Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tango Revolutions - Piazzolla and Gotan Project

In 1929, eight-year-old Astor Pantaleon Piazzolla was gifted his first bandeon (similar to an acordion). By the age of 16 he played in several tango orchestras in his native Argentina, and by 18 his love for tango drove him to Buenos Aires to pursue a career in music. Though an accomplished classical musician, no one could deny that the true Piazzolla was all about tango. At this time tango was not considered sophisticated music. Through various experimentations and an unwavering dedication, Piazzolla took the tango genre to new levels making it the evolving, sophisticated style of music it is today.

Back in 2001, three Parisians shook up the tango scene with their debut album "La Revancha Del Tango." The group, known as Gotan Project, mixes tango and electronica to create an elegant, yet funky sound. Gotan Project has played everywhere from Tel Aviv to Tokyo, also making a place for themselves in tango history. Their latest album, Lunatico (2006), furthered their experimentations while still holding on to thier tango roots.

Though Piazzolla passed on in 1992, his legacy lives on with new tango pioneers like Gotan Project. Gotan will be playing several international shows in December including Argentina's Personal Festival in Buenos Aires on the 7th. Hopefully the band will make it state-side in the coming months.

p.s. shout out to my Portuguese 101 professor who said my blog would not be complete without an entry on Piazzolla :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Top 5 Reasons why Latin Alternative Music is the BEST

5. Our artists support each other - Rivalry takes a back seat in Latin Alternative. Each artist or group went through their own struggles to get to where they are, and that makes them more willing to help those new to the scene.

4. Our artists appreciate thier roots - Whether they choose to sing in Spanish, in English, or a mixture of both, our artists never forget where they come from. In fact, they often incorporate parts of their homeland rhythms into their music.

3. Our artists focus on the music - Unfortunately, Latin Alternative is considered the black sheep among mainstream labels because it isn't as commerical as pop or reggaeton. However, our artists work hard and put out quality work that keeps fans wanting more.

2. Our mix tapes rule - How many people can say they have CDs that switch from electronica, to metal, to hip-hop and punk without switching music styles? Not many.

1. Our Artists are diverse - Latin Alternative is not one genre - it's many things. It's a mix of rock, hip-hop, punk, electronica, metal, lounge, and everything in between. Because of our artists diverse range, Latin Alternative promotes unity by creating a "global Latin identity."

Los Heroes of Latin Alternative: Nacotheque

Nacotheque, a fusion of the words naco (in Mexico, a way to describe the Latin American "hard-drinking, jalopy-tinkering, working class - whom Americans would consider cheesy white trash) and discotheque, is a party in New York City where Latino and Anglo "hipsters" rock out or "pogo-bop" to Spanish-language, noveau eighties electropop, classic rock and cumbia. The hosts, DJ Marcelo Cunning and DJ Amylulita play old school Latino hits from the 60's, 70's, and 80's, and introduce new Latin Alternative music from Mexico, Spain, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and the United States. Geared towards those who consider themselves true music fans, Nacotheque throw fun and funky dance parties while focussing on and promoting new talent.

Here's their 2006 debut statement:

"Unbeknownst to most, there is a huge Spanish alternative rock scene in most major cities. Now, when you think of Latin or Spanish rock/pop, you're thinking of Santana, Los Lobos, Shakira, Marc Anthony, Mana or some other sell-out annoying band and/or performer.

Little do you know about acts like Gustavo Cerati, Julieta Venegas, Cafe Tacvba (who's performed @ the Coachella festival 3 years in a row), Plastilina Mosh (who was discovered by Beck), Ely Guerra, Lucybell, Fobia, Bunbury, Zoe, Zurdok and hundreds of others that if it wasn't for the language barrier, you would fall prey to their music.

Latin/Spanish music does not equal marimbas, timbales, bongos, wacky accordions, latin "riffs" or any other connotation that has been embedded in your head. Trust. However, there is always exeptions to this just like in anything else."

