Este informe no está disponible en español.


Latin Sounds: It's Rock And Roll In Any Language

By Ed Morales

September 2, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Newsday. All Rights Reserved.

LATIN ALTERNATIVE'S move into the mainstream Latin music world has often been led by fusion acts such as Aterciopelados, Juanes, Si Se and Manu Chao, who mix conventional rock sounds with folkloric rhythms, reggae and, increasingly, electronica. All of these bands are on Billboard's Latin Music Top 100. But although it has been suggested that Latin alternative has evolved beyond just plain rock, there are still many bands that stick to a more traditional guitar, bass and drums format. Several releases this summer show that Latino youth still thirst for the universal language of rowdiness - for the moment, rocanrol (Spanglish for "rock and roll") lives!

Although Jaguares' new album, "Cuando La Sangre Galopa" (BMG), has its pop moments, especially the tropical lilt of the single "Como T," it is a tour de force of dueling guitars and arena-rock crescendos. Led by singer-songwriter Sal Hernndez and drummer Alfonso Andr, members of the legendary '90s band Caifanes, Jaguares are the grand masters of Mexican rock, and their playing on this recording is at its peak. Hernndez, a kind of shamanistic visionary who believes that the Earth-first values of our indigenous past are the key to the future, engages in sometimes lyrical, sometimes discordant dialogues with fellow guitarist Csar Lpez, evoking bands such as King Crimson, Television and U2. Amid a flood of regional Mexican and Tejano records, still the dominant force in Latin music sales, and of image- driven pop singers, Jaguares' uncompromising sound and mystically cryptic lyrics are good enough at No. 14 on the Billboard Latin charts.

The hardcore Puerto Rican rockers of Puya are one of the most astonishing Latin rock success stories of the moment. They've marketed themselves primarily in a decidedly head-banging milieu - earlier this summer they opened for Fear Factory at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan - but their bilingual, salsa-influenced, pile- driving rock plays well before suburban-flavored mosh pits. At the same time, with virtually no airplay on Spanish-language radio, their album "Union" (MCA) sits at No. 46 on the Billboard Latin charts, just ahead of wholesome Mexican songstress Nydia Rojas. Though Puya's music seems designed to appeal to the tattooed biker-surfboard- skateboard set, the band manages to draw attention to the Vieques issue with its scorching opus "Pa'Ti, Pa'Mi." Its Metallica-meets- Santana sound is anchored by Angel "Cachete" Maldonado, a Puerto Rican salsa veteran who also appears on "Cuando La Sangre Galopa." It's still a jarring, exhilarating experience to hear an Afro-Cuban percussion break in the middle of the guttural metal snarl of "Numbed," but like the huge Puerto Rican flag unfurled at the show I attended at Hammerstein, it's no longer a surprise.

One of the more ballyhooed Latin rock releases of the summer is Zurdok's "Maquillaje" (Universal). While it relies heavily on keyboard atmospherics and guitar riffs pioneered by the Beatles and their progressive rock heirs, "Maquillaje" is something of an album- rock masterpiece. The Monterrey, Mexico-based power quartet produces a penetrating psychedelic mood, enhanced by lead singer Chete's Lennon-esque melancholic, existential vocals. "Maquillaje" is at once raucous and ethereal -call it "OK Computer" en Espaol.

If you're looking for something a little more twisted and abrasive, try El Otro Yo, an Argentine band whose new release is called "Abrecaminos" (Universal). Bordering on the eardrum- shattering sound of '90s British rockers My Bloody Valentine, Abrecaminos rocks you like a good horror flick - you're both happy and sad when it's over.

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback