10 Rock en Español Albums to Listen to Before You Die

Categories: Albums we like

4. Chúntaro Radio Poder, El Gran Silencio


Hard to believe now, but there was a time when Monterrey, Mexico was known for something other than its horrific narcowars, and that was its music scene. From the pop-funk of Kinky to the musings of Ely Guerra to the Pink Floyd epics of Zurdok, this was a city that could've been another Manchester, another Mexico City, another Detroit--and the best band of them all was El Gran Silencio. They don't seem as sophisticated as their contemporaries since their music is essentially punk-vallenato-ragamuffin desmadre--but when they had to put down the beers and mota and get intellectual, the cabrones whipped out this album, premised on an imaginary radio station spinning nothing but El Gran Silencio (and featuring actual Monterrey DJs). From here comes their ethos: partying, yes, but also lament, class and race criticism, politics, and reappropriation, all backed by an endless churn that made the couples dance and the men mosh. "Chúntaro Style" takes the title slur and turns it into a defiant chinga tu madre to all the haters, both Mexican and Americans, who want to denigrate the country folk of Mexico. Best live band I ever saw, and you'll never hear a better punk accordion EVER--not even with the Pogues.

3. Amores Perros, Various Artists


The film Amores Perros remains one of the high points of Latin American popular culture, a breathtaking film that announced to the world that Mexico's once-glorious film industry was back, that Latin American directors were worthy of Hollywood, and launched a global fascination with Mexico City that has never gone away. And yet the two-disk soundtrack was better, a glorious pinball across all the big groups of Latin alternative at the time (Cafe Tacuba, Control Machete, Bersuit, Julieta Venegas) and unknowns mixed in with sonidero (Los del Garrote), rock urbano and all other unique-to-el-DF genres and even Celia Cruz (!) that made the album simultaneously pan-American yet chilango. Even better, the album itself was both traditional sountrack (music from the film) and concept album, with the B-side songs written in the theme of amores perros (in other words, the idea that love is a bitch).

And the best song? The banda cover of "Dame El Poder," the Molotov standard that was already angry to begin with, yet in the horns of Banda Espuela de Oro menaces and swaggers in a way that the movimiento alterado pendejos only wish they could. A fabulous primer to the genre, and to 21st-century Latin America.

2. 11 Episodios Sinfónicos, Gustavo Cerati


One of the biggest problems I find in trying to turn gabachos on to rock en español besides the language barrier that so many of the original efforts by the titans of the genre--Caifanes, Cafe Tacuba, Soda Stereo and the like--are Spanish-language ripoffs of the Cure, the Police, Violent Femmes and other New Wave groups. To counter that, I turn them onto this relatively obscure album by a titan of the genre: Gustavo Cerati. He became a legend fronting Soda Stereo, which remains Argentina's most-beloved group, and earned international acclaim with his solo efforts with pensive electronica. This album ("11 Symphonic Episodes") is a greatest hits of his and Soda's career, but now backed by a symphony, and what could've easily been an exercise in pomposity becomes a beautiful, lush production that highlights Cerati's soaring tenor, his gorgeous chords, lyrics--in short, his overall genius.

Take the song featured here, "El Rito" (from Soda Stereo's 1986 Signos), which in its original incarnation sounds like some throwaway played on SiriusXM's First Wave station but in this production has the soaring optimism of Mussorgksy's "Pictures at an Exhibition." Released in 2001, just as Argentina was emerging from its annus horribilis, it also stands as a glorious testament to the indefatigable Argentine spirit and that of Cerati, who has been in a coma since 2010, the king resting.

And now, for número 1, which won't be a big surprise...
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21 comments
Keoniana
Keoniana

@OCWeeklyMusic What about 'Mana Unplugged'? I'm not a huge Mana, but the sound production quality was great......

gera_r1979
gera_r1979

 "Cancion Animal" de Soda Stereo? "Clix Modernos" de  Charly Garcia? "Senderos de Traicion" de Heroes del Silencio? Shakira es Rock???

claudiacamvaca
claudiacamvaca

Well, a lot to say here. First of all--what is wrong with a spanish version of Rolling Stone. Did you not know that this is sold throughout latin america? Why shouldn´t they offer one in spanish to the latin american public?

Secondly--practically none of this is "Rock en Español". Most of it is pop ( shakira for example) or some other alternative type of music such as Ska or a mix of things.  Rock en Español or Rock en tu idioma as it was know,  was a rock movement, inserted within a political time frame ( 80´s and 90´s) that reflected a need for classical rock in spanish. it was born mostly from the beautiful brain of  Gustavo Cerati and his band Soda Stereo ( shame on you for not mentioning them!)

in L.A. and Miguel Rios in Spain. Both were born from political censorship and a need to express their ideas through music.

So this list should be topped by Soda Stereo and Miguel Rios, closely followed by Charlie García, Miguel Mateos, orquesta Mondragón, Caifanes, Keny y los electricos, Botellita de jerez,Joaquin Sabina,Cecilia Toussaint, Jaime Lopez without whome much of everyone else´s music wouldn´t exist since he¨s mexicos most prolific rock composer--incluiding music for Café Tacuba). others can include: azul violeta, el profeta del nopal, maldita vecindad, Eli Guerra, Nacha Pop. If you´re going to write about Rock en Español, you really should do some research first. At least you didn´t include Maná in the list.

hrondon48
hrondon48

Where is Zurdok's Hombre Sintetizador..¿? 

Jesus Olvera
Jesus Olvera

But since you ask. 1. Naco es Chido (BMG) de Botellita de Jerez 2. Vagabundo (Sony) de Robi Rosa 3. Clics modernos (Polygram, 1983) de Charly García 4. El Hombre Del Traje Gris (Sony) de Joaquin Sabina 5. El Silencio (BMG) de Caifanes 6. Urbanistorias (Pentagrama) de Rockdrigo Gonzalez 7. En Esta Ciudad (Sony,) de Cecilia Toussaint 8. Descanso Dominical (Sony) de Mecano 9. Jaime Lopez (BMG) de Jaime Lopez 10. Leche (BMG) de Fobia

Jesus Olvera
Jesus Olvera

As soon as I saw Shakira I realize this list was bullshit.

diazdelnorte
diazdelnorte

Well, technically they're rap, but they were also parte of the 'avanzada regia' rock attitude: I think you missed Control Machete's Mucho Barato. 

Also, where's 'El Circo' de Maldita Vecindad? (also, they're esentially ska, but they might be defined as a mix of punk WITH ska).

And this one is a no brainer... how could you forget '¿Dónde Jugarán las Niñas?' de Molotov? That album broke so many paradigms in its heyday that you shouldn't have missed it!!

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano

@CupcakeCardio ALWAYS was annoyed by them--although "Mariposa" is a badass song!

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano

@JDKun That's the expected choice, though! "11 Episodios" highlights all the Soda genius in its proper setting! Hope you're well!

Raintes
Raintes

@GustavoArellano @JDKun @ELopetegui Fobia's first album should be top 3. Idk about Amigos and El gran silencio. They're not really "rock."

EddieAsWell
EddieAsWell

@GustavoArellano and I used @jdkun and Ernesto's books for my thesis!

EddieAsWell
EddieAsWell

@GustavoArellano and Nacha Pop, Mikel Erentxun but that's to advanced for the gabbas.

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