Nacotheque will be throwing one last party November 24th at Fontana's in Chinatown (New York City) before they take their party on tour in Spain. For more information on Nacotheque visit their official website @

Top 10: Latin Alternative CD's

While browsing through websites pertaining to Latin Alternative music, I came across an article on the NPR music website by Felix Contreras. In his piece Contreras creates a top 10 CD list made to open your eyes (and ears) to the Latin Alternative music scene. Here's what he had to say:

"Did you ever have an experience where you hear music so fresh and new that it has the power to change much of what you know about music?

That was my introduction to Latin Alternative. It happened in the early '90s, back when it was still called Rock en Español. It was also a time when, as a lifelong fan of Latin music in many of its various forms, I thought I knew everything there was to know about Latin music.

Boy, did I have my ears opened.

Here is a list of 10 CDs that turned my head back then, as well as newer releases that offer a good introduction to the wide world of Latin Alternative.

It is, by no means, a definitive or a Top 10 list. These are just 10 CDs from different countries that would make a groovy collection for the "random" feature of your personal MP3 player:

Reconquista, Various artists

Track: 'JFK' by Neru Gorriak

This is a great introduction to the late 1990s scene, with pioneering bands (some mentioned below) from various Latin countries. An interesting standout, and an example of the one-for-all nature of the movement back then, is the inclusion of Neru Gorriak. This Spanish punk band sings in Basque -- and its music is just as dense and powerful as that little-heard language.

Cafe Tacuba, Cafe Tacuba

Track: 'Rarotonga'

Who knew Mexican music could sound so modern? These guys are hardcore Chilangos (Mexico City residents) who say this first album is an aural snapshot of what they were hearing on the streets, the radio and in bars as they grew up. Sometimes if you listen closely you can almost smell the corner taco stands that are ubiquitous throughout El De Efe (the D.F., or District Federale, as Mexico City is known).

El Circo, Maldita Vencindad y los Hijos del Quinto Patio

Track: 'Pachuco'

You gotta love a band with a name that you can shorten to one word and still get what they are about. (The name translates very roughly to: "the dudes from the bad-ass neighborhood.") Maldita's opening track melds a classic mariachi grito (or yelp) into an unstoppable ska groove that announces the party has started and Mexico will never be the same.

El Silencio, Caifanes

Track: 'Nubes'

If -- in the early '90s -- Cafe Tacuba and Maldita were the life of the new Rock en Español party, Caifanes would be the one having a philosophical conversation out on the terrace. Lead vocalist Saul Hernandez's lyrics are poetic reflections on love, death and passion, buoyed by breathtaking rock hooks. It was produced by former Talking Heads/King Crimson/Frank Zappa session guitarist Adrian Belew.

Clandestina, Manu Chao

Track: 'Por El Suelo'

He would hate to be referred to as such, but the French/Spanish Chao could be the poster boy for Latin Alternative. He is certainly the most widely known artist of the genre. On both his solo albums, and those he made when he was the front man for Mano Negra, his sense of global politics and global Latino identity made Chao the kind of respected musician that others wanted to emulate.

A Lo Cubano, Orisha

Track: 'Represent'

Cuban hip-hop made a huge splash when these guys released a recording that superimposed Cuban son rhythm over hip-hop beats. The rapping was about life in Cuba that was both celebratory and wary. This CD took Cuba from the Buena Vista social clubs to the hip-hop dance clubs.

Tijuana Sessions Vol 3, Nortec Collective

Track: 'Esa Banda en Dub'

Accordions and electronica. What better combination to use to fight the stereotype of Tijuana as a city with a sleazy soul? Nortec Collective is just the tip of the iceberg of a thriving artistic scene there; its muse is the rich culture of a border city that is economically part of the United States but still defiantly Mexican.

13, Javier Garcia

Track: 'Como Bailan'

Another border city: Miami. Another musical approach: Afro-Caribbean with a dash of rock, pop and lots of fun. Master producer Gustavo Santaolalla (hear Part Three of the series) picked this newcomer out of the crowd. The resulting CD practically dances out of the player. His lyrical imagery, and his videos, reveal a landscape where the palm trees are swaying, the beach is inviting and everybody is under 30 with cool haircuts and trendy glasses.

