Kudos Distribution

Rio 18 – Radio Chévere (Legere)

By it’s very nature “Radio Chevére”, the new album by Rio 18 and their host of guests cannot be categorized simply: at once both a Latin mixtape and a radio show, it’s also an internationalist love letter, an offering to the goddess of Tropical Music and all that it encompasses. Ambitious, yes. Foolhardy, possibly. But sincere, committed and FUNKY? Definitely.

With the voice of guest DJ Coco Maria as our guide, “Radio Chévere” takes us on a journey through myriad musical styles and stories. Stopping off at Uruguay, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, California, New York and countless other sonic destinations via Samba, Salsa, Funk, Cumbia, Joropo, Disco, Psychedelic and Electronic stylings, “Radio Chévere” is also a musical metaphor for migration – a journey from one continent, one life to another.

This album features songs in no less than four languages (Spanish, Portuguese, Welsh and English) and includes collaborations with Brazilian legends the +2’s (Moreno Veloso, Kassin and Domenico Lancellotti) on the tender samba ballad, “Oh Minha Querida”, transatlantic Yacht Rock gods Young Gun Silver Fox (“She’s In LA”), “Sao Paulo’s finest” Silvia Machete on the sweaty funk “Maybe Man” and Venezuelan Llanera and Joropo queen Luzmira Zerpa sings “Padre Tiempo”, set to an incessant Afro-Venezuelan pulse. Why this torrent of eclectica now? Having recorded three albums in Welsh, predominantly inspired by Brazilian music, Rio 18 founder, Carwyn Ellis had a hard time following 2021’s “Yn Rio”: “We’d made a concept album with an orchestra. How do you follow that?” he says. “So I retreated to my laboratory, learned as much new music as I could, started learning Spanish too, and ended up writing tunes in a bunch of languages and styles, all of which reflected things I’ve learned or experienced over the last couple of years.”

Since the group’s inception in 2018, on the suggestion of Chrissie Hynde when he toured South America as a member of the Pretenders, Carwyn has been on a voyage of musical discovery through the styles of that continent. And in those five years he learnt a lot! But in a radical new move, Carwyn has stepped back from the mic, preferring to focus on writing and producing, handing over the vocal duties to band members Baldo Verdu (Venezuela) and Elan Rhys (Wales) plus a host of collaborators. “They can sing and express what I’m feeling so much better than I can, and both Elan and Baldo bring an authenticity and strength to our songs that surprise and elevate me. Collaborating with so many other inspiring artists on this album has helped us to grow and assimilate more styles – we’re halfway through our next album already.”

Rio 18 is an internationalist collective with Celtic and Latin roots and love at their core. With eye popping carnivalesque cover art by the brilliant Colombian graphic artist, Yoda, “Radio Chévere” is both timely and timeless.

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