Jaguares

Named for the sacred, otherworldly power of the jaguar in Mayan lore, this Mexican four-piece inadvertently proves that commercial forces have completely co-opted indie-rock vocabulary. After years of indie bands flirting with pop here in the States, it was only a matter of time before someone took it to another level. And it makes perfect sense that it would occur in Mexico, where mainstream influences are arguably harder to escape.

But it's not as if Jaguares' accessibility necessarily tarnishes their musical appeal; their sound was credible enough for Morrissey to tour with them in 2002. Since it's fairly easy to figure out where these guys fall in the emos-versus-metal-heads struggle that continues to plague Mexican youth, the band's popularity can also be seen as a kind of triumph. Jaguares also have just enough guitar distortion to give their music thrust. If they've succumbed to polish, they at least throw in some toughness, plus their guitar-driven sound presents another face of Latin pop beyond the myriad smarmy vocalists. And kudos to the band for sticking to a Spanish-language approach — even its website and MySpace page are written entirely in Spanish. So check out their live appearance, which celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 
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