A metropolitan jungle that flourishes out of a sunken hole. A city that’s been burned, suffocated and drowned. A shark tank, a fruit market, a natural sanctuary. Its rough air only suitable for tough lungs; like its history, people and slopes. This brief playlist is inspired by my recent visit to Mexico City and the rock scene that has been born out of it throughout time.
#1. El Tri – Todo sea por el rocanrol
“Everything for Rock and Roll” is the translation of the title of this song. El Tri has been around since the late 60s led by frontman Alex Lora, a pioneer in Latin American rock and hardcore vocalist and overall human being. Their name itself if emblematic, as “el tri” signifies “tricolor”, representing the three colors of the Mexican flag. This one’s from 1996, and this is the oldest Mexican rock band that I myself am familiar with. Bluesy, hard, raunchy and a good rock and roll tune. As Alex Lora says, he’d lay on the sidewalk with blood dripping out of his mouth, ask for money and go to jail: all for rock and roll.
#2. Café Tacvba – María
Café Tacuba is an actual coffee shop in Mexico City named “el Café de Tacuba” which is where the band got their inspiration from in the late 80s. Still around today, Café Tacvba recently released an album this year. Their sound is prominently alt-rock, with rustic sounds and some hip-hop beats thrown in with some Mexico City slang. The lyrics on María can be interpreted to mean different things, but overall they speak of a woman who rejected love and roams the city at night trying to take it back. It’s guitar paints mountains and solitary lights in the neighborhoods of the city.
#3. Maná – Clavado en un Bar
Maná has been around since the late 80s and remains active and popular in Mexico and the US today. Clavado en un Bar or “Hooked in a Bar” is a song about sipping tequila (or any preferred liquor) at a bar to forget about love. Though aside from the lyrics, it’s upbeat for a heartbreak with a bit of reggae in it, and just a good listen for a drive with the windows open in a city where there is no speed limit.
#4. Zoé – Labios Rotos
Since the mid-90s Zoé has been breaking hearts with their alt/psych sound and went through different lineups and style throughout their time. Still, their sound made it to the states and led them to release an MTV Unplugged album in which this song, “Broken Lips”, was recorded. Basically a love song, frontman León Larregui asks his love to let him mend her broken heart by letting him in to care for her, a more sentimental side of a city built off rough edges. As cheesy as it sounds, its got a great sound for being live which leads us to the next song.
#5. León Larregui – Como Tú (Magic Music Box)
Zoé’s very own frontman, León Larregui decided to go solo and release his own album after a break in 2011 and I am so extremely grateful that he did. In 2012, came his debut Solstis, where Larregui came out to display his full potential and lay out his personal style with no barriers. “Like You (Magic Music Box)” is a cute and groovy declaration of simply digging someone. The magic music box refers to a record player and the head-spinning sensation, like a record, that Larregui feels. Larregui’s second album, Voluma, was released in 2016 and continues to go on uphill for what I hope will last a while. This song’s got jam all over it and appeals to a younger, modern audience or kids these days; an audience that can be very commonly seen in plazas throughout the city sitting on a bench and enjoying their significant other’s company like its no one’s business.