La India Canela Merengue Tipico from the Dominican Republic

Ask any Dominican and they’ll tell you, Merengue officially belongs to them. It was created there and has since evolved into the national music of the country. Mainly accordion- and percussion-based, Merengue shares a similar history to many of Latin music’s other genres: it was created by the peasants, championed by the lower classes, considered lewd by the upper class and finally gained acceptance during the reign of dictator Rafael Trujillo, who promoted the genre as the national music of the Dominican Republic. Merengue is still one of the most popular and recognised genres in Latin music to this date, and on Folkways’ newest release Merengue Tipico from the Dominican Republic, the genre is stripped down to its roots and interpreted by popular Dominican artists La India Canela. Whether you’re a veteran of the sounds or have just recently been tempted by the rhythm of Merengue, Merengue Tipico from the Dominican Republic is the album for you. Lovers of the genre will love the high-energy, rootsy versions of familiar Merengue tracks and newcomers to the scene will absolutely adore the always informative accompanying insert on the history of Merengue. From back to front, every track will have your hips shaking and heart racing before you can say, "wepa,” but for real dance floor burners check out "El Papujito,” "Con el Gusto Adentro” or "Caña Brava.” As always, Folkways has put together another brilliant collection of songs that not only capture the essence of the genre but also helps put the music into a greater historical context without over-intellectualising the simplicity of the sound. (Smithsonian Folkways)