Best Latin Rock Band

Pepe Alva and Alma Raymi

Latin rock veteran Pepe Alva and his band Alma Raymi ("soul celebration" in Quechuan) spent much of the past year in the studio, working on the follow-up album to 1997's Pa' Mostrarte Mi Amor (MATT Entertainment). With a new disc tentatively titled Comprometida (Engaged), Alva makes a bid for the big time, hiring top-flight producers and stellar New York session musicians to bolster his local six-piece ensemble. On Comprometida the rock-and-Andean-rhythm fusion Alva and his brother Carlos have experimented with since 1990 is carried into the mainstream. "Our music has a little more attitude now," Alva says. "At the same time, it's a little more commercial." While many of Alva's tunes could be anybody's altrock, other songs emanate a distinctive sound thanks to Peruvian instruments such as the quena, the Andean flute; charango, the world's smallest guitar; and zampoña, bamboo panpipes, which the Incas used as a form of communication. Listen for the new songs at Latin-rock hot spots the Grill and Club Millennium.
 
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