Jaguares

Border Rockers keep

Like a phoenix, Jaguares rose from the ashes of Caifanes, a pioneer in the modern rock movement of Mexico in the mid-'80s. That band was an interesting, if not odd, mix of British New Wave, Goth and traditional Mexican music born of an era when Mexican rock was repressed and marginalized by the media and government. Caifanes' ability to break out of the underground gave them instant hero status while helping to build an infrastructure that enabled other bands to thrive.

Tossing black lipstick and Robert Smith hairdos aside, the band morphed into Jaguares in 1994. The new incarnation sounded more like U2 than the Cure, and it maintained the beauty and diversity of sounds ranging from mariachi to Mexican boleros. The name Jaguares (pronounced ha-WAR-es) was chosen when Saúl Hernández, the band's shaman-like singer, dreamed of singing in the mouth of a jaguar -- a powerful image in Mexican culture.

Almost 10 years later, with appearances on Leno and Letterman and a co-headlining tour with Morrissey interspersed, the band is supporting its fourth studio release, El Primer Instinto, a collection of reworked and acoustic versions of familiar songs from both the Caifanes and Jaguares catalogues. Most recently, Jaguares sold out a show at Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, and, as at most of their gigs, their fans passionately sang along like they were mouthing the soundtrack of their lives.

 
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