Madeline Link is the brain behind the Canadian alt-rock recording project PACKS. Recently she’s found herself living in Mexico City, after completing a papier-mâché residency there. So to celebrate the release of her latest record, Crispy Crunchy Nothing — out now on Fire Talk Records — she put together this playlist of the songs that have soundtracked her time down in CDMX.
— Annie Fell, Editor-in-chief, Talkhouse Music
Los Prisioneros — “Estrechez De Corazón (Narrowness of Heart)”
It’s midnight in Pullay and I’m sitting at a table at a snack stand off the side of a two-lane highway with my boyfriend and five of his friends. Some dogs and chickens are also wandering around. The shrooms are wearing off and we’re all starving. I’ve ordered a completo, which is a delicious hot dog that has avocado, chopped tomatoes, and mayo on it. Everyone is chatting quietly as this song blasts through the enormous bluetooth speaker behind us, and I notice that I absolutely cannot stop shimmying my shoulders to the snare hit no matter how hard I try. The song’s fakeout ending hits and I ask, “qué fue eso?” Everyone looks at me like I’ve just blasted the world’s loudest most obtrusive fart. “Es Los Prisioneros,” says Joaquin.
Nicki Nicole —”Colocao” (Tiny Desk Concert version)
When the horrendous opportunity for PACKS to make a full band livestream came up, this is what I wish it could have been like. But alas, I’m not a suave Argentine rap/pop goddess! Seeing Nicki Nicole perform at Viña del Mar this year, I became an instant fan. Watching her Tiny Desk after, I was momentarily obsessed. Now I’m just happy to revisit this session whenever I feel like seeing badass ladies (and some dudes) create effortlessly perfect acoustic pop.
Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood, and the Rajasthan Express — “Chala Vahi Des”
This is my favorite song off of Junun (2015), the product of Jonny Greenwood, Nigel Goderich, and Shye Ben Tzur teaming up with the Rajasthan Express to make an album in the cavernous halls of a majestic old Indian fort. The delicate organ and velvety guitar strumming combined with the singers’ powerful, booming voices never fail to make my arm hair stand up!
Wendy Sulca — ”Cerveza, Cerveza”
She says what many people are feeling with so much emotion.
Spinetta — “Ganges”
At first, I am slightly annoyed by the strident guitar riff and the strained quality of Spinetta’s whine, but I save this song to listen to later regardless… instinctually? The next evening, a song comes on as I’m cooking and I whip out my phone to see what’s playing! “Ganges,” again. OK? The next morning I put it on while walking to the store and inadvertently start humming along to the weird chord changes and joining in on the vocal gymnastics of the chorus. I admit to myself begrudgingly that I love this song.
Prince — “Ballad of Dorothy Parker”
“I took another bubble bath/ With my pants on”
Juan Wauters — ”Milanesa al Pan” (ft. Zoe Gotusso)
Juan Wauters writes music that instantly makes me feel like everything is totally fine. Here, he’s written a song about eating a sandwich.
Arianna Puello — “Oye Lo Que Traigo”
The bars cut clear through the chatter of the party and the sizzle of the grill. I need to know who this is so badly I loudly comment on how awesome the song is. Ismael loudly agrees back — he is the DJ in question! I get him to write down the name and artist in my notebook so I never have even the smallest chance of forgetting about this song.
San Giovanni Bassista — “Summer Sweat”
I’m sitting in front of a roaring fire and am slightly too high to be comfortable around so many people I’ve never met. Every 20 minutes a man in cargo pants and a nice warm green sweater carries around a board with slim slices, offering fresh hot wood-fired pizza to anyone still hungry. The pizzeria isn’t open yet, but the owners are working hard on building their loyal clientele. I can see it working in real time. This song comes on, I look at Diego, my stomach full of fresh pizza, and feel very happy.
Hermanos Gutiérrez — “Rain God”
There are no words in the song, there are no words in my brain! Just enjoying the reverbed out simplicity of how a riff can thrive when you nurture it and let it grow.