Siembra, Orixa

Track: 'Siembra'

Not to be confused with the other group of the same name but a different spelling. This Oakland, Calif.-based group has an East Bay swagger that says a lot about what the Bay Area looks and sounds like these days. Front man Rowan Jimenez is a commanding singer/rapper, and Juan Manuel Caipo has produced a record that sounds like it could be from anywhere in Latin America. Oh wait, it is from Latin America -- California.

Bajofondotangoclub, Bajofondotangoclub

Track: 'Maroma'

Break it down into syllables and you can pronounce it. This is another dear-to-his-heart project from producer and newly minted Oscar-winner Gustavo Santaolalla. It is included on this list as a reference to the contribution of Argentina to the history of Latin Alternative. But also because it reflects what Latin Alternative musicians are capable of when they let loose in the studio with their own cultures and the latest electronic toys. In this case, the groove never strays far from tango and the star is still the quintessential Argentine instrument, the bandoneon.

An ode to New York

I'd like to thank New York City for housing some of Latin Alternative's most recent and veteran acts. Pacha Massive, Si*Se, Yerba Buena, Pistolera, Contramano, Todosantos, Tony Touch, Coheed and Cambria, and Hip Hop Hoodios all call the city that never sleeps home. For many of these bands New York is not just a residence, it's a muse. Drawing from the eclectic mix of cultures and the multilingual nature of la ciudad, New York provides the perfect backdrop for artists on the verge. Though some may consider Los Angeles the center of the scene, for me, New York is Latin Alternative personified.

Coming to Boston: Contramano

The Argentian Alternative band, Contramanos, will be playing Friday, November 30th, at Boston's La Casa de Cultura/Center for Latino Arts. Here's some background info on the group:

"Ever-changing dictatorships. A marketplace out of control. Armed guards protecting banks from looters. The breeding ground for a progressive power-pop/punk trio led by a classically trained cellist? Judging by the music of Pablo Cubarle and Contramano, absolutely. Despite hyper-inflation that forever seemed to deny him ownership of his own cello, Pablo vowed to pursue music. He studied classical cello, playing in a string quartet, then writing and producing his own pop opera, all while making plans for an escape that landed him in New York City on the eve of September 10th, 2001.

The ex-pat's solo project soon became a trio by way of an ad on Craigslist, adding a driving rhythm section. Pablo promptly christened them Contramano, after a Do Not Enter sign on the Buenos Aires street where armed guards stood watch. Contramanos self-titled début release, a swaggering mix of chamber pop and punk spirit, was well-received by critics and fans alike. Meanwhile, Contramano was building a reputation for high-energy live performances in and around New York City. Next came a video, opening gigs for Rasputina, a successful tour of the southeastern United States, and a new recording studio in Brooklyn, nicknamed 'The Oven' for its stifling temperatures. Everything in place for the recording and release of Contramnos much-anticipated second album, Unsatisfecho. The sound of Contramano is what happens when third world angst meets New York attitude."
- Meridith Rohana & Justin Marks

To hear music samples, visit the band's official website @

Hay Que Escuchar (You Need to Hear): Playlist 4

The D.E.Y. Has Come

Much like MTV Tr3s last Discubre y Download artist, Kat DeLuna and her summer anthem "Whine Up," The D.E.Y. should have no problem crossing over to mainstream with their first single, "Get the Feeling."

Timbaland has worked his magic yet again, but this urban hip-hop trio could hold it down on their own. Élan's sassy voice matched with the rhymes of Cuba-Puerto rapper Yeyo and Nuyorican MC Divine bring bilingual hip-hop to a whole other level. Their debut album, The D.E.Y. Has Come, is still in the works but once it drops, it will take the hip-hop world by storm.

To download The D.E.Y.'s new single, "Give You the World," go to the Discubre y Download section of MTV Tr3s.

Artist of the Day/Artista del Dia: Soda Stereo

With their long awaited reunion tour drawing to a close, Soda Stereo deserves to be artist of the day.

