They started out in the early ’90s as a feminist punk band but eventually evolved and started incorporating trip-hop, cumbia, and other traditional Latin sounds with rock and roll. They also have s strong political and environment bent which finds its way into their lyrics on a regular basis.
I was originally drawn to Andrea Echeverri’s eponymous solo debut, released in 2005. It’s a sensual, lush album full of smartly crafted songs that garnered several Grammy nominations. From there, I delved into a few releases in the Aterciopelados catalog, starting with La Pipa de la Paz and then moving on from there to Oye and then to my favorite Rio. Rio has tremendous emotional depth and was included in the recent Top Ten Latin Albums of All Time list published by Rolling Stone.