The boom of Latin alternative music in Southern California has led to a new breed of “hipsterspanics” (okay, okay, I made that up) seeking out new music. Luckily, radio producer Gabriel San Roman put out a list of bands to watch for. LA’s Pilar Diaz, Ollin and La Santa Cecilia thrive in venues such as La Cita in downtown Los Angeles, and Eastside Luv in Boyle Heights. Thanks to promoter Christian Mejia and grassroots cultural institutions such as El Centro Cultural de Mexico and SolArt, OC’s scene is thriving as well. Check out San Roman’s picks:


¡APARATO! Powered by the vocals of Anaheim resident Nancy Mendez, ¡Aparato! explore 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.

MY MACHETE. Jessica Escobedo has one of the best singing voices in all of OC. Her Anaheim-based alt-rock group’s music cuts in similar ways as Pretty Girls Make Graves: frantic melodies, fierce drumming and compelling arrangements.

INKBLOTS. The Inkblots strike with an updated gritty energy that is reminiscent of the Animals. The band have been moving forward, cleaning up their demo to make into a full-length album released on Vacant Bunny Records, filming a music video in support of it, and perfecting their charismatic stage shows.

CUAUHTéMOC. 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 also succeed.” They probably would even object to being lumped into a “Latin alternative” music guide (for lack of a better term): their “Alerta! Alerta!” screams, “¡No somos Latinos!” Juggling work, family and community activism, the band are also expanding their Draft of the Movement EP into a full-length.

TALLER SUR. A collection of singer/songwriters, Taller Sur pull from a repertoire of their own skillfully crafted songs, as well as a number of covers by Latin American’s great trova/folk-singers. As their self-titled debut album shows, the group are apt at combining elements of pop, rock, trova and more into the fold.

Watch them: My Machete open for ¡Aparato! at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (117 N. Sycamore St., Santa Ana, 714-667-1517; on Dec. 11, and Taller Sur perform every first Friday of the month at Viento y Agua Coffee House (4007 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, 562-434-1182; From a Nov. 26 Heard Mentality post by Gabriel San Roman.


This column appeared in print as “Alt-Latin Locals Only.”

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