The Argentinean trio made up of Gustavo Cerati (guitar/vocals), Charly Alberti (bass), and Zeta Bosio (drums), formed in 1982. After having their demo picked up by a CBS producer, the boys released their first album, Soda Stereo, in 1984 which brought them national success. From there, they released six more albums making them not only one of the most important pop/rock bands in Argentina, but one of the most important pop/rock bands in Latin America.

During the early 90's, members of the band experimented with solo projects which included Gustavo Cerati's first solo album, Amor Amarillo. The band released their last studio album, Sueño Stereo, in 1995 two years before the band officially separated in 1997. The cause: personal issues between members and different artistic priorities.

Before saying goodbye, the band played a series of concerts in Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, and their native Argentina as part of a farewell tour. They played thier last concert on September 20th 1997 in Buenos Aires (the band's hometown) in front of 65,000 fans.

10 years later, the Soda Stereo announced a renunion tour that began on October 19th at River Plate and will end December 15th in Córdoba. Soda Stereo will be playing in L.A. tomorrow and in Miami December 4th and 5th. After the tour, the band plans to return to their solo projects, so enjoy them while they last!

To read a full biography of Soda Stereo go to

Journey to the Underground: Todosantos

If you've ever wanted to experience the audiovisual equivalent of a sugar rush, Todosantos may just do it for you. Their "seizure-inducing" videos/graphics and their hyper, pulse-driven sound they refer to as "tukky bass," make this Venezuelan band innovators of the underground scene.

Currently located in Brooklyn, the group's members: Peach, Pharaoh, and Purple Gold, hope to turn kids into "crowd surfing lunatics from coast to coast."

Their first U.S. released EP, "Acid Girlzzz," comes with marbeled colored vinyl, a DVD with three videos & high quality mp3s, 3-D artwork with custom 3-D glasses, and exlusive remixes.

"This Todosantos video embodies every ADD-ridden, crotch-grabbing, whistle-blowing, only-sees-neon-color, blog-house neu-raver out there...dubstep, 4x4, speed garage, baile funk, kuduro and ghettotech mixed with Venezuela’s ghetto dance music.’ Wow, I couldn’t have described it better myself. I don’t even know if I would have known where to begin to describe it".
-bigstereo on Acid Boys & Acid Girls video

"They're actually dayglo Venezuelan lunatics camping out in Brooklyn. If you stare at this video long enough you'll see a dancing 3D penguin"

To find out more about Todosantos visit their official myspace page and if you're up for more visual torture check out their website.

Spotlight: Sounds of Brazil

Besides being a top-notch dinner club, Sounds of Brazil (aka S.O.B.'s) is a premier venue for world music.

Larry Gold opened the club in 1982 on the corner of Manhattan's West Houston and Varrick Streets before Manolo Blahniks and Fendi Bags ever graced that part of town. Despite the drabness of the area, the club drew a young, hip, and creative crowd who helped create the SoHo community, and transform the club into a musical oasis known among indutry insider's as the place to discover trends and/or artists on the verge of going mainstream.

S.O.B.'s should also be credited as a major player in the development of the Latin Alternative music scene. The club has hosted top acts such as Fabulosos Cadillacs, Julieta Venegas, Pacha Massive, Los Amigos Invisibles, and Maná, but always take a chance on lesser known groups and local favorites. S.O.B.'s also sponsors concerts such as Café Tacvba's concert tonight at the Hammerstein Ballroom, and Si*Se's concerts on the 29th and 30th back at the club.

To find out more about S.O.B.'s visit their website.

I'm in the band

For all you gamers out there, Coheed and Cambria will be one of the band's featured on Harmonix's new video game - Rock Band.

Set to release today (pushed three days up from it's original release date of Black Friday) for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Rock Band allows players to create virtual bands using a guitar/bass guitar, drums, and a microphone. Up to four players can play, keeping time with the notes as they appear on the screen. Made to make you feel like a rock star, the soundtrack inlcudes a list of hit songs for your listening and playing pleasure.

