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The 10 best Latin music albums of 2012

WirikutFest 2012

Wirikuta Fest 2012

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Updated: January 24, 2013 6:15AM

Though bachata hitmakers such as Romeo Santos and Prince Royce, along with newcomer 3BallMTY, ruled the Latin charts this year, many of the best discs came from other corners of the Latin music universe:

1. Cafe Tacuba, “El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco” (Universal Latino): Coming off a five-year hiatus, the group universally hailed as the greatest Latin rock band ever returns with a back-to-basics spirit for the po-mo titled “Object That Used to Be Called an Album.”

2. Alejandro Sanz, “La Musica No Se Toca” (Universal Latino): After bumping hips with Shakira and other “Waka Waka” types on his “Paraiso Express” (2009), the Spanish superstar reverts to his forte, flamenco-influenced Latin pop.

3. Fonseca, “Ilusion” (Sony Music): Moving away from the shadow of early influence Carlos Vives, a fellow Colombian vallenato revivalist, the singer-songwriter conjures up more Latin pop confections, especially the dreamy lead track “Eres Tu Sueno.”

4. Carla Morrison, “Dejenme Llorar” (Cosmica): At this year’s Latin Grammys, the Mexican singer-songwriter picked up awards for alternative album and alternative song, even though she’s a traditionalist along the lines of Jose Alfredo Jimenez and Lola Beltran. Whatever the label, she’s a force to be reckoned with.

5. Gaby Moreno, “Postales” (Warner Latina): On her first all-Spanish disc, the Guatemalan singer-songwriter continues the retro soul/jazz/blues vibe of “Illustrated Songs” (2011), only with a more political twist.

6. Ana Tijoux, “La Bala” (Nacional): The French-Chilean MC addresses the youth protest movement in diverse styles that pit hip-hop against pop/jazz, with guests Jorge Drexler and Brazil’s Curumin along for the ride.

7. Enrique Bunbury, “De Cantina en Cantina” (Ocesa): A live version of the Spanish icon’s “Licenciado Cantinas,” which salutes the great singer-songwriters of Latin America. That disc, released Dec. 13, 2011, barely made the cutoff last year, so here’s some more love for “El Aragonés Errante.”

8. La Arrolladora Banda el Limon de Rene Camacho, “Irreversible ... 2012”

(Disa): The longtime banda kings ruled the airwaves with this disc featuring songs by Mexican icons Joan Sebastian and Espinoza Paz, plus the monster hit “Llamada de Mi Ex.”

9. Joan Sebastian, “Un Lu’Jo” (Skalona): Mexico’s “El Poeta del Pueblo” stretches his comfort zone for this unlikely duet disc that teams him with Latin pop thrush Lucero.

10. “Searching for Sugar Man” (Sony Legacy): Forty years after he faded off into oblivion, Detroit-born troubadour Sixto Rodriguez finally received his due with the “Searching for Sugar Man” documentary. This soundtrack compiles songs from his two early ’70s discs, which owe more to the tied-dyed folk of Bob Dylan/Richie Havens but are nonetheless steeped in Latin soul.

Honorable mentions: Bom­ba Estereo, “Elegencia Tropical”; Juanes, “Tr3s Presents: Juanes MTV Unplugged”; Tito Puente, “Quatro — The Definitive Collection.”

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