Unfortunately most of the Latin music that makes its way north of the border are pop hits. Sure, Shakira is a marketing genius, writing songs in both English and Spanish and making tons of money in the process, but I don’t want to listen to that.
There are many great bands from Latin America and Spain that don't sing in English and therefore are almost totally unknown in the English speaking musical world. Mana, a huge rock band in Mexico, came close with their song “Corazon Espinado,” a collaboration with Santana from his Supernatural album. It’s a catchy rocking tune with a heavy Latin feel, courtesy of the drums and keyboard.
Rock in Espanol is hugely popular throughout Latin America and Spain. One of the first and biggest groups was Soda Stereo from Argentina. Others include Caifanes from Mexico and Jarabe de Palo from Spain.
One of the best and certainly one of the most experimental of these groups is Café Tacvuba from Mexico. Since 1989 they have put out great album after great album, starting with their classic self titled first album and strong follow up Re. Their music is a mix of many styles, often acoustic, and can be best described as alternative rock. The videos from their Latin MTV Unplugged show are a great introduction to the band.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the massive Vive Latino music festival in Mexico City. This year it will take place in March, and Café Tacvuba will be headlining on Saturday night. I’ve got my tickets and I can’t wait to see this great band live for the first time.