To find out more about Rock Band visit the game's official website. To read about Claudio and the boys weighing in on Rock Band, pick up the November issue of Spin.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Most Interesting Fan Videos

I've always been amused by the fans who take the time to post a video using a favorite band's music. It shows their support as well as the amount of spare time they have on their hands. Here are some of the most "interesting" videos - I'm sure there must be more gems out there.

1. Mirando a Las Muchachas - Mexican Insitute of Sound
The poster writes, "I was bored. And this is a product of my boredom. I do not claim to be a puppetmaster."

2. Atreve-te-te-te - Calle 13
In this video two guys attempt to seduce a girl - the result...more like a bad car wreck - it's awful, but you have to see how it ends.

3. Tengo La Voz - Nortec Collective
Marvel at the dance that caused commenter's to berate "Little Bobby" in Spanish and in English.

Hit the Books

If you're craving more information on Latin Alternative music and happen to grasp concepts better by reading a book, Ernesto Lechner has got you covered.

In his book Rock en Español: The Latin Alternative Rock Explosion, Lechner gives an in-depth account of the rock en Español movement through past interviews, spending time with the artists, and watching their concerts. With chapters on Café Tacvba, Aterciopelados, Soda Stereo, Julieta Venegas, Mala Rodríguez, Nortec Collective, and other top acts, Lechner takes readers on a tour through the genre giving newcomers a proper introduction and fans an opportunity to appreciate their good taste.

The book also includes a forward by Saul Hernandez, lead singer of Caifanes, and a list of 100 essential albums. To order your own copy click here.

Q&A: Nuria Net

Today I spoke with Nuria Net, writer-associate producer for MTV Tr3s Radio and co-founder of NYremezcla. Nuria knows the ins and outs of Latin Alternative music and Latin music in general. In fact, Latin Alternative music drove her to become a journalist and start her website. I spoke with her about her favorite acts, her must-have CD's, and the future of Latin Alternative music. Here's what she had to say:

Q: Who do you consider Latin Alternative's top acts?

A: Calle 13; they can be considered alternative even though they are considered mainstream because they do whatever they want, they play different genres, and they have their asthetic. This past album had some reggae and some funk, and they had some tango and some cumbia.

Another group is Porter. I found them on myspace. They're now big in Mexico and we got their album mp3 by downloading. I really like them because they're like rock but they're really wierd; the singer has a wierd voice, they sing in English and Spanish, and their music has some classical music elements. They're from Guadalajara and they're indie so they don't have a major label.

I really like Zoé and they've been around for a long time. They've been through all sorts of record deals and they [the labels] didn't know what to do with them. Two years ago they had an EP that went gold and now they were nominated for a Latin Grammy. What they say is they've learned that it's about them doing their music, they're not going to follow any labels, and they learned that they can't rely on anyone. Their last album was super tight and the best of their career. They came to terms with themselves and were able to put out a great album.

Q: What are your must have Latin Alternative CD's?

A: Café Tacvba - Re
[1994 - called "the equivalent of the Beatles White Album for the rock en español movement" by the New York Times]

Calle 13 - Calle 13
[2005 - Calle 13's first album, criticized for its vulgar lyrics the album still sold 350,000 copies worldwide]

Babasónicos - all albums
[Babasónicos is a popular Argentinean rock band that has been around since 1991]

Q: Where do you see the Latin Alternative music going?

A: I see it being more fragmented. I don't see it as a movement really. Because of the internet, and myspace and all that bands like Porter are able to make it without the help of labels, so the artists are going to be able to survive because of the internet and they're only going to keep going. So all these young people making music have a better chance than 10 years ago of being exposed even though the labels aren't going to pay attention, and the media coverage will still be minimal. Latin Alternative has more of a cult following, it's not one genre, it's many different things. It's never going to be pop or reggaeton; it's more than dancing and asthetic. With the internet, Nacional [the only Latin Alternative label in the U.S.] can compete with the bigger companies. [Latin Alternative] appeals to a lot of non-Latinos. A lot of the time the anglo media plays the songs more than the Spanish media so they [Nacional] liscense the songs for TV shows and movies. In '95 it would have been crazy to think Manu Chao could win a grammy because it [Latin Alternative] was so underground, now he's become a household name.

