New, local music columnist Manuel Montero

September 19, 2012

From the print edition

When was the last time you discovered new music?

If it was recently, then you probably know there’s a whole new meaning behind it. Apps are being designed around finding new tunes, and social networks are being created based on that seemingly simple concept. Because no matter how amazing “The Wall” is (it is, really), a lot of people still like being surprised by new music. 

Manuel Montero

Manuel Montero

Remember the first time you heard your favorite song? It could have been on the radio, could have been on an old record, or at a party somewhere. Maybe you had to wait to hear it again; maybe you ran out and bought it straight away. Whatever it was, it was bound to be an exciting moment. Yet, a vast majority of people choose to hang on to a select few favorites, for their own particular reasons. And that’s okay. 

But if you’re one of those adventurous folks who enjoy being surprised by new bands every now and then, I’d like to direct you to an unlikely source: Costa Rica.

Up until a few years ago, Costa Rican bands were warriors. There was little or no support at all from local media, recording was expensive and pressing albums even more so. The advent of the Internet and the mass production of home studio technology made it easier for bands to record at home and distribute through digital channels. Because of this, recent years have seen a rise in the quality and diversity of local bands. And I don’t mean the cover band at the corner dive bar. I mean bands that create amazing new sounds that people enjoy. Bands that painstakingly record albums, play on the weekends and occasionally tour. 

Granted, the market is quite small, but all in all that only helps to provide a greater sense of adventure to what these creative minds are doing. And that’s as big a part of the music (or bigger even) as the TV in the hotel pool, right? It’s an exciting time for music in Costa Rica, and an even more exciting time for people who enjoy discovering new bands. Lots of bands have taken to writing in English, and with the Internet essentially dropping barriers related to art, you can find rhythms and genres from all over the world.

So where do you start? Where should you focus your search for the next musical surprise? 

Well, for starters, here. I’ll be recommending bands, musicians, albums, shows and anything related to the local scene. Another good tip is to go to bandcamp.com and search “Costa Rica.” You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much material you’ll find, most of which is available free or for a small fee, most of which goes directly to the artist. 

Give yourself the chance to discover new music. Let yourself be surprised. You won’t be let down. 

Manuel Montero is the morning DJ at 104.7 Hit FM (www.1047hit.com), for which he also hosts and produces El Chivo, a weekly show on Latin American rock music. Additionally, he contributes to 89decibeles.com.

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