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Rebel anthems - The Jaguares bring Mexican-Rock to Planeta Barrio

I've always thought of Jaguares as the philosophers of Mexican rock, the result of a what-if alternative universe where Octavio Paz or Carlos Castañeda picked up guitars instead of pens.

When I tell this to Alfonso André, the group's percussionist, he corrects me. "We don't consider ourselves to be philosophers," he explains, "but especially in comparison to any light-hearted, radio-friendly pop groups, we do take things more seriously. We do comment about what we see around us, what's going on in our country that touches us somehow."


More often than not, group frontman Saúl Hernandez' lyrics are given to abstract, nervy, and profound flourishes about the character and content of present-day Mexico, but always with a nod to the past. El Primer Instinto, the band's 2002 acoustic album, opens with Nahuatl poetry, an Aztec invocation that is part prayer, part promise, while singles such as "Detrás de los Cerros," from the group's debut album, lend a decidedly modern spin to ancient Mexican myths.

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Sun, July 10

Planeta Barrio
3830 Parkdale
Crónicas de un Laberinto, the group's latest release after a hiatus of nearly four years, features some of the same sweeping arrangements and intense guitar melodies that comprise Jaguares' signature sound, but, politically, stacked against their previous albums, it's more overt and direct about addressing Mexico's social ills. This is heard most clearly on "Está Muy Claro," the disc's final track, in which Hernandez laments the loss of Mexico's autonomy, past and present.

"We've been suffering for a very long time," André says. "This supposed change we were going to have `following the 2000 election of Vicente Fox`, it never really happened. We and the rest of our country are very disillusioned."

He sees his participation in Jaguares as a contribution to raising awareness about Mexico's current state of affairs. "We are not that naive to think that our songs will change the world. But, together, maybe we can do something about it."

By Alejandro Pérez



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