Hay Que Escuchar (You Have to Hear): Playlist 3

Myspace Magic

No one can deny myspace's impact on the music industry. For some bands, myspace provides the push needed for artists to go from the underground to the air waves. After looking through myspace band listings, I've listed some acts you can get to know:

1. ReadNex Poetry Squad - These guys mix spoken word and hip-hop in order to elevate urban communities and address social issues.

2. Momposonica - This Colombian rock band launched their first CD in 2006 and with their funky, rock rhythms they deserve more play time.

3. Los Kung Fu Monkeys - This punk/ska band from Tijuana fuse fun and frantic rhythms to create a unique sound.

4. Elis Paprika - Lady Whisky and her band play angst filled songs easy to rock out to.

5. La Bruja - La Bruja has taken the New York City hip-hop and poetry scene by storm, and when it comes to music, she always stays true to her Puerto Rican roots.

Artist of the Day/Artista del Dia: Mala Rodríguez

"Let’s get one thing straight: If La Mala Rodríguez repped Atlanta or New York City rather than Seville, she’d be on the cover of XXL under the headline 'Dopest Female MC Ever.'” - Andrew Casillas (Stylus Magazine)

Her debut album, Lujo Ibérico shot her to the top of the Spanish hip-hop scene in 2000 selling 50,000 copies and reaching gold status, her controversial second album, La Niña/Amor y Respeto (2003) elevated her success and popularity, and her third album Alevosía (2004) secured her position as Spanish rap royalty. Now, with the 2007 release of her latest album, Malamarismo, the hip-hop world needs break to break the language barrier and soak up the greatness that is Mala Rodríguez.

La Mala, currently signed with Machete Music (part of Universal Music Group), has collaborated with top artists like Vico-C, Calle 13, Akon, and Tego Calderon, but her ability to spit smooth freestyle makes her a stand-alone act worthy of your attention. With a voice reminiscent of Nelly Furtado, La Mala's songs are full of attitude. Fortunately, she has the skills to back it up.

Mala Rodriguez is currently finishing up a promotional tour for Malamarismo in her native Spain. To read more about Mala Rodriguez visit

Click here to read the full Stylus review.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hay Que Escuchar (You Have to Hear): Playlist 2

Men on a Mission

Possibly the most unique band to hit the Latin Alternative scene, Austin TV is a conceptual band from Mexico who tell stories through their music without the use of vocals. In their latest album, Fontana Bella, the band tells the story of Mario Lupo from a diary they found in the forest. Though fictional, the character, diary, and adventures of Mario Lupo were inspired by the band's time spent living in the Avandaro Forest.

The band has dressed in costume since their first gig in 2001. The costumes allow their shows to be an audio-visual experience and connect with the band's belief that the face is not important, the truth is inside.

Austin TV will be playing with Café Tacvba (Café's Meme produced Fontana Bella) for four of their upcoming shows. To find out more about Mario Lupo's journey and Austin TV concert dates visit their official myspace page.

Smooth Groove

If the electronica/trip-hop side of Latin Alternative intrigues you, Si*Se is a need-to-know group. If Sade and Zero 7 merged, the result would be Si*Se. DJ Carol C's vocals are hypnotically smooth and the band's soulful rhythms aim to take you on a walk through the streets of New York, opening your eyes to the urban and cultural lifestyles.

Their music has been featured on hit shows like Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, and Law & Order SVU, as well as in various commercials. The band's also shared the stage with top acts like James Brown, Cesaria Evora, and Norah Jones.

If you're in the New York City area, Si*Se will be playing live, November 29th and 30th, at Sounds of Brazil. For more information on the band and these shows visit their official myspace page.

Everybody Loves Bitman

Chilean DJ, Bitman (formerly part of Bitman y Roban), released his latest album, Latin Bitman, last week and the press can't get enough.

