Earlier this week, I introduced readers to my "Latin Alternative Music Guide: LA Edici
OC is youthful, Latino and talented, but it lacks the interconnected venue support that can create a scene. There are no "Eastside Luv" wine bars here, nor anything closely resembling La Cita.
There is a small revival, however, in the works of promoter Christian Mejia and grassroots cultural institutions like El Centro Cultural de Mexico and SolArt have kept the pulse from flatlining.
Even with that, OC remains a far cry from what it was in the years when JC Fandango operated in Anaheim and locally-based bands like Enjambre would have album release shows. Now JC is a salsa dance club and Enjambre, like a canary in a coal mine, ditched to OC (and LA) for D.F. and are doing quite well over there.
But fret not, for good music never dies--and bands from 'Santanaheim' still have much to offer in this genre of genres. Check it out:
Powered by the vocals of Anaheim resident Nancy Mendez, ¡Aparato! is exploring a new way of combing jaranas and electric guitars in an amalgamation that can be described as "Jarocho-Rock." Son Jarocho, Son Huasteco, and Boleros intermingle with futuristic rock riffs in one of the most innovative sounds to emerge in LA or OC.
Tackling politics, spirituality and a little fun in between, ¡Aparato! is visionary in all of the noise that it makes. The band is currently heading back into the studio to record more tracks to add to its John Avila produced sessions with an EP to come soon enough.
Upcoming shows: Check out ¡Aparato! at OCCCA in Santa Ana on December 11, and later in Los Angeles with Fitter on December 18 at Club Good Hurt.
2. My Machete
Jessica Escobedo has one of the best singing voices in all of OC as she fronts the alternative rock band My Machete. The Anaheim-based group's music cuts in similar ways as Pretty Girls Make Graves: frantic melodies, fierce drumming and compelling arrangements. With a new guitarist and his penchant for effects-pedals in the mix, My Machete adds a new sonic twist to its offerings.
After being written up in the Locals Only section of the Weekly, My Machete enjoyed a busy year playing gigs around the county.
Upcoming shows: A two-for-one special: My Machete opens for ¡Aparato! at OCCCA in Santa Ana on December 11!
Another alternative rock band that deserves its due attention, the Inkblots strike with an updated grittier energy that Gustavo Arellano relayed to me once as reminiscent of the Animals. The band has been moving forward, cleaning up its demo into a full length album released on Vacant Bunny Records, filming a music video in support of it and perfecting their charismatic stage shows. Inkblots dig into some Spanish on the track "Mexico" which rides a bass line that's funky in any language.
Upcoming Show: Today at the Boyle Heights Farmer's Market Mini Concert and Art Show. Just go to the Plaza de Mariachi Metro Station.
Cuauhtemoc is easily the most dangerous band in all of Orange County. The activist rebel rockers describe their music as that of "broken families, exploited workers, fed up students and at the same time the sound of a confidence in a people's ability to resist and not only fight back but succeed."
The revolutionary fury Cuauhtemoc unleashes is as desperate as the times as Sherman Austin keeps the beats pounding, Ollin's riffs tear down walls and Coyotl's lyrics speechify. They probably would even object to being lumped into my "Latin Alternative" music guide (for lack of a better term) as "Alerta! Alerta!" screams "No Somos Latinos!" Juggling work, family, and community activism, the band is finding time to expand their "Draft of the Movement" EP into a full length.
Upcoming Show: Keep pace with Cuauhtemoc for upcoming shows on their MySpace page.
5. Taller Sur
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If relaxed bohemian vibes is where your musical heart resides, Taller Sur provides. A collection of singer-songwriters, Taller Sur can pull from a repertoire of their own skillfully crafted songs as well as from a number of covers by Latin American's great trova/folk singers. As their self-titled debut album goes to show, the group is apt at combining elements of pop, rock, trova, and numerous other elements into the fold. Now a quartet of musicians, Taller Sur is enjoyed best with a relaxing glass of wine.
Upcoming Show: Every first Friday of the month at Long Beach's Viento y Agua Coffee House.
Can't get enough "Latin Alternative" music from Orange County? Check out these Must Listens: Street Spirit, Son del Centro, Teen Rex, Nancy Sanchez, Becky and the BlackTones.