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.
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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.