DJ Bitman's music combines bossanova rhythms, reggae beats, hip-hop scratching, and electronic effects that provide a relaxed, lounge-like atmosphere, while straying from your typical "background music." Whether you're throwing a house party or winding down at home, Latin Bitman's funk-filled tracks are a perfect addition to your playlist. To listen to some songs off his album, or to read recent press coverage, visit his official myspace page.

Artist of the Day/Artista del Dia: Café Tacvba

Many have classified this Mexican quartet as rock en Español, but for fans, Café Tacvba and Latin Alternative are synonymous. Café has gained notoriety among fans and critics with their eclectic experimentations with rock, ambient electronica, punk, ska, hip-hop, and regional Mexican. Their albums, described as "endlessly entertaining roller coaster rides," hold songs that vary so much that the only characteristics that unite them are the band's distinctive vocals and instrumental core.

Once a garage band in the suburb of Satélite, outside of Mexico City, the boys made their entrance into the music scene after performing at the cultural club, El Hijo del Cuervo (Son of the Raven), in 1989. They continued playing the club scene until they were discovered by Gustavo Santaolalla (one of the first producer's of the Spanish language rock scene), and since then they've released eight albums, two CD/DVD collections, and won a Grammy (for their album Cuatro Caminos), as well as several Latin Grammy's (for thier album Cuatro Caminos, song "Eres," and album Yo Soy).

The band, made up of: Meme (Emmanuel del Real - keyboards, programming, acoustic guitar, piano, vocals), Cone Cohuitl (Rubén Albarrán - vocals, guitar), Quique (Enrique Rangel - bass guitar, electric upright bass, vocals), and Joselo (Joselo Rangel - electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals), continues to draw fans, and amaze critics with their stylistic range and originality with the release of their latest album, Sino.

Café Tacvba will be performing a series of concerts in the U.S. starting tonight with a concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. and ending December 16th with a concert at the Gusman Center in Miami. For more info on the band's upcoming shows visit their official myspace page.

Click here to read more about Café Tacvba.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Hay Que Escuchar (You Need to Hear): Playlist 1

Q&A: Jennifer Sarkissian

Jennifer Sarkissian works for Nacional Records (born from Cookman International), the only Latin Alternative music label in the United States, and organizer of the Latin Alternative Music Conference. I spoke with her today about the Latin Alternative genre, Nacional, and the LAMC. Here's what she had to say:

Q: How would you define the Latin Alternative genre?

A: I think it's a personal definition for everyone. The most standard definition would be anything that's not mainstream Latin music - music that doesn't fall under tropical, regional Mexican, or pop, which is very broad, but that's a good thing. It allows for all sorts of craziness: electronica, hip-hop, rock, metal - music that isn't normally covered.

Q: What do you think is Nacional's greatest success to date?

A: A big part of our success is just seeing all these albums coming out. For me personally, it's whenever someone tells me how much they appreciate the music, how much they appreciate the quality of the music, or that they learned about a new band because of us. We just won two Latin Grammy's last week for Aterciopelados album Oye and Manu Chao's song "Me Llaman Calle" off of La Radiolina. It's the satisfaction of seeing your bands do well, seeing their albums do well, and spreading the culture and the music.

Q: How did the first LAMC come about?

A: It was something that Tomas [Cookman - founder of Nacional Records] and Josh, another co-worker of mine, came up with 9 years ago. I think they saw a need in the market for an event where people could come together and talk about the genre, could talk about it’s future and basically have that kind of a forum, and it worked and has been doing well ever since. It's a great opportunity for the bands because there's a lot of connections that can be made. What I always tell the bands when they come is, "It is what you make of it."

Q: What artists should Latin Alternative fans look out for?

A: DJ Bitman has a great album that just came out, and we have a lot of artists going back into the studio, so next year should be really exciting. Todos Tus Muertos are coming out with a greatest hits album, Plastilina Mosh is working on a new album, Nortec Collective is working on a new album, The Pinker Tones are working on a new album, Aterciopelados are working on a new album. There a lot of new projects coming out so I'm going to be really busy.

