The difference between being trendy and being au courant is just this: For the former, you need only watch half an hour of television each day; but for the latter, you have to dig around and do a little research. The very phrase "Latin Revolution" as it's applied to contemporary rock is misleading, since there are, of course, any number of bands that have been pulling the yoke and smelting the iron in just that idiom for any number of years. Mexico City's Jaguares is one such band, and their new release bajo el azul de tu misterio gives Latin-rock aficionados one disc each of live and studio material, in preparation for one of this year's more serious "revolutions."
"Revolución 2000," a five-act tour that makes its way to the Valley this week, is mounted and headlined by Jaguares. Though not strictly centered on Latin rock -- Adrian Belew performed on the 1994 tour -- this year's bill features performers who share something of that musical heritage in common; but, like Jaguares, they also demonstrate just how multifaceted and complex a tradition the term "Latin music" refers to.
On Jaguares' new record, refusing simply to cater to English-speaking listeners -- there's not a song on bajo that could be dismissively labeled "crossover" -- the band runs through a live set that folds metal, alt, folk and hard-rock influences into a nearly seamless hour of assured performances.
The slightly shorter studio disc offers more variations: a diverse collection of songs that, though steeped in the mythic history of Mexico (see especially "Sangre," a song that moves lightly around the myth of la llorona without ever firmly landing), nonetheless updates and reworks those traditions in a series of modern arrangements which fit perfectly, nearly every time.
Saúl Hernandez, the band's lead vocalist and guitarist, provided all of bajo el azul de tu misterio's songs, but Jaguares' double disc is the work of a band, in spades. Strictly speaking, Jaguares is more a fluid musical collective than a static group; but regular percussionist Alfonso André's drums are all over the mix here, propelling each song forward to the next, and the rest of this incarnation's invited players work together like familiar hands. That convergence of styles and skills has won Jaguares a massive following, both in Mexico and the States, completely without commercial radio support. As its new album proves -- particularly the live disc -- that devotion is more than deserved. If all you know of Latin music is Santana or the Venga Boys, you'll find bajo a worthwhile expansion of your education.
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