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The New Faces And Voices Of Latin Alternative Music

Tired of living a life without adventure, last week Felix Contreras and I packed our bags and stole away on a midnight train to New York City in search of fame and fortune. We found neither, but we did stumble across the 2010 Latin Alternative Music Conference, which brings together industry players and Latin Alternative acts from around the Spanish-speaking world.

The variety of bands was a testament to the kaleidoscope that is Latin identity and rock in Spanish. From a group of shy Mexican boys who went crazy on the banjo to a Cuban rapper who fuses metal and salsa with hip-hop, the conference served as a sort of musical Noah's Ark.

For several days, we hopped in and out of taxis, ran from one end of the city to another, attended concert after concert and stayed up till daybreak eating fancy food with bands that wear way more eye makeup than I do -- all so you wouldn't have to. You can thank us later.

In today's episode of Alt.Latino, we share our picks for our favorite bands that played at the conference: groups you maybe never heard of but should check out, as well as established artists who are doing something new and unheard of. And, as always, we want you to pitch in. So far in 2010, what band have you seen live that simply blows you away?

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


This acoustic version of The Pinker Tones' "Sampleame" ("Sample Me") was recorded at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City. "Sampleame" is an ode to the art of sampling, and in this version, the band itself samples tunes from the most sampled bands in history (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones). Any fears that the electronica group would go limp once unplugged quickly fall by the wayside: These guys rocked even harder.

Ya Yo Se

Cuban-American musician Chico Mann achieves the perfect mix of '70s Latin funk and '80s techno. He hit the live stage with full electronica gear, but accompanied by a brutally good bongo player. Awesome.

Tus Amigos

This Spanish punk band's sense of humor and performance style made it one of our favorites at the Latin Alternative Music Conference. In this track, an obsessive man complains that his girlfriend spends too much time with her friends and at work, but not enough time with him. He then proceeds to insult everyone she knows. Gee, why wouldn't she want to spend more time with such a sweet dude? (Warning: This song contains language not suitable for all audiences.)

La Luna, Las Estrellas

In "La Luna, Las Estrellas" ("The Moon, The Stars"), this young Mexican band rocked out on the banjo. Its members' daring but accessible experimental sound (they told us they were inspired by the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?) made us fall in love with them at first listen.

Jasmine Garsd is an Argentine-American journalist living in New York. She is currently NPR's Criminal Justice correspondent and the host of The Last Cup. She started her career as the co-host of Alt.Latino, an NPR show about Latin music. Throughout her reporting career she's focused extensively on women's issues and immigrant communities in America. She's currently writing a book of stories about women she's met throughout her travels.
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