Make sure you check out the next Latin Alternative Music Conference - July 2008, New York City

Top 5: T-Shirts

After scouring the internet for Latin Alternative band t-shirts, I've come up with a Top 5 list. If you like what you see, visit the vialatina website. Warning: I'm partial to black t-shirts.

a. Cafe Tacvba
b. Kinto Sol
c. Maná
d. Ozomotli
e. Molotov

Dando Props: 2007 Latin Grammy's

In honor of last week's Latin Grammy's, it's time to give props to the Latin Alternative artists who brought home the gold:

Calle 13 - Best Urban music album: Residente O Visitante, Best Urban song "Pal Norte" ft. Orishas

Rabanes - Best Rock album by a duo or group with Vocal: Kamikaze

Aterciopelados - Best Alternative music album: Oye

Manu Chao - Best Alternative song: "Me Llaman Calle"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Artist of the Day/Artista del Dia: Pacha Massive

Very few bands play their first gig at Madison Square Garden, but Pacha Massive did just that when they opened for the hit Colombian band, Aterciopelados, in 2004. The band officially debuted as MTV Tr3s's first "Discubre y Download" (Discover and Download) artist with their single "Don't Let Go." After taking part in this summer's Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) where they won battle of the bands, Pacha caught the eye of indie Latin label,Nacional Records, who released their first album, All Good Things.

The Bronx duo who make up the core of Pacha Massive (from Pachamama - Mother Earth), Dominican-born DJ Nova (keys/guitar) and Colombiana Maya (writer/bass), play a unique mix of palo, cumbia, son, and reggae with relaxed, yet impressive guitar and drum-and-bass sequences that have made them a "New York club favorite."

The New York Press says, "After three songs, you'll either be humping or dancing. Or both."

For more info on Pacha, visit their official myspace page.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Calling All Ozoheads

The LA-based band, Ozomatli, is currently on tour promoting their latest album, Don't Mess With the Dragon. The band's making a few stops before hitting the Ozohead Convention in San Fransisco (November 29th - December 2nd) and finishing out the year with their winter tour, Ozo on Ice.

If you've never heard of the band and you're still stuck on the name, Ozomatli is Nahuatl for the Aztec astrological sign of the monkey, the god of dance and music. Known for their fusion of musical genres and attention to social issues through lyrics, this Grammy Award winning band rocks the Latin Alternative scene with their creative rhythms and ability to blend languages and genres effortlessly.

For more info on the band and tour dates visit their website.

Artist of the Day/Artista del dia: Juanes

Juanes has got the Latin music world wrapped around his guitar playing fingers. He's dominating the Billboard charts with his single, "Me Enamora" which debuted at #1 on the Latin singles chart eight weeks ago and still holds that spot today, and his latest album La Vida...Es un Ratico (Life is Short) which currently holds the #1 spot on the Latin album chart.

The Los Angeles Times hails the 12-time Latin Grammy winner as the most important figure in Latin music in the past decade, and Time magazine selected the Colombian singer, composer, guitarist, producer, and social activist as "one of the 100 most influential people in the world."

As if all this success isn't enough, Juanes is nominated for best Spanish language international artist for the upcoming Premios Principales 2007. For more information on Juanes visit his website or official myspace page.

Recent press coverage:
Rolling Stone
Latina Magazine

Pretty in Pink

If you're a fan of Kinky's 2007 album, Rarities , and have a weakness for catchy electronic beats a la Daft Punk, then you'll love The Pinker Tones.

The energetic duo are back in the U.S. from their hometown of Barcelona to promote their latest album, More Colours. They'll be performing live at Sounds of Brazil in NYC tomorrow night, so if you're in the area be sure to catch their impressive DJ set and mixing skills. (doors open at 10pm, show starts at 11pm - cover $15).

The Pinker Tones will be playing one last show in Toronto (November 16th @ El Mocambo) before heading back to Barcelona to work on their new studio album, Wild Animals, which is set to release in early 2008. To find out more about The Pinker Tones, check out this short profile on the Latin culture-based site, New